Thursday, August 31, 2006

December 9, 1975: Tuesday

Took us six hours to do a two hour job.

We tried to put the core boxes in the big boxes, but they wouldn’t fit. So we had to lay the big boxes sideways and find two more small boxes, make new skids for the bottoms, brace the empty places in boxes, and band them with metal packing bands.

So we were all out there hammering away and sawing and cutting bands. It was one of those days where nothing really goes as expected. But the job eventually gets done.

The Navy came up with a fork lift and a flatbed truck. this one joker directed the forklift operator. He must have been a traffic cop as a civilian. Dr. Nakai took a movie of him directing.

Stored the core in the Navy refrigerator. Our job is done.

Henry got back at supper time.

Kathy sat across from me. I was telling Henry that he had a surprise up in the lounge (a box of cookies sent to Dan Gross). And Kathy kicked me in the shins, hard, to shut me up. Of course she thought I was going to tell Henry abut the Doovry. I knew that’s what she thought, so I let her kick me. I just looked at her, shook my head, and half-smiled, half-snarled. It was a perfect ending to one of those days. Everything gets misinterpreted.

Cal told Henry about the package. When he went to get ice cream Kathy apologized for the kick.

I told her it was an efficient kick, so there was nothing to be sorry about.

Phil Kyle and a German guy were in the lab. Phil is the one that goes to Erebus every year. We went down to the Officers Club. I think I drank more wine than I ever have before, but it was over a long period of time. Gene Valentine and Miles Croom joined us. We did a lot of talking.

Miles and Wheat and Andy and Ken Kraper are flying us to Carapace tomorrow. It snowed all day while we were working outside, but the weather began clearing at midnight. It had better be good tomorrow.

Last night Dr. Treves told Henry, on single side band, that New Zealand had imposed a tax on Blue Doovries. “Would Green ones be O.K.?” “Standby.” He consulted with Mike Chapman-Smith. “I suppose they’ll work, but we can’t use any Yellow Doovries.”

The guy in single side band can’t figure out if this is all for real.

Dr. Treves has invited the whole base to our DVDP Noisy Noodle Party on Thursday.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

December 10, 1975: Wednesday

Weather cloudy. It looks bad. We clean the lab. The H&N electricians come around to put in heaters to keep the x-ray room warm. I mail a letter and negatives home. Fifty-five cents.

We got all bundled up to go to Carapace. Scott Gordon called it off because of the weather. It’s rescheduled for tomorrow.

Dr. Treves and Emmett and Pat Hagarty went to Marble Point to pick up survival gear.

Kathy’s making arrangements for her expedition Friday, including two bottles of gin. Dr. Treves, Cal, and I bought wine for the party tomorrow night. First money I’ve spent on alcohol, $4.25 on my part. But it’s for a good cause.

Went to Scott Base to take back the sled and things. Kathy sent a telegram. Left my hat in the recreation room.

I’m not too worried about that, although I should be.

Got the paper. Des died. He was a good friend.

Letter from Mom and Dad. Pay checks are home, thanks to Mrs. Treves. I have $1092.95 in the bank. That’s an incredible sum. I’ll have to general register next semester. What a hassle.

Christmas Card and letter from Marilyn. Nice cozy letter. The card said something about friendship to cherish. I think she probably thought about it before she sent it.

And it makes me wonder.

And it makes me happy.

Took CosRay Doug out to his lab. We stopped by Scott Base to get my hat. He gave me an article on fluorocarbons and ozone. It’s always been my opinion that ozone in the atmosphere is an equilibrium phenomena and it will readjust. Its reaction rate and activation energy are the important things.

Weather looks bad. I do want to go tomorrow because Kathy won’t be able to go Friday. It’ll be her first real disappointment in Antarctica. I don’t want to go away from here leaving her in a gloomy mood.

Wrote a presentation for Henry’s Doovry. Cal wants to edit it because it’s not sarcastic enough. I’ve always preferred satire to sarcasm.

