"But there was nothing natural about the way Rodney Marks died."
November 24, 2013 5:30 PM   Subscribe

 
To have the equipment to figure out what's wrong with him and not maintain it is tantamount to criminal negligence.

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posted by arcticseal at 6:27 PM on November 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


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posted by localroger at 6:29 PM on November 24, 2013


“The NSF hates it and continually fights to get rid of it,” says Schneider. “I guess they don’t want there to be a reminder of the incident. But I want that flag there, and Rodney’s family likes the fact that that point in the ice is marked. The fact that the flag moves farther away from the base each year, as the ice moves, is a very graphic reminder of the passage of time since this terrible event in our lives."
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posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:16 PM on November 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


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posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:48 PM on November 24, 2013


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posted by limeonaire at 8:04 PM on November 24, 2013


arcticseal: "To have the equipment to figure out what's wrong with him and not maintain it is tantamount to criminal negligence. "

Probably more a matter of allocation of resources. It's pretty easy to let maintenance on a piece of equipment that you practically never use slide in favour of equipment you use more often.
posted by Mitheral at 8:06 PM on November 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


“I guess they don’t want there to be a reminder of the incident."

Or maybe they want to keep people from dumping crap in what is one of the last pristine environments on the planet.

I mean, I get you want to memorialize your friend. Pack it in, pack it out, dude.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:21 PM on November 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yes we should probably be keeping lawns clean without all of those damn gravestones mucking up the planet.
posted by efalk at 8:28 PM on November 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


Or maybe they want to keep people from dumping crap in what is one of the last pristine environments on the planet.

You know, they HAVE already built a massive fuckoff base big enough to accommodate 250 humans not a quarter mile away from where that one tiny flag stands. That ship has SAILED.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:29 PM on November 24, 2013 [41 favorites]


It's also possible they didn't have the parts to fix the analyzer. If there wasn't the proper battery anywhere on the station (which is the sort of thing that could really easily be overlooked) you couldn't really do much except trying to wire up another kind of battery, which could easily break the device completely. And leaving it on all the time might risk ruining it, too.

Also, even if it worked, it might not have occurred to the doctor to use it. Dr. Marks was actually sick long enough prior to his death that Dr. Thompson could have started it up, let it calibrate for 9 hours, and used it (plus, you might be able to run it uncalibrated), but he didn't. It might not have occurred to him - I'm sure methanol poisoning was the furthest thing from anyone's mind. It seems more likely someone would miss a diagnosis when only a single doctor is available with no support, no possibility of any evacuation, and a huge amount of pressure.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:34 PM on November 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Supposing every damn electrical device didn't need a different sized and unique button battery might not hurt either. Imagine if car batts weren't all basically rectangular, 12V, and have near-universal clamps...
posted by buzzman at 8:39 PM on November 24, 2013


Wouldn't methanol poisoning be a really obvious thing to think of, given that people on the base were distilling their own alcohol?
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:18 PM on November 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Methanol poisoning was the first thing on my mind reading the story, but then again, I've seen it first hand. Still a reach, though.

Doctors in this day and age are pretty gunshy when it comes to making a clinical diagnosis. It would make a killer episode of house though, force feeding him ethanol to slow down the methanol metabolism. No guarantee he would make it, either.

Fascinating overview of what sounds like the original expat culture. I wonder where I can sign up.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 9:35 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


It seems more likely someone would miss a diagnosis when only a single doctor is available with no support, no possibility of any evacuation, and a huge amount of pressure.

The doctor was able to consult with people in New Zealand at least sporadically. In some ways I hold them more responsible for not bringing up blood testing. Or maybe they did and were informed the machine was on the fritz.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:45 PM on November 24, 2013


This isn't actually an obituary thread, so the dots are a bit weird.

I've been fascinated with Antarctica for a long time because it seems like the kind of thing I'd like to do if I were just a little more functional or dysfunctional, so I've read a lot of tales about people on the ice or wintering over there at Scott-Admunsen or McMurdo. (Easy example off the top of my head - go read Iceowl's tales on everything2.com. I managed to "dx" him over IRC and/or a java chat applet while he was on a satphone in a tent outside of McMurdo, which is why I can claim to have talked in real time over TCP/IP to someone on every continent on the planet.)

