Night watch

June 4th, 2006

I’ve now had a week to recover from doing night watch and my sleeping pattern is back to normal. I have to say that whilst it was an interesting experience, I’m not going to be clamouring to do it again – some people on base really like it (because it gives them lots of time alone to get on with projects/edit videos/do paperwork/whatever) but I’m not one of those people!

You start on a Friday night, doing the first (and longest) round with the outgoing person so that you’re up-to-date with what you have to do. After that you’re on your own. Typically, my routine was to get up at around 5pm, go to the dining room and have breakfast whilst everyone else has dinner at 6:30, and then check emails and catch up on work for the early part of the evening, and then join people in the bar later (drinking tea or softies – you’re not allowed to drink alcohol) until 1030, when the first round begins. On this round, you go out and “put the base to bed” – checking that lights are off and doors and windows closed in all the buildings, and checking that buildings are warm and running machinery and experiments are all happy. This takes about an hour and includes visiting such delights as the sewage treatment plant, the saltwater pumphouse, the paint store and the generator shed. After that you do a quick round of checks inside Bransfield House itself and then settle down to do something until 3am. I found various ways to fill my time – watching films, making bread for the morning (and some experimental bagels that turned out rather well), and doing various computing jobs that I hadn’t quite got around to. At 3am you do a quick round to check that the freezers are still working, the generators are happy and that the plumbing and heating are functioning, and then check on the Science Alarm, which monitors all the physical science experiments. You do the same at 6am, and then there’s some cleaning to do, as well as making up powdered milk and concentrated orange juice for people arriving for breakfast. Just after 7:15 the first people tend to start appearing, and then you go to bed and do it all again!

2 Responses to “Night watch”

  1. Steve J Says:

    Does the Science Alarm go “aroogah! aroogah!” whenever some particularly interesting Science is happening? Do Scientists then leap from their beds, throw on their lab coats and shoot down firemen’s poles into the lab? I certainly hope so…

  2. Michael P-J Says:

    Sadly not, though it’s a lovely image :-)

    Pretty much all the scientific work done at Rothera during the winter is collecting data for other people to analyse – so the Science Alarm is a computer which checks that all the data-collecting computers (well, those doing Physical Science, anyway) are all running and happy. At the moment it just displays a big red screen and a message to get either the duty Met Person or the Physical Science Engineer if it’s unhappy, but it will soon be rigged up to an actual traffic-light display in the corridor and a noisy buzzer.

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