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> I actually hadn't realized they've upgraded said station since then -- not quite what I expected!

this is what the architects in the office below mine do, design antartic research centres, i can see the models through the window. (bit of a niche i'd've thought...) (top picture)

koogs, Friday, 23 March 2007 09:33 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I went over the summer of 2000-2001 and worked for 5 months, driving the shuttle back and forth between the "town" and the various airfields at McMurdo. We flew down from Christchurch and landed right on the sea ice in a military C-130. There are maybe 6 small porthole windows in the whole cabin of a C-130, and I lucked into one of them, craning my neck to get a view of the ice and the mountains. I've (obviously) never had a flight like it.

The first two weeks were hell. I never get dry skin, but it seemed like all of me was cracked and cut. I was also in a room with no windows and 3 dudes. There was so much to get used to at first. But then I settled in. Work, 56 hour weeks, driving back and forth, took up both time and mind. That's one thing I'll treasure: driving on the ice, alone, music up, sun out.

I played drums down there too. God, what was the name of that band? We were the only group that played originals: The Legendary Beep Beeps. We drank a lot of New Zealand beer and thought we were fucking great.

Okay, enough of this. but maybe I'll post a few pictures.

jergincito, Friday, 23 March 2007 10:15 (twelve years ago) Permalink

i guess that band continues. i had no idea:
ha ha

i drove this a couple of times:

[Removed Illegal Image]

my dorm:

i need to scan my own pictures. they're so much better.

jergincito, Friday, 23 March 2007 10:20 (twelve years ago) Permalink

try the bus again:

jergincito, Friday, 23 March 2007 10:21 (twelve years ago) Permalink

my favorite stories to ask about of the winter-overs were about the people who'd gone a little crazy during the 24 hours of darkness. my friends, the ones who got me my job, and feature in the book linked to above, were down over a winter when one guy wouldn't leave his room. you quit your job in a place like that and there's no place to go. so he just stayed in his room, wouldn't even go to the galley. people brought food to his door and tried to talk him into taking a shower. another guy got hold of an ax somehow and had to be talked down. there aren't exactly cops, or jail cells, there, so it took some pretty fine diplomacy. i think he got arrested on his return to NZ.

jergincito, Friday, 23 March 2007 10:24 (twelve years ago) Permalink

The new south pole station (I never went to the pole) is pretty interesting from an architectural standpoint:

It is a 2-story structure with the "leading edge" facing the prevailing wind. The steel structure is elevated 10' above the initial graded snow surface, supported by many 24" heavywall pipe piles. These are designed to allow the structure to be jacked up in the future.

it's on these pillars, so that when the ice changes, rises, they can keep the station from being covered over, ala the old one:

jergincito, Friday, 23 March 2007 10:28 (twelve years ago) Permalink

My new favourite band:

Masonic Boom, Friday, 23 March 2007 10:30 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I love how even original bands in Antarctica have their own myspace site.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 23 March 2007 12:14 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I would go to Antarctica, but I would feel like such an intruder if I didn't have a job to do. Seems like tourists would spoil the place. Those pictures at the top, especially of Erebus, are amazing.

Mr. Que, Friday, 23 March 2007 13:47 (twelve years ago) Permalink

it's really hard to get there as a tourist (which makes the lonely planet all the more laughable). we had one group pass through there while i was there, off of a russian boat, helicoptered over. we looked at them like they were aliens. it was especially odd to see a child. people were trippin, "oh my god a kid!"

jergincito, Friday, 23 March 2007 16:54 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Some cruise line is running tour ships to Antarctica, right?

M.V., Friday, 23 March 2007 17:18 (twelve years ago) Permalink

yeah, it's a russian boat. i think they go to the peninsula, on the s. america side. sometimes you get on land, sometimes you don't. weather.

jergincito, Friday, 23 March 2007 17:22 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I believe that people should not be allowed visit Antarctica, except maybe for regulated numbers of scientists.

The Real Dirty Vicar, Friday, 23 March 2007 18:00 (twelve years ago) Permalink

what about rich people?

Catsupppppppppppppp dude ‫茄蕃‪, Friday, 23 March 2007 18:08 (twelve years ago) Permalink

they should just go to space instead

rrrobyn, Friday, 23 March 2007 18:30 (twelve years ago) Permalink

yeah, rich people can go. i should have said 'expensive' instead of 'difficult'. it's about $10k per person, i think.

jergincito, Saturday, 24 March 2007 09:46 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Rich people going:,

caek, Saturday, 24 March 2007 12:52 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Awesome Caek? Thankyou! OTOH if you mean my syntax is crapola apologies.

