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From South Pole:

January 21, 2011

Thursday, Jan. 20 2011 UTC


Morning on my last day (hopefully) and, like a kid on the night before Christmas, I’m excited and nervous. But in some way it feels like my last Christmas. I have been a bit sad off and on. Not a bad sad, but I’ve spent so much time absorbing the peculiarities of this place that it is a bit hard to say goodbye to them, and to it. Last night I spent quite awhile in Comms, the place with the best view on the station, looking out over the skiway and the Dark Sector. While listening to the radio traffic from McMurdo flight control, the attendant static pops and hisses and beeps, and the occasional words from the woman on shift, I looked out across the skiway at IceCube a kilometer away. From Comms one can see the extent of the entire hexagonal IceCube array, 1 km on a side — each of the 86 strings marked with a large red or orange flag, with the ICL building in the middle; and, surrounding this enormity, the much vaster enormity of the wide, white, expanse of the ice shelf we are on, flat as glass and encrusted with powdered diamond, textured with a million tracks of wind, vehicles, and footprints. There are so many beautiful vistas in the world, but that particular view is entangled with my life in myriad and deep ways, from the words on this page to the code I wrote which is running as you read this in 5500 computers deep in the ice, from the lines on my face from the years I have spent working on this, to the relationships (ranging from passing greetings to deeply challenging to strong affection) with so many people in the project… to the artwork I have made, to the artwork I want to make… all these ties and tangles feel, to some extent, a bit more exposed in these final moments.

The weather forecast last night predicted low visibility, which often means canceled flights. But today the forecast looks better and there are four flights scheduled. I expect this chapter does in fact get to close today. With any luck I won’t get stuck in McMurdo. Time for breakfast, two meetings, then clean my room and sail on outta here.

Late season rush of activity begins

Antarctic footwear: flip-flops for shower, boots for normal walking around, Baffin boots for major work outside

View in B2 with emergency sleds