55¢ for postage
$4.25 for wine

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

December 11, 1975: Thursday

Cal rewrote the presentation to Henry. I signed it anyway. Dr. Treves asked me to write six streaking confessions so the Chief won’t get in trouble. So I wrote one like I would have if I’d done it. Dr. Treves tore it up and simply wrote, “I’m sorry and I apologize.” Cal said he wouldn’t have accepted my version if he were the Commander. I couldn’t see anything wrong with it. Cal just has no appreciation for the style of writing we developed at AHS.

Carpenters came to insulate and build a door for the x-ray room. They even cleaned up their mess. We cleaned for the party and got supplies. Weather’s lousy across the Sound. No Carapace today. We’re not on the schedule tomorrow.

Señor Lorica, of Chile, came by for a tour of the lab. He doesn’t speak English well. Dr. Treves told him about methane and high temperatures. He said, “Sounds like petroleum!”

Lloyd Blanchard, publicist for NSF, likes my drill site pictures. He wants a complete set.

The party was an unqualified success. At one time we must have had sixty people in the lab, and over a hundred throughout the evening.

Captain Van Reeth, Emmett, Chris Sheppard, Señor Lorica, Nartsiss, the two Japanese, Howard the Australian Priest serving drinks, and a whole lot of semi-drunk American Navy males trying to talk to one small Kiwi girl.

Henry cooked steaks and I served them. Went in one door, got halfway through, and had to go back for more. Next trip I went through the other door. We went through 30 pounds of steak.

Katsu cooked 75 packets of noodles.

One case of beer, six bottles of wine, two bottles of saki, and several bottles of assorted spirits were consumed.

We had Henry’s microphone over the doorway to the hall and recorded the whole party.

When people started filtering away, I got Dr. Treves to do his thank-you speeches and Henry’s presentation.

Cal and Kathy were in the back room all this time, so they missed the presentation of the Doovry to Henry. Cal was a little bit mad, but Kathy forgave me.

I really don’t care. It’s been Cal and Kathy most of the time lately. I’ve always been left out, so there’s nothing new in that. I have to enjoy making other people happy and forget about the other pains that my dark side might feel, from being ignored by someone I’ve tried to do my best for.

As the party was winding down, Cooch, a helo crewman, remarked that Kathy always seemed to find some obliging drunk sailor to talk about herself to.

But after a while, Cooch was that sailor.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Nartsiss and Howard sang “Waltzing Matilda.”

About two o’clock the people that were left helped clean up. One of the guys looked like a cross between Berzel’s brother Bob and Berzel’s brother-in-law Jim. Gaylen, with George Denton, looks like Mooch Warden.

When it was all over we went to Building 125 and had coffee (or cocoa) in Kathy’s lounge. Dr. Treves was the first to leave, after Jan Boyd and Lloyd had gone outside to say good night to each other (and Dr. Treves interrupted them). Jan returned, I finished my cocoa, and bid them all good night. I don’t know what happened after then, but Cal didn’t stay too long. I heard his footsteps in the hall.

Sidebar: One of these days I’ll sort out what this whole episode with Kathy means, in terms of my life’s philosophy and my own personal happiness.

There’s a picture of Gerald Ford (that man’s our President, you know), hanging in the mess hall, with his arms folded and that silly grin on his face.

Somebody took a black felt-tip pen and drew on the glass straight black hair swept down over his forehead and a Hitler mustache on his lip.

I couldn’t help but laugh. For someone down here appreciates the sense of humor that I and Berzel and David and Doug and everyone else I have come to know have, even if the people I work with don’t.

It’s the sense of humor that cannot be conveyed either written or orally. It fills up one short span of time, to be cherished and enjoyed by those present, taking something familiar and changing it into something equally familiar, but making that change in a way that twists and screws and puckers up your thoughts, like a lemon does to your mouth.

The only time Cal or Kathy have come close to this feeling was when they made the Doovry.

Monday, August 28, 2006

December 12, 1975: Friday

Kathy went to Taylor Valley this morning. I didn’t get up in time to see her off. She and Cal were driving down the hill as Dan Morton and I were driving up. I waved good-bye.

Bio-Mike said that she came into the Dark Room to check on her film, which she thought had broke. So Bio-Mike opened it up and she had never wound it onto the wheel. So all her pictures, since the drill site went down, were not recorded. She let out a screaming stream of cuss words that made the walls turn pink.

