"Viruses do not live in Antarctica. When I was in the harsh and bitter cold, I was perfectly healthy. When I returned back home, I picked up every virus in Australia. I was totally unprepared for the way my immune system reacted."
I didn't know that our immune system could change so much so fast.
Though bear in mind the obvious - people get infected when they allow in outsiders like contractors, wintering staff arriving, tourists, etc. Over winter when you're in isolation there's nowhere for viruses to come from and the infection rate drops. Remote stations would probably also proactively get people to isolate so the whole crew doesn't come down with the lurgy at once.
It's not that your immune system is better, you just have a much smaller social network. Wintering staff are generally in good health anyway (the medical is extensive) which probably helps a bit. You also get a mandatory flu jab (this is not normal in my country unless you're old).
Once you get back into the general population, you pick up all the seasonal colds that you missed.
Edit: also check those references!
An outbreak of common cold at an Antarctic Base after seventeen weeks of complete isolation.
(from the abstract they never found the culprit - perhaps it got frozen onto a surface and then thawed later?)
I remember always feeling suddenly overwhelmed by people. You spend a few months with only a couple dozen people. Then you end up in NZ or Chile and fly back stateside. Suddenly there are thousands of people around.
Dang, I suddenly miss all my Antarctic peeps.
Came back to the US end of January (terrible timing considering the way things are going) and ended up getting sick with flu (not covid thankfully) and lots of digestive issues again. Now, heading into July... I haven't gotten sick again (likely from the isolation) and the digestive issues went away.
Our bodies are complex beings.
The more serious infections (cold, flu, covid) aren't a "gradual" immunity thing, they're individual strains that pack a hard punch in comparison to everything else. In part because we don't see anything super close to them on a regular basis.
Even worse, people aren't getting their flu shots (and other elective things) because they don't want to risk going to the doctors.
So when we get out of this covid jail... get ready for some interesting charts from the CDC.
Plenty of prior administrations appointment science-bound officials that held the line.
Why is that effect unfortunate?
Sounds a bit like you were searching for an excuse for a conclusion you arrived at already for other reasons.
The bulk of advances predate either development of widespread vaccination (largely 1930s - 1960s), or antibiotics (1940s), to say nothing of organ transplants (1950s-), cancer treatments (roughly same), imaging (1900s-), and advanced laproscopic surgeries (1970s-).
Basic sanitation (sewerage & solid waste), water purification, food safety, vector control (mosquitos), physical safety (falls, streets/transport, machinery), environment (soot, lead, asbestos, poisons), habits (smoke, drink, drugs), childbirth & childcare, sex ed, nutrition, and simple basic access to medical care count for far more.
I'm not disputing that vaccines are a powerful and beneficial tool, but that "the greatest life-saving achievement of modern medicine" is not in fact vaccination, but basic (and often quite pedestrian) public health measures.
This has been Laurie Garrett's thesis since at least the mid-1990s. And yes, she's also a strong vaccine advocate:
However, I will decide on yearly flu shots and others based on my own analysis, as clearly government sources have other things in mind that my best interest.
For example, I will wait 6 to 12 month after a covid vaccine is available to check postmarket studies.
A counter example is papillomavirus and shingles (vzw) vaccines, that I have decided to get, even if it's not recommended for me.
Having a legal system that can't arrest, charge, prosecute anyone because politics says not to means you don't have rule of law. If someone is recorded saying they committed sex offences then they should get a police interview regardless of their job.
Having a disease control department that can't give scientific advice because a political appointee won't like it; might as well close that department, it's no longer useful. Or, you could address the root issue.
I was coming from Vietnam and early on the govt. wasn't taking it seriously enough and had some major outbreaks. But they immediately got it under control. Contact tracing, testing, lockdowns, spraying, masks, hand washing, propaganda... and look... it worked. Zero deaths, zero new cases in 90+ days now. The whole country is open within its borders and people are safely interacting without any worries.
So, while I think the CDC is doing an ok job... at the end of the day, they totally missed the tidal wave coming at them.
At the current rate I am wondering if we get out, not when, lol
Suddenly my allergies dropped. I made a test and I had no positive marker.
This went on for a couple of years.
This has changed since the lockdown. I am sneezing again all the time and wake up with sore throats, in the way it was typical. Even stronger than before.
The immune system needs work to do.
