Saturday, September 30, 2006

November 9, 1975: Sunday

Winds all night gusting well over 50 knots. I woke up at nine o’clock and blew over to the mess tent. We’re advised to evacuate if the winds shift to the northwest.

It’s not really cold, just raw wind power. Visibility is about 15 miles. Low, dark cloud cover. The coastline is obscured by blowing snow. Drifts have piled up on the leeward side of the mess tent. A tremendous amount of snow, considering how clean the ice is between here and the Ice Shelf.

The snow is a blessing as it provides footing against the slippery ice. Fell going to the U-barrel. Slid back.

They had trouble with all three Jamesways last night.

I was afraid my hat (Kay’s hat) would blow away, across the desolate expanse. But it was only snowy in the morning. Very snowy.

They quit drilling about 2:00 a.m. because of the weather. They had another three feet of stratigraphically significant samples. Cal and I put it in a box, but haven’t gotten around to logging it yet.

Went out to the iceberg to gather ice and check on movement along the tide crack about 6:00 a.m. It was moving up and down.

It is possibly the eeriest scene I’ve ever been in, the wind gusting across my face, the large mountain of blue and white flecked ice, behind us the smooth blue sea ice, in front of us the broken blue-green blocks that stretch off in a broken rubble path to the next cubic iceberg, a cave halfway up its side, strange brown cylinder mammals and their gray pups rolling over, eyeing us, while we listen.

And the iceberg creaks and groans and whines, like two slabs of wood being pried apart. The iceberg moves up, creaks, and moves down. But its not the iceberg, it’s us that have been heaved up by the swelling, savage sea, our six foot raft of ice clinging desperately to its anchor iceberg.

The ice has grown one half centimeter since yesterday, according to the devices implanted yesterday.

We had trouble communicating at noon. Must have given Dr. Treves a fright when he thought we had six inch swells, but we got across that it was only one and a half centimeters. We’re advised to leave when new cracks develop around the berg.

Blackpool is England’s Coney Island.

Friday, September 29, 2006

November 10, 1975: Monday

I went to bed last night at six. Got up at 1:00 a.m. Cal and Henry had been to Marble Point, the storm having died down about 11:30. When I got up the weather was clearing, gusts half of what they had been, but colder.

The road to Marble Point was blocked at the tide crack a mile from land by a five-foot snow drift. They went to bed and I held the night shift. Operations had begun again when the wind died down. About eight they recovered a bucket and a half of wash samples.

At seven thirty I went out (drove 590, had no trouble at all, just nudge the wheel the opposite way the hood is going, no trouble at all) to check on the iceberg. It wasn’t moving up and down, but a new puddle of slushy ice was found at the tip. A crack, 150 feet long, was formed in the new snow, filling an old crack, and going several inches into the older ice.

During the night I wrote two scenes in Antigone and Mercedes, and even some in The Forest Beyond the Trees®.

Dr. Treves, a Navy photographer, and Nartsiss came out. Nakai showed me how to run a water sample through the gas chromatograph. It’s really quite simple, so I wonder how I’ll screw up when Nakai goes home tomorrow.

Went to sleep about 13:00. Slept with my head outside the bag. Very comfortable. The Scott Tent without Henry is just right. Six and a half feet tall and six and a half feet square base pyramid, two foam mats, plenty of place to throw things, and a duffel bag full of clothes for a pillow. However a sharp block of ice acts as a mean back breaker. The green light that filters through gives a ghoulish, dried-blood color to red and orange.

Got up about 18:00. Ate a cold supper.

Sat around and talked. The bullshit is starting to pile up in here. Martin tells all sorts of impossible stories about Canada, and we tease him about it. Don is a very good ad libber and everyone takes the jokes as jokes and no one gets mad when they or their country are insulted (because it’s not really meant).

That’s the way it should be.

They thought they had hit a boulder about nine o’clock, but nothing was recovered.

About ten or so Jack was in the truck as Dr. Treves came on the radio. There’s a big storm (50 knot winds) coming from the south at 70 mph. The winds will be from the northeast, a grave threat to the drill site. We had four hours to get to Marble Point or two hours to get helos out for evacuation.

The helos were sent. Marble Train Three was at Bowers Piedmont Glacier. All together 27 people were evacuated in three helo trips. They sent two helos for us.

I stood by the radio to talk to Dr. Treves for developments. There was sort of the prelude-to-the-storm excitement that builds tense efficiency. Except this was a bit more nonchalant. I read Cosell waiting in the truck, talking to Mac Center, and watching the first helo land.

Calvin asked which flight I wanted to go on. I said, “The second. I don’t think anything drastic will happen in fifteen minutes.”

“O.K. I just thought that the least experienced people on the ice should be on the first helo.”

I thought about that statement for a minute.

“Which category do you put me in.”

“Ahh, you’re borderline…Mike and I have the most experience, then you’re right after that.”

Calvin went on the first helo. I think he realized that an ice-wise guy should be with them. He boarded last, when the helo pilot signaled for one more.

It was all very well done. No one acted rash or panicky. Everyone did their jobs; drillers securing the rig, tents, and beer; Nakai making the gas chromatograph safe; Jack and Cal and I organizing and communicating. And no one trying to take over as hero-leader, just a normal everyday routine evacuation; Kiwi’s standing around, watching helos land, drinking beer, boarding helos, drinking beer, and ten Kiwis in a helo, drinking beer.

Just routine.

The funny thing about it was that the weather at 1A was delightful, little wind, warm, no cloud cover except the dark gray patch to the southeast. We’ll see tomorrow if the predictions and evacuation were right.

Sidebar: Blackboard in Mess Hall
Dome Charlie 3
Navy 0

Back home Dave B. and Howard were waiting for us with things to eat over at the mess hall. Cal and Kathy came walking down the hill. He’s had three days and now fifteen minutes head start over me.

I shouldn’t really care. Kathy draws a lot of attention. I found out Kathy slept in the back part of the tent to avoid the ice block. Rich Sluys said, “She knows how to lay on ice.” So it goes.

We waited for Sluys to come back with the Marble Train crew, to thank him for rescuing us. He’s a wolf in wolf’s clothing. He went up to eat with us. I got in back of the pick-up. Kathy slid in beside me and got out my door.

At the table she was very, very attentive to Max, who was pretty tired.

She and Dr. Treves and I went up to the lab to tie things down. She certainly isn’t avoiding me, which is easy enough to do. (She’s met Peter Bunch and doesn’t want to be trapped in that building with the GFAs.) And the politics of body language and positions appeared to be in Calvin’s favor. But he retired from the field to take a shower.

Not that any of this means anything. I analyze things too much.

Got a Newspaper. Had my adventures and photographs in it.

So Kathy showed me the post she hit with 589 (because she reacted the wrong way after driving 590) with all its red paint marks. Swinging around it, telling me how she’s “left her mark on Antarctica,” I caught her eyes, the sun flashing across those green-brown pupils. For some brief instant she hesitated in mid-sentence. And in that instant (for me an hour) I felt two souls at each other gazing. When the effect had reached its height, I shifted my glance and she moved hers, and we continued on our conversation.

I seldom look in girl’s eyes. But sometimes I think there is power in it.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

November 11, 1975: Tuesday

About that statement last night. I don’t see how Kathy can stand to look at such an ugly face as mine. So I decide it is better to let things go their own way, and not force, analyze, or get paranoid. Right?

Sidebar Quote of the Day:
“I want her for her body. But if I end up with her soul, that’s all right, too.” - R. Rotworm

As it turned out today (she’s very tired) that perhaps she needs some one to tell her hassles to.

Today was cloudy and dark. It snowed, a lot for down here. That quiet kind of snow with no wind that frosts everything white.

First one to the lab this morning. Read the paper. Made a deal with the drillers to print pictures for fifty cents a print. Got some H2O2 and plastic cups from Bio-Mike. Helped on thin sections.

Cal and Kathy tried to straighten out some misunderstanding in the logging procedures about the runs. Must have had a dozen people in the lab this afternoon, most of them Navy.

The plan: when the weather clears five drillers will go out to 1A and assess the damage. If it can be fixed, they’ll establish radio contact and eventually everyone will move back out, with all the items needed for repair.

If the damage is too great, we’ll salvage what we can.

Bought Cathy a get well card.

Spent the evening gathering together the miscellaneous oceanographic data that Peter, Kathy, Howard, Cal, Henry, and I collected.

I’m in charge of organizing it into some sort of publishable form.

Get Well Card: $0.25

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

November 12, 1975: Wednesday

I know why I like Mount Bird and Mount Morning so much. It’s because the shadows in the cracks and hills and glaciers are blue, a fuzzy blue, that stands out against the white, which is surrounded by egg shell sky, so that everything looks like a fake backdrop in a Hollywood movie.

Worked all morning gathering miscellaneous bathymetric and grab sample data. Made a fairly accurate map of the area with grab sample locations.

Hassled with Kathy over some of the notes and how to interpret them. I thought she was getting pretty mad at me for hounding her about getting things accurate.

But I apologized and we really had fun this morning. I started typing up the data while she poured H2O2 onto grab samples and Cal did up castings. Left her alone and she ended up typing my data, but couldn’t really make heads or tails of what I wanted. She’ll learn.

The weather’s O.K. One helo went out. 1A is in great condition. We go out at 13:15. Cal goes off to take Jerry’s resupplies to the helo pad.

They try to get the movie projector to work.

The weather is just gorgeous, warm, calm, sunny, with low clouds to the south.

Kathy and I walk to lunch.

Out at 1A, I take the day shift and log three wash samples. Cal and I do the ice deflections and ice depth.

Finish Cosell and retire.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

November 13, 1975: Thursday

Had some core last night, three boxes. Cal had it all done. Spent the morning doing ice deflection, depth, and weather measurements. I gave Dr. Treves all the information over the radio. I ask him to bring out Dave’s address, which I left on the desk. He asks me if I’m thinking about going to go to the Academy.

The rest of the morning I got things organized after Cal went to bed, what to do and how to do it. I describe some wash samples that came up. My job is to record what it is as it comes out of the hole and get it ready to fly to McMurdo, the type of sediment, color, grain size, angularity, sorting, lithology, and anything else unusual. Wash samples go home in plastic bags, with meters below the surface on it.

Start to read Penmarric. The first few pages are all right.

