My South Pole Obsession: Unveiling the Quirky World Beneath the Ice

For most, the South Pole conjures images of desolate landscapes, bone-chilling temperatures, and perhaps a touch of penguin intrigue. But for me, it’s a place of captivating mystery, a hotbed of scientific discovery. The obsession with the polar regions, started from my MS thesis “Identification of Psychological Stressors for Long Duration Space Missions” and has been fueled by countless documentaries, research papers, and even a video titled “Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station Tour,” on Gone Venturing’s YouTube has led me down a rabbit hole of fascinating details (He is not the only person who has tours, but it was the first one I found).

The station is an elevated two story station which looks vaguely like a lego on it’s side.  There is a main hallway, with four hallways off the main hallway.  They are divided into two main sections (A and B) with four pods each (A1-A4, B1-B4).

(BTW If you have the “Wander” app on Oculus and tell it to take you to the South Pole, it will take you to the inside of the station and you can walk down the hallway and see into some of the rooms.)

A few years ago, Jason Michaud (Stardust Technologies) asked me to go through the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station Tour videos and list what they had so he could get some ideas for Serenity Station, his own space analog.  Since he never paid me for that or anything else that I did for him (to which he owes me several thousand dollars over the course of a few years), and I am now involved with a different space analog company who could likely use this research which I want to remove from my computer anyway, I figured I would post it here.

 

Anyway, here are the rooms/important areas that they have to allow the researchers not only to function but to thrive.

 

Runway for aircraft (obviously)

Main Station

  • Lounge (they have multiple lounges)
    B3 has projector, and small library
    B1 lounge (pool table, dart board, chess, mini kitchen, Foosball)
    B1 TV lounge (video games, huge dvd library)
  • Popcorn machine – what is movie night without popcorn?
  • Coat room
  • Music room (tuba, drums, guitars, cello, etc.)
  • “Big Gym” (ie whiffleball, tennis, basketball) – looks like a typical high school gym which also serves as party location and has a projector for movie nights
  • “Small gym” – overlooks the big gym and contains weights/treadmills/ etc
  • Display cases along the main hall – (they have former south pole toppers since they have to be replaced every so often)
  • Workshop / tools room
  • Main IT comms office – servers, radios
  • Smoking deck – (outside obviously)
  • Emergency power plant – Just in case everything goes to hell
  • Craft room
  • Table for things you don’t want anymore and don’t want to take back when you leave – think half empty shampoo bottles, etc.  (I’d probably just live on that stuff so I didn’t have to bring as much with me)
  • Quiet Reading Room (though it has a piano go figure)
  • Individual berth areas (small desk, small bed, small window, the bathrooms are shared)
  • Laundry room where you can do 1 load per week (I suppose they should invest in mostly merino wool clothing!  It’s designed for that!)
  • Greenhouse where they grow fresh fruits and vegetables hydroponically
  • Store to buy supplies/toiletries/booze/souvenirs (open 3 days a week)
  • Recycling and waste management – they are not kidding about recycling and waste management.  Everything that comes to the South Pole will leave the South Pole.
  • Sauna
  • Observation deck
  • Large conference room – can be used as a classroom too
  • Small Conference room – like 10 people maybe.
  • Administration/Offices
  • Normal communications room (as opposed to IT) / Flighttracking / Incident Command Center
  • Massage chair (in communications room)
  • Office Supply room (huge)
  • Science Lab (computer labs, meteorology department, fume hood, telescope, aurora cam)
  • Emergency Communications (ham radio)
  • Computer Lab including IT department
  • Photos of winter over crews along the hallway
  • Infirmary/Sickbay – includes dentist, trauma bay, ward area, and pharmacy)
  • Galley/Dining Room (includes coffee bar, community fridges, ice cream freezers, “left over fridge”)

 

Transition to the tunnels (they call it the “Beer Can”)

  • Logistics area
  • Main power plant
  • Water treatment plant
  • “Do not freeze” section
  • Freezable storage (usually food)
  • Elevator
  • Fuel arch
  • Vehicle Maintenance Facility
  • Carpenter / woodworking area
  • Machine shop (for welding, etc.)

