Learning Russian and Toolin’ ’round

2009-12-06 19:36:17.000 – Mike Finnegan,  IT Observer

Toolin’ ’round!

The weather certainly has taken a turn towards winter in the past two weeks. Last week started with the highest wind seen this year at 137 mph and now nearing the end of the first week of December, temperatures have dropped to the single digits with winds approaching 80 mph. It seems that winter has finally arrived and with any luck is here to stay. As Brian mentioned in a previous comment, our 12-12 schedule allows us both time to get outside while the sun is still around – a nice change from the 5:30 to 5:30 schedule where we begin and end in the dark nowadays. With this, I have been able to get out to the East snowfields a couple times this week to snowboard and practice some general mountaineering skills. It sure is great to be back on the snow again! It makes travel a bit quicker at times, not having to rock hop so much as just kick steps up a snowfield.

Another pro to ending my shift and going pretty much directly to bed is that I have several free and uninterrupted hours before my shift begins the next day. Normally my shift ends at 5:30, but dinner quickly comes around at 7:00, punctuating whatever activity I may be doing. By the time dinner is done, it is only a couple hours before I’m tired and go to bed to wake before the sun again. With this amount of allocated free time, I have been spending a good amount of time this week beginning to learn Russian. As some may recall, we had two folks from the island of Solovki in Russia visit the Obs for two weeks during the end of October and beginning of November, 2008. Learning Russian is my first step in my quest to go visit them on their home turf, hopefully sometime next summer. Travel to Russia is a bit more involved than other countries I have visited, so I’m sure it will be an adventure of some sort! I just want to be prepared to make it a safe adventure (kind of reminds me of climbing in that respect). Besides that, I spent a bit of time constructing an area to ‘tool around’ in. As one can imagine, it can be difficult at times to get exercise when wind chills are dangerously low and visibility is next to nothing. To counteract this, I added a few ‘features’ to the ceiling and wall outside the weather room in the tower. With these, I can hang on one feature with an ice tool while trying to move to another, do pull-ups, or whatever else seems interesting. It is easily accessible and so can be done for just a couple minutes after an observation, not detracting much from work time. I’d be willing to be it actually enhances work production and I’m sure my strength for climbing!


Mike Finnegan,  IT Observer

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