So, you remember when I brought the entire US government to a standstill and jeopardized the Antarctic Program’s 2013-2014 season? Yes, of course, I realize that there were other factors, but I’m holding my “don’t want to jinx it” fears as the most under-rated cause of the shutdown. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, stop and read this post now – it’s okay, we’ll wait.
The upshot is that when I reaaaaaally want something, I’m always so afraid to let people know. And I reaaaaaally wanted to go back to the Ice this year, but there wasn’t really any chance. And then out of the blue there was a glimmer of a chance, not only that I’d get to go to the Ice, but that I’d get a position working on one of the ships, which is one of the most challenging – and rewarding – postings on or around the continent. I was so excited I could barely see straight, but I didn’t want to jinx it by telling people.
Then, as you know, the government shut down and pretty much the entire Antarctic season was canceled. Then it was sort of uncanceled when the last-minute Senate deal was signed, and everybody got hurled along in a game of logistical crack the whip to see if they could restart the six-month-long supply chain needed to support people on the Ice. Some stuff they couldn’t restart, some they could, and everyone in the program was scrambling to figure out on the fly which projects, people and programs were in which bucket. There was Serious Craziness – some folks who’d been deployed to McMurdo then turned around and sent home had to be tracked back down in transit to turn around again and deploy a second time. You watch this sort of thing happening, and you just keep your head down, right?
But yeah – yesterday I got the call. Modulo the PQ process and unforeseen complications, I’ve got an offer – I’m going to the Ice. Holy freakin’ dustbusters. I’m going to the Ice. On a ship. And not just any ship, the Nathaniel B Palmer, the big boy of the USAP fleet. It’s a 6,000 ton, 15,000 horsepower steel-hulled floating research lab on steroids. It’s got its own helicopter. An icebreaker. With a helicopter. Can you tell I’m excited?
The Palmer does a bunch of tours each year around the coast of Antarctica (see here for schedule and ports), and Scott* needs to staff IT crews to rotate through for all of them. He’s actually made me not one, but two offers. First off, he’s offered me a slot as Alternate for the Jan-March tour. Now, “Alternate” means that I don’t go unless one of his primaries gets hit by a truck, but don’t go looking up truck rental agencies – Scott’s also offered me Primary (Primary. Primary!) for the Aug-Sep tour. Which gives me time to study up on all the network techno-foo stuff for which I am currently Clearly Not Qualified.
*(You’ll probably be hearing a lot more about Scott as we go along – he’ll be my boss)
Anyhow, more details later, after I’ve started breathing again. But I wanted to tell everyone. Before, you know, I jinxed things again.