Jan. 16, 2014 32.6′ WC 16′

Oh, the winds were very strong this morning coming into work.  Batten down the hatches boy!  It is only gonna get worse from here as the sun retreats to the north.  That’s what I was thinking.  And it proved to be partly true.

As my workload for the evening progressed, and the sun settled lower in the sky the temperature fell just a bit, but the wind stayed with us most of the shift.  I was fortunate to get to drive Elvis the Pickle for a little while, and that is such a big deal for me that it took the sting out of being outdoors.  Thank goodness the Pickle is a fully enclosed drivers area.  And the very small cabin ensures that it heats up quickly.  I hate to admit it, but I really took my time doing the task at hand.  I was thorough and followed all the safety precautions of course, but I also drove slower than was necessary, and took extra time to center and place the pallets that needed to be moved…just because I haven’t driven Elvis all week.  I love driving a forklift.  There is something about understanding horsepower and it’s affect on the human workload that should not be taken for granted.

From the scythe to the earth-boring drills that dug the English Chunnel, to the INTL Space Station, man continues to come up with bigger and stronger equipment to make the workload easier.  But my favorite will always be the forklift.  As recently as my Grandfather’s youth, supplies were carried by horse and cart from place to place and carried by men up flights of stairs or hoisted by block and tackle to higher elevations to be put to use.  One of my favorite songs tells of the man carrying bricks up a ladder in his hod, and the ridiculously bad events that follow. The Hod may have been the best possible invention at the time, allowing one man to carry as many bricks as he could lift, reducing the number of trips he had to make from the pile to the worksite, but if he’s not using it safely, he’ll have a bad day.  The same is true of the forklift, any forklift in any facility in the world.  But here at McMurdo with the wildly changing landscape and the distraction of the intense cold, it is easier to make mistakes…not that I have…or, that I’m willing to admit.

But it has happened, and I have seen some of the other M4K’s in for repairs.  M4K, is the military designation for Elvis’s type of vehicle, and what a sturdy little thing it is.  The updated repair manual is dated 1980.  The vehicles them selves, at least those of this design, have been in use here far longer.  In fact I was on the hunt for a part yesterday which I found in box that was virtually untouched since it arrived in 1959.  It’s 3 years older than I am.  Yet it’s information has gone from ship to shore to warehouse all on paper, and it’s current position has been tracked by pencil and paper to computer data base over all this time.  And it was right where it was supposed to be.  Kudos to the long run of Supply personnel who have proven that they do their jobs right.   I’m happy to be a small part of that.

The wind has died down a bit and the temperature seems to have warmed, but that could just be cause and effect.  I hear that the ice breaker has arrived in the bay, so I may have to go get some photos for you.  It might not seem like much to you readers, but it is tinsel on the Christmas tree for us who work in supply.  The hardest part of our job is telling people, “Sorry, what you need will get here when the vessel arrives.”  Soon we’ll get to say “Here ya go!  What else do you need?”  I guess I should finish here and go grab that camera.

Tim

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