Sidebar: I wish I had time to comment. Tomorrow I will take time for a serious discussion about me, about Antarctica, and about Kathy and try to understand the interface between a person and a continent, and the interface between a person and another person.

But not tonight. It’s late. I want to apologize for not having been very descriptive in my writing these last few weeks. But my schedule has just left no time to think about what to write, just enough time to record my actions in sketchy glimpses.

I think I’ve learned patience, by developing film for myself and living through the horror and disappointment of ruining a roll of beloved negatives. It’s time for Kathy to learn.

Today we listened to Classical Music on Henry’s tape player in the front part of the lab. It was real classy.

Mailed my box of rocks home. Thirty-one pounds, 4 ounces, $7.24. Not too unreasonable. Cleaned up the lab. Returned all our borrowed things to the BFC.

Went to Penguin Ops (VXE-6 offices). They were all decorated up for Christmas. Delivered the confessions to the Executive Officer, who accepted them in the spirit it was intended.

Played bridge with Mike Chapman-Smith, Henry, and Howard. Howard was my partner. We did very well, getting used to each other. It was an enjoyable evening. I was dealt all four aces once, but Howard ended up with the suit and went down two. Almost got into club convention on that aces hand. I had seven hearts, ace high, and all three other suits had count. We ended up at four hearts and made it. Howard and I lost in three rubbers, by less than a thousand points.

$4.24 Box O’ Rocks postage

Sunday, August 27, 2006

December 13, 1975: Saturday

Spent the day banding Dr. Treves’s rock boxes and packing up my stuff. They had all five helos up today and flew them in formation around McMurdo and down The Gap.

Mailed Cathy a post card for her collection.

Then came the volleyball game. DVDP versus Helos. They won in five sets. It was the first time I’ve played volleyball since junior high. But I’ve watched Kay enough and know all the rules. We played “jungle rules,” which means you can go into the net and anything off the ceiling is playable.

We broke two lights.

My serves started off lousy, but with a little concentration I started getting them in with an upward float on the end. Scored eleven points in five games, including game point in the fourth one.

Katsu and Nob played, Howard, George Denton, Galyn, Henry, Cal, Dr. Treves, and me. Helos had a few I didn’t know plus Cooch, Andy, Rich Sluys, Chief Walsh (the streaker), and Dan Pennington.

Then we had the party in the Red Room. Miles on banjo, Chief Walsh on guitar, a Kiwi on Gutbucket Bass, and Billy Blackwelder playing “Old Suzannah” on his harmonica, no hands, stuck between his teeth.

Lot of bluegrass for the Kiwi’s. Good old basic American Music, “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” Sang “There is No Place Like Nebraska” with a country rhythm and country melody and vocals.

I played bass on a couple of songs near the end. It’s a lot harder than pushing valves on a tuba. Had the best time I’ve had lately. Got me out of the dumps. Sang “I Want to Go Home.”

Now for the serious stuff.


Sidebar One: As far as I’m concerned, my basic statement will be, “She drives me up a wall.”

I have a feeling, a hunch perhaps, that she’s just a Tomboy. Tried once to be the way most girls act with boys and was burnt, not seriously, but enough to keep on pretending that there’s no difference between male and female psychology.

Kathy has Ann Shire’s stubbornness, Maryellen Hudak’s unwitting hypocrisy, Kristi Gilford’s habit of smoking cigarettes out of the side of her mouth, and Cathy T’s eyes and freckles. And enough enthusiasm to keep the world running twenty-five minutes after it’s ended.

Conversations dwelt around what she was doing, was going to do, or how events had altered her plans. She refused, almost openly, any suggestion made sincerely (by me) to talk out her problems. As far as I know, she never talked about her frustrations with anyone.

And she ignored the opportunity to do so on my behalf.

I’ve come to the conclusion that she’s done a lot of thinking about the nature of friendships (the “lean on me” syndrome) and has rejected it, striking out to sustain herself with no outside help, male or female.

But I am different. I thrive on sincerity. Trust. Understanding. I cannot tolerate hypocrisy, but will accept its unintenionality.

