Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Observation Hill

Two posts in one night! After dinner Gavin and I conquered Observation Hill. It's a pretty stiff climb, especially with the wind and such but it was good to get out and break a sweat. I took a couple of nice pictures; I guess the light is good at 3AM in the morning. I also marked up a 'pictorial representation of my life at McMurdo':

Frosty Boy Returns!

It's funny how people seem to fixate on the littlest things down here, and also quickly I find myself fixating on them as well. Take Frosty Boy for example. Frosty Boy is the soft serve ice cream machine that they have in the Galley. Frosty Boy has been gone for most of the week with a sign on the machine saying he'd be back on Tuesday. So every night at midrats, the conversation inevitably turned to Frosty Boy and wondering how he was and whether was really going to be back on Tuesday. Being on night shift and not eating during the day, I didn't get a chance to have some Frosty Boy, so imagine my disappointment when I walked into midrats and Frosty Boy's door was closed. At the table, no one could figure out why there was no Frosty Boy. But none of us could remember whether he was open for midrats, so Tom and I decided to ask the rather imposing chef about Frosty Boy's whereabouts and whether he was generally open for midrats. The chef said that there was no product for the machine and that it would be a couple of days. We were awfully disappointed but they had a nice German chocolate cake for dessert so we were willing to make do.

Fast forward to about 30 minutes into dinner. A fireman got up, walked over to Frosty Boy, opened the door, and helped himself to a bowl. All eyes nervously turned to the kitchen just waiting for the big chef to come out and brawl with the fireman. The chef came but didn't stop the fireman. So after the briefest moment of hesitation, half the room got up and got in line for Frosty Boy. He was back! I thought I could hold out, since I'd already had a piece of cake but when we started speculating at how long Frosty Boy would last, I had to give in and have a bowl:

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Night Shift Life

Things have been pretty slow going the last couple of nights. We haven't had enough core to fill the whole shift but I've been staying awake the whole night to keep up the schedule. With my free time, I've been doing various things. One of those things has been adding new features to PSICAT. Today I finally tracked down how to do Eclipse update site mirrors. This is an important thing because we've got a bunch of people down here using PSICAT but there is very limited bandwith, so I don't want everyone having to download from the main PSICAT update site in Ames. So I finally tracked down how to specify mirror sites (and when I say 'tracked down' it wasn't that hard to figure out, I just hadn't looked previously). A couple of lines in an XML file later and we had a McMurdo-based mirror site.

Adjusting to the night shift hasn't been too bad since the first day or so. I think I'm actually sleeping more during the day than I had been during the nights. Yesterday I got into the gym before my shift started and I'm going to try to make that a regular occurrence. I also did some laundry yesterday, so I should be good for another week.

The night shift is much different than the day shift. There is hardly anyone in Crary Lab, which is nice because we have the run of the place but it also sucks because they turn the heat down/off and it gets pretty chilly. Tonight Kelly and I hung out in the freezer and watched movies on my laptop because it is the warmest room in the building (it sounds odd that a freezer in Antarctica would be warm, but it is the best insulated room in the building). They have a special meal for the night shifters in the Galley at midnight (called midrats for midnight rations). So far our nights are filled with waiting for meals to begin, but I'm sure once the core starts really flowing in we'll look back on these free nights fondly.

Coming up soon, I think I might post a blog entry about everyday life here in Antarctica. Here's a teaser: "work is the stuff that fills the time between meals".

Saturday, October 28, 2006

First Core

Above is a picture of the sedimentology team logging the first gravity and push cores we got in. It was exciting to actually be in there and watching them work. Overall, I think the logging process went well. It took them a little time to figure out the logging flow and who was going to do what, so the first cores took longer to describe than the last ones.

Overall, I think PSICAT performed well. There were a few minor bugs and some feature enhancements requests. While they were working, I was fixingthe bugs and adding the new features. When they had a little down time between cores, I updated PSICAT. It seemed to work out well and there were fewer issues as the night went on.

Tonight, instead of sitting in with them and hovering around, I'm going to let them fly solo and see how it works. Hopefully they won't run into any major problems and I can get a bit more work done.

