Antarctica – Or Bust!

Isn’t it cold enough for you here?

That’s the usual response I get when I tell people what I did over J-Term. Well, what can you expect when you go to Antarctica? But it’s summer there – honest. In fact, it was 60 degrees warmer there than here. Okay, so that’s still not so very warm.

UST folks often use J-Term for warm, interesting and/or worthwhile ventures. Sometimes it’s vacation during the quiet time, sometimes progress on research projects, sometimes a VISION trip, sometimes a study abroad experience. Usually, it is a warmer experience than I chose, although Kevin Theissen (Geology) did take student researchers to Tierra del Fuego in 2005 and 2009.

I cannot claim any serious scholarly purpose – unless I count observation of the effects of Ukraine station vodka on my fellow passengers or consultation with Monica Hartmann (Economics) about which warm clothing to leave on longest as she stripped to her swim suit before taking her polar dip. You’ll notice that I didn’t say before my polar dip. When Rick Meierotto (Biology, retired) told me that this was an option when he visited Antarctica, I thought about bringing my suit. But when I saw the Polar Bear Club on television on New Year’s Day, I remembered how crazy I always thought those people were. I figured I was on the edge enough just going to Antarctica without confirming everyone’s suspicions about my sanity.

In any case, I don’t think the IRS will let me write this off as a business expense!

Paul Wojda (Theology) did offer a tongue-in-cheek possibility, however. He suggested that we establish a St. Thomas South on the seventh continent. After years of recruiting faculty who were disappointed to discover that we are not in the Virgin Islands or at least Houston, I mulled over the possibility. I really don’t think it would work, though. The human population is small there and while the chinstrap penguins I surveyed were very interested, the leopard seals expressed concern about interference with the food chain.