No, I meant that sentence was so fun! It made me smile. A+++ would read again.

Elvis Telecom: had fun reading the PDF of the first chapter of that book. Thanks for the link.

caek, Sunday, 25 March 2007 21:50 (twelve years ago) Permalink

That makes me happier than you would care to imagine. I feel complete at last. Nice trade! Highly Recommend!

Kiwi, Monday, 26 March 2007 02:02 (twelve years ago) Permalink

five months pass...

This book is a must read for the curreent Antarctic state-of-mind

-- Elvis Telecom, Thursday, 22 March 2007 23:52 (5 months ago) Bookmark Link

I read the rest of this book after reading this thread. It is great. I have now subscribed to this RSS feed:

Also, = Whoa.

caek, Wednesday, 12 September 2007 02:06 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Also, = Whoa.

Bloody hell, it's like opening the hatch of a spaceship in deep space.

Elvis Telecom, Wednesday, 12 September 2007 04:11 (eleven years ago) Permalink

i just saw werner herzog's new movie about antarctica. it's called encounters at the end of the world. some cool stuff in there.

s1ocki, Wednesday, 12 September 2007 05:17 (eleven years ago) Permalink

ooh. i want to see that.

a few weeks ago i ran into a friend i hadn't seen for a while. we were talking and he told me he'd gone to antartica earlier in the year, or at the end of last year, i don't remember, but he'd gone to argentina and then taken a huge boat for two and a half days through rough seas. most of the people on board spent the entire time wanting to die but he was fine he said b/c of all the halfpipe/vert stuff he'd done when younger. by the time they got to antartica all anyone could talk about was icebergs though.

rrrobyn, Wednesday, 12 September 2007 05:36 (eleven years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

just read that, based on recommendations--pretty damn good

the bureaucratic nightmare stuff started to piss me off too much, though

mookieproof, Saturday, 3 November 2007 16:33 (eleven years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...


Ned Raggett, Friday, 23 November 2007 21:10 (eleven years ago) Permalink

That link just comes back here. Perhaps that is what you meant by 'oopsy'?

Isn't tourism to the polar regions irresponsible?

Alex in Denver, Friday, 23 November 2007 21:13 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Hahah, you're right at that, Alex. Here's the real link:

Ned Raggett, Friday, 23 November 2007 21:14 (eleven years ago) Permalink

When I read that I thought, "Oh damn. Hey, it would be neat to be crew on one of those ships."

Maria, Friday, 23 November 2007 21:25 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I was on that same boat 3 years ago, in the Canadian Artic! Wierd to see it sunk. It seemed solid enough at the time.

They're pretty cool trips, in these smallish boats. They bring along historians, geologists, etc, to give lectures. Some of the folks on the trip I was on had been on the same boat to Antartica before, and said the Drake Passage was pretty hairy.

As to whether tourism in the polar regions is irresponsible, that's a good question.

pauls00, Friday, 23 November 2007 21:30 (eleven years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

One of my favorite things in Powell's is the Arctic/Antarctic shelves, because all the spines are blue and it's a really odd visual effect.

I know someone who went to Antarctica and wrote a book on it, but I don't know him well, in that I didn't get a free copy of his book.

Casuistry, Monday, 31 December 2007 21:39 (eleven years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

They do particle physics down there these days. Here's the ongoing diary of one of the grad students working there, published on the Economist website this week:

Meanwhile, my PhD office in a 60s tower block in south east England has no windows.

caek, Wednesday, 20 February 2008 00:10 (eleven years ago) Permalink

i wonder if i will ever visit antarctica
-- s1ocki, Thursday, March 22, 2007 6:11 PM (10 months ago) Bookmark Link

gbx, Wednesday, 20 February 2008 00:18 (eleven years ago) Permalink

i want to go skiing and/or climbing on the peninsula

gbx, Wednesday, 20 February 2008 00:19 (eleven years ago) Permalink

an acquaintance just went, but i haven't seen him since his return

mookieproof, Wednesday, 20 February 2008 00:24 (eleven years ago) Permalink

From Unusual facilities for employees

in antarctica they had all kinds of crazy shit set up--bars, music rooms, a coffee house--but that was more about us being stuck there than the jobs.

we have pilates classes at my work now. you still get paid but it costs $50 so it doesn't exactly even out.

