Antarctican

This page is a continuously-updated glossary of terms and acronyms that I may use in my Antarctic blogging.

155
Building 155. The “downtown” of McMurdo. Quite resembles any metropolitan downtown in its accoutrements: it contains several administrative offices (housing, HR, financial, recreation), ATM machines, the recreational equipment rental, the computer cluster, store, library, barber shop, the Galley, and a bunch of transients (like team ENDURANCE).
bag drag
The check-in procedure for flights from McMurdo. Usually happens the night before your flight.
beeker
See grantee.
BFC
The Berg Field Center (aka Building Full of Chicks). The place where you can check out any sort of equipment you might need to work in the field, from tents and sleeping bags to tools and Johnson boxes. When you walk upstairs, it is always such a calming feeling to see the lounge and the ladies sitting and sewing (they repair the equipment, too).
bunny boots
Oversized white rubber boots which provide excellent protection against cold and wet. Except your feet tend to sweat in them…
carp
“Carpenter.” Member of the Science Construction group which does general construction and handyman operations for field camps.
Crary
Albert P. Crary Science and Engineering Center. The ivory tower of Antarctica. Where grantees hang out.
the crud
General upper respiratory disease; cough, cold, sniffles, fatigue, sore throat, etc. Especially common in McMurdo, where many people from diverse places, communal living, outdated facilities, and the general stressors of travel, work, cold, dryness and a new environment combine to make for a particularly fertile breeding ground for intense, persistent disease episodes.
ECW
Extreme Cold Weather clothing. Clothing issued by the USAP for everyone coming down to Antarctica under their auspices. Includes “Big Red” (the oversized goose-down parka), insulated pants, the bunny boots and head, hand and eye protection. Everyone traveling on an aircraft—whether fixed wing or helo—must be wearing their ECW.
the Galley
The McMurdo cafeteria. The name is left over from the days when McMurdo was a Navy outpost.
glacier berry
A smallish piece of ice (small enough for one person to carry) fallen from a glacier. These are very good for melting drinking water from, or for chopping up and putting in drinks. The trapped air causes them to crackle and pop while melting, and may infuse your libation with the breath of the baby Jesus.
grantee
Someone working under an NSF grant, i.e. a “scientist” (that’s me and the rest of team ENDURANCE).
helo
Helicopter.
Highway 1
The main corridor in 155. A passage from most of the dorms to the Galley.
Hotsy
A diesel-burning glycol heater and pump system. Has a variety of attachments connected via hoses to drop into holes in the ice to make it melt.
Ivan the TerraBus
Usually just “Ivan”. The large shuttle bus, with six giant tires 7 feet in diameter and just as wide, which generally makes the run across the ice/snow roads to pick up and drop of passengers at the airfields.
Johnson box
A necessity for any field camp. A wooden box with a hole and seat on top, under which a human waste collection bucket is placed.
NSF
The US National Science Foundation. The US government entity which runs the USAP.
RPSC
Raytheon Polar Services Corporation. The current holder of the support contract for the USAP. For example, carps are RPSC employees.
USAP
United States Antarctic Program. The branch of NSF which coordinates all official US activities related to Antarctica.
ventifact
An rock carved by the wind. This isn’t a purely Antartican term, but in the Dry Valleys, including Taylor Valley, there are many rocks carved into extremely pock-marked, contorted shapes by the continuous action of the wind over thousands of years.

2 responses

31 10 2009
Art

How do the hotsies work? Is fluid heated and circulated through the coils? Do they have a diesel motor to drive the pump? What part tends to break down?

Is this year’s crud is the H1N1 type? Best wishes for recovery for all those affected.

1 11 2009
kristofrichmond

A Hotsy has an electric pump (powered by and external generator) which pumps glycol through a diesel burner to heat it up, and then out through hoses and heat exchangers to melt the ice.

H1N1 has not hit McMurdo, as far as I know. Since vaccines weren’t available before everyone started coming down, and we all pass through New Zealand on the way, which is just coming off it’s H1N1 season, people are kind of paranoid about it. Everyone was issued a personal bottle of hand sanitizer and is heavily encouraged to wash hands a lot.

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