This week at Davis: the aubergine with personality, Doc’s Dozen featuring Tom the SCTO, movies on ice, a taste of the Highlands, and a weekend at Watts hut

Another hydroponics first

The Davis hydroponics team can this week report some success with their attempts to grow new expeditioners in the hydro facility, thus alleviating any manpower shortages on station due to unforeseen events.

This fine fellow joined us for a short time before becoming part of a Thai red curry. Yum!

Davis Drive-In is back

This week saw the Davis Drive-In open again for a limited season. With the hours of darkness fast disappearing, Linc organised the comms team to set up a projector on a snow face on Anchorage. The audio came through the vehicle radios and the snow groomer operator (AKA Mr Plough) carried out a practical exercise which involved a road and parking area in front of the screen.

This set the scene for a group of expectitioners to bundle up and venture out last night to watch a special screening of that all time Davis classic ‘Predator’ (chosen for its great one-liners, simple uncomplicated dialogue, alien and length).

A great time was had by all if listening to the radio was anything to go by, although the journey out did not prove as easy as planned.

Doc’s Dozen with Tom Luttrell

Supervising Communications Technical Officer / Emergency Response Team / Amenities Officer/ Hydroponics Team / Brewing Team / Moustache Master 

Tom, what have been your previous trips to Antarctica and what keeps you coming back?

I previously wintered at Casey in 2010. I enjoy the work, the environment and the small community lifestyle. 

What is it like being the Supervising Comms Tech here?

It’s a constant battle against ignorance, fear, uncertainty, doubt and bandwidth hogs. If I wasn’t doing this job I would like to be a geologist. I hear that’s easy.

(So many wannabe geologists here at Davis. Ali’s ‘Rock of the Week’ has really had an impact!)

Best gig as a Comms Tech?

Other than Antarctica, the month I spent in Fiji surveying the Fijian Electrical Authorities’ communications sites.

What has been your best experience and what do you love about Antarctica?

This time, summer iceberg cruises and also being the star of the midwinter’s play.

During my previous season, traversing to Cape Poinsett.

I love the deep cyan that ice shadows can be on sunny days, the wildlife, the wide open spaces on the plateau, the lack of insects, the sunsets and even the blizzards.

Who inspires you Tom?

Roger Millie. He just doesn’t care what other people think.

Tom, what have you learnt about living in our little Davis family over the winter?

If you notice something that needs doing, just do it, especially if it will have a comedic effect.

If you were granted one wish, what would it be?

That I could reverse the Dunning-Kruger effect.

So Tom, if you where a car, what would you be? 

1938 Phantom Corsair. Way ahead of its time and [there was] only one ever made.

Tom, your aurora time lapses have been amazing, how do you achieve them?

A lot of trial and error. Also having a camera that is relatively noise free at high ISO settings is a real advantage.

What is the funniest/worst thing you have ever seen done to a computer?

I have accidentally put a few hundred thousand volts through a few, on two separate occasions. Once testing my Telsa coil and again when using a lighting test generator, but even allowing for that, I still think the worst thing you can do to a computer is give it to a dieso.

(Tom, you obviously haven’t seen what they can do with a toboggan) 

Do you think being an Apple or a Microsoft person reveals a deeper insight into a person’s qualities and attributes?

Absolutely. Microsoft PCs tend to attract people who like to tinker and get the most out of things, people who would prefer some control over their hardware and software. Apple’s PCs attract people who are prepared to pay a premium price for under-performing hardware bundled with a software package that just works without (much) messing around.

What is your favourite bit of comms kit around Davis and why?

I’m quite fond of our Agilent Fieldfox. It’s a very versatile and portable bit of test equipment. As well as diagnosing complex RF faults it’s robust enough to beat recalcitrant computer users into submission.

Tom, thank you for your entertaining thoughts and a peek into the mysterious world of Comms! I have leant a great deal, not the least being that Messrs Dunning and Kruger have given a name to a phenomenon that I have witnessed myself, but never really understood.

Taste of the highlands

Last Saturday night the Whisky appreciation club at Davis held its second very successful whisky tasting evening.

Attendance was up despite the lack of summerers and there were still a number excellent single malts to sample and comment on. 

The imbibing of a wee dram or two was accompanied by information about each distillery and the long and complex process of making a good scotch from barley.

Oh and there was a very nice single malt from Ireland as well.

At Watts for the weekend

A month ago, yet another band of misfits comprising two LIDAR operators, an engineer, a chef, and a marine biologist (could be a great start-line to a joke) made their way up to Watts Hut for a night off-station.

There were grand plans to explore the myriad of freshwater lakes surrounding Watts Hut and beyond, and to drill tiny holes into Watts Lake so that they could drop in light sources to illuminate cracks and air bubbles trapped in the ice. In reality, they only managed to cover parts of Lake Druzhby (which was, in itself, a real treat) on their first day out. The warmth of Watts Hut made sure that any of their plans to illuminate Watts Lake were put on the backburner.

The next morning was spent lounging around the hut having multiple cups of tea and coffee, ham and cheese toasties for breakfast while spinning yarns and tall-tales. No one was motivated enough to go exploring again, not when the hut was this warm!

At about 3:30pm they realised that if they didn’t get a move on, they would be quadding back to station in the dark, and thus ended a weekend of guilt-free bludgery.