- the smells: "In the cold atmosphere of Antarctica your sense of smell has become acute and now, wafting in through the door of the aircraft, is the smell of tarmac on the runway, green grass, hundreds of flowers and dozens of different scents ... for the first time ever you can smell your Antarctic clothing. The heat has brought out a hundred different smells, seals, huskies, penguins, kerosene and many more."
- the flies and other insects
- and perhaps one of his main and lasting experiences, the spirit of international co-operation brought about by the "common problem of survival in Antarctica"
On that last point, the last 2 sentences in his book were "The nations of the world can just as easily work on a common problem outside the Antarctic as in it. Let us hope this understanding by common knowledge and experience will not fail us now."
I had hoped the current pandemic would help people realise that we are all in this together on the same planet, that it is better for everyone to work together rather than to fight.
>Life felt like it was suddenly zooming by (after leaving Antarctica)
I feel like right now in quarantine time is just flying by, I don't know really why this is, maybe its the fact that both me and my wife are extremely busy with our jobs while raising a toddler and no daycare makes every day seem the same/very busy with the weekend having little demarcation from the work week. Maybe if we weren't working and just sitting around this would be different. But it seems almost the opposite from what was mentioned.
> Because I was leading the expedition, I couldn’t have any physical contact with anyone else—zero. There were no handshakes, no flirting, and no hugs.
No handshakes? This behavior is so far outside the norm it's hard to believe her experience is in any way relevant to the general populace when it likely reflects her bizarrely anti-social approach to leadership. Apparently she gives lectures on leadership now? That is terrifying.
Also, as an avid alpinist, this is absolutely not the kind of person you want to be in a dangerous environment with, let alone be subordinate to. She refused to touch people and had apparently only seen the snow once before arriving in Antarctica.
"I couldn’t afford for a simple gesture of empathy, such as a hug or a placed hand on the shoulder, to be misinterpreted as a sign of romantic interest. It went against my natural desire not to comfort someone who was distraught with a big hug, but it’s what I had to do to maintain professional boundaries."
It is also a standard that she is clearly imposing on herself, which is what makes it so bizarre. She wasn't just conforming to some overbearing rule of the organization, she thought this was a necessary component of effective leadership. Which makes me question her judgement in general.
In my experience, I can be friendly, but I have to stay distant for safety (mine) and discipline (the whole crew).
I've only done a few casual sailing trips where everyone got nude as soon as we were out of sight of land and it was so cramped you'd have to be a contortionist not to touch anyone. A tanker ship or something would be vastly different, but it still seems like there would be plenty of situations, e,g, rough weather, where you need you need to be willing to touch other people. I doubt you'd get on a crab fishing vessel if other crew members refused to touch you.
The crew don't generally resent it - I'm friendly and approachable, just distant. I shut them down when they ask personal questions, but I listen if they want to talk about their problems. In a public area. With the door open. The rest of the time, I study, work, eat and sleep. It helps that I'm usually on 00:00-0600 & 12:00-18:00 watches, so I'm working during two meals and sleeping during the third.
Where there's a practical reason for physical contact, of course I touch people. Apart from anything else, I'm often the medical officer, but there's a difference between, "Help me with this mooring line," and, "I'm having a bad day, can I have a hug?" Even if I really could do with a hug.
And the types guys who do get in a huff about it? They're invariably the same personality types that make that rule necessary.
I'm also the default on-board IT support/education person, and I learn a lot here that helps me with that. I managed to get several computer-security-related changes pushed through a few ships back based on hackernews references.
A bit tangential: do you know of an open, or just inexpensive to use for brief periods, source of AIS data from satellites? I'm keeping an eye out for a boat (Evohe) returning, it would be great to have a few days of warning before they show up.
If you're interested in going to sea, it depends on your background. If you want to work in the deck department, the simplest sector to get into is yachting; if you've got an electronics background (electrician/electrical engineer), you can often get a reduction in the sea-time requirement to become an electro-technical officer (ETO). Since there's a severe shortage of ETOs at the moment, that would be the best option. If you just want to get to sea ASAP, cruise ships always need IT folk to keep things running (well, not during the pandemic, but in normal times), and I volunteer with Mercy Ships (mercyships.org) who also always need IT folk (and electricians, plumbers, cooks, etc.), even during the pandemic.
