Antarctica: February 2007


A quick visit to SPT today while their cryostat was open... Their focal plane has shiny filters.

Denis, the pirate, tries to get a better shot of the focal plane.

Lots of gold plated widgets inside the cryostat.

Brad and Martin are working hard on the big red box.

Brad is very tired, but still smiling.

A tangle of cables in the telescope control area.

Lines spilling out of a hatch into the center of the telescope...

...and spiraling up the center column.

Shira sent me a package containing pixie stix and squishy lizards today (a natural combination). The lizards ate all the sugar and started getting mischievous.

Get off my beer, dammit!


The twisty snow sculpture collapsed awhile ago.

Intersecting bits of snow.

It almost looks cooler now that it's folded over...

Another picture of the shiny ball. I look like I have an alien head.

Tom (Wolverine) is trying to get some dome exploration in before his last week here disappears.

The spooky dome entrance.

Ice-covered walls...

...and ice cauliflower.

The holes at the top of the dome.

Cold storage.


I've probably walked by these signs 100 times but didn't read the "Lost: my mind" sign until Heidi pointed it out today.

And while I'm at it, a picture of the bible/beer box in the arts and crafts room.

Back outside today to take more pictures of random stuff at the Pole... It's cold outside.

Many Poles -- ceremonial, geographic, and last year's geographic marker.


This picture's for Ilya. As promised, a photo of the business card that says "Hero of the Soviet Union." That's the sort of title I'd like to have.

And right next door, the cabinet of old Pole markers. I looked for the ones inscribed with "LGN" (a handful shown below, although it's not the complete set). Hint: G does not stand for geographic, and N does not stand for north. Figure it out, kids.

In case you can't read the snow, it says "SIT HERE" with a big arrow pointing to the hole. Wolverine dug this the other day when he was waiting to cross the skiway.

And a closeup of the snow chair. Note the fresh butt prints.


Steffen enjoys jumping into my photos when I'm trying to document lab hardware. The wire grid makes his nose look big.

Denis wants a turn behind the aperture too.

And I also got pressured into a silly photo.

See, I wasn't lying, he really likes getting his picture taken with lab equipment.

Later in the evening...SPT METAL NIGHT!!!. They were hoping to get nachos for the party, the the galley only had brie. Totally not metal.

The live band of the evening, Metal Janjaweed, runs through their repertoire of three songs: Metal Janjaweed, Head in a Bag, and Kick it in the Head.

It's still early in the evening, and a small crowd listens to the band sing their songs for the second time.

Bright lights at the bar...

After the three songs are exhausted, time for the professor to step in and change from metal to blues for awhile.

Steve, Tom, Zak, and Brad hanging out in the corner.

Carlstrom and Joaquin are playing up a storm.

This guy looks very relaxed for a metal night.

After the blues session, time to break open the theremin. Apparently only Steve Padin has the magical touch to play this tricky instrument.

Zak in his glowing-white homemade Metallica shirt.

Bill found a wig and is head banging away while Brad pretends not to notice.

It doesn't take long for the crowd to expand to fill the entire bar.

These crazy Germans know how to party. I think half of them are named Andreas.

Tom acquired a headband from Zak's shirt.

The band's getting serious now...the drummer's shirt has come off.

Once again, repeating the selection of three songs.

Time for Carlstrom et al. to play some more blues after the brief metal session.

Brad, Zak, and Tom, showing off a cool pair of sunglassses.

I guess people are still sober enough to balance a tower of cans.


A final image for the evening: Clem looking like a badass.

Time to start packing for bag drag tomorrow... A final picture of my wall before I start disassembling my room.


24 hours left... The dark sector telescopes.

My pet telescope.

In the far distance, a small mound of snow marking the location of old Pole.

Where did the time go? 2 months have passed in the blink of an eye.


A quick visit to the lab this morning before my plane arrives...