Adjusting to the night shift is touch and go. This morning I was pretty grumpy when 10AM rolled around. I think it was mainly because I was tired, stressed out, and have been working too many long days. It's tough, too, when the day shift folks are coming on all rested as you're ready to go to bed and expect you to fix all of their problems on their time. I guess I'll have to tell that 11AM isn't a good time for me but if they'd like to swing by the lab at around 3AM, I'd be happy to tackle their problems :)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Night shift

We'll be logging core tonight. It's amazing how quickly the situation can change. We had been hearing that we'd be getting core on Saturday night so we'd officially start logging core Sunday night, but Ross came and found me a couple hours ago and told me that they'd made quite a bit of progress at the drill site and to plan on starting a couple days early.

On one hand, it's kind of a bummer to be starting the night shift tonight because ANDRILL is hosting a little "Thank You" shindig in our dorm to thank all of the wonderful support people that have been working so hard to make sure we have what we need to be successful. So I'll probably sleep through the beginning of it and be heading out to work as it gets into full swing. And tomorrow they have the big station-wide Halloween party, though hopefully we'll be able to sneak away and check out the costumes The other bummer about starting early is that it gives us only about a day to completely flip flop our awake and sleep schedules. I opted to just stay up last night, so I'm just passing the 24 hours awake mark on 5 hours of sleep the previous night.

On the other hand, I'm really excited to actually have core to log and to finally put PSICAT through its paces. And overall, it's just good to be finally settling into a routine; I know everyone around here has been anticipating the first core. We'll see if they're just as excited when we're 800m into the hole :)

I also had a delightful dinner over at Scott Base (the Kiwi base over the hill). They invite 12 ANDRILL folks over every Thursday to have dinner and do a tour. Their food is much better than here because they are cooking for fewer people. I think they generally run about 1/10th as many people as are at McMurdo. I'd heard good things about the food and I wasn't disappointed. And the best part--they served it with a Speights. After dinner I played a few games of pool with Julian in the bar and had a beer or two before heading back to begin my long night of staying awake.

Staying awake was easier than I expected it to be. The Galley opens up at midnight for the night shift folks to come in and have some lunch. The food perked me up and got me through the toughest part of the night. Around 3AM, everyone else had left so I cranked up some tunes and did some coding on PSICAT. Around 6, John showed up and we went for some breakfast. I still need to figure out when I'm going to fit the gym into my schedule. I'm thinking I'll get up around 7PM and hit the gym before my shift starts. But we'll see how well that works out.

I promised a picture of the computers, so here goes. Hopefully I'll get some good pictures of the sedimentologists in action using PSICAT and Corelyzer with the core laid out on the tables.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Not too much to report on here. I've been working through some system administration issues which I think I finally got sorted out. And I've even found some time to implement some new features in PSICAT. I added the ability to add depth-registered images. It's functionally complete but I need to add a few niceties. I also implemented a clast column which was requested a couple days ago. All in all some pretty standard coding but it sure feels good to be doing it.

Besides work, I haven't been doing too much besides having a few beers in the lounge before bed. I work from 7ish in the morning to 9, 10, or 11ish at night. I take time to eat lunch and supper but it makes for long days. It looks like I'll be switching to the night shift on Sunday night. I haven't quite decided how I'm going to do that. Perhaps if I get all of my preparations done tomorrow and Friday, I can take the weekend to try and adjust to the new schedule. Once we get started on the shift work, things will settle down and perhaps I'll have time to hit the gym. :)

The station Halloween party is on Saturday. I'm guessing that it'll be a pretty big thing, since there's not much to do down here besides drink. And most of the Raytheon folks have Sundays off. I haven't thought of a costume yet. Actually I've thought of a couple ideas but most of them are not appropriate. ;) Someone suggested that since I've got a beard going, I should paint my face green and go as a kiwi fruit.

Well I should probably get back to doing something productive. Hope everything in the outside world is going well for everyone. Tomorrow I'm going to try to post a picture or two of the computer setup we've got down here.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Dog's Breakfast

Today was a much better day; I actually feel like I made some forward progress. I never did find my access card, but I was able to get a new one without any big fuss. We had our usual morning meetings. The administrative meeting was business as usual. At the whole group meeting, Tim got up and explained some of the science behind why we are drilling where we are and what they are expecting to find. It was really interesting. He's a good speaker and even though there was some pretty heavy science mixed in there, I wasn't completely lost. I also learned a new phrase: "the dog's breakfast". Both Tim and Gavin busted it out while talking. The Kiwis sure do have some interesting sayings.

