20 Years Ago…A Great Adventure Took Place 3…09/05/2014

United_States_Antarctic_Program_logoThings got busy at the house and I was on nights so I forgot about this.

The interview…That was quit the day. It took only one day, but it was long. The reason it was so long was because of a bit of controversy, but more on that later.

To start with ASA flew me from my home in Grand Rapids, to Denver. There was something about this flight, as I flew the first leg from Grand Rapids to Chicago. I remember seeing the southern end of Lake Michigan with a Lake Carrier on it, and thought that it might be one of the last times I see a sight like that for a while. That little voice inside of me was telling me you got this. So I went with it.

I flew into Denver in a whirlwind, as I followed the directions that they gave me. Onto a SuperShuttle, to this hotel in Englewood. With the flights and the shuttle ride, it took me about 6-8 hours. I relaxed in front of the TV, ready for the next day.

I think I was scheduled for around 9am, so I got up around 730 am and got ready. I had to catch a hotel shuttle to ASA headquarters. I found out that this was one of the main staging hotels for ASA, so I wasn’t alone that morning going to the ASA. I was greeted by the receptionist who, page Kathie Sharpe who had interviewed me over the phone. I spent about half an hour with her, going through my qualifications and what it was like to winter over (Kathie had wintered over a few years before). Next was John Gress. He interviewed me for about an hour on some of the same things. It was then that I met J.P. (Jon Parlin) winter over station manager. J.P. had wintered over 2 or 3 times before and was doing this for the money. We talked about life at the South Pole in the winter, and the question came up how do you handle being depressed/being isolated. I think I said something like I lean back on my Christian faith. It was a natural answer for me. However, that set off alarm bells. I don’t remember getting grilled more about it from JP, but a some point, JP, John, and Kathie had a meeting. I went to lunch with Kathie and John, and I felt the probing of the questions about my faith. How important, how do you interact with non-believers. It seemed. Odd, and I was naive enough to not realize the scope of this.

After lunch I met the 4th player in this day, “The Mayor” of the South Pole aka the Area Manager, Jim Gardener. The two of us had a talk. I remember him being a large guy, mild mannered and soft spoken. I don’t remember the conversation, but it was cordial, and went well. Then I was in an office waiting…

Obviously, I got the job or I wouldn’t be writing this memoir. However, much later (like during the winter later) I would find out something about the day. It seems that with my raising my faith, that JP was worried that I would be some “Holy Roller” in your face. Those of you who know me that I’m not an in your face type, and while I might disagree with peoples’ choices, they are there own. Kathie actually fought for me, I found out later, because she too was a Christian and she reminded them that I could sue for discrimination based on religion. In the mid 1990s, I probably could have.

However, there were some things that needed to be done that I had missed out on. A full physical, and a psych evaluation. The physical could be done by a doctor of my choosing at home. The psych eval would be done on the “ice.” Everyone else on the winter over team had their’s done. I would have to wait.

One other thing, though, I was on double secret probation, which I found out while wintering over later. It was all due to my faith in Christ.

They had me sign papers and begin the process of preparing to go south. By 4:00 pm, I had a job in meteorology, and I would be living for a year that few people still have yet to venture. They called the Super Shuttle (I had my bad with me), and they got me out to the airport. I called my folks, and my roommate, had supper, and boarded a for plane home.

I still use this interview story as a part of my testimony, how God puts you where you need to be if you are in His will. I believe that He was there through the whole process.

New Toys? or Tools?…09/05/2014

IMG_1047As the technology of various fields has improved, eventually, the tools come down in price and up in quality. This has especially been true of the video/film field. I’ve always wanted to film things. I loved having my various still cameras over the years. I’ve always wanted a good digital stills camera, that could take really good video. Well, the time has come. I’m still a little short for the time being of funds for what I want, but in the meantime, other things, less expensive options have appeared.

1. My Samsung Galaxy S4

2. My wife’s (well its become mine now) Canon Power Shot

Both shoot great 1080p video, although the audio suffers a bit. One thing I have found is an app that lets me shoot time lapse video. However, it is a pain to stand there with the phone in hand trying to hold still.So tool number 1. My adjustable Glif (pictured above left). It allows me to put the phone in to the little clamp on one end, so that I can put it on a tripod (which I have a couple) so that I don’t have to hold it anymore. The other end works as a nice stand so I can watch stuff on it.

IMG_1046Tool number 2 is my Zoom H1 Audio recorder (pictured to the right on top of the handle looking thing). In the future I would like to get the H5 with all of its options, but for me to get started and not learn anything I decided that this would fill the gap. Also the little lav mic that I picked up for my smartphone works with an adapter with this recorder. So my audio quality is now going up!

Tool number 3 is the handle looking thing. I needed a way to put this all on one rig so that I can record the audio and video at once. It reminds me of a similar handle rig that my dad used with his camera and flash unit when working as a freelance reporter, when I was a kid.