What's more remarkable to me is that this kind of thing hasn't happened more often. The people that make it down there - at least perhaps until recently - seem to be afflicted with a variety of forms of madness, either long before arrival or after being on the ice for some time, and it's apparently sometimes virulent.

The story about a messy lab bench or desk with ethanol and methanol alongside potable alcohol side by side in any kind of container at all is, if anything, the likely real crime here. Or maybe it's just alcoholism as a coping mechanism in general that's the real problem, with lax controls on what team-members import themselves along with the piles of sponsored/legit alcohol they bring down there - which is frankly reportedly an alarming amount. I remember reading about how much they stockpiled for winter-over at Scott-Admunsen and even as an alcoholic I found it rather... large.

Anyway, my bets are on accidental methanol ingestion either from lab cruft/slop, or bad imported/exotic bottles of booze. People do get crazy down there, but not murderously so. Carelessly, maybe, but not maliciously. There's plenty of danger to keep you on your toes and distracted from wanting to kill your fellow staff or researchers.
posted by loquacious at 9:55 PM on November 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


loquacious: The story about a messy lab bench or desk with ethanol and methanol alongside potable alcohol side by side in any kind of container at all is, if anything, the likely real crime here.

That was my first guess as to what happened here. It wouldn't surprise me too much if the guy was accustomed to taking nips of the lab ethanol or maybe using it to enrich other drinks. Lab ethanol isn't always denatured (some processes can't handle denatured ethanol) so it wouldn't be too surprising if it was drinkable, and he'd know about it if it was. Combine that with the drinking-friendly environment and it doesn't seem too unlikely. Then, someone either fills an ethanol spray bottle with methanol by accident (or maybe they're all just labeled 'alcohol') or the positions get switched, and he uses it and drinks methanol. The taste is similar enough so he doesn't notice it, and the possibility doesn't occur to him so he doesn't tell the doctor.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:20 PM on November 24, 2013


the NSF tries to hire people with a rare and delicate balance of good social skills and an antisocial disposition — basically, loners with very long fuses.

Where do I sign up? Although.. what's the internet access like?
posted by sophist at 11:50 PM on November 24, 2013


arcticseal: "To have the equipment to figure out what's wrong with him and not maintain it is tantamount to criminal negligence. "

If they found a wineglass full of the stuff in him in the toxocology report, I doubt there is much the Polies could have done.

Methanol is chemically very similar to ethanol only it gets you about a tenth as drunk, and it breaks down very differently. Most people produce an alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme in our livers designed to break down ethanol into acetaldehyde which then gets processed and excreted by your metabolism in a very water dependent manner (where hangovers come from). It is a system that works pretty great for addressing ethanol toxicity, so long as you aren’t to dedicated to it, but the problem with methanol is that the system works pretty great on it to, only it makes a very different product with the same reaction, formaldehyde. Acute formaldehyde toxicity literally plasticizes you, by binding your macromolecules together into ever increasingly impossible to break apart single massive molecules. This is why formaldehyde makes such a fantastic preservative. Eyes and gonads are the most sensitive to this, and so go first, which is where the trope of blind mountain men who accidentally make methanol with their moonshine comes from.

A wine glass holds more than three times the lethal amount of around 50mL. If they had known what was going on they could have fed him a fuck ton of booze (ethanol), which acts as a competitive inhibitor for the binding site of the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme and slows down the death march of methanol into formaldehyde enough for you to at least sweat some of it out, but this is only so effective, and would need to be done immediately. He was likely already a dead walking by the time they realized it was something serious.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:06 AM on November 25, 2013 [33 favorites]


The internet access is not good, sophist - or at least it was bad when my husband spent a couple of summers at pole a few years ago as a grad student. Their internet at the time was by satellite, and thus only available for about 11 hours a day as for the other half of the day it was out of range.

My husband is not an unstable dude, but he had a hard time at pole. Altitude gave him terrible dreams - not a good trait for a microwave astronomer to have. I think he cherishes his memories of his time on the ice, especially the holiday traditions, which are idiosyncratic. But my memories of that time are not so rosy.
posted by town of cats at 1:00 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


You know, they HAVE already built a massive fuckoff base big enough to accommodate 250 humans not a quarter mile away from where that one tiny flag stands. That ship has SAILED.