As of Summer 2022.  If there are any updates please send me a message.

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Always look for a silver lining

Life can turn on a dime, or in my case, a gurney. One minute I’m lifting a 266 lb. patient on an unbalanced fully loaded stretcher at University Hospital, and then for some still as of yet unknown reason, the five nurses plus the unlicensed EMT at the foot of my stretcher decided to have a gravity malfunction and which meant nearly 400 lbs (patient, stretcher, 10+ bags of clothing, and the largest artificial leg I’ve ever seen in my life) came crashing down on me, courtesy of a gravity malfunction.  I could hear the crunch of my back as it gave way and felt the trickle of urine down as it ran down my leg.

The most common injury of all of EMS, a back injury, and one that I had successfully avoided for 7 years.  But as I would find, it wasn’t just a back injury, it was cauda equina syndrome, a rare medical emergency affecting the base of the spinal cord and one that workman’s comp did not want to cover in the least.  If it is not fixed within a few hours or days, it becomes a permanent condition with permanent issues with urination and bowel movements.

But amidst the bone bruises and physical therapy, something curious happened – I rediscovered the forgotten song in my soul, the one I’d silenced with sirens and sterile sheets.

Let’s rewind. 8 years in EMS, but 13 years in healthcare. Adrenaline fueled my veins. I loved helping people, but somewhere along the way, my own creative fire dimmed. Writing, the passion that once consumed me, became a dusty relic in the back of a mental drawer. Then, boom, 400 pounds of reality landed on me. And in the quiet hush of recovery, the whispers of that old dream crept back, louder than ever.  It’s not that I stopped writing, it’s that I changed what I was writing.  The reason I was still doing EMS was because I was putting myself through graduate school getting my MS in Psychology and then Covid hit so science, science, science.  Nothing about me or my experiences.

Suddenly, for over two years from Feb 16, 2022 to now, downtime wasn’t just “forced leave,” it was an unexpected residency program in Writeville.  Imagine the old phrase “write drunk, edit sober” but with prescription pain medications.

Due to the pain and the time I have with physical therapy, I have barely been able to do any other work, not even the hypnotherapy practice which I loved so much.  I can’t work elsewhere since I can barely move and the neighbour’s dog barking next to me (as well as the ones in back of me who keep jumping the fence at 2 am) and the harassment from the neighbour who insists on leaving fake reviews is destroying that business slowly.

Hours spent icing my swollen back and hurting hips became stolen moments for stolen chapters. The rhythmic drone of my heating pad morphed into the steady beat of a new story’s pulse.  Waiting for Frank to come help me to the bathroom since I couldn’t walk myself became moments for me to try to edit some grammar time and time again.

My physical therapy room, really my living room where I did physical therapy three or more hours a day until I could walk again, became my writer’s studio, filled not just with rubber bands and other, but with notebooks, plot twists, and characters bursting to life.

This wasn’t just some forced sabbatical; it was a serendipitous shove towards the life I’d nearly forgotten. Sure, I missed the camaraderie of my EMS crew. But in their place, a different adrenaline surged – the joy of crafting worlds, the thrill of breathing life into words. Every page turned was a victory lap, every finished chapter a bandage for the ache of what was lost.

And guess what? Writing didn’t diminish my recovery, it fueled it. The act of creation, of pouring my pent-up energy into writing both fiction and non-fiction, became a powerful form of therapy. My fiction characters grappled with their own challenges, mirroring my own struggles with pain and uncertainty. Writing became a way to process, to heal, to reclaim a sense of control while my non-fiction was finally telling my story.

During my down time, I published my non-fiction book which I had been working on for 10 years, and watched it win a Non-fiction Book Award.  I also published my first monologue in an anthology.  Of course, I have also had to say goodbye to 11 friends and family members in 14 months, everything from old age to suicide as well as dealing with all their legal issues.  Especially my grandmother’s.

Last week was my surgery at last, it took almost two years to get which included 1.5 hours in court litigation.  And I come out of the hospital to see fake reviews, on something I could not have reported because I was literally in the hospital under sedation.

