Bardo

John Jacobsen
Monday, January 3, 2011

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Earlier post Chasing the Sun southpole

Later post Faults in Ice and Rock southpole

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I didn’t get a post in yesterday, because it was only January 2 for a few hours, just before I crossed over the International Date Line. Not to mention the fact that there was no WiFi on the flight (though apparently some planes have that now).

My second flight didn’t take off until nearly midnight, local time. I dread the flight to Auckland more than any other stage of the trip; it feels like the bardo state from Tibetan Buddhism, in which one has died and is waiting to incarnate into one’s next form — a state of unsettled in-between-ness, which somehow passes both quicker than expected and with excruciating slowness (a little like some meditation sessions, come to think of it). I did manage to sleep a bit (breathe deeply, follow the out-breath, notice thoughts and sounds, …. zzzzz), waking at least half a dozen times, and then watched “The Social Network,” which I enjoyed but which I dearly hope will resemble the coming trip not in the slightest.

One sees “Ice people” in increasing amounts as one gets closer to The Ice (slang for Antarctica). I met an IceCube colleague from Madison in Chicago; noticed a few others at LAX and several more in Auckland. You can tell them by their clothes (take all the geeks or professors you know, and all the rock climbers you know, and imagine how the intersection of those two sets would dress) and by the little yellow penguin tags hanging off of their luggage or the red, white and blue US Antarctic program patches on their jackets. Often we don’t talk to one another, but there are all sorts of interesting people with interesting stories. For example, on the flight to Auckland I managed to sit next to the Program Psychologist on his way to evaluate the psyches of people staying over the winter at South Pole and at McMurdo, but didn’t know that (or anything about him) for the 13 hours we sat together until we landed in Auckland and finally indulged in some small talk.

In short, the trip so far has been relatively painless — by far the worst of it was the Mexican food (and service) I got at LAX, not realizing that they would have dinner on the plane despite the late departure. Now I’m waiting for my flight to Christchurch and, soon, soon! a shower and a real bed.

Earlier post Chasing the Sun southpole

Later post Faults in Ice and Rock southpole

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