This seems like a logical fallacy.
posted by devnull at 1:05 AM on November 25, 2013


devnull: This seems like a logical fallacy.

It's an insignificant and purely localized environmental change to a place that barely has a biota. Quite frankly, everyone debating here probably did at least one more ecologically damaging thing today.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:20 AM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I realise I must have been living under a glacier, but I (sheepishly) admit I never knew we had such an advanced station at the South Pole!

Take the 30 minute guided tour if you weren't aware... and even if you were... holy crap would this make a fantastic setting for an Aliens movie.
posted by panaceanot at 3:03 AM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


It would make a killer episode of House though, force feeding him ethanol to slow down the methanol metabolism.

I don't watch much TV, but I did catch a House episode where he did exactly this... "House figures out that Clarence drank copier fluid to kill himself, and cures him with several shots of liquor. Ethanol inhibits the metabolism of the methanol in the copier fluid, allowing the methanol to be eliminated from the body in the urine."
posted by Jubal Kessler at 3:08 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also... I got a sense from the 'tour' that, yeah...

Through a series of tests and interviews, the NSF tries to hire people with a rare and delicate balance of good social skills and an antisocial disposition — basically, loners with very long fuses.

...seems about right, and that was before I read that part of the article, and also after discounting the 'stop filming me I'm working' angle, and also the potential for a dismissive 'this dude is just kitchen staff, probably leaving before winter' vibe.
posted by panaceanot at 3:10 AM on November 25, 2013


I'm surprised nobody has yet brought up the potential role of one of the Elder Gods in this sad tale of drunken madness and death in the Antarctic. Shub-Niggurath demands.
posted by Gotanda at 3:49 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


It really is mostly just ice at the pole, and I doubt a single Australian flag is having any kind of ecological impact on the ice bacteria. However, there is significant ecological research going on in the cool ecosystems around McMurdo.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:10 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pack it in, pack it out, dude.

Considering there are two former, now-obsolete Pole stations slowly being buried in ice and snow, one flag hardly seems worth making a Thing about from this perspective.

A writer friend of mine whose been to the Ice a few times as part of the NSF artists and writers program has told me that you can feel your IQ drop when you step off the plane at the Pole from McMurdo, because you've just gone from sea level to about 10,000 feet - but feels higher because of atmospheric conditions - in three hours. Altitude sickness is apparently not uncommon, and although symptoms would decline as people acclimate, Lucy (my friend) says that one thing that was most annoying was the crappy quality of sleep. This may not have had anything to do with this poor guy's death, considering when this happened.
posted by rtha at 6:33 AM on November 25, 2013


Why would a radio astronomer have a workspace strewn with "bottles of lab agents like methanol and ethanol"?
posted by Naberius at 7:02 AM on November 25, 2013


Cleaning sensors?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:11 AM on November 25, 2013


panaceanot: "holy crap would this make a fantastic setting for an Aliens movie."

It was called The Thing.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:12 AM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Loners with very long fuses"? God, this totally explains why my cousin did so well working down there over the years.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:35 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


"holy crap would this make a fantastic setting for an Aliens movie."

It was called The Thing.


AvP was also at the South Pole, no?
posted by elizardbits at 8:26 AM on November 25, 2013


Why would a radio astronomer have a workspace strewn with "bottles of lab agents like methanol and ethanol"?
Mostly for cleaning surfaces of things that go in cryostats, to insure good thermal contact between parts and to avoid outgassing. And, in the specific case of ethenol, for removing the cryogenic glue GE Varnish. (While the same solvents are also used when making sensors, applying solvents to detectors at pole would generally mean something very bad had happened.)

