Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Slave to the lens

Me being a tart. Yesterday. (Cheers to Tams for the photo)

Click here for more pics, and to see the trouble I'm having with capturing the colours accurately. Any advice on white-balance settings or post-processing in RAW would be much appreciated .

Monday, July 30, 2007

Goodbye wind. Hello light (updated)

We've had another three days of blow, with 50 knt winds causing the buildings to sway enough to splash water from toilet bowl and to make soldering a real threat to the finger tips. Ant dug his camera out and filmed some of the weather. Check out his UTube page here.

As annoying as bad weather is, the good side is every time it clears, the sky is noticeably brighter. Today, despite a solid layer of medium cloud, the sky's not just orange, but yellow!

It's also a sultry -14C, with a nice solid wind. As I'm off today, it's time to dig the kite out...


Just spent two and a half hours kiting. My legs can barely move and my eyes are stinging from being un-accustomed to the light. But what a day....

Tams and Dean adjusting the mast stays

Ant takes a break from topping up the Melt-Tank

I know I've said it before, but the sky was simply mind blowing. Over the course of the day, a bank of alto-cumulus receded revealing a yellow centre directly to the north , filtering through every colour in the rainbow to the darkest blue above the Polar Plateau to the south. They say digital cameras can cope with 32 million colours, but there must have been too many from my little Ixus as the above shots are a lot redder than in reality.

The Laws with Andy Warhol purple snow

Just about everyone found an excuse to get out this-afternoon, and now there's a lot of reddened but smiling faces wandering about with hot-chocolates in hand. The sun may not yet have crossed the horizon, but there's a definite hope that we've seen the last of winter.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Those jackets looks familiar....

If you're bored of watching 'live news' of the receding floods, why not try this:

Click image to read more (Image (C) BBC)

Yes, it's Jeremy Clarkson and the BBC Top Gear attempting to drive to the North Pole in a Toyota Hilux. Ok, it's nothing like what we're doing down here, but it looks like it's got all the ingredients to be seriously funny. Go on, give it a look.

PS: Could someone tape me a copy? Thanks...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Guitar

One problem with the lack of daylight is that it brings a feeling of apathy I've only encountered before in a Brummy winter. Now daylight's creeping back, we've not only stuck at the running, but have indulged in personal projects. Not wanting to make life easy, I'm building a guitar.

It's going to be a hollow bodied electric, using the neck and pickups off my old axe, which has been sacrificed to the cause.

Old meets new

The basic shape

Once I'd decided on the shape (a kinda Dave Grohl / The Edge sort of guitar), I asked Jim the chippy for some tips on the joints. Overlapping with pegs was recommended, so I got the saw out and started cutting.

Each joint was better than the last

The first joint was a bit messy, but tidied up with the chisel. The second improved and by the third and fourth, I'd found the knack and they fitted snuggly. The basic shape was completed last night and the next step is to attach the neck.

The body frame on top of donor guitar.
Joints start bottom left and continue, improving, clockwise...

I'll post more as it progresses. In the meantime, here's some serious woodworking, the plans for a Nansen sledge.

A Nansen Sledge

More photos, and detailed sledge plans, here.

Elvis Night!

Last Saturday brought the birthday of Mark, electrician and lead singer / guitarist of the Halley Band, Z or Dead. Now Mark's a big rock n roll fan, and there's no bigger rocker than Elvis, so that was the theme of the evening. Ant served massive homemade burger and chips, then we struck up the guitars and launched into a non-stop hour and a half of rock n roll.

A Meal fit for The King

It was great fun. We'd learned from our previous indie set, so this time went for simple, sing-along tunes that everyone knew. Hound-dog, blue suede shoes and suspicious minds were all in the set, along with a good blast of Rolling Stones to keep people on their toes.

And tonight, we're going to be, ELVIS!
(Cheers to Tom for this one!)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Final Fruit

The last apple

We ate the last of the apples yesterday, meaning we're out of fresh fruit till the first flight arrives in October. We've done well to last this long - I expected to be eating out of packets months ago. But we're not going to come down with scurvy as there's a massive heap of frozen veg which Ant can do just about anything with.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Awesome Aurora

Awesome is an overused word. It should be saved for things like this.