-- jergรฏns, Tuesday, 19 February 2008 23:17 (Yesterday) Bookmark Link

jergins you lived in antarctica???? did you "over-winter?"

i just read some website about living in antarctica. it was pretty funny! sounds like there was a lot of shenanigans down there. most of the stories sounded like college and/or being a ski bum

-- gbx, Wednesday, 20 February 2008 00:00 (1 hour ago) Bookmark Link

just one summer. yeah, lots of shenanigans, but also 54 hour work weeks. people drank a LOT. and crossdressed a lot. that was a work perk: anything anyone brought down there got left there, so we had a fine choice of wigs and halloween costumes.

-- jergรฏns, Wednesday, 20 February 2008 00:02 (59 minutes ago) Bookmark Link

caek, Wednesday, 20 February 2008 01:03 (eleven years ago) Permalink

SYDNEY, Australia - Scientists investigating the icy waters of Antarctica said Tuesday they have collected mysterious creatures including giant sea spiders and huge worms in the murky depths.

Australian experts taking part in an international program to take a census of marine life in the ocean at the far south of the world collected specimens from up to 6,500 feet beneath the surface, and said many may never have been seen before.

Some of the animals far under the sea grow to unusually large sizes, a phenomenon called gigantism that scientists still do not fully understand.

"Gigantism is very common in Antarctic waters," Martin Riddle, the Australian Antarctic Division scientist who led the expedition, said in a statement. "We have collected huge worms, giant crustaceans and sea spiders the size of dinner plates."

The specimens were being sent to universities and museums around the world for identification, tissue sampling and DNA studies.

"Not all of the creatures that we found could be identified and it is very likely that some new species will be recorded as a result of these voyages," said Graham Hosie, head of the census project.

The expedition is part of an ambitious international effort to map life forms in the Antarctic Ocean, also known as the Southern Ocean, and to study the impact of forces such as climate change on the undersea environment.

Three ships - Aurora Australis from Australia, France's L'Astrolabe and Japan's Umitaka Maru - returned recently from two months in the region as part of the Collaborative East Antarctic Marine Census. The work is part of a larger project to map the biodiversity of the world's oceans.

The French and Japanese ships sought specimens from the mid- and upper-level environment, while the Australian ship plumbed deeper waters with remote-controlled cameras.

"In some places every inch of the sea floor is covered in life," Riddle said. "In other places we can see deep scars and gouges where icebergs scour the sea floor as they pass by."

Among the bizarre-looking creatures the scientists spotted were tunicates, plankton-eating animals that resemble slender glass structures up to a yard tall "standing in fields like poppies," Riddle said.

Other animals were equally baffling.

"They had fins in various places, they had funny dangly bits around their mouths," Riddle told reporters. "They were all bottom dwellers so they were all evolved in different ways to live down on the sea bed in the dark. So many of them had very large eyes - very strange looking fish."

Scientists are planning a follow-up expedition in 10 to 15 years to examine the effects of climate changes on the region's environment.

scott seward, Wednesday, 20 February 2008 05:43 (eleven years ago) Permalink

JPGs of giant sea spiders?

caek, Wednesday, 20 February 2008 14:54 (eleven years ago) Permalink

OK, ugh

caek, Wednesday, 20 February 2008 14:56 (eleven years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

i just saw werner herzog's new movie about antarctica. it's called encounters at the end of the world. some cool stuff in there.

-- s1ocki, Wednesday, 12 September 2007 06:17 (6 months ago) Bookmark Link

Opens june 11.

caek, Thursday, 13 March 2008 18:59 (eleven years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

The galley at the South Pole, 1975

caek, Tuesday, 22 April 2008 02:04 (eleven years ago) Permalink


caek, Tuesday, 22 April 2008 02:05 (eleven years ago) Permalink

first picture looks like something out of LOST

jergรฏns, Tuesday, 22 April 2008 02:10 (eleven years ago) Permalink

More amazing photos:

caek, Tuesday, 22 April 2008 02:14 (eleven years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

sounds great fun:

caek, Thursday, 12 June 2008 22:33 (ten years ago) Permalink

this is one of my favorite threads ever.

