My Afghanistan Adventure ...
I am back from Afghanistan.
I'm pretty thrilled about returning safely from Afghanistan - but it retrospect, the mathematical odds were vastly in my favour. But when you have to be escorted by an armed soldier when you want to go to the shops inside the Kabul Base (and that's ITW or Inside The Wire) AND when that soldier has to take his weapon with him to the bathroom to wash his teeth in the building right next to our dormitories - then those precautions ramp up the expectation of danger within you.
In Kabul, we went OTW (Outside The Wire) to do a gig for high-ranking ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) staff in a convey of two armoured vehicles (2.5 tonne Toyotas that had 4 tonnes of armour added). We stopped in traffic and a kid jumped onto the car with a bunch of balloons to sell us. We were less that one kilometre away from where a 12YO kid self-detonated/was detonated by his handler and killed half-a-dozen people. The balloon kid didn't explode, but everybody was suddenly scared.
Here we are on the ground in Kabul, just after landing in the Hercules C130J. I do love the security of the MC-BAS (Modular Combat-Ballistic Armour System).
JABBED NEEDS YOUR STORY
Did you survive: Polio, Flu, Diphtheria, Whooping Cough, Measles, Mumps or Rubella?
‘Genepool Productions' seeks people over the age of fifty to share their stories of growing up in a time when vaccine preventable disease was the norm. We would love to hear and film your story for both a national archive and an international television documentary called ‘Jabbed'.
We will be filming on Monday 5th November, 2012 in Melbourne.
If you have stories of vaccine preventable disease, please contact Ros Walker:
0431 552 277
Dr Karl's Antarctica Blog
The following is a combination of Karl's Tweets during his current Antarctic trip (Jan/Feb 2012) and extra tidbits that he's been sending through via email. No photos from this trip as yet due to slow internet access. In the meantime, here's a decent gallery from previous travels.
Happy reading, Caroline
January 20 at 6:46am
Heading for Antarctica this morning. Fly to New Zealand, fly to Invercargill, board ship tomorrow. Last time, internet access was slow.
January 21 at 7:49pm
Massive storm in Southern Ocean keeps us locked into Port Duffy. We try a 5-day run direct to Ross Sea tomorrow, hoping to avoid next storm.
In Port Bluff in south New Zealand, waiting for a Huge Storm in the Southern Ocean to pass to the East - with another Huge Storm behind it. We have cancelled plans to push off last night (Sat 21) and visit the sub-Antarctic Islands, and instead, try to get to the Ross Sea between the two Storms.
January 23 at 6:25am
Day 3 (out of 5) of pushing into howling gale, heading for Ross Sea in Antarctica. Access to outside is forbidden, as waves smash over decks.
January 24 at 7:02am
Just covered 560 Nautical Miles, 1100 to Cape Adaire in Ross Sea. Wind dropped to 20-30 knots (40-60 kph), sea swell dropping. Decks opened.
We are about 1.5 days out of Port Bluff in New Zealand, as the Good Ship Orion rocks and rolls in a huge storm while we try to dash to the Ross Sea in Antarctica in a 5-day rush, sneaking in between two huge storms that are heading east in the Roaring Forties and the Furious Fifties. Huge waves are breaking against our 5-th level windows, and practically all the passengers are lying in bed, getting up only to vomit. For some unknown reason, I am one of the half-dozen who do not get seasick. Surprisingly, while the Southern Ocean is incredibly rough, the sky is blue and shining benignly.
January 25 at 6:10am
Day 4 of 5-day crossing to Cape Adare in Antarctica. Wind dropped to 30 knots, just avoided Major Storm, only worry is 100 km of ice pack.
We have crossed 50S (yesterday our NZ midday) into Furious Fifties, and winds have dropped from 50 knots (100 kph) and (thanks to drugs) Alice is no longer seasick. We have covered 500 of the 1500 Nautical Miles to Cape Adare (at the entry to the Ross Sea), but the last 100 Miles will depend on the state of the pack ice, which is currently at 7-10/10 and dropping. 10/10 means that all the sea is covered with pack ice, while 7/10 means that 70% is covered. 70% is just navigable - if there is no fog and we have clear vision. At the moment, the extent of the sea pack ice is about 100 Nautical Miles - and dropping daily. We might be lucky.
January 26 at 7:54am
2 weeks ago in Iceland (66N), the Sun didn't rise until 1130 am. Now, at 63+South, the Sun is still up at 11 pm. But too cloudy for Aurora.
January 27 at 11:45am
Crossed Antarctic Circle, now at 69+S, crunching slowly through 100 km of ice-pack-will take 24 hours to cross. Sunrise 0434, Sunset 2241.
January 27 at 12:06pm
The ship is now steering port and starboard to avoid ice bergs - but every 20 minutes, a little one grinds its way along the ship, bow>stern
January 29 at 6:38am
Made it thru 100 km of Pack Ice. Now at 74.5S, dashing for Ross Island. 30-knot winds. Now in Midnight Sun - Sun never sets, is always up.
January 29 at 4:00pm
At the moment, we are 75S and well and truly inside the land of the Midnight Sun. Yup, the Sun is always up. It never sets. We are heading for Franklin Island in the Ross Sea - and can see it from 60 km away (thanks to the zero water in the air, and zero smog). Saw a buncha of whales, followed closely by a buncha Orcas. Dinner? We intend to come ashore on Franklin Island, if the 30-knot winds allow. The water temp has warmed up from -1.5 to 0, while air temp is -2.
January 29 at 10:52pm
Landed on Franklin Island in Ross Sea in Antarctica - now heading for Ross Island. Midnight Sun. Trying to outrun incoming blizzard.
