After 6 weeks battling new IT infrastructure, servers and Internet shitfuckery I’m finally able to get back onto WordPress and hopefully catch up with what the Hell’s been going on here since arrival in early October.
The urge to write has not overtaken me lately but I’m going to make more of an effort. Truly.
Hmm…where to begin.
Even though this season with Antarctica New Zealand is quieter than most : science events travelling South have virtually been gutted as the world struggles with the Covid 19 pandemic. Antarctic science has been one of the victims this year most certainly, with personnel and Universities alike opting not to travel, either baulking at the quarantine requirements (2 weeks pre departure or up to 4 weeks if you are coming in from overseas) and/or the associated costs in a depressed world economy.
So Scott Base is a very different beast this season : not a lot of science, less picky about the people they hire…the upshot (heh I’m suddenly a silver lining guy) is that my role this year gets to do so much more (a little bit less in some areas) than I usually would as the science events get us to undertake field assignments that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.
Take Friday just gone for example.
Never would I ever : thought that I’d be miles out on the sea ice in McMurdo Sound taking and analysing ice core samples on behalf of the University of Otago ice nerds.
Thanks Covid! 🙂
Anyway this time it’s taken 6 weeks or so to settle in and decide what my ice persona will be this year. Unsurprisingly its the same as the last four years – quiet work-focussed non-joiner nerd – except with a bit more confidence in my role (which makes a WORLD of difference).
Oh and I’ve cut down to 1 coffee a day. My resting heart rate for the first month here was 70-80 bpm which isn’t good. Unsurprisingly cutting back from many many many extra strong black coffees a day has help both my madly racing heart and seemingly constant irritability.
Luck I was fairly fit to start with – it USED to be 68 before i came here – ahhh stress and caffeine will be the end of me for sure !;)
After a week off caffeine (mostly) and a few chamomile teas I’m finding my calm inside voice again and more importantly a sense of humour that I’d strongly suspected had deserted me. Not frequenting the bar has helped a lot as well – theres a few energy vampires in there that just suck the life out of me. Best to stay well clear. Even my ward does’nt work against them.
So what the fuck have I been doing to 6 weeks? Still working my ass off (not quite as hard as last summer) and trying to cover both the IT and science role. The summer tech is a lovely nerdy sciency academic guy but has zero experience with computer (other than gaming) but at times its like wrangling a sloppy, care nothing teen. I think he’s mid 20’s. Cant do mornings, doesn’t like routine or rules, very ‘take-overy’, unreasonably over confident, little bit lazy and quite a bit slovenly. Manchild. Ugh.
He does knows his stuff in a narrow bandwidth though but outside that needs a constant ‘unofficial’ eye. Anyway we’re working together fine (finally) so thats the main thing.
I haven’t fucked anything up here yet which is nice.
On the homefront it’s been a bit of a shambles as usual as I lose touch with friends and family. I’m missing my nieces weddings (two of them this year), the birth of a baby or two but I’ve always been the absent uncle so no big change there. Working away or in remote areas on assignment makes having a fulfilling life in the real works extremely fucking hard.
Most importantly I’m missing Isabel.
My daughter has been having some issues with her health and wellbeing that was though to require some level of hospitalisation. That seems to have settled down a bit now but finding that out literally the night before I flew out to come here was a massive shock and rocked my world in a bad way.
She seems ok now (or at least improving) but I feel that theres a lot going on inside that she wont or cant share so im trying to keep in touch as much as possible (or at least provide her the opportunity to keep in touch if she wants). It’s hard to not be too pushy yet available. A delicate balance that I’m totally shit at. Today I’m trying to get her to install Zoom on her phone or laptop so we can video conference more regularly and try to reconnect.
Naturally I’m trying to fill that void by sending her Instsagram messages and pics as often as I can, hand written letters and merchandise from here and McMurdo stations.
It’s also her 16th birthday on the 1st December and I’m missing that by being here.
I’m totally relying on her having the same resilience as me and will get through it under her own steam. She’s a tough and determined young lady.
Worst Dad ever.
So what else?
I started talking, then chatting, then messaging and talking and chatting and VCing a person back home since March this year (known them for a few years) . It’s become complicated and we cant do that anymore so that makes me a little sad.
Thats it really. My life is pretty simple here.
Wake, work, sleep…rinse and repeat.
I havent been getting out to take many photos, or go on trips (ugh chatty Hagglund full of first time summerers) or do much other than work and focus on not fucking up. Socially I’m shutting down as usual – for some reason I shrink away and just flatline here. All the gregarious first timers (and even some of the returnees) activate my personal firewalls and I just hide. The days have become more and more warm, the weather amenable, and the winds light. I’m sleeping unaided finally which helps a lot.
We get another team of science in tomorrow (Monday) that will mean a busy period over the next week and then theyre gone again.
Then its Thanksgiving, then it’s Christmas, then its another new year, then another science team comes in and HOPEFULLY I’ll get ou tto the McMurdo Dry Valleys again to do some AWS (automated weather station) maintenance. Were using the NSF helos this season so flying in a big American chopper should be fun. 🙂
Despite my constant whining, I am totally grateful for the work that I’m doing here and at various ‘pinch-myself’ moments I wonder how the Hell did this kid from Wombat end up a Science tech at a New Zealand Research Base perched near the side of a volcano at the end of the world.
Oh yeah! Jen Bertolani. Thaaaaats right …:)
Thanks Jen – turns out dumping me was the best thing ever for both of us after all.