Into the Cold: Antarctica travels to Minneapolis

KatyDon't we look like cousins? Katy Jensen on the left, me on the right. We read together from Antarctica: Life on the Ice on November 11 at Mager's and Quinn (a fabulous bookstore--both new and used) on a balmy early evening in Minneapolis. Katy--whose essay is about wintering at the South Pole--finds Minneapolis too cold...

We had an extraordinary audience. My real cousins Polly and Deborah Talen were there with their three girls Grace, Lydia, and Eliza (in reverse order of age). Polly is the funniest woman alive and Deborah is a founder of Rainbow Families. Victoria Nohl, a former student from Bard, showed up still looking like Queenie (her name while at Bard). But most of the standing-room only crowd was Katy's family and step-family. They stretched back into the stacks of books and listened, enraptured, while Katy read her beautiful and emotionally complex essay. When I first met Katy it was through her essay, which has an amazing grace and intelligence to it. Meeting her was that rare moment of person living up to their writing...and then adding that special something that comes only with sitting down and having tea with someone.

Here is Katy's account of the reading, which I post with a blush.

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Who is that webmaster?

Johnpauljones_2We're going to take a little break from the Antarctic to ask an important question: who is my webmaster. Many of you have been wondering--and well you might. Here are some clues as to who he is.

He is the one who said:

"An honorable blog is and always was my first wish! I can take no delight in the effusion of bandwidth; but, if this blog should continue, I wish to have the most active part in it. "


"I have not yet begun to blog!"


"I wish to have no connection with any blog that does not blog fast; for I intend to go in harm's way. "

he is a pretty quotable guy, so he also said this:

"If a website is cultivated it will become stronger, if a blog is cultivated it will achieve mastery."

He really can't be beat for good quotes:

"It seems to be a law of blogs, inflexible and inexorable, that those who will not blog cannot win."

We'll end with this:

"Whoever can blog well must conquer."

If you know who he is, please leave a comment.

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XTRA, XTRA: Read All About The Antarctic Sun

The best and cheapest all-points-north bulletin on the planet is delivered right to your doorstep by clicking The Antarctic Sun, a fun and exciting, web-based magazine with "News about the US Antarctic Program, the Ice, and the People." Funded by the National Science Foundation, The Sun brings you incredible tales and characters from the bottom of the planet (not unlike Antarctica: Life on the Ice by Yours Truly). 

The current edition of The Sun tells the amazing story of a subglacial mountain range beneath the high plateau in East Antarctica "the size of the European Alps but buried below hundreds of meters of ice and snow [that] has puzzled and enticed Antarctic scientists since its discovery 50 years ago."

Agap_with_tamseis_2 This photograph by  Doug Wiens accompanies the article.  It is a dramatic and true image of the conditions that Antarctic researchers routinely endure. Click on it to enlarge. Here's the photo's caption from The Sun

"Researchers headed into the field for the seismic instrumentation of the AGAP project in 2007-08 can expect the same sort of extreme weather conditions experienced during TAMSEIS (2001-03), a project in the Transantarctic Mountains that used an earlier generation of seismometers for similar research."

An excerpt follows from The Sun story.

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Bill Jirsa: "Antarctica Trumped my Funk"

Jirsa_2It's hard to describe Ice People--but if I had one word it would be eclectic. I was fascinated, intrigued and often in awe of those I met, so in these pages I will introduce you to some, and have them describe their experiences this season. So: meet Bill Jirsa, computer wizard, master of languages, and a beautiful writer. I recently asked him what he was up to on the ice and this is his amazing response. You can find more of his writing at icetongue (the world’s southernmost literary journal) or on his website elementarypenguin.

Bill writes: I was stranded at Lake Hoare last week. The weather changed while I was there to install the computer systems. I had about one day of work, and I ended up there for six nights as the weather remained just dodgy enough to cancel helo flights. I had to stay close to the radio through the day in case the weather opened up, but each day by about 3 or 4 pm they would cancel the day outright and tell the pilots to get some sleep. That’s when I set out for a night of wandering the Taylor Valley.  This is my fourth season working in Antarctica. My job seldom takes me far from the station, and I’ve resisted returning to work here this year—thinking I should grow up and get a job where I don’t live in a dorm, start cooking for myself again. Mostly I’ve started to feel a bit sad that Antarctica has begun to feel ordinary to me.

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Antarctica: Life on the Road

Boulderbookstore Antarctica: Life on the Ice hit the road this past weekend. First stop: Boulder, Colorado where I read with Traci Macnamara and Beth Bartel. Traci brought a blow-up globe so that everyone would know where the Antarctic is (not "up there with the polar bears"). She read from her essay about spending Thanksgiving on the ice, while Beth read from her essay that describes her time spent on Mt. Erebus. They were both stars. In the audience were a lot of ice people, including Elaine Hood, from Raytheon who was my guardian angel during my trip. And then there were friends and fellow writers BK Loren and Sallie Greenwood. Christine Weeber, who contributed to Solo: On Her Own Adventure showed up, as did Jenny Dellaport, from my hometown of State College, PA! Watch for news of more readings at my website:

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