Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Crazy Arctic Guy almost halfway there now

Tue, 28 Feb 2006 // 22:48

Latest position: N85°22'42' E98°12'51'
Distance to go: 515km
Temperature: -28°C (without windchill)

MAKING GOOD HEADWAY...'It has been another good day for us. We've walked 25 km today in ten hours - that's 28 km closer to the North Pole, taking into account last night's ice drift. We are really satisfied with that kind of progress! We had an easterly wind today, too, but not as annoying or biting cold as yesterday. -28°C is within our 'comfort zone', unless the wind factor make's life chillier. Fortunately the wind velocity stayed around 5 metres per second (11mph), and now it's died down completely. We wonder what tomorrow will bring.

We saw polar bear tracks today and yesterday, but they weren't fresh.

Tonight our position is N85°22'42' E98°12'51'. The light is fantastic up here! It's bluish violet with a trace of red near the southern horizon. We only have to use our headlights in the morning and for a few hours in the evening. The rest of the time, there is enough light from the sky to navigate.

We see our surroundings well and the ice conditions are still really excellent. Perhaps a bit more chaotic and mixed, but we're making good headway. We still have about 515 km to go.

We're going to bed now, hoping to wake to yet another good day tomorrow!

Quote of the day

"Open wide, Baby Bird...because Momma's bringin' home a big fat red worm of truth!"

- Stephen Colbert

True Renaissance Man

One of my favorite actors is moving to the radio. Interesting.

"Russians don't take a dump, son, without a plan."

This week on Crazy Arctic Guy...

Tue, 21 Feb 2006 // 20:42

Latest position: N84°00'17' E103°57'
Distance to go: 667km
Wind: Southerly wind
Ice drift: Northwards
Conditions: Poor visibility

'After a challenging day of heavy southerly wind, we've reached N84°00'17' E103°57', that is 300km away from our starting point at Cape Artichesky. We have had a 10 metre per hour wind in our back the entire day and because of very thick cloud have also had very poor visibility, seeing only 2-5 metres ahead of us. It's a strain on your eyes in this darkness and also very tiring mentally, because you are constantly trying to distinguish features in the ice.

The ice today has been like rubble - and loads of it! We have also crossed a lot of frozen leads being careful not to fall through. It is very deceiving because of the quantity of blown snow that settles on the thin ice and sometimes on water. For now we're once again on older ice, a safe place to camp for the evening!

We are very tired after walking almost blindly for 9.5 hours. Now we're looking forward to a good night's sleep.

Wed, 22 Feb 2006 // 18:54

Latest position: N84°10'01' E103°46'
Distance to go: 650km
Ice drift: Northwest

'After another 9.5 hours walking we are 20kms further north, that is 650kms away from the Pole. Things are looking good. With 32 days done and another 38 days to go until the end of the winter we are feeling positive that we will make it.

We drifted south 2kms during the night but now the ice drift is in a NW direction. It's strange that as soon as the drift is in our favour the wind suddenly dies down to nothing. We are wondering if this might not be the calm before the storm. We think the bad weather will effect us tomorrow or perhaps Friday. We are expecting winds of 15 metres per second (33mph) and very cold temperatures once again. The problem with strong wind is that waves are formed on the ocean creating pressure under the ice and causing it to break up. Water becomes exposed and huge blocks of ice are pushed up onto the surface creating more obstacles for us to get over.

The ice conditions were great today. There were still a lot of leads to get over but we were lucky to find a path most times and only needed to swim once.

For now we'll carry on as usual and stick to the same routine. When we leave the tent in the morning we walk 2.5 hours without stopping to put a bit of distance behind us and while our oatmeal breakfast is still giving us lots of energy. After that we take turns leading, switching every 80 minutes, so in the course of the day we have five breaks.

The sledges are gradually getting lighter. We are strong and our equipment is working well. Things must continue like this and we'll soon be at the Pole!

Thu, 23 Feb 2006 // 17:21

Latest position: N84°17'41' E102°49'09'
Distance to go: 637km
Temperature: -15°C (without windchill)

'We didn't stop early because of the wind. We were forced to stop because I fell in the water - not once, but twice!!! We left the tent early this morning and walked a half hour in very strong northwesterly winds. As we expected these strong winds are breaking the ice and many openings are appearing. The snow is flying in all directions and the visibility is so bad that you cannot even see the front of your skis.

The first lead we came across, my foot broke through the ice. I quickly corrected myself but my foot was wet. We had no choice but to pitch the tent and get the cooker alight to dry out my shoe before I froze my toes. This held us back this morning but as soon as my shoe was dry and I had changed my sock we decided to get going again. I was fine.

We walked 11 - 12 kms and came across another lead. This time Borge had found a nice passage to cross or at least this is what we thought! He walked first with no problem and then it was my turn. The ice was fine but when I took my next step and I saw the ice start cracking underneath me. The ice started splitting and this time I was unable to correct myself. The crack between my legs was getting wider and wider and then I fell in. I fell in the water up to my waist and managed to pull myself out by getting a grip on the ice edge. I immediately rolled myself in the snow. The snow sticks to my clothing and has the effect of soaking up the water, which then immediately freezes and I can brush off. This takes away a large proportion of the outside moisture but does not help for the moisture in my underwear. Borge, in the meantime was already pitching the tent. This time we had a big drying job to do!

I am fine now. The cooker is still going. We have extra reserves of fuel for this reason. We have managed to dry the clothing out 80%. I think that it'll be fine by tomorrow and we will be able to walk again as usual.

I was fortunate that the temperatures had risen to about -15° today (without wind). We'll have to be very careful the next few days. That's enough swimming for the meantime!

Fri, 24 Feb 2006 // 20:04

Latest position: N84°20'12' E101°30'
Distance to go: 632km
Wind: Strong NW winds 20-26mph
Conditions: Snowing, poor visibility

Today started with a comical accident with the pepper spray, as Borge explains, 'Mike was a tad bit careless and released pepper spray, which gave us a rather hilarious start! Pepper spray is intended as a defence or last resort when you're standing eye to eye with a polar bear, and it's extremely effective. Well, it worked. Shortly after breakfast, our tent was suddenly full of it, and we could hardly breathe - we lay next to each of our vents gasping for air, struggling to catch our breath. That episode certainly did get our blood circulation going!'

