Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Mactown (Part II)

Picture 1: View of the galley.
In the last post, I focused on the functionality of the city so for this one I thought I’d focus a little more on daily life in the town.

Picture 2: View of the handwashing station.
I’ll start with food. There are typically three meals a day which are served in a common galley (Picture 1). Staff and scientists eat together for meals which are typical of what you might expect in a college cafeteria. Food is primarily shipped in once a year on the supply vessel, and only supplemented periodically, so fresh fruit and vegetables are not too common (When it does arrive, you definitely appreciate it).  Right outside of the galley is a hand washing station (Picture 2). While it’s not mandatory, all residents are strongly encouraged to use it before every meal.  Given everyone is working in such close quarters; it’s always a good idea to prevent the spread of germs whenever possible. I was pleased to see >90% of the residents use this station before each meal.

Picture 3: View of Chapel of the Snows.
To help with daily necessities there is a barbershop/hairstylist where one can get a haircut. Given the cost is only $10 (a bargain back home), I couldn’t say no. There is also a post office located in a nearby building where one can send and receive mail (several readers of this blog should be expecting a postcard in the not so distant future!). There is also a small chapel located along the waterfront (Picture 3).
Picture 4: Daily activity board located
outside of the galley.
Many of the scientists on base typically work every day, while the support staff in McMurdo only get one day off per week. With that being said, it’s nice to have some activities which can break up the routine of the daily life. Each morning outside of the galley, there is a dry erase board listing the variety of activities posted for that given day (Picture 4). These activities can be of the recreational variety (i.e., trivia nights, yoga, or sports) but there are also two science talks per week which are highly attended by both scientists and staff. The really neat thing about the latter is you can often here cutting edge science talks from those doing the research itself. In fact, I was able to catch a talk from the scientists associated with this research which recently made the round in the news: http://www.scientificamerican.com/
Picture 5: View of the McMurdo coffee house

Finally, there are two lounges/bars that are open for a couple of hours some evenings as well as an all-night coffee house (Picture 5).  I particularly enjoyed the latter due to its movie lounge (Picutre 6). The base has accumulated a decent library of DVDs from its workers over the years, which are available to check out via a modified library system. The base also receives a small number of TV channels via the armed services network.

Picture 6: View of the movie lounge located inside
of the coffee house
While these amenities might not seem like much, I’ve been very impressed with the positive morale of all the residents. I think this outlook definitely helps when you’re missing some of the luxuries back home.