Antarctica: January 2007


It's time to move the Pole marker again. Jerry starts off with a little speech.

Meanwhile, Steve stands in the crowd, ready with the new marker.

Two people carry the sign to its new home...

...and a veteran moves the flag.

Steve gives a speech about science at the Pole...

...while the rest of the crowd looks on.

Finally, the new marker is revealed.

The people in the crowd are going nuts with their cameras.

Pretty and shiny, eh?

It's instantly surrounded by camera-carrying Polies.

Hey look, Denis is in the lower right of the winterover plaque.


The platypus on the skiway acquired another egg-laying mammalian friend. The platypus also had a mini bottle of whiskey yesterday, but I guess he's finished drinking it since then.

In honor of Yuki's departure tomorrow, we went on another treasure hunt in the dome and surrounding tunnels.

The tunnels are covered with a thick layer of ice crystals.

Beautiful and interesting ice formations...

Bill and Yuki are admiring the ice.

It's dark and cramped in here, but very pretty.


Yuki is leaving us today...he almost missed his flight because he was checking his cell phone messages. :-) Here he is showing off his pallet puller.

Yuki and the crowd, about to head out to the plane.

Time to go...

Walking out to the plane...

Bye Yuki!


A quick trip up to the roof of DSL to check out SPT...

The primary mirror got craned onto SPT last night. It's gigantic. There's a hatch on the roof, and people occasionally pop out to work on the mount...kind of like a huge whack-a-beaker game.

The support structure for the telescope goes all the way down to the snow. This really is a monster machine.

We look small in comparison.


From:           Brown, James
To:             POL-SouthPoleAll
Subject:        Saturday

Hello South Pole-

The day is almost upon us with the return of mayhem and chaos.

A day of adrenaline and ridicule.

It will be on like DK.

The Wolf will visit the Three Little Pigs.

Do It.

8PM in the Galley.

James Brown.

Ed is eagerly waiting for the start of (his first!) James Brown bingo.

A huge crowd starts filling the galley.

A disembodied head hovers near the bingo boards...

The BICEP bingo players.

James Brown, our beloved bingo host. I think he got something on his face.

Steffen is explaining how bingo is played in East Germany.

Hoping for the call that will make us winners...

...but luck is with Jason instead of the beakers today.

It's his second win, and he starts taking his pants off (but ended up chickening out).

Charlie, on the other hand, has no qualms about removing clothing when he wins a bingo round.

The crowd intently watching James...

Terry, the final winner of the evening, is very excited.

She won $180-some in cash!

Bill, Ed, and some freak.

The nose is actually the tongue that we cut out of the mask. It's kind of gross.

Lots of people are wearing freaky masks tonight.

What better way to end a bingo night than with music and dancing in the galley?


Four helicopters flew in to the station today. Two belonged to random tourists, and two belonged to some high-up Russian officials. One of the Russians called up Putin from Comms while he was on station today.

The Russian helicopters are drawing much more of a crowd than the other ones.

...and here they are up close.

Bill and the giant Russian helicopter.

I got pressured into taking a hero shot too.

Something is written on its nose. (Ilya?)

A view up towards the helicopter blades.

The belly of the beast. I like the cute little wheel track in the snow.

It looks like there's a hatch on the back that opens up.

The back propeller. Bill says that the translation of the writing is "don't stick your head here."

Kind of looks like a spindly insect from a science fiction movie.

Goodbye, helicopters...

This little red one was kind of cute too.


Bill is leaving us today! The three of us are the only BICEPers on station right now.

Somebody said that the previous photo wasn't serious enough, so we tried harder this time.

Bill and the Dark Sector.

Ed's glasses are very shiny.

Add some crazy hair...

...and a snobbish pose. Perfect PI material.

Time to go...goodbye Bill!

The plane's closed up and ready to head down the skiway.

The plane leaves thick trails behind it as it takes off into the air.

Some distinguished visitors are hanging out on station today, and SPT is showing off the telescope mount.

A great playground for grownups.

The platypus ordered another drink recently (having finished the bottle of whiskey).

The umbrella drink looks mighty tasty.


Ed wanted to do a penguin photo shoot today for his little cousins. His big orange bag was stuffed full of squishy little penguins.

Three little penguins. Their beanie butts allow them to sit on any surface.

The completed penguin arrangement.

One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong...

And finally, the obligatory hero shot of the year.


(Because we're pansies and afraid of the cold), we got a couple of GAs to help us fix the tape on the groundshield today.