They get the projector going. We watch the second two reels of The Creeping Flesh. The sideline jokes are very good. Max has a good sense of humor. It’s the kind of movie you drive by at the City and watch, but never ever think about going in, unless it’s the second feature and you have a back seat full of minority beer.

The helicopter landed just as it ended and just as the first core on my shift came up. I drove 590 over to unload the helo. Dave B. was out. He and the helo crew were suitably impressed by my core. The core goes in boxes and is packed very carefully, without strips of cardboard, and is labeled “Keep Frozen. Handle with Care.”

I really don’t know what to do to describe this stuff, so Calvin does the next two. I finish wash samples. Every one is standing around taking pictures of this real core. It looks official. I wish I could find my camera.

I watch the drillers. I think I understand the system. They have an outer casing, then the rod that they keep raising and lowering, then the core bit and core holder inside that. It takes two different winches.

Got a Newspaper and a letter from Janet and Cathy (as a Halloween card, gees). Janet is just plain crazy. And Cathy, well, it’s my favorite, the kind of letter that makes sense out of a 2:30 a.m. phone call. And everything is beautiful.

Both she and Joy went to functions with Myron. Myron doesn’t know that they know that he’s taking them to dances on consecutive nights.

Jean E. is getting married to some Plattsmouth guy.

Janet’s sister, Mary Kay, had a benign brain tumor, but is O.K.

Yesterday they went to New Harbour to get some more rod. There were people all over the place. Jim tells the story very well. People diving, people setting up camp, people running up and down the hills. They turned a corner and some guy was taking a dump on a wee toilet. He tried to pull up his pants when the truck came around the corner.

Monday, September 25, 2006

November 14, 1975: Friday

It’s a beautiful day, just splendid. I talk on the radio to Dr. Treves. Marble Train Three drops by for breakfast. Cal and I do ice measurements. Art DeVries and Ed Osada come out to fish. I do some logging. I begin to get the hang of things.

It’s sedimentary rock, very black, basaltic. That makes Dr. Treves very happy.

Sidebar from the Christchurch Press, November 11:

High Winds Hold Up Ice Drilling

A southerly gale in the Antarctic temporarily halted drilling into the McMurdo Sound seabed yesterday on Monday.

The drill was only seven metres into the seabed when the wind gusted to 50 knots.

Fifteen New Zealand drillers are manning the rig, which is the first to use annual sea ice as a drilling platform. The rig, and its support camp, are sitting on ice 1.8 metres thick. This is expected to break up and drift out to sea next month.

Core samples have already been taken, and they are being analysed by United States, Japanese, and New Zealand scientists.

It is planned to drill into 1300 metres of sedimentary rock in an attempt to discover when the East Antarctica ice sheet began moving into the Ross Sea. Initial core samples have been flown to McMurdo Station, 70 km away, for preliminary analysis.

The drillers hope that no natural gas will be found because a sudden blow-out could wreck the project. Japanese scientists at the site have set up equipment to detect gas in the core.

It’s really warm. I set out in the sun on a block of wood with Art and Ed and watch them drill.

I think about happiness and internal peace. And I really think I’ve got it here. At least I feel good about it, away from worldly worries, which worries me, though.

I’m really getting used to what’s going on. Martin teaches me a lot. I can tell when they’re drilling and when they’re raising or lowering the core catcher.

Jim and Murray and Lloyd and I got into a big argument over the word “pickles.” Lloyd and I won the American version. Jim won the English version.

We have a discussion of old radio shows on New Zealand radio. They whistle The William Tell Overture. “To the dump, to the dump, to the dump, dump, dump.”

It’s a regular loony bin around here.

In the afternoon things get confusing. They have zero recovery runs and 500 percent recovery runs and I get Cal up to try and help me straighten out the blasted thing.

Some core got stuck in the bottom of the outer casing, and it was stuff from five different runs. With the help of Max, we get things figured out, and it’s almost all there.

Cal finally found my camera. I’d been looking for it for a day and a half. Cal found it in three minutes. It had fallen into a box.

Art wanted to know when the helo would be back to pick them up. So at four o’clock I called the Chalet. Dr. Treves was there, so I talked to him. The helo would be around any minute. Jack passed on some messages.

At six I give out the days measurements. Dr. Treves says a guy from Time Magazine will be out Tuesday to do a story on us. Dave B. comes over the radio to say it was the Science Editor for Time. Dr. Treves wants us to clean up, comb our hair, shave, etc.

I told him I’d even cut my hair. Both he and Dave burst onto the air. I switched the receiver on and laughed.

Kathy doesn’t want any more plastic bags, a special direct order. I ask Dr. Treves if he wants wash samples.


“Well, Kathy’s going to get a lot more plastic bags.”

It’s a good emotion, one that Cathy would think of. In my mind, I can’t distinguish between Kathy’s remark and Cathy’s personality, or either one of their faces. That’s unfair to both. Or maybe a compliment to both. I haven’t decided, yet.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

November 15, 1975: Saturday

Did the usual things.

Maybe I should explain ice deflection measurements. Cal sets up the transit so that it’s level. Then I go out to our flags and hold a pencil alongside the flag. When the point coincides with the cross-hairs on the transit, I mark it and measure its distance from a pre-measured “level” mark. The difference represents how far a flag has sunk or risen. To get the pencil to match the cross-hairs, Cal motions me up or down (or up a little bit, down a little bit) with his arms. At level, Cal holds out both arms. Most of the time it takes a considerable amount of time to get the pencil level with the transit.

Today I put the pencil against the flag pole. Calvin looked through the telescope, started, looked again, and held both hands out.

No core today. Forty feet of sand fell in, probably from pressure when all the rod was pulled up. They spent all day washing it out. Got lots of wash samples.

Kathy will be happy.

Mr. Scott Gordon and Gentle 18 came out to pick up Jack and take home core and lots and lots of plastic bags. One box said, “Please read log sheet before serious contemplation of this box, and Handle with Core.”

I talked to Mac Center at nine o’clock. Everything’s all right. Little did I know.

Penmarric is a very good book. It’s had a couple of surprises already, and the description is nice, one of the very best attempts I’ve seen to describe the nuances of interpersonal relationships among unknown characters. I can tell a good book when I start wanting a character to do things my way, and I get excited in anticipation of the author doing the same thing I would have done. I get disappointed when they don’t.

Oh, by the way, the author is a lady and the hero is a male (first person). It’s an interesting study in credibility. It takes an awful lot of observation and experience to place the spark of life into a male character from a female creator. Or vice versa, for that matter. It’s an interesting hobby, but the trouble is, the author will never, ever be able to tell if it’s done right. No matter what ERA says.

Radio trouble at six. 590 could hear Mac Center but no transmission from us was received. Couldn’t get them on single side band.

“Couldn’t get them at six.”

“We wonder how the drilling is going.”

“How much core do they have?”

We’re dying of laughter because of today’s problems, which have been resolved.

After a while, we broke in. Henry could get us very weakly; Dr. Treves not at all. Henry acts as a relay. He is glad to have some one to talk to. “I never though I’d get laryngitis out here.”

We pass an awful lot of nonsense over the air waves, besides a torturous explanation of our radio situation. It’s like playing gossip. And what’s funny is we can here Dr. Treves ask Henry questions. Henry asks us the question. We tell Henry the answer. Then he repeats the answer to make sure he got it straight (which they can hear in McMurdo), and then he repeats the answer to Dr. Treves (which we can hear). It’s hilarious.

Then we play games with the radio, change to lower side band. Dr. Treves counts to ten. “Tuning check, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.” Then real fast, “ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.” It’s delightful.

Dr. Treves understands that we can hear him. “We have an unofficial, informal, not formal, request from U.S. and New Zealand representatives to expunge all reference to Oil Exploration. This is serious, it’s not a joke.”

Oh, Li’l Steve’s sign company gave the Government a “stick it” signal. It will remain to be seen if enough energy and enough paint can be found to remove all reference to Antarctic Oil Exploration by the time our Tuesday visitors arrive.

Kathy got on and Henry was glad to talk to her. I don’t know if they’ve ever met. Good ol’ Henry, always conscientious. Cal broke in to tell Henry that, “the radio is used for official business only,” meaning, good naturedly kidding, not time for pleasantries with Kathy.

Henry said, “Wait a minute, I got some sort of garbled message. Please repeat.”

Cal, “The radio is for business only, ha ha.”

Henry, “This is S-54. Who’s calling?”

“Ha, ha, ha, ha,” from Kathy.

“Laughter doesn’t come over the radio very well.” (Giggle).

“Will the drill site have anymore wash samples?” Ah, that Kiwi accent.

“We have 75 pounds. Seven-five pounds. L B S. A helicopter load by tomorrow.”

“Ah, Cal, I got the part about the helicopter, what was the first part.”

“Seven-five. Seventy-five pounds.”

“Ah, McMurdo, S-66 says they’ve got 75 something or others.”

“Pounds, Henry, pounds. El Bees.”

“They say they have 75 cows or pounds or something. Enough for a helicopter load.”

“Oh, no.”

Cal hasn’t had so much to laugh about in years. Neither have I, for that matter.

During all this tripe a Kiwi Herc made a low pass over the drill rig, wiggling its wings.

Today was very warm. I got hot in the little red jump suit, so I took it off and ran around in the ol’ State Champ jacket. The wind cam up, but I still stayed pretty warm. At least I didn’t freeze.

I think I’ll change my underwear tomorrow.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

November 16, 1975: Sunday

I wish to thank John G. Saunders for the graduation travel alarm clock. It makes a very good pocket watch.

Ten meters of core in four hours. Keeps me very busy. Cal has to stay up to help me catch up. I’m going to stay up to help him. Unfortunately, they get the rod stuck and spend the rest of the day lowering the casing.

We talk to Dr. Treves over single side band. They’re bringing out a radio technician with the Mogas this afternoon.

Then things start to happen about two o’clock. Two helos circling the camp, one with Mogas underslung. Six crewmen, including Lieutenant J.G. Sluys (for which we named the iceberg Sluysberg and 1A is called Bergsville, of course), Kathy, Dr. Treves, Howard, two radio technicians, a VXE-6 Commander, Paul Dayton, John Oliver, and two Holmes & Narver employees.

The pilot skidded to a stop, landing like a real airplane. We stood outside the Jamesway and applauded.