Denis, Robert, Steffen, and Zemcov are setting up the mirror again.

Denis seems happy about it.

...The Schwarz is expressionless.

Finally, it's time to leave. The BICEP population at Pole is back down to 3 (Denis is in the picture in spirit).

Steffen told me that I should pull a Bill move. I'm impressed that he could carry the combined weight of me and all the ridiculous cold weather gear that I have piled on.

That's my ride back to civilization.

Final farewells at the flight deck.

Our new winterover!

I got frosted up after standing outside. I was starting to get worried that my eyelids might stick shut.

An alien approaching from the dark sector...

It's not an alien, it's just Robert.

We got whisked onto the plane and started heading down the skiway almost immediately. I got to sit with the flight crew (sometimes it pays to be last in line). :-) One last look at the station through the windows.

And after what seems like only a few seconds, we're already in the air. The station looks like a handful of tiny specks from this height.

Goodbye South Pole... Shorly after I took this picture, the plane swerved away and the station was out of sight.

The pilots are complaining about the bright light now that the sun is starting to get lower in the sky. they decided to cover up the windows with paper. (Should I be worried?)

They certainly don't seem worried.

The engineer is hard at work.

I enjoy the shiny headsets very much.

After only a couple hours in the air, we're already approaching McMurdo.

The loadmaster was curled up in this corner for most of the flight, enjoying a book and eating cookies.

Features in the landscape!

A view of Black and White Island from the air...

...and blue ice stretching between them.

The edge of the island meeting the frozen sea.

There were some beautiful clouds and light in the sky today.

More mountains in the distance.

Wrinkled blue ice.

The snow looks like clouds here. What planet are we on?

Approaching the landing strip... I had already sat down and strapped in, but the loadmaster told me to get up again and look out the window because this is the best part of flying. :-)

A smooth and safe landing. Time to abandon the little plane.

We're immediately transferred to the big plane, which landed just a few minutes before us.

This flight is packed with people. A bunch of carhartts and orange bags streaming by...

Will, Charlie, and Laura are keeping their eyes open for other Polies.

Blinding light pouring through the open hatch in the back of the plane.

The interior of the plane, full of sleepy people.

Very, very sleepy people.

The ceiling of the plane looks a bit dodgy.

Another 5 hours, and we're back in civilization. Yes folks, that's pavement. And the beginning of my first sunset in over 2 months.

The guy in white just barely fits in the engine.

A crowd of people exiting the plane.

Will's excited to be back in a warm, humid environment.

The handful of Polies on the flight.

It's nice to see night again and to be able to breathe, but I miss the snow already.


One day in Christchurch to adjust to civilization again before heading back to the hole that is Los Angeles...

A pretty flower at Annie's, where Joel and I went for dinner.

No matter where you go in Christchurch, people from the ice pop up everywhere. A bunch of us converged at Mickey Finn's later in the evening.

Gustav and the magical glowing beer.

Satanic Dog!

...looking slightly less satanic now with the bunny ears.

A blurry Jeri.

Gustav, George, and more glasses of glowing beer.

It's Joel! Looking very sleepy...

Mandi and Jeri, partying like Polies and admiring the drummer of the band.

The colorful bar.

Golden beer.

Mandi has an uncanny ability to socialize; she probably talked to about 15 random people during the evening.

...including the drummer. She dragged Jeri over there too.

Lots of glasses on the table.

Mandi being her colorful self.

The Pole crowd filling up the dance floor...although the group is a little thin at this point, consisting only of Dog, Mandi, Jeri, and Shane. More people showed up later on.

Joel the cook vs. Mandi the carpenter in an extreme arm wrestling match. Both won at least one round, although Mandi's the one kicking butt here.

Dog and Jeri are back out with the band after the arm wrestling's over.

A nice way to end my stay in Christchurch...


Waiting for the airport shuttle with a familiar friend.

A tough life indeed.

A picture of the same spot during the daytime.

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