A Day Spent Doing Nothing is Something

Here at McMurdo, as I may have mentioned before, we work six-day weeks, ten hours a day. And it’s working, not dithering about on the computer checking Facebook and phoning your dentist to schedule a cleaning. In my department, we get a 25-minute lunch and, if we can spare the time, a 15-minute stretch break and that’s it. I’m not complaining, but I feel the need to explain why, when we do get our weekly day off, so many people spend it doing nothing.

One of my roommates slept for 36 hours straight. I’ve seen people wandering the halls in their pajamas, shuffling and glassy-eyed and no, it’s not because they’ve been drinking. Others set up in the galley with a book and don’t stir for half the day.

Me, I yearn to do nothing. But there is so much to do here, and so much of it is temporary… how long will the sea ice be thick enough for the trail to hold? How long will that seal be stretched out there right by the ice pier? It’s hard not to try to do everything at once, but I’ve seen enough people wear themselves out in the process that I’m working hard to pace myself.

So I was almost relieved when an outing I’d signed up for today was cancelled because the vehicle they were going to take had to go into the shop. Whew. It meant I could sleep in on this, my day off… and then do laundry, write Christmas cards, finish organizing Christmas packages and spend two hours getting shuttle driver training, do some volunteering at the library and then join my friends and co-workers for lunch.

Whew. I need a day off from my day off.

I am now, however, officially cleared to be a volunteer shuttle driver, both in the vans and the Airporters, which are used to take people to and from the runways and Scott Base. It was exciting to be driving out on the sea ice, but the biggest thrill for me was finally getting a clear view of Mt. Terror as I drove with my trainer over to Scott Base.

Behold! Mt. Terror! (pressure ridges in the foreground)

Yes, I live on an island with three volcanoes, one of which is called Mt. Terror. And if that is not the coolest thing ever, I don’t know what is.

Mt. Terror is the farthest of the three from base, and always shrouded in cloud, but today I had a great view of it (and a great view of Mt. Erebus, too, though I didn’t take a picture of that).

Now if only I’d see a damn penguin, that would be awesome.

Anyway, thanks for the emails and comments, but for those of you who’ve asked why I don’t update the blog more often, well, trust me, it’s not because I’m sitting around slacking!

Hello! I'll be your Transporter this morning (photo taken at 3:15 am local time)

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2 thoughts on “A Day Spent Doing Nothing is Something

  1. OK, maybe it’s because it’s early, but I kept reading “Transporter” as “Trainspotter,” and so images of you diving into the filthiest toilet in Scotland came to mind. *shudder*

    Seriously, though, I’m glad you had a day truly off and got things done. I’m going to mail your Christmas present when I get back from KC after Thanskgiving, which means it might not get there in time. Sorry! I would’ve had it out by now, but have been thrown off by this week-long trip, which was planned, but suddenly got more stressful for reasons I won’t spill all over your blog. Anyway, *one* of your gifts I’ve actually had since you were in NZ!

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