After the meetings, I spent most of the day getting some issues from yesterday sorted. Since that was all non-coding work, I decided to reward myself with a few hours of coding after dinner. We're expecting to begin logging later this week so I'm updating a few things on PSICAT. I'm working on a clast plugin that should allow the sedimentologists to describe the major clasts in the core. I also have a few small UI and workflow optimizations to make things easier on the scientists.

One of the things I still have to get set up and working is a central Subversion repository for PSICAT data. PSICAT has the ability to store and retrieve its data from Subversion. This is going to be a really awesome feature for ANDRILL because they have a large contingent of scientists scattered all around the world. They will be able to access the core logs much sooner that they have been able to on previous projects. Previously they would have had to wait until the expedition was over and everyone came back from the ice. Not this time, though. They'll be able to pull up the data as soon as it is committed. And assuming that the logging team commits their changes every night, the people back in the States will actually have a negative delay because the core would have been logged on a Monday in Antarctica but be available on a Sunday in the States. :) All joking aside, I think the Subversion is a smart move because not only will it allow them to disseminate data, it will also allow for tracking changes and add a bit of accountability.

Well I had better get to actually working on PSICAT instead of just talking about all the cool things it can do :) Cheers.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Bad Day

Today started out as a good day. I got up early and called my mom and Elizabeth. It was good to talk to them. But after that things went down hill. Lots of crap at work culminating in the realization that I had lost my keycard to get into Crary Lab some time this afternoon. It fell off of my lanyard somewhere. So I guess I'll swing by the administration and see if I can get another one tomorrow.

On a positive note, I figured out a bit more about SSL on Apache and how to do rewrite rules and proxying. So I'm a little smarter even though it was a completely pointless exercise. And I am getting a chance to work a bit more on PSICAT. There are a couple new features in the pipeline that I'd like to get finished before the first core comes in--which is looking to be in 4 or 5 days.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Blogs Everywhere

Turns out I'm not the only one on an adventure. My friend Arun, of Corewall fame, recently moved out to San Jose to work at NVidia. He's got a blog to chronicle the excitement. Somehow, I bet he's going to be able to find better Indian food than I am here.

And if you're into technology, especially the Web 2.0 stuff that is all the rage recently, you should check out Doug's blog. I'll put links to both along the side.

Let The Real Work Begin

After all the fun of Happy Camper, it's time to start doing some real work. I spent yesterday setting up computers in the core logging room. It's going to be a pretty nice setup. There will be two computers for the sedimentologists to use. One will be set up for using the Corelyzer visualization software. It's a new Mac Pro with 2 30" Apple Cinema Displays hooked up to it. The second computer will be used for my software, PSICAT, and is a MacBook Pro hooked up to a 30" Apple Cinema Display as well. So we've got a Mac Pro, a MacBook Pro, and 3 30" Apple Cinema Displays all sitting on the benches in a room that has been known to leak. What could possibly go wrong?

Beyond setting those up, I was setting up our central servers. I got static IPs for them so I can start circulating them around. They are mostly set up, though I had to do some tweaking to the Plone-based Whiteboard stuff last night before I retired home to do some laundry and drink a beer.

The final area of work is going to be updates and new features added to PSICAT, the core logging software I've written. I haven't done much on it since shortly before I deployed but there were some updates that were in the pipeline. I did a few last night and will finish up the rest this morning. I also have to implement a whole new piece of functionality this weekend. Fortunately, since Eclipse is such an awesome platform, this is pretty trivial to do. I simply have to implement a new plugin with my code, add the plugin to my feature, and push it out to the update site. Then all of the clients will automagically download the new code. The whole update site is going to be very useful for distributing updates to both the on-ice scientists and those that are off-ice, and it is the major reason why I'm not freaking out at the moment. I've got a clear way to distribute new features and bug fixes to my clients, so I can fix the problems on the fly and know that everyone is getting the changes.