I think Kathy could have been one of Us, the Class of ’74 (with some others above and below). I caught her rubbing her chin once or twice and I put my blue denim cap on her at lunch one day. She admired it, took it off, and placed it backwards on my head.

Two months is too short a time to convert a girl completely to the kind of insanity that graduated from Auburn. But the seed was there. We had some good times, the kidding about Southern Hemisphere backwards things, the snow pile at 1A, dancing the jig in the mess tent, out at the crack.

But always my trouble lies in communication. She was very defensive about the Kiwi language. We argued mercilessly over nouns. She (along with others) could not comprehend the usage I employ when I speak Nemaha County English. Today Jan Boyd wore thick glasses. Elton Jan, obviously. It’s the first time Al Hudson has accepted one of the ideas anybody in Auburn would have taken for granted.

And then there’s my basic lack of social grace when talking with girls. I have always been shy and very self-conscious, except when the other has been open and frank and sincere. We never got beyond Geology or Local Events.

(“Frank” reminds me that Alan joined the Air Force.)

Calvin took a different route. Brash. Sarcastic criticism seemed to keep them always together, at work or walking to lunch. She even told me that she didn’t like Calvin’s habit of bragging about his photography, but never did anything to protect herself from the situation.

Calvin had the upper hand with her. Perhaps she thinks Calvin more mature, which may or may not be true. He’s older, anyway. And, like Kathy, a graduate, not some lowly sophomore.

I could not win with politeness, or performing jobs that go unthanked.

She certainly has to get lonesome, and tired, and blue. It bothers me that I have failed to ease her pain, or her mind, or comfort her when she needed it. “Weep with those who weep, rejoice with those who rejoice…” My motto, my philosophy, a failure.

I think that if I am right about Kathy’s personality (as many of the helo crewmen have noticed the same things that I have), then I should force on her my ideas pertaining to friendship. If only there was time, for I think it would help both of us.

She drives me up a wall.

Now. Have I changed?

Has four months of deso-iso-lation affected my psychology, my outlook, my attitude and actions toward life and other people?

The writing in this journal indicates “no.” Despite a lack of time for serious writing, I’ve not changed my portrayal of the world around me. I’ve been involved with personal dilemmas and thoughts. First with Mount Debrushka, then with self-doubts about my worth to Dr. Treves, and last with Kathy. I think that I’ve still managed to give all the facts and all the data as I saw it.

But my letters have been, well, frankly, a bit spacey, to say the least. I don’t know what the lack of mail lately means, but I hope it’s not what I’m afraid it is.

Letters home have been O.K., but letters from home have been short. And nothing from Kay, which disappoints me.

My last to Cathy was also O.K. The last from her, I will always cherish. Knowing her habit of writing, that’s about all I could expect from her.

I said some very good things in Deb’s letter, but also said some very unintelligible ones. Haven’t heard from her in over a month. I’m worried that I offended her. All that stuff about the mountain may have turned her off. I’ve waited for another letter before I call her, but the time has run out and I must call her from California to apologize.

I may very well have made Janet hopping mad at me.

I don’t see anything wrong with my last letter to Joy, except the “sunshine” closing.

No reply from the Board on Geographic Names.

Berzel never did write. Sometimes I desperately needed someone down here who understood me when I spoke.

One of the best letters that I got was Ann’s, but only one. A.O. didn’t reply, which doesn’t bother me too much. That letter was a matter of conscious.

And Andria never returned my second letter.

When I return I’ll ask them each what they had thought of my correspondence.

I’m certainly a bit wiser than when I left, but only in terms of how people act in a scientific environment and how Science in America really works.

Sidebar Two: Big Science is made up of little scientists.

I’ve done some truly unique things, which I want to share with the world. But will they listen?

That’s the key to whether I’ve changed or not. I’ve always thought of myself as changeless. Good ol’ Sam. Always there, silently smiling by himself. But if people listen to me, respect me, hear what I have to say, then I have changed.

I will be happy.

Siedebar Three: But if I get on people’s nerves, annoy them, create a problem to get myself out of, then nothing’s really changed.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

December 14, 1975: Sunday

Spent the afternoon taking all of Dr. Treves’s sample boxes over to the pad for storage until the ship leaves.

I took a nap listening to classical tapes.

