Sunday, August 28, 2005
posted 8/28/2005 09:38:00 AM UTC+12, McMurdo Local Time

Decided to turn off comments on the journal today. Realized that a bunch of middle school kids from my mom's school are going to be reading this and there's no way for me to regulate what gets posted in the comments before they appear on the journal. Knowing how schools around here work, if anything questionable got posted here and some kid at school read it, there's a good chance that the school's internet access would get even more restriced, which I tend to think is a bad thing. That's all for now!

Saturday, August 27, 2005
posted 8/27/2005 05:30:00 PM UTC+12, McMurdo Local Time


Went for a walk down to my old highschool today to pick up a book on calculus from my former math teacher, Mrs. Blackburn. She's really cool and just gave me this brand new textbook on calculus so that I can hopefully teach myself some new math (but not New math) while down on The Ice. Thanks Mrs. Blackburn!

Today was pretty much the first time I've been back to the school since dropping out in March of 2003, so it was kind of neat to hang out and chat with some teachers I hadn't seen in a couple years. And it was fun playing the 'do you recognize me?' game since I look a bit different from how I did as a student :) Anyways, a couple different people at school today, and several others over the last couple years, have asked me how I manage to do all this crazy stuff. In a word - flexibility. I think that most of the 'how' type questions are aimed more at the financial 'how' though, so here are a few quick thoughts. Pretty simple stuff really, just takes some planning and practice.

First, it really helps to have some sort of a marketable skill so that you can get the money to work with. I happen to be a geek, and there are an awful lot of broken things out there for me to make money fixing. Sure, you can do this kind of thing with little or no income, but it's a lot harder than when you can bill at a hundred bucks an hour fixing computers or whatever (granted, when I was doing that regularly I was working for someone else and only getting a smallish percentage. Think the most I've billed solo was on the order of $60/hr.) And, you've got to keep the money you make. I don't own a car, subscribe to cable TV, eat out often, or buy anything that I don't need except occasionally outdoorsy play stuff to facilitate these adventures. This particular adventure is really nice because it pays me money!

Second, you've got to be really flexible. No kids, car payments, long leases, or pets (unless they can come along of course!) Some people manage to find flexible friends they can call on to take care of pets or house-sit, but that seems like a pain to me. Keep it simple!

Third, you need to find something fun to do. That part isn't too hard, just use your imagination! The Appalachian Trail was what got this whole thing really started for me. The AT was right in my back yard growing up, so the idea was one that had pretty much always been in the back of my head. There are plenty other long trails out there for walking or biking, all kinds of crazy job opportunities like what I'm doing or working up in Alaska. The Peace Corps is one of the more popular options out there, or there are plenty other aid groups. Or, just come up with your own crazy idea and go do it!

Finally, the big one. To do any of this stuff, you need to get ready for it and go! It's all just a mental game in the end, so there's not much anyone can do to help with this part-it's all in your head!

Friday, August 26, 2005
posted 8/26/2005 03:07:00 PM UTC+12, McMurdo Local Time

It's Christmas!

Clockwise, from top-left:Flower in the garden. Trouble, our family kitty. My photogenic pre-blogging snack. The new kicks I'll be discussing more in a minute.

Now that I'm back in civilization for a bit, it's time to get geared up for the next two stages in Ian's Grand Adventure 2005-06 (Antarctica, then New Zealand.) Since I've been at my mom's place in Berea, Kentucky my credit card has felt the pain of buying pretty much everything I'll need for The Ice that I didn't already have, and some of the NZ stuff. All that's left on my list is a leather saddle and pair of panniers for my bike, some warm climbing pants (essentially technical cut sweatpants,) and I'll probably break down and get some spandex bike shorts for the bike touring part of this whole thing. So, what's the new stuff?

  • Western Mountaineering Meltdown Jacket - for non-work related stuff in Antarctica, and whatever cold weather adventures follow in NZ and back in Colorado. Price: wholesale-$150 or so :)

  • Olympus C-755 digital camera. The link refers to the 750, which is the same thing except it comes with a remote control. Nice little 4MP, 10X optical zoom, lots of manual control digicam that can take AA batteries! The pics above are the result of me goofing around with it over the last couple days. Cat pic is a little blurry as I was hand holding it at high zoom, looks much sharper with a tripod at that kind of zoom. Price: $200 with rebates, about $80 in memory cards and case.

  • Boots - See bottom left picture. Wolverine Big Horn II insulated work boots. Gore Tex liner + 800g thinsulate ultra insulation + what appears to be good quality cow butt + thick cordura where it's not cow butt = heaviest boot I've ever owned. Price: $0, after I get reimbursed!