Now, with my back on the mend (we hope) and my manuscript published, I see the accident not as a detour, but as a detour towards destiny. Sure, the path may have been unexpected, paved with ice packs and Percocet cocktails, but it led me back to who I truly am – a storyteller, a weaver of words, a chronicler of the human experience.

So, to my fellow injured souls, my brethren of workman’s comp, I say this: listen for the whispers in the quiet. Your injury may have sidelined you, but it may also be pointing you towards a hidden passion, a forgotten dream. Embrace the pause, the enforced quietude. See it as an opportunity to rewrite your story, not just your body. You never know what unexpected gems may surface when you let the dust settle and listen to the symphony of your own soul.

This experience hasn’t just healed my body, it’s healed my heart. It’s reminded me that life’s detours can be the most scenic routes, and that sometimes, the greatest silver lining comes wrapped in bandages and painkillers. So, grab your pen, your paintbrush, your instrument – whatever whispers to your soul. Let your injury be the catalyst, not the roadblock. This could be your chance to rewrite your story, one word, one brushstroke, one note at a time. Because sometimes, the best endings come after the unexpected falls.

Remember, fellow scribblers, even when life throws 400 pounds at you, there’s always a story waiting to be told. Go write yours.

Always look for a silver lining Read More »

Thankful for being able to help

This Thanksgiving and Black Friday, I am reminded consistently of how fortunate that I am in the position to help people with time and money and that I have the ability to do as much as I can.

In fact, sometimes I think this back injury and being forced to NOT be on the ambulance was a blessing because I was able to help more people and have a better attitude when doing so.  During the worst of Covid, I was working 24 hour shifts back-to-back for four months, while getting my MS degree might I add, then took a small break to work part time for two years which meant so much of my other parts of my life just… died.  Now with the sabbatical from EMS, I could work on the others while still using the ethic of hard work and my non-pandemic standard 12-48 hour shifts that I learned from EMS (and ok even 14+ hour shifts from theater) to do a lot of good.

Since the injury a year and a half ago, I’ve donated thousands of dollars from everything from arts education (mostly high school theater and stage management stuff) to things for the refugees from the war in Ukraine (mostly the organization my cousin Tirza was working with).  I have another $3K earmarked for the World War II Museum in New Orleans.  Most of that were my tzedakah payments that every Jew is required to make.  That’s an obligation.  I don’t know how many people I’ve helped but I am grateful that they allowed me to perform a mitzvah.

I also donated anywhere from 15 to 60 hours every week as a volunteer.  Mostly in either theater related or healthcare, but other things as they came up.  I certified almost 400 students in bleeding control, offered free acting classes and stage management courses.  If anyone needed anything, I tried to help. A few months ago I ended up with a dog who is in really bad shape and needs so much work (Sophie).  I also did so much crisis counseling.  Even on holidays.  Last night (yes Thanksgiving) and the night before, I was dealing with an autistic with self-esteem issues whose therapist was taking advantage of him.  He got several hours of free therapy and I think he had a breakthrough (well given he just dropped me a note when I was writing this confirming a huge breakthrough.)  I was NOT supposed to be doing counseling last night because I have so much stuff I have to do this week.  But I’m happy I could help him.

Of course, there are always people who like pretending I don’t do anything or have never heard of me, but surprisingly that only happens in Augusta.  Like I was just harassed by someone who works at Le Chat Noir (Maddy) which is the theater that is always on the verge of shutting down.  It’s the only one I haven’t worked for in any capacity because all they promote is burlesque which I am uncomfortable with as a respectful Jew as was my Augusta BFF Caitlin who was religious.  Instead they decided to say they don’t recognize my name (um… which one?  Facebook name?  Maiden name, married name, Hebrew name, nickname, initials, callsign, or stage name?  No one calls me by my Facebook first name but Adrian) and that I don’t know what I am talking about writing wise because my public posts are all kosher recipes.  People actually follow me for them, one day I want to assemble my own book to include them.