Maria, Thursday, 12 June 2008 22:38 (ten years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...
four months pass...

anyone interested?

clotpoll, Saturday, 22 November 2008 01:17 (ten years ago) Permalink

I have my suspicious on that. All the US Antarctic hiring is done through Raytheon:

Chris Barrus (Elvis Telecom), Saturday, 22 November 2008 01:38 (ten years ago) Permalink


TracerHandVEVO (Tracer Hand), Friday, 7 October 2011 15:35 (seven years ago) Permalink

(the zombie guy is frank wild)

mark s, Friday, 7 October 2011 15:47 (seven years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Great stuff (and a link to the original piece if you'd like to go all in).

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 16 November 2011 23:19 (seven years ago) Permalink

nature had a seriously good week this week, with these mountains and ionian water

caek, Wednesday, 16 November 2011 23:28 (seven years ago) Permalink

european even

caek, Wednesday, 16 November 2011 23:28 (seven years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

toandos, Tuesday, 27 March 2012 02:45 (seven years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

In which mark s digs deep, with Scott/Amundsen as a launching point for all kinds of things:

Ned Raggett, Monday, 30 April 2012 14:31 (seven years ago) Permalink

deep into the zone of pitchforkmedia

Ms Tum-Bla-Wi-Tee (nakhchivan), Monday, 30 April 2012 14:32 (seven years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

"I'm going online, I may be some time..."

second dullest ILXor since 1929 (snoball), Tuesday, 17 July 2012 19:57 (six years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

RIP Nick Johnson, writer of the terrific Big Dead Place book and blog:

Elvis Telecom, Thursday, 6 December 2012 08:44 (six years ago) Permalink

Yeesh. Heavy stuff. Rip.

caek, Thursday, 6 December 2012 10:32 (six years ago) Permalink

four years pass...

that last link post here is just awful (, on many levels. i know the person writing it was dealing with intense pain, but it's probably not a good idea to imply that the author of a rejection letter was the cause of someone's suicide. she has to live a life, too. ugh. the south pole, man. fuck.

Karl Malone, Saturday, 2 September 2017 04:26 (one year ago) Permalink

four months pass...

i meant to revive this a while back when i finished reading his book, but just want to second the recommendation of Big Dead Place. elvis mentioned it above, caek recommended i read it, and mookie even sent me an e-book version! it was an ILX-sponsored reading journey, and now i'm happy to hop on the Big Dead Place train as well.

the book is about living and working in antarctica, mainly the McMurdo station. but it's not about the environment or the hazardous conditions, and certainly not about scientific research. instead, it's about surreal bureaucracy, one of my favorite topics. johnson worked in the waste management department at the station. johnson must have been a nightmare for the NSF (the operator of the station, with the authority residing in Denver) - a worker who recognized the absurdity of his working environment, had the talent to express it eloquently (and hilariously), and the willingness to name names and embarrass management. i imagine he would have found the working environment absurd in just about any workplace administered by the government - ime, the entire federal government is like a bad episode of The Office - but the extremes of antarctica really brought out something special in him. i'd like to think that i would have been his friend in mcmurdo, if i was there, toeing the line with authority. but who knows, i may have been the guy who gets promoted to lower management as an emergency fill-in and then ends up being the buttoned up stooge passing along orders from Denver that everyone hated. or the weirdo down the hall who never left the room except to bring out buckets of frozen piss and pick up more beer.

at any rate, i finished his book several weeks back and it's one of those writings that has really struck with me. RIP nick johnson.

Karl Malone, Sunday, 14 January 2018 19:11 (one year ago) Permalink

yes! great book. i didn't make the government bureaucracy connection with you, but it makes sense that would ring true for you.

gonna post this again now we have embeds

๐” ๐”ž๐”ข๐”จ (caek), Monday, 15 January 2018 05:28 (one year ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

(xpost with new yorker thread)

i haven't read this yet but even a quick scroll through suggests it will be good:

Karl Malone, Friday, 9 February 2018 01:26 (one year ago) Permalink

Encounters at the End of the World was so good. just interviewing all of the random people from all over the globe that end up there was v fascinating. the spooky minimal wildlife stuff was interesting as well. like when they are listening to the seals under the ice and it sounds like the most insane synthesizer filters. the place looks otherworldly beautiful - the cathedrals of ice sculptures reflecting light underneath the vast frozen seas, the crystal caves, the blinding force of the winds, the extremophiles that survive without oxygen, sunlight, or carbon. its all so extra-terrestrial!

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 9 February 2018 01:56 (one year ago) Permalink

Extremophiles are the ultimate adventurers. These organisms thrive where other microbes donโ€™t dare venture: boiling water holes, freezing lakes, and toxic waste dumps.

