Journal from Terry Trimingham December 26, 1994 - January 7, 1995

After the big outing I had on Christmas eve and then going out skiing on Xmas day, I was VERY VERY tired. I had to work a 12 hour shift, and then come back after a 12 hour break for more work on the 26th. I was exhausted, and it all seemed to catch up with me on the 26th. I didn't feel very good at work, and went straight home to bed, but found it very difficult to sleep. The one good thing was that my body was finally SO tired that it decided to sleep during the day. I actually got five straight hours of sleep before I woke up that night; it was great to be able to sleep that long in one stretch!

Tuesday. when I woke up I went over to visit someone that is part of VXE6 (the flight squadron). He is a ham, and he has a VHF radio in his room hooked up to a computer. It is very interesting. He can connect via computer ports directly to other ham clubs all over the world (mostly just in the States) and they all can "chat" and all kinds of things. It is done via "packet" radio. I found it fascinating, but I am not sure I followed most of what he said...something new to learn!

I am actually thinking of trying to spend the winter here, and last week I started spreading the news around to different people that I was looking for a job.

Thursday I woke up feeling like I was fighting off a cold. It took me a long time to get going. I went down to the dorm lounge at the invitation of some folks and we all watched the movie "Like Water for Chocolate" on the big screen TV. It is a Mexican film about food and love, and quite good. I would recommend it if you haven't seen it.

Friday I once again had a hard time getting out of bed in spite of a good sleep. I decided I would like some exercise, but that I would also like to see how the play is coming along since opening night was only a week away.

I went outside and was amazed to see how BEAUTIFUL the weather was! Dead calm and sunny. I didn't know anyone to call to be a ski partner, so I went in to see the rehearsal for the play. I ended up volunteering to be a stagehand for the first week's performances. I think the play is going to be good. The set is impressive, and the actors were doing a great job. Next week I will be going to all the rehearsals, and opening night is 1/5 (Thurs). We have six performances, Thurs. Fri. Sat this week and next week. It is a full length play, complete with intermission, so I will let you know how it goes! After the rehearsal the weather was still beautiful, so I walked to Scott Base and back (it took about 1 1/2 hrs round trip). It was very nice and I enjoyed the walk.

Saturday morning I went into the galley to find out that McMurdo is out of cracked eggs until the ship comes in - must be that time of the season (the galley is running out of a lot of things). I woke up feeling like I was fighting off a small cold again. I was going to go to the big New Year's party in the gym, but I didn't feel like going to a LOUD place FULL of people. I like to dance and wanted to go do that, but in the end I just ended up going to the dorm lounge to watch movies with some friends. At midnight I went over to get midrats before I started work, so it was a pretty uneventful night.

January 1, 1995: HAPPY NEW YEAR! Here it is, just a few hours into 1995. Funny, I don't feel any differently. 1994 was such a good year for me that it is hard to know what this one will do...last year is going to be a tough act to follow!

One of my friends went out to the Geologist Range, about 300 miles and when the plane came to get them, it had a hard time taking off in the soft snow. The plane tilted and a prop hit the snow and came off, tearing into the side of the fuselage and really damaging the plane. They were lucky no one was hurt. They almost left the plane there for the winter, but in the end a group was sent to fix it and retrieve the plane. They ended up leaving a LOT of stuff behind over the winter. This year they sent out a team of folks to move the cargo up to the Polar Plateau so that a plane could go in and pick up the stuff. My friend went because last year they left a big "tucker" out there (a big machine they used for grooming a skiway for the plane). He is a mechanic and so his job is to get the tucker running again. Now they are going to find a route to the plateau and drive the tucker up there so the plane can get it. I don't know if I would want to do that, all kinds of crevasses....

Tonight I could hear a Qantas pilot talking to MacCenter (our air traffic). Qantas sent a commercial flight down here. They flew all over the place, over the magnetic south pole, and back to Sydney. I don't know how much the people on the flight paid, but it took them 11 hours! That doesn't sound like fun to me! I have spoken with the Polar Star (the ice breaker) a few times. They should be in McMurdo in another week. The end of the season is coming up fast! It is really hard for me to fathom the speed of the days going by....just a few more until my birthday!