The harassment is because I said I had never heard of some writing competition that was formerly only open to local writers but now is open to internationally.  Please note, it says first annual in one place and 10th year somewhere else.  It’s either one or the other.  If you can’t advertise or market in such a way that the local writers groups know, that the local theaters know, that the media knows, and that the creative writing professors know, then you can’t blame the person.  They are complaining that my autobiographical accounts are fictional… could have fooled me since I have documentation on everything I’ve ever done and I am primarily a non-fiction writer.  As I find the documentation, I list into the correct section specifically so people can’t make wild claims about the things I do and do not do.  The amount of slander/libel that goes on in Augusta is the reason that people in general hate this town and the amount of hostility just makes people leave this area which I am really trying to do.

I’ve been very selective of my fiction attempts since I am a non-fiction writer and nearly everything I have written fiction wise was based on something I did when I was doing research.  I have a monologue, which I stole and shamelessly adapted from my time in the field learning about paranormal investigators (the paranormal tourism project from 2018), that will be published in a few weeks.  Two more that didn’t get picked up, but I might polish them and submit for next year.  The monologue is going to be performed in a few weeks in the UK somewhere.  So I am also thankful for that too.

One might ask why I focused on helping others as being thankful for despite no one believing what I do?  It’s not about what other people believe or don’t believe.  If you remember the MASH episode where Charles Winchester donates a fair amount of chocolate anonymously, that’s the meaning of charity.  Not to announce it on social media every time one can.

I also find it hard to be thankful for family when your child is a missing person and Augusta PD (well really Richmond County Sheriff since we don’t have a PD anymore) or that you’ve lost 11 people in 14 months including all three dogs, which is basically all the family you have.  The people I help are my surrogate family.

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Leaving Bacon Behind Press Release

New book “Leaving Bacon Behind” by Melvin S. Marsh is released, a nuanced, easy-to-read guide to converting to Judaism for people of all backgrounds

 

“Leaving Bacon Behind: a How-To Guide To Jewish Conversion” by Melvin S. Marsh has been released worldwide. This 171-page guidebook, which as achieved Amazon Bestseller status as #1 in the “Jewish Life” category, shares personal insights and practical advice for converting to Judaism in the modern world.

A self-described “Jew by choice,” Marsh offers a step-by-step path for becoming a part of the Jewish community – from initial exploration to finding a Rabbi, gaining necessary education to ultimately converting and adopting the faith as a part of daily life. The included appendices provide an in-depth overview of observances, holidays, terminology, recommended reading, and beyond, making this guidebook a valuable resource for anyone interested in conversion, or simply looking to learn more about the Jewish faith.

The author masterfully condenses the complexities of religious conversion and the storied history of Judaism into a digestible, even entertaining format. The book serves as both an entry point to conversion and a useful reference throughout the process.

Because of his own experiences, Marsh also includes a section of special considerations that include converting on a budget, potential backlash from family and friends, being a member of the LGBT community, kosher eating, rural living, and more. He tells his own story of discovery and conversion, showing readers that not every path toward Judaism looks the same, and providing valuable, personal context to the practical advice that fills each page.

This excellent guide to conversion tackles every aspect of the process, and does so with friendly honesty that supports readers throughout their journey.

Leaving Bacon Behind (ISBN: 9781960142894) can be purchased through retailers worldwide, including Barnes and Noble and Amazon. The paperback retails for $18.95, and the ebook retails for $8.95. Review copies and interviews are available upon request.

From the back cover:

Leaving Bacon Behind provides a comprehensive, easy-to-read guide for conversion that focuses on questions prospective Jews by Choice might have, including “Why should one convert to Judaism?” and “What happens after the conversion?”

This book is a direct result of the questions the author fielded during his time as a moderator in one of the largest Jewish-by-Choice internet communities and his own personal experience as a disabled transsexual Jew by Choice. This includes content discussed in Judaism conversion classes and live courses, as well as questions, comments, and feedback from prospective and successful Jews by Choice. No other book on Jewish conversion has incorporated widescale, peer-reviewed feedback from the target community.