The weather conditions were borderline this morning, with 20-26mph northeast winds and almost zero visibility in the snow, so Mike and Borge decided to stay in the tent to see how things developed, Mike listened to his music and Borge listened to the Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. Throughout the morning conditions outside the tent seemed to be improving slightly:

'Around noon the wind had abated a bit, so we packed our equipment and broke camp. It was still a miserable day. Even so, it did us good to get out of the tent. It is so easy to just remain there once you've settled into your sleeping bag. Hence it feels like an even greater victory when you get it together and brave the elements.

In difficult conditions and reduced visibility, we crossed an average of one lead of seawater every hour. When they're covered with snow, they can be deadly. We have to always be scanning, looking left or right, trying to read the terrain. Sometimes a snowdrift will run straight across the water. But we managed to cross each lead safely.

At the end of our day, we came to a huge lead that was newly frozen and started walking. We were fine, but discovered that the ice was very varied, with patches of very thin, dangerous ice that looked almost the same as the thicker ice. Here and there the ice had cracked, and was obviously moving, forming pack ice a number of places.'

At this point, Mike and Borge decided it was best to withdraw, retreating several hundred metres on to solid ice, as Borge explains: 'By tomorrow we expect the lead to have frozen, so that we can continue without taking undue risks. The wind is supposed to come from a more southerly direction tomorrow, and the weather forecast calls for good weather the next few days. We don't mind it so much when the wind is at our backs.

We're in the tent once again and our dinner is waiting for us. Tomorrow we're going to cross that lead.'

Mike and Borge battled in these difficult conditions today, and coupled with the southwards drift only managed to walk 4km in 6 hours, leaving them 632km to go. Hopefully tomorrow the southerly winds will return, and help them progress north.

DAY 35: 35 DAYS DONE - 35 TO GO!
Sat, 25 Feb 2006 // 19:44

Latest position: N84°34' E101°00'
Distance to go: 600km
Temperature: -20°C (without windchill)
Wind: Light easterly
Ice drift: Slight northwesterly

'The ice was fabulous today! The winds are now easterly and have calmed down considerably. The ice has flattened out and the occasional patches of rubble that we came across were also quite flat because they had filled up with snow. We decided to charge ahead while the going was good. We continued for 11 hours and covered a distance of 25kms!

First thing this morning we had to tackle the 400m wide lead that we camped beside last night. There were no risks taken. We put on our swimsuits before leaving the tent and literally crawled across on the thin ice. Thank goodness for the suits! We both fell through the ice into the water but this time we remained completely dry. The sledges are specially designed to float so our equipment fortunately stays dry. We crossed a second lead in the day but that didn't cause us any problems.

The temperatures are -20° today (without the wind factor) and the ice drift is slightly northwesterly. There was a little light around midday. The little bit of light and the better ice conditions really gave us the lift that we needed. We were in need of a good day!!!

Borge and I are living in harmony in the tent. We hope from now on the ice will stay like this and we can steam ahead to the North Pole. I'm now waiting for the water to boil. Dinner in the tent is always a great moment of the day!

Sun, 26 Feb 2006 // 17:54

Latest position: N84°52' E100°01'
Distance to go: 574km
Wind: Strong southeast 18mph
Ice drift: Northeast 0.5km/hr

'We did 30kms today! Conditions were great so we walked almost 11 hours to get a bit of distance behind us. If we look at the food supplies we have an average of 19kms to do each day before we go hungry. It's a bit touch and go so we prefer to move while the going is good. It's important to get all the chances on our side.

The wind is strong and coming from the southeast at 8 metres per second (18mph). The ice drift is northeasterly at about 0.5 km/hr. The sky was clear today with the occasional cloud and a lot of blowing snow. It was great to be able to turn off our headlamps for about three hours today and to still be able to see where we were placing our feet. We only had a couple of leads to cross today but no swimming was done!!! It would be great if conditions stay like this!!

The tent poles are causing us a lot of worry. This time it was Borge that had the mishap - the pole broke in his hand. We have fixed it again and are hoping they will last another month of these conditions. They just do not withstand the extreme cold.

We are now 400kms away from Cape Artichesky and we have 574 kms to go to the pole. It was around about here where I was picked up after freezing my fingers during my first attempt of the North Pole. I can tell you it feels great to be passing this point and to know that everything is just fine. Will try and get some new photos to you tomorrow but for now I need to sleep!

Mon, 27 Feb 2006 // 18:29

Latest position: N85°08'07' E98°56'09'
Distance to go: 543km
Wind: Strong easterly 18mph
Ice drift: Easterly
Temperature: -40°C (with windchill)

Mike and Borge have made excellent progress over the last few days, breaking their record for distance covered in one day which now stands at 30km after 10 hours walking. On Saturday they reached the halfway mark in the expedition, in terms of days on the ice (37 out of an estimated 70) and are now nearly half way in distance covered (457km done with 543km to go). As a result their sledges are becoming noticeable lighter as the days go by with the more food and fuel they burn.

Now in the 85th degree of latitude, the ice conditions are noticeably improving too as they move on to the older, thicker and more stable ice (100-150cm). Even at this stage, there is still a chance the ice can break up and form open leads but this is less likely to form troublesome pack ice. Although donning their survival suits to swim across these leads is unlikely to be a thing of the past.

The easterly winds and ice drift are currently going in their favour, and helping them accelerate north. These all round excellent conditions they are experiencing, helped them advance an impressive 58km over the weekend.

The duo are hoping the current easterly wind will shift to a southerly. This will cause the ice cap to drift north speeding up their progress towards the North Pole. This direction of wind also means it would come from behind them not only helping to push them along, but also creating safer walking conditions. A week ago, Mike and Borge were really suffering the effects of the harsh freezing cold head-on winds, causing Mike's nose to turn black on the tip and Borge was also suffering with a swollen face- the first signs of frostbite. However, today's latest update from Mike (see below) demonstrates how they are still battling with freezing conditions: 'We are fighting against very strong winds and very cold temperatures of around -40° (with windchill)...'

