The week ending November 25, 1994 in McMurdo

This week has gone by REALLY fast, and it feels like a good and full week! I started working the evening shift, meaning I don't have to go to work until 5pm. I have been getting up at 9am and doing all kinds of fun things!

Monday I went in to the bio lab here in the morning and used one of the computers. There is a neat library in there that has a GREAT view, and there are some computers there anyone can use. I have since found that the room is usually quite crowded with scientists using the machines. When I was there, though, it was a quiet Monday morning.

After lunch I went into the Greenhouse which is always nice. It is WARM in there, and humid and it is nice to be among PLANTS! They have installed some plastic curtains (like you find in the frozen section at grocery stores) and so one of the rooms is cooler than the other. The lettuce room is about 70F and the tomato/herb room is about 80F. All over there are humidifiers and fans and BRIGHT LIGHTS. I measure pH, then adjust it for what the system likes. For example, lettuce kind of likes things acidic, while tomatoes don't. We have 5 systems in all, and I have to check all of them. The other thing I check is conductivity. That has something to do with the nutrients. These plants all grow by sucking up nutrients from water (here is no soil). I still have to learn what the nutrients are, but there is an "A" nutrient and a "B" one. We measure the conductivity, look on a chart, and then figure out how much nutrient to add. (We always add equal amounts of A and B). I also measure the temperature, humidity, and check the systems to see if they need water. If anything needs harvesting I do that too.

Monday I added water to all the systems and found out that the pH meter is broken and I couldn't get the conductivity meter to work. I then filled all the humidifiers, and in the process I blew a fuse, so had to call someone to come in and help me figure out how to make it right again. It wasn't a very productive time, but it was great being in there. Right now we have a lot of different kinds of lettuce growing, some cucumbers, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and a few herbs (basil, chives, thyme, cilantro). Sometimes I pick lettuce and take it to the galley, but that usually takes a while, so I didn't do it this time.

Tuesday was a bit breezy, but I decided to climb Ob Hill to get some exercise. I had been skiing on Sunday and my muscles were SORE! It was great to get out and stretch my legs. I bundled up really good and the wind didn't bother me.

After lunch my friend who is the cook at Scott Base came over for a cup of tea and we caught up on all his escapades. He is a typical Kiwi - full of vim and vinegar and ALWAYS up to something. He told me that he had gone out to Cape Evans (15 miles away) and got another guy to walk back with him. They took a sled with survival gear and used skis in the spirit of Cmdr. Scott in days of old. He said it was something to haul the sled....rough ice and skis not wanting to grip the ice, sounded like an ADVENTURE.

From there I went into the MARS shack and learned how to send marsgrams. I have been volunteering as a typist now for the past two years and I have wanted to be the operator that SENDS the grams since 1992. I have spent a LOT of time up there learning, but never been able to DO it. This time they let me do it as they watched. I had a good time, but the radio waves weren't very cooperative.

After that I ran into some scientists I had met last year. They are studying giant foraminifera, some kind of single-celled animal. It is so large that you can see it unaided by a microscope. I heard about them all last year but had never seen one. I went over to the lab to look and by golly, if they aren't something. They actually secrete some kind of slime or spit and incorporate sand, silt or shells to make a protective case. I didn't really see the "animal", but got a gander at the "shell". There are many different kinds of forams, and each kind uses it's own signature material for its case. Some like silt, some like granite grains, etc. One of the scientists was sorting through the guck they had scraped up from the floor of the ocean and was picking these things out and sorting them into piles. I got to look through the microscope and there were some other neat things to see too. I saw a tiny worm, a little shrimp, a minute starfish and some other neat translucent things.

Work has been going really well, there are a lot of people out in the field camps to talk to and my time at the radios just flies by!