Friday, January 11, 2013

How do you simulate a white-out?

Well, the bad news is that the weather was good enough at the primary destinations that both of our possible flights ended up going to the first of second choice, not us.  The good news is that even if they had been able to take us, the weather at Roosevelt Island hasn't been good enough to fly anyway....

So we are still in McMurdo.  It's funny, since none of my actual science work ever happens in McMurdo, I am always, by definition, waiting to get out of town.  We're alternates for tomorrow's flights as well, so there's a possibility there; after that, there is no flying on Sundays, it's the only day the station takes off.

But on to the subject line of today's post!  During our "Happy camper" training, we needed to work on things like "what to do in a whiteout".  But as I mentioned in the post, the weather was perfect; how do you simulate it then?

You put a bucket over your head!

Here are two Happy Campers, each wandering around in their own personal white-out.  They are attempting to walk in a straight line- and from experience I can tell you that inside the bucket there is no sense of sight whatsoever; the bucket tips forward and so you can't even see out through the bottom.

For my part of the exercise, we were inside a hut, and the scenario was that our instructor had left the hut in a whiteout and we needed to find her.  We had at our disposal whatever we could find in the hut, and the rules were that anyone who went out the door had to wear a bucket on their head as a whiteout simulator.  Another happy camper and I went out the door with a rope tied around our waists; we brought with us brooms to extend our reach while "sweeping" for the lost instructor.  It took us a while, but we finally figured out a way to go in a straight line out to the outhouse, where we thought she'd probably be found.  We ended up finding her, just before we ran out of time for the exercise.  Apparently it's pretty rare for the person to be found during the exercise, which ends up as a double lesson in personal responsibility, not to be the one to get caught out like that.

Ok, too many words again.  Hopefully we'll fly tomorrow.  If I don't post for more than a day or two, I've probably made it in to Roosevelt Island, and will not be able to post again until I get back to McMurdo.  Stay tuned!


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