Remote Work: Extreme Edition
We place a long-distance phone call to Antarctica to chat with Kathrin Mallot, an astrophysicist who works at the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in the South Pole. In this episode, Kathrin talks about preparing for a work assignment in a super remote part of the world; practicing self-care during the punishing Antarctic winter; getting along with coworkers that you also live with in close quarters; frozen nose hairs, snacks, Internet access, and more!
- The IceCube website - 00:46
- What is a neutrino? (Scientific American) - 1:13
- SNOLAB in Canada is an example of a neutrino observatory located in an old mine - 1:58
- When neutrons collide with other particles, a blue light is emitted. This is what IceCube detects. Read more about this blue light and IceCube in this article from the National Science Foundation - 2:13
- Emsisoft - 2:48
- Skynet satellite (and the other Skynet) - 4:38
- Mt. Erebus in Antarctica is the southernmost active volcano on the planet - 14:00
- The Thing (the 1982 version by John Carpenter) - 19:28
- The IceCube website has an entire section about living at the South Pole - 26:53
- The defibrillator scene in The Thing (Warning: VERY SCARY! And gross!) - 27:39
- The blood test scene in The Thing (Warning: ALSO VERY SCARY AND GROSS) - 27:50
The Full Transcript
[00:00:00] [Phone ring, followed by a click of someone picking up.
Kathrin: [00:00:04] Can you hear me?
Wailin: [00:00:05] Oh, hello, Kathrin.
Kathrin: [00:00:07] Hi.
Wailin: [00:00:08] Hi. Oh my gosh, I can hear you loud and clear, I’m so happy.
Kathrin: [00:00:11] That’s perfect. I was bit worried. The internet’s been very slow tonight.
Wailin: [00:00:15] I was worried too because I just thought, there’s a million things that could go wrong, but this is great. Thanks so much for making the time.
[00:00:22] I’m talking to Kathrin Mallot and you can tell the phone call is a little choppy. This is because she’s calling from Antarctica.
[00:00:30] Broken By Design by Clip Art plays.
Shaun: [00:00:30] Welcome to Rework, a podcast by Basecamp about the better way to work and run your business. I’m Shaun Hildner.
Wailin: [00:00:36] I’m Wailin Wong. And I will let our guest today introduce herself.
Kathrin: [00:00:43] My name is Kathrin Mallot. I am an astrophysicist, actually. I work for the IceCube collaboration which is a neutrino detector here at the South Pole.
Shaun: [00:00:51] Wailin, this story hits on a couple of my most nerdy interests. Mainly polar exploration and astrophysics. Actually, do you mind if we do a little physics lesson first to help explain what Kathrin’s doing at the South Pole?
Wailin: [00:01:03] I’m all ears, Professor Hildner.
Shaun: [00:01:06] Okay, the IceCube Neutrino Observatory is this big scientific experiment where Kathrin and her colleagues study these tiny sub-atomic particles called neutrinos. And by tiny, I mean really really tiny. Which makes them extremely hard to detect. The IceCube is basically about 5,000 light sensors arrayed over a cubic kilometer, sunk deep in the Antarctic ice.
Wailin: [00:01:26] Tell me more about these neutrinos.
Shaun: [00:01:28] So, violent cosmic events like exploding starts send neutrinos hurtling through space at essentially the speed of light. Some of those neutrinos are going to pass through the earth where scientists like Kathrin can study them.
Wailin: [00:01:40] And how come this has to be done in Antarctica?
Shaun: [00:01:43] So, I think this is the coolest part. Coolest. Anyway, to avoid interference from background radiation, neutrino detectors need to be buried deep underground. They also need some sort of transparent medium. Some detectors consist of enormous tanks of water that have been built in abandoned mines. IceCube, however, uses the thick, pure, and ultratransparent ice that’s found at the South Pole.
Wailin: [00:02:04] Oh, that’s clever.
Kathrin: [00:02:06] When a neutrino comes through the earth it starts interacting and will lose energy by emitting a light-blue light. A light-blue light is what we detect in our—in IceCube, so to say.
Shaun: [00:02:16] Those little flashes of blue light get picked up by IceCube’s optical sensors. By tracking which sensors trigger in which order, Kathrin and her colleagues can figure out the direction the neutrino was traveling, and how much energy it had.
[00:02:27] [School bell rings]
Shaun: [00:02:30] And, that’s the end of Shaun’s physics lesson. But, Wailin you didn’t land on this story because you were looking to unlock the secrets of the cosmos, were you?