The main preoccupation now, apart from looking after their bodies and having enough food to get them to the Pole, is also their equipment that is still being affected by the freezing cold temperature, which caused another tent pole to snap. From now on they need to continue averaging 19km a day to get them to the North Pole before running out of food! They have saved an extra three days of rations to allow them a safety margin of a few extra days - this would allow the average daily distance to drop to 17km.Mike and Borge have decided to walk at least 10 hours each day, which is less tiring on the good ice they are now experiencing, and they are both feeling positive they will make it to the North Pole in time to become the first men to walk do the North Pole unassisted in the Arctic winter.

'It was another great day. We encountered a lot of broken ice and patches of water, but we managed to get across on skis or otherwise found an alternative passage. We are fighting against very strong winds and very cold temperatures of around -40° (with windchill). Only one thing to do when it\'s cold like this and that is to move, move, move! You do not stop moving at all during the day otherwise you freeze on the spot!"

It's amazing how much more light we get day by day. We left the tent early this morning and after one hour of walking we were able to turn off our headlamps already. We walked virtually all day with no extra light and only needed to turn our headlamps on again two hours prior to pitching tent. Having light during the day makes a huge difference to our progress. We are also noticing polar bear tracks more regularly. Seems as though there are not so far away but at least now we might be able to spot them before they spot us!

The easterly drift added an extra 3km on to our 27km today so all in all we advanced 30kms!!

Our position tonight is N85°08'07' E98°56'09' - that is 543km from the Pole. It interesting to note that the longitudes are changing quickly now, because they are getting closer and closer as we approach the North Pole.

No problems with tent poles tonight so that is good. I have an infection under my nail, which is quite sore. I hope that the antibiotics in my pharmacy will soon sort that out!!!

Monday, February 27, 2006

World's Worst Job

We have, according to FNC, just captured another Senior Aide to Al-Zarqawi.

Which I beleive brings the count of top aides in custody up to, like, a hundred...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Incredible Mr. Limpet Dead At 81

VERY sad to hear this today. My mother is a big fan of his movies, so naturally, I saw them all when I was a kid.

Barney Fife & Mr. Furley notwithstanding, the guy was something of a comedic genius, the proto-dork of the 60s, a great physical comedic actor and from every account I've read about him...a hell of a great guy to be around.

Anyway, here's the story from FNC, which is where I first heard it in my email. Damn.

LOS ANGELESDon Knotts, who kept generations of TV audiences laughing as bumbling Deputy Barney Fife on "The Andy Griffith Show" and would-be swinger landlord Ralph Furley on "Three's Company," has died. He was 81.

Knotts died Friday night of pulmonary and respiratory complications at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center, said Sherwin Bash, his friend and manager.
Griffith, who had visited Knotts in the hospital before his death, said his longtime friend had a brilliant comedic mind and wrote some of the show's best scenes.

"Don was a small man ... but everything else about him was large: his mind, his expressions," Griffith told The Associated Press on Saturday. "Don was special. There's nobody like him.

"I loved him very much," Griffith added. "We had a long and wonderful life together."

Unspecified health problems had forced Knotts to cancel an appearance in his native Morgantown in August.

The West Virginia-born actor's half-century career included seven TV series and more than 25 films, but it was the Griffith show that brought him TV immortality and five Emmys.

The show ran from 1960-68, and was in the top 10 of the Nielsen ratings each season, including a No. 1 ranking its final year. It is one of only three series in TV history to bow out at the top: The others are "I Love Lucy" and "Seinfeld." The 249 episodes have appeared frequently in reruns and have spawned a large, active network of fan clubs.

As the bug-eyed deputy to Griffith, Knotts carried in his shirt pocket the one bullet he was allowed after shooting himself in the foot. The constant fumbling, a recurring sight gag, was typical of his self-deprecating humor.

Knotts, whose shy, soft-spoken manner was unlike his high-strung characters, once said he was most proud of the Fife character and doesn't mind being remembered that way.

His favorite episodes, he said, were "The Pickle Story," where Aunt Bee makes pickles no one can eat, and "Barney and the Choir," where no one can stop him from singing.

"I can't sing. It makes me sad that I can't sing or dance well enough to be in a musical, but I'm just not talented in that way," he lamented. "It's one of my weaknesses."

Knotts appeared on several other television shows. In 1979, he joined the cast of "Three's Company," also starring John Ritter, Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt.

Early in his TV career, he was one of the original cast members of "The Steve Allen Show," the comedy-variety show that ran from 1956-61. He was one of a group of memorable comics backing Allen that included Louis Nye, Tom Poston and Bill "Jose Jimenez" Dana.

Knotts' G-rated films were family fun, not box-office blockbusters. In most, he ends up the hero and gets the girl — a girl who can see through his nervousness to the heart of gold.

In the part-animated 1964 film "The Incredible Mr. Limpet," Knotts played a meek clerk who turns into a fish after he is rejected by the Navy.

When it was announced in 1998 that Jim Carrey would star in a "Limpet" remake, Knotts responded: "I'm just flattered that someone of Carrey's caliber is remaking something I did. Now, if someone else did Barney Fife, THAT would be different."

Knotts had taken a job on a radio Western called "Bobby Benson and the B-Bar-B Riders," playing a wisecracking, know-it-all handyman. He stayed with it for five years, then came his series TV debut on "The Steve Allen Show."

He married Kay Metz in 1948, the year he graduated from college. The couple had two children before divorcing in 1969. Knotts later married, then divorced Lara Lee Szuchna.

In recent years, he said he had no plans to retire, traveling with theater productions and appearing in print and TV ads for Kodiak pressure treated wood.

The world laughed at Knotts, but it also laughed with him.

He treasured his comedic roles and could point to only one role that wasn't funny, a brief stint on the daytime drama "Search for Tomorrow."

"That's the only serious thing I've done. I don't miss that," Knotts said.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

News, Glorious News...