Aurora over the Laws

Lights meet

Aurora over the office

Click here for a few more.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Normal Service Resumes

After nearly three days of shaking buildings, zero visibility and snow-filled boots, the storm subsided leaving an impressive aftermath, both on paper and on the ground. This year's high-wind record was nudged up a little to 46.4knts (10 minute average), with a maximum gust of over 60knts!

Outside, the gale had driven falling snow into every nook and cranny. Although the main buildings are raised on legs to reduce snow accumulation, the garage and Drewery sit on the surface causing vortexes to deposit huge quantities on their lee-ward sides.

The Garage sitting in a crater

Yesterday we dug out the sledges and skidoos. Some were covered by over a meter of snow!

Chris discovers a skidoo

I'm very pleased with the return of bright skies. For the past six weeks, most trips outside have been greeted with an enthusiasm normally reserved for the M42, but yesterday there was enough light for a run before breakfast, a pleasant (and fast) ski to the CASLab in the morning, and enough left over for digging after lunch. I went to bed pleasantly knackered for the first time in ages!

Pleasantly Knackered

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Blizzard - Day 2

Pretty much the same as day 1, but less wind and less static. Tom managed to film the sparks flying this morning. And spent the rest of the day getting snow out of his camera!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Electrifying Blizzards!

The pleasant weather has gone on-hold again, with today bringing 40 knot winds and heavy snow. Heading out, I battled down the steps with the wind trying to pull my legs from under me and static electricity from the handrail zapping my arms. Once on the ground, visibility was about 5metres with the snow blasting through my headtorch beam looking like the Falcon entering Hyperspace.

Gripping the handline tightly (but avoiding the metal poles!), I walked hunched over to the Simpson to face another blast of static when going up the stairs. It was a relief to get back inside and find everything still working!

A blizzard on the weather screen

*The fast movement of snow particles in the dry atmosphere causes both people and buildings to become electro-statically charged, like clouds in a thunders storm. As we and the buildings are at different potentials, when we meet the sparks fly!

Monday, July 09, 2007

It's getting lighter...

Went kiting without a headtorch for the first time in weeks. Fantastic!

Daylight returns...

Friday, July 06, 2007

Fat Fighters update

Second run. Perfect conditions, -35C and no wind under a waning moon. Ant, Richard, Sune, Tom and I managed 6km in 40 mins. Happy with that.

But Tamsin baked pastries last night. Temptation again!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Rock to save the planet!

Just checked the calender and realised this is the weekend of the Live Earth gigs. Although I'm not sure how these concerts can really achieve their aims (so Bono, is poverty history?), there's a cracking list of bands to see!

Not only do we have the mighty Spinal Tap reforming, but Matt, Rob and Tris (who I trained with in Cambridge) are playing as part of Rothera base's band, Nunatak. But don't fear the name, they're not an oppressive God-Rock outfit, but rather a indie-folk-fusion. Nunatak means "An exposed summit of a ridge mountain or peak (not covered with snow) within an ice field or glacier."

Good luck lads! If the gig's half as fun as the "Holiday Inn Sessions", we're in for a treat.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Fat Fighters

Had my first disagreement the other week. For six years, belly and suit-trousers have got on well. When getting dressed up for mid winter, they had a falling out. That's why I'm wearing the more spacious tux in the photos!

I must admit I feared the lack of exercise down here. I hate gym routines, and a begrudged hour or so here and there is no substitute for getting out on the mountain bikes or in the sea. Although Dean's proved that regular gym work is good for you, it still bores me to tears.

But, I'm not the only one! So, we've started a pre-breakfast running club. Or more accurately, a guilt syndicate, as failure to show will bring the appropriate "motivational banter" from the others. Hopefully this will work and get us back in shape for the return of the sun and the active season.