Kathy wants to see our white quartz sandstone.

“Our what?”

Henry had relayed last night that we had white quartz sandstone. Gees.

While Kathy and I walked over to look at it, I mentioned something about all the tourists out today.

“Oh, am I just one of the tourists, now?”

“No, you’re still one of the family.”

She said “ahhh” and leaned her little bod against mine, almost putting her head on my shoulder.

She’s having trouble with our log sheets, describing and assigning position according to depth. I think she’s taken on more than she is really capable of. I don’t know if its to impress someone (Peter?) or just because she wants to.

So while the madhouse was swirling for two hours (H&N enjoying, radio technicians technicianing, pilots sitting around drinking coffee, Gupwell drinking, Dr. Treves getting things all disseminated or gathered back together, and everybody trying with Kath), Cal and I try to get things straightened out with the logging. She’s only up to Run 12 and was worried about 200 percent recovery in Run 8.

So when things were quieted down I told Kathy, “What you need is Peter.”

I new immediately I’d phrased that question wrong. She looked at me. I opened my mouth and she said, “Oh, to help with the logging.” Like I meant something else when I said she needed Peter.

It’s one of those rare moments when you realize you’ve touched on something that needs to be discussed, but it’s not the right time nor place. Nor maybe it never will be.

Peter is returning tomorrow, incidentally.

They brought the arm exerciser that’s been hanging around the laboratory because we’re getting fat on Lloyd’s cooking. Art DeVries is coming back out. He’s bringing us some mawsoni.

I explain my moral objections against covering up just to present a certain image to a pressman. I hate the idea of hypocrisy, even if it’s over something as insignificant as Oil Company signs. The paranoid jerks that think people can’t take a joke ought to be expelled from the bureaucracy.

But if Dr. Treves says to do it, I guess we do it.

Cal stated our position fairly well. “We’ll see that it gets done, but we won’t push it.”

Some of the boys are pretty upset, really, but were talking it over. We must persevere in the face of adversity.

I carried Kathy’s survival bag out to the helo. That was a dumb thing to do. But we talked about Antarctic Oil. I guess Hamish has talked to the Times reporter. He said he was a “real bastard.” So Van Reeth and Hamish advised us not to do anything outrageous because he’s probably out to get us, just looking for something to run off at the mouth about. A fault finder to a fault. Troublemaker. Dave B. had nothing to do with this request. At least openly, which is surprising.

I can’t buy that about him out to get DVDP or NSF or the Navy. But it may be that he’s like that, wanting to explode some nonsense about wasted money or non-scientific endeavors. I’ll know when I meet the guy which way things lie. Presently we’re thinking of ways to pervert petty authority. We’ll wait to see whether petty authority is the Times reporter or Van Reeth and Bresnehan. Hamish is a good guy. If it’s the Times reporter, then Dave B. is on our side, too. I hope it’s that way, even if I do have more faith in Senior Science Editors than I do in Dave Bresnehan.

Oh, well. Just do what we feel is right. It’s a sort of a M*A*S*H episode, really.

Dr. Treves, Kathy, Howard, Dayton, and John went to Black Island. Our radio wasn’t broken. It was the antenna in McMurdo. Figures.

They fixed the single side band radio.

Jack came back out. Leon is staying in town.

It’s a relief to be able to talk over 590.

At 8:30 p.m. Cal switched on the single side band. McMurdo was talking to Jerry (54). He wanted to know when the helos fly tomorrow. They talked awhile, then their transmitter conked out. So Calvin went to bed.

Sidebar: Both Dr. Treves and Henry think I’m Cal over the radio.

Then Henry came up (57) and called McMurdo. No answer. So I (66) called 57. Fifty-seven wanted to know when the helos would fly. I talked to him awhile about what we’ve been getting for core. Fifty-seven wanted to know if we’d heard from 54. So I called 54. Fifty-four could hear 66. Could 54 hear 57? Yes. We had a three way station going. I offered to talk to Mac Center at ten o’clock and then have them come up and I would pass on the information. They both said it wasn’t that important. Then McMurdo Station came back on the air. They’d been listening to us. They wanted to know if 56 had come up (George Denton). No. So they shut down. Then 56 came on, and 66 asked him to wait while I called Mac Center from 590 to tell them to get McMurdo Station back on single side band. But McMurdo Station came up, gave out helo times and everything is all hunky-dory.

They had problems with the generator today. So I’m the electrician, walking back and forth between the cook tent and the generator at the drill rig, plugging the extension cord back into the generator every time it vibrates out.

I talked to Mac Center at midnight. Dr. Treves was back from Black Island and he was there to see if we were all O.K. I told him that Denton, Henry, and Jerry were all O.K. He said that I ought to just take over the radio scheds. I told him that would be doing his job, so they’d have to pay me more money.

Cal got up at twelve and relieved me. He hasn’t gotten much sleep lately, odd hours, doing things that needed done that I can’t do because I’m day shift.

Friday, September 22, 2006

November 17, 1975: Monday

Got up at 08:00, or just before. Felt miserable. Sneezing, coughing, runny nose, sore throat. Nothing terrible. Yesterday I developed a pain in my Eustachian tube. I guess it’s my Eustachian tube because when I yawn, my ear hurts. It’s the kind of pain I remember having had before, but can’t remember when, like a well-known face with no name. It only tingles occasionally, now. At least I’m not sick sick.

Cal pulls 590 up to the plug-in by the generator, gets out, and the cord is too short. I’m glad I’m not the only one that does that.

Helo coming out at nine so Dr. Treves was on the radio at eight. He gave us helo scheduling information. And we told him that Jerry could come out today to do a temperature measurement. He went off to arrange things.

It appears that his flight is going to take someone from this place out to Wright and Victoria Valley to help reduce the DFA levels in the old holes. Cal says he’ll go, unless I want to go.

I make no answer.

“If you want to go, go ahead.”

“Let’s wait until Dr. Treves gets here and we can talk about it when we know what the situation is.”

A little later, from Cal, “You know, they will be bailing out the hole, so if you still have problems lifting things…”

I didn’t say anything. I would like to go, I want to go, but it’s my shift and I think a helo ride would only give me a headache today.

And then we’re talking about it to Jim and Li’l Steve and Murray. They all want rocks. Cal says he’ll bring some back, but he’s not sure who’s going. “Talk to Sam, if he’s going. If you do go, be sure to bring back some dike rocks from the other side of the lake.”

Well, that settles it. So when Dr. Treves asked who was going to go, I say, “Cal.” I’ll go next time. Anyway my camera has black and white film in it.

So they leave after bringing Leon home. At nine o’clock Mac Center says that Little Sam should be standing by at 9:45 for radio contact.

That’s interesting.

The helo got here about 9:30. At 9:45 Kathy came up and wanted to know if Dr. Treves was there. She had a message from Hamish about using dirty DFA at Marble Point.

That’s interesting, too.

There’s some trouble with the drill rig. It keeps getting stuck in the hole and they’re just at the verge of snapping off the rod. So they shut down to wait for Jerry to come measure the bottom temperature. If it’s frozen, sea water will melt the core and it will collapse to sand. They’ll use DFA, instead, as a circulating fluid.

In the meantime, I read Penmarric. It’s a great book. I wonder what Marilyn really thought about it. I sit around and drink some of Jim Meehan’s cordial, three gallons of Wyler’s lemonade, cherry flavor, and gin. For my cold, you know.

Jerry gets here. The temperature of the sand at the bottom is -1.087º Celsius. That’s between the freezing point of sea water and fresh water. Our conclusion - it’s permafrost if the water in the core is fresh. It’s not frozen if the water in the core is salt water. Jack must assume that it’s not frozen because they’re is no evidence in either direction, which is a conclusion.

Dr. Nakai thinks that salinity can be judged by the pH of the water in the core. That’s logistically hard. We don’t have any pH paper here and to get some out here would take at least a day.

So I make a decision. I know that Cal will be unhappy about what I do.

I called Mac Center and ask them to ring the Earth Science Lab and have Kathy or Howard come up on the radio in twenty minutes.

Dr. Treves is back and I talk to him. I feel very foolish. I’m making a request which may be absurd and at the same time sounding urgent. He wants to know if we have an pH paper out here. To tell the truth, I’d forgotten to look. So I said negative, and prayed that it was true. Oh, if we had some I’d be in trouble, causing a stir over nothing (typical me). I looked afterwards and we didn’t.

So I tell them to go ahead and try to do the experiment, taking the pH of any water they can get out of the core by heating, and comparing it with the pH in the sea water we have in the wash sample bags. If it’s basic, then it’s salt water and the core is not frozen.

Dr. Treves suggests that the results would be more significant if we used the core that was from the present zone of trouble, which is still out here.

Well, the helo is back to pick up Jerry. I rush around, trying to get the core on board his flight, for eventual return to town. And as I drive back from the rig with the core, the helo takes off.

Dr. Treves says it’s O.K. They’ll try to advance our resupply run from tomorrow to tonight. All this hassle to get the core home. I don’t know if I acted right. Is the pH of the core important enough for a special helo flight? Is it important enough to make a special call to Mac Center?

Well, we got a message anyway. Peter wants to compensate our depth readings for tidal changes. I’m supposed to find out what the tides were for each time a core was taken.

I explain to Dr. Treves the difficulty involved, that the time of coring is sketchy and tide measurements are sporadic. I’ll do my best.

Martin shows me how he measures the tide. It’s from a blue collar down to the top of the very outside casing, which is anchored on the bottom. The collar moves with the ice. The distance from the rig floor to the outside casing gives us some sort of depth compensation. Peter’s going to have to set a standard height and figure from there. Cal thinks it’s a waste of time.

At six we learn that Dr. Treves and Peter will bring out the resupply about 8:30 p.m. I tell him we’ve worked out a system to record tides while cores are being taken. The only trouble is that we’ll have to get wet. Cal doesn’t mind about that.

So I go about gathering two sets of data and combining them. At 7:30 a helo, coming from the Valleys, stopped. It’s the same one that took off while I was driving the core to it. He had come back to pick up the core, etc.

After a quick conference, we send Martin and Mike home with them (Mr. Gordon) and waited to put the core on the other helo, if it comes out, now.