I've been deeply entrenched, madly obsessed, totally enveloped with the novel. I'm spending almost none of my free time (after the kids crash) doing anything else. So here's some of the stories I've been saving but not posting:

The highlights:
  • Crazy Arctic Guy has pushed up to 83 North, but finally did what I was afraid would happen, and fell in the water. He'll get his own thread, because I have about four days of him to post.
  • SOUTH DAKOTA HOUSE OKS BILL TO BAN NEARLY ALL ABORTIONS (headline from Fox News Channel email Friday afternoon).
  • And then...on the other end of the scale...there's Harare, Zimbabwe and the worst story of 2006 so far.
  • Henry Rollins (my Guardo Camino) has been placed on the Terrorist Person Of Interest list in Oceania because of some jackass who literally judged a book by it's cover.
  • James Bond fans (of which I am one) are boycotting the new Casino Royale film (which I am most certainly not) because they hate the new actor portraying Bond, Daniel Craig.
  • My Washington Nationals could be facing a mandatory name change. Already. The owner is unavailable for comment...because we still don't fucking have one...
  • Oh yeah, and more than 30 pitchers showed up at the Nats' Spring Training Camp, mostly relievers. Only 6 or 7 will make it. The rest will wait to be called up so they can routinely suck for us in the last half of the season...
  • Glacial melt accelerating.
  • Astronaut photography of earth.

Friday, February 24, 2006


I'm very busy right now, with MSNBC Olympic coverage on in the background...but I had to stop and say this: (cough, mic feedback)

MSNBC needs to stop, already, with the pretensious worship of that insipid little prat Tucker Carlson. If I see his stupid little bowtie one more damn time, climbing onto sports gear that I only want to see being used by the type of athlete that used to beat people like he and I up in school...I'm going to skip the rest of the games. Enough already. Somebody wake up Bob Costas and make him work a double. Please.

Wow. Good thing the games are done this weekend. Sorry about that. Move along.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Air Force One...

...is parked about 1 mile from our home right now.

The President is stumping for Congressman Chris "Count" Chocola in Mishawaka. I drove the kids past the airport to see the plane.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Major Earthquake in Southeast Africa

7.5 on the scale. Given that it was in Mozambique, I'm hoping casualties will turn out to have been very low...


Monday, February 20, 2006

Crazy Arctic Guy, Day Thirty

Mon, 20 Feb 2006 // 18:21

Latest position: N83°45'49.4' E103°9'26.4'
Distance to go: 697km
Drift: Southwards but slow
Days of food left: 40 (after cutting down on daily rations they've managed to gain an extra few days of food)

After their rest day yesterday, Mike and Borge set off again this morning ready for another day walking on the ice, but soon found themselves changing in to their survival suits (completely waterproof and worn over clothing) and jumping in the freezing cold Arctic Ocean:

'Today we came across another open lead we had to swim across. Luckily only one 50m wide. Drift has been south today but slow. We made good progress with very bad light today but all is well. We have 697km to go with 40 days food left.'

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Crazy Arctic Guy rests, drifts south

Sun, 19 Feb 2006 // 18:10

Quote of the Day:
'It's actually rather cosy inside our tent, we've really relaxed, eaten well and listened to music on our mp3-players.'

Latest position: N83°36'17' E103°14'41'
Days of food left: 38
Conditions: Northerly winds and snowing
Drift: Southwards 500m per hour

Today Mike and Borge took a rest day, only their second since the start of the expedition four weeks ago: 'Rest day today - day no 29. I'll try and send a couple of photos of polar bear prints. This bear must have crossed our path just before we were in a storm a few days ago. The full moon was out this day so this gave us some light. The prints have filled up with the drifting snow. Borge and I are inside the tent which we now call 'home'. The frost bite on my nose is not too bad but I will have to take care. Borge has a very swollen face because of walking into the headwinds. These winds have made us drift south for 3 days now - three days with no progress! Hope the wind changes soon! That's all for now. Will get some sleep.'

Crazy Arctic Guy: Day 28

I have to admit, reading some of his reports is giving me some great ideas for what I'm writing at home these days. It's set in a very similar set of circumstances.

I started off making fun of this guy, because I think he's insane trying to pull this off. Now I have more respect for hm than I thought possible.

I still think he's crazy, though...

...Sat, 18 Feb 2006 // 18:38

Quote of the Day:
'At 6 o'clock in the morning you do not feel like jumping into the Arctic Ocean - well we did!...'

Latest position: N83°39'58' E103°20'41'
Distance to go: approx 706km
Days of food left: 39
Wind: NW 5-7m per second
Drift: Southwards 500m per hour

' Two steps forward, one step back!! That's what it is like. After 9 hrs of walking we moved 17kms but the GPS reading said we only moved 8kms. The southerly drift is 0.5km/hr. The worst conditions we could possible have are the northwesterly winds (today at 5-7 metres/second) as this gives us the southward drift. If the wind comes from the northeast it is better for us because we will drift east instead of south. It is all to do with the rotation of the planet.

We faced a big challenge this morning - a 300metre lead that we needed to cross. At 6 o'clock in the morning you do not feel like jumping into the Arctic Ocean. Well we did! We put on our swimsuits (otherwise called survival suits that are worn over the clothing and are completely waterproof) and jumped into the water. Borge took the lead and with his body started to break the ice. Borge held two ropes and pulled the sledges from the front. I went in after and pushed the sledges from behind. It was a good thing that we waited overnight before attempting the cross this lead because the second half of the lead had frozen sufficiently for us to walk on. We made it and we were happy!

Borge and I have decided to take a rest day tomorrow. We discussed it between us and decided it would be better for us psychologically to stop and move backwards rather than to move forward and move backwards at the same time. We would rather move forward and drift forward and make double time in the days to come. (Confused?!?!) Anyhow, tomorrow will be a repair day. We have a lot of things that need to be checked. A tent pole started splitting today at the joint. Borge has already repaired it with wire. I must repair the cover of my sledge, the skins in my skis and will spend the day inspecting the rest of my equipment. Apart from that, these days are tough going and our bodies are in need of a rest. Not a lot of words are spoken between me and Borge - we walk all day, eat and sleep!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Crazy Arctic Guy, Days 25 & 26

I can't fathom the amount of damage he's doing to himself. Wow. Braver soul than I...

