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July 12, 2003

Check-in, July 11, 2003

Okay, it’s time for an update. I know that this is called the Iceblog, and the purpose was to share my Antarctic experiences, but it seems that there are enough people (4, at least, and that’s certainly enough) who check this periodically for me to post something every once in a while. Even if it’s about a hot place. Besides, I’m going back to Antarctica.

But first, I’m going to Greenland.

I don’t know if I ever really gave the full update. I went somewhere cold, then somewhere mild, then somewhere hot, then somewhere mild again, and now I’m in Boulder. It’s hot, but dry. While traveling in New Zealand, I applied for two real jobs, and got one of them—while I was home visiting the folks and some really great friends in the Pacific Northwest. The job is at UNAVCO, the facility kind enough to host me while I finished my masters degree. UNAVCO provides GPS support to the community of Earth scientists using GPS for scientific applications. My official title is (I think) Geodetic Engineer I. ‘Geodetic’ means I survey. An unofficial (but less descriptive) title would be Field Engineer. That means I go out in the field. This is a good thing. My job description has me supporting campaign (and etc.) GPS in the summer and supporting the Antarctica program in the winter. Campaign GPS consists of setting up fancy GPS receivers over established survey marks (like the kind labeled NGS—National Geodetic Survey—or USGS—United States Geological Survey—that you see on the top of mountains when you’re hiking) and recording satellite data for a few hours/days to determine the site location and compare to previous readings to see how that site has moved. We are generally interested in how things move relative to other things, like: How does this site move relative to a site on the other side of the fault/volcanic crater? or How does this site, which is on the Pacific plate, move relative to a site on the North American plate?

For the Antarctic program, I will survey whatever is needed, which is a sweet deal. I am available to all kinds of scientists down there, so one day I may be helping to measure how fast a glacier is moving while the next day I survey the locations of seal or fishing holes in the ice while the next I train a group to do their own GPS work. Well, there will be some data processing and equipment organization, too. And, of course, I’ll get to go back to Erebus, although I won’t be able to be there quite as long this time. My total projected stint this time around is from around October 9 to whenever the season ends, or about four months total. This time, I’ll be based in McMurdo.

But enough about the future. I flew into Denver June 3 and started work at UNAVCO June 4. The following week, I was off on my first field project, to probably the most exotic place I’ll end up: Louisiana. I spent five days there, and was quite happy to return to the dry and relative coolness of Boulder. Nothing like some time away to make you appreciate a place. I’ve had about a month off from travel, and will be headed on Sunday to Greenland with my boss, Bjorn. We’re hoping for some hot hot hot weather between now and then to really get into the temperature contrast. The adventure should be somewhat similar to the Antarctica gig, with military flights and issued clothing and my friend Tricky (who I just found out will be on my very same flight to Greenland). After Greenland come other silly traveling treats, so stay tuned.

I’m house-hopping. I am currently on house number three. When coming back to Boulder from home, after accepting this job, I recognized that I felt I had been on the move too much, and that I wanted to feel grounded. To feel grounded, I recognized that I needed to establish a feeling of place, and that therefore, even though I am scheduled to be in Antarctica for four months of the coming year, it was important for me to get a place of my own in Boulder that I would be happy with and could unpack in and could establish my systems of organization in and put my pictures up in and really feel like I was in my own space in. So here I am in Ico and Aga’s house, munching on chocolate chips which I just found by raiding their cupboards. Some of my stuff is here, some of my stuff is at work (I pulled tomorrow’s clean shirt and undies from a file cabinet drawer in my office to stuff in my backpack for tomorrow while my friend Steve shook his heading, saying, “Is that your dresser now?”), a lot of my stuff is at my friend Wendy’s, even more of my stuff is at my parents’ house in Redmond, and I probably still have a few odds and ends in Bloomington, Indiana. So it goes. I’ve been mostly based at Wendy’s house, hanging out with her when she’s in town and taking care of her dogs when she’s not, but am on my second housesitting gig. At the first place, there was the sky chair on the back porch, but in this place, there’s a kitty. A kitty that bites hard with sharp teeth, but a kitty just the same. And I have no plans to look for a place of my own at least until I get back from Antarctica—especially since I’ll be gone essentially 3 weeks of August and 2 weeks of September. Geez Louise.

What life? Oh, I’ve got a bit of one. Frisbee games on Mondays, camping on free weekends. Other than that, the time seems to get sucked into a vortex. And I don’t even have a significant other or kids or a house or anything like that. Still, though, this will be the shortest section. I mean, it is. Because I’m done.

Posted by beth at July 12, 2003 11:37 AM


Greetings, Beth! I'm glad you decided to continue your story - I love reading about your adventures and seeing the pictures. You are very talented! This is an entertaining way to take a break from my sometimes boring job, and the great thing is no one knows I'm not sitting here doing work related stuff! Hope you continue to enjoy the new job, and to keep us updated! Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Posted by: Kathy Schmitz at July 16, 2003 8:03 AM

You sound pretty happy. I'm really glad you're doing great. Hope between all your travels you are still planning on being in Cincinnati in a few weeks.
Again, we really miss you being as close as you used to be.
Hope to see the whole family soon!

Posted by: Linda Collins at July 17, 2003 8:51 AM