Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election 2006

It's kind of amusing that at home I don't really have a political affiliation any more (growing up I was told that Labour was evil, the Lib Dems was a wasted vote and the Conservatives were the least bad option, but nowadays I'm not sure that any of them are better or worse than any others), but in America I discover I'm a Democrat — or to be more technically true, I discover I'm definitely not a Republican. So, Hurrah for the house and who knows maybe miracles will happen with the Senate.

The sun never sets...

Yeah, I know it's a cliche but it's still strange to walk out of the bar at 9:30 in the evening (we get up at 6, so we try and keep it early) and it is still dazzling bright outside. In fact, it is always dazzling bright here in Antarctica and the wearing of sunglasses is apparently mandatory — not that I think there are penalties, beyond snow-blindness, for those who don't wear them.

Working here has been pretty fun so far, we work out at one of the airfields — Williams, or Willy, field — and it is out on the Ross Ice Shelf, where on clear days there are breathtaking views of the smoking Mt. Erebus (I'll post a picture when I get round to downloading one from the camera). The 30-45 minute bus ride each way is a little annoying, particularly as the airfield is only 6 miles outside of McMurdo (the town), but I imagine I'll have a similar commute when I'm back in London next year, and it probably won't be as pretty.

So far the weather has held up, and we haven't had much in the way of snow. I'm assured that this is guaranteed to change before the end of the month, and I hope so — it would seem a terrible shame to come to Antarctica and not have at least one decent storm. Having said that I'm sure after one I'd be really bored of them, but still...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The seagull and the sausage, and other tall tales

Like all good stories this one starts with a football match. Unlike most football matches this one started at 8am on a Sunday. Unlike most football matches that I've played in, our team actually won. I know it sounds unbelievable, but it is true. (For reference: The Clawless Marauders, our outdoor seven aside team, managed to concede 70 goals in 6 games — one of which the opposing team didn't turn up for.)

Well okay, so I just lied a little. No it wasn't about winning the football match, it was about the start. The first sentence should have read, "Like all good stories this one starts with a drinking and backgammon gambling session that went until 4am (or 5, if you consider the fact that we put the clocks back an hour at 10:50 when we were feeling sleepy). Of course, if I'd started my first post in months with that it would merely add to my Mother's conviction that I am an alcoholic, gambling addict — and yes, that would be a bad thing. (For the record I ended the backgammon session up a stunning $7)

All things considered I can't think of a better way to start the day you head of towards Antarctica (well New Zealand, really) than an 8am football match after you've had three hours of sleep. Particularly when you win the game; at this point I should probably state that I only played about seven minutes of the game and probably contributed minimally to the result, but this isn't Roy of the Rovers.

Following the football, I had just enough time to have a shower before it was time to head off to work to finishing packing the boxes of scientific stuff that I'm taking down to the ice. Then it was off to the airport, where I'd hoped to be delayed long enough to watch the Atlanta Falcons beat the Cincinnati Bengals (in fact my flight was delayed but only long enough for we to watch Cincy lead the Falcons 17-13 at halftime). In the future I must remember to look up which sporting events are happening on my proposed travel dates, for now I'll just have to be satisfied that the Falcons won (I'm sure that, deep down, they did it for me).

The flight to New Zealand was not as unpleasant as I was expecting, largely due to the fact that I was absolutely knackered and managed to sleep for a while. The leg from Chicago to L.A. was enlivened by the man next to me telling how much he hated all the hypocritical homosexuals in the Republican party, and how China were going to take out Kim Jong-Il before the Olympics in Beijing (remember, you heard it here first if it happens). The only downside of the flight to Auckland is that my personal luggage wasn't on it, in fact it went to Brisbane, collecting all these pretty tags on it's way.

One of the first things I saw when I was a walking down the street in Christchurch, was a seagull swoop down from the rooftops and take a battered sausage out of the hands of a guy as he was eating it. It was very impressive, in fact I had to take a photo of said sausage to immortalise the moment. And just for good measure here is a shot of the strange vase thing next to the cathedral (can you tell I just bought a new camera?)