Well, Super Bowl Monday has come and gone and the only thing I can say for it is that I feel like something you might scrape off the bottom of your shoe. I knew the minute I started boasting that I’d made it all season without getting sick, I would get sick and sure enough it looks like I’ve come down with the Crud.
The McMurdo Crud is the name of the general illness that strikes most people at some point while they’re here. Symptoms can vary but usually include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, fever, headache, etc. I’m slightly concerned because my symptoms may include GI distress but I’m hoping it was just something I ate on Sunday and not actually part of the illness. Still the thought of food makes me nauseated so I’ve eaten nothing but a bowl of chicken soup today. In all likelihood, this was bound to happen the way I’ve run my immune system down with late nights babysitting intoxicated firefighters… Roger was the most recent and extreme case to date, occurring just last night.
On the plus side, while walking back to my dorm at midnight after making sure Roger was safely asleep on CouchBed, I got to see the icebreaker make its debut appearance!
I can’t exactly say why this made me so excited. Generally it’s received as the herald to the end of summer: first the ice breaker arrives, then a cruise ship or two, then the research vessel picks up its scientists who are flown in to McMurdo, then the fuel tanker, then the cargo vessel, then everyone goes home and it’s Winter! But truthfully, the thought of leaving makes me pretty sad, not excited. I think I was excited to see the icebreaker because, up until now, it was all on someone else’s word that all that sea ice on which I used to walk would eventually turn to water. But now there’s a little ship chugging along out there! That actually is open ocean!
But back to today. The big story on station leading up to the Super Bowl – and I think what really got a lot of people down here invested in the outcome – was the bet between Josh and Roger. A couple weeks ago, Josh offered Roger a simple bet: $50 on the Ravens. Roger does not follow football so he declined. But Josh kept upping the ante until it finally got to the point where Josh was willing to put $2000 on the Ravens to win…BUT if they lost, Roger had to give Josh his precious MacBook Pro in lieu of money. Roger hemmed and hawed about this for ages – he had until the kickoff to make up his mind and he had been asking everyone their opinion, regularly checking the odds in Vegas, and reading the sports pages religiously.
Well, this morning, when I came in to work, I learned from our Winter Supervisor that the night before, Josh lost $1,000 at the poker table – the most that had ever been lost in one night at the weekly poker game. I emailed Roger as soon as I heard that and said I didn’t think he should take the bet. The game looked to be a close one and if Roger won, I wasn’t sure what Josh would do – sure they make decent money down here but to lose $3000 in the course of 36 hours? And that’s not including the other smaller side bets Josh had going on the game! Unfortunately I was too late – he’d already accepted and there was no backing out now. Now I was worried what Roger would do if he lost the bet…he loves that computer and, while Josh had stipulated that the computer hand-off wouldn’t have to occur until they met up in Christchurch once they were both off the Ice, that still meant Roger had to endure a very long flight back to New York without his computer…and he can’t sleep on airplanes.
I managed to get through the rest of my morning feeling generally crappy. I couldn’t shake the chills for the life of me – I kept huddling in front of the bakery ovens – but I wasn’t sure if it was a fever or just because I live in Antarctica and, oh hey look it’s cold outside. At lunchtime, Sarah and I got permission from Russell to go over to Southern to catch at least 30 minutes of the game, provided we didn’t wear our uniforms and, obviously, abstained from alcohol. At the end of those 30 minutes, the score was not looking good for Roger…and given his level of inebriation last night, he didn’t look so hot either. Then Sarah and I trudged back to the kitchen and finished our workday, pausing regularly for updates on the score. The end of the game drew near as I finished up my Tofu and Broccoli Szechuan for dinner and I honestly didn’t know which way I wanted it to go – on the one hand, my loyalty to my city by the Bay meant I wanted Roger to win but I also really didn’t want Josh to lose that much money. Either way, one of my closest friends was going to be triumphant at the expense of the other and that was just not going to be pleasant. But if I had to make a bet, my money would be on Roger to accept defeat more gracefully… and as most of you probably know by now, that’s the way it ended up going.
But I haven’t heard much from either party this evening, since I got out of the kitchen the minute I could and put myself to bed. We’ll see how it shakes out tomorrow…
Szechuan Stir-Fry Sauce for the Baltimore Ravens Victory
- 8 cups of vegetable stock
- 2 cups of soy sauce
- 1 cup of rice vinegar
- 2 cups of chili paste
- 2/3 cup of sesame oil
- 2 tsps red pepper flakes (or ground szechuan peppercorns, which we don’t have)
- 2 tsps five spice powder
Bring all this to a boil, then add
- 1 cup corn starch dissolved in 2 cups of cold water
Toss the sauce with stir fried meat/tofu/vegetables