Today was once again pretty typical—I’m definitely beginning to see a pattern. We had our 8 AM meeting, I wrote some code for a while after that, I did the analysis for our DOMs, we unhooked them in the afternoon, and that was it for work. But at 4:30 we had more House Mouse duties. This time, IceCube was supposed to clean up all the lounges—it’s amazing how fast this goes with lots of people. We were done in less than 20 minutes—nice! After dinner I joined the knitting circle for about an hour and met some new people, and then I got to make pies for Christmas dinner! I could have peeled potatoes yesterday, but pies just sounded so much better. However, I ended up somewhat disappointed. Those of us who signed up to make pies only actually had to make 15 pies—the shells already existed, and so did the cherry filling and the crumble topping, so all we had to do was scoop filling into the shells and put the crumbles on top. This took all of, maybe, 10 minutes. But then out came the cookie dough and we discovered that we had also signed up to roll out, cut and decorate about a bazillion cookies! Now, this is fun for about 20 minutes, but after an hour and a half it gets pretty old, especially when you don’t even have sprinkles to make it go quickly! In the beginning we were very precise—the stars were yellow, the Santas were red, the Christmas trees were green with pretty colored baubles (all mini M&Ms of course—due to a real lack of variety in decorating tools)…but by the end we were just sprinkling the toppings on top of the cookie trays and patting them down into the cookies in one big disorganized mess—it was pretty ridiculous!
Fortunately we were working in the galley, and in the galley at this time there happened to be a speaker. The speaker, Todd Carmichael, just arrived at the station, and has broken the record time for skiing from Patriot Hills, on the 80th parallel, to the South Pole (on the 90th parallel, of course). Except he didn’t ski, because his skis broke—after the 82nd parallel, he walked the rest of the way, dragging his sled and everything. He looks like he got into a bar fight because of the frost bite on his face (check out the photo below). But he broke the record! He was apparently walking 21 miles a day—can you imagine, 21 miles across snow- and ice-covered hills, valleys, and crevasses every day for 39 days dragging a sled containing all your food, supplies, and waste for that same amount of time? Apparently when he started he weighed 230 lbs and now weighs 178. In the last few days his food became contaminated with cooking fuel so he was literally starving when he arrived. His story was fascinating, and he was a masterful story-teller. Since he hadn’t had any time to recover we were lucky enough to catch him in this really strange mindset—it really was like Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway. For example, he said that at one point he became angry with his sled (whom he referred to in the feminine and called "the polk") and kicked it. But then he felt really terrible because he had just kicked his only friend in the world and without “her” he wouldn’t be able to survive—he apologized and cried and everything! Imagine the mental state you must be in to do things like this—honestly, you have to be a bit crazy to even undertake such a challenge, so by the end it’s no wonder he was really losing it! I have to say, if I had to choose something to listen to that would keep me distracted while decorating cookies, this guy is definitely it.
How cool is that? Wow, incredibly cool! (But only a windchill of -30 outside—what’s going on here? It’s practically balmy!)