As the author does not fit the stereotype of an able-bodied, middle-class, white heterosexual female converting for marriage, this book includes a section of additional considerations for converting on a budget, if one is LGBT, disabled, or non-white, if one is already married to a non-Jew, or if one already has children.Leaving Bacon Behind is sure to be a must-read conversion classic.

About the author:

Melvin S. Marsh earned a BS from Emory University, a MS from University of North Dakota, a MS from Georgia Southern University; has published articles in Nature Human Behaviour and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences among others; has been recognized for excellence in teaching, clinical work, research, and both acting and directing; and he is the author of Leaving Bacon Behind. His website is www.melsmarsh.com

About Manhattan Book Group:

Manhattan Book Group (“MBG”), located on Broadway in New York City, is a registered trade name of Mindstir Media LLC. MBG is widely known as a premier hybrid book publisher. We have combined the best of traditional publishing with the best of self-publishing to provide authors with the “best of both worlds” in a sense. To learn more about MBG, visit https://www.manhattanbookgroup.com/

Media Contact
Company Name: Manhattan Book Group
Contact Person: Jen McNabney
Phone: 212-634-7677
Address:447 Broadway 2nd Floor #354
City: New York
State: New York
Country: United States
Website: https://www.manhattanbookgroup.com/

Leaving Bacon Behind Press Release Read More »

You can’t please everyone I guess

Yesterday, I did my first public… well… anything in several years.  Between Covid and the back injury, I just don’t get around much anymore.

But a few weeks ago, I was invited to come up and do the Shabbat candle blessing at my synagogue because I published the book.  Given my injury, I had to make sure it was ok to even leave the town.  (I live in a relatively small city/large town with very little around so I have to tell my lawyer about almost every trip I make in the car and get approval.  It’s bonkers.)

I saw some old friends who I adore.  I found out one of my best shul friends, Gene, was promoted to the Board of Trustees.  I saw my favourite member of my beit din, Rabbi Brad.  (Mysterious Beit Din Member Number 3 for those of you who have read the book.)

Several people laughed at the title when it was announced.

Now one person was kind enough to say he was going to buy it for his… I think it was brother in law who was going to convert.  Which I really appreciated.  I didn’t get his name.  This was certainly the first time I knew it was going to go to a member of the target audience.  He will probably go Reform I am assuming so some of the book might not apply.

For every person who was interested in talking to me about the book, there was someone who criticized.

One of the people at the Oneg asked if I wrote a book about bacon (which she said with a sneer).  I told her it was about conversion, and then she said “We all EAT bacon or at least the majority of us.”  I had to remind her that she and whoever she thinks exists are hardly a majority and that I don’t.  Then snarkally said “Converts think they are better than us.”  I told her, “I get it… no one likes a convert.”  Her reply… “Welcome to the damn tribe.” I said I converted 11 years ago but thanks anyway and she stormed off.    People can be so mean.

She probably doesn’t even realize that Rabbi Brad doesn’t eat pork (he does eat shellfish but not pork).  And in Israel, even the secular Israelis don’t tend to eat it as you may not farm pigs on the land of Israel which makes pork challenging to come by.   So no, the majority of Jews do not eat pork.

Conversion, at least mine, took over 16 years to complete.  And my dear friend Gene was even longer, though I can’t remember how long, he finished two years after I did if I remember right.  Then it took the book 10 years to find a home.   I worked hard, and the least someone could do was say “Good Job.”

I’m sure she has not written a book, much less one which has been nominated for three awards so far in it’s one month of existence.  (Edit : And 2 hours after the post went live I found out I am on the best sellers list.  Jewish Life… kindle.)

I won’t let her bother me anymore I suppose.  However, I think this does prove my point for some of the mentions I make in the book about the discrimination from other Jews.  It is rough.

***

In tangentially related news, a handful of reviews have finally started to roll themselves in for the book.  So far all 5 stars, but the sample size is 2.  Either way, I really feel bad that I am celebrating the book while there is an Israel-Hamas war which started just after it finally was published.  I am, even here in Augusta, feeling the effects as my neighbour has already made multiple threats against me.