So between the Power Shot and the phone, can do some basic video and audio recording. The next investment is a better computer so that I can edit the video and audio clips together without so much jerky motion or freezing (That happened tonight.). So my wish list grows a bit more.

So what am I doing? Well, I have about 15 years left in the NWS, so I figured that I might as well take a hobby that I really like and see if I can eventually convert it into a second career. So I have been trying to learn all that I can on how to shoot, light, record, and edit properly so that can create artistic pieces of film. I’m liking some documentary for now. We’ll see what God has in store.

20 Years Ago…A Great Adventure Took Place 2…08/09/2014

United_States_Antarctic_Program_logoOkay, so I said that it would be about two weeks before my next post. However, as I thought about it, I think the response came a lot sooner (Also, for some reason I was telling the story in the third person, I’ll tell it from my perspective 20 years later).

I think it was about a week to 10 days later, that I got a call while I was at work. The person was Kathie Sharp, who was to be the Senior Meteorologist at the South Pole. Luckily, I got one hour breaks for lunch, because the interview was about 20 minutes. I got another call after work (the company, Antarctic Support Associates was based in Denver, CO). Thank goodness for that. The 2 hour time difference helped in the communications. The second call was John Gress, who was the science technical support manager and oversaw the Met dept, at the south pole, as well as other science support position at the South Pole, McMurdo, and Palmer stations. We talked about another 45 minutes. At the end of the conversation, he wanted me to fly out to Denver to interview for the position. It seems the other meteorologist that had been hired to winter over(i.e. spend the year) decided earlier in the week, to take another job, about the same time my resume reached the office.

It would be about a week before I could get there. However, in the week to come, I decided that a step of faith was needed. It takes 6 weeks for a passport, and I would need one en route to the South Pole, because we fly through New Zealand. So I did just that, cautiously optimistic that I would be hired for a met position at the South Pole. The only thing that I was apprehensive about was that it was for a meteorological technician, and I had no experience in the equipment end. However, since the senior met (Kathie) was, they told me that it wouldn’t be a problem.

In about a week, another post! The interview…

20 years ago…A Great Adventure Took Place…7/30/2014

aerialpoleWhat was this adventure that took place 20 years ago? I went to the South Pole and wintered-over. I will be chronicling this journey over the next year as things pop up, I have slides, and if I can get them digitized, I’ll add them to the blog. However, for the most part, I will be blogging about my experience looking back at where I was 20 years ago.

As every adventure starts, there was once a 27 year old out of work meteorologist. He had worked at a place that for some reason had sapped his soul. It may have even been in his field, but the stress, the hours, and the relationships had sapped some vital energy out of him. He went back home, and began a sabbatical as he meditated on what he would do for his future. About the end of July, or the beginning of August (the memories are a bit hazy now), of 1994, he noticed in a weather magazine (Weatherwise to be exact) an ad for a meteorological technician at the South Pole. He wasn’t sure if he qualified, but he had done enough in meteorology, during the 3 years at the place that would not be named, to get him familiar with the much of what he needed to do for the job. So he carefully updated his resume and cover letter, and sent them to: Antarctic Support Associates.

Stay tuned, I’ll update with the response when we get to that date, in about 2 weeks. See what happened…

Facebook’s Decisions Have Forced Me to Begin to Make Some Decisions…04/13/2014

4597216399_d885d9bff1As you may or may not know, I have three blogs. My about page can tell you how I got to this point, and for the most part, the blogs themselves are fine. The weather blog (NMIRecWx), the “microblog”(wxym.blogspot.com) where I share smaller post and pictures, and finally the main Ministry & Meteorology blog, where I usually discuss my thoughts and feelings about youth ministry from time to time. In the mix is Twitter,  Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube for helping to spread the information. Originally, when I started blogging back in 2004, and then trying to podcast, this was an avenue to allow me to create website content and see what I could do. The three blogs grew some, but growth wasn’t what this was about. These places have been my “sandbox,” as a friend who works in radio once described a station that wasn’t part of their regular network. Basically, just things to experiment with.

I’m still planning to utilize the blogs as they are, but the changes I foresee are with Facebook. Recently, Facebook has been changing the way that pages, not people’s profiles, are distributed, and this has lead me to think about my future on Facebook as a hobbyist blogger. I’m thinking that I will leave my twitter feeds in place, since they haven’t messed with the way my information goes out, but Facebook has gone to using algorithms, that unless you post a lot, and you can get people to like them, then they don’t show up in people’s newsfeeds. I posed that question to Facebook in a customer feedback survey. I asked them how is a hobbyist, like myself, who have people Like (aka subscribe) to a feed supposed to compete with no money, and expect people to get any information about the subject that you write or podcast?

I haven’t made any final decisions, yet, but I’m beginning to think that I may close down the Facebook pages for Ministry&Meteorology? and Northern Michigan Recreational Weather and just put them through my profile again. I used to separate them so that I wouldn’t inundate people’s newsfeeds with shared things, or such. I don’t share as much with the articles on Ministry & Meteorology? as I used to, and most people like the weather things I share, and since the post views on NMIRecWx’s Facebook page are so low and most of my friends have expressed interest on what I post on the weather, I might as well.