Wed, 15 Feb 2006 // 16:21

Quote of the Day:

'I'm more prone to freezing my nose than Borge it seems, I guess because of my 27 month expedition around the Arctic Circle! It is already starting to turn black on the tip and around the nostrils...'

Latest position: N83°21'54.5' E104°05'19.4'
Distance to go: 741km
Wind: 22mph SE winds
Drift: NW ice drift of around 0.3mph

Today Mike and Borge did their record day for distance - 27 km! (previous record was 20km on Day 22):

'Everything was in our favour today. We were very fortunate to have a NW drift of 0.3 to 0.6 km /hr helping us in the right direction and the sledges were sliding beautifully on the thin layer of fresh snow. Now that we are on the 83rd latitude we are seeing the difference in the ice. Today the ice packs are thicker and are pressing hard against one another. A few days ago the ice was thinner and under pressure the ice would break up creating huge mounds that we needed to climb over.

At the moment we are experiencing southeasterly winds at 10 metres per second (22mph). We are expecting soon that the winds will turn from the north. It will not be very good for us if it does because we will have once again the problem of the head-on wind freezing our noses. I'm more prone to freezing my nose than Borge it seems, I guess because of my 27 month expedition around the Arctic Circle! It is already starting to turn black on the tip and around the nostrils. We will probably most likely wait for those harsh head-on northerly winds for our next rest day.

It is important for us now to move while we can. We believe that if we continue with an average of 20kms a day we'll have enough food rations to see us to the North Pole but we prefer to be cautious and are saving three extra days for the 'just-in-case'. 741 kms to go ! It's getting closer!

Thu, 16 Feb 2006 // 16:33

Quote of the Day:

'The wind blew the entire day and then stopped just as we were setting up the tent this evening - it makes a nice change not to have the wind howling over the tent...'

Latest position: N83°32'28' E103°38'47'
Distance to go: 721km
Days of food left: 41

After an exhausting nine hours walking on ice and snow, Mike and Borge advanced 20km today, walking 17km and progressing a further 3km north thanks to the strong winds last night. This morning as they started walking, conditions were not ideal but improved as the day went on, Borge explains: 'The ice was a bit rougher during the first part of the day, giving way to flat, wide-open surfaces this afternoon. We're walking mostly on older ice, formed last year, which is far more stable then the ice we saw earlier. There haven't been any signs of ice movement or open leads today either - and that's a great advantage for us."

'The wind blew the entire day and then stopped just as we were setting up the tent this evening. This is the first time that we have had complete calm. It makes a nice change not to have the wind howling over the tent and of course the temperatures are milder at the same time.'

The full moon has left us now. It is once again under the horizon so we are once again in pitch darkness.

Today is our 26th day on the ice. It wasn't a bad day even though we found ourselves back in the pack ice. We managed to do 17kms so we are happy.

721 kms to go until we reach the North Pole with 41 days of food left. Looks as though we should make it before the end of the winter months - that is our aim at least!

Will sleep now and rest my flat feet!'

Best regards,


The Wyoming Two-Step

Don't get me wrong. I used to hunt. I understand how accidents can happen. Cheney had a responsibility to aim high, just like the Air Force say, and the old man he shot should have been more cautious before stepping into the line of possible fire. I feel bad for everyone who was involved in the shooting, I'm relieved that Mr. Whittington has survived and is doing well, and I told my share of Dick Cheney/Aaron Burr jokes in the hall and in the studio (and didn't John C. Calhoun shoot someone, too? Didn't I hear that somewhere this week?).

But moments ago, the shooting victim appeared in public, delivering a statement to the press. He was standing in a suit rather than wheelchair-bound in a gown...wherupon he APOLOGIZED to the Vice-President for the chaos he's had to deal with this week. Moments after that, we go to Laramie, WY. Here, we see the Veep addressing the State Legislature.

Before he speaks, the President of the State Legislature says: "And it's just come to my attention that in such-and-such year, the University of Wyoming recieved a donation of something-point-something Million Dollars from a foundation funded by Dick and Lynn Cheney. We want to thank you for your incredible support of the University, etc..."

Cheney, to his Best Supporting Actor credit, looked humbled and surprised that this Big 'Ol Thank You was mentioned.

Pretending to be surprised, he read his opening statement, and then acknowledged the donation, telling the story of he and his wife beginning their marriage living in campus housing, what it meant to them, how they wanted to give back, etc."

And he did so without looking away from his notes.

It couldn't have looked better choreographed with dancers and a broadway cast.

I love being insulted by my Government. All hail the misdirection two-step...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Unmitigated Audacity?

I left work for a few minutes after a four hour prod session. Needed the fresh air. It's in the 50s here today (insane). Having a tiny amount of free money to play with for the first time in quite a while, I decided to hit my old trusty used CD store...for the first time in maybe half a year. I did so guilt free. I haven't bought myself anything...period...for a very long time. I've been good. I deserve a treat.

The store has changed owners, which I knew, and I haven't been to the old guys' new digs yet. This place was the destination because it was closer, and because I haven't seen those guys since the funeral of their partner, a mutual friend. I'm having a happy day. I'm not in the mood to halt it.

So anyway, I've been wanting to try and fill a few holes in my Pink Floyd collection (namely their first four albums, although I know I have Saucerful Of Secrets somewhere...), but alas I came up empty. They offered slim Pink pickin's: Animals, The Wall, The Final Cut (which I also need, but not today), and Dark Side (which I have probably three copies of already).

I decided to check the G Rack for any Grateful Dead I needed. The search for Terrapin Station has FINALLY come to an end, edging out Europe '72 because I wanted it more (and it was cheaper). Price: $8.99. Sold. Besides, I see E72 all the time. I never see TS anywhere. And I don't shop online.

On a whim, I headed to the Z Rack, fully aware this place never has Zappa. Ever ever ever. Except today.

I've never heard of this album, not an unusual occurance given that I just discovered Frank a couple years ago, and he has about 53oo damn albums out there. And just looking at it I knew it had to be a bootleg, which meant the sound quality would be suspect. But for an additional $8.99, I was leaving with both.

Pulling my purchases out of the sleeves on the wall, the comely young lady behind the counter said "Holy shit...we had a Zappa?"

