Travels With Oso con Migo

Around The World In Sixty Days

OAE On The Road Again, Somewhere Summertime 95-96

October 16, 1995, last letter October 5, 1995

Greetings Gentle Readers,

October 7, 1995, Saturday, Christchurch

Now I am sitting in my favourite Room 10 at the Croyden House in chch. The flight from Ross Island last night was in a C-5, a giant of a plane. The passenger cabin looks like it must seat at least 70 and must be as big by it self as the entire craft of some of the commuter flights I have been on. There are windows only in the emergency doors and the seats are facing aft (the better to survive a hard landing). We were supposed to depart McMurdo at 17h00 local but were delayed an hour so there was time enough to reclaim a bottle of wine I'd given away and have a second last supper, this time with friends who'd just arrived on that same plane, rather than friends I was leaving behind.

In five hours time I have gone from the dry biting cold of Ross Island to the warm humid semi-tropic South Island of New Zealand. Customs was not a problem but then it took another three hours to return the Extreme Cold Weather clothing at the Clothing Distribution Centre and do a first sort through all the junk I'd left in storage. It seems like every time I make this circuit I end up carrying more stuff despite all that I throw away. This time I end up with a daypack, a duffle, a trunk (that's the new addition) and my computer case. But I am going to be on the road for three months before returning here so I feel a need to carry lots of toys and special things to wear. I will be changing climates from spring here to winter in New England, the dry season in Erode (so I am told) and then high summer here by the time I return.

Spring anywhere is a wonderous time and all the more so for someone with such a soft spot for growing things as I. Before we had left the airport I was down on my knees petting the green (now there is a colour I've not see in a while) wet grass and smelling the pansies planted in rows bordering the carpark. Fortunately the way between the airport and the CDC is marked by lug-soled boot prints interspersed with penguin foot prints stenciled on the pavement with frigid ice-blue paint; all the locals know that anyone smelling the flowers along this path should be cut a little slack.

This afternoon I had a banana. And went for a walk sans mittens. Christchurch is known as The Garden City. In Hagley Park is the Botanical Gardens and in Victoria Square is the Floral Clock.Floral Clock at CHCH

October 8, 1995 Sunday, Christchurch

Brunch at Le Cafe in the Art Centre and kite flying in North Hagley Park. Every Saturday and Sunday the Art Center hosts and artisan's market--awning'd stalls of crafts for sale alternate with open spaces where performers sing and tell stories. Tony from the Carp Shop and Rhonda met me there and Scotty from Scott Base was at an adjacent table. Just like being back at Mcmurdo except for the warm air, children playing, dogs barking, birds singing.... Not to mention trees leaving and the tram dinging its bell.

The Art Centre (Brief History) was originally known as Canterbury College and the first buildings were constructed in 1877. The site also housed the Christchurch Girls' and Boys' High Schools however all scholastic activity had moved to larger quarters by 1975 and the Arts Centre Trust was formed to administer the site. The School of Engineering [was] under the leadership of Robert Julian Scott (cousin of the Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott.) Today this relationship with the Antarctic is continued by the frequent visits of OAE to the Dux de Lux restaurant and watering hole.

Perhaps by now some of you reading this as email have noticed the angle brackets around the "P" at the beginning of each Paragraph. That is to tell the WWWeb browser to start a new paragraph--of course if you are looking at this with a browser you will not see the

only the effect of it. There will be other similar tags through out these letters. Some will change the font of titles or indicate where the images, or electronic postcards are to be inserted.

Kiting at Hagley Park was with the theme "One Sky One World". Kites were flying all over the world today, perhaps you were flying yours--let me know. I counted about 27 kites up and down the sky at Hagley, from little paper fighters darting around on short strings to the large blue and black tendrils of a giant octopus. Kites with multiple wings vied for space with grand multicoloured parafoils and two-stringed aerobatic kites slithered between or buzzed along close to the ground chased by dogs.

October 9, 1995, Christchurch

My bank card from North Conway works at some automatic tellers, not at others. Even when they have the right decal of acceptance pasted thereon. Something about the system said the woman at the Help Desk of my New Zealand bank. --I'm not much help today am I, she went on. Well, now that you mention it, no. But then maybe I should get a card on this bank--maybe next week. I'm going to the beach soon and I have enough to carry.

