Thursday, December 25, 2014

(Skua) Christmas and Boxing Day: December 25-26, 2014

Friday night at the VMF Christmas Party I was talking to Jeff and Nathaniel, our friends who work on SuperDARN (Super Dual Auroral Radar Network, a radar experiment with locations around the world) and we came up with the idea of a Skua Secret Santa/Skua White Elephant gift exchange/Skua Christmas. Skua is McMurdo's way of recycling still-useable but unwanted items, mostly things that have been left behind by people leaving town. Every dorm has a Skua bin where people can leave things (and where some of the best Skua finds have happened), and there's also a central Skua building that's full of things that have been left behind. Skua's mostly used for clothing (there are lots of random shirts and shoes) but there's a lot of random stuff as well.

Christmas Morning I went up to Skua Central to see what random stuff I could find. Jeff was also there Skua shopping (or Skua-diving, depending how you look at it). I hadn't been in Skua Central before, so I was surprised how many old pairs of boots there were. There was a whole side of the building dedicated to clothes (Jeff found his whole Christmas outfit there), a wall of boots, and another side that had bookshelves with old books and DVDs, and a few shelves of electronics and other stuff.
The Skua wall of Boots
I filled up a box with a centerpiece for our Christmas dinner table--fake flowers in a blender, surrounded by tinsel--and an assortment of gifts. I got a puzzle (in a ziploc bag, labelled "#3", no indication of what it was or whether all the pieces were there), a broken calculator, a can of black hair dye, a deck of 44 cards, a badminton shuttlecock, a stuffed football, and a set of 3 3-1/2 inch floppy disks helpfully labelled "photos".
Skua Electronics!
After lunch, I went over to Central Skua again with Sean and looked through their books while he found his presents. There wasn't anything that looked good. I then grabbed some tape so we could wrap the presents and wrapped mine up with notebook paper.

Our dinner reservation was at 7pm (you have to sign up for a time for holiday meals because there aren't enough seats for everyone to eat at once), but by the time we walked over at around 6:40 the line to get in to the galley was already very long. I ran into Dana in line, and he gave me a couple of cards from the Wash U Physics department that he'd gotten as part of a package that had come in on Christmas Eve (there were apparently 9 pallets of packages delivered on the Herc flight from Christchurch on Wednesday night that were then available for pickup on Christmas morning). It was good to get some mail, and it worked out great that the cards actually arrived on Christmas Day.

Once we got in to the galley, I filled my plate up with the delicious food that they had (I can't remember all that I grabbed, but it was all delicious). At one point I got in what I thought was the line for Prime Rib, but turned out to be the line for Crab Legs, so I wasted about 5 minutes there (it's a harsh continent).
My Iron from Nathaniel
We had dinner and dessert, and then went out to get our Skua Christmas presents. I got a ball of yarn from Sean, a towel and a hat from Jeff, and an Iron (with a card) from Nathaniel. Sean found some pretty exciting gifts, including a pirate hat for Jeff and a Tyvek jumpsuit for Nathaniel. Someone at the table next to ours offered some sharpie markers to mark up Nathaniel's suit, and after dinner he went around trying to get as many people to sign it as he could.

Jeff, Nathaniel, and Sean after Skua Christmas.
Friday was also a holiday here, so nothing was open and most people weren't doing much of anything. The weather both Thursday and Friday was very windy, so I didn't go on a hike like I had planned to do.  Sean got a call from Thomas, and it sounds like things are going well at the Thomas Hills camp. Apparently the Twin Otter that will take them to SuperTIGER should be there tomorrow. Sean also got a list of things that the SuperGroom team realized they needed, so tomorrow we'll go around and pick those up. Otherwise, there isn't too much else going on. We'll hopefully be leaving here around Monday.


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  2. This is remarkable, and certainly not how I pictured life in Antarctica!