I told her that was same thought I had when I saw it.

I've listened to a little of it, getting set up in here for my Friday VT. It's decent enough quality, as bootlegs go it's actually pretty damn good. Musically, it's fantastic. Vintage Mothers. And I love that it was recorded right here at Notre Dame back in '74.

I looked it up on AMG, and it turns out it's respected enough in the Zappa Camp that it was part of an official Beat The Bootlegs! collection a while back from Rhino's Foo-Eee label. That's the version I have. Same cover.

Always a good musical day when there's new Zappa to absorb. And my favorite Dead album, mine at last. Plus, the list is all old, old Mothers...much of which I'm unfamiliar with. Bonus bonus.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I enjoy what I do for a living, Part 53

Right now I am listening to the new David Gilmour single, "On An Island", courtesy of one of our Program Directors who knows I'm a Pink Floyd freak.

It's not bad. Not too bad at all.

It begins very low, seriously influenced by the guys backing him up (David Crosby, Graham Nash, and Richard Wright is on the ivories...). It's nice and esoteric, very clean and ethereal. It's a nice thick piece of music. Very Animals-era Floyd, without the intense beats.

The Long War

The Dark Lord Warren Ellis has an interesting post at his website about a prolonged war, an ongoing "policing of the world" that smacks of something more than a little spooky. It's a plan being relseased by the US Department of Defense, who are being a wee bit proactive given that they can't even get their poop in a group in Iraq.

I'm posting this so I can read the rest of it later when I have time. because it strikes me as being, oh, I don't know, VAGUELY important...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Crazy Arctic Guy Update

...Tue, 14 Feb 2006 // 16:33

Latest position 13.2.06: N82°57'50' E104°53'10' (no position received today)
Distance to go: 769km
Temperature: -40°C with windchill
Wind speed: 20km/hour

Mike rings at 1600hrs to report about his day:

'We were in and out of the pack ice again today, but we still managed to do 15-16kms. We have a slight NE drift with southerly winds at 5-6metres per second (20km/hour) and blowing snow. Luckily for us the winds blew away the snow so it was not as deep as it was yesterday. The sledges were more willing to follow us today. Milder temperatures today. Around -27°C without the windchill and -40°C with.

We're preparing our dinner now. It's so good to get hot food into your stomach at the end of the day.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Busy weekend...

...and likely to stay so for a few days, as I continue to do backstory research for my new project when I'm not working or being Dad.

In the course of my research, I came across the name Borge Ousland, and some information on trips he made in Antarctica in the mid to late 90's...including a solo trek. Amazing. And it reminded me that I'm a couple days behind on the Crazy Arctic Guy Update...the walking trip across the Arctic he's in the midst of with Mike Horn. In my partial defense, they've been less-than-daily with the uptades, as well.


...Fri, 10 Feb 2006 // 17:24

Quote of the Day:
'It's really important to keep our clothing and equipment free of ice and snow, and frost from condensing sweat. Each evening in our tent, we take more than an hour to brush it off of our mittens, our anoraks and face protection...'

DATA LOG (9.2.06)
Latest position: N82°17'36' E106°06'
Distance to go: 861km
Temperature: -36°C

After 19 days of walking on the sea ice, and still with 861km to go out of 1000, things seem to be finally looking up for Mike Horn and Borge Ousland in their quest to be the first men to walk to the North Pole (unassisted) in the sunless winter months...

Until the last few days, the icecap they are walking across had been drifting south taking them further away from the North Pole - a bit like walking on a treadmill that is sometimes going forward but then occasionally slips into reverse! It is proving extremely difficult for the two adventurers to gain ground towards their goal as they get pushed in the opposite direction. Not only are they dealing with the demoralising effects of such slow and frustrating progress but also with broken ice that reveal open tracts of icy water that can only be crossed one way - by getting into a survival suit and swimming across, floating their sledges behind. Temperatures reaching as low as -37°C are the kind of temperatures where hands without gloves would freeze within minutes:

'It's really important to keep our clothing and equipment free of ice and snow, and frost from condensing sweat. Each evening in our tent, we take more than an hour to brush it off of our mittens, our anoraks and face protection. That is vital, really. Especially the mittens, because otherwise they would quickly become icy cold and very dangerous to use...'Temperatures as extreme as -37°C pose considerable danger to the human body and all skin must be covered with masks worn to prevent hypothermia and frostbite.

In a previous expedition, Mike was very close to losing three fingers - he removed a glove and stopped for 45 seconds to re-tie a bootlace, a decision he did not take lightly as he knew what the repercussions might be. And his greatest fears were soon realised, six hours later when he took off his glove his fingers had turned to 'meat you take out of the freezer'. Frostbite had completely cut off circulation and Mike had to go back to Switzerland for surgery, where doctors removed the top of his three fingers.The extremes of the conditions Mike and Borge are experiencing are difficult to convey, especially in the permanent winter darkness that surrounds them. But they are both experienced adventurers and know what it takes to survive these Arctic elements. And things are improving if not in temperature, then at least in the direction they are going. The pair have approximately 52 days of food remaining and in less than 39 days the sun will rise over the horizon for the first time this year in this part of the world.

EMAIL FROM BORGE (9.2.06):"It's been just as cold as yesterday. We had to set up camp and retreat into the warmth of our tent after Mike started having problems with his fingers. I have lent him my Norwegian woollen mittens, and hopefully that will help. The coldness is a challenge, of course, but all in all we're managing well. It's really important to keep our clothing and equipment free of ice and snow, and frost from condensing sweat. Each evening in our tent, we take more than an hour to brush it off of our mittens, our anoraks and face protection. That is vital, really. Especially the mittens, because otherwise they would quickly become icy cold and very dangerous to use. We walked through heavy block ice most of today as well, after crossing a fairly open stretch early this morning. The ice drift is helping us for a change, pushing us northwards - and that is fantastic! According to the weather report, we can expect at least a few days more of this. We need every extra kilometre we can get. Today we walked 12 km, and adding 4 km drift, Mike and I are now 861 km from the North Pole. All is well, except for my friend's hands. We're hoping for slightly milder weather, because our bodies really notice temperatures below -30°C."

