Friday, April 25, 2008

Chile time

Finally, back on stationary ground with green things growing in it. It´s nice to stretch my legs after the boat and non-aerobic nature of Palmer. I'm up in Puerto Varas at the moment, having stayed a few nights in Pucon, a definite tourist trap full of English speaking backpackers. I highly recommend learning some of the native language when visiting a country so that you can avoid such places. It also helps you not seem like a complete idiot, a persona I'm becoming comfortable with after some friendly locals (everyone´s friendly) at the bus station spend 15 minutes trying to explain to me that the calling card I'd just purchased was in fact a recharge card for the local cell phone company. Ahh well.

The national parks are beautiful around here and the bus system is cheap and reliable, though prices aren't much cheaper than the US (though that could be the tourist-town factor). I don´t think I´ll be able to upload pics till I get back on the 1st unless I find a power adapter for my hard drive in Santiago, where I'll be on the 29th and 30th.

Have fun everyone.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Almost off the boat

It's been a rocking and rolling few days on the boat. After getting a
much-deserved half-day of sleep, there's not much to do besides watch
movies, read, and sleep some more. Crossing the Drake wasn't terrible but
it sure wasn't smooth, so things like organizing papers and working at the
computer were good ways to make the one's stomach and thus the trip
miserable and thus avoided (by me at least).

One cool thing was that during the crossing I was hanging out on the
bridge and one of the mates who was on watch offered to teach me how to
steer the boat. He took it off autopilot and for the next 20 minutes I got
to try my hand at keeping us on course, a delicate task I discovered. The
waves, cross-wind, and our large mass conspire to amplify or nullify course
corrections seemingly at random. I have new respect for the autopilot which
does a far better job and doesn't get distracted or bored with miles of
endless ocean.

I did manage to read up a bit on Chile in general and Puerto Montt and
Pucon in particular since I'm planning on spending a few days up there.
Andy, our mechanic, has some pictures from when we went and it looks
beautiful. Pucon is a bit touristy, but I consider that an advantage at the
moment since my Spanish is almost non-existent.

Time to hit the hay which is considerably more stable now that we're in
the Magellan Straights. Night all.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Packing it up

Two days until the LMG leaves station with myself and most of the remaining summer crew onboard. It's down to crunch time, trying to finish up all the things that remain to be done, work-wise and personal. I'm looking forward to 4 days of relaxing on the boat as we travel across the Drake back to Punta Arenas in Chile. I'm planning to fly to Puerto Montt and bus up to Pucon in the Lake District for a week before heading back to Boulder. It'll be weird to see green things and people again. Alright, off to pack.

Here's a map of the Chilean area.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The tax man cometh

In the manner to which my professors had become accustomed, I've just finished my taxes. I just finished filing an electronic extension, since tracking down some of the paperwork from here is a bit tricky. With moving and job turn-over, April 15th snuck up on me this year so I'm happy that it's easy to do things electronically these days.

I'm also fervently hoping that the IT folks who run the systems at these companies actually have decent network security. A shiny website and a large corporate name do not a secure network make, and I've worked at big-name places myself that actually still use things like ftp that transmit usernames and passwords unencrypted. Oh well, paper's not an option down here.

In other news, Chuck, my office-mate, has uploaded the videos of glacier calving that he took out our window a few months ago. You can see them with descriptions on his website: Glacier Calving, or directly at Youtube: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Comments oops

I just realized I hadn't set the blog to allow comments from guests, the whole reason I switched over from my old vox blog. Whoops. If you wanted to post, go ahead a try now. If you have problems, let me know.

New(ish) pics up

I've uploaded a bunch of new pictures that I've been meaning to deal with for a while. You can see them all at:

Briefly, there are aerial photographs taken by aircraft from the HMS Endurance last year and the year before, a group of us helping out the bird researchers measuring the stomach-contents penguins (yes, part of the birders jobs is to make penguins barf). Also the same birders deftly fitting penguins with radio transmitters on Humbolt Island.

There are also pics of a nifty foggy boat ride, complete with leopard seal (the grizzly of the Antarctic as they say). Raydene and some Chilean navy pilots all in their flight suits (which I assume Raydene brought down for just such an occasion).

More to come soon...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Moving on out

Hmm, it's been a while since my last post. The season's drawing to a close with less than 2 weeks before the LMG arrives and carries the rest of the summer crew away. I've got a bunch of posts and pictures to upload before I leave, so I'll try to squeeze that into the next day or so.

It's weird getting ready to leave. Part of me was wishing for a change of pace months ago but the rest of me already misses this place. It wasn't until the new sysadmin arrived on the last boat that I realized with minor shock that the season really is almost over. The new crew is very cool, so they will hopefully have a good winter. My replacement brought a Wii so the station is finally ready for the impending apocalypse that will leave them in womb-like isolation while civilizations collapse and humanity is reduced to hunting mutated house pets in the smoking craters that were once our cities. Just wait.

There's a saying in the program (USAP): the first time you come down is for the adventure, the second is for the money, and the third is because you don't fit in anywhere else. This rings truer now that I'm considering whether to apply for another season. After 6 months the novelty has waned somewhat and I can see how one's realization that you'll have to _pay_ for things again, repeatedly explain that Antarctica is _south_, and live with the knowledge that just a few more seasons would pay for that house, operation, mail-order-bride, etc. would keep people coming back. I imagine it's a bit like being in the military: you're part of a small community with fairly specific skill-sets and division of labor, all your basic needs are taken care of, and the bureaucracy and inefficiencies of the organization as a whole are distressingly comical.

Moving on over

So, I'm going to try out Blogger/Blogspot since it allows guest comments and is more customizable than Vox. I'll be tweaking the look of this over the next few days.

Older posts will still be at (now

Edit (2010-09-10):
Vox is shutting down, so I've transferred the old posts over to
and pics are at

The layout's not as cool, so I may archive the site.