Sunday, 17 July 2011

July 18th

Sunday, and I head out for a walk. Life is feeling very good today.
The latest cycle of experiments has finished, and I get a two week
hiatus before cycle 5 begins. I don't stop working ? there are other
other things to do, but hey, I can sleep and get up in a normal
routine. So I might be able to temporarily shake off the reputation
for narcolepsy I have earned, quite reasonably, recently. And the
change of work keeps things interesting too. I came here expecting
to have to cope with boredom and a lack of stimuli, to ration the
things like entertainments, gym time and movies to nurse myself
through. But the truth is I haven?t had a moment of dullness since I
got here. Maybe I?m lucky with the job I have and team we have this
year. There?s more variety in my work here than in the hospitals at
home. And there is no money, no shopping, no traffic, no commute, no
mobile phones, no bills ? really, there?s a lot going for it. And, I
can?t remember if I wrote this in an earlier post, but I realise that
a very refreshing, pleasant contrast to my normal working life is that
a) I have time to have friends and b) I work with the same people day
in, day out and that is a really nice change.
The light is coming back very quickly now. Since midwinter we?ve had,
around noon, a bubble of daylight on the northern horizon, increasing
in size daily, and pure starry nighttime round the rest of the
horizon. Until six days ago. For the first time, we could see pink
light right round the horizon to the south. And today for the first
time the sky is deifnitely blue. I woke up late, catching up sleep
from the last week or so, and through the 5cm letterbox of window that
hasn?t iced over some actual dawn light seeped in. Not much, just
enough to highlight the corners of the furniture. But it was lovely
to see.
So I got out for a walk. The sky is blue all around the horizon.
Directly overhead it?s still a kind of light black colour (?grey? just
doesn?t describe it right, neither does ?dark blue?) with a couple of
stars still shining through. There?s still 20 days to go or so until
we see the sun, but this is so much better already. I got an email
from my predecessor the other day. He?s been giving a few interviews
in his native Czechoslovakia, and he says whenever he?s asked what he
missed the most during his year here, his answer is always ?the sun.?I walk out as far as the beginning of the airstrip, the furthest
I?ve been in months round this side of the base. With good visibility
now you can see just how much snow there is drifted up against the
tents and buildings of the summer camp ? it really looks as abandoned
as it is. Come October there?s going to be lots of digging to do.
And at the point where you get to the ?T? of the runway there?s a
little marker flag, about a square foot in size, on a tall post. I
walked over to it and turned to look back at the view. The flag was
making a gentle ?pop-pop-pop? sound as it fluttered in the breeze. It
was such a novelty to hear. I realised then and there that for
months, outside, the only noises I?ve heard are those of my footsteps,
other people, the wind and machinery. The repetitive soft sound of
the flag was mesmerising. The first sound of gradually returning
normality. Several times I made to start walking back but somehow
failed to do so, preferring to stay and listen to it. The moisture of
my breath, freezing as it tried to exit through the eye holes in my
mask, was making a web of little icicles and lumps of ice. When I
finally did start walking back my view was like looking through
frosted glass.It?s Angelo?s birthday tonight and like for everyone, there?ll be a
bit of a party. David, Ale and Vivien are all very good with
woodworking and metalworking, and they always make a present. For
Angelo it?s a wooden vuvuzela (that works) and it looks great.
There?ll be champagne and cake but it?ll be a sedate, civilised
affair. I?m coming to appreciate the continental lifestyle in so many
ways! Salute, folks.
Pictures belowNoon, July 11th ? PascalNoon, July 10th - it?s a panorama that takes in around 130 degrees of
the horizon. Day and night side by side.Meteo. This is the set of routine meteorological observations that
we get here at Concordia, it?s updated automatically from remote
sensors around the base. We also get an similar window that shows
hour-to-hour changes in the conditions, but I?ve copied here the
monthly stats, running from just before midwinter - the 17th of June -
until today. I think the same data is online at www.climartide.itThe boxes on the left show the current conditions on a
minute-to-minute basis, and the charts show a day by day summary of
the last month. In the temperature box the red line shows the absolute
temperature and the greyish line the estimated windchill. For
windspeed, you can multiply by 2.4 for a rough conversion to miles per
hour. The lowest chart shows the wind direction, charting the compass
bearing to the wind?s origin from the base.You can see that on the 18th we had one of our warming events, then
the temperature dropped 30 degrees in about 24 hours back to a normal
minus 76 or so, And from there it has steadily risen. It?s not
related to the sun coming back, the light is really too weak to cause
a temperature rise for another couple of months at least. There have
been several weather fronts passing through and I guess the clouds are
raising the temperature.--
Concordia station 75°06'06''S - 123°23'43''E
Satellite upload times are a bit random at the moment, to be honest with you
Local time UTC + 8
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