Packed up all my belongings and my wash. I’ll take home all my miscellaneous stuff, two stuffed penguins, and my brief case, in the duffel bag.

I admit I did a dishonest deed. Well, two, actually. See, there were two of those black furry hats in my room. I think Martin left his. Well, I’ll turn his in and the other one will, ah, stay with my collection.

And another thing, the map of Ross Island and the Dry Valleys on the wall in Kathy’s office, well, it, ah, somehow got into my miscellaneous things. These things happen, you know.

Tried to explain to Nartsiss about corn yields per hectare.

Northern Illinois University sent DeKalb seed corn winter hats down here. We each get one. Came down with one hat, go home with four. Not bad.

Gave one to Nartsiss. He thought they were like a uniform for Agricultural Workers. He wore it to a formal dinner with Captain Van Reeth.

Went to PM3A to pick up a list of personnel for Dr. Treves. Took pictures of Mount Erebus and Mount Discovery, in color. Drove down the Scott Base Road to get another Erebus shot, in color this time. Rewound the film after 11 shots. I’ll put it in John’s camera when I’m finished with the black and white.

Dr. Denton talked at the Chalet. It was very, very interesting. I ask the kind of questions which might make others think, “And he’s a geologist?” But I’ll never learn unless I ask foolish questions. It’s something I have to live with.

Noisy noodle party for just DVDP, with raw fish in soy sauce. The raw fish was kind of strange, but the noodles are always good. Howard was in the Ham Shack and Kathy was at Scott Base.

She came back from the field during Dr. Denton’s talk. After it was over she was polite and pleasant, smiling at everyone.

Except me. I told her she had some pictures, left on her table by me.

She blew up, literally, in my face, telling about how her pictures for a master’s thesis were all ruined and how she needed my pictures. I gathered she was mad at me because I had the negatives and she didn’t.

Well, hell, they’re my negatives. I’d already given her the four she’d specifically asked for. She went storming out of the Chalet before I had a chance to find out what she meant.

Right there and then I decided to wash my hands of her, shrug my shoulders, and marvel at the mysterious ways that God builds His human creatures.

We took a lot of pictures of us all at the Noodle Party, several times over, flash and no flash. Kathy eventually showed up with the helo pilots. We gave them all DeKalb hats and sent them down the hill to Emmett’s going away party.

I stood staring out the window in a moody, pouting, self-concern, admiring for the last time the beauties of Antarctica. Naked black rock and hazy white ice, stretching off to the deep dark blue of open water, separated from the lighter hue of the sky by the gray portals of New Harbour, the blue-gray heights of the Mountains, changing in the revolving sunlight. I say farewell to Debrushka, lovely mountain, lovely land.

And I stare, my back to the people, trying desperately to ignore Kathy, who is talking to Calvin off in the back somewhere.

She comes up to me and tells me that she’s drunk, which of course immediately suggests a lie. I reply, “I know,” and nothing more.

You know, I think I lost my sense of humor about the First of Methane.

I am most absurd with her, impartially impolite, frowning and glaring at her while I patiently explain what I have and don’t have concerning pictures of the Dirty Ice, knowing quite well that she’s arranged to go out and shoot the shots again and has no desire for me to explain what I have and what I don’t, even though she wants more pictures from off the wall.

I want her to ask me why I’m mad at her. Well, I’m not mad at her. I’m mad at myself for allowing her and Calvin to establish a relationship that more or less excludes me.

But she never asks.

She and Calvin leave the lab, not asking me if I’m going down. I watch them descend the hill and pass from view behind the RISP Wannigan. I wait for Calvin to reappear at the Hotel door after having said good night to Kathy at her quarters, halfway down the hill and out of view.

But Calvin never reappears.

And the clock on the wall ticks loudly away at the seconds, as my time in Antarctica grows short.

As I grow short.

Let the fires within me rage. Whether I care about her or not. Whether I’m jealous of Calvin or not. Whether I’m offended by not being invited to her quarters to say farewell or not.

Mark my words, I’m not leaving Antarctica until she’s demonstrated her recognition of me as a person (another definition of friendship, perhaps), or I’ve given her a piece of my mind.

