Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Baby, it's cold outside!

-86F – It keeps getting colder and colder! I love it! I really hope once the sun sets we’ll hit our -100F quickly, much like what happened down here last year. Our facilities engineer thinks he’s jinxed because the two previous winters he’s spent here have been warm – the Pole never reached -100F. I’ve had some friends from home suggest that we kick him out of the station when it gets near the century mark so that his bad vibes don’t affect us, but I’m not sure the weather gods will be fooled. -100F is so special because it is the temperature when you can become a member of the 300 Club. Much like Mount Washington’s Century Club, where they need to survive 100mph of wind, we need to survive -100F… naked (on MWN, they are fully-clothed). So where does the 300 come from? Welllllllll, we heat up the station’s sauna to 200F first, stay in there as long as possible, then toss the clothing (except for the essentials – foot covering, probably glove liners, and a neck gaiter for your face? I need to check my details and rules.), run down the ‘beer can’, out the door, and make a loop of the geographic South Pole before returning to the warm station, and most likely the sauna. We’re lucky this year. The geographic Pole moved about 30 feet closer to the beer can door, making the ‘run’ slightly shorter for us. Believe me – at these temps, every second counts. I’m psyched! Sorry… I will NOT be posting pictures from this event!

In my last post I explained how I hated the Big Red jacket and how I’m planning on holding out as long as possible – today may be the day I actually break it out. Rawr. I’m not enthused, but its becoming necessary. The soft shell I wear over my down layers is really not the right piece of equipment for these temperatures. I nearly broke the zipper this morning taking it off when I reached ARO. I was only outside for about 15-20 minutes, but the zipper was completely frozen and stuck. I definitely struggled getting out of it. The zipper is sealed to prevent water from getting in at temperatures where liquid water actually exists. Apparently this rubber-ish gasket-like seal doesn’t like temperatures over 100 degrees below the freezing point of water. Oops. When the wind blows, the down layers are not going to be enough to keep me warm. Plus, when I put on about 20 layers of clothing to avoid the Big Red, I feel like the little brother from ‘A Christmas Story’. Yiiiikes.

Tonight I am going to attempt to learn how to knit. One of my many projects down here for the winter is making next year’s Christmas presents for friends and family (at least until I run out of supplies). On R&R in Christchurch I spent a long time at Knit World, the most amazing yarn store in the world, picking out the perfect yarns to go with projects for family. I picked up crochet when I was home last Christmas (wow – two Christmas’ ago? Where does the time go?) and have already finished my sister’s presents. Now I have a great knitting pattern I want to try and make for my brother. If I can become a proficient knitter, so many doors will open up for me, as far as online patterns go. There are a ton of crochet patterns out there, but about ten times more knitting patterns than crochet! Verrrrry exciting! So tonight is the weekly ‘Stitch & Bitch” meeting, South Pole Chapter. The other Polie, who is the host of the event, is a knitter. She has made some beautiful items, including her own amazing socks out of merino wool. Sooo nice! So I’m going to corner and have her start to teach me. My first project is going to be something very easy. I’m planning on knitting a neck cowl – yet another layer I can wear when I go outside. It is like a neck gaiter, but very loose. It’s a nice layer to accompany more low-cut shirts (not that I’m wearing low cut shirts down here, but I’m talking about any shirt that isn’t a turtleneck). This project involves basic stitches and basic principles. I think it’ll be perfect to get my feet wet. Plus its something that I can use down here. Then I’ll continue to tackle Christmas! I’m very excited about my yarn purchases and can’t wait to give out the finished products!

Happy Stitching!


Julie said...

OH MY GOODNESS! i want to visit only when it's -100.. to join the 300 club. i say neck gaitor is cheating. liners and boots, okay. gaitor definitely cheating.

i laughed about your hatred of the big red coat.. my cold weather parka is also a big ginormous red coat.. and i refuse to wear it until it is at least -25F :)

Stay warm, roomie #2!! Keep having fun!!!

Diane Quinlan said...

Your knitting/crochet projects sound great! You are definetly your Mother's girl!! Be patient and you will be a pro. That neck thing-y sounds like a great idea...I haven't heard of them. I will have to look in the stores for one...when it's cold, my nasal cannula gets cold and very stiff and hurts my nose...I wind up stretching my turtlenecks out to cover up, and a scarf doesn't always stay wrapped. Thanks for that info! It's a lot of fun to read your facebook entries. The family got together at Aunt Mary's on Saturday and I got to spend a lot of time talking to your Dad...he reminded me about your blog, so I will be better at checking it. Your parents are two of my favorite people, so it was a fun day. I learned about a device that concentrates room air and runs on batteries, so it might make it a little easier for me to travel, so I'm hoping to get to the lake in August.