There are definitely squeeze bottles of methenol and ethanol at many workstations. (Along with acetone, IPA, and occasionally nastier solvents.) But, the ethanol is typically the cheapest lab grade stuff, and is likely to contain benzene and other impurities that aren't fun to consume.
posted by eotvos at 8:30 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm just shocked that such a culture of alcohol was even allowed to exist, much less didn't result in some kind of much greater preventable calamity. I mean, it's not all that much different than the idea of the astronauts on the ISS getting schnockered every night.
posted by Random Person at 8:42 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


It wouldn't be a big deal for ISS astronauts to get schnockered every night if (a) there were enough sober astronauts to keep the place running during that time and (b) there were parts of the station that didn't have vital valves, switches, etc that a drunk person could bump into or make Very Bad Decisions about.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:50 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


AvP was also at the South Pole, no?

AvP was set at an "abandoned whaling station." It's kind of hard to hunt for whales at the South Pole.
posted by localroger at 8:50 AM on November 25, 2013


I'm just shocked that such a culture of alcohol was even allowed to exist,

It was initially all male and mostly military, so I don't think it's that surprising; I'm sort of surprised this is apparently the only time this has happened in the Pole's long history.

Better, I think, that the NSF/Raytheon makes sure that the only drinking alcohol available is from unimpeachable sources and that that's what people drink. Trying to enforce total prohibition would be a joke (on the space station, quarters are very tight and people are relatively few, and there's nowhere to hide a still), since it would be a small matter for smart Polies to make (another) still for distilling their own booze.
posted by rtha at 9:02 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


No Metafilter discussion of the Antarctic program should go without mentioning bigdeadplace.com, the {amazing, hilarious, downright scary} blog of Antarctic researcher Nicholas Johnson.

Sadly, Johnson committed suicide about a year go (mefi discussion).
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:03 AM on November 25, 2013


I was just coming to mention Big Dead Place (the book is great, too). An alcohol culture is STRONGLY engrained in people on the ice, because they are trapped in Antarctica for months, with not a lot of options for entertainment.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:10 AM on November 25, 2013


"But, the ethanol is typically the cheapest lab grade stuff, and is likely to contain benzene and other impurities that aren't fun to consume."

Formula SDA-3A of denatured alcohol, one of the various varieties designed as part of a state orchestrated plan to murder drunks and fools who make poor life choices among other benzene and isopropyl flavors, is 100 parts pure ethanol mixed with 5 parts of pure methanol. This is unlikely to have killed him because getting the amount of methanol in him that the toxicologist said he had would have involved also drinking around the equivalent of three liters of Everclear (95%), or just over 13 gallons of beer (6%), or 6 gallons of wine (13%) with the methanol. Formula SDA-3A only has just enough methanol to not acutely kill you any faster than the ethanol it poisons, though importantly the chronic toxicity is much more terrifying.

Aldehydes are inherently pretty reactive with biological molecules and bind to them pretty easily, what makes formaldehyde do what it does is that it is a double aldehyde on the same carbon, which means that when it reacts to something, it forms a reactive aldehyde wherever it lands. Thus, it will take one biological molecule and covalently bond it to another in a process known as cross-linking, which is what makes it turn you into a plastic when applied in a high enough concentration as I mentioned upthread. However, it does this most efficiently with nitrogenous compounds like proteins and DNA. The big problem with this is that if you end up with proteins irreversibly bound to DNA in one of your cells, that will seriously fuck up mitosis (normal cell division) in a very specific way. A chromosome with a formaldehyde induced lesion will likely fail to replicate and stop the replication complex in its tracks, but fail to stop the overall mitosis process. This means that one of the two daughter cells will get no copies of the affected chromosome while the other daughter gets somewhere between one and two copies. This is a really big deal.

In almost all cancers, if you take one of the cancer cells and break it apart to produce a karyotype, you will find a bizarre assortment of missing and extra chromosomes. It is one of the primary failure points that causes cancer. There are proto-oncogenes, or genes that have the potential to cause uncontrolled growth (cancer), in all of us if they become misregulated - say from being copied a few times. There are also tumor suppressor genes that cause programmed cell death in the event of uncontrolled growth that can fail - such as when say they are missing because the chromosome they were on is gone. Formaldehyde is profoundly efficient at causing this specific defect in mitosis, so we are incredibly sensitive to even small amounts of it, especially when applied chronically. Also remember, your liver makes [methanol = formaldehyde] almost mole for mole unless there is a lot of ethanol keeping your liver from doing its thing, giving your kidneys time to slowly let you piss out unprocessed methanol.

