Thursday, January 30, 2003
A good day today
I woke up early today. In fact it was the first time I was able to catch
breakfast. Normally I use the breakfast hour to sleep a bit longer but today
I knew was going to be a good day. Jean-Louis rubbed his eyes not believing
it was me making an appearance so soon. He normally sees me amongst the fist
people at lunch but never for breakfast. He checked out my pulse: everything
is surprisingly in order.
In the morning Jon and I were trying to go ahead with our work, but it
proved harder than expected because the people of the raid having the
morning off, all decided to visit us at regular intervals through out the
morning. They have spent the day before unloading their trucks with the help
of some Concordia people. They had plenty of material to transfer to the
construction site, mainly panels used to separate each floor into the
different rooms. There was also a whole container of food which will stay
frozen until next season. Most importantly, 10,000 litres of JetA1 were
brought along out of which we will use 2,500 litres to run the Aastino
So the morning felt a little like last Sunday. Every hour a person or two
from the traverse would come in the Aastino and I would put on my car
salesman hat to repeat over and over again the wonderful characteristics of
our experiments. I think that my speech was getting shorter and shorter
towards the end, and by the time the last guy came in, I just felt like
saying: "There it is, have a look". Don't worry I didn't say that. Jon
realising that my patience was diminishing filled in the blanks and so I
think every person got given the full story.
Amongst the ten or so raid people, were two very recognisable Australians. I
am glad that I am not the only one dressed in yellow now.
They are mechanics and have worked with the Australian Antarctic Division in
the past. They both were wintering over last year in the coastal base of
Casey so we had plenty of things to talk about when they came to see us.
They were hired for the traverse because it is cheaper for the French polar
institute to hire already "Antarctic trained" personnel than doing the
In the afternoon, things got exiting because a Twin-Otter flew in carrying
my long awaited amplifier. This gives me a chance to rescue my PhD thesis
and make the season a lot more worthwhile for all the people involved in the
project. This data is very important for many people in the world waiting to
see if the turbulence of Dome C is well-behaved and therefore if the site
has more real-estate value than the swamps in Florida.
So I spent the afternoon adapting the new amplifier to the SODAR and I'll
tune it tomorrow to collect the first data. It seems that all our technical
problems are running away. There Aastino should be fully operational by the
time we say goodbye to the station. To top it all up Jean-Louis prepared I
believe was the best dinner yet. There was duck magret served with green
pepper sauce and with an assortment of several type of mushroom. For
dessert, a Norwegian omelette which is a frozen cake made of ice-cream
sandwiched between sponge cakes and covered with meringue and finally flamed
Grand-Marnier is poured on the whole thing. Needless to say I had several
servings of each dish.
The day finished with a bit of fun. Fabrice, a Swiss physicist working for
Epica, and I had a game of Chess. It's good to drop baby-foot for once and
find another source of entertainment. The game was very intense and finished
with a draw after an hour of play. We took appointment tomorrow for another
game. I have now all night to tune my strategy.