Jack says that the Times reporter got stuck at the South Pole. There’s a lot of joking going on about all the signs that were repainted. Sort of like hide and seek. This morning I asked Cal if the reporter would come out on a regular resupply. He hoped so, maybe with Van Reeth. Li’l Steve was rummaging through a cardboard box. He said, “Maybe the guy would like to buy a souvenir T-shirt.” He held up a freshly painted Antarctic Oil Exploration Company T-shirt.

The helo came out with lots of supplies and went home with wash samples and core. We explained our tide measuring and data. Dr. Treves and Jack think the core is salt water. Cal, Peter, and Dr. Nakai think it’s fresh water. I guess my idea about the analysis being done is good. They’re going to do it with a salinity machine, not pH paper.

Well, the reporter will be out tomorrow. Sign repainting is now progressing. Dave Bresnehan is behind all this, probably in the best interest of job security.

Got a letter from Marilyn. Things are going to be difficult when answering her, not to confuse her and Joy. But it will be fun. I enjoy conversing with her over 12,000 miles.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

November 18, 1975: Tuesday

What they’re going to do is go to a smaller size rod and drill through what’s stuck in the hole, old core rod, bit, and all. The helo that came out this morning brought new parts, plus Art DeVries, Ed, Dr. Flynn, Gene Valentine, Dr. Treves, six helo crewmen, a guy I’d never seen before, and the Times reporter, Frank Golding, a well-meaning, nice enough fellow. He helped vacuum at the South Pole.

They wanted to take the truck out to the fish hole, but Leon came running over and said they couldn’t have it because they need to talk to Martin about brining more things out. He was very vocal about it.

So I sat in the truck and monitored the radio while Dr. Treves showed Golding around. All this time the flag of Antarctic Oil flew proudly from the mast.

They let a helo co-pilot try to drive from the rig to the helo in 590, after Leon talked to Martin and they decided to take both helos.

Anyway, Gene wanted to know what we did for “yuks” out here. I told him we let unsuspecting pilots drive 590. We let Golding drive with him, of course.

When we got to the mess tent we were laughing and everyone looked to the front door. On the white paint splotch the mysterious words “No Reporters Thanks” appeared. It was a bit of a surprise.

But someone laughed and they went on in. They were showing a movie. Rich brought out a projector last night but forgot the plug-in. So they brought it today.

The door opened and everyone yelled, “Shut the door!”

Tensions were very high after the reporter left. Peter called at noon and suggested to Jack that they move the drill rig over. After the problems they’ve had, the rush, rush, hassle, hassle, that was not the kind of question to ask. So when Jack came in for lunch, we had to stop the movie. Jack and Jim hurled veiled insults at each other. I hope it helped by getting things cooled off.

The movie is The Mechanic, a cheaply done, poorly acted mobster movie with zero or less plot. Who for? Charles Bronson lovers, idiots, and drillers. Rating? 37½.

At six we go out in the truck and someone gives us the figures for the salinity and alkalinity of the core. We think it’s Henry. The core is more saline than ocean water near McMurdo.

But Calvin and Martin still don’t believe it’s good solid rock. Jack and I think it is. Here four intelligent people come to two different conclusions on the same evidence.

They show The Mechanic, again, and at nine o’clock we see the Feature Movie, Woody Allen’s Everything you wanted to know about sex*

*but were afraid to ask.

The best two are What’s my Perversion? And the last one with Tony Randall and Burt Reynolds. And of course, Daisy.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

November 19, 1975: Wednesday

Very quiet day. They try drilling through the old core barrel, give up, and try to get it unstuck. Success. They advance the casing, fixed the core barrel, and get ready to drill.

Dr. Treves is pleased at the good news. At noon Peter asked Jack if he could send the log book in to check on the tides and drill times.

At six o’clock I told Dr. Treves that Peter had “all, repeat, all” the information. Peter was there, listening, as I figured.

Saw the “Snoop Sisters” twice, perfect T.V. light entertainment. Mum probably enjoyed it.

Went way out passed NW 12 to do a grab sample with Jim and Dr. Nakai, down Skua Boulevard, through Skua Acres (skuas sound like ducks), and on out Hallet Highway.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

November 20, 1975: Thursday

The helo for Jack and Martin came about eleven o’clock. It had Howard on it. They were going to Vanda, so Dr. Nakai and I went along.

All of us had headsets and Sluys was teaching a Kiwi pilot how to take off and land.

Lake Vanda is in Wright Valley, up past Marble Point, over the Wilson Piedmont Glacier, take a left over the Lower Wright Glacier, and there you are, in the Dry Valleys, rich brown earth, stark naked in the shadow’s of the midnight sun, steep walled mountains with lumps and stringers of ice and snow inching over the top and down the valley, more like canyon walls. Flying low above the floor. The Onyx River flows away from the sea, from the glacier to the lake, now dry and barren, snaking its thirsty way down the valley.

If only the climate were suitable, for it would be a paradise, with wagon trains coming up over the glacier, lowering their Conestogas over the other side to farm the fertile valley.

Lake Vanda Station has four buildings, painted the same as Scott Base, with four residents, a young guy, two others with beards, and an older elfin man who shoves huge slices of bread under your nose and pours coffee into tea cups.

Howard collects ice and water samples. The lake is shaped much like Auburn’s, but larger, with a peninsula sticking out into it. No picnic grills on it, though. I walk out onto the ice. It’s a lot scarier than at 1A because the ice is clear.

You can see up the valley to the Dias, a tabular mountain, that marks where the valley splits into North and South forks.

We return. Rich tells the Kiwi pilot about the seals that swim up the Onyx River later in the season when the glacier melts.

Howard asks Rich about helo squadrons. He explains that duty in Antarctica doesn’t advance your career.

“Because there’s no combat flight time.”

“You could try,” from me.

“I tell ‘em I’m fighting the Battle of the Antarctic.”

“Who’s winning, you or Kathy?”

“That was mean.” He turned around and looked at me. “Gee, you’re red in the face. You must be jealous.”

I said, “Yup,” for lack of anything better to say.

Got back about 2:00 a.m. The night shift was mad because I sent the films home for new ones. They told me to do it, so I did.

Got a paper from home. They put an outhouse in the middle of the stop light intersection on Halloween. All right!

Woke up about 9:30. Felt guilty about oversleeping.

Cal had been getting wash samples all night and one dry, open barrel sample. The round tubular plastic bags Peter suggested didn’t work so well.

Cal went to sleep and I read a little while. About eleven o’clock someone said, “Hark, I think they’re pulling up the sampler,” or something insinuating that I should get to work.

When I got to the rig, the core had been thrown into a bucket from Gupwell’s sampler. The first thing I looked for were hard, round, real core fragments. I could see none. My next thought was to measure the tide. While I was looking for something to measure it with, Dr. Nakai pointed out the sample. It was a very muddy sample, with a thin layer of water on top. All over the surface little piles of sand were being pushed up and little streamers of sand were running down the sides of the cone shaped piles.

Dr. Nakai thought that he should get a water sample, but the water was well down in the casing and not bubbling.

Jack the Driller measured the tide for me while I tried to get Nakai to take a sample from the bucket. After a little running around and coaxing, he got his big glass injector with a funnel, inverted on one end of the tubing, and got enough water with gas in it for a sample.

I was busy doing everything else, getting depths and marking plastic bags.

The drillers were all standing around watching the sediment. Terry asked me what it was. I told him we’d find out when the gas chromatograph got warmed up.

They seemed concerned, like they wanted it to be methane so they could go home. So we were standing in the Wannigan watching the chart recorder.

“That is oxygen, and nitrogen,” - Dr. Nakai.

“And this is methane.”

The pen went off the graph and stayed there awhile.

I asked, “Considerable methane, maybe two-thirds?”

That was affirmative.

“Well, that’s it,” said Terry. “I’ll go tell Leon.”

I asked him if I should call Mac Center to contact Dr. Treves. By the end of the conversation, I had told him that I was going to call him. Instead of permission, it turned into a decision.

So at noon I asked Mac Center to relay to Dr. Treves that there was methane in the hole at 612 feet. Dr. Nakai had run it through a different column and discovered CO2. He was working on percentages when Mac Center got hold of 589. So they patched the conversation.

I passed on the characteristics of the sediment, percentages of dissolved gasses (37.9% CH4), and answered questions.

At twelve-thirty Terry and I were sitting in 590 when Dr. Treves and Jack H. came on. The first thing they wanted to know was if all the rod had been pulled from the hole.


Jack said to put shutdown procedures into operation. Turn off all engines, pumps, the Herman-Nelson, and move the electric generator away from the rig. No smoking. Move the detector to the mess tent. I think he meant the gas chromatograph. I hope so.

Instructions to change a column in the gas chromatograph and test for ethane and hydrocarbons coming out of the casing.

Talked again at two. No ethane and no methane in the drill shack. Plans put into operation to get Henry, Dave, and Jerry out here. Also Hamish and Kathy are coming out for the election.

The helo arrived about six. Calvin woke up. No one knew what was going on except Kathy and me.

So things were a bit messed up for awhile. We agreed that Cal or I should be more or less in charge, depending on who’s shift it was. That person would make radio contact, which was pretty often.

We talked a couple of times to Dr. Treves. Everyone talking, including Rich Sluys. The hassle is that Hamish and Kathy and two tourists had to go home, but Rich had put on too much fuel to take them all home because he was coming back to pick up Henry and Jerry to take them back to the Valleys.

But now their measurements would take too long, and there was no reason for him to fly back out. Kathy didn’t want to go home because she was afraid she wouldn’t get back out tomorrow.

I guess the Glomar got 20% methane. They say this will make headlines. They’re calling Washington tomorrow.

So Henry decided they needed some air-tight glass bottles and Dr. Treves decided that they wanted the water samples.

Kathy had offered to stay overnight. She’d brought her sleeping bag. But I told her the tent smelled like old socks. Now, it was unnecessary. She had to take the core and samples home.

Henry got the water sample up. No methane in it. That’s the same status we’ve had all day.

Jerry got a positive 0.44º Celsius, compared to -1.087º just a few meters above it a few days ago.

The water in the casing is above sea level, too.

Kathy and I did the ice deflections in the meantime. She said she could see through the ‘scope the bewilderment on my face when she gave me her up-down-level signals.

Rich brought three movies back out and stayed to watch one of them until the fog started coming in.