A related note on the PSICAT front, Stephan Wahlbrink contacted me about possibly translating PSICAT and some problems he encountered. He is using PSICAT in the German locale, and it turns out that I'm not handling numbers in the correct locale-aware way. I display them properly according to the current locale but I don't parse them properly which leads to some major errors and makes PSICAT pretty unusable for non-English locales. I looked at how I was doing things and it turns out I was using DecimalFormat.format() to display the numbers but Double.parseDouble() actually parse the user's text. Doh! So I've got to go through and update the code to parse numbers from the users in a locale-aware sort of way but store them in the XML files in the standard English decimal format so you can share data between different locales.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Happy Camper

I survived field camp aka Happy Camper School. I can officially say that I slept outside in Antarctica in -40F weather. And it was literally outside--I slept in a trench I dug in the snow.

The camp was a lot of work. We started out doing some classroom work to familiarize ourselves with the signs of hypothermia, frostbite, etc. Then we packed up all our gear and rode in some Deltas out to near the camp site. After some lunch and a short discussion about how the stoves work, we made up our sleeping kits, and walked out to the actual camp site.

At the camp site, we learned some tips on how to lay out our gear for an Antarctic expedition. After that, the real work began. We learned how to set up Scott tents, the same kind that Scott used on his expeditions to Antarctica.

Next we got out the saws, shovels, and sleds and built a large snow wall. This was a lot of hard work. There were three groups of people: the block cutters, the block haulers, and the wall builders. The snow is very dry and solid, so cutting it was a chore. It came out in huge blocks and sort of sounded like styrofoam but it was much heavier. We used these blocks to build a horshoe-shaped wall about 5 blocks high.

While we were building the wall, Trevor, the instructor, dug a snow trench to show us one shelter option that we could make in about 10 minutes. He showed us that and then we set to pitching 4 season, mountaineering tents.

Since I'm hardcore, I decided to spend my night in a snow trench. It took me a bit longer than 10 minutes to dig my trench, so I would have been screwed if it were an emergency. And I also dug mine a bit too wide, so it was hard to cover. I couldn't get single blocks wide enough to bridge the whole gap, so I had to get creative and use multiple blocks. Here's a picture of me digging my trench with my trusty Eclipse fleece:

The instructors left for the night while I was working on my trench. We were on our own for dinner and sleeping. Dinner was just one of those rehydrated meals. Someone got two large pots of water boiling and we poured a couple cups in our bag '0 food. Surprisingly, it was mighty tasty. I'm guessing anything would have tasted good at that point, though.

After dinner people started head to bed. I went for a walk to warm up and then turned it. It was quite an elaborate dance to get in my sleeping bag and in my trench and then close things up. Surprisingly, I stayed warm all night. I laid my sleeping bag on two foam pads and an extra sleeping bag to insulate me from the ground. The trick that worked for me was bringing a chocolate bar to bed with me and throw a bottle of hot water wrapped in a sock into the foot of my sleeping bag. I promised myself that if I could hold out for the night without having to get up and go to the bathroom, I'd pick up a six pack of beer. And I did, so there is some beer in my future (the first since I got down here).

Today was mainly breaking down camp and learning about radios. We set up the HF radios and used them to call Mac Ops to find out what was for lunch (even though we weren't going to eat lunch in the Galley). After we got everything cleaned up, the instructors picked us up and we watched a few videos and called it good.

Afterwards, I went back to my dorm, showered and hung up my gear, and then headed into the office to upload some pictures and write this blog entry. I think I'm headed over to the Galley to get some food and then back to my dorm to pass out. The beer will have to wait until tomorrow night.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Field Camp

Today was a pretty standard day. I actually was able to get my computer set up for wireless and start setting up the servers. Tomorrow I have to do field camp, so we'll be outside from 9AM to 5:30PM the following day. Yep, we're sleeping outside in Antarctica in a tent. It should be fun, though. But it means two days without getting any work done, right when we're trying to get everything setup. Oh well, there's nothing to be done about it. I'll be posting again in two days.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


McMurdo is an interesting place. The best way I can think of to describe it is that it's what I think a mining town would be. There's lots of buildings that seem to have sprung up pretty haphazardly and each building has a specific function. There are a few streets and even a stop sign or two. It's built into the foothills of a mountain and there is industrial equipment and the like all around.