Wailin: [00:02:37] No, that was just a bonus. But, I was introduced through Kathrin, actually, in a more round-about way. I’d gotten an email from someone doing PR for an anti-malware company called Emsisoft. They’re headquartered in New Zealand but have people working remotely all over the world, just like Basecamp. And the PR person mentioned they had an employee in Antarctica. I seized on that right away because I thought it would be neat to do a story about what it’s like to work not just remotely, but extremely remotely, from Antarctica.
Kathrin: [00:03:09] And I started working part-time for them because they needed someone that speaks foreign languages and I happened to know the ones that they were looking for. So that was really nice and when I applied here, actually, people told me that the internet here is so bad that there’s no way I could continue with my job. At the moment, this is not necessarily true, but we are not sure how much of the satellites that we currently have are going to be operational throughout the entire winter which is why we took the precaution of basically freezing my employment for the time that I’m working for IceCube, and probably go back to them once I finish up here.
Wailin: [00:03:49] So, what’s the risk with the satellite in the winter, and that starts pretty soon. You’re coming up on that season now?
Kathrin: [00:03:54] Yes. It doesn’t have directly to do with the winter. What’s happening is that all the science data that is currently being produced here is transmitted throughout a dedicated satellite. That satellite is only used for the science data, we don’t necessarily have access to any of its internet so to say.
Wailin: [00:04:15] But that science data satellite is reaching the end of its life.
Kathrin: [00:04:17] And they’ve been expecting it to crash into the atmosphere for a while now. And current forecasts say this might happen in April. If that happens, this nice satellite that we’re calling on at the moment will become a dedicated satellite for science data only and we will have to go back to Skynet, which is a great name for a satellite. And, that’s going to be the kind of internet where you have to wait a minute to open up a page. And then, actually working remotely is more or less unfeasible.
Wailin: [00:04:53] It’s funny because when I was going back and forth with the PR person about interviewing Kathrin, he told me that she had to stop working for Emsisoft because of bandwidth limitations. I’m using air quotes around “bandwidth limitations.” And at first, I thought that was an annoying corporate euphemism for getting laid off. But, as you heard Kathrin explain, it’s literal bandwidth. Kathrin and I were able to do an audio call because right now, where she is in the South Pole, they get four hours of good internet a day for personal stuff while the satellite passes overhead, and that four-hour window shifts by a few minutes each day. When Kathrin and I talked, it was 7 pm her time, and midnight my time. It took a non-zero amount of effort to coordinate this call and that gave me a very small taste of how Kathrin’s worklife in Antarctica is unique.
[00:05:43] This episode ended up being about what it’s like to live and work with a small group of people in very close proximity isolated from the rest of the world. It’s about self-care, and working calmly in extreme conditions, which is very Rework after all. So, let’s get back to Kathrin’s story. When she first heard about the opportunity to work at IceCube, she was early in her studies to get a PhD.
Kathrin: [00:06:06] PhDs take a long time. So, when I first heard about this opportunity, it was more of a dream. I didn’t actually expect it to come true. And as things progressed more and more of my friends from the university spent a year here and they all came back and they were all thrilled. They all said this has been the best time of their life. If I have the opportunity, I should definitely go. So, once I finished my PhD in Berlin, I applied directly. And they interviewed me but they didn’t pick me, and then I re-applied this year, and actually this year they picked me so, I’m really happy about that.
Wailin: [00:06:45] Can you talk about the kind of preparation you had to do? How much time did you have and were you given materials and resources about everything you needed to do before departing?
Kathrin: [00:06:59] So, the preparation is actually really thorough in case. The initial job interview was back in March and at that time, they did a lot of medical checks, because the medical coverage here is fairly limited, so they want to make sure that they really don’t have any pre-existing conditions. We were flown to Madison in Wisconsin in August 2018 and then we spent two months in Madison preparing for the job. They told us what kind of equipment we have here, what are the typical failure modes, what kind of fixes we can implement.
Wailin: [00:07:34] After the training in Wisconsin, the team was sent to Denver, Colorado for the next stage.
Kathrin: [00:07:39] And what happens there is that, one, we have a team-building event so that we get to know all the people that we will be spending a year with and the other thing is there’s a fairly small station in winter. So, a lot of the jobs that are usually done by other people have to be done by us. What happened in Denver is that we got a crash lessons in how to be a fire fighter, and I will be part of the official fire brigade for the winter.
Wailin: [00:08:03] Oh my goodness. So, what kind of training did you get to become a fire fighter?