Earlier today Nakai and I (Nakai, mostly) brought the gas chromatograph into the cook tent and cleared a space for it on the table. There was a lot of consternation from a couple of drillers, down right abusive, really. They suggested we just move the Wannigan. I almost did, but good sense revived me. Quig had words about the used up space. I told him it would stay used up until I said differently. Without Jack or Dr. Treves, everyone’s a boss. To do what has to be done requires a bit of fortitude, even if you don’t have the authority.

Later tonight Nakai thinks that we have hit a small layer of anaerobic bacteria producing methane. He wanted this passed on to Dr. Treves with other information.

I think that hypotheses should be kept separate from data.

At six they referred us to pages 15-16 of the second appendix to the Ops Plan. I ran all over the place looking for it. Jim had taken it to his tent. The plan concerned procedures on the Deep Sea Drilling Project concerning hydrocarbons.

It seems that I have followed the Ops Plan and the recommended procedures without even knowing it.

Again, I’m in the middle of something that stops drilling and ties up radio communication, holding down the fort while others digest the situation. It’ll be at least ‘til tomorrow until I find out whether I acted right or wrong.

But regardless, I’ll remember countlessly walking back and forth from the rig on errands and, in the back of mind, realizing that thing could blow up without warning. A slim chance with the data we have, but still there.

Monday, September 18, 2006

November 21, 1975: Friday

Cal woke me up this morning. Someone was talking to him outside. Cal yelled that it was raining. I decided to get up. It wasn’t. Cal said, “It only looked like it was raining.”

But it was foggy. I mean Foggy. Only the top of the big iceberg was visible. And then it wasn’t. The world drenched in milky, floating white. The world ending just beyond the rig.

Dr. Treves said at eight that the helo was flying, with Peter Barrett, Jack H., and Captain A.E. Van Reeth aboard. We gave them the ice deflections and Jerry’s bottom hole temperature (positive 0.44), a change of a degree and a half in 10 feet. That’s alarming. The Ops Plan says that the methane layer is near.

About nine o’clock Leon comes on and asks Henry and I to drive over to Marble Point and pick up four passengers and 400 pounds of cargo.

Why can’t they put those airports closer to town?

Henry is busy and Jerry goes with me. About a third of the way (but who knows), I remark to Jerry that there’s not much traffic on the Road to Marble Point. Except that we had some Kiwi’s stop by last night who were on a traverse to Vanda. So I decided to turn my lights on, in case they were coming back.

About that time Mac Center called to tell us that Gentle 11 was 10 feet off the deck, following the road from Marble Point to 1A.

So there we were, myself driving down a bulldozed snowy ice road through deep, thick fog, headlights flashing off the ground-banked cloud, and the chop-chop-chop of an unseen helo. And then, out of the fog, in the midst of the road, cab high, a whirling bird emerging from the void.

It was amazing.

They pulled over and landed. We loaded everything onto 590 and went home. Van Reeth sat in the back. He even helped shift the cargo. Captain Van Reeth is the Commander of the Naval Support Force Antarctica.

While I took him on a tour of 1A, Dr. Treves, Peter, and Jack talked things over.

At eleven o’clock Dr. Treves reviewed the facts.

Detection of methane. No methane coming up the hole. No ethane. No oxygen. High temperature gradient. Network of cracks around the rig.

Dr. Treves says one more sample will be taken and the rig shut down.

Captain Van Reeth is to take that message back to McMurdo and have the new NSF Rep call Washington and tell them (not ask them) of our decision.

On the radio to get Gentle 11 back, we can’t reveal what the decision is because the Times reporter hasn’t left. (He and Dave B. go on the Penguin Flight home). We want the official statement to come out before anything else does.

You see, our radio talks seem to have become an institution with all the folks with FM sets back home. Better than “Peyton Place” Mac Center told Kathy.

So I said to the Captain, “I understand you would like to drive the truck.”

And the Commanding Officer of McMurdo Station drove to Marble Point in a pick-up truck that drives backward. He was pretty good at it. Better than Dave Gross, who drove back. Dave got into a few snow banks and off-the-roaders. Van Reeth only missed a few major bumps.

The fog lifted as Marble Point came into view. For a few minutes I was lost because I had never been in the middle of the Bay before. But I guessed where things were, and was right.

The helo came into view just as we reached the fork in the road. It flew over us, and then came back. Van Reeth got out and thanked us.

I told him he was a real Antarctic veteran, now.

As Dave drove back into the fog we got a radio call. A couple of times on the way out Kathy came over the radio. But we couldn’t talk back to her, probably because of local traffic with a flight coming in.

So when things finally settled down long enough, she radioed and wanted to know what the situation was. I couldn’t tell her over the air. And if I didn’t tell her, I felt she would be disappointed or frustrated with being left out.

I told her, “Captain Van Reeth is returning to McMurdo with a very important message. Talk to Chris Whats-his-name, the new NSF Rep. Van Reeth is to contact him as soon as he gets back with an important message.”

She asked a question.

“I can’t answer that until Captain Van Reeth gets back.”

It’s sort of a little game, passing enough information without admitting anything. Government plays it a lot.

I hope she got the hint about what’s going on and understands that I couldn’t tell her.

By the time we got back the fog had lifted and Mount Bird was visible. At least the base was.

After all scientific endeavors were completed and the last core was brought up, sand was being forced up the hole. They decided to try another sample.

In this interval the Geologists scored the first two points ever scored against Max’s shift. They beat us 4-2. I scored one goal, a hard drive unassisted through Quigley’s legs.

Henry came out with a gimp leg, which is how I got in the game. I shouldn’t be playing, but once in the game it was all worthwhile.

Slipping and sliding over the ice, chasing a plastic plug puck with an axe handle is a lot of fun. The only rule is that you can’t hit the ref, Lloyd.

Blatant abuse of fundamental procedures is chastised. Max clobbered my left hand. I told him I’d send out a copy of the x-rays. The rest of the day I was pretty much one handed, especially when it came time to load the helo.

I tackled Dave Dickson as he was scooting for a power play. I needed that. It felt so good to hurl my body through the air and drag someone down from behind.

After the game it was time to work. No core in the last try. Sand still coming up the hole. Cal and I gathered things to be taken home and showed Jack how to run the transit.

Peter Bunch has been shipped to the South Pole.

The helo came. Dr. Nakai ran one more gas sample. No methane. No oxygen. Just nitrogen and carbon dioxide. We loaded up and left for McMurdo. No need for Cal and I to stay at 1A.

Back in town we went to eat. Late, of course.

Kathy understood. So did everyone else with a radio by the time we’d asked for lots of boxes and a scale to weigh up to 3000 pounds.

Kathy picked us up. She smiled a beautiful little grin, with a half wink in both eyes and a nice little wave with the gloves. I don’t know if it was meant for me or for the helo guy behind me.

I waved back, just in case.

After a shower and some fresh clothes I went up to the lab.

Rod was helping Kathy with wash samples. The lab was a mess, plastic bags, bottles, and tubes all over the place, dripping water and muddy fingers.

After Rod had gone and only Cal, Kathy, and I were left we celebrated Cal’s birthday (which was last Wednesday) with gin, vodka, and orange juice.

Some talk about geology, methane in the hole, and personnel problems confronting DVDP’s problem. We decided to walk down and get some ice cream.

Met Dr. Treves and Peter there, and the environmental monitors. Bob, a monitor, Bio-Mike, Kathy, and I will go out to do piston cores around 1A.

Kathy and I walked back to the Hotel. I wanted to talk to her, but my hand was really painful, except when I lose feeling in it once and awhile.

Didn’t sleep much. I kept putting pressure on the hand and the pain would wake me up.

Peter Barrett is my new roommate.

I was pretty affected by spirits. I could feel my voice like it was outside my body and my feet felt funny on the ground. I tried to keep my mouth shut, but no matter what I say, someone argues with me.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

November 22, 1975: Saturday

Up to the lab early. Trying to line up gear to go out to 1A for two days.

Vince the monitor is very paranoid about his piston corer.

Peter, Bob, Kathy, Bio-Mike and I go out to test the eight-inch drill. Have to find a new bit for it. Works pretty good.

Load things for helo flights, eat a quick lunch, and go to the helo pad. Dr. Treves reads us the Press Release.

Follow Dr. Treves around. Heard Bachman-Turner Overdrive in the Ship’s Store. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed them. Then Kathy and I realize we have to get ready to go at six.

We have a problem. Peter thinks he’s the boss. But he’s not going out, which is impractical. Vince wants things done his way, which is also impossible. Bio-Mike knows the most about the equipment. Dr. Treves tells him to be in charge, but he’s not very authoritative.

I cannot give orders. No one pays attention to me. And it gives me pains to think everyone is going off in all directions, when I know good and well that we can’t possibly do everything.

Kathy was griping because I carried something heavy instead of her. I told her to go get her things for the trip because I thought she said she wanted time to round things up. But Peter insinuated I meant that girls always take longer to get ready.

I think I’ve found something important here.

Well, I cut plastic tubes to fit the core.

And Bio-Mike rounds up miscellany.

We leave. Dr. Treves tells us to be careful and have Mike Wing accompany us for safety. Cal got really mad when I asked him to tell Dr. Treves to call the helo hangar. Katsu told me, but I didn’t have time, so I asked Cal, who got really mad. Didn’t say anything, just growled and left the table by telling Nartsiss he was sorry he couldn’t continue the conversation.

I think that was the low point today. My own psychological inadequacies piling up to unnerve me. Sometimes I wonder why.

Rich Sluys flies us up over the Earth Science Lab and around Observation Hill.

After we get to 1A we unload, load some stuff for Leon, and gather together our oceanographic equipment. Kathy and I do ice deflection. It’s up almost an inch and one half.

I misunderstand Kathy’s oceanographic methods.

So it’s up and away, down to SW 2. That’s about 0.9 Power Wagon Miles (PWM), our new unit of measurement. One tenth of a PWM is a Thingie.

She sets up a line towards the Ferrar Valley Extension. We’re supposed to go out two kilometers. She’ll keep us on line by radio contact and measure the distance with the ski-doo and a measuring wheel.

In the middle is a huge pressure ridge. About this time Dr. Treves calls for ice deflections. It’s a bit of a hassle. We get over the ridge. Two kilometers is almost on the Tractor Train Road.

