Friday, July 21, 2006

Drum roll, please

It's official: I'm leaving the ol' USA on July 30th. I will be flying out of LAX at 9:55 pm that Sunday evening, flying to a stopover in New Jersey (!) then getting on what appears to be a tiny little plane (considering the seating options I was given) for a short flight to Quebec City arriving at 10:33am.

So - I will be accepting all mailings, well wishes, final complaints, and other business until July 30th, after which I can make no guarentees that I will be able to contact anyone with any sort of ease. I've had the fantastic good fortune to fall in with a young Polish woman, a friend of my advisor, who will be putting me up in Quebec City until the Amundsen actually leaves. So if you are desperate to mail me something, I may be able to receive it at her address between August 1st-15th.

Speaking of the Amundsen...oh my god, drama. After a lot of stress, some complications with my booking has been cleared up, and the long and short of it is I will still be on the ship for the originally planned time period (August 18th-October 19th) except I will only be working for one research team, instead of switching off between two different ones. Let's just say I felt like I was dancing a fine line on a massive international faux pax.

Oh! And speaking of Kugluktuk (where I will be getting off the ship in northern Canada) I booked a hotel for one (1) night where I will stay until I fly back to Quebec to continue on to Iceland to Greenland. This little story should give everyone a good idea of why my financial situation causes me significant stress - one night at this hotel (I use the term loosely) will cost me $200. It is the only hotel in town, barring a 6-person sort of hostel that actually manages to be more expensive. This is not $200 for a resort - I will probably be sharing most facilities (ie, bathroom) with the other guests, etc. If I decide I want to eat without buying my own groceries (which may or may not be marginally cheaper), breakfast in town runs about $20, lunch $25, and dinner $40. This is totally normal for everywhere in the Arctic - probably less expensive than a lot of places. This is why - clearly - I cannot afford to stay in even the simplest hotels for more than a day. Doing this kind of project under the financial bounderies of the Watson (since I'm not exactly rolling in excess funds) has meant that I have spent a lot of time seeking out opportunities for home stays, or things like the icebreaker deal, or any opportunity where I can trade my varied skills for housing.

They don't teach you this stuff in college, kids.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Oh, yah

Indian Paint Brush Flower, Fillmore, CA, USA

In theory, since it's what I've been telling everyone, I'm a photographer. Or I do photography, or am planning on it...whatever. Here's the background: I do digital photography, am self-taught, and take photos of whatever suits my fancy. In China I did a lot of "mother and child" shots, in the past I did a lot of micro-photography with flowers, and I did a bunch of landscape shots. As I've mentioned, this upcoming year will be focused on social organization and cooperation, which is the perfect opportunity for me to take photos of people, doing anything and everything, AND the surrounding environment, including wildlife, landscape, etc. The people change the land, the land forces people to survive in a particular way (ie, cooperation).

In the past I worked with a Nikon Coolpix 750 (which was sadly stolen from me while in China, and is now no longer made) and currently, or most recently, have worked with a Nikon 8700, which I still use - an excellent basic camera. I will be using a Nikon D200 with a Nikkor 18-200mm lens this coming year, a ridiculously cool piece of equipment which defies all logical comprehension. But my trial photos are awesome.

So! Since I am in theory a photographer, and this website should be at least somewhat interesting, here are some photos! May I remind everyone that I have a strict "if you print or use my photos without my permission I will be very upset" policy.

Mother and child in Yuan Yuang, Yunnan Province, China

Reindeer in front of a glacier on Hornsund Fjord, Svalbard, Norway


Excellent news! I got the position on the icebreaker. Looks like I'll be replacing a technician who works with a project on pollution in the Arctic. I'll be doing something with air and water samples. This is super, although I'm a bit nervous that I don't really know what I'm doing. I suppose I will learn, and one of my greatest skills is acting like I know what I'm doing.

So it's off to Quebec for me on July 31st. I'll be hanging out in Quebec until August 15th, when the other people on the project get there and we start working on the ship. The ship actually leaves port around August 18th, and then I'll have a solid two months living at sea. Now, so far, this hasn't phased me one bit - I've never been one for motion sickness and I've spent time on ships before (the Oceania and the Horizont in the waters off Svalbard last summer). But I have distinct memories from childhood of swearing to myself that I would never, ever work or live on a ship. I hated boats, and I'll admit I'm still...deeply distrustful of deep water (which sort of goes hand in hand with my fear of heights). And now taking this job seems like the most awesome thing ever. WE SHALL SEE.

It's not like I'll never see land - I think we stop quite a bit, and get to walk around and visit the local communities. Perfect, really - I'll get to see more of northern Canada than I ever originally thought I would. This is an amazing opportunity in so many ways.

Now I just have to get the guy in Greenland to confirm that they want me to teach...oh, and find somewhere to be in Russia.