Sunday (January 1), I decided to stay up all day to wear me out and to transition to becoming a night sleeper again. One of the computer help desk folks and I went out skiing. It was an AMAZING day....sunny, warm and NO wind! We took the shuttle out to Willy Field, a lazy day off out there, no one around, and puddles everywhere. We skied on the flats on the Ross Ice Shelf and it took a lot of effort to PUSH the skis through the snow and get some glide. It was VERY warm, and the snow quite soft. My sunscreen kept running into my eyes and stinging! We had a nice time though, and got good exercise going out along the flags for about an hour and 15 minutes. We skied back with a little breeze starting up and it only took 45 min to get back. It had been REALLY hot, and I was glad to get in out of the sun!

The next day was my day off. I skied the Castle Rock Loop as usual, and it was wonderful to get out! It was another nice sunny windless day. In McMurdo they were having IceStock (name adapted from "Woodstock"), so we really didn't see anyone else out there skiing at all. We got in around 2:45 and joined the crowd watching music. Each year on the day after New Years, an outside stage is set up and we have music all day long outside by anyone that had signed up to play. Some folks go up year after year. The crowd has a good time hanging out. Some spread blankets on the dirt and picnic, some play hackey sack, some dance to the music, and a lot just stand around. The acts vary considerably. I missed the opening, but one of my friends opened the day by playing his bagpipes! There is always a lot of rock and roll and folk music. I got there in time to see the brass quintet the Navy had put together. They had been all over town last week playing Xmas carols and they were good. I also heard a group of 5 women sing acapella, one of the galley guys get up and did a 15 minute comedy routine, and two guys sang Jimmy Buffet songs.

Then I decided it was time to go do my Greenhouse duties and put some finishing touches on the set for the play. The galley had a BBQ that day too, and I was one of the first in line. I had a nice BBQ T-bone and some baked beans and pasta salad. By the time I finished there was a LARGE line of people waiting for food, and also a number of skuas flying around with similar intentions! The wind really picked up too, and by the time 5pm arrived it was really brisk. IceStock came to a fairly abrupt halt then.

Tuesday I went to being a day worker again and it was nice to be part of the action once again. Starting that night I showed up for play practice to learn how to be a stagehand. We get there at 6:30 and start at 7:30 (just like we would on a "real" night). As a stagehand I set up all the props, help the actors change costumes, flick light switches at appropriate times and make the Xmas tree fall on cue (it is part of the play). The only bad part is that I have to be in the BACK, and can't see the play myself! Practice went until 10:30, so it was a long day.

Wednesday I did the same thing, and Thursday was opening night. The actors were a little nervous, but the play ran very smoothly. We had about 65 folks show up for the first show. Tonight was the second, and there were about 85 in attendance (the "theater" seats 96). It is pretty exciting to see everything come together. I enjoyed being a part of it all. I am going to be a stage hand for four performances, go to one next week with my roommate, and then have to work during the final performance and miss the cast party....argh!....oh well.

The play has three acts and we have about 15 minutes in between each act where we crank the heater so the poor audience doesn't freeze to death! The building we are using is one of the oldest standing structures in McMurdo I think. It is pretty big, in the shape of a quonset hut. They use it to store the water truck. Also, the iron workers use it. We built a stage in there and were able to leave the set up. The water truck had to go out so we could set up chairs for the audience. There is a heater in there, but it makes so much noise when it is running that you can't hear the actors! So we crank the thing to 80F while we let folks in the door. It gets sweltering in there! Then we turn it down to 40F so that it won't run and it takes about three minutes to loose momentum and shut down. Each act takes about 40 minutes, and by the time the act is over folks are starting to feel the nip of cold! We crank the heater again, and so forth! I don't think we would have TWO intermissions if we had a warm theater, but this old creaky leaky building requires it!

I think the play is a big success. It is a comedy and gets a lot of laughs. I am looking forward to being in the audience next Thursday. Nothing much else to report. The weather is starting to look like it is Fall. It has been snowing for a couple of days and the sky is gray. The Polar Star is on its way in; it should be at the ice pier tomorrow or the next day. Since I get to talk to them every day, it is pretty exciting for me!