We drill the hole and lower the weight and cable. After 360 meters we realize we’ve gone too far. They pull some of it up by hand. We winch it in when we come across a kinky coil.

Kathy and Bob spend half an hour trying to determine where the bottom is. Mike Wing sits in the truck and reads the paper. After they discover bottom, we break the cord on the winch and have to raise it by hand, reeling the bar on the back of 590.

This Ferrar business is Peter’s idea. Just in case we drill next year. Well, I’m not working for DVDP 76-77, yet. And I don’t really feel like doing their work, if it ever gets off the ground. I guess I’m in a sour mood.

I drive the ski-doo flat out, as fast and hard as it will go, brief case across my knees, hat in hand, wind against my face, fingers cold, releasing tension through speed and noise.

I do some spins by the Jamesways and roll the ski-doo. I needed that. Gupwell and Max chew me out about the noise. I don’t really care.

Walk over to the seal hole with Kathy. She says for me to get some sleep. So does Bio-Mike. I explain I don’t like the idea of people working while I don’t. She says that I remind her of herself so much, it’s not funny.

We reach the Jamesways again, so I’m not able to comprehend that enigmatic statement.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

November 23, 1975: Sunday

Slept ‘til almost twelve. I needed that.

Got up. We couldn’t do anything today because Leon needed the truck to take things to Marble Point and watch over the D-4 and sled full of heavy things.

I drive over with parts of the drill shack. Fearless Fred is my co-pilot.

We unload it, pull casing off the sled, and pile it up while Jeff and Terry unload the heavies.

At home they’ve got things set up for a trial run. The big blue doovery we looked for is our test weight. It’s a success. Nothing goes in the hole that’s not supposed to.

We have a very long radio sched. Off and on from six o’clock to nine-thirty. Most of it is Contingency Contingency Plans.

We get the corer to work. It’s a big huge weight with a screw on a length of pipe that holds a core catcher and the plastic tube. We have no luck at all. The thing must be bouncing off the sponge mat.

So our options are to survey the Ferrar Valley Extension hole and run a current meter and an Eckman grab sampler down a seal hole. Dr. Treves thinks this is important. So I’ll do it, even if I don’t agree that the hassle is. Perhaps I’ll change my mind if next year or the year after happens. I’ll be glad I did it. But I can’t put off Elementary Field Mapping and Stratigraphy forever.

We need some things on the helo flights. In priority, a Primus stove (because we’ll be in a Scott Tent for twelve hours), Nalgene bottles, a current meter (ours is broke) and an orange peel grab sampler.

We’re not going home until Tuesday. Bob takes off tomorrow. Bio-Mike doesn’t mind.

They’re using 590 again tomorrow so the four of us load up the rest of the drill shack, some empty barrels, and go over to Marble Point so that the truck will be free one hour tomorrow.

The truck will be used, anyway, tomorrow.

Get back and have a discussion about environmental monitoring.

I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it. Nebraska lost to Oklahoma 35-10. Such is life.

Oh, I forgot. We needed some Mogas to run the winch. Kathy went back to get the ski-doo to get it. Jim wanted the key’s today. Got rather upset when I flatly refused. Told him he could probably take the key from me, but I wouldn’t give it to him. He threatened to make sure no one would be able to use the ski-doo. She couldn’t get the ski-doo started, so she walked over and picked up a Mogas can and started walking over to the seal hole. I unpiled the sled and raced over to have her put it on it. “Chivalry is not dead,” said Bio-Mike. So when I got to Kathy, I noted, “You’ll never be able to get that all the way over there.”

That made her “mad.” And she smiled and said, “That did it. I will carry it all the way over.”

And she did, much to my protesting, “Well, if you’re going to carry it, you might as well sit down.”

Friday, September 15, 2006

November 24, 1975: Monday

Got up at eight. Saw Bob and the helos off. Went back to sleep. Woke up about 1:30 p.m. The surveyors from Scott Base were out. They beat Kathy, Bio-Mike and I, 8-1, in ice hockey. I scored the only goal. They tied the drillers, 1-1.

We got our gear together. It looks like site 1B is near the Ferrar Valley Extension.

We go out and look for seal holes near it when 590 gets back from Marble Point.

Ice Deflection is kaput because Points A and E are gone.

We try to scout a road to New Harbour for Leon. We get to the tide crack. It’s four feet wide. I jumped over McMurdo Sound. Kathy sat down on the new ice in the crack.

That’s when the helo came by. It had Dr. Treves on it. He was worried about us. I guess form our radio conversations he thought we were one disaster after another and physically unable to cope. I don’t know why.

Well, I guess I just don’t have the heart to overrule a young lady when it comes to letting her do things her own way. Bio-Mike got the impression Kathy and I didn’t get along. “She just drives me up the wall,” I told him.

Since the crack won’t let us get to New Harbour Kathy flies back (with Rich) and looks for seal holes from the air.

I drive back with Bio-Mike.

At 1A, we decide to try our luck at the tide crack for our measurements.

We wait for Dr. Treves to get back from counting the drill pipe at New Harbour.

Sidebar: They pile up snow with the D-4 over the drill hole. Bio-Mike and I took Kathy by the feet and lifted her up. Dr. Treves documents this.“You’ve got to keep the loonies on the path.”

Site 1A Asylum, as usual. Fearless Fred all over anyone, Kathy and I doing a Highland fling. She’s packed us a picnic lunch; ham, bread, chocolate, Snack Pack, a case of Oly and gin with apple and orange juice.

This is going to be a heck of a mission.

We fix the current meter and we’re off.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

November 25, 1975: Tuesday

Found the crack. Took a grab. Depth was only 170 meters, too shallow according to the map. So we went out 165 meters. The grab didn’t close. Went the other way 174 meters. The grab closed but only water was in it. We figured the slope is negligible between these points, so we must be on the valley floor.

“Shipboard depths are always fifty percent high,” Kathy says.

Sitting up all night long, getting out every twenty minutes to wind the winch up, knowing that the current is zilch. We got some numbers, once, but the second messenger had gotten lost on the way down and the stop hadn’t tripped, so it revolved coming up.

We’ve renamed 590 the RV Messenger, in memorium. I bet we’re about the only people in the entire world that have done oceanography from the back of a pick-up.

About 2:00 a.m Mac Center announces a flight from the pole. “All stations, please acknowledge.”

“Chalet, copy.”

“Hill Cargo, acknowledges.”

“Dispensary, copy.”

“One Alpha, copy.” That’s us, you know, with a little pure apple and orange (and gin), a product of New Zealand.

Later, Kathy rang up (that’s Kiwi for called).

“Mac Center?” That’s all, just Mac Center.

“Go ahead 590.”

“Could we have a time check?”


They were 45 seconds off.

Maybe we were off.

Kathy got 26 of the States right. We gave her clues for the other twenty-four.

The night went by super fast. About 7:30 things began to get slow. Kathy had a difficult time talking at eight o’clock. She went to sleep right after.

Bio-Mike and I finished the three runs we were on and headed back to camp. Dr. Treves wanted to talk to Leon at 10:00, and we had to get the transit.

Kathy woke up on the way home.

We let her out and told her to go to sleep. She was headed for the tent as we took off. Instead of sleeping, she took it down.

It’s starting to get to be a joke. Kathy’s very close to being a perpetual motion machine. Maybe that’s why she drives me up the wall. Cal put it correctly (after we’d gotten back). You can be stiff with her. Or you can be civil and gentlemanly. That doesn’t work. But it’s the only way I know how to treat anyone (young ladies in particular) when I feel something “good” about them.

It’s turned cold and windy. It was very nice all night long. For starters, Bio-Mike forgot to watch the cable and it wound up over the rim and onto the drum, being squeezed in. We had two more readings to do, but we figured they’d be zero, zero, zero. So we cut the cable and unwound it from the drum. The 25 brass weight promptly plummeted down to the depths.

So we put down the orange peel grab, twice. Neither one worked.

We took angles to four mountains, measured the angle and the distance to the other holes. One and a half Thingies, each.

And we go home.

Kathy had been getting things together for the trip home. Jim and Mike joke about Kathy’s endless abundance of energy. They time her sitting down. Never stays more than three minutes. Jim says that no one would want her for a wife because she doesn’t stay in one place long enough.

It’s an odd phenomenon. It takes more energy to wind her down than it does to wind her up. A problem for entropy. We invent a new unit of power, Kiwis per acres second. It’s the number of acres a standard Kiwi can cover in one second. It’s abbreviated KATH (Kiwis per Acre Thecond).

Mike throws out some lines that if Berzel had said them, I would have thought he’d said them on purpose. Especially about being in the crack the other night.

Waiting for the helo in the Jamesway, hot, tired, bored. But she doesn’t want to wake up for the helo. She just sits with heavy eyelids and circles beneath, brown and nice, with no expression on her face. I look at her. She raises her eyes to mine, and I say, “Smile!”

She plays with her split ends and says she needs a haircut, but doesn’t trust anybody on the ice. I tell her she can cut mine, so Mike goes and gets a pair of tin snips.

She picks up a Playboy and thumbs through it. No expression on her face. I go over and sit on the table with her and try to get her to laugh at the funny ones. It’s hard to do, because I’ve already read the issue.

After supper we play some hockey. The Drillers trounce us, 7-0, so we didn’t play the second half.

The helo finally comes. While Rich Sluys has supper, we load the helo by carting all that heavy stuff over from the sign post to the helo.

Back in town, we unload, put on clean clothes, and wander up to the lab. Helo flights have been bringing drill rods and equipment all night. Tomorrow all the drillers will come home.

The mast is the last flight tonight, and it’s very impressive to watch. So we drive down to the pad. Kathy sits in the back, next to me, and when Katsu gets out, she remains beside me.

All weekend she’s been kicking me with her boots when I say something. And I’ve been slugging her in the arm, more or less rasslin’ with her. She wears that big huge downy jacket that puffs up with air when you hit it.

Anyway she fumbles around, changing film in her camera. She doesn’t have any more. She’s very tired. She’s hassling with Peter about going out to Taylor Glacier early tomorrow. She really doesn’t want to go. So they argue for a while. If she’s up by 09:00, she’ll go, if she feels O.K.

I told her to sleep until 9:45, as my solution.