If he was drinking the denatured alcohol on his desk, and it was SDA-3A, it would have killed him; but not like this.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:10 AM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


AvP was set at an "abandoned whaling station." It's kind of hard to hunt for whales at the South Pole.

Why do you think they abandoned it?
posted by Etrigan at 9:18 AM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


His Tourette's complicates things.

The article mentions that he used alcohol to help control it, but doesn't call him an alcoholic, though I would guess he was:
The doctor spent hours clutching for a diagnosis, at one point grabbing hold of alcohol withdrawal and even anxiety as possibilities.
His lab was a kilometer away from everything else and the trip back and forth must have been arduous, especially in wind with the possibility of blowing snow:
South Pole astronomers have the coldest commute on the planet. The observatory where they work is a full kilometer from the main station, in an area officially known as the Dark Sector. Like most base astronomers, Marks would bundle up and make the round-trip on foot every day.
I'm imagining him out there on a long shift with nothing to drink and feeling it, then searching around and finding something that smelled right but was of uncertain provenance that he knew he shouldn't drink-- and then the impulsivity of Tourette's breaks through at last.
posted by jamjam at 9:30 AM on November 25, 2013


It was called The Thing.

OMG the second the article started describing some guy with weird symptoms in the South Pole I could not get this movie out of my head, and admit I freaked out a little that they didn't immediately put this guy in mega-ultra-quarantine. They must not be big horror film buffs down there.
posted by Mooseli at 9:33 AM on November 25, 2013


Why would a radio astronomer have a workspace strewn with "bottles of lab agents like methanol and ethanol"?

Incredibly common cleaning agents for electronic components. Also a very effective antifreeze, quite important in this lab. A clear lab rule is that all ethanol in a lab is presumed denatured* with methanol and never, ever, ever drunk, because methanol poisoning is a nasty way to die, and in fact, most denatured alcohol is denatured with methanol.

I can completely accept the theory that somebody bought some random bottle of hooch from somewhere that was tainted with methanol and it killed him. It can't be proven because they threw everything out after he died, but this is a known problem in many countries**.

But, again, we'll never really know. By the time anybody knew it was methanol poisoning that killed him, the evidence trail had been so muddled simply by time and lack of care, since nobody was thinking there was a trail that needed to be preserved.

Also, since I'm distracted from a problem. The Dome is gone -- they disassembled it and shipped it out. They want to leave as little as possible. The original South Pole station (often called "Old Pole") was abandoned in 1975 after being buried in snow, and what they could dig out was removed in 2010. The point of the new station is to keep from being buried, so that when it needs replacement, or if the US leaves, they can just pick up and go, rather than have to dig it out like they did with the Dome and Old Pole.

I talked/drank a long while with a guy who overwintered on the IceCube detector project. Salient points.

The most important day is the Solstice, AKA Midwinters Day. Big Party. The second most important is the first supply flight in "spring", which is still dark, called "freshy day", because that's the first time they've had fresh fruits or vegetables in months.

Because the air is so cold, it has basically no moisture. When warmed to anywhere near room temp, it's bone dry. The elevation of the station is 9300 feet above sea level, but because of the Earth's rotation causing the atmosphere to move to the equator a bit, the air pressure is actually equivalent to 14,000 feet above sea level. As mentioned, they do a lot of drinking.

Adding up these facts leads to the most important bit of info. There is no hangover in the world quite as bad as an Antarctic Hangover.

The airport code for the South Pole is NZSP. Winds are given as if occurring on a flat map, because being at the south pole, technically, all winds are northerly, which makes landing confusing. Current OBS: NZSP 251650Z 14007KT 9999 BKN060 M32/ A2880 RMK CLN AIR 13006KT ALL WNDS GRID SDG/HDG

Okay, back to work.

* Denatured alcohol: Welcome to the wonders of tax. If you can drink it, it's potable alcohol, and you pay a staggering tax per liter on it. If you add something that makes it undrinkable and can't just be distilled out of it, then it becomes denatured alcohol and you don't have to pay the high tax for drink on it. So you can use the ethanol for all the other things it's useful for besides drinking without paying the drinking tax. This is why a gallon of ethanol at your local hardware store costs a couple of bucks. Don't drink it, it will flat out kill you.

