Wind Speed: 6 knots
Conditions: Mostly Cloudy
The crew we have here this year is extra special; and I mean "special" in the worst possible way. We all seem particularly fond of the silly. We often act like a gaggle of kids in adult wrappers. Of course, we have plenty of inside jokes that go around and around, but we've also adopted several peculiarly childish games and odd gags. Actually, there are so many that I'm not sure where to begin. Maybe I should begin by warning you that our sense of humor has no bounds, and in general, the dirtier, the better-er. But maybe the warning will be unnecessary. Maybe I should just start at the beginning...
In the beginning, there was Nandi. Nandi is a mild-mannered gentleman with a heart of gold and a "childlike sense of wonder", as Carolyn would say. He seems incapable of wrongdoing, so much so that we often ask ourselves, "What would Nandi do?" Well, I'll tell you what Nandi would do. Nandi would steal your plate while you're not looking, shine a laser pointer in your eye, ambush you with snowballs at every opportunity. He's started a new tradition for the Gould departures: while they're raising the gangplank and spooling up the engines to leave, Nandi starts a snowball fight between the station and the passengers. When the Gould returned last time, Chance radioed in, "I hope you're ready, because it's going to be a bloodbath!" Poor Lily thought he was referring to the amount of work that would need to be done when they arrived. But no, the bloodbath was in the form of a crowd of throwers around a large cardboard box on the oh-one deck. In the box: snowballs collected from a squall the day before. Nandi also started a snowball fight with the Chilean Navy. I'm not even kidding. After a barbecue on the deck of the Chilean Navy vessel Lautaro, we pulled away in our meager Zodiac, and Nandi cleared a swath of snow from the bow and chucked it. The spat with our Chilean friends was short-lived, due to lack of ammunition, but when we returned to station an all-out, every-man-for-himself war was waged for the next hour and a half. Best snowball fight I've ever been in; adults don't cry when they get pegged repeatedly in the face. Fifteen of us, give or take, and no one went home dry, mostly because Kelsey likes to tackle.
I'm sure it's rugby withdrawal. Many of us have had some bruising and rug burn on account of Kelsey, and she's instigated more than one dogpile. These usually occur in the bar, and can be rather sticky. Sticky because the floor is covered in spilled beer from another game you may have played in college. You know the one, where you smack the top of someone's beer bottle with the bottom of your own so their beer froths madly over and they have to quickly get their lips over the damn thing. I hadn't seen it in a while, but many of these scientists are still college students. I specifically told Kelsey that I better not catch her smacking any of our homebrews. An hour later I asked her,
"Is that a homebrew?"
It was a sweet revenge for that steaming hot, saucy pizza I took on the chin and neck.
Normally, you would choose to enter the food game by applying it to someone who is already in the game. The rules got a little blurred, though, and I was thrown headlong into the fray without getting that precious first sneak-attack. Though, I'm sure no one had any doubt that I would join. Food game was passed to us by the winter-over crew, who brought it from Pole. The idea is simple, but there are some rules in place to keep it gentlemanly. At the bare bones, it's like this: finger food is to be knocked out of hand whenever possible. The food must be held directly in hand, as flying utensils may be hazardous. The winter-overs insisted that you say "food game" while sending it, but we've decided that it's pretty obvious what's happening without the announcement. Messy foods are preferred, but not required; splashing a ketchup-doused fry into your neighbor's face is much more satisfying than dry toast. You must be careful, though, not to accidentally splatter a non-food-gamer, as they can get quite nasty. Food-gamers, by the rules, are not allowed to get angry (though I'm impressed PQ held it together after having to change shirts twice in one day). An advanced food-gamer can splatter several food-gamers in one shot. A master food-gamer would splatter everyone with a clean shot (a shot is considered "clean" if you don't actually touch the person's hand, only their food) and land the gamed food such that it is still edible (generally, on the plate or table). But don't be discouraged, this gentlemanly side of the game isn't for everyone, and it is pretty satisfying to send a buttered scone into a parabolic arc across the entire galley, or a marinara-sopped slice of bread blasting off into the ceiling. Oh yeah, one last thing, very important: freshies and chocolate eclairs are off limits.
But let's get back to Nandi, and the game that is his namesake. To be "Nandi'd" is to have your dirty plate swiped from you while you're off your guard (perhaps you've just been food gamed). It started as a courteous thing; to do someone's dishes for them. But now there are mad dashes to steal plates, and often the victim immediately becomes the thief to a nearby gaper, or to the same person who just "Nandi'd" them. Utensils have flown in this game. The odd thing is that the winner is the loser, and you don't want to be behind them in the scullery line.
Nandi will also apologize profusely for the most trifling of things. I think when I attempted to break him of this habit, we were playing cards and he apologized for taking a trick. I suggested that the next time he felt the urge to say, "I'm sorry", instead he should say "In your face!" It worked to such brilliant effect that everyone on station adopted it, making us even more irreverent than we already were.
