Sunday, January 13, 2008

Santa Gets the Cold Shoulder

Life can be lonely some times. Even lonelier when you're alone. Add to that, the stress from a demanding job. Let's also say that you were also chronically, uncomfortably cold. Throw in the holiday season and you've got the ingredients of severe ennui. If that weren't enough, imagine you were all the above AND suffering from cabin fever! Need some help putting this one together? Let's let the highly-educated, devoted staff and scientists on the remote Antarctic research stations demonstrate.

Remote, isolated, and frozen all year, Antarctica is arguably the most untouched and undisturbed region on the planet . . . until now. Apparently out in the middle of nowhere with nothing but snow, high winds, and the occasionally monotony-breaking (and bone-crushing) polar bear, even Ph.D.s can lose control now and then, painting the town red and the snow yellow.

It is reported that several Christmas parties at more than one research site good a little out of hand recently. A Santa Claus groped several female scientists. This was not even a Santa for "hire" but an "in-house" Santa, a fellow scientist. Perhaps the suit gave him the confidence he needed and just the right amount of anonymity he incorrectly thought he had to do something he'd probably been researching for some time. Maybe he just thought red suit gave him a green light to to be jolly. Whatever the motivation, the female gropees apparently did not appreciate the unsolicited stimulation, and likely retired to their private research closets for the remainder of the evening.

Another drunken researcher went on a wild joy-ride on a four-wheel-drive vehicle. How would even you spot a drunken driver in the frozen tundra? Would he be straying across the snow? Would he have hard time keeping in between the white? That would have fun to see. . . from the window of the research hut where the party was going on. "Hey, isn't that Dr. Johanasson out there on the snow cat? Yeah! Let's go put black oil on his microscope eye-piece before he gets back! He is sooooo owned!"

At one party, two individuals, brimming with all sorts of holiday cheer, resorted to violence. Punches flew, and a jaw was broken. Who knows what drunken scientists in Antarctica could have been fighting over at a Christmas Party? Maybe each of them wanted to be Santa Claus (who can blame them for wanting to wear the warm suit)? Maybe they didn't like their gift of "unlimited snow" from the other? Or perhaps they were fighting over who was prettier: Miss Antarctica or Mrs. Claus.

To be sure, is was the most disturbance Antarctica has probably seen in it history. Being good scientists, though, they will probably use the folly and the fall-out from their polar escapade as a valuable learning experience so that they don't repeat the same mistakes next year. But until then, it's back to the cold and lonely research.

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