Kathrin: [00:08:08] We did get to climb through burning houses. It was actually pretty cool. The first thing you need to learn is how to put on that gear correctly because if you put it on wrongly and you go into a fire, it’s going to be pretty bad.
Wailin: [00:08:22] Fire fighting is even trickier at the Pole because it’s too cold for water-based fire retardants.
Kathrin: [00:08:27] And we actually train once a week here at South Pole so that we can be prepared and then once a month we have a drill where we simulate a fire and we have to go in to fight that.
Wailin: [00:08:38] What kind of mental health assessment did they have to do? Because I imagine that’s just as important as the physical aspect.
Kathrin: [00:08:48] What is done is that actually during the team-building, we spend a week together for team-building and there’s a psychologist present during the entire week that more or less observes us and also teaches us how to cope with anger, or disagreement within the group. For, example, very extrovert person or very introvert person could have issues coping here. Because either he doesn’t find enough contact or he finds he cannot retreat himself enough from the people and get enough alone time. So, they’re looking for a very specific type of person.
Wailin: [00:09:22] Sure. Do you consider yourself more introverted or extroverted?
Kathrin: [00:09:26] That’s a really good question. I feel like I’m probably an introvert at heart but an extrovert in daily life. It’s very hard to explain. I do need my private time and I do go to my room and spend time by myself but I also really enjoy being out and spending time with the people here, actually.
Wailin: [00:09:49] That probably makes you ideal, then, because you’re kind of right down the middle and you can be in both scenarios.
Kathrin: [00:09:55] Yeah, I can only guess at that, but I kind of hope so.
Wailin: [00:09:59] What was the team-building like? I imagine it’s fairly important since you’re going to be in close quarters with this team for a long time.
Kathrin: [00:10:10] Yeah. It was a combination of more or less lectures, especially on how to cope with frustration, how to resolve conflict. How to vocalize disagreement because there’s a lot of cases where it’s the small things, and apparently this is a known issue here. Like, if you have so many people in a small room, towards the end of the year it’s the way he holds the spoon, it’s the way he chews potatoes… the small things that really get you going and really annoy you. And one of the things you need to learn is to recognize that this is really not a big deal and the other thing is to be able to vocalize and say, look, could you possibly hold the spoon differently, rather than just explode at some point and make the entire atmosphere awkward for everyone.
Wailin: [00:11:01] What were some of the tips you got about what to bring and not bring?
Kathrin: [00:11:05] We spend a lot of time inside and inside, I think it’s 65 degrees. I’m not sure. What you really need is clothing that is actually quite similar for when you’re inside the station and then we go out some very specific kind of thermal underwear to buy for when we have to be outside. And, the real trick everyone told me is layers, layers, layers. Like, don’t rely on one pant to save you. You want to have your long underwear and then you want to have a pant, and then you want to have a windbreaker.
Wailin: [00:11:37] You know, did you bring any sentimental mementos with you, things that reminded you of friends and family back home since you knew you weren’t going to see them for a year?
Kathrin: [00:11:49] Just because I am a nature fan, I made sure that I have big pictures and posters of trees and stuff that I can put up in my room and pretend to see some life rather than just snow. A lot of things I wouldn’t estimate crucial, I really think they will lighten up the mood. I got some—it’s called hair wax, where you can color strands of hair. And I feel like this—this is definitely not something that I must have but it’s been bringing me a lot of joy just to walk around with a strand of pink or blue or green hair every now and then. So, I’m happy I have it.
Wailin: [00:12:27] What did they tell you about how much you would be able to be outside versus inside?
Kathrin: [00:12:35] So, technically, I’m allowed to be outside as much as I want. Practically, it does get cold. It’s cold enough that you want to have your face covered and then if you’re wearing glasses what happens is you will breathe and the breath will go up into your glasses. They will fog and then the fog will freeze which kind of limits the time you can spend outside. But, especially now in summer, the sun’s up 24 hours a day. You nearly spend six to eight hours outside. In winter it’s harder because the temperatures drop a lot and it gets really cold, and then you get to the limit of what your clothing can actually do. But still, especially when the aurora’s out, people do spend a lot of time outside. So, yeah, last year’s winter-over told me that he was actually outside every day because he liked being outside.
Wailin: [00:13:25] What was it like when you first landed? You landed first in McMurdo, right? Before you went to the IceCube?
Kathrin: [00:13:31] Yes.
Wailin: [00:13:31] And what was it like to step off the plane?