It is *something* to be moving off Ross Island; out of my nice warm cave, out of a homey environment where the net is but a local call away (and part of the overhead), out of a place where I can exist somewhat like a 12 year old--meals on the table, I just have to show up for school/work and clean my room occasionally--out of all that warm fuzzy nice (despite all the stupid grown-up game playing some of the company cohort like to do) to a place that is warm only in the ambient temperature. Internet, at the Internet Coffee Shop, is 5NZ$ the half hour (with coffee 2NZ$ the cup), my room at the Croyden House B&B is bright and airy, a little too airy some mornings, and I must look out for my own meals. At least someone else cleans the room --but I would rather do it my self.

I have received some feedback on my comments T-shirts and medals.

>Several readers commented-- "I can't believe some people would choose a t-shirt over a medal."

I did not mean to convey that the choice was one over the other; I went back to my letter and checked and I still don't think that is what I said. Only that some folks came to the meeting cos that was the only way they could get the shirt. The medals would have been awarded anyhow, just without ceremony (and for some the ceremony was more bother than the shirt was worth and they stayed away anyhow.) Incidently, the full medal, The Antarctic Service Medal, is a military award for participation in the Navy's Operation Deepfreeze and is awarded to civilians by act of congress if they fulfill the same service time requirement. But it is only given to first year participants. For one's second and third winter seasons an additional "Wintered Over" bar is added. For third, fourth, fifth ... ninth(?) ... all you get is a little round lapel pin, a miniature of the medal. So who has lapels anymore?

Tuesday October 10, 1995, Christchurch

Off to the dentist at early o'clock for a 1000 meals scrape and polish. Look Mom! No cavities! After that it was off to the doctor for what the Kiwis call Warranty of Fitness when its their car they take to the garage for inspection. For me that included exhaust emission analysis and a greese job, not to mention all the usual poking and prodding. One of the good things about this contract work in Antarctica is the need to assure that everyone is as healthy as possible at the start of the winter to minimise the likelyhood of serious medical and psychological problems while there is no easy way out. As a result I get a fairly thorough going over at the start of each season; something I would not be inclined to afford on my own.

Christchurch is promoting dining out with wine this month. Sixty- seven restaurants have published special menus, most being three course dinners with carefully selected wines. There is a prise for the restaurant who's meal is voted best by the judges and there are prises for the diners who participate, including a lot of great eating along the way. I had dinner at The Winery--scallops braised in one wine with another to drink. And they were real scallops too.

October 11, 1995 *Big Dollar Day*

Today I went for blood test, drug test, TB test ... and camera purchase. Once upon a long ago I fancied myself somewhat of a photographer--I had a few magazine and catalogue covers and several postcards in my portfolio and had done several weddings and christenings. Then the whole scene began to go out of focus and I sold two of my three cameras and most of the accessories. My last camera was stolen one morning during an "all tourists stop here" stop of a bus ride from Barilochi Argentina to Puerto Montt Chile. I didn't notice it was missing from my pack until I arrived at my hotel that evening. I wondered why my pack was so light but at that point figured if I hadn't missed it then I didn't need it; it was one less thing to carry, and besides the film in it was over a year old.

Now it is time to play with the high tech toys. This new camera does not need film. To put it in a nutshell the Kodak Digital Camera 40 captures images with a Charge Coupled Device 756 by 504 pixels in 24 bit colour. Each raw picture requires a little over one megabyte of disk space to store after it has been transfered from the camera. Processing can reduce that by a considerable degree; the pictures I intend to send with these letters will be on the order of 30-50kb.

So now, gentle readers, if you want to see what I am doing, as well as read about it, you will be obliged to figure out how to extract images from your mailer and display them on your computer. Some of you may already know how to do that, others will not have a clue what all the buzz words mean. And it matters little what I say by way of instruction cos everyone will have their own different process. What I will say, by way of generic overview, is just to explain the process; you need to fit this in to what you know about your own system and applications. I expect to send one or two pictures with each letter but I will also post these letters to my home page at UMN and there I will put several additional pictures linked to each letter.