Friday, August 25, 2006

December 15, 1975: Monday

Well, she gave me her address to send her some pictures.

Maybe I’ll tell her off, then. I realize now that I should have helped Calvin out if there really was any possibility in pairing those two.

Kathy with a “K”.

I had hoped for a long time that my theory about Kathy’s with a “K” had found an exception. She was no Cathy with a “C,” that’s for sure, even if she did look like one.

She didn’t show up all morning, and just for a little while in the afternoon. She went to Scott Base as we left for the Chalet to depart.

She said, “Good-bye, Calvin. Good-bye, Sam.”

I sat in the truck, looked briefly at her and said, “Good-bye, Katherine.”

That’s all there was to it.

I should have done it earlier.

That’s the way it is in Antarctica.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

* * * *

December 15, 1975 (Continued)

The weather was delightful the day we left, warm, sunny, calm. Exactly the opposite of the day we landed. The kind of day you hate to go away from. I wouldn’t mind staying forever in that vast, white, beautiful place.

We stood around Byrd’s statue and everyone came to see us off: Bio-Mike, Dan, John Oliver, Dan Morton, Jan, Mike, CosRay Doug. Picture taking, laughing, joking, and good-byes.

Had a hassle with the guys at Hill Cargo. They wouldn’t let me take the duffel bag full of souvenirs as hand-hold baggage.

We got in this big truck and we watched as McMurdo Station got smaller and smaller as we headed for Williams Field.

It was an Air Force Herc. Much nicer than the Navy one coming down. I sat right where I wanted, by a window on the left side, in fact, right next to the flight deck with lots and lots of leg room.

We were off and above the clouds, taking pictures all the way; Mount Debrushka and the Southern Foothills rolling onto the Blue Glacier and the Transantarctic Mountains; beyond that, the white expanse of the Plateau; bare, naked ridges sticking out, through thousands of feet of ice; Taylor Valley, with Lake Fryxell and Taylor Glacier.

Heavy clouds near the Big ‘Berg made photography difficult.

The clouds receded near Mount Melbourne, which is a lot like Mount Discovery.

My last glimpse of Antarctica was a huge, wide mouthed glacier flowing down to the sea in ice, draining the Plateau, and steep-faced rocky summits off into the distance. Then clouds.

And then the sun set over the clouds. Darkness fell.

I read Scientific American, the Solar System Edition. It seems that Mercury has lava flows much like those that form the marea on the moon.

I tell Dr. Treves, the next day, that that is where my heart lies, Planetary Geology. He didn’t tell me I was crazy.

Peter Barrett had the log of the core done, and the title page of the report. I’m a co-author, but I didn’t write anything. That makes me mad. I’d rather not have my name on the cover, then.

But Cal mentions about helping with the ice deflection part and Dr. Treves mentions something about the wash sample point counting.

He tells me to add another hour to my Special Problems course, gave me an incomplete for three hours this semester, meet once a week, and work on the wash samples. He asks about my schedule.

Russian is the first thing I say. He advised me to take it when I said I was considering it over French. I really don’t think it will be to much harder than French, if French is anything like the German courses they teach. If it’s going to be hard, I might as well learn something. Nartsiss was a big influence and I really don’t like the idea of David W. getting ahead of me on something like that.

I have two regrets. If French would be easier for me, I could use a light class. I won’t learn any French history this way.

A Final Sidebar: Would I go back to that Frozen Land, Far Away?
Of course I would.
But perhaps there are other worlds to explore
I make a habit of Adventuring in the South.

Well, that’s about it for Antarctica, folks.

The Remainder:
$15.00 Motel
1.25 Lunch
2.10 Shanghai Supper
0.20 Bus ride to Brighton
0.20 Bus ride back
0.93 Fish and chips
0.80 Fish and chips
2.30 Shanghai Supper
0.59 Tea and such
1.10 Plane ride meal
0.50 Food in Hawaii
2.75 Centennail by Michner.
About time I found it.
0.75 More food in Hawaii
3.23 Dinner in Pamona
1.75 Mid-rats in Las Vegas
3.05 Breakfast there
0.93 Snacks, etc.
1.25 Lunch
0.50 Tips

We’ll be home for Christmas.