Laura's in the cherry picker, armed with the giant red heat gun...

...dangling near the side of the building.

Rose is working on the other side. They recently finished taping the massive DASI groundshield too. (Good thing SPT's isn't up yet.)

It's not nearly as cold indoors, but perhaps the work is just as frustrating. Steffen's battling the firewall today (and using the monitor that's hidden behind the electronics rack).

The vibrabear is having an easy day.

This picture is for Bill. I found the stash of velcro in the lab.


Open mic night in the galley...

Seth starts off with the autobiographical song "I'm a Chick Magnet."

Joel and his kick-butt guitar skills.


Our week-long stretch of cloudless skies finally came to an end. The wind has been ripping at 20-25 knots for the past couple of days and blowing snow feels like it's going to tear you apart when you walk outside. Pretty awesome weather.

Snow is sticking to all surfaces outside. DSL looks like it's been decorated with icing like a gingerbread house.

The giant SPT mirror is facing away from the wind...

...and the stairs are outlined in snow.


Hien, master of the romer arm, is measuring the flatness of our giant mirror.

The mirror is very, very big. (Turns out it's not so very, very flat.)

I think he measured about 800 points on the surface in an hour.

We gave him the emergency can of Speights when he finished. :-)

Meanwhile, on the roof, John's installing the support structure for the mirror. That's his elbow.

And Steffen's fixing some RF tape on the groundshield.


It's mirror mounting day... John and Steffen start off with a test fit of the frame.

A bowl full of beakers.

After taping the mirror onto the frame with double stick tape (really), it's time to throw it on top of the telescope.

Steffen looks like he's dumpster diving in the baffle.

Adjusting the bolts...

...and fastening the mirror.

Hien and I have the hard jobs of being photographers.

The finished contraption looks like a beaker crusher.

A ninja on the roof. With a fuzzy hat.

*Drum roll*... The unveiling of the mirror!

Steffen's backup career plan is to work on Wheel of Fortune.

John and Steffen are most pleased with this shiny new object.

And now for something completely different: a vibrabear hat.


Steffen's having too much fun with the hoist and the safety harness.

We work very hard here. (Thanks to Hien for the pics.)


A bunch of distinguished visitors came through today. They got herded onto the roof of DSL to get brainwashed by the SPT death ray.

Among the visitors were Helen Clark, the New Zealand prime minister, and her husband.

After John radioed the telescope operators to steer SPT into a more photogenic position, it's time for a PR photo with Arden Bement, the director of NSF.

The NSF director, New Zealand prime minister, John Carlstrom, and the telescope.

We stole the prime minister for a BICEP group photo (thanks to Hien).

Down the stairs and back into the warm lab...

John's introducing the crowd to BICEPland and the other John.

I promised Steffen I'd try to get a photo of him with the prime minister. This is the only one that turned out ok.

A hero shot of me and the prime minister from Hien.

After only a few minutes visiting BICEP, it's back to SPT. Steve is telling the crowd about the secondary mirror.

Then John moves on to show off the SPT receiver...

That is an impressive amount of cabling. It looks like the electronics rack is spilling its guts out.

The tour wraps up quickly and it's time for the group to move on to Ice Cube. One last picture of the prime minister.

Forest wanted an official looking pose for the PR photo he was taking. John though it was pretty funny.


Ice Cube gave a tour of its new lab today. The lab is packed full of racks, computers, and pretty red cables.

Steffen and the computers. He's still practicing his Wheel of Fortune skills.

Me and the red cables.

Quadratisch. Praktisch. Gut.

John, Hien, and Steffen are admiring the slick Ice Cube PR pamphlets.

Serap is telling Hien that we should sneak a look at the Ice Top tanks outside.

The Ice Cube lab windows are covered with metal mesh. Here's a view from this side of the neighborhood, looking out to the Dark Sector.

Hien thinks that the digital optical module doubles as a hookah.

"DOM porn," according to Steffen.

And this is what happens to winterovers when they misbehave and make too many sarcastic remarks.

Following Serap's advice, we walked over to an Ice Top tank and peered inside...

It's the bluest ice I've ever seen. A couple of DOMs are embedded in the top.

Steffen likes the blue ice too.

John, Serap, and the Ice Top peep show.

The Ice Top tanks are embedded in a deep trench that's cut in the snow. Another view of the Dark Sector from this part of the neighborhood.

Exiting the snow trench...

