The following is an email thread regarding what has become known as The Great Egg Debacle (and which I first learned of in the Ice, White, and Blue blog
The Great Egg Debacle is this:
For many years, probably decades, a bunch of eggs have been flown down to Antarctica just before the stations close for the winter. The eggs are oiled, so they won't spoil, then refrigerated and rationed to the omelet-crazed over the course of the winter. But this year, things were different. The eggs, typically ordered from New Zealand, were determined unfit for American consumption because the dumb Kiwis don't have the same glorious and correct regulations as U.S. egg shuckers. So all the eggs were destroyed, and a tiny amount of replacement eggs were sent down, but it was determined that these eggs could not be oiled, so Antarcticans are this winter supposed to stuff their faces with quiches and scrambles for six weeks before all the eggs go bad.
This email thread follows the amazing bureaucratic drama of the eggs in question.
It may seem odd that I reprint the whole thread, because, in one sense, it's boring as shit. However, there are some worthwhile aspects.First
, in recent years, the Program Director has made a conscious effort to populate the US Antarctic Program with ex-military folks in management positions. This has caused all manner of conflicts, as by-the-book automatons attempt to reshape the slapdash polar base into Camp Anaconda. The Great Egg Debacle is just another example of this. The whole issue of the eggs' questionable safety under Military Egg Regulation 5.73.84 is indiscreetly bellowed across all channels by one of the newer military conscripts, for which the typical bed-wetting response by USAP management is fear followed by action. The following email thread exemplifies this comedy. To add even more delight, the new military guy, after bringing up a whole bunch of fears about the eggs, even admits, in classic military style, that he's just covering his ass:"I would prefer to have your decision on this. If you ask me for a recommendation, I can only recommend that product on-hand be discarded and not used, and orders be cancelled where possible. Considering that it's too late in the game to order anything else, if your office would like to take the risk of continued use of this for the current winter-over, it's got to be your decision."
And of course, after hearing this ominous bell toll, the Director of Supply is not going to put his ass in the sling! So he advises:"1. Discard all remaining (243 dozen) oiled shell eggs that are currently in Antarctica.
2. Purchase only unwashed shell eggs.
3. Inform contractor that they cannot wash or oil the unwashed eggs after they arrive in Antarctica.
4. Suspend use of pasteurized egg products except for any use that has a 250 degree or higher processing temperature, until further notice.
5. Starting next season purchase all pasteurized egg products from an approved U.S. source and ship on the resupply vessel."
In the ensuing snowball of ass-covering, your winter eggs have turned from rare and precious white orbs of delight into poisonous globes of dangerous liability.
In short, management has determined that fresh food is too dangerous for you.Second
, even if you don't want to read this thread, simply scroll down it real quick. See how much text there is. How much time people spent writing, responding, cc'ing, and developing "action points". You see this? This is simply about a bunch of eggs
. And this sort of exchange between numerous heads of departments, supervisors, and managers, occurs every single day
to make decisions in Antarctica. Even if it's about a bunch of eggs
. Science? Some. Exploration? A little. Bureaucracy? Now that's
what pays the bills. Third
, even in the most unconscious business matters, there are brilliant phrases and poetry, such as:"The kill temperature is 212 degrees Fahrenheit, which is too high for cooking eggs. Concern is clostridia."