***

There is still no news as to the kid.

No news as to if my back will ever be repaired.  There is so much I could do if it was and my upcoming events is basically zero.  The author copies of the book weighed about 12 lbs for 20 books so if I bought 40 books it would be over my weight limit.  Very challenging.

You can’t please everyone I guess Read More »

Hello New Visitors

I just wanted to say a quick hello and introduction for all the people coming because of my new book Leaving Bacon Behind which you can buy anywhere.

My name is Melvin Marsh and I am originally from South Florida. I went to college in Georgia expecting to return to Florida, but even four years later, South Florida has priced me out from ever living there again. I can still hope I suppose. I currently live in Augusta, Georgia.

I’ve been pretty blessed to work in multiple areas in jobs that many people want, but very few people are lucky enough to pursue and I have tended to do them relatively parallel. I take great pride in the fact that with the extent of a work-study position in college, I have never worked in an office.

I primarily consider myself a researcher and project manager. I have a pretty extensive history in various forms of research, mostly in social sciences, which include being a human factors engineer and various other forms of psychologist and anthropologist. I’ve worked in a zoo, worked in the space industry, worked as a genealogist. I have several science degrees which make me happy.

I also have a pretty extensive entertainment industry career as my parents both worked in broadcasting (tv/radio production mostly) and their hobbies ALSO involved the entertainment industry (mom also had a theater history), so it is my second home. I’ve worked in radio, film, theater, TV, and various events in everything from acting to production. I also am a public speaker.

I also was working as an EMT as another part time job until my back injury which broke my back in several places due to a bad lift.

I’ve also, of course, because I am a project manager, have done a fair amount of business work. Ended up being president of some of the small companies and have been executive director of some non-profits.

Personally, and you probably know this if you know of “Leaving Bacon Behind”, I converted to Judaism. All proceeds from this book as well as pretty much all my money for anything, is going to try to locate missing University of Florida student, Teagan Hall. She was last seen 435 days ago.

Otherwise, I am transsexual. I am married to the same person I was before transition and conversion. There are three stepchildren and the aforementioned biological daughter who is missing. There is a cat and I usually have dogs, but the dog referenced in my acknowledgements of the book, Corky, passed away a month ago today so I am dogless (he was death 11 in 14 months) and I am hoping to adopt another dog soon and I have an application out at a sheepdog rescue and I am also looking at dogs with special needs. Hobbywise, I like to read, write, volunteer, and… well… work. Less than 12 hours a day gets me nervous. So 15-20 hours a week of volunteer work isn’t unusual for me.

If you want to get blog emails to your inbox, use the widget on the side. It is supposed to be double opt in to reduce spam. I have it set to deliver all blog posts for that week once a week. Not that I post most weeks.

Hello New Visitors Read More »

Sorry for the website / Author’s Update

I hired some one off Upwork to resign my website and he installed and then reset the website after I asked him to fix the security issues that his plugins created.  He also removed me from the administration of my own website and was incredibly patronizing.  I just hope I get a refund.  So we are back to the one I sketched out.  It might not be the fanciest, but I can do things a little at a time and I will be ok.

I did just receive the author’s copy of my new book “Leaving Bacon Behind” making this possibly a decent start to the new year (it arrived this afternoon / Tishrei 4).  This is 10 years in the making.  Still not up on amazon yet, but will be soon.  It will be available to order at all bookstores in the US.  Yes, even your favourite indie bookstore!

Sorry for the website / Author’s Update Read More »

A new beginning

It would seem that I now get to change this website a bit and hopefully attach my old domain to this because I finally was able to get my book published.

A book that started as a FAQ when I was moderating Facebook’s Jewish by Choice community before it was hacked by that Messianic Jew who kicked everyone out, and then expanded in National Novel Writing Month 2012 is finally about to come to light.

A book that has been workshopped half to death and has suffered through not one, but two publishing failures and one scammer.

Ten years later… “Leaving Bacon Behind” is finally leaving and going out into the world.

I just hope everyone enjoys it.

MSM

 

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