** Including, I must point out, the US. There are a fair number of blind people running around, and a large number of dead people not running around, thanks to methanol contaminated moonshine. If you must do your own distilling (note, most probably illegal) you really need to do your homework, but if you won't, you really and truly need to throw away -- not redistill, throw away -- the first runnings. Yes, this reduces your output of ethanol. It also dramatically reduces your output of methanol, and blindness, and death.
posted by eriko at 9:36 AM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


OMG the second the article started describing some guy with weird symptoms in the South Pole I could not get this movie out of my head, and admit I freaked out a little that they didn't immediately put this guy in mega-ultra-quarantine. They must not be big horror film buffs down there.

Haha. As a matter of fact... the South Pole winter staff have an annual tradition of watching The Thing together as soon as the summer staff is gone.

Honestly I'm not sure I could handle that, but I suppose it's a way of proving your psychological mettle!
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:50 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


OMG the second the article started describing some guy with weird symptoms in the South Pole I could not get this movie out of my head, and admit I freaked out a little that they didn't immediately put this guy in mega-ultra-quarantine. They must not be big horror film buffs down there.

In my experience, big horror film buffs are the first ones to make jokes about splitting up and investigating strange noises and then going ahead and doing it.

I am in that group. I am not proud of it.
posted by Etrigan at 9:56 AM on November 25, 2013


It's kind of hard to hunt for whales at the South Pole.

You're right, my bad, I should have known that would be ridiculous when seen alongside all the other scientifically accurate things going on in that movie.
posted by elizardbits at 10:40 AM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


alongside all the other scientifically accurate things going on in that movie.

You'll notice I put "abandoned whaling station" in scare quotes. It was specifically not at the South Pole, but still far enough from the water to add to the WTF overload.
posted by localroger at 10:58 AM on November 25, 2013


There was a wonderful SA article about living in Antarctica that got FPP'd a while back.

Among other things, the drinking culture is discussed in detail.
posted by griphus at 11:19 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


loquacious:This isn't actually an obituary thread, so the dots are a bit weird.

People grieve deaths. It's not for you to police that behavior.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:20 AM on November 25, 2013


(NB: That article is equal parts hilarity and psychological horror. Kind of like The Thing, now that I think about it.)
posted by griphus at 11:20 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting feature of the South Pole: with no summer melt, snow and ice particles accumulate against anything that disrupts the wind. Ergo, human structures slowly bury themselves.

A friend of mine was one of the last couple of people on Earth - perhaps the very last - to see the original SP building. First they built it, then realized they had to enclose the walkways (want to shovel when it's 60 below?), then they had to fortify the ceiling supports (as the weight of snow built up).

By the time he asked to see it, the access was via a staircase carved into the snowbank, that was cleared with an earth mover. He went down, found evidence of the ceilings collapsing (not surprisingly), and reported this. To avoid the danger of a truck or construction equipment creating a sinkhole over the spot, the entire area was made off-limits, and the Pole has since made the access point fairly featureless.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:31 AM on November 25, 2013


but still far enough from the water to add to the WTF overload

It was on an island, and so no more than a few miles from the water; presumably in Antarctic summer there's open(-ish) water there. At the end, the queen fell through the ice and was dragged to her watery demise.

OR WAS SHE?!?!?! dun Dun DUNNNNNNNN!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:46 AM on November 25, 2013


You lot might be interested to know that Detective Inspector Wormald has gone on to achieve notoriety as the guy who directed the operation that raided Kim Dotcom's mansion last year, and whose interaction with both our own spy agencies and US authorities has been controversial. Lots to find if you google him, too much to link here.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:18 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I live only a few km from Christchurch International Airport which is where Operation Deep Freeze's base is located. It's fun for local plane spotters to watch the US military planes come and go, and I can hear distinctive aircraft sounds from my house. Only US military base in New Zealand, that we know of.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:22 PM on November 25, 2013


rtha: "since it would be a small matter for smart Polies to make (another) still for distilling their own booze."

When you have -80 available to you don't need much of a still.
posted by Mitheral at 8:45 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


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