Freeze Me, Please!

Quark Expeditions has a contest going. They are making a promotion out of sending a blogger to Antarctica on an expedition next year, and have a voting system set up so that each blogger can have people vote for their bid to go on the trip.

I found out about the whole thing a bit late, when PZ Myers on Pharyngula endorsed Grrrlscientist’s bid. So I’m in a bit of a hole at the moment in the voting. Please take a moment to go vote for my bid. You can change your vote later, if you decide to go with another blogger in the running. The voting ends September 30th, 2009.

Back around 1997, Randy Davis at Texas A&M University was putting together an Anatarctic expedition to observe the behavior of diving Weddell seals, including both physiological and bioacoustical measures of what was happening. I got an invitation to go along to assist in the research, but I had to turn that down because of my chronic ulcerative colitis. As my doctor said, though, ulcerative colitis can be cured, and my colon got removed back in 2004. (See the first messages on this blog for the gory details of going through surgery and recuperation.) So now I’m in shape where I can contemplate having an adventure, and I’d like to get the chance to find out part of what I missed due to chronic illness earlier. Please give me a hand: vote for my bid, and pass it on to people you know. And if you do, I’d be grateful to hear from you in the comments here, too.

I should point out that the contest gives the winner a two-person expedition to Antarctica. My partner for the trip is Diane J. Blackwood. Diane’s academic background is also interdisciplinary. She has a BS in zoology, another BS in electrical engineering, an MS in biomedical engineering, and a Ph.D. in wildlife and fisheries sciences. We both went through the same Ph.D. program together at Texas A&M University. Diane has a lot of research experience, from respiratory studies in infants through G-induced loss of consciousness in fighter pilots, from behavior of lekking prairie chickens and sage grouse to reaction times of whales and dolphins in hearing tests. A vote for my bid gets you, the blog reader, an additional expert perspective on the expedition.

Gearing up for Antarctica

It’s a pleasant fantasy to think about what to take along on an Antarctic expedition. One has to balance weight versus value for these sorts of trips, so the first pass will simply be to list off useful things, and later I’ll work on winnowing that down.

Computer gear:

Laptop computer, probably my Gateway MT6458 for me and the old IBM Thinkpad A30 for Diane.
External drive(s), probably one or two 1.5TB USB drives
USB card reader(s)
USB flash drive(s), have one 8GB, will likely stock up on more
Aim to have one or two USB drives pre-loaded with Ubuntu and Knoppix systems for booting and system rescue
CD set of disks for system recovery/reinstallation
GPS with waypoint logging

Screwdrivers, straight flat blade, Phillips #2, interchangeable tip with tip assortment, miniature screwdriver set
Eyeglass repair kit (2)
Needle-nose pliers
Needle-nose Vise-Grip
Forceps, curved and straight
Dikes, small and medium
C clamps (2)
Gaffer’s tape
2″ PVC pipe tape
Scotch Super-33 electrical tape
Wire-wrap tool
Wire-wrap wire
Hook-up wire, 24 gauge
15W pencil soldering iron

Camera bodies
Nikon D2Xs (digital SLR)
Fuji S2 (digital SLR)
Nikon F2 (manual film SLR)
(May want to get a full frame digital SLR for the trip)
Nikkor VR AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8
Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8
Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6
Nikkor AI-S 24mm f/2.8
Micro-Nikkor AI-S 105mm f/2.8
Nikkor AI-S 50mm f/2
Sigma AF 18-200mm
(May want to add a 500mm mirror lens or other long lens)
Nikon SB-800 (2)
Wireless remote for D2Xs
Gossen Luna-Pro light meter
Compact flash cards
SD to compact flash adapters (2)
Ultrapods (2)
Nikon flash cord
Diffuser for macro work
Custom panorama head
(Need to get a travel tripod)
(More stuff to be listed)

EDO Western 6166 hydrophone (good for audio through high frequency sound)
Sonobuoy salvage hydrophones, various
Geophone (low frequency and vibration response, has suction cup)
Aiwa miniature stereo mic
Shotgun mic
Olympus WS-320M voice recorder
Archos AV320
Custom hydrophone pre-amps
Battery-powered pre-amps and amplifiers
GT-1000T Amp/monitor speaker
(Will look for flash memory data recorder before trip)

Secchi disk
(There are some simple bits of science that can be done with the above tools concerning the state of the sea surface and how the Antarctic peninsula differs from the starting point in Argentina.)

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Data scientist in real estate and econometrics. Blogger. Speaker. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

5 thoughts on “Freeze Me, Please!

  • 2009/07/02 at 6:13 pm

    Okay, I have cast my vote for you. Best of luck. (Hope Rusty likes penguins)

  • 2009/07/02 at 11:13 pm


    Rusty is not fond of large bodies of water, though she does like ducks and geese. Harris’ hawks do tend to see anything that isn’t a Harris’ hawk as at least a potential dinner.

  • 2009/07/03 at 12:59 pm

    I’ll look for that, it should be arriving in the mail soon.

  • 2009/07/06 at 7:28 pm

    The magazine came out a while ago. I did leave a link to the article in my last post.

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