The first picture I took was of the Croyden House on Armagh Street. Trolly and Croydon House This is my home away from McMurdo home. I like room 10 the best; it is in the back, upstairs on the left, a single, corner room with windows on two sides and a little deck where I can sit in the sun or dry my laundry. The Croyden is a turn of the century building with a goldfish pond in the garden and a cottage out back. The tram comes by every few minutes and is a convenient way downtown but you can usually walk faster since it makes a lot of stops.

After moving the picture from camera to computer and resizing it from 756 x 504 to 350 x 233 pixels I have an image file I have named croyden1.jpg.

Then I PKZIP the imagefile so croyden1.jpg -->

PKZIP compresses the file so it takes less space on my disk.

Since a ZIP file is binary and cannot go through the mail ni that format I then UUencode the ZIP so --> croyden1.uue and send it as an attachment to this letter in the mail. Now, some mailers at the eddressee's end of the line will do the uuDEcode automatically and present the resulting ZIP as a binary file. Depending upon if you have a shell account or a peer account you may have to do a binary GET from your shell account to get the image to your local machine. If you have a peer account, on a SLIP connexion, running your mail client locally, then all that should happen in your local machine if it is going to happen at all.

If the mail you received has a block of text that looks like this:
begin 644
M4$L#!!0``@`(`#LD*A^<3&^2ES$``+HQ```,````04I/,31)34 M3!Q.].WB[LYBA<47=VN1XJ[%;8$"RZ+%BD.AN"]:*%Y8I+NTB_YPMY;B!8H[

then you have a UUencoded file. uuDEcode should be able to read down through all the email header stuff and find the top of the data without a problem but some uuDEcode utilities may require that you strip off the headers down to the "begin 644" line.

Also note that some bastard mailers out there, and/or some service providers, have taken it upon them selves to arbitrarily limit the size of any one message you may receive. Some do this by summarily truncating at a certain byte count. Others repackage the message as an attachment to a warning message so you have a double set of extractions to accomplish. To know if you have all that I sent the uuENcoded file must have the word "end" on a line by itself as the last line of the file. If you don't have an end then you didn't get it all. Lack of end will cause uuDEcode to fail and may not generate an error message. This image was about 18kb not counting headers.

If the uuENcoded message has been repackaged by your service provider it may not be uuENcoded. They might be using MIME or Radix-64. You might be able to tell from any additional header information or you may have to contact your service provider for assistance.

So the first thing is to be sure you received the uuENcoded file that I sent; the beginning should look like the sample above. Next be sure it ends with the word "end" and that the UUE part sans headers is about 18kb. If all that is ok then uuDEcode should work and leave you with the ZIP to unzip to the image file to display. Images will be provided in GIF or JPG format. One other item: While I have ultimate control of all qualities of these pictures I cannot see the colour on this computer. The Carrot has a VGA mono display; it shows very fine detail but only in shades of grey.

Friday, October 13, 1995, Christchurch

Getting in a lot of walking. And a lot of bus riding. Its a bit of a walk just to get to the bus stop. City busses cost ninty cents to go almost anywhere and back again and a dollar eighty to go anywhere else. The Big Red Bus(s) are all over the place and frequently full of students and commuters. I've not seen any of the ubiquitous yellow school busses like in the U.S.; although I have seen a few busses that appear to belong to certain schools most kids around here walk, bike, or ride the Big Red Bus.

Today was Special! One thing bad, three things good--and even the bad thing turned out good. Carrot (that is the name of this computer) made an out-patient visit to DOSpital for a floppy disk drive ailment but the problem may have been caused operator error. In any case it was a classic application of Computer Fix Rule Number Two:

The technician should always approach a machine with dull glazed eyes, a slight drool, and a screwdriver poised as if it were a weapon.

But since Carrot does not see me as a technician, but, rather, a familiar, a journey across town was in order.

On the bus going out to dospital a man got off at one stop and as the bus began to pull away a young woman ran to the front and asked the driver to wait--the man had dropped his wallet. She got off and called him back; when she returned to her seat there were bubbles of approval voiced by several passengers around her.

