Thursday, July 3, 2008


I know I haven't updated in a while, mostly just due to lack of energy and time. The work is long, as always, and while we don't specifically have any big projects going on, something is always breaking. And the LMG is here now, but only for two days, so it's been a hectic rush to get all the stuff unloaded and loaded.

So instead of trying to recap all the events of the last few weeks, I'll just do another silly post not about specific events, but more about this place in general.

So, I present, Antarctic Slang. You've probably heard me use these terms before, or if not, you will.

PA - Punta Aranus. The town at the southern tip of South America that we fly into, and where we board the LMG for the ride to PS.

LMG - The R/V Lawrence M. Gould. The icebreaker ship that ferries us back and forth from PA to PS, as well as doing sciency stuff in the Antarctic peninsuala region

PS - Palmer Station. Where I live.

Bio - One of the two main buildings that makes up Palmer Station. It has half of the dorm rooms, the kitchen, gally, admin offices, IT stuff, and all the science labs

GWR - The other main building on station. It stands for, creatively enough, Garage, Warehouse, Recreation. This building has the other half of the dorms, the bar, lounge, garage, powerplant, storage warehouse, and logistics offices. As well as our little medical clinic.

Toasty - A specific sort of craziness brought on by being on ice too long. I'll do a post on this later

The Ice - Antarctica. Whenever someone says "heading to the ice" they mean they're going to Antarctica, or when they mention their "ice time", it's how many months they've spent in Antarctica

Cheech - Christchurch, New Zealand (CHC). This is the jumping-off point for the C-130 and C-17 cargo planes that keep McMurdo and Pole supplied and functioning.

Beaker - A scientist. Technically, the politically correct term for all the various science people and NSF people is "Grantees". But the only time they're actually called that is in the official correspondences. Supposedly, the term originated in McMurdo, as sort of a negative title. And while it's sort of a sketchy term to use over there, here it's more a term of endearment, or it's just easier to say "Yeah, he/she's with the beakers" rather then "They came down with, or are assisting the grantees". Or "Yeah, put that over in the beaker milvan" rather then "Put that in the grantee storage locker". Basically, 90% of the non-raytheon people here are either beakers or with the beakers. At the other stations that have a lot more people, there's more slang nicknames for other people based on their job (Wastie, fuelie, etc), but we don't really have enough seperation of responsibilities at a station as small as Palmer to have nicknames for individual departments.

NSF - National Science Foundation. They pay for all this.

GASH - The after-dinner kitchen cleanup. I did a post on this a while ago. Stands for either "Gally And Scullery Help", or "Garbage And Sh*t".

Milvan - One of the large shipping containers that we use to store stuff in around station

Backyard - The area of jagged rocks and small hills in between the station and the base of the glacier behind the station.

FSM - Flying Spaghetti Monster. The most-worshiped deity of Palmer Station. (If you are a fellow Pastafarian, you'll find this funny. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, smile and nod and move on)

PQ - Physical Qualification. A single term to describe the wide varitiy of medical and psych testing we're required to undergo before deploying to the ice. You generally need to re-PQ every year.

Coffee - Expresso with a shot of Baily's Irish Cream. Very popular morning drink here, especially with the beakers.

Mac-town - McMurdo Station, the largest station in Antarctica, and the jumping off point for many of the other bases on the other side of the continent. Population of up to 1200 summer/125-250 winter. South and a little west of New Zealand.

Pole - South Pole Station.

Herc - A C-130 Hercules cargo plane. We don't have an airfield here at Palmer, but they use 'em on the other side of the continent.

Fingie - FNG. Flippin' New Guy.

Ice Shock - When you get back to the rest of the world and realize that no matter how insane Antarctica is, the real world is FAR nuttier, and that you can no longer function in it.

1 comment:

Debbie Carlson said...

Hi Brendan,

I am thoroughly enjoying your blog. You are in an area of the world that few get to see. It is amazing. Those seals etc. are HUGE and I am glad the penguin lived. Of course, I would be. I know your dad is proud as always. Thanks again for sharing and be safe. Debbie at River Trails