Saturday, October 20, 2012

From A to Z

 About  a year ago I was reading one of my companies newsletters (I work for Lockheed Martin), and one of my sister-divisions had won a big contract. A HUGE contract. It's to provide support for the Antarctic Project (Operation Deep Freeze). I recall after reading that bit that I emailed my manger and told him if they ever ask for help, I'm IN! careful what you wish for...last Wednesday I found out they are indeed asking for help, and on Thursday we had a meeting where we found out the details for all who were interested, and on Friday I submitted my resume to my department head (who then submitted it to their Program Manager for review). IF they have any jobs that call for my skills (electronics), I would expect they will be contacting me pronto. At that time they will discuss what the job is and the terms. If I accept then they will quickly arrange for a full physical and dental screening. This is to weed out any people who might have issues and need to return to the states for care...they try to avoid that as it's pretty expensive to evac people from the "Ice".

IF I am selected, it would be roughly a 4 month tour...mid-Nov thru Mid/late Feb, which coincides with the Antarctic summer. It's then that the population swells with researchers all trying to squeeze in their studies in the short summer, and my company needs to fill lots of positions to keep the place alive and running during the summer heydays.

LONG ago when I was a young Navy lad I tried and tried to get to McMurdo Station for a 1 year tour of duty. But it seems government is government no matter how stupid it seems. You see, every job in the Navy has a numeric code assigned to it. I was in a VERY small rating (job category), and even though I did the SAME EXACT job as 2 other Navy ratings, their codes were on the list for Antarctic duty, and mine was not. Try as I might, I could never get an exemption. And quite honestly, I NEVER thought the chance to go Antarctica would come up again.

Of course, IF it comes to pass that I get to go, it will be all thru the holidays... and we had plans. But I look at this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Jeannie doesn't quite see it that way...though she certainly understands that we think totally different on many things. She would rather (and I quote) "jump off Diamond Head crater" (in Hawaii) than go to Antarctica...(because at least it would be WARM in Hawaii). I have no idea why I think it would be SO TOTALLY AWESOME to go down there (not sure about the FOUR month part...I'd think a few weeks would be ok too)...but it is what it is. I've met a few people who did tours there when I was in the Navy, which is most likely what sparked my interest I assume.

There are 3 stations that we support down there: McMurdo Station, Amandson-Scott South Pole Station (at the ACTUAL South Pole!!!!) and Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula. To get to Palmer Station you fly thru the southern tip of Chili, and if you are going to either McMurdo or South Pole stations you go thru Christchurch New Zealand. I've always wanted to see New Zealand this is an opportunity to kill 2 birds with one stone. And hey...they would be PAYING me to go! Oh, I almost forgot...there are also 2 research ships down there that we also I could also be assigned to one of those...which would most likely be pretty cool too (REALLY cool....the summer temps average between 0 and 10F...though it has gotten up into the 40's before). And obviously, the South Pole Station is always colder than the other 2, being as it's literally sitting on top of almost 2 miles of ice at an altitude of just under 9000', where-as McMurdo and Palmer stations are roughly at sea level.

Of course, there isn't a heck of a lot to do down there I gather (I've been told there are a few bikes though!)...but I've done 7 years on tiny ships after I got out of the Navy (they were USNS Surveillance ships, staffed by civilians)....including a few missions out of Tromso Norway which is way above the Arctic Circle, (where it's dark 23.5 hours a day in the winter) spend nearly the entire 3-month mission inside the ship. Of course, Jeannie and I weren't married at that time....and leaving her and the babies for 4 months is my primary reason NOT to go. But she is supporting me in this (partly because I will be making some extra money, and partly because while I'm making that extra money I won't be SPENDING any of it, thus effectively making even MORE extra money)...and partly because she knows how excited I am about this opportunity. It's certainly bucket-list material!

I'd expect to be hearing from them SOON if there's a matching there is much to do between now and flying. For those who pass the physicals and are accepted, they arrange airline tickets to either New Zealand or Chili depending on where you are working at. From there you are kitted up with your Extreme Cold Weather Survival gear (arctic-parka, bunny-boots, long underwear, super gloves, etc etc). That is all on loan need to give it back when you leave. And there are a TON of restrictions and rules...I've been browsing thru them and I'm slightly overwhelmed. But it will all be worth it if I get to go.


Oh my gosh....I get all tingly just thinking about it!

I've never crossed the equator before....and this would be going WAY past the very bottom of the planet! And I'd actually get to see penguins NOT in a zoo just wandering around! And Orca's maybe. I'm betting after a 4 month trip I'd have MANY HUNDREDS of penguin pictures. Oh look's a Penguin. And here....another penguin. And over here, guessed it....more penguins. And yes, even MORE penguins. I wonder if anybody ever gets tired of watching penguins? I'd think it would be like watching Bald Eagles...I spent 2 years on the island of Adak Alaska LONG ago where there are bazillions of Bald Eagles...and I NEVER got tired of watching them.

And so....guess what else is going on? I'm TOTALLY not giving a rats butt about the cycling thing right now! Not even a LITTLE bit! Does that make me a bad person?

Well...there's not much else to say at this point...wish me LUCK! Life is an adventure...go for it, and live DANGEROUS...that's what I say!


  1. I would be sooo excited too! Yes, once in a lifetime chance to live your very own adventure! I am so envious, Matt!

    I had stopped in to moan about the demise of Rabobank. What a disaster! What will that do to the Tour of California?

    And to commiserate with Cathy, both on the team news and also having to run from a fire again. I totally get what you said, Cathy, about not regretting your relationship with that team/management. Hope that your world is straightening up now, no more fires!


    1. Hey Rae...yes, the Rabobank thing is TRULY sad...cycling lost one of it's benchmark sponsors. And sadly, I'd expect they won't be the last to flee with their dollars. We'll see how far things go before the season starts back up...I'm betting it will be a totally different landscape.

  2. Holy cats Matt!! Been super busy and haven't had a chance to comment on things here. Just stopped by for a quick read and thought that I MUST have read that wrong. Went back to read it again and it *still* says ATARCTICA! Will be an awesome adventure if you get to go though! wow wow wow


    I hate cold weather but: Antarctica! WOW! SHACKELTON! Space is only a few miles away from there! I heard about the bicycles there, too, although right now I forget. Surly, I think...pugsley or maybe Salsa mukluk...whatever. I am super envious. Me, I would never pass the physical exam or the psychiatric tests or the background check or the...wait, ignore that...I know for a fact that they have beer there, too. It was the first thing I asked about.

    Good luck, man!