Okay, first things first, I apologize for the big gap between posts and this one will probably be on the longer side since I have a few weeks of stuff to catch people up on. Also, I have finally posted pictures! They are on the photos page so definitely go check them out if you are interested. It’s kind of weird down here, it feels like I’ve only just arrived but I also can’t believe I’ve only been here a month. Most nights/days there is some activity planned so that’s definitely nice for passing the time. I’ve been trying to go out and participate in the assorted activities that happen during the week because I didn’t want to just turn in to a hermit right away. Unfortunately, editing photos and writing blog posts requires that I hide away in my room for a while so I decided to let those priorities slide. I’ve made some really good friends here, though it is somewhat daunting when you’re playing cribbage and you realize everyone you’re playing with has a PhD…
The week after my last post was busy as we made sure to utilize the last bits of time with the people who were leaving on the last plane. The winter-overs were broken into two groups and we did some team building exercises via Zoom with Shawn Dunning. Shawn normally comes down on Ice for these but COVID prevented it so we did the best we could. After the last plane left we had our first all hands meeting in preparation for the winter, after which we did more team building with the entire crew. I think we’ve got a really good crew heading into this winter. Once team building was done we kicked off our first two day weekend (our typical work week is Monday-Saturday) with the traditional screening of The Thing movies. The 1951 original is flat out terrible, the best part was seeing the Basler in the movie. The original is also very different from the later versions, namely because its version of the thing is an alien vegetable instead of the shapeshifting mimic. After we finished all three movies the community all helped to move furniture and tear down the movie theater we had setup in the gym and we all went and enjoyed the rest of our weekend.
The next week brought something I didn’t expect. I was told that I was being trained as an alternate for ERT 2 which is the fire brigade. Part of this was getting fitted for an SCBA mask which meant that I had to shave my beard. For the first time in more than 7 years I was beardless and let me tell you it was a weird feeling. We spent Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons were then spent doing a boot camp style crash course on fire fighting which included search techniques, lots of drills (most of which were done blindfolded to simulate not being able to see through smoke), and many two minute drills (where you have to put all of your gear on and be breathing from the SCBA in two minutes or less). It was definitely an experience and, if I remember right, my quickest time in the two minute drills was 1 minute 45 seconds. I still miss my beard though… Friday of that week was our weekly ERT training and the fire brigade asked that I train with them so I could have the experience of working with the rest of the team in case I ever ended up switching ERT teams.
This past week I got more settled in to the job and I’m really liking it so far. The week was pretty quiet for the most part so I was able to start editing the photos I got posted. Yesterday was The Day of the Dude so I bartended a community hour after work and made White Russians, we then watched The Big Lebowski in the gym theater in the evening. It was a real fun evening. It’s kind of crazy when you’re doing something and there’s 10 people there and just thinking that “hey, this is more than 1/4 of the entire station population right now…” I also found out that I have officially been switched to ERT 2 going forward so that means my hopes of growing a huge Antarctic beard have been dashed, facial hair can’t be longer than 1/4 of an inch, something about the SCBA needing to seal on your face and prevent smoke from getting in. Maybe I’ll go for the mustache look.
It’s a lot harder to write one of these blogs when the stuff you want to write about happened three weeks ago so I’ll try and make sure to keep on top of it for next week. I really appreciate everyone’s patience, I know a lot of people have been waiting for a new post. Fortunately I’ve been social the past few weeks and gotten to know people so I don’t feel so bad about hiding away in my room for a bit to write and edit photos. Also on the plus side I’m not finishing this post of apologizing for the lack of photos, I posted a ton of them so go check them out. As always, I appreciate everyone who has shown an interest and is reading this.
–Matt “I miss my beard” Butcher