Here's a question ... do I get to watch TV while I am in Antarctica? Answer: yes, I do. But what kind of TV am I watching? It's good ol' AFN. The Armed Forces Network, and this is my first introduction to the pleasures of the entertainment available to our good men and women posted all over the world by Uncle Sam. It's basically hand-picked programming from a variety of networks -- we get CNN sometimes, and don't forget Fox News (Uncle Sam surely didn't), and a few really bad TV dramas, random sports programming, and even the Daily Show and Colbert pop up every so often.
The weird thing is that instead of commercials for products, we just get little commercials made by the powers that be. Like why I shouldn't abuse my wife, or alcohol, or why I should sign up for military insurance. It's all very PSA, and, I suppose useful in its way, but it's starting to get to me a little bit. Like I was watching football the other day, and I really had to decide if I wanted to finish watching the game, and subject myself to endless propoganda, or just forget about it and read the score online. It's so weirdly hypnotic and silly at the same time, and I really feel like there's some sinister subliminal message being pumped in underneath the soundtrack -- like "George Bush really isn't so bad, is he????" and "Dick Cheney can kick your rear any time he wants...". I guess we'll see -- if I come back a Republican, you'll know something's up.
Anyway, here's to some more questions:
What's a FNG? (Profanity warning...)
A F***ing New Guy. That's me. And all first-years here are called FNGees, but called so with love. Most of the time.
What's the weather like?
If you've lived in the northern USA, you've probably experienced most of it before. Minnesotans like me are used to blowing snow and cold. The temps since I've been here have ranged from probably 20 below (F) to 15 above. The last few days have hovered in the -10 to 0 range. What's different is that the wind comes out of nowhere, and it can be strong. Today was a crazy wind day, but definitely not as bad as it gets here. Very hard to walk up the hill, I'll tell you that, and I had to pull out the polarized ski goggles to see in the blowing snow.
We did have snow here the other day, which you may think, ha ha, of course there is snow in Antarctica. But actually, it does not snow very often. Most of the snow we get has just been blowing around forever and ever, and it isn't actually snow from the sky. A large part of this continent is actually desert, with very little precipitation each year. If I was not so lazy, I'd actually figure out how much snow we get, but I am, and so are you if you don't Google it yourself!
Do penguins taste like chicken?
I would be in very very big trouble if I was able to answer that question. Penguins and all Antarctic wildlife are under crazy protection here. I have heard, however, that they are kind of gamey. Not that anyone would know that officially. Not that anyone even knows that unofficially. Or even knows anyone who knows the answer to that question in any official or unofficial capacity.
Why are you posting twice a day some days?
Ah, but I am not. Official McMurdo time is actually official New Zealand time, because the base is located right below New Zealand. So I am one day ahead and seven hours behind the Central Time Zone. I am posting at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 5th, which makes it about 1:30 AM on Wednesday, September 5th for my Central Time Zone friends right now. So it may look like I'm posting twice in one day, but really I'm probably just posting twice in YOUR day, not mine. I just haven't figured out how to change my blog's time, mostly because I'm, again, pretty lazy.
Finally, I leave you tonight with a few more great pictures, again of the aurora night of last week. You'll see the auroras over our Hagglunds, and a picture of the moon in eclipse over Observation hill, with McMurdo Base below. Good night!