Friday, September 26, 2008

Final cut-off date approching

Hey, just FYI to all. The cut-off date for larger packages and things has already passed, but the "silver trunk" is still open. This is for flat mail (padded envelopes and such, anything that you would put into a blue postal drop-box) only, it's put into a big silver trunk and hand-carried down from the Denver office.

The cut-off date for getting stuff into this trunk is OCTOBER 8TH. So if any of you felt sentimental and sending snail-mail, it has to BE IN DENVER by October 8th.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Blah Blah Blah

I'm too lazy to actually write much right now, so here's some more video of me being boring and talking. And yes, I know I look and sound like a dork. I am a dork. We all know this. So, uh, yeah. Click play.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wreck of the Bahia Paraiso

During the summer, a whole myriad of ships will often stop by our little area. Not only just the cruise ships and private sailboats, but the Argentinian and Chilean Navies will often poke around in the area, if not just to maintain a political presence.

Back in 1989, the the Argentine naval ship Bahia Paraiso was in the area doing something, and tried to head out between Janus and Litchfield island, dispite warnings from the station personel that the waters there were not very deep. The captain, going off outdated charts, insisted that it would be fine.

He was wrong.

For the full story of exactly what happened, you can read about it here. The wreck has been slowly rotating over the years and slipping a little deeper under, and now only part of the bottom of the hull is visible at low tide.

The divers often like to go out here, as the unique shapes and overhangs created by the ship house corals and underwater flora that are normally found at much deeper depths. The ship is almost completely upside down now, on calm days when the seas are flat, you can see the propellers ~40 feet under the surface.

One of the long-time scientists at the time was watching the ship leave when the whole thing happened. He was standing in the galley windows, watching the ship pull out, when he saw it stop suddenly and take on a very serious list. He immediately turned around and hollered to the cooks "Three hundred for lunch!"

More photospamming

Sadly, the weather today is too lame to go boating, so I figure I'd use the downtime to finally get around to getting some photos up.

A few days ago, we took a day trip out to Dream Island. Dream Island is about 8 miles away, well outside of our boating limits, but we have an emergency supply cache on the island in case someone gets blown out there. Also, later in the summer the birders will spend a few days camping out there and playing with the penguins. So it was sort of an excuse for a boondoggle, for us to get off station (and avoid work) for half a day, and see a little sliver of our area that we'd normally not get out too.

Sadly, there wasn't much wildlife out there, it's still a little early in the season for the large numbers of fauna to start coming back. But we did find this guy napping about 20 feet from the supply depot. He raised his head up, looked as us a bit, rolled over, and went back to sleep.

An elephant seal, male, but fairly young. Best guess is that he was only around 800lbs. Full grown, they can get over 10,000lbs and 20 feet long.

That one needs a caption.

On the way back, we ran into another raft of Gentoo penguins.

I'm especially happy with that one

Anyway, yeah. Animals. And I've actually got a whole mess of photos I need to get up, so there might be a bunch more posts from me today.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

How to make a Legolas costume out of nothing in two days

Kristina's assumption, that I'd had someone make me a Legolas outfit in the states and then was silly enough to bring it to the ice with me, simply isn't true. The getup that you saw me wearing in those photos I posted yesterday was all made by me, over the course of two days, from whatever I could find around the station. Which turned out to be an awful lot.

For some of it, I was able to use clothes that I already had. Some gray long underwear made good leggings, and one of those slippery undershirts from REI made a perfect undertunic shirt, even had that sort of silvery, shimmery appearance. A green bedsheet gave up it's life to be my cloak, and (although I actually wore my regular work boots in those photos) the removable liners from some cross-country ski boots made a good lower half for my Elvin boots.

The "jerkin", I guess it's called, the tunic thing that he wears, I had to make.

I started with a lab coat that I stole from the beakers, and removed the exterior sewn-on pockets, buttons, collar, and cut the sleeves off at about my bicep. I then died it first a pale green, but I wasn't too happy with the color (it was a bit too neon), and dyed it again with a brownish tan, ending with a really nice early clay color that's slightly darker then in the photo, and with a hit of green.