I’m going to think about this a bit, but I’m really leaning toward deleting the other two feeds. I’m not sure that it’s worth it. Twitter is different. There are ways for me differentiate the feeds, although, I may post on both. I do have a small following on Twitter with the weather feed. I’m kind of a sentimentalist with things at times. I hate having to say good bye to things that seemed to be fun, but when something doesn’t work, you need to throw it out. I knew there would come a time when Facebook would truly begin to undo itself, and I think that over the last year or two it has, it will be several years, before  they really see what they have done, but it’s coming. I’m just the beginning…

Cross-posted on Northern Michigan Recreational Weather.

Is Fear the Driving Force in your Ministry?…02/13/2014

I have been making the same observation over the last 5 years or so. So many youth ministries or events have been focused on fear. I’m trying to focus on the things Jesus did, namely loving God and loving your neighbor. It’s not to say that there are things that I don’t fear about or in youth ministry. However, for now, fear doesn’t seem to be driving the ministry.

the achilles heel of your youth ministry | whyismarko.

We Would all Love Instant Transformation…01/30/2014

j0312654Since becoming the youth ministry leader with Mary, I have felt that I need to teach about the Old Testament stories, with the emphasis on love. Now, I’m feeling the need to stress more out of Jesus’s teaching on the “Sermon on the Mount,” (Matt. 5-7 or Luke 6). However, it can be frustrating when you don’t have instant changes. It is a slow process, that depends on relationship building with the youth, and for that matter, adults too. After 15 years in youth ministry, I still stumble with this. Just as it seems you are getting somewhere, one of the kids does something that is disappointing.

I realized, while Mary and I were on our vacation, that everything is a journey. That we all carry God’s image. That we all need each other to help raise each other up. However, the observations that God made in Genesis 3 (yeah, it was translated as curses, but that makes it sound like God put them on us. ) shows us how self-centered we are when we reject God’s image in us, and His ways. The internet has brought this out even more, as I read the comment sections on news websites. I read of some tragedy, and then I read the compassionless comments. The ones that are judgmental, like they know the best way to resolve the tragedy and deliver the punishment. Some call it justice, but most often it is revenge filled spite for with no mercy or grace.

I recently read the book of Jonah to the youth group, only I put in local places, and changed things up a bit. Since then, I have read over Jesus saying that the only sign of Jonah (Matt 12:38-41) will be shown to this generation. After reading Jonah, I wonder if we aren’t seeing this. The church in general sometimes gets so into the rules that get legalistic. So when someone preaches about love and grace and mercy, they are shouted down, or even asked if there is a sign that God has given them. The sign of Jonah that Jesus was talking about was about him dying and rising again, but I wonder if we can’t learn something about our generation here.

Jonah was told by God to go to Nineveh and prophesy to them, because of the wickedness they were doing. He didn’t want to go, so he ran somewhere else. When he finally went where was supposed to go, he did so angry, and even when the Ninevites listened to him, and repented, he still wanted them destroyed. I wonder if this is the sign of Jonah to our generation. God is so full of love that when we reluctantly witness, we have no grace or mercy to really want them to change. Of course, if they do change then we pile all sorts of rules and stuff on them as Jesus says in Matt 23:15, and make them “twice as much the child of hell that we are” (Paraphrased).

So as I went on my rant…my point is that transformation is not instant. There needs to be love, grace, and mercy involved. The justice that is meted out should not be in vengeance, but a justice that corrects in love. This is the tension that I live in…

What I want for Christmas and how my attitudes have changed…12/14/13

weemeeI was out running around tonight, doing some errands for Mary, when it occurred to me that I’m more positive about this Christmas than I have in a few years. One thing that I do with the youth group is stress the Shema, or as we say in the New Testament of the Bible the Great Commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul and all your mind. Love your neighbor as yourself.”(Matthew 22:37-40). I also stress the things from the beatitudes, like love your enemy. Of course, I get some push back. The kids have been conditioned by the culture that says you do unto others, and then split, or get revenge on them.

However, this has had an effect on me as well. I think about a verse out of one of my favorite books of the Bible, the book of James 2:18, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” So my deeds are always trying to show love and compassion.

As I said, I’m more positive about Christmas. The last few years, Mary has been on my case about being a Scrooge. This year has been different as I realize that while I want more than gifts, I have to love people where they are. I would prefer to do something along the lines of the Advent Conspiracy. Spend less on ourselves, do something as a family, and give the rest to those who need it. I’ve always pushed back at the culture, the commercialization of Christmas. The thing I realized that I can’t win against people who think that Christmas is about Santa, and not about Christ. I have to do as the bumper sticker says, “Act locally, Think globally.”

So my attitude has been just that, love the family where they’re at. Be content with what I have, and keep my attitude to  be depressed about the culture in check.

That’s all I want…well, that and a Canon EOS 700D (Rebel T5i) and a lens. 🙂