At least I’d thought she didn’t want to go. But she doesn’t take suggestions very well.

From her, I found out some interesting and informative things about Peter. He’s going home Friday. His wife (he’s married, but perhaps it’s his girlfriend, I’ve heard both) is pregnant.

It still doesn’t clarify her position with him. But I never thought it was admiringly serious, even though she acted that way, occasionally.

So Rich landed the mast and he and his co-pilot came up to the lab and had Japanese noodles with us and Pat Martinez, ‘til 2:00 a.m. That’s 38 hours for me and 41 for Kathy.

Sidebar: Chopsticks and Everything.
Chopsticks are easy to use.
Just roll the noodles around them.

Kathy sits on the big swivel chair and I sit on a little office chair in front of her, listening to Rich and Peter insult each other about helos and trips to Shapeless Mountain. Rich wants prior approval by VXE-6 of all of next year’s field assistants, meaning Kathy.

She sits there, smiles once and a while and kicks at my bunny boots and contemplates. Now, I shouldn’t pay such attention to details like that, but I do, especially after what David W. did to Joy the night of her going away party. So all I can do is think of Kathy’s face, the freckles scattered hither, unmake-upped cheeks, round and full, the soft round chin, and brown, brown hair and eyes.

When the party had broken up, I waited to walk her down the hill.

I ask her if she’s going to do her laundry in the Hotel. Some people like to talk and some people like to listen. I’m a pretty good listener.

I think she said I was “nuts, then.”

But by this time she was mumbling and the wind carried away her Kiwi accented words so that I imperfectly understood their meaning. I wondered aloud if I should ask for an explanation.

“You’ll never find out, the way you’re going.”

And again I missed her meaning in the wind, important concepts blown asunder as she let me move in front of her and she took the center of the road.

So I said “Good night,” and discovered I’d lost my key. Throwing my things on the hall floor and waiting for Peter to walk down, I sit in a chair and wonder.

Another sidebar:
Should I pursue the subject? If she’s distressed at my attitude towards her, I should make amends. My position clear. But perhaps I should throw the incident out. Rebuild upon the firmer portions of an already meaningful relationship.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

November 26, 1975: Wednesday

I remember pulling the covers up over my head.

The next thing I knew I heard Dr. Treves in the hall. Peter’s boots were on the floor and camera was on the table. It must be about nine o’clock

I looked at the clock. It read fifteen ‘til two.

I went out to the bathroom and asked Steve what time it was. Ten ‘til two.

I needed that. Put the clothes in the wash and showered.

I went up to the lab. Dr. Treves wasn’t mad. He said there was no reason to wake me up.

Kathy had gone to Taylor Glacier, though.

I helped Cal with thin sections.

Found out that I’m a co-author on the preliminary paper for DVDP 15, along with Peter, Cal, Dr. Treves, Howard, Jerry, and Kathy. It looks impressive, anyway, except that it will go by the name “Barrett, et al.”

After supper Mike Rieff wanted me to play basketball for the USARPs. We got beat by the VXE-6 Herc Crew, 73-24. I was really obnoxious. The refs were lousy. I had nothing against them, personally. I just hate incompetence.

They threw me out of the game after three fouls. Claimed I had five. Doug DeMasters also fouled out after three. They called three seconds against the big guy I’d never seen before. He was on defense at the time.

That big joker didn’t like my enthusiasm (or ref baiting). Said it infuriated the other team. Hustling is hustling, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve always been an obnoxious hustler.

Howard scored four points. He can’t dribble too well, or catch passes. But he was good enough that everyone was flabbergasted when they found out he was an Australian priest.

I put in two baskets before I fouled out, after five minutes in the second half, one an outside pump shot, the other a swirling drive down the middle, a twisting lay-up.

My so called fifth foul was going for a loose ball. I had both arms around the ball and got called for slapping at the other player’s arms.

It was pretty sad. I was the third tallest on the team. So I tried to play forward, which means running the full length of the court. Which means getting tired.

I was playing guard when we really started doing decent against them. And then got benched. We need to shoot more. Perhaps we should go to a three guard, two forward offense. The man-to-man we used in the second half seemed to work.

Oh, well. It released a lot of energy.

Pat M. (he and I get along real well, ever since my cross words with him at the food locker, or at least ever since Kathy moved into his building) and Howard and I went over to the Red Room of the Helo Crew, to see if DVDP was having a party. Nope.

Went up to the lab.

Lieutenant Commander Gordon was polishing rocks from Carapace Nunatak. Dr. Treves was boxing up his rocks. Everything is done with the core, getting it ready to be shipped.

The drillers all come in for Thanksgiving. Dr. Treves pre-arranged a storm for the occasion. Except it means that Peter and Kathy will be stuck in the field one more day. He’ll have to hurry to catch his plane.

Ate Japanese-style noodles, made of buckwheat and wine.

Fifty cents gone:
Pop for Pat and I.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

November 27, 1975: Thursday. Thanksgiving Day.

Got up at nine. Went up to the lab. No one was there, so I didn’t worry about being late. Dr. Treves and Cal brought in a table and sorted out Turtle Rock rocks. Cal offered some entirely kaersutite rock, but I don’t like to take anything I didn’t collect myself.

Dr. Treves says that after we get the core boxed we’ll go back out, plus all over the place by helo.

I photo copy the drill log in triplicate, the three previous years in duplicate, and the field log in triplicate. I keep a copy of it. Listening to the radio. They have a real D.J., now. Gives the weather and everything.

I always eat too much on Thanksgiving Day.

I guess Nebraska turned down a bid to the Fiesta Bowl. Orange Bowl or Nothing. It’s not oranges, so the biggest draw in college football is denied, by petty bowl officials who snub the Big 8 and choose unranked Georgia for the Cotton Bowl and thrice beaten Penn State for the Sugar Bowl. Bear Bryant accepted the Sugar Bowl with the expressed agreement that he not play any Big 8 team. Ol’ Chicken Hearted strikes again.

I got a letter from Mom some time ago, but have been too busy to answer it until tonight.

Went to talk to Henry. He said, “Gobble, gobble, gobble.”

Cal got the x-ray machine going. We did quartz, phillipsite from the volcano at Gneiss Point, and kaersutite from Turtle Rock. I was shown how to interpret the data. I sort of knew how before, but now I know better.

I called in a request for “Rock On,” for the Earth Science Lab, you know. They didn’t have David Essex, so they played one by T-Rex.

Two guys that wintered over from the Pole came up for noodles. One was from Lyman.

Monday, September 11, 2006

November 28, 1975: Friday

Spent the morning helping Dr. Treves sort out the core for his sampling and getting it ready to ship. It’ll go by air this year instead of on the ship. Ran off some copies of the preliminary log.

Dr. Treves has an article from the Point Mugu paper describing the rescue of an international team of scientists from a raging blizzard at the South Pole, minus 27 degree temperatures on the icy plain. That was us. We read it to Van Reeth and asked him if he was the official Navy source that was quoted.

In the afternoon all Hell broke loose.

Sampling core, reporters, photographers, x-ray machine going, a blast on Observation Hill, Katsu getting the seismograph going and trying to explain it to the reporter, Peter and Kathy back, Peter getting ready to leave, showing Cal and I where the fossils on Shapeless Mountain are, and the Navy calling and saying they had our shipping boxes all done, in only four hours time. Incredible.

Bio-Mike developed hockey pictures. Lots of ones of Kathy. I try to be more discrete. She told me that Bio-Mike was sort of getting on her nerves.

She didn’t say anything to me at lunch, or all afternoon. I was not upset or annoyed. Worried is the best word to describe the feeling.

I didn’t want to strike up a conversation for fear of making a fool of myself.

But I did have to ask her about a book that Peter left behind. She smiled, once or twice, and told me about how she’s been too busy to write. Well, I won’t avoid a conversation with her.

So at five o’clock I asked her if she was ready for dinner.

She said to pick her up in Building 125.

Cal went ahead to the Hotel, so I wandered into her building. She asked me if I wanted a drink. She needed one, for medicinal purposes. A cold, you know.

She almost opened up to me. She’d never been called anything but Katherine until she’d left for college. Said she didn’t want to go to Taylor Glacier, but it was her duty.

I apologized for the Kiwis per acre second. She didn’t mind that so much as she did Havelka and Jim’s constant ribbing.

She wondered if she really was as bad as all that. I said, “Ahhhhhh, yeah, a real bundle of energy.”

And we walked down to dinner. The table with Dr. Treves and Cal had one seat. So I sat across from CosRay Doug. Kathy sat in the other empty seat. So after I took my tray back, I sat in an open spot at the far end of the table. And she would talk down to me, with out it even being a question I directed to her. Sometimes that’s the only way I can get girls to talk to me, by asking them something.

For a long time today I was depressed and confused. Depressed because I let Kathy affect my thoughts. And confused about what to do about it.

A long, sad sidebar:

The choice is clear. Between the “Who Cares, She’s only a Broad” approach (to which most of my friends are adherents, or it’s sometimes called She’s Not the Only Fish in the Sea Theory) or the Usual Same Old Me attitude to girls. That method nourishes the soul but never satisfies the appetite.

Why should a girl affect me so? I don’t know. It’s happened before. Ugly, sloppy, lacking in the social graces Me, desiring the attention and the affection of a beautiful lady.

Several times. And that list is headed by another Cathy. Why do I worry over unattainable dreams? With 500 hundred men to choose from for male companionship, I have no chance.

But I don’t think Kathy is down here to find a rich boyfriend, or even one with power.

But, again, she has all to choose from, just to be friends with, and surely she would want to confide in someone much more handsome, witty, charming than I.

Perhaps she has nothing to confide about, in her past or present.

But I know better. Everybody has times when pressures and problems get them down and they need someone to talk to. Right?

And thanks to everyone in my life I’ve been able to lean my shoulder upon and cry. I owe them life and allegiance many times over.

Well, we only lost the basketball game 43-29. I fouled out again, but I had six fouls. Two points was all. Doug Hall played for the opposition, Holmes and Narver. He was very perturbed at my antics on and off the court.

I tried to explain to him why I do what I do, but there’s no explanation. My on court enthusiasm-insanity-obnoxiousness is nothing more than a release of tension.

I can’t understand why nobody else will let me be. They have to be concerned. I don’t get drunk. And I’m not bothered if other people do.