I then took it in by six inches just above the waist, to give that tapered, sleek look, and to generally make it fit me better and not be all billowy. I hemmed all the cut edges, and affixed a strip inside the middle seam with Velcro to hold it closed.

The "leather" shoulder covering was a bit harder. The material actually came from the cover from our old BBQ grill, it's not pleather, but it is vinyl with a slightly leathery texture and feel that actually worked damn well. It's a very dark brown, almost black. I made it in three pieces, one single large pieces goes across the back, over the shoulders and down the middle, and then the little bits over the arms are separate. It was VERY fiddly to make, and I had to enlist the help of Katherine, a girl on station who has almost the exactly same build as I do (skinny), as a fitting model. Once I got it mostly pinned in place, I put it on and had Webster do the final adjustments to that the material would actually lay flat, figuriing out where to take out some material and things. I then hemmed it, and sewed it to the lab coat. The silver decoration is paint marker.

The other stuff was made much the same way.

Those two oval things were my boot wraps; they wrap around my shins and affix to themselves with Velcro. The arm bracers sitting on top were the same deal, nothing fancy, just paint marker for the decoration. They were made from the same material as the jerkin top, cut from the old BBQ grill cover. The belts and strapping were made from some scraps of actual plether that I found in the Skua aisle, I think it was scraps left over from fixing or making the hot tub cover. I just cut some strips off, hemmed the edges, and threw a buckle on it. I actually DID make a quiver, out of a mailing tube wrapped in the brown pleather, but didn't end up using it, as the cloak just looked funny with it underneath.

As I mentioned before, when I first made this costume, for boots I used some ski boot liners with the wraps over them for my boots, which was fine walking around indoors. However, running around outside on ice like a fool, I figured I'd end up hurting myself, so in the pics yesterday, you can see that I'm just wearing my work boots, with the boot wraps over them.

It took a quite a bit of doing, and a lot of trying it on, seeing how it looked, making minor adjustments, trying it on again, etc, but it turned out really well. I actually made all this for a costume party we had a couple weeks ago. All this effort won me the prize for "Best Costume", as voted on by the whole station. The original prize was supposed to be a bottle of vodka (booze is sort of the default reward for winning just about anything here), but given that I don't drink, they had to come up with another prize. So I was presented with . . .

A Triceratops pinata!


I really have no idea how a dinosaur pinata appeared down here, but I've given up questioning things like that. I think we're breaking it open tonight (I'm told there is candy and little plastic dinosaurs inside!), in celebration of . . . uh, it being Saturday.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The ship arrives, to be greated by . . . Legolas?!

The nice thing about not having any dignity, nor the ability to take anything seriously, is that you've got no problems making a complete fool out of yourself in front of the entire station for a laugh.

And if that involves dressing in a Legolas outfit and greeting the ship with shouts of "We seek the ring! The ring of power! Do you have it, the one ring to rule them all?!?!", then . . . well, who am I to turn that down?

More Pictures!

Me, standing there hollering up at some very amused and slightly bewildered people on the ship. I've actually worked with one of the guys coming in before, he was here when I got here. I'm told that our incoming station manager turned to him and said "Who on earth is that?!", to which he replied with a sigh "That . . . would be our carp helper".

Paul was the only one who happened to have his camera out for this, he was on the balcony outside the kitchen with most everyone else, falling over themselves laughing. After I was done running around outside, I went up there for some hero shots :)

Don't ask where I got a bizarrely detailed Legolas outfit; I'll go over that in a future post.

The LMG docked yesterday, bringing with it most of the summer crew, and will be taking the majority of our winter crew away on Tuesday when it leaves. I, of course, am staying for another five months, but the majority of our personnel are being replaced by people that came in on this ship. Some people are staying only until the October boat, and while the station population isn't rising by that much, we are loosing some couples, so we might need to have room mates again. Not sure yet, but we'll see.

And I did get my silver trunk stuff, thanks to those who sent stuff! I already <3 my 20mm Sigma lens, and am still really pmad at this broken Tamron. I still need to write some e-mails or make some phone calls to see what can be done about this.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

And again . . . PENGUINS!