Kathrin: [00:13:34] It was really surreal, so you do not fly with normal airplanes but with a military plane. They actually don’t really have windows so you’re kind of blind to where you’re getting and where you’re landing. And landing there, and I’m getting off the plane and seeing the ice, but also there’s big mountains in McMurdo that you can see, and especially Erebus which is the active volcano. That was really, really cool, and it was very different from what I then later on would see at South Pole because Pole is completely flat. It’s a big, white, flat surface. So, the change from McMurdo to South Pole for me was much more surreal than the change I got from New Zealand to McMurdo. Because, McMurdo, you can see mountains, you can see some rocks. It looks like a snow-covered countryside except that it’s missing living plants and stuff.
Wailin: [00:14:38] When you felt that cold for the first time, did it feel really different? Is there a specific cold you now associate with the South Pole?
Kathrin: [00:14:47] Yes. It’s like, it’s a funny feeling when the hair in your nose freezes. And it is. And that is something I had never experienced anywhere else before.
Wailin: [00:14:56] Let me ask you, how do you organize your workday? It sounds like you’re fairly flexible, and it sounds like you’re allowed to go outside for as long as you feel comfortable and the conditions cooperate, and you also have a lot of research you have to get done. And you have to be a fire fighter and you have a lot of responsibilities. How does your day usually unfold?
Kathrin: [00:15:16] I guess it comes down to priorities basically. Everyone agrees that if there is a fire emergency or fire fighting training, that takes precedence. And then when I have normal work day now in summer, it basically means that I am here to support the scientists that are currently here. In winter what it’s going to be is it’s like, I will be getting up and and I need to be monitoring the experiment. I need to make sure that everything’s running smoothly. And, if something goes wrong, I get paged and then I have to be really fast to get to a computer as quickly as possible and fix that. And when I say I, I actually mean we. So, we’re two people doing the same job and we basically alternate on a weekly basis the page system so that we can sure that we may be able to sleep at least every second week.
Wailin: [00:16:04] Is it hard when there’s so much sunlight to kind of figure out a natural rhythm for when your day begins and ends and how to draw a line between the work day and when you’re off the clock?
Kathrin: [00:16:16] It kind of is, yes. I know that for the first month and a half I would be baffled when I looked outside and like, oh it’s bright! Oh, it’s not that late. I would look at the clock, it’s 11 pm, and I’m like, why?
Wailin: [00:16:30] When you’re there in the IceCube, you had mentioned kind of what the IceCube itself looks like, and then are there buildings attached to it where you’re living and taking your meals and that sort of thing. Or, do you have to go outside to go to those buildings?
Kathrin: [00:16:42] So, IceCube itself is a dedicated building which is about half a mile away from the general station. And then the general station hosts almost everything else. We also have a work area here so unless we have physical failure inside the hardware we don’t necessarily need to go. We have a music room. We have a crafts room, and a reading library. Oh, and a movie room as well. Because also we have communal showers and bathrooms and the rooms are really, really small.
Wailin: [00:17:18] Do you have your own room, or do you have to share?
Kathrin: [00:17:19] This is one of the luxuries of South Pole, this is for instance not the case in McMurdo. Here, everyone has their own room, which is really nice if you want to have some private you time.
Wailin: [00:17:31] I mean, that’s kind of an interesting aspect, I imagine of this assignment, right, is that you are living in very close proximity with your coworkers which is not the case for most folks, right?
Kathrin: [00:17:41] Yeah. It’s definitely interesting in the sense that you get to know them a lot better than you would usually do. On the other hand a lot of the work is very segmented so I have—I mean, I share a room with the other scientists but, for example, the carpenters, I rarely see at work because they work so far away from where work that we only cross ways at lunch and at dinner.
Wailin: [00:18:08] Are there team-building activities that continue to take place while you’re all there, just to kind of, you know, keep the bonds going?
Kathrin: [00:18:17] Yes. So, we’re actually going to have a second dedicated team-building session on the ice with everyone who is going to spend the winter present. And then what we—we have, like, hands-on meetings where we can meet and just bring up all the issues that might cause tension and hopefully resolve them before they cause tensions.
Wailin: [00:18:39] What kind of preparation are you going to do for the winter when the sun goes down and is not going to come up for many, many months?
Kathrin: [00:18:46] So, one of the big preparations for doing it at the moment is we’re digging out all the buildings. There’s a lot of snow drift over the winter. The other thing is everyone’s going to leave. So, by February 15th, all the people that only spend the summer here will have left and we will only be the 42 people that spend the winter here. Around 42, the final number is not quite sure. And then there’s—there has been a very long tradition of watching The Thing when station closes. So, the first thing that’s gonna happen is probably that movie.
