Antarctica

Week 28 Which Time Zone Today?

23rd April - 30th April 2000

There are two Aussies - Rodney and myself - and a Kiwi - Gene - on station. Thus on the 25th we sent out an email explaining that it was ANZAC Day, and that everyone was invited to come and commemorate with us after dinner. I had explained in the email about the origins of ANZAC day, touching on the modern meaning, trying to explain that I though it has a more complex meaning to Australian culture than the American Memorial Day does to the US (I let Gene speak for Kiwi Land).

The people here are obviously quite curious about the world - having traveled at least to Antarctica. But many are very interested in Oz as they plan to visit on their way back off the ice. We are always being asked about places to visit, best way to travel, etc. So the evening started out as a sort of introduction to Aussie and Kiwi cultural history. I had expected a few people to show, but about half the station came along! Everyone was introduced to some other Aussie culta, with Rodney supplying a bottle of Bundaberg OP, and me running a small two up ring. We then moved on to a showing of Gallipoli. Some time after this I seem to remember bit of Priscilla and Muriel's Wedding. Or was the two up later - umm... Sore head.

An amazing thing happened this week. We were asked to go to Central Mountain Time, so as to be on the same time zone as central US. Why?? Apparently to make it easier for people in the US to contact us. But as we saw it, the satellite is only now available at a reasonable hour, starting around 6pm. If we were to make this change then it will be back to 2am!! So obviously it must be much more convenient for people in the US. Well no. At the moment they loose the connection to us at about 8am, and it will just move back into the night.

Someone has sat there and thought about this for a whole moment and decided to run with it. Don't ask us what we think. Don't think about whether it makes any sense. Just go for it. My favourite part is that the story was spread in such a way as to make it sound as though this was being done on the request of beakers. That was the final insult. We are 12 hours off Universal Time. Since all the science is referenced to UT, it's really easy to make the conversion. Also, many measurements are done centered on UT. So day/night work rosters fit this perfectly. The last people that wanted to change the time zone was beakers.

All the beakers got onto email to find out who's bright idea this was. Funnily enough no one is going to put up their hand. But someone at the Denver head office makes the point that it would really only be them that would want it. Then it sinks in that it doesn't make much sense for them either. Finally it is dropped. I still find this sort of thing amazing. Maybe I'll get used to it eventually.

Weather is a dominating factor of life in Antarctica. On the coast it's the wind. At the pole it is the cold, and the breeze. This information is distributed here by a web page linked to the Met computer. In the galley there is screen that shows this information all the time. To make it more interesting there is a small picture on the page. It used to be things such as, a photo of toast - to remind us not to become ..., a photo of a can of Fanta - to remind us of the wonderful days of free Fanta, and so on. As winter started the pictures were changed to photos of flowers and greenery - to cheer us up by reminding us of what we are missing out on. Recently someone came up with the idea of putting unusual photos of the people here on it. Now we can stare at the screen trying to guess who these people are. There is a photo of me at Gaussberg with a beard. The Net Admin has done best with a photo herself in her late teens with a blue one foot high mohawk.

Slushies was in Biomed this week for a change. The Doc took a photo of me that he though was quite good. I'll tack it on the email. Till next week, cheers.

To be continued .......

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