Monday, May 23, 2005

Cheap and cheerful

Hi all,

well after such solemn diary entries I think I need something cheerful to convince you all I am not having a thoroughly miserable time! In fact everything is swimming along very nicely. We have had two months of
strange, 'mild' weather, lots of wind (though nothing approaching a proper storm) and mediocre temperatures in the mid -50s. Three days ago the long-missed moon rose again, blinding us all with its brilliance. Today it is full, and I swear I could stand out there and read a book by it's light. This would, however, be a silly thing to do, as with the moon came still, clear conditions and it is currently -68C out there. A wee bit chilly. These are excellent conditions to observe in, and I am hoping it will stay this way for a little while at least.

We are back at band practice, preparing another new set for Midwinters, which is only five weeks away, an amazing thing. In just over a week I will have been here six months, which seems crazy! The amount of
activities that occur down here never ceases to amaze me, and each weekly recreation bulletin has up to a half-dozen events on each night of the week. There's tae-bo (a martial-art based exercise program) run
by Tony, martial arts class run by Steve, Aussie Movie night, Violent Monday Movie night, Tuesday movie night (showing recent films), band practices, Spanish classes, Astronomy lectures, stitch 'n' bitch in the
galley, and yoga, to list just a few. My weekday evenings often includes two band practice nights, Maori lessons, guitar and harmonica lessons and yoga. Sometimes it is just thrilling to have an evening to myself!
Another bit of training that I have been scrubbing up on, to use a bad pun, are my paramedic and first-aid skills. The doctor here, Christian Otto, is extremely open to assiting any interested trauma-team members
in extending their skills and signing us off on any training we do. I am one of the triage members of the team, to be first on an accident site with patients, and we have already been certified in use of automatic
diffibrilators. Now (so long as I could find a guinea-pig, which German Robert happily assented to) I am learning to insert IV tubes and to take blood. The downside is that I am *his* guinea-pig too. I have asked the kitchen for a bit of pig with skin on it next time they thaw one out (they have whole ones here) so that Christian can teach me stitching. In the next month a few of us have been selected for training in surgical
assistance and intensive care monitoring, which should be great. Will add photos if they're good!

Nothing momentous occurred in the past week, really, which is good, as momentous would entail bits falling off the telescope, or vast computer meltdowns. Touchwoodtouchwood... On Saturday morning, three of the electricians were given the morning 'off' to come out with me to the Dark Sector and get a bit of a tour. They got more than they bargained for as I was doing a cryogen fill so I enlisted their help lugging
dewars and gangplanks and the like. Each week three of the crew from the station will get this opportunity and the company will be welcome. Most of the construction crew do not get much of a chance to get outside, let alone all the way out to the Dark Sector, and very few know what we do out here, so it should be mutually beneficial. I say that the company is welcome as since a few weeks ago I have the whole of MAPO to myself in the daytime. Robert and Allan were asked by their bosses in the States to switch to a graveyard shift for technical reasons I won't bore you with. While it means less practical jokes and
wondering if the snow is about to explode with nitrogen bombs, the bad news is it is much quieter out here, and I can go entire days without seeing or talking to anyone. I don't mind this at all, but i do tend to
get in the habit of not talking and get to dinner and can't remember how to do it...ahem. There are those of you who know me well who just snorted in disbelief to read that, but I swear it's true!!!

Ok, enough blather for one day. Promise I'll get off my arse and take some aurora photos soon, as there have been a few requests. Will let you know when I post them. Drop me a line when you are bored, or even if you aren't, it is always nice to get 'mail' from home!!

hope this finds you all well,

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