Now, researchers have sequenced the genomes of two extremophiles that love life extremely cold. They live at the bottom of Ace Lake in Antarctica, where there is no oxygen and the average temperature is a brutal 33 degrees Fahrenheit.

The two organisms, called Methanogenium frigidum and Methanococcoides burtonii, produce methane and are known as methanogens.

Methanogens are unique among organisms in their ability to survive a wide range of temperatures, from the freezing point of water to 185 degrees Fahrenheit and everything in between.

In a new study, scientists sequenced the genomes of M. frigidum and M. burtonii and compared their genomes with those of heat-loving methanogens to identify features that may help these microbes adapt to their cold surroundings.

Some of these hardy organisms also live in oxygen-starved environments, without sunlight or carbon, and scientists believe that studying these microbes could reveal the boundaries of extreme environments that support life here on Earth and on other planets.


So what if Earth isnโ€™t the only place these kinds of microbes live?

Some scientists speculate that methanogens could provide clues to life on other planets, such as Mars, and Europa (Jupiterโ€™s sixth moon).

Evidence suggests that beneath the icy surface of Europa, there may be subsurface oceans that could support extremophiles like M. frigidum. The Antarctic lakes of the Vestfold Hills and their hardy inhabitants may, in some way, resemble the environment on Europa.

Other research suggests that some methanogens could survive life on Mars. Scientists at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville have grown methanogens in Mars-like soil and under Mars-like conditions.

After the Viking voyages to Mars in the 1970s turned up no trace of life, as we knew it, some scientists dismissed the idea of Martian life. Twenty years later, with the discovery of organisms that can survive without oxygen, carbon, or sunlight, researchers are rethinking the boundaries of what environments may support life.

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 9 February 2018 01:58 (one year ago) Permalink

i find this page extremely poignant

๐” ๐”ž๐”ข๐”จ (caek), Friday, 9 February 2018 04:06 (one year ago) Permalink

karl malone you should read the worst journey in the world

๐” ๐”ž๐”ข๐”จ (caek), Friday, 9 February 2018 04:07 (one year ago) Permalink

four months pass...

via the best blog (but CW weirdly glib description of suicide)

Nicholas JohnsonA bit of iconic history, otherwise elsewhere described as the "WikiLeaks of Antarctica..." is the iconic book Big Dead Place. Author Nicholas Johnson, unfortunately, is no longer with us after he blew his brains out in 2012, but his work survives. And his work has now been given a new lease on life. On 30 April, ABC's program Earshot aired a 30-minute podcast/download which describes and details Nicholas's work, life, and the rest of his story. The interview and accompanying web pages include the voices and photos of several friends. Two ABC links of interest: this page gives basic information about the episode along with links for listening to or downloading the story...and this page gives additional background information as well as more photos. But that is not all. Nicholas' sister worked to get THE BIG DEAD PLACE WEBSITE back up to coincide with the release of this documentary. Have a look! Not everything is there, but there is a lot of the good stuff. The photo of Nicolas at left shows him at work in the McMurdo waste barn in about's from Kathy Blumm and used by permission.

๐” ๐”ž๐”ข๐”จ (caek), Saturday, 9 June 2018 20:20 (eleven months ago) Permalink

great book; didn't know about the suicide (although it's . . . not exactly shocking)

mookieproof, Saturday, 9 June 2018 20:24 (eleven months ago) Permalink

(but CW weirdly glib description of suicide)

oddly, the place where i first learned about his death described it in the same way:
maybe it was an inside joke, or perhaps just a way of addressing it that seemed in keeping with his style of writing. i'm not sure.

the earshot episode was good, although i didn't really like whoever was reading in the voice of nicholas johnson. reminded me of the old iron chefs with the english dubs

obviously DLC (Karl Malone), Sunday, 10 June 2018 00:18 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Thanks for the link. Weird personal trivia.... my copy of Big Dead Place has actually been to Antarctica. Haven't been there yet.

Elvis Telecom, Sunday, 10 June 2018 04:54 (eleven months ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

Thank you all for suggesting Big Dead Place. It's Rivethead... On Ice!

pplains, Monday, 25 June 2018 03:04 (ten months ago) Permalink

seven months pass...

good account

๐” ๐”ž๐”ข๐”จ (caek), Tuesday, 29 January 2019 23:35 (three months ago) Permalink is good too.

Elvis Telecom, Thursday, 31 January 2019 06:17 (three months ago) Permalink

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