It was rather late in the afternoon by the time this visit was concluded and I started back to the Croyden. As the bus moved closer to the centre of town it filled first with workers from along Blenheim Road and then schoolkids from CHCH Boys High School. One boy sat next to me and several others were standing when the bus stopped again. An elderly woman was making her way through the standees when this lad jumped up and in the best tradition of Knighthood and Scouting offered her his seat. She was thankful and he was happy. I tried to remember the last time I might have done that or seen anyone else give up their seat--it was long ago.

Later, in town, I wandered from shop to shop looking for some string suitable for playing Cat's Cradle when a cabbie crossed over and stopped me. --You need to watch the traffic when you're stepping out into the street, he admonished, you very nearly got run over this morning.

One of the problems some visitors from North America have here aside from metric measures and lack of Budweiser is that one is obliged by some adherence to Royalist tradition to drive on the "other" side of the road. It brings up from the subconscious the rule learned from early school days to look left then right then left again before crossing. Here abouts you must "Think Left"!!! and that means turning around *all* those rules. "Keep Left", "Walk on the RIGHT side--Facing the traffic!" Round-abouts go clockwise (which may be bad news for people brought up on digital time). Fortunately for me there is no Left Turn on Red Rule. Even when I have the presence of mind to look Right-Left-Right I find that I do not *see* the cars coming at me--they are not *supposed* to be there. I have to look twice; Think Left; then look again.

Saturday, October 14, 1995, last stop before the beach.

I have been spending lots of time at Joan Berry HolidayMakers, the travel agent who handles all of our arrangements by contract with NSF. And lots of money too. It is quite a shock to the system, the momentum of monetary mutation from guzinta to guzouta roundly rankles my reality. My pocket purse might appear as a prune by the end of this month. All kidding aside, Lily is certainly earning her keep and my respect. Because most of my itinerary over the next few months falls within the major travel peak period of the year reservations are sometimes hard to confirm and prices are at their highest. I'd much rather travel on the spur of the moment but trying to mesh one's plans with those of others means planning ahead--way ahead. I can tell you now where I am going to have lunch and dinner (LAX) on 31st October and which airport lounge (Bangalore) I'll be napping in the evening of 28th December.

On my way through Victoria Square to The Big Red Bus to Sumner there was a man sitting on a bench by the River Avon eating a sandwich. The River Avon meanders through the City Centre, crossed by fourteen bridges and bordered by a greenway that connects with Hagley Park and extends to the east toward the sea. Some of the trees where I leave coins are on this greenway and tourist can be taken Punting on The Avon. The Christchurch Town Hall is on the north side of this square, Armagh Street on the south. A yapping poodle followed by a coiffured woman walked by. The poodle caught wind of the sandwich and turned aside to climb the man's leg and snap at his meal. The woman paused and looked on approvingly.

--Mind if I throw it a bit? the man asked.

--Not at all, the woman replied, that would be dear.

So the man got up and threw the poodle in the river.

October 15, 1995, Sumner New Zealand, The Cave Rock Hotel.Cave Inn

Sumner has two sirens. One woke me in the middle of the night and was soon followed by several engines adding their voices to the chorus. The other sounded off sometime after daylight and wailed on and on until I began to think this might be an air-raid. Roy said that was the Lifeboat Squad probly going after a fisherman or surfer. The Cave Rock Hotel-Bar-Cafe is across the Esplanade from Sumner Bar Kites on the beach (bar in this context is the name of the beach) is shown in a tourist's guide dating from 1902. The town of Sumner is named for Dr. D. Sumner, Archbishop of Canterbury, and was settled in 1849-50 by Captain Joseph Thomas. Cave Rock, the name of the prominent landmark on the beach, is a massive lump of lava that erupted from an ancient volcano. Generations of children have climbed the rock and explored the sea cave that flows through it. The Maori name for it is Tuawere. A signal station was on top of the rock and from there flag signals warned ships' masters of the changing conditions of the treacherous Sumner Bar.

Today is a little cool by the standards of contemporary children, there is a good on shore breeze blowing in off the South Pacific Ocean, but it is just dandy as far as I am concerned. Time to go fly a kite and get high on a rock.

 A.J.Oxton, OA, OO, OAE,  k1oIq

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