A last stop at the fern drill, the device that melts the uppermost layer of snow before the rest of the Ice Cube holes are drilled.

Later in the evening...time for the annual film festival! A small crowd is starting to gather in the galley.

The beaker table is stocked up on booze. That's the SPT crowd on the other side.

Steffen and his stockpile of gadgets.

The start of SPIFF...the galley is completely packed full. Leah and Lily are our MCs tonight.

Let the films begin. Yes, that's a guy dressed up in a polar bear suit running around on the screen.

Drunkenness and a green mohawk.

During the intermission, these two put on a fancy dance show.

I'm not sure her feet ever touched the ground during the entire performance.

A last fancy pose for the camera-carrying audience.

Bill made it onto the big screen!


A scary bottomless pit appeared on our front lawn today. The metal grid doesn't make me feel that much safer.

I'm not sure how this got started, but we decided to weigh Hien's pants. We're finally putting the scale to good use.

Steffen determined that my carhartts weigh precisely 3.4 pounds. They're much heavier than Hien's windpants.

Hien looks like a pro with the vibrabear stuffed in his parka.

We ran outside to grab some shots of the halo. It's the first nice one I've seen this season, but I haven't been getting out that much.

A shot of the Dark Sector trailer park while I was on the roof.

Hien pressured me into another hero shot.

BICEP and the halo.

That's my thesis experiment. :-)


Steffen got a winterover survival package in the mail from Bill today, and one of the items inside was a DV-yellow David Hasselhoff name tag. It suits Hien quite well.

Unfortunately, a pair of speedos was missing in the package.


It's Steffen's turn today to be David Hasselhoff. Here he is, dressed in his finest at the Pole.

Modeling all the essential components of the winterover survival package: yellow name tag, baby blanket, can of peanuts, "D" baseball cap, and white (PI) neck gaiter.


From:           Brown, James
To:             POL-SouthPoleAll
Subject:        Saturday 8pm






It's time for the final installment of full-contact James Brown bingo for the season. Calee and the Dutch bear hunter are getting ready for the action.

James Brown. Enough said.

This guy was distributing armloads of shinies to all of us.

Even Mike couldn't resist. The feathers suit him well.

Lots of people are picking up their beads and masks in the galley.

These guys tried to convince the Quad people to take some beads, but Clem growled at them and scared them off.

Webster and her massive pile of bingo boards.

Let the games begin!

He should be paying attention to his boards instead of my camera.

James just called out B4 (or B9, I don't remember), and our table exploded into yells of "AND AFTER!!" (or "TUMOR!!")

The first winner of the evening, and proud new owner of a Leatherman.

Some intense bingo action...

...and some spaced out bingo action.

Webster won a fleecy thing! WINNER!!


Welcome back, Denis! We're celebrating his arrival and Hien's last night by busting out the pop rocks that Bill sent us. Denis is profoundly disturbed by the crackling noises coming from Webster's mouth.

Our table, which we occupied for more than 7 hours straight. A mixture of Quaddies, BICEPs, a Lizard of New Zealand, and a pirate. I have no idea what Steffen's doing.

From left to right: Zak's shoulder, Steffen, Erik the Lizard, Joaquin, Hien, Denis, Webster the pirate, Tom, Mike, John, and Clem.

Denis was too traumatized by his initial pop rock experience to eat them a second time, so he resorted to mixing them with water on the table and enjoying the popping sounds.

Bill H. stopped by to deliver a teflon coated hat to Denis. He looks like a badass.

Erik's turn to try pop rocks for the first time. Mmm, Brausepulver.

...and he's absolutely disgusted by the taste.

Hien's turn to try on the badass hat.

It's Robert! He arrived today too, handcarrying a carton of milk.

Slight change of table population after it's Matt, Robert, John, Xuan, and me.

Hien's always like this.

Robert's not a milk addict. He can quit anytime he wants to. According to the image timestamps, it took him about 30 minutes to drink this much milk.

I think the number of Steffen+food photos that I have is starting to exceed the number of Kiwon+food photos.

Steffen, John, Robert, Hien, and many empty bottles.


John and Mike, who describes himself as a "shorter, fatter Kovac." That's a direct quote.

Tom made me take a picture of the wall because he thought the light pattern looked like a pig.

Mike volunteered to eat the remaining pop rocks.

Pop rocks, the dessert of champions.

After the BICEP and Quad population started thinning out, time for the SPT crowd (represented by Jeff and Martin) to fill in the gaps.

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