Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ouch!  A storm system moved in right after the first Basler arrived and we haven’t seen a plane since.  It is now Friday, and although there may be a small window to get a plane here from McMurdo on Saturday it doesn’t look very promising.  After tomorrow the Baslers are all tasked to supply other bases in Antarctica and won’t be coming to Pole.  Soooo, it will probably be the LC-130 on November 2 that will be the next plane.  That’s bad because that was the plane I was supposed to leave on!  Instead it will be bringing in my replacement and  I’ll then have to stay several days to provide training and turnover.  Now, instead of 10 days to departure it may be 20 days or longer before I get to a warm place.  Nooooo, please noooo.  I don't want the planes to not fly.

In the meantime we are doing turnover things with the 15 people who did get here Monday.  Today we are bringing up three more 5,000 gallon emergency fuel tanks from storage in the far reaches of the station and transferring their fuel to the main station tanks.  We will transfer two tanks to show them how it is done, and then the summer folks will do a tank while we watch.  This will be good training for the next winter manager (who was one of the 15 people on the first plane) as it will have to be done next winter too.  Plus we are almost out of fuel in the station’s tanks – a small but significant point.
Reviewing fuel-tank dipping procedures.  It's warm!  Only -38F and 10 mph wind.  The winter-overs are shedding our ECW gear as too hot while the summer folks are bundled up like mummies.
Paul Smith and Mel MacMahon in the emergency fuel module preparing to transfer fuel from the 5k outside tank to the station's main fuel tanks.

We are adapting pretty well to the new guys on station. Late at night when we are up and they are in bed we sit around and make fun of them.  It’s good natured and done in humor, but the phrase “F’ing new guys” always brings a laugh.  Truthfully, they are not too bad and there isn’t any friction.  But they sure are intense!  They want to do things NOW.  They want to get going on work while we all want to stop working.  I sometimes go hide somewhere in the station to keep them from asking me more questions.  If they really need me now they can call me on my radio.  Still, I suspect all this current goodwill will wane when 50 more "F'ing new guys" show up on station.

Joking aside, this intensity by the new arrivals is a serious issue.  After being here nine months or longer our people are really tired and are used to working at a slow and deliberate pace in dangerous winter conditions.  The intensity of the new managers puts a lot of stress on the winter-overs to get things done for them.  This can (and has) caused accidents to happen.  It is a constant battle to slow things down and to resist new tasking being handed to the winter crew..  It doesn’t help that the only airplane to arrive so far has held summer managers, and the only people on station to do the work are winter-overs.  We miss those two other planes with summer workers that did not make it.


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