Saturday, December 27, 2008

WAIS - Dec 27, 2008 - Anais

Name: Anais

Date: Dec 27th
Location: WAIS Divide
Time: 8:40pm
Latitude: 79°28’1.2”S
Longitude: 112°5’6.0”W
Elevation: 1,759m
Temperature: -19°C
Wind speed: 4 knots
Visibility: Unrestricted
Wind direction: 69°
Relative Humidity: 73%
Precipitation: None
Animals: 2 new bearded faces
Breakfast: burrito, mango/grape/ strawberry fruit salad
Lunch: delicious fresh vegetable soup, sandwiches with fresh lettuce, coleslaw, bayley’s chocolate delicacy.
Supper: wonderful fresh vegetable salad, pizza, melon and watermelon


I have to talk to you more about the plane. When we get a plane, life changes at camp. You may remember that last time we had a plane, it was very important for the camp, as some of the cargo contained spare pieces for the big 953 caterpilar that a lot of people were waiting on. This time was a little different. Sylvain got his regulator. He was anxious to get it. Brian and Bruce, who are part of the core handling group arrived, and they will change my workload (although I don’t know which way it will change just yet.. more or less?). Brian is working at the national ice core lab, and in a week, Geoff will be able to leave, and Brian will take over for him. Bruce will be the science coordination officer next year, so he comes now to see how things are done, where everything is, and then he’ll get to pack everything so that he can find stuff when he comes in next year. We also got a new equipment operator for the night shift (part of the camp staff). His name is Jason. Planes bring new people. New people are fun. They change the routine. Planes also bring mail. Mail makes people happy. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get mail: If your friends are happier, it will automatically make you happier. Plus, often times, they get cool stuff to share.. This time, I got a care package from my family in France. It was a great package. My brother put in a huge box of fancy chocolates. Huge. 750g of chocolate.. 1 ½ lb. Can you imagine? It’s almost 8 bars of chocolate. So, all the people that were in the galley late last night got a piece (and there is more than half left..) Hmm.. Delicious. My father put in the package a large bloc of foie gras, a French delicacy. I gave it to John, the cook, and he said to give it to Camille, the other cook. When she saw it, she was ready to jump to the roof! She said she’ll make brioche for it, and we’ll share it on New year’s day. Perfect. We lamented for a minute on the lack of the appropriate wine, but it didn’t last long. My mother put in the box a very cozy wool shirt that I’m impatient to put on (but I’ll wait for a shower first..), and my sister put in a neck gaiter. I was very happy. I’m still very happy. Some would say I’m always happy anyways, but, yesterday, I felt especially happy. And now, even today, it seems like a continuing feast. If you look at the menu, you will see that we’re having fresh salad and fruits at every meal. It feels so good. There even are apples. Apples that you can bite in, not just bites of apples. After a while eating purely frozen food, I tend to develop a craving for biting into a fresh apple. In the past, when we had fresh food, it was just for one meal. One salad, one fruit per person. But this time, it’s a continuing feast. Last night we had plums and kiwi, this morning, apples and clementines, tonight melons.. It’s just great!

Maybe I should stop talking about food, or you are going to think that this is the only thing I ever talk about. Of course, I’m French, so I do talk about food a lot. And I often write to you after dinner, when it is fully present in my mind, but I can talk about something else, like ice cores. We are working on full 3 shifts now, and things are going really well. The drillers are producing 2.5 m of cores every run pretty reliably. Every shift got to do 6 runs in their shift last night. This is a sign that they have found the right combination of parameters to keep things going. It is hard to drill, because you cannot test anything at home: labs don’t typically have a trial ice sheet under them to drill several hundred meters long cores, and every ice sheet is different. In the brittle ice this year, the consistency of the ice keeps changing, so, even if you are not changing anything, sometimes, it works great, and sometimes it does not at all. Brittle ice coring is for smart people, there is no routine… On our side, things are rolling too. We get scared sometimes, as the ice pops, like rice crispies in a bowl, and breaks in different pieces. There is nothing we can do about it: it’s sitting in its tray, and popping on its own. We try to be as careful as we can. The drillers are giving us very good core, and so far, most of our cores stay in excellent quality, but the occasional one gets a lot of breaks. So far, we have drilled over 780 meters (200 this season), which takes us back 3500 years ago. If we are able to keep going the way we’re going, it will be a very good season. So we’re all very excited. I hope it keeps being as good as this for a while. We’ll see!


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