You know, given that we're all living down here for months on end, and that most people here have spent at least a few seasons on the ice before, you'd think that we'd all be used to the wildlife, or at least tire slightly of it.


Friday, when we were having our end-of-week station meeting in anticipation of our two-day weekend (:-D), someone was talking about something, when someone happened to glance out the window and yell "OOOOOOO, PENGUINS!"

And, like FNGs, we all immediately jumped up and looked out the bay windows to see yup, a small raft (a group of penguins is called a "raft", apparently) of penguins porpoising around in the harbor right off the pier. Probably the first raft to actually return this spring. The weather was too lousy for the rest of Friday to go out boating, and for most of Saturday morning, but it around 3pm Saturday it cleared up and the winds died enough to get out in the boats.

Sean, Waslo (not his real name, but . . . well more on that later) and I took a zodiac out and headed for the nearby island of Torgesen, where later in the summer a penguin rookery will form. It's a popular island for both penguins and seals, as it's got a lot of large, flat areas for them to hang out on, and relatively shallow approaches to the ocean. So we got to the island and start motoring around, trying to see if there's anything living on it, when . . .

That would be Sean swearing a bit, and you can barely hear me in the background. I was driving the boat at the time (as I almost always am, because it's fun), so I didn't get any photos of them in the water, but we headed after them, giving them a wide berth so as not to disturb them, so that Sean and Waz could try to get some shots.

Given our luck, we decided to land on the island and go for a bit of a walk. We headed over to the south side, and upon coming around a peak, we saw, off in the distance, more wobbly little silly creatures! So as we all excitedly pulled out our cameras (My with my Canon 30D, Waslo with his Nikon D80 and Sean with his Pentax K200), the penguins noticed us as well (hard to miss us in our bright orange survival suits). And to our surprise and delight they flopped onto their bellies and . . . headed straight for us?

I'm not kidding when I say that I think they were just as curious about us as we were them. The instant they noticed us, they really did make a beeline directly at us. When they got closer, I think their excitement waned a bit, as they realized that we didn't have any fish or krill treats to feed them. Still, though, they didn't seem to mind our presence at all. They don't have any instinctive fear of humans, only recently have they been exposed to us and because they're a protected species, they have little to fear. They're a little skittish around us, as any animal would be when confronted with another animal that's about 6 times larger then they are, but as long as we stayed 20 feet away or so, and didn't make any really sudden movements, they ignored us.

Of course, that meant that we could sit down and proceed to take an obscene number of pictures of them. Which I will now bombard you with. My problem is that I'm pretty lousy at picking out the really great pictures from the simply good ones, so now I'm offloading that task onto you! Click the images for a larger version, of course.

I think these next two need some sort of a silly caption. Something like "Aw, dammit, I stepped in dog poo!" or something like that.

These guys were jawing at each other a bit. Maybe arguing over who got the best bit of rock to stand on, or something.

And in the category of totally-un-smooth-moments, we have this little guy. Who, when trying to waddle over some rocks, did an absolute face-plant into the snow. Which, of course, I captured on camera for all his penguin buddies to laugh at him for. I should put these next three together in a gif or something

Aaaaand, butt flopping straight up in the air! Needs a funny caption. I should have used a faster shutter, but I actually think I like the motion blur.

Of course, like any self-respecting but ultimately silly animal, such as cats, he immediately picked himself up and waddled off, as if to say "What? I meant to do that!"

Even penguins do yoga, apparently. I think this pose is "downward facing chuck norris" or something.

Well, I figure that's enough photospamming for now. And of all the good-quality pictures I took, these are probably only half. If you're curious to see the rest, follow the links through the pics to my photobucket and you can dig through them there. Mostly, it's a lot of fairly similar pictures, I just tried to post one of each set here.

But don't think that's the end of these. Oh no. We went out boating again today, and found . . . MORE PENGUINS! I'm sorting through them now, so expect another deluge of photos in the next couple days.