After our arrival brief, we took ourselves over to the dorm to drop our carry-on bags. The dorm room is pretty nice; nicer than the rooms in Towers. We've got 2 beds, 2 wardrobes, 2 nightstands, a desk, and a fridge. My roommate came in on the same flight as me so we got all unpacked yesterday before we went to bed.

After we dropped our bags off, we did a little impromptu tour of the main buildings. We saw where food was and where we'd be working. Then we headed over to the galley for a first meal at McMurdo. It was cafeteria food--neither exceptional, nor terrible. Food was followed by a quick walk down to Scott's Hut. It was a nice walk and I got a few cool pictures. Though I really started to feel the cold.

Last night I slept like a baby. The whole being light out 24 hours a day was pretty surreal but they have nice thick blackout drapes on our windows. It was actually hot in our room so we turned off the heat. I always sleep so much better in the cold. I slept from 10PM or so until 6AM which is pretty good, though I'm starting to drag a little bit this afternoon. I should have eaten more for lunch and grabbed an apple or some other quick snack for this afternoon.

Today I spent most of the day around the Crary Lab building where I'll be working. I didn't feel like I got much done because everything is still pretty disorganized. And on top of that, all of the Raytheon people are off on Sundays so we couldn't track things down and meet people. Oh well, I'm hoping they'll have something for me to do this afternoon.

I'm going to upload some photos I took on the plane and here in McMurdo to my picture gallery.

Made it to McMurdo

Well as you probably guessed from my lack of blog post yesterday, we headed out to McMurdo. They got us up and out to the airport by 6AM to get our gear on. They told us the weather was pretty sketchy so they wanted us there in case it broke but there was a good chance we'd head home. After going through security and checking in our bags, we sat down to wait for more instructions. At around 8AM they did our final screening and started a safety video but less than half way through it they told us to get our asses on the plane. So it was pretty exciting to finally be off after the delays.

We flew down on a C-17 cargo plane. It was a US Air Force plane with a crew stationed near Tacoma, Washington. The plane was half full with cargo and the other half was pallets of airline seats. I opted to sit along the sidewall, which I think was a good choice because there was lots of leg room. The flight was pretty loud, you needed earplugs all the time. But other than that, it was enjoyable. We got to go up on the flight deck and see the pilots. There was also a bathroom if you needed to go. I would say it ranked higher than a commercial flight.

The whole flight they kept telling us that it was pretty iffy to land. I guess the weather was bad so there was a good chance of boomeranging. But, as luck would have it, the weather broke just before we got near McMurdo and we were able to land. It was pretty chilly but all the gear they gave us kept me plenty warm.

This is getting pretty long, so I'm going to save my description of McMurdo for another post. I'll leave you with a picture of the plane we came in on.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

24 Hour Delay

Well, unfortunately our flight to the ice was delayed 24 hours this morning. We were supposed to be out at the Antarctic Center this morning at 6 but someone at the hotel came around at 4:30 to turn off our alarms because we were delayed today. Fortunately I was able to quickly fall back asleep until almost 6:30. I think I'm finally getting adjusted to NZ time.

Yesterday afternoon was busy. We went out to the CDC (Clothing Distribution Center) and tried on all of our gear. All of my gear fit for the most part. It's crazy how much stuff they are giving us to wear. I was pretty lucky, about half of my gear was brand new.

My bags also showed up yesterday. So the first thing I did was change and brush my teeth. It was glorious. Richard and I had a few more beers at the Dux de Lux last night. I tried the Blue Duck Amber, thus completing the tour, but in the end decided I like the Bitter best. Then we went to dinner at a nice indian restaurant. It was good food and there was lots of it. And best of all, I got to have a Speights.

