Here’s a quick list of some McMurdo vocabulary:
Let’s start with Amenomania — “Wind madness” as described by Linda Davis in her book “Sir Ernest Shackleton.” It’s an obsession with the wind; its direction, speed and sound.
Freshies — real food; not frozen or canned.
Wasties — Waste department employees
Stewies — Stewards or galley workers
Fuelies — Fuels workers
Runway — Willy Airfield
LDB — Long Duration Ballon Launch operation and location on the ice shelf
Highway 1 and 2 — the two main hallways of building 155
Galley — the cafeteria
Gerbil Gym — the indoor gym where the treadmills and like fitness equipment live
Big Gym — where the basketball, volleyball, soccer and other large space games are played
Uppercase dorms — buildings 206, 207, 208, 209, 210 and 211; these are labeled as “berthing” buildings on the formal station maps
Lowercase dorms — buildings 201, 202, 203 A/B/C (buildings 204 and 205 no longer exist); these are labeled as “berthing” buildings on the formal station maps
VMF — where the vehicles are maintained
e Foot Plan — the plan you have to submit before you can leave McMurdo for recreational purposes
Admin Break — the 15 minutes a day when you MUST check your email
GSC — Gana-A’Yoo Services (my contractor)
PAE — Pacific Architects and Engineers (another contractor)
ASC — the Antractic Support Contract (the one who hires us all); currently managed by Lockheed Martin Corporation
GHG — contractor that hires IT folk
NSF — The National Science Foundation, the reason McMurdo exists
UTMB — University of Texas Medical Branch — the medical contractor
Best Recycling — the contractor that hires waste and recycling folk
NavChaps — Navy guys
Skua — The free thrift store in town, properly known as Skua Central; also the species name of our only flighted bird; also the action of donating something to the free store
MidRat — those who work the overnight shift
MacOps — the folks who run communications for organized groups leaving town, including science teams and formal recreation trips
Ice Radio — 104.5 FM, the station’s station
USAP — United States Antarctic Program
Con 1 — wind speeds greater than 55 knots, wind chills colder than -100F, or visibility less than 100 feet
Con 2 — wind speeds between 48-55 knots, wind chills between -75 to -100F, or visibility less than .25 miles
Con 3 — all weather that is not Con 1 or Con 2. Considered “normal” weather for McMurdo
ACA — The Antarctic Conservation Act; the U.S. law that supports the Antarctic Treaty in protecting animals and land (surprisingly, does not protect the waters around the land which is why it’s technically not illegal to fish endangered species in Antarctica water — see Japan and Chilean Sea Bass).
The Chalet — offices for the NSF folk
Mammoth Mountain Inn (MMI) and Hotel California (HoCal) — NSF and NavChap dorms
Walk-in — the Berd Field Camp freezer
Tow-Away — the carpentry shop
Hut Ten — Lounge building which requires reservations
The Apples — two red, fiber glass emergency huts along the glacier trail to Castle Rock
Scott Base — the New Zealand station that’s about 2 miles away from McMurdo
Admunson-Scott Base — South Pole station; or, simply, “Pole” as it’s called here. As in, “I just got back from Pole.” No articles needed.
ECW — extreme cold weather gear; this includes parka, boots, fleece jacket, fleece pants, water proof pants, gloves (that are terrible and not warm at all), fleece mittens, balaclava, hat.
Big Red — the down parka issued as part of one’s ECW
Little Red — a wind jacket, minus the down, that you can request but is not automatically given to everyone as part of ECW
Bunny Boots — the big, awkward boots given as part of ECW
Janos — the janitors
Beekers — the scientists
Frosty Boy — the soft-serve ice cream machine in the galley
PQ; NPQ — Physically Qualify (for deployment); Non-physically Qualify (for deployment)
redeploy — to leave the Ice
deploy — to come to the Ice
Galley Rally — the meeting of the galley workers before each meal
BOG — Back of Galley; the only room in the dining area without windows
“Where’s your storage unit?” — a more commonly asked question than “where is your home?” Most ASC employees are so transient, they do not have permanent homes, but almost everyone has a storage unit.
DV — Distinguished Visitor; aka Bridgader Generals, members of Congress, etc.; also the name of events given in the honor of current DVs.
There’s more; I just can’t think of them right now.
The mountain in our backyard: Mt. Erebus with a puff of volcanic exhaust on a rare, windless day. (The summit is over 12,000 feet).
The mountain in our backyard: Mt. Erebus with a puff of volcanic exhaust on a rare, windless day. (The summit is over 12,000 feet).

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