Wailin: [00:19:20] Have you seen The Thing before or will this be your first time?
Kathrin: [00:19:24] This will actually be my first time, so I’m quite excited for it.
The Thing Clip: [00:19:27] Childs: Fire’s got the temperature up all over the camp. It won’t last long, though.
MacReady: Neither will we.
Childs: How will we make it?
MacReady: Maybe we shouldn’t.
Wailin: [00:19:49] Besides the physical preparation and logistics that you have to do for the winter, is there kind of any emotional and mental preparation they give you, since you know, you’re not going to get that exposure to light and it’s going to be potentially it’s going to feel more isolating?
Kathrin: [00:20:05] Yeah, there’s a couple of things you do, like we actually can get mail down here, so if, among the people that spend the winter, is that they get a mid-winter package. These are packages that are packed by people that know you and they send them down and you open them only on June 21st when it’s the mid of winter. So, you get something new and exciting in the mid of winter to make the wait until the station reopening a little shorter. I don’t know what’s in my package, obviously, because I haven’t opened it yet. But I would suspect it’s going to be some crisps, or like, your favorite sweets or something. Because what happens is, we get all our food provided for and it’s actually really good food. But, you will end up eating the same thing over and over again. And we always have cookies out, for example, at the station. It’s mostly Oreos, and once you’ve eating Oreos for three months you want something different, so a wafer becomes super exciting.
Wailin: [00:21:04] Do you get a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables? Are they kind of all flown in at the beginning of the season and kept frozen or somehow kept fresh?
Kathrin: [00:21:15] So, I saw an apple today. I was really excited. We get fresh food in occasionally. This year has been complicated due to weather and other things, the flights haven’t been as frequent as they would normally be. Probably we haven’t had fresh vegetables maybe since Christmas and before that since the end of November, roughly. But, I do absolutely expect that they will make an effort to bring things in before the station closes so that we do have some fresh fruit at the beginning of our winter. And then, we actually get to entertain a greenhouse here, so we will be able to grow salads.
Wailin: [00:21:52] Are there aspects of life on the South Pole that have really surprised you in how much you’ve enjoyed them or how special they are versus what life is like back home?
Kathrin: [00:22:04] A lot of the things become insanely easy here. I actually noticed this in particular when going back to McMurdo since my workplace, the gym, my room, the galley are all within two minutes walking distance, you save an insane amount of time on commuting. And, I’ve been a lot more active here because I mean, the people motivate you to go and work out are the people you spend dinner with and you usually don’t have a good excuse at dinner not to join them. So, I’ve been fairly active here which has been really nice. We have a volleyball group that’s actually playing right now. We have a basketball group that’s playing on Mondays. We have Dodgeball on [inaudible] that I’ve never participated in. We have a climbing wall, which is really cool. We have a badminton set-up for Sundays.
[00:22:56] They’ve come to realize that one of the important things is ways to occupy yourself in winter because we don’t work 24 a day, and if you work eight hours a day, that leaves 16 hours where you have nothing to do. If you sit in darkness, it can get depressing very fast. So, they have put a very strong emphasis on opportunities to keep yourself busy, and this is why we have the gym and the crafts room. And the movie room. So that we can spend time together.
[00:23:25] I talked to someone who’s been wintering for a long time just recently, and he said it’s been—he’s actually really disappointed about the internet now. What happens is that everyone after dinner just goes to their room to go on the internet and there’s actually very little communal activity compared to 10, 15, 20 years ago when there was really nothing else to do. And then they would do things together. So, it’s gonna change though because the satellite doesn’t come up every day at the same time. It comes up four minutes earlier every day which means that by March or April, the satellite will be down by 6 pm. At which point, there might be more interest in doing other stuff.
Wailin: [00:24:04] I mean, it might be too early to say, but, do you picture yourself ever going back to a traditional job where you’re commuting to an office every day, or do you think that it’s kind of ruined you for the traditional office setting?
Kathrin: [00:24:20] I think what’s gonna happen… Like, I came here and I was really sure that once I finished this job, I would go back to Germany. I would look for a fixed job in an office and I would be very happy, just settle down and build a life. And I’ve already slowly shifted towards, well, I could [inaudible] with three months of traveling and then go back. So, it’s very flexible in that sense. I’m pretty sure at some point I will go back to Europe because my entire family is there and all my friends are there. And I miss them, so. I want to be back.