  • Muvo Micro 1Gb MP3 player. Cool little flash based MP3 player/FM tuner/voice recorder thingy from Creative Labs. Having some sort of music around is highly recommended on long plane flights, long bike rides, or pretty much long anything that doesn't involve conversation, and this is a compact and effective way to get it. Sound quality is great, except for a little high pitched hum when the EL backlight is on, but that's not too bad since it's only on when you're pushing buttons and a couple seconds later. Runs on a single AAA and works as a standard USB mass storage device, so it's pretty versatile. Price: $134 - hope I don't loose this thing somewhere!

So, I've basically been running around trying on boots, taking pictures, taking care of little remodeling stuff for my mom, and finding new music lately. Have also been nagging my guy at Raytheon trying to get my friend Molly a job on The Ice, but I think it's a tad late for that this season unfortunately. Can't hurt to try right? If anyone from RPSC happens to be reading this, let me know if you need a smart, tough, mechanically inclined, attractive, and really motivated girl for any sort of work at McMurdo this austral summer! That's all for now, will be updating this as soon as there's any new information!

Friday, August 19, 2005
posted 8/19/2005 07:28:00 AM UTC+12, McMurdo Local Time

Forgot to mention in that last post that I managed to run my dental reimbursement check through the wash while I was on the Colorado Trail. Long story, but here it is:

I got my check in the mail shortly before the CT adventure began, and didn't have a chance to deposit it at the bank until the day before I was going to leave. Since I was living in Longmont at the time, I was going to use an ATM to deposit the check rather than getting to my bank in Boulder. I endorsed the check at the ATM machine, went to deposit it, and for some reason the ATM didn't want to take my deposit. So, without thinking too much about it, I stuck the check in my wallet and planned on depositing it from the first ATM I ran into in a trail town. Easy enough right? Nope. In Leadville, Dirty Bird (my hiking partner at the time) and I stopped by a hostel to get a quick shower and do laundry before getting back on the trail. She got a shower first, and when I was getting mine she took my dirty clothes and tossed them in the wash without checking the pockets. So, my data book turned to confetti, my map got all nice and soft, and my wallet was soaked. Granted, I should have pulled that stuff out of my pockets, but I was more focused on getting clean at the time. The check came out in pretty rough shape. It was in two pieces, and a chunk of the routing number was gone so it was unusable. I dried out the chunks and let Scott know what was going on. To my surprise, that was the first time Scott had run across that problem, so he had to do some research and drop me an email back when he found out what to do. At the next town stop, I was unable to check my email, but on the one after that I had an email waiting with instructions on who to send the check to in order to get it replaced. Got the check mailed off and haven't heard anything back, so I'm assuming that's a good thing and continuing on with this getting ready stuff. Off to packing!

Ian's back from the hike!

So, after about a month living mostly in the woods, I finished up my little adventure on the Colorado Trail August 12th. I had a great time backpacking and just goofing off in the mountains, but it's kind of nice to be back in civilization now. Since the hike is over, my main focus is shifting back to Antarctica stuff and getting ready for messing around in New Zealand after that, so this blog should be getting active again!

While I was out, a letter from RPSC came in informing me of their work boot reimbursement program, which will let me get up to $150 back from the purchase of a pair of work boots for the ice. Here's a slightly edited excerpt from a couple emails I bounced back and forth with my boss at RPSC:

Are there any specific requirements regarding what kind of shoes I buy (steel toes, insulation, etc?) I've never had a problem with cold feet in regular heavy hiking/mountaineering boots as I tend to go with nice thick socks. Not a huge fan of steel toe boots either, but most of what I do outside doesn't involve heavy equipment so I can see where they might be nice. That said, I've been in some pretty cold/icy places, but probably not as extreme as Antarctica, so let me know what you think. Could I buy a pair of boots that costs more than $150 and just get reimbursed for $150 of the cost?

Boots are always tricky the first time people go down. We leave the requirements very loose so people can get what works best for them. Don't get hiking boots as they generally won't hold up that well in Antarctica. Get work boots with heavy lugged soles and at least 1,000 grams of thinsulate. Everyone has different views on how much insulation they want it ranges from a minimum of 1,000 on up. Also make sure they are more than 9" high for ankle protection. Do not get steel toes as you would freeze your toes off working outside. If the boots you buy are more than $150.00 you still need to submit the itemized receipt but you can only claim $150.00. Let me know if you have any more questions. I'm happy to help.

Scott's been really helpful through this whole process, I'm really glad to have someone to just toss random questions at from where ever I am and get a solid response back promptly!

Also, I'm very seriously considering taking my bike with me to New Zealand and leaving it there so that I can get around the country on wheels. RPSC books tickets to Christchurch through American Airlines/Quantas, so I gave them a call to ask about it earlier today and to my surprise found out that I could take my bike at no additional cost as long as it was one of my two checked bags! If it's not one of the two checked bags, it will cost an additional $88 dollars, which I think is a pretty reasonable deal. I'm pretty sure I can fit all my toys into a single duffel bag and the box with my bike, so that should work out smoothly. Going to see about getting a set of good panniers, a leather saddle, taillight setup, and a few odds and ends together and take it with me!