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Taking Time in Tokyo

Well, sitting here enjoying the Asahi “beer machine” in the NWA lounge at Tokyo Narita airport, waiting yet again for another connection to somewhere.  Looks like Honolulu this time…. tsukarata desu! (I’m tired)

After reading through a number friends’ blogs, I happen to remember that I started something similar a year ago, I think I have managed 7 posts since then.  Guess I am not that intertwined with a digital lifestyle though I have been making more calls on Skype, really good rates compared to the hotel and I can never remember my calling card info.  Call me crazy but there are other things that I would enjoy doing other than sitting in front of the computer, seriously missing the bike after reading another post from the Lyon’s Redstone Cyclery blog. Death March Dave rides again…..

Oh, yeah…. in Tokyo, was in Okinawa for a week doing some audits at a number of the military installations.  Seriously need to get fingerprinted for my access card, tired of having to get in and out of those tiny little cars every bloody time, not mention the 20 year old at the gate weidling some chest mounted CQB automatic.  Did not get out much at all thanks to Typhoon Sinlaku. We were supposed to get nailed, then it shifted and left us with drenching rains, so much for sight seeing but made for some nice runs to cool off after work (mental and physical).  Really americanized so not the “Karate Kid 2” expereince that I was hoping for (minus the girl and a fight to the death) culturally.  I did get adopted briefly by a bunch of locals who work on base who were at the sushi joint just off base.  Forgot how drunk and touchy-feely they get but thats the Japanese… be forewarned!

Just got word, most likely South Korea for November.  “All of it?”  “Ummm…yes dear.” “We’re never going to get pregnant.”  At least thats how the conversation is playing out in my mind and the anticipated comments to bear.  We shall see.

No real pics this trip other than some documented work photos.  Perhaps one of the Japanese construction people in the hakama style work pants….

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Moved on…Sort of

Well, Not with Raytheon Polar anymore.  I had a chance to go work with CH2M Hill in their Govt Facilities and Infrastructure group.  Lateral move but has tons of opportunity to expand, especially travel.  Odd thing is that right now I am sitting At Summit Camp on the Greenland icecap.  Guess its hard to escape.  At least I am not a stranger to these folks, 8 other folks from down South are up here “chasing summer”….. sure thing Jake.

Thinking of changing the blog a bit to more towards Matt’s suggested of tagging me with a GPS Chip and starting “Where the heck is Ryan this time?”  We shall see.  Till then, some pics of Greenland and Summit.

Laters – Ryan

Greenland Locals

Greenland LocalsMusk Ox Crossing

Ice Crystals

Ice Crystals

The Big House

The Big House

Updates…

Self Portrait

Finally had an evening where I was not needing to crank out or review a stack documents (mucho thanks to whomever decided to cancel the conference call).

Popped the top on a new favorite, Monteith’s Honey Spiced Summer Ale (has a good ginger bite!) and set into pulling up the massive vacation files. I shot mostly on Fine setting so pics are 4.5 MB each. Some I did in RAW in hopes of rescuing some fortunate timing shots with some color control. Time to knock copies of ’em down in size so they will actually load. Vacation is a heck of time to try and learn a new camera (Nikon D40X), still struggling with some washouts with the Antarctic ice and snow, getting there but not fast enough. Getting a bit nervous, just remembered that my sister asked if i would shoot some pics of her wedding weekend this Labour Day weekend in Ouray. As they say, practice!

Anyhoo…. updated the photos in the web gallery – link on the photo tab. New floral pics in the Christchurch file. One of these days I will be up early or late enough to catch some of the softer light. I always seem to find myself cussing the mid-day sun. That and become proficient at blogging; going to follow Matt’s lead and try the photoblogger to to inspire what creative juices I might have. I thought it would be a nice “fast way” to communicate to the masses (thanks Mom) but the connection here with 1146 people on a T1 line is a bit of a practice in patience. The Navy Longshoremen are finally working so that frees up some of the heavy users from the past week.

Station is winding down, air turned harsh(er) with the arrival of the Supply vessel, heralding the end of another frantic season on the ice. Here is to the frickin’ end of season….

See all y’all in a few weeks time.

US Navy Truck

Back at it again

So here I am, sitting in my chilly office, hands half numb and the backhoe scratching away at frozen rock literally outside the back door. **sigh….. Yep, back in MCM after an incredible time with Jules in New Zealand. (see pictures from the photo tab) Small price to pay I guess for not having to pay for my plane ticket.

Looking back at my blog, I realize what time has passed since I have done anything with it other than the photos. Perhaps it is the mis-content of being on the ice, the same politics, the end of season weariness that seems to push thoughts astray at this time of year; etc etc etc. Even more so now upon my return. Perhaps its getting time for me to up and move; not quite sure yet. Money is good for just a BS education (and they pulled tuition assistance in prep for handing over the contract), office with a window, just bought a house, paid off the truck but then I think about where my heart is wanting to be. Sure as hell not here!! Finally find myself not in a position where I can move as freely as I was once used too. There comes a point… just have not found a safe place to jump to. Wind Energy possibilites are coming around…. Budweiser is looking for an EH&S Mgr. in Ft. Collins. (yeah, I know some of you might wince but they have the environmental and occupational stewardship that I have come to know)

In happier notes, some good ice friends have become engaged while here. Pic of Karen and Tighe (Ty – the happy couple) and myself the other evening. Still sunny and in the mid +20’s, it was Saturday night and I was still trying to figure out how to not wash out photographs with the sky and ice. mcm-friends.jpg

Lastly, great friends Matt and Julie Artz ( http://www.chezartz.com) continually inspire me to expand my thoughts and worries outside of the ice and home. Julie recently posted a link to a music video based on a speech by Barack Obama. Never in my life have I really given 2 cents towards politics but this, this video lifted my eyes and had my attention….something, someone that I actually have a hope in that can make a change. Perhaps its generational appeal or the the choice of media exposure, it made a difference….yes, we can.

