Just a quick update to go with this post - the Drake has come alive :-( We just passed through the convergence zone, and it appears to have had the effect of not only bringing in more birds and animals - but swells, waves and wind as well. Imagine a 12,000 ton vessel rocking side to side like one of those amusement park rides and you have a picture of our little adventure - the anglenometer is registering rocks of between 15 and 20 degrees to each side, and rock takes about 4 seconds from side to side. The Captain has seen it list more than 60 degrees and says this is nothing - all I can say is a huge thank you to the chemist that created the scopalomine motion sickness patch. It was fun for about the first 5 minutes - now I'm just glad no one is getting sick! Good news - Only 500 miles to the ice which should calm it down considerably, bad news - at 11 knots max speed we still have almost 48 hours out in the Drake.

Here's the latest career post highlighting our awesome computer tech!

So you love computers, cell phones, and basically are a wiz-kid when it comes to technology? Do your friends, teachers, and parents call on you to solve the problem when their wireless network is kaput, their handheld won't sync or they just can't log onto the internet? Well then there is definitely a place for you on just about every polar expedition!

On board the Oden – our tech-wizard is Axel Meiton – and he is definitely the man who makes all of this awesome communication possible.

Alex in radio room

I find it pretty amazing that I can sit a computer on the bridge, over 700 miles from the nearest community, and respond to e-mails from all over the US. Yesterday I found it even more incredible to be able to pick a phone and talk with many of you live from your classrooms. Axel is the man behind the scenes that makes things like this picture – of Ute talking with her class in Texas – possible.

Ute on telephone

When I asked Axel about his college degree, he just shrugged and said he didn't have one. His Dad was a computer tech so he grew up around computers and has been working with them in all kinds of capacities since he was young. He started taking some college computer classes in his hometown of Stockholm, Sweden – but found it really frustrating since the material was too basic and he could learn far faster just by reading. Prior to coming to work for the Swedish Polar Research Council, he worked for a school district as a computer technician. It was a job with lots of responsibility, but he longed for a unique challenge – finding a position that has him troubleshooting in extreme conditions. When he needs to learn something new – he reads, researches, asks questions and problem – solves – just like every scientist in the world! From this office on the 5th floor – his job is to maintain the ship computer network and oversee the satellite hook-ups for voice and data transfer.

Computer Center

He thinks the most important skill required for his job is the ability to be creative and problem solve outside of the box. Sure technical skill is important – but in these conditions of weather, cold, and isolation – the problems are rarely simple and solutions that would be simple in a standard environment become very complicated and require on the spot innovation. That's the part of the job he loves – being creative to achieve the results the scientists and crew needs. He said it's also fun to be part of the crew family – they truly enjoy each other's company and go out of their way to keep the routines from becoming stale. Here is Axel participating in a short pre-dinner theater on Dec. 13 – in honor of Lucia day – for more info check out Ute Kaden's article and pictures.

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