I love meal times and believe me it’s not because of the food. The conversations we have are just so funny sometimes. The people are just so eclectic and from all over the place (though mostly Colorado, Washington or Alaska from what I’ve seen). Typically as I grab my tray and check out what’s on the hot line and how old does the salad look today, I’m approached by one or two people asking when I’m leaving for WAIS. I usually just respond “thats a good question!” as flights are delayed then cancelled day after day due to mechanical or weather reasons and there was one day my name was on the list to go on two different flights, but that was a mistake.
Yesterday, I was sitting with our Flight nurse, a NASA medical resident/fellow and the chief of fire (a man of few words). Somehow we got on the topic of pee freezing. You see, out in the field or if you go out on a boondoggle, you have a “Pee Bottle” which is essentially a Nalgene you only use for pee. Sometimes its simply because there just isn’t a bathroom or a Port-a-potty/Honey Bucket. This is Antarctica remember! Both the men and the women need to have these. So we were discussing how if your pee bottle is outside your tent, with pee in it, it can freeze. The conversation moved to weather or not it takes extra energy to keep a bladder full of pee warm, how much energy is actually in a few hundred cc’s of body temperature urine and how long would that amount of energy fuel a heater. The resident told me I was “going to freeze my balls of” and so I reminded him that I did not in fact have balls but ovaries which would be held warm at body temperature not far from my bladder full of pee. And those who do have balls, well those balls would probably be hiding way up close to the body in the inguinal canal like a cold camper in a Jamesway tent. I said I should draw a cartoon of two testicles discussing how cold it was from their individual inguinal canal* tents.
HOW TO AVOID FREEZING YOUR BALLS OFF AT THE FIELD CAMP… one testicle says to the other “What do you think dude? Are you going back down in there?” as he stares down into the frigid scrotum from his nesting place high above…”Nah, I’ll just pretend I’m an ovary until we are safely back at McMurdo” the other replies.
I explained that out at WAIS we’ll have outhouses, though we will probably still use our pee bottles to avoid leaving our warm sleeping bags to go out into the blistering cold to pee in the middle of the night. Campers need to remember to keep the pee bottle in the sleeping bag so it doesn’t freeze. Its like a home made hot water bottle…a hot pee bottle.
No I don’t really think there was much point to our conversation. I can’t imagine what the conversations are like deep into a winter-over season.
*The inguinal canal is a passage in the anterior abdominal wall that in men conveys the spermatic cord and in women the round ligament of uterus.