From the week of October 22, 2009

"Get Real," Joe Tone, October 15

Reality Bites

I'll bet you're sorry that you put Bachelor Mark Huebner on last week's cover when you could have held out for Richard Heene, the swingin' star of Wife Swap and Hey, Honey, I Floated the Kid. Who needs reality TV when you have reality? Or at least what passes for it in Colorado.

Joe Randall

Denver

Wow, this is one of the worst examples of media sellouts in history. You put that douchebag on the cover just 'cuz he brought you shitty pizza? Anyone who has ever spoken with this guy would know he belongs on reality TV. His penchant for scarves and hair gel runs deep.

Gary from Denver

Posted at westword.com

Where is Rachel Plencner (from Big Brother 6) on this list? I've never even heard of some of these people, but Rachel was part of the most popular season of Big Brother and one of the most popular alliances in reality TV history (the Sovereign 6). Her competitiveness and good nature definitely gave Colorado something to be proud of. It was her and her partner's (Howie Gordon) votes that tipped the scale to the winner that season, so she definitely deserves a place on your list...and in the Top 5, no less.

Deb from Dallas

Posted at westword.com

"Ice Capades," Jonathan Shikes, October 8

The Big Chill

I had the privilege of supporting the USAP at the South Pole Station this past summer season; I was employed as a contract network engineer for Raytheon. I was originally signed to a one-year contract for the South Pole, but had to leave after the summer season because of a medical issue. It was a great experience to be a part of that program, and the people that I met at both McMurdo and the Pole are some of the finest I have known. Although I regret not being able to complete my winter-over contract with Erin and the rest of the "Polies" I left behind, in retrospect I think a year in such isolation might have been a bit too ambitious for my first tour.

As far as Raytheon goes, other than having my winter contract terminated suddenly, overall I felt I was treated fairly. I worked in the IT department, consider myself a liberal, and can't recall any policies that I would consider over-restrictive. I think that sometimes you have staff that are not used to working for such a big company, and they find the politics, impersonality and administrative overhead that come with working for a company like that to be intimidating. In any event, I suspect that many of the decisions that impact day-to-day lives at the stations are probably more a function of the station commander than corporate policy.

Funny story: I'm on one of the last planes out of the South Pole. Normally, you fly straight from the South Pole to Christchurch, New Zealand, in the same day...but one of the C-17s had a mechanical problem and we had to spend the night at McMurdo. It just so happens that it was during a time that the station was "dry" (i.e,, no alcohol sales) due to a logistics ship that was in port for a few weeks. Apparently, this is normal practice for McMurdo, so everyone there stocks up before the dry spell. Unfortunately for those of us in transit from the pole, we were unprepared. So there you have it: I couldn't even celebrate the end of my tour with a beer! Luckily, we were out of there the next day. Just as well...the beer in Christchurch tasted much better.

P.S.: The bingo games at the Pole were epic!

Claude Clegg

Boulder

Your article on the bloggers is nothing new. Raytheon has a history of banning or censoring things they deem offensive or inappropriate in the workplace. But the Ice is not a traditional workplace, and management and HR have never learned to recognize that or deal effectively with it. Before I left for the Ice, I was told that once you cross the 60th parallel, all morality goes out the window — and you know, that is what makes it fun. We work ten-hour days with one day off a week. So people party hard to let off steam.

In the winter season of 2001, I decided to bring The Vagina Monologues down to the Ice. I had read online that it was a hit play and that they allowed groups to do it for charity. So I got the rights to put on the play and paid a minimal fee to produce it. I send out an e-mail to the women of McMurdo, falsely thinking that they all have vaginas — and got called to HR. Apparently someone was offended by my use of the word "vagina"; they considered it a dirty word and it was sexually harassing them. I was told we could not perform the play on the premises, nor could we say the word "vagina." I did not ask about "penis," but who knows about that one? The play went on at Scott Base, the Kiwi base, and since Raytheon lost face, they allowed it to take place in the library for one weekend only. We raised over $2,000 for orphans in New Zealand.

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