Janitor Bingo!!!

Zach Drilling

Seal and Diver 

Hagglund and Apple 

Hoi!  Exciting times are to be had at MCM station these days.  The other night was janitor bingo and let me tell you…. darn near a riot for the last and final prize.  What could that item be?  Freshies? Naw…getting those now.  A ticket out of here? Nope…who wants to leave this paradise.  Think hard….. well, hard had a notion of a hint to it.  Give up?  Charmin ultra soft TP and not just a roll; a whole 12 pack!  Oh what heaven that must be to be a “Distinguished Visitor” down here and receive your own special package of the comforts of home.  While the rest of us get stuck with single ply cardboard on a roll, our one trip wonders relish in the pure plushness of Charmin.  Curse the man who came as a mummy a few Halloweens ago as to the oblivion of what his costume meant to the rest of us.

Sigh, well…that sums up the fervor of the week.  I was ecstatic to finally get our Coordinator in to aid in the myriad of duties that I currently keep the hubcaps on for but find myself somewhat back in the hole with the loss of my South Pole person not able to come down.  The MCM Coordinator got a rare treat in that she now gets time at the South Pole. (yes… its very rare to get to Pole if you were originally a McMurdoite. Back to square one but I did feel like I got past “GO” and recieved great work out of her for the short week that she was in MCM.  The trials of personnel management.

Photos for the week:  1)Sea Ice training for those that have the opportunity to travel off of our established roads.  Given that we travel on frozen sea ice, we must be able to profile cracks as we find them in order to know how big they really are and if they are safe enough to drive over.  Zach is shown here drilling to find the final depth to the ocean below. 2) A hagglund hauling an emergency shelter out onto the sea ice.  Mt Erebus in the background (smoking volcano) and the shelters are aptly nicknamed “Apples”.  3) A diver waits for a seal to leave the dive hole so they can dive.  Antarctic Conservation laws prohibit us from interfering with wildlife behavior, even if they decide to take a nap in one of our man-drilled dive holes.

 That’s the news from way down under.  Last sunset this weekend.

Laters,

Ryan

Smiley Face

C-17 and Erebus

Snowed in Loo

So I go to take a shower and notice the shower curtain is not swinging open.  A good-n-hard early morning dis-gruntled yank breaks the curtain free only to reveal that last night’s shower splash has frozen into little droplets.  I stop to listen and yes, I can hear the flagging flapping in the wind outside the window.  With hopes that the pipe is also not frozen, I blast the floor with hot water from the shower head.  Ahhhh….now I can start my morning.

So Mainbody is here.  The galley is a source of stress for some of us who had grown accustomed to the easy pace of WINFLY.  We have gone from “which table do I want to sit at” to “is there space anywhere?!?”  Thankfully the time seems to be screaming by.  Its a lot like Bill Murray’s Groundhogs Day; Same people asking the same questions with the same answers; usually “….No” and the Galley food is back on rotation.  Saturday night is Italian night and every 13 days its Basque Chicken and Tuna Melts.  Think this year I am losing weight out of sheer boredom.

http://thistle.org/pcam is a link for a “penguin cam” that you might be able to catch some “live penguin action” on as the penguins return to the rookery near the hut.

In other Antarctic factoid, our annual sea ice runway is 74″ thick.  It can support the C-17 fully loaded (519,000 lbs) and still have 60,000 to spare.  This means we can get more cargo on per flight which is a good cost savings and means there is more opportunity for the mail and freshies! Waiting to sink my teeth into an apple!

That’s the scoop from la-la land today….. Cheers!

Environmental Boondoggle

Mt. Erebus and Castle Rock

Kodiak Snow Blowers

Sea Icescape

Rewarding view

Finally a chance to get off station after a hectic few opening weeks!!  One of our SAR team members was out putting some hours on one of the Tuckers and noticed some barrels that have become evident on the hillside on the Castle Rock recreation loop.  Being the only “Environmental” person on station, I declared a need for some remediation efforts.  With the help from some of the folks from the Waste department (yes…garbage men and women in Antarctica) and the Field Safety guru, we loaded chippers, sledges and shovels into a Piston Bully and off we went to re-claim the drums.  The buggers were obviously frozen in many years of ice.  Looks like they had been welded together to form a giant “deadmans” anchor.  We ignored the blowing nip at our cheeks and stayed plenty warm swinging away at the ice until we were finally able to pry the whole thing loose.  Once the drums were loaded on the sledge, we took a second to look over the ridge and north across the sea ice and the setting sun.  Always a site to behold.

Yes, the sun is making its way back.  I now get straight sunlight in my back office window for a few mintues a day as it passes through a saddle between the hills.  The runway and cargo apron are out of the shadows of the hills so they are ahead of schedule.  The Kodiak snow blowers continue shooting plumes of snow and the graders follow to shape the loosened ice and snow into rows for pushing.

The view from the office is nice and reminds us that “craziness is coming” starting October 2nd.

Enjoy the pics.  Also included is a view of Castle Rock and the worlds southern most active volcano, Mt. Erebus. (yeah, sorry Mom, forgot to mention that we share the island with an actively smoking, open magma pool volcano)


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