Self and Environment

Snow Hill Middle School: Grade 8

Dear Mr. Hess,

We are writing to you from Snow Hill Middle School. We are in Ms. LaVorgna's ILA class. We are studying "self and environment." We are interested in how you are surviving. What kind of challenges do you face? What do you do for entertainment? How fast does Ivan move? How often do you get supplies?

Thanks for your help!

Hi Class,

Life is always a challenge here. I have been working on a computerized satellite tracking system that I saw for the first time only a few months ago. I have been trying to learn more about the system, while operating and repairing failures. I am learning new things every day about my job. I have not had a lot of free time for entertainment, but I read and watch TV for entertainment. They have a lot of organized activities for recreation.

The roads here are not in good shape. They are either snow and ice, or volcanic rock. Ivan does not go very fast on the roads due to their condition. I would guess that Ivan does not move faster than about 20 mph here. 43%volcanic rock. Ivan does not go very fast on the roads due to their During the summer, supplies come in on a regular basis. The planes carry science cargo, emergency supplies, fresh food, people and mail. Heavy supplies, and the bulk of the food and supplies come in by ship once a year in late summer. From February until September, the winter season, there are no planes or ships, which means no supplies. In past years they would drop supplies and mail in mid-winter, but this has been canceled due to Federal budget cuts. This means no way in or out, and no fresh food or mail for over 6 months. Some supplies become short, and rationing is imposed. Last winter, the soda stocks were lost due to freezing. For many months it was next to impossible to find a soda, other than Diet Mountain Dew.

Thanks for writing,

Dear Mr. Hess,

We are in Ms. LaVorgna's 8th grade ILA (5-6 period). We are in the library at SHMS. We are presently studying "self and the environment." We are interested in how you are surviving. Is it fun? Do you have a McDonalds? Do you miss your family? What kind of food do you eat? What is the temperature? Can you ski? Do you enjoy your job? What kind of schooling does it requires? What is the most interesting question you've been asked on the internet? Now that you've been to Antarctica where else would you like to be assigned? How many people live there?

Thanks for your time and cooperations! :)

Hi Class,

I am having fun here, but it is a hard life. I do miss my family in Snow Hill. Presently there are 233 people here in McMurdo. The next scheduled plane is not until September, so the number hopefully will stay the same until then. There is no McDonalds here. The closest one I know of is in New Zealand over 2300 miles away. We have a galley that serves a wide variety of food over time, but daily selections are limited. It would be the same as eating in your cafeteria for every day and every meal. Today they had tuna or Swedish meatballs for lunch, and lamb chops or breaded pork patties for supper. This time of year fresh fruits and vegetables are difficult because there are no planes flying. There is a greenhouse here, but it is small and cannot produce much for 233 people.

It is getting colder as the days are getting shorter. At this time, the temperature is -14F, and the wind is making the temperature feel like -65F. A few days ago, the wind chill was less than -75F which is very dangerous. Exposed flesh can freeze in less than 30 seconds. It is difficult to describe what it is like to feel those temperatures. I took my glove off for a few seconds the other day and I did not feel cold, I felt pain. I used to ski quite often when I was young. I have not been skiing in many years. They have cross country skis to use here, but that is more of a sport for summer time here.

I enjoy my job, and I am constantly learning more about my job. My job requires a good knowledge of computers, radios, and electronics. I have been a ham radio operator on and off since 1967, and love to tinker with radios and computers. I do have a college degree, which I just finished this past December. It only took me 24 years to complete. I think if I had received it earlier in my life, I would have advanced further than I am now. There is no specific schooling I could have received when I was young, to be able to do the job I am doing today. The technology we have today is changing so rapidly, that I must constantly learn to keep up. After I leave the ice, I will probably spend a few days in New Zealand thawing out and warming up. After that I hope to work at Wallops for a while. I may come back down here again for another season, but I had not really thought of other places to go. I will just have to wait and see what becomes available.

I have received many wonderful letters and questions from kids all over the world. It would be very difficult to pick the most interesting. Thanks for writing,
David Hess NK3T
Presently living in beautiful downtown McMurdo, Antarctica.

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