Wailin: [00:24:58] Is there a possibility of returning to the IceCube? Are there people who do kind of repeat tours? I don’t know if you have to re-apply kind of every year? But is there a possibility that you could come back if you liked it enough?
Kathrin: [00:25:09] Yeah, you would have to re-apply and there have been people who have done more than one tour. I think none have done more than two tours. What is also very common, that I only learned here, is people working the winter here at South Pole and then doing the summer in Alaska. And it seems like these communities are very intertwined, which surprised me, as well. I didn’t expect there to be so much exchange between those two places.
Wailin: [00:25:38] I mean, it must just be the most intense bonding experience, kind of, sharing this time with the colleagues that you have. It’s just—I can’t imagine what that’s like. It must be incredibly bonding.
Kathrin: [00:25:50] It is great. Especially because you go through team building and you come out with a bunch of friends. And, I mean, not everyone’s going to be a close friend at the end of the year. Actually, from what I’ve heard, no one’s going to be your friend at the end of the year, once you’re off the ice, you do realize that that spoons thing was really not a big deal and then you can talk to each other again. I have heard of stories of people that would not talk to each other at Pole and already when they were landing at McMurdo, they realized they were both being total dickheads and the reconciliated in McMurdo before they made it off Antarctica. So, it does [inaudible] you, but it will also make you fuse together more.
[00:26:30] Broken By Design by Clip Art plays.
Shaun: [00:26:35] Rework is produced by Wailin Wong and me, Shaun Hildner. Our theme music is Broken By Design by Clip Art.
Wailin: [00:26:41] Thanks to Brent Calla [sp?] for his help with this story. We’ll post show notes with links to the IceCube website at rework.fm so you can nerd out about neutrinos if you want and see some photos of life at the South Pole.
Shaun: [00:27:04] What is your favorite scene in The Thing?
Wailin: [00:27:09] Um, my favorite scene… I… well, I watched most of it with my hand covering my face, so the only scenes I really saw were of Kurt Russell pulling on a leather jacket to run outside without zipping it because apparently that is all you need in the South Pole.
Shaun: [00:27:28] That’s amazing.
Wailin: [00:27:30] Um, no, I like the part—
Shaun: [00:27:31] You didn’t see the little head run away?
Wailin: [00:27:32] I think I did see that because I didn’t look…
Shaun: [00:27:36] Or the defibrillators and it goes, and the guy’s stomach opens up and eats the—[crosstalk] hands off?
Wailin: [00:27:40] That was um, that was really scary.
Shaun: [00:27:41] Oh God, I love that movie so much.
Wailin: [00:27:42] That was really scary. Okay, actually, I mean, legit my favorite part is that really tense scene when they have—what do they do with that needle? No, it’s an electrified needle or something and they’re—
Shaun: [00:27:54] I think they just heat up a piece of wire to like, burn the blood.
Wailin: [00:27:57] Yeah, and they’re like, sticking it into these individual petri dishes of blood, and it’s so—
Shaun: [00:28:02] While everyone’s tied to the couch. Ugh.
Wailin: [00:28:04] It’s so tense. And then like, those two guys on the couch are trying to get away from the—yeah.
Shaun: [00:28:12] —from the guy who’s changing? Yeah.
Wailin: [00:28:14] And they look genuinely hysterical. Did I tell you that I only saw The Thing for the first time over the holidays?
Shaun: [00:28:19] You did.
Wailin: [00:28:20] Yeah. And, um. I think we already probably discussed this, but first of all. I did not realize until the end of the movie that one of the characters was named Windows. I thought that every time they said Windows that it was Kurt Russell ordering people to check the windows. I was really confused.
Shaun: [00:28:41] We have this tradition, I think it started in college where the first snowfall in Chicago. Not even the first GD week of winter, as they say in the movie. The first snowfall in Chicago, we open up the windows, put on our big winter jackets for the first time, and watch The Thing.
Wailin: [00:28:58] You open the windows, too?
Shaun: [00:29:00] Yeah, it has to be cold in the living room, you know.
Wailin: [00:29:02] So, you’re talking about a person named Windows, you’re friends with, or windows.
Shaun: [00:29:04] No, these are sort of the glass things you can open from your apartment.
Wailin: [00:29:08] Thank you for clarifying.
Shaun: [00:29:11] All right. I think that’s good for Thing Talk. This has been Thing Talk. With Thing 1 and Thing 2.
Wailin: [00:29:18] That’s good.