Casey’s humidifiers on the blink, an 80s night and Oktoberfest rolled into one, and we meet Dave in Misty’s Mad Minute.

Lifting the Mummy’s Curse (fixing the Red Shed humidifiers)

Antarctica is a very dry place. The rainfall is the lowest of the seven continents and because the air is so cold it becomes saturated with moisture at very low water content. Consequently, when we heat the air — whether that be through our air conditioning systems in vehicles or buildings, or when we breathe it in — the now warmer air has a very low relative humidity.

In our living quarters at Casey the humidity of the air during winter is about 10–14%. With humidifiers working full tilt we can push this up to about 25%, not very high but at least a little more comfortable. Lately a few of us have been feeling a little desiccated… drinking more than the normal amount of fluids, scratchy eyes, not being able to get rid of the pillow imprint on your face until morning tea time… Well a couple of days ago we located the cause of our gradual mummification — the humidifiers had stopped working.

So over the last couple of days Jamie (BSS), Phill and Jeb (electricians) have been toiling away getting the whole system going again. And this afternoon — success! Humidifiers are now working with some luck and, with the passage of time, we should all fully rehydrate and start looking five years younger (we can only hope).

Eighties Night? Oktoberfest? Let’s do both!

Like all wintering groups I suppose we at Casey decided we were going to do all manner of things over the winter. After all, it was such a long time. But now here we are with winter almost over and many things still to do. Not the least of our lists was theme nights and celebrations, evenly spaced over the season to give us a social gathering to look forward to every few weeks. Now here we were with a plane due in less than two months, lots of work to get ready for it, and two events that we hadn’t yet held — Oktoberfest (which I have to admit we did always plan for late September) and a 1980s night (because where can you enjoy bad taste if not in Antarctica?). Being an intrepid bunch we found a solution to our problem and last weekend we held a 1980s Oktoberfest!

Brewmaster Jeb and his team had spent a significant amount of time brewing special beers for the occasion over the previous months. On hand for the occasion were Jack’s Czech Pilsner, Get it India IPA, Honey Porter, Golden Sheaf Weiss Beer and the author’s favourite Spicy Ghost Draught.

Meanwhile Gav put his gastronomic talents to producing Bretzeln, Sauerkraut, Bratwurst, Jagerschnitzel, Spatzle, Kartoffeln and Schwarzwalder Kirschtarte. And whilst most of us didn’t know what much of that meant, we certainly enjoyed eating it all.

Not everyone costumed up for this event but a few went to the trouble of hitting either the 80s theme or the Oktoberfest theme, though whether anyone truly captured the essence of the 1980s Oktoberfest is perhaps debatable.

Once again, though, we provided ourselves with an excuse to dress up a bit, share some food and drink, display some creative talents (the kitchen, the brewery, the sewing room) and most importantly to come together as a group for one of the last celebrations of our winter here in 2012.

Misty’s Mad Minute introducing Dave

NAME: Dave Davies

NICKNAME: Mumbles, or Hey You

ROLE ON STATION: Supervising Communications Technical Officer (SCTO)

OTHER APPOINTMENTS: Deputy Station Leader, Lay Surgical Assistant, Fort Knox Manager, Year Book Editor

Describe yourself in three words. You Want What.

Who inspires you? Positive people willing to step outside their comfort zone.

What is the one thing you enjoy most about your current job? The variety keeps you mentally challenged. As Forrest Gump said “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get” That’s exactly what going to work here is like — you never know what the day or night will bring.

Why Antarctica? After my first visit in 1991 it was hard not to become a repeat offender. Just have a look around the place — priceless.

What did you give up to come to Antarctica? The obvious — separation from family and friends.

Do you have a home to go back to? Evidently I now have two. My wife bought another one whilst I was here.

Do you think your pets will bite you? My two dogs, Mawson and Grommit, will be ecstatic as they will get to go on long walks again.

Any work lined up on your return to Australia? Not yet — too far away.

What other occupation would you have if not a comms technician? Stop/Go man on the roads. Having the power to interrupt so many people’s daily movements would be hard to resist.

Are you continuing study/tertiary ed./services duty? Not that I am aware of.

If not at Casey this year, what else would you be doing? Managing IT projects somewhere in Australia or overseas. Mowing the lawns.

Hobbies at Casey? Home brewing.

New hobbies for home and the future? Since being Fort Knox manager, maybe a job at Dan Murphy’s or failing that home brewing.

Buying any large toys on your return home? Building an extension to my shed. A bloke’s shed can never be too big. Did the new kitchen thing last time so now it’s all about me.

Holidays planned? Haven’t been told if I am allowed to yet.

The Red Shed is burning down and you are only have time to save one thing? Fort Knox — well you’ve got to keep morale high don’t you.

You are stuck on a deserted island with one person? A female magician. Doesn’t have to be young and good looking as if not I would change all that, but would be able to provide whatever I needed.

Which other Antarctic station would you like to visit? Scott Amundson Base — South Pole.

What are your tastebuds craving most? Nothing really — but my wife’s cooking will be something to look out for.

One item you wished you brought down? Instructions on “How to fold a fitted sheet correctly”.

Your favourite hut? Rumdoodle Hut.

Favourite Antarctic wildlife? Orca — killer whale.

Most important thing you would take on a jolly? Sense of humour.

Favourite summer highlight? Being slushy on Christmas day was memorable.

Antarctic highlight? Coming back each time.

Winter highlight so far? Midwinter swim — avoided it on two other occasions but this time thought ‘why not?'.

Name three people you would like to invite to the Midwinter Dinner? Billy Connolly, Major General Peter Cosgrove, David Gilmour.

Name one person you most like to winter with? Miranda Kerr.

If your life was a song, which one would it be this week? “Who Let The Dogs Out”.

Favourite day of the year? Everyday above ground.

Favourite place in the world? Not sure, haven’t been there yet.

How do you have your jalapenos? Stirred — not shaken.

If Comms could download one Olympic event for us to watch this year, any request? My favourites were synchronised swimming, or baton twirling would be a close second.

What is the first thing you will do when you return to Australia? Get off the plane.