There is nothing official planned for the rest of the day, which is good because I have to work on my homework. But first--breakfast.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Day 2 in Christchurch, NZ

Day 2 in Christchurch started pretty early. I was up at 5AM local time, which may seem really early until you realize it is something like 11AM back home (and I usually don't sleep a wink past 8AM). Yesterday I fought a valiant battle with jetlag. My body kept telling me "Lay down, just for a bit" but I knew if I did I would be out like a light. So I stuck through even though Richard gave me a double take the first time he saw me and told me I looked like hell :)

We met up around 6PM for dinner and went to the Dux de Lux. I had never been, though I guess it is famous among the Antarctic folks. It's a brewery and vegetarian restaurant. They had fish, but other than that, no meat. I had the fresh local fish in cajun spices and it was very good. And the beer was good as well. I think over the course of the night I tried all but one of them. My favorite (maybe because it was the last one I had and I was feeling pretty good by then) was the Hereford Bitter. Their stout was pretty good too. They also had a ginger beer which was interesting. It was very light and refreshing, though I don't think I could sit down and drink more than one or two.

Today, about 1PM we're off to try on our ECW (Extreme Cold Weather) gear and get our computers cleared. After that, I think the afternoon is ours. Hopefully my bags will have shown up by then otherwise I might be out getting a few clothes and toiletries to tide me over on the ice. Before I head out to try my gear on, I think I'm going to go find the fish and chips place I stumbled across last time I was here to get some real fish and chips.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Christchurch, NZ

Well, I arrived in Christchurch. It was not without incident. The plane from Chicago to LA was delayed by over an hour and a half. Fortunately my flight from LA to Auckland was also delayed so I was able to actually make it onto the flight. We got into Auckland late so I didn't think I was going to make my flight to Christchurch, especially since I had to dick around at baggage claim because my bag didn't make it. I strolled over to the domestic terminal pretty leisurely since I figured my flight had already left but lo and behold, they were holding the flight since over half of it were USAP folks. So in the end, I made all of my flights and only ended up arriving 30 minutes later than I was supposed to (sans bag, of course).

There were a lot of USAP people on the flights. Many more than I expected. I only ran into two people that were actually part of the ANDRILL project. Christchurch is just as I remembered it. I'm actually staying at a bed and breakfast that I walked past numerous times when I was here last. It's a really nice place. The proprietor is really awesome; I think she is used to the Antarctic groups. She set up our shuttle for tomorrow and told us all about the notification system so we know when to be ready to head to the ice. The rooms are pretty tiny--just a bed, a night stand, and a little chair. There is a community bathroom and shower. They have a lounge (where I'm presently sitting) and there is a nice dining room where they serve breakfast (eggs and bacon!).

Once we got checked in, I decided to show John Jackson, my roommate down on the ice, around Christchurch a little bit. We walked down to Cathedral square and then grabbed a bite to eat at the asian food mall that I found last time I was here. After eating airline food, the khmer style curry tasted fantastic. And then we wandered down to the Canterbury museum because there is a superstition that you have to rub the bust of Amundsen's nose for good luck before you head to the ice. So we did that and got pictures.

Well I'm going to head out and perhaps take a nap. I'm trying to stay awake to kick the jet lag, but we'll see how well that turns out for me.

PS: Cut me some slack on how crappy I look in the picture. I haven't been able to shower yet owing to the fact that my bags didn't make it and I've been traveling for 28 hours.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Shipping Out

I'm shipping out today. My flight is at 2:10 and I'll be in airports and planes for the 24 hours or so. I don't know if I'll be able to update this blog while I'm in New Zealand. I actually fly to Antarctica on the 13th, so I should be back online then.

I just wanted to thank everyone. I never realized how many people cared about me until they started calling and emailing to wish me luck. I'll be back in no time flat and hopefully with some awesome stories to tell.

I put some more pictures from the tailgate up here.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Mission Accomplished

The going away party/slushy tailgate was a big success. There were no casualties except for a little sunburn and the slushies. I think everyone had a good time, I know I certainly did. Now I can officially begin packing for this little trip I'm going on.

Friday, October 06, 2006

3 Day And Counting

Well if you saw yesterday's post, I mentioned that the Eclipse folks were sending me a fleece to keep me warm down in Antarctica. Well, much to my amazement it showed up this morning around 9AM. That's less than a 20 hour turnaround from Ottawa to Ames. So I just wanted to thank Ian and the Eclipse folks for sending it off to me and thanks to FedEx for getting it here so quick.