'It's really important to keep our clothing and equipment free of ice and snow, and frost from condensing sweat. Each evening in our tent, we take more than an hour to brush it off of our mittens, our anoraks and face protection. That is vital, really. Especially the mittens, because otherwise they would quickly become icy cold and very dangerous to use...'

...Sat, 11 Feb 2006 // 17:05

Quote of the Day:
'Would love to send you some photos but with this temperature it is not only the hands that don't want to work but also the equipment - everything tends to stop working around - 40°C...'

Latest position: N82°38'32' E105°35'10'
Temperature: -36°C

Mike calls at 15h30 sounding very happy: 'We had a great day. We walked our average 9.5 hours and advanced 17 kms. The winds have calmed down and are now from the North East. We have unfortunately stopped our northward drift for the time being, but this is okay as long as we are not drifting southwards!!!It's now exactly three weeks that we have been walking, and as we expected on the 82°latitude, the ice is finally getting better. There is still a lot of pack ice but we are managing to find our way around it rather than having to go over it. We are also coming across some open areas. After these few days of very cold weather the leads are completely frozen and are solid enough to walk over without the fear of breaking through. Also with the more food we eat and the more fuel we burn our sledges are also slowly but surely getting lighter. We are now beginning to see more during the day. There are several hours of twilight in the middle of the day, and the moon is almost full. Behind us is a magnificent glow on the horizon, which unfortunately, we are walking away from. We are beginning to distinguish the contours and contrasts in the ice well enough to choose a good path.

My fingers are pretty painful in this extreme cold and are my main preoccupation at this time. I have changed my gloves, am taking aspirin daily to thin the blood and an occasional vasodilator to help get the blood circulating. This seems to being helping for now. Would love to send you some photos but with this temperature it is not only the hands that don't want to work but also the equipment. Everything tends to stop working around - 40°C.

I'll have to keep you up to date with my phonecalls for the time being. Luckily the phone works still!

Mon, 13 Feb 2006 // 14:58

Quote of the Day:
'The sledges are slowly getting lighter and we are certainly noticing the difference but unfortunately they are also sticking to the snow today. Even on the downhill they are not slipping...'

Latest position: N82°57'50' E104°53'10'
Distance to go: 786km
Temperature: around -30°C

TOUGH DAY HAULING 120KG SLEDGES OVER BLOCKS OF ICE...Mike and Borge experienced slightly warmer temperatures throughout the day (-28°C in the morning dropping to -35°C in the evening) and with virtually little to no winds. This meant that the conditions were a lot less harsh than their previous days.

Heavy pack ice once again encumbered their path and no getting around it this time! They struggled with their heavy sledges (around 120kgs each) hauling them over the blocks of ice the entire day.'

The sledges are slowly getting lighter and we are certainly noticing the difference but unfortunately they are also sticking to the snow today. Even on the downhill they are not slipping!

We have walked right into a compression zone, which seems to last for as far as the eye can see. We're hoping to move out of this vast area of pack ice soon because it really does slow down our progress a lot. That's why we only managed to move 14 km today. We are well but are both tired. If things continue like this we'll be able to take a rest day in 5 days time, which will be our second since the beginning of the expedition.

Borge's taking medicine for his knees and me vasodilators for my hands. I have a little bit of frost nip on my fingers, which is pretty normal under these circumstances. My sore hands do tend to hold me back somewhat because I am unable to carry my skis. This means I may need to double track to recuperate equipment on the other side of the blocks of ice. Our position today is N82°57'50" and E 104°53'10". We are getting closer to the 83rd latitude and are 786kms from the North Pole! It's getting lighter and lighter. Just think, in a about 3 or 4 more days we might even be able to turn our headlights off for an hour!!'

Yesterday was a record breaking day for the walking duo...advanced 20kms - our record yet!!We stopped at N82°49'10' E105°10'25' which means we have 802 kms to go until we arrive at the North Pole. It's great to see that we are gradually getting closer to the Pole. We'll sleep this evening and expect we will drift 2 km north throughout the night. Sleeping is virtually impossible in these temperatures but at least we'll have more peace of mind tonight!"

Friday, February 10, 2006

Torino '06

Is it just me, or does anyone else have the feeling that the Olympics that began an hour ago right on the Mediterranean present a particularly tasty target to the jackasses actively preaching hatred and intolerance in the region?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Much Ado About Mohammed

Aaaaaaaand the Danes become the new favorite target of hatred of the entire Muslim world.

Why do I get the feeling history books will talk about The Cartoon Incident one day?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Crazy Arctic Guy's southern drift has finally stopped

"Luckily we only drifted 1 km south in the night and it seems that today the winds are changing. We advanced 11 kms today! We needed this - it's a bit demoralising to be moving backwards all the time. Hope to give you some more good news tomorrow!"


Latest position: N82°09'17.6' E106°25'56.0'
Distance to go: 876km
Temperature: -37°C

“Quite a rough day today but the good news is that we are advancing. We did 7 hours of walking and advanced 10 kms. We had to plough through very thick snow this morning and encountered a lot of pack ice, which slowed us down a lot.

The winds have calmed and we seem to be drifting NE. This is the direction that we want to go which is great! Our position is N82°09’17.6” E106°25’56.0” so we have 876 kms to go until we reach the pole and we have hit the 82nd latitude. They say it should flatten out now but we don’t see any sign of the ice conditions improving straight away.

We have a little more light than before. We can see the moon and the stars but we must still use our headlights so we can see the bumps in the terrain.

Now the clouds have disappeared, so has the warmth. It’s around –37°C today. The three fingers that I froze in 2002 are very sore. They just don’t have the circulation that they had before. I must be very careful. Whereas I have problems keeping my hands warm, Borge has problems keeping his feet warm.

In these cold temperatures we must be extra, extra careful with our equipment. I picked up a tent pole this morning and it snapped into 4 pieces. Luckily we had an extra but goodness knows what we will do if we break that!

It was strange this morning because we heard an unusual noise. We stopped suddenly in our tracks wondering what the noise was and suddenly realized it was a jet flying overhead. It’s a really weird experience to hear something like that when you are out in the middle of this vastness.