You can track AIS near base stations on https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/centerx:-12.0/cent...
If Evohe is a voluntary observing ship for the met bureau (many merchant ship are), you can track them deep-sea on https://sailwx.info/shiptrack/shiplocations.phtml based on their last report (6-hourly reports). I hope that helps.
But I've done at least one mountaineering expedition (recreational not professional) every year for the past 30 years, where our lives would have been on the line if we had incompetent people with us, even taking precautions there have still been a handful of questionable moments over the years. I've only done 3 long-haul type expeditions that were 4+ months. I also worked as a guide for 2 years back in my 20s on much less technical trips, but those were always the most dangerous because you have people you don't know who have varying skill levels and experience.
In my experience (other than the guide work) we never had a de facto leader unless one member was vastly more experienced in general or had more previous experience with a given region or specific route.
That's obviously different than being in a research station with a large group of people for a year. But I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable leading an expedition to Antarctica if I had only seen snow once before as was apparently the case with the author of this article. Also, on real expeditions (not just living in a research station) you are constantly touching other members of your group, it's absolutely necessary and there's no way around it.
I realize there are going to be differences between a research station gig and even a moderately technical alpine route, but this woman's approach just seems unreasonable.
There's a great book, Big Dead Place, which is the best window in to the USAP culture that I've come across. It's a bit dated, but I can assure you that the crazy sorts of things in that book still happen - it's shocking/beautiful that it works at all.
Sorry for the noise.
When the next pandemic comes - and it shall come - we must be better prepared.
Bud, it’s an isolated team in Antarctica. That’s pretty far outside the norm. It is extremely likely that no touching was a requirement of her employer.
Wait, what? I would love to get more details about that because that sentence (no matter the rest of the paragraph) makes it sound way too much World War I kind of cold leadership with no rational reason.
On the noise aspect of her isolation I think it's quite more nuanced than that IMHO. I've been to Antarctica too and I've been working alone from home for the last 5 years as well, and isolation during pandemics is nowhere similar to the isolation in Antarctica. The silence there is beautiful, not frightening. They are just different beasts and even the noise from the street outside is enough to break the monotony but not actually going out hurts more. I think she tried her best to be empathic but 1 year in the ice is much harsher, kudos to her.
A silly example (from the US program several years ago) - we had summer-season emergency response drills be completely derailed because the leads of the two main groups were a couple and had squabbled the night before - one had their people simply not show up. Never mind that these two people's main roles were exactly to be in charge, one was completely unqualified for that role, discipline/replacement would be relatively easy for either, and everyone knew what was going on.
So, I can see why the rules would stipulate that the leader can't become romantically involved with a crew member over winter. But of course rules like that have no teeth, so it's really up to the integrity and ability of the leader.
And i guess some people think a pat on the back is romance. ;) It seems easy to clear up any misunderstandings, but maybe it was because she was tempted?
Imagine a scenario like that emergency response drill, but where higher-ups took notice and decided to make a rule to prevent it from happening again. Since those higher-ups had authority over hiring both individuals, they're not likely to lay blame on the immature (to put it nicely) behaviour of the couple, but instead on the romantic relationship. How do they encode "station managers can't start dating crew members" in bureaucrat? So, a stupid rule gets added to the books, which doesn't really solve the problem, and upstanding managers have to pay attention to it forever more.
The sentence says "physical contact". You can be a warm, friendly and supportive leader without touching people.
>I couldn’t afford for a simple gesture of empathy, such as a hug or a placed hand on the shoulder, to be misinterpreted as a sign of romantic interest.
It's possible she was a little overcautious, but I certainly understand why she chose not to risk that someone might think either that she was attracted to them, or that she was involved with someone else.
Noise pollution is a huge, mostly overlooked problem in urbanized areas and is often thought to exceed the recommendations for residential areas with little room for easy remediation or enforcement. Many of us remember the days before leaf blowers took over and flooded the natural morning landscape with 100 dB in all directions, in areas that are still limited to 50-60 dB. The impact on human and non-human health is well known.
These two sentences don't go together very well.
She does go on to qualify it further: “As the youngest and only second female expedition leader at Davis Station”, but it still feels like a huge stretch in my opinion to consider that a year of isolation. How many leaders has Davis Station even had?
Why do some people have to always be looking for something to be offended or riled up about?