Today was my last day at work for a while. I spent the morning finishin up a few things that needed to get done before I left. It was harder to clean out my desk and say bye to everyone than I thought it was going to be. I swung by the Post Office on my way home and shipped by "big envelope of tea". I threw a bunch of tea into an envelope and shipped it to myself because it is somewhat difficult to get things like that through New Zealand customs.

Tomorrow is the big day. We've still got a few preparations to make but if you're reading this and are anywhere near Ames, stop by the tailgating lots about 2PM and find us for a slushy.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Endgame

Only 4 more days to I deploy. It's been a busy time since my last post. I finished up PSICAT on Tuesday afternoon, so I've mainly been working on finishing documentation at work. In other
PSICAT news, I had an interesting email conversation with Ian Skerret about his blog entry on RCP applications. Ian works on marketing at Eclipse and asked for examples of Eclipse RCP applications 'in the wild'. I dropped him a note about PSICAT (which is an Eclipse RCP application) being deployed to Antarctica, and he thought it was pretty cool. So they are going to add a PSICAT entry to their Open Source RCP Application Catalog (it's not their yet). I also (jokingly) asked if Eclipse had a flag that I could plant in Antarctica to claim the continent for Eclipse before the Netbeans folks get down there. Turns out they don't have a flag, but they are FedExing me an Eclipse fleece pullover to keep me warm down there. Awesome! I'm a sucker for swag.

Today at work, they surprised me with a nice lunch--pizza, ice cream, and seaweed. It is the mid autumn festival in China so Xiaoyun brought in some tasty treats for us. The lunch really made me realize that "holy crap I'm going to Antarctica" and I'm not going to see Cinzia, Doug, Xiaoyun, or anyone else from the department for 3 months. Tomorrow I need to clean up my desk so I don't leave a big mess while I'm gone.

People keep asking me if I'm all packed and ready to go. And the answer is: Nope. Nope, I'm not packed but I'm also not worried about it. Before I can even consider packing, we've got to get the going away party my friends are throwing out of the way. Let me set the scene for you. Saturday, October 7th. ISU-Nebraska football game. More importantly, ISU-Nebraska TAILGATE! This is normally an important enough excuse to get together. Now throw in the fact that it's the last time I'm going to see people for a couple months and you've got a good excuse to do something special. I'm not going to go into all the details but let's just say the slushy machine is making a trip to the tailgate lots and we've got 13 gallons of slushy mix to put in it.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Second To Last Weekend

Well, my second to last weekend before Antarctica is over. It seemed to fly by. I got back Friday night from the VCD meeting in College Station, TX at about 10PM. Since Elizabeth is on call next weekend, she decided to come down this weekend to see me before I leave.

Saturday we went out to lunch to Stomping Grounds so Elizabeth could get a curried chicken salad sandwich. The weather was gorgeous so we sat out on the patio and the food was good as per usual. I think the two foods I'm going to miss the most while I'm gone is going to be Stomping Ground's curried chicken salad sandwiches and Chipotle's burritos.

A bunch of people were in town for the UNI - ISU football game, so Elizabeth and I went over Saturday afternoon and tailgated a bit. I had a good time, and I think she did as well. Below is a picture from the tailgate (from left to right: Gerrit, me, Kyle, Brandon, and Big Kelly). As you can probably tell from Kyle and Big Kelly's faces, everyone was having a good time.

Elizabeth and I left the tailgating lots around 5:30 and headed home where I cooked us dinner.

Sunday we got up and walked to Jimmy John's for lunch. Then we headed over to Target and picked up some things I needed before I leave. Elizabeth took off after some dinner. All in all, it was a good weekend.

Inaugural Post

This is the first post to my "Josh In Antarctica" blog. I'll be writing here during the next 3 months while I'm in Antarctica. If you aren't familiar with my Antarctica trip, I'm going as part of the ANDRILL project because I wrote some software that will see field testing down there. I'll be gone from October 9th, 2006 through January 5th, 2007. Astute readers will notice that October 9th is just 8 days away! So much to do, so little time.