Borge and I are getting along well. It’s a great learning experience for us to be together. Not a great deal of chit-chat in the tent the evening because we are just too tired and there are no days off – not yet at least!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

And here I thought she'd be an excellent Mom...

Britney Spears Driving With Baby On Lap

(found at Fark)

Pure genius. She was trying to escape the cameras, so she hauled ass out of there without securing the baby..."to keep it safe."

Dead baby or photographed baby.

Hmmm...that's a toughie...

Meaty, Beaty, Droopy, Bouncy

"Their generation may be middle-aged but this year, four decades after they burst on to Britain's Mod scene, The Who are back. " (The Independent)

A new Who album. And why not?

(Actually, I have a few reasons...)

Monday, February 06, 2006

Crazy Arctic Guy: Eating Less

Mon, 6 Feb 2006 // 20:45

Quote of the Day:
'It is obvious that if we carry on at this rate we'll run out of food before arriving at the Pole. We must make our daily food rations a little smaller so we can last a little longer...'

Latest position: N81°57'29.2' E106°40'33.4'
Distance to go: 896km
Temperature: -35°C with windchill

Mike and Borge once again confronted the cold Northerly winds today:
'It was cold today! With the windchill it is about -35°C. It is supportable when the wind hits you from the side but when it blows into your face it is not only dangerous but it tends to zap you of all your energy. We had to pitch our tent and get out of the wind today before we froze our faces.

We started this morning with a distance of 897km to go to the Pole. When we got into the tent 5 hours later we looked at the GPS and saw that we were 896km away from the Pole! It was a bit of a shock to see that after all that effort we had only advanced north 1km because we were drifting south at 1.5kms a hour. We start each day scouting around to find the best route. It is very hard to find a passage in this darkness.

We've decided to change our strategy. It is obvious that if we carry on at this rate we'll run out of food before arriving at the Pole. We must make our daily food rations a little smaller so we can last a little longer.

Ice conditions are slowly improving. The ice is thicker and the leads are narrower. Once we're on the 82nd latitude we'll have better conditions and the going should be a little faster. Not a lot of life out here!! Mind you the question remains, would we see it if there was?!?

We did cross some bear tracks and fox tracks yesterday, but nothing since. Will get some sleep now - another big day tomorrow! Regards to you all!

Sunday, February 05, 2006


By the request of a few people...I have turned the Comments Option back on at this blog.

So, use it.

Steelers 21, Seahawks 10

Pretty good game, actually. Plenty of mistakes on all three sides (that figure includes the officials), but Pittsburgh had it won even without that TD that Big Ben didn't actually get.

Crazy Arctic Guy: Day 15

...after a few days without a report, this arrives:

Sun, 5 Feb 2006 // 18:32

Quote of the Day:
'I must admit this is the toughest 'degree of latitude' that I've walked - never struggled with conditions such as these before...'

Latest position: N89°59'35' E107°03'19'
Distance to go: 894km
Temperature: -25°C

Mike and Borge spent all day yesterday (Saturday) in their tent after deciding the winds were too strong and temperatures too cold to walk. Although it was good for them to rest, they were also moving backwards so were hoping for conditions to improve today when they were back out on the ice...

We've been out walking again. It's icy cold out there, -25˚C and a constant northeasterly breeze. Really cold and miserable! Block ice, strewn every which way, slowed our progress considerably. We've been drifting south again with the wind in our faces. Now the drift is carrying us mostly east.

It took us 10 hours to cover 8 km. We've now camped at N89˚59'35', E 107˚03'19' and we still have 894 km left before reaching our goal.

I must admit that this is the toughest 'degree of latitude' that I've walked. We're now just a few hundred metres from N82˚. Never struggled with conditions such as these before. Well, I hope somebody up there appreciates our toil and perseverance, and that things will turn. That is our hope.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Crazy Arctic Guy, Day 12

Thu, 2 Feb 2006 // 16:22

Latest position 31.01.06: N81°50'6.3' E103°53'6.2' (No position received for two day)Temperature: -15°C

Although ice conditions are improving, Mike and Borge are still working hard against the northwest winds and southern drift, waiting patiently for the icecap to change direction and take them north...

'This is Borge and Mike from the Arctic Ocean - still pushing hard towards the North Pole. Today has been not too bad, we actually had quite good ice conditions, the ice is getting older and smoother and better to ski on - also tika ice which means safe ice for us to camp on. Temperature is not too bad, it's warm -15°C and the glide is good on the sleds so everything is fine, and everything works perfect when it comes to the equipment. The only big, big problem is we have the wind constantly from the west/northwest which push us to the east, and south. Half the distance we do during the day is actually eaten up by the drift during the night, but it has to change someday, spirits are of course good, but we wish and need this southern drift to stop and become just like normal, which is actually drifting north. So crossed fingers, and be with us, follow our trip, it's a great adventure, and it's great to be out here! All the best, from Mike and Borge.'

Props to submitter

Best FARK headline in a while:

Bush defends Exxon Mobil profits. Later this week, Cheney eats babies; Rumsfeld pours Pepsi over homelss man

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Crazy Arctic Guy: Day 11

Wed, 1 Feb 2006 // 17:54
Quote of the Day:
'After 4 hours of walking, Borge's ski boot sole came off, and we had to urgently set up tent for him to repair his ski boot...'

Latest position 31.01.06: N81°50'6.3' E103°53'6.2' (No position received today)

MESSAGE FROM MIKE: 'One of our worst days today...after 4 hours of walking, Borge's ski boot sole came off, and we had to urgently set up tent for him to repair his ski boot. Added to that, very strong winds from the west and very, very low temperatures couldn't make it possible to move, and we are currently in our sleeping bags waiting out the storm. Borge has fixed his sole, and hopefully it will last the rest of the trip. The problem would be that basically the strong winds from the west would keep on blowing us south, and if that continues for the next week or two, we'll definitely be in a little bit of trouble. But at this stage the morale is still high, although the temperature has dropped dramatically, hopefully we are looking forward to better days. Well that's all the news for now...from a very cold tent in the middle of the North Pole on the Arctic Ocean, best regards, Mike'