Got a package from Marylin Bath. Chocolate and caramel whatevers. They’re absolutely good.

My new roommate is Bruce from the South Pole.

Dr. Treves is going to show me how to run the x-ray diffractometer. I’m going to analyze the Turtle Rock rocks. We’ll publish a short paper, I guess.

Dr. Treves is in the Who’s Who in America book.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

November 29, 1975: Saturday

Morning time was spent smoothing castings for thin sections and helping Kathy mark the core for sampling.

Afternoon I drilled holes in boxes, worked a wee bit on a large scale map of 1A, and worked on thin sections. The photographer was back up to take color pictures of the core.

Kathy walked down to dinner and lunch with us, but didn’t sit with us either time. There must not be any connotation for such things in her neck of the woods.

She, Cal, and I made handles for the core boxes in the afternoon. It was warm, and bright, and way above freezing. Kathy cut rope while Cal and I ran it through the holes and tied them. It was all very natural, the three of us, completed without any form of awkward inefficiency in space or time or thought.

In other words, we was groovin’. On a sunny afternoon.

Kathy snuck in and took my picture while I was working at the thin section wheel.

We walked over to Weather and saw a satellite photo of a huge crack reaching down towards 1A. 1A is no more. It’s all dismantled. The drillers are trying to hide from Leon, or else he’ll put them to work.

She actually did go to bed last night. After dinner we talked for a little while in her office. She apologized for me not being invited to Scott Base when the guy that asked her (Neville, one of the Surveyors from hockey) just talked to me politely about the upcoming basketball game. She was even sorrier when Dr. Treves had been invited.

Well, I told her that party invitations (or lack thereof) never bothered me. (Except when I’m paranoid about certain people there, when I’m not around to keep a watch over them. But I didn’t tell her that.) I said that she had to keep up her social obligations.

Another Sidebar:
I think I’ve found a key to her:
a) heart
b) soul
c) body
d) all of the above
e) none of the above.
At least a key to mutual understanding, which is what is important.

Well, she admitted that it was very tough being a female in Antarctica and that she was down here only because she thought she could pull her weight.

Well I knew that. I could sense it in her.

After she had gone to the party I took Dr. Nakai and Katsu over. That old No. 2 truck just wouldn’t make it over. Took about six tries to get out past CosRay, where it’s all down hill.

When I got back Cal was doing x-ray charts of the Turtle Rock rocks. That makes me mad because I thought I was going to learn how to do it. But I didn’t complain.

Well, after awhile Cal and Dr. Treves asked me if I wanted to learn how to run the x-ray diffractometer. I said, “Of course.”

So Cal showed me and I did x-rays while he did point counts.

First you powder up the rock with a mortar and pestle. Then you pour it onto a slide and grind it into the frosted part so it doesn’t fall out. Then you put on a badge so you don’t get over exposed. Next you read the instructions for turning on the machine. Then you set the goniometer (angle measuring device) on 3º, open the shutter to let the x-rays in, turn the chart recorder on, turn the goniometer on, and wait until it’s rotated 45º or so.

You take the charts and note at what angles the peaks are, look up the corresponding d-spacings, look up the biggest three peaks in a search manual, and then in the card catalogue.

That’s that.

Dr. Treves is talking about a research assistant next semester. Some one that can make thin sections and run x-ray machines. The dean has to approve. I don’t know if the conversation was directed for my benefit.

Cal said, jokingly, that if he knew a research assistant was needed, he would have stayed another year. Good money.

I’m monitoring the situation carefully.

Jerry Bucher is my new roommate. Number six.

Michael Chapman-Smith has arrived. I’ve heard a little about him off and on ever since Win-Fly. He’s with Henry.

He wore green shorts to dinner.

Galyn Broers wears glasses. Chapman-Smith doesn’t.

Howard is an ex-boxer and record rugby field goal kicker.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

November 30, 1975: Sunday

Got up at noon. Dr. Treves said, “Good morning.”

I said, in a very cross voice, “It’s about time I got up.”

Spent the afternoon x-raying, working on the chart of 1A, and talking to Kathy. She was embarrassed last night by Hamish. While we were talking, I asked her something, and she snapped back at me. But she apologized for being short. I said, “Never mind, that’s what I’m here for.”

She said, “You’re nuts, then.”

“I think we’ve had this conversation before and you still haven’t convinced me.”

But we were interrupted and she didn’t understand my meaning. She’d probably forgotten.

From her tone of voice, it’s my hypothesis that she’s done a bit of thinking along these lines and formed strong opinions at some point, which may or may not be in conflict with my own opinions on the worth of friendship.

After dinner (she sat with us, finally) we put the core into boxes, two cardboard boxes to one plywood box, wrote weights on them, and nailed them shut. Kathy and I did all this. Then Cal and Dr. Treves banded them with steel bands. I went down to get some more at the BFC.

The drillers came by to pick Kathy up to take her somewhere to apologize for being rude last night. Said she’d be back in an hour. Never saw her the rest of the night.

Got all the information gathered for the chart and started plotting all the depths and grab sample locations. Kathy and I are having a big fight over the location of the extensions to the Ferrar and Taylor Valleys. Our data seems to be in conflict with the sounding chart data.

George Denton and his people came up for noodles. Sixteen people. A new record. Katsu was very busy.

Denton is fascinating. New ideas about glaciation in Antarctica and all of it relevant to DVDP. His ideas fit in very well with what we’ve observed. But none of his results are published (he’s waiting for DVDP to publish). But Dr. Treves, in drawing conclusions about DVDP 15, would like to quote Denton, or make use of his concepts.

See, it appears that the deposits that we drilled were carried up to the surface by anchor ice forming on the bottom. The ice shelf melts on the top and freezes on the bottom, concentrating all the debris on top. When it fluctuates, melting and dropping its load, the Sound floor deposits are formed.

As far as I know, no one has ever proposed this before. It all fits so very well together.

Friday, September 08, 2006

December 1, 1975: Monday

Be careful, for today was bad, and not to let things that foul slip unnoticed into this commentary.

Prologue to a Bad Day:
‘Twas in the morning that I finished sketching the chart of One Alpha and placed it upon the professor’s desk, just at noon.

Katherine had been in, had been out, and informed me of her plans to gather up her questions and hither unto Scott Base go for a telephonic conversation with Peter Barrett in the afternoon.

I shrugged my shoulders in a sullen manner and thus regretted instantly my indifference.

But made no amends to her, who sat with us at lunch, and laughed when I proposed a certain graffiti, even so much as to provide the penciled weapon, but not so far as to stay and watch the perpetration.

‘Twas a hurried morning with canceled helos and last minute preparations for bailing Vida and visitors of high and low, to whom I elucidated mildly our schemes and operations. I gave unto the Officer in Charge of Public Affairs an address for him to send, hence and away, to my father’s employer, a statement concerning DVDP.

I have not the qualifications to make decisions, but in the absence of good Dr. Treves, I must act. And when the helos call and want their passengers, I must decide, for good or ill, and force the elements under me to move in the direction pre-ordained by those of Higher Authority.

‘Tis my job but once or twice a week. And I am not in practice, lacking poise and patience, to get all men to move harmoniously.

And I must rush, from lab to pad and back again, to find people, I know not where, and transfer cargo. All the time engaging clutches that won’t engage, starting trucks that won’t ignite, and losing precious pipe that bounces out unguarded tailgates. Much to the pity of poor Dr. Treves, who must stand by and shake his head at my incompetence.

And the plane with Calvin, Katsu, and Nakai has broken down. We are standing by to stand by. And I get no mail. Lost and alone on some forgotten highway.

Kathy and Doc Treves return to Scott Base to talk with Robert Thompson and Philip Kyle, who, with the Doc, will ascend to the heights of Erebus on Wednesday next. For Kathy had informed me of this journey to Scott Base using “we,” excluding me.

So I stay and watch the lab and wait for blasts, because Katsu has told me how to turn his seismographic machine on, to recording, while DVDP celebrates at the Chalet.

And ‘round about eight, Dr. Treves and Kathy arrive back at the lab and demand to know where the truck is. And how should I know, I thought you had it. I saw it leave while I came up the hill and it headed for Scott Base.

And I must find it, for it had valuable metal rods upon it, but I must go and play basketball. And thus we find it, parked by Bio-Mike’s at the Ham Radio Shack. And she and good Dr. Treves go to fetch the truck, while I walk down to play basketball.

I tell Katherine that I shall return to the lab at the conclusion. And she says with biting flavor, ”O.K., but Dr. Treves and I will be in the lounge.” With the DVDP revelers.

It makes me mad. It makes me frustrated. It makes me furious. I play center against tall men, twice my size, collecting along the way four whole fouls before the half. Cleanly called and cleanly played.

But after a brief intermission, I do not foul, scoring four points from the high post, until the very end. I chase down a man who fast-breaks, an easy lay-up, and crash him into the unprotected wall. I thought, as his head was jolted back to me in slow motion as I cradled him in my arms, “My God, what have I done?” But he is fine and I am not. My swollen hand throbs with pain, my ankles ache, backbone bent, and burdensome joints unhitched.

And there I stand, before nature. Vast uncharted nature. I stand defeated. Not by the elements, which are my home, but by men, who are my brothers, the unknowing culprits of my downfall. Surrounded by brilliant blue and icy white, in darkness I stand.

Returning to the hotel, I wash my face, my hands. Comb my hair. Put on my aching body new pants and a shirt for dress occasions. Pad my way up soft stairs and open swinging doors into the lounge.

There is smoke, blue swirls, hanging airborne from ashtrays and men. Dr. Denton talks to some people on the couch, a few others clustered elsewhere. Kathy sits, toying with empty beer cans at an empty table. I glance at the mail box. I glance at her. She looks at me and I leave.

I looked at her and in my eyes were expressed the feeling I’ve so often seen before, and others have seen in me. A look of need, and love, and sympathy.

But I will not go to her. I will not go to her. No one-sided friendships are ever formed.

I write this narrative and Dr. Treves returns to ask me up for steak.

Epilogue to a Bad Day:
Should I maintain my will? And wait for her to come to me? If she does not desire a bond of understanding between us, to accept that fate?

Or should I go, hence to that party (and how parties always depress me), to win her favor?

I attempt to take the middle course. Partake of the steak, but do not enter into conversation with her.