Other popular phrases...
"get awesome": from a dirty joke that I won't tell here.
"the siffness": a South African term for "griminess" that was immediately mistaken for "the syphilis"; surely you can imagine the ensuing hilarity.
"your mom's?": if you find a misplaced item and put it next to the white board, you don't write "lost" or "found", you write "your mom's?"
"in my pants": just a fun thing to say after every sentence while drinking, or sober.
"darn't bar ar parsar!": um...
The birders like to speak pirate. Mark is scary good at it. We're pretty sure he's a Canadian Pirate (another phrase with special meaning here - you might have one in your pants). It's pretty simple, really; you just replace all vowels with "arr". Understanding it is the hard part. So now I'm sometimes "Rarx." But Lily trumps us all with "Larlar!"
I could go on forever about our communal idiosyncrasies, but I have to pee (in my pants). I'll just stop here and leave you with one reminder; the next time you sit down for a meal, you may find yourself allured by a stray dot of red light. This is likely coming from Nandi's laser pointer, but try not to be distracted, because someone else will be, and this is an ideal time to "Nandi" their dishes, or better yet, to food game them.
Good Luck! (in my pants)
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Wind Speed: 4 knots
Just so you have an idea of what Thanksgiving looks like around here. We all tidy up a bit, just a bit, and sit around a big table like a family. We eat the usual Thanksgiving fare and drink wine.
And pie. No shortage of pie.
And homebrew. Ok, not really; this picture actually has zero to do with Thanksgiving, but I had it handy. Our second batch is a Japanese Wheat. It's nice and light and suits the sunny weather we've finally been having. No krill surprise... this time.
Other November news from me can be read in the Antarctic Sun at http://antarcticsun.usap.gov/aroundTheContinent/contentHandler.cfm?id=1201
Friday, December 10, 2010
Wind Speed: 3 knots
You'll all be happy to hear that the blog post subjects are piling up quickly, and disappointed to hear that I'm unmotivated to actually write them now that the weather has finally made a solid turn in a good direction. We've been getting much more sun lately, and even a few sunsets. Which, at this point in the season, start at around 8PM with the glacier turning to unrealistic shades of orange and green. The sunset continues until the glowing orb actually reaches the horizon at 11:45PM, and the clouds and mountaintops reflect brilliant golds and pinks. Then, at around 1AM, the line between sunset and sunrise blurs, though I have yet to stay up for the rise at 2:30AM. Maybe the solstice will be a good night for that. It still boggles my mind that it simply refuses to get dark in this part of the world. Here's one of the recent good ones:
And since the weather has been better, I've finally gotten out to play a bit more. Last week I visited the penguin colony on Torgersen Island for the first time this year, amazingly. I had probably been there twenty times by this time last year. But, last year I had a penguin dry spell while the chicks were new and tiny, so I hope to make up for that in the coming weeks as they begin hatching. For now, the Adelies are still sitting on eggs, and bursting into raucous song for no apparent reason:
The other side of Torgersen is quieter and has a great view of station. I snagged this picture of a contented, sun-soaked Kim:
Oh yeah, I know its been rough these past few weeks without the full use of your hands, but you can all uncross your fingers now because Kim is back! Proof of her sweet powers of persuasion, the Raytheon and NSF doctors turned her around in Punta Arenas in record time. Her wrist is healing nicely, and she doesn't need surgery!
Ugh, my radio is squawking static something fierce right now. It's very distracting. Turning up the music now. Nope, it's my fault, the damn thing is scanning. Why is it scanning?!? It was on 27 just a minute ago! Why is the keylock off?!? Every time Lily asks me to be the temporary OSAR leader, my radio goes berzerk! Aaargh! Ok, maybe not every time, maybe just this time...
... and a terrible time for it; we just had an OSAR call out. What are the odds that I'd be writing about it just minutes before? Lily and Tracey started having engine trouble at Point Eight and were being pushed onto the rocks. So this was my first call out as the acting OSAR leader. My role was to beat feet down to the boathouse and prep the OSAR boat while the rest of the team dressed out. When they arrived, I got to frantically bark orders. Ok, that's not true; the leader's role is really just to overview/supervise the operation, consider the situation and its requirements, and decide who goes where. With this experienced crew, it's an easy role. I started up the OSAR boat, replaced an empty fuel tank, threw in a tow harness, and sent the first three responders out. Then it's just a waiting game.
Turns out their motor had just stalled and was stubborn about restarting. But it did eventually restart, before OSAR even got there. So they were able to return unscathed and under their own power. Which I guess isn't very exciting, but I definitely still learned a few things.
Hmm, I guess I can bring this post round full circle by adding another blog subject to the pile: OSAR.