January 29 at 10:58pm
In Antarctica, thanks to low pollution, and low haze (virtually zero water vapour in air), I could see Mt Erebus from 104 km away.January 31 at 11:56am
Pushed thru interlocking ice packs (worst type) to get to Scott's Hut (Ross Island) at 77.5S. Saw 2 cubic meters of century-old seal blubber
January 31 at 11:57am
Went to Shakleton's hut at Cape Royds on Ross Island in Antarctica. Then had Polar Plunge (swimming cossies, into -1.5C water).
January 31 at 12:32pm
One day's journey out of Ross Sea hearing N before we hit major ice pack. Dunno what westerly wind is doing to ice pack. Not many sat pix.
January 31 at 12:32pm
Polar Plunge @ -1.5C. Worst headache of life (2 min), painful feet (like walking on razor blades) & cold flesh 5 min, then incredible ... ... incredible clarity of mind (1 hour), next strange delayed sensation of cold+shivering (for 10 min) then sleep (swam under midnight sun).
January 31 at 11:06pm
Our ship got to 77.5S, about 720 Nautical Miles from South Pole. Photographed us with Midnight Sun in background. About 6 hours from ice.
January 31 at 11:12pm
Very low population in Antarctica, so very little net bandwidth available, so no pix. Surprisingly, Tweet is moderately robust. Web sucks.
February 1 at 10:17am
Coming back from Antarctica. In fog, just came around huge tongue of ice pack, should hit pack ice at mouth of Ross Sea in a few hours.
February 2 at 2:09am
Leaving Antarctica. Have left Midnight Sun behind, BUT we all saw the Green Flash at sunset! Sea totally glassy in Ice Pack at Ross Sea.
February 3 at 12:21pm
On way out of Antarctica, ship ran into unexpected ice. Fog all around, visibility about 1 km. Icebergs loom unexpectedly out of fog.
February 5 at 7:51pm
Monday nite at 77.5S, Midnight Sun, Wednesday Night Green Flash, Friday Night we saw a Green Aurora. Still heading home from Antarctica.
February 6 at 2:39pm
Steaming away from Antarctica and Macquarie Island. Unfortunately, we arrived there at same time as a Major Cold Front, and could not land.
February 7 at 8:16pm
On way out of Antarctica, steaming half-way between Macquarie and Enderby Islands. Should land on Enderby early tomorrow (Wed 8th) morning.
February 9 at 9:38am
Last day of Antarctic Expedition - can't Zodiac around The Snares (South of South Island of New Zealand) due to 30 knot winds, high seas.
February 10 at 7:55pm
Been driving around Christchurch (NZ). Due to recent earthquakes, roads are "wavy", hundreds of large buildings have been turned to rubble.
This week's episode begins with a Twitter question from Penny 22.
Q: How do you explain when you're walking down the street thinking about someone and they ring you?
Karl thinks that it's basically a coincidence, but you can prove this to yourself by keeping a notebook and collecting some data. Karl once thought that he'd discovered the secret to the Universe in his dreams, so he decided to keep a notebook so he could remember what it was. Download the blogcast to find out just what he wrote down...
Recent studies seem to show evidence that nicotine is a gateway drug to cocaine...
Other topics include: Addiction, Obestiy & Trans fats...Read more in Dr Karl's latest book
This week's episode begins with what appears on the surface to be a seemingly innocent Twitter question...
Q: How do you avoid brain freeze when you eat ice-cream?
Well, after a couple of rather fully hectic tangents (3 * ‘ALERTS' in 5 MINUTES!!), Dr Karl finally gets around to the answer. Don't worry though cause there's a load of interesting extra information coming your way during this little journey...
For those after a more succinct answer, pop this little video explanation on...
Big floods in Thailand...via one rather large Tangent, ALERT!
Shave explains Signal to Noise Ratio, no wait, Karl explains Signal to Noise, no wait Shave does...
Back to Thailand, hard drives and backups. The factories that make 90% of the hard drives in the world were located in Thailand, and most of them were destroyed during the huge floods at the end of 2011. It's a convoluted path, but what Dr Karl and Dr Shave are trying to say here is that this ‘single point' failure in Thailand has resulted in a world shortage of hard drives.
Karl questions Shave about the gig he'll be playing at Wembley Stadium...impressive much. Shave gives Karl the low down on Keytars.
And onwards... This episode includes the following topics for discussion:
The Viking Sun Stone & Viking Berserkers
Physicists and archaeologist have been working together and it seems they have some fairly concrete ideas about the Norse legend of the "sunstone" and its use as a navigational tool. Looks like those clever little Berserkers were right across the polarisation of light, which would have allowed them to navigate on a cloudy day.
Read the full academic article here:
Or the overview style article here:
And the Monty Python version of events...
Toxoplasmosis gondii is a parasite that is hosted/breeds inside members of the cat family. If infected by this parasite, some pretty interesting stuff can happen - you might become slightly more suicidal and, you can have up to 6 times increased rate of car accidents...
Karl's hoping to see the Northern Lights (aurora) while he's on his current holiday...he tells a little about his previous aurora experience via a rather large tangent.
Karl and Shave discuss CMEs, the possibility of magnetic pole reversal and other tangents, including: the fascinating world of gut microbes, and the incredible story of a woman who's life was saved by a poo transplant - that's right, she had a ‘Transpoosion.'
This time lapse footage of the Northern Lights, taken in a single night from Norway, is beautiful. It does not look real. Unfortunately there's an ad to sit through, but it is well worth the wait.