Changes for 2009-10 season


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  • #1210
    spidey
    Participant

    No rumors here, just a USAP doc.

    RPSC Desktop Form DSG-DT-100AK, Deployment Specialists Group, Revision #3, 31 July 2009, Denver Headquarters, Approved by Lynn Dormand
    UPDATED JULY 31, 2009
    CHANGES FOR 2009/2010 – RPSC AND NANA EMPLOYEES
    Please take a moment to review changes for the upcoming season, and contact the
    Deployment Specialists Group with concerns or questions.
    1-800-688-8606 (prompt 2) or 303-790-8606 (prompt 2) or deploy@usap.gov
    Passports
    U.S. Customs require, and enforce, a passport valid for six months after your return. You can and will
    be denied boarding at gateway cities (Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami) if your passport does not meet this
    requirement. RPSC must have verification, either a copy of the passport title page or a completed
    Passport Details form (DSG-DT-100AS), before we can issue your ticket. Please take the time to check
    your passport now, especially if you plan leisure travel afterwards. Remember that RPSC reimburses
    passport costs up to $150.
    USAP Luggage Tags
    American Airlines now requires USAP luggage tags on international flights.
    You MUST use a purple USAP luggage tag on each checked bag this season.
    Ask at Orientation if you need extras.
    Full Middle Names
    Airlines increasingly require full middle names on travel documents. Please provide your full middle
    name on deployment forms when requested, or state “NMI” for no middle initial.
    ESTA
    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security requires participants with non-U.S. passports to register
    with ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. You can do it now
    or when you receive your final itinerary. (We’ll remind you.)
    Sydney
    Most of you will deploy through Sydney this season instead of Auckland.
    • Participants with non-U.S. passports must obtain a transit visa before deploying. Apply online at
    http://www.australianvisaonline.com/#australia_transit_visa; there is no charge. If in doubt, contact an
    Australian Embassy or Consulate.
    • Wait until Sydney or Christchurch to purchase duty-free liquids, aerosols or gels (LAGs). LAGs
    purchased at LAX will be confiscated in Australia. Non-LAG purchases are allowable.
    • QANTAS personnel will meet your flight and escort you to the Transit Area. You will not be able to
    leave the terminal or receive your checked baggage. You will be re-screened again before your
    flight to Christchurch, but will bypass Australian Customs. Checked baggage will transit directly
    from the United States to Christchurch – you will not receive it in Sydney.
    • Leaving the terminal is in violation of Australian law.
    RPSC Desktop Form DSG-DT-100AK, Deployment Specialists Group, Revision #3, 31 July 2009, Denver Headquarters, Approved by Lynn Dormand
    Currency Exchange
    Travelex offices at the Auckland airport and in downtown Christchurch (Cathedral Square and
    Colombo/Armagh Streets) are the only offices that waive currency exchange fees for USAP
    participants. Present the USAP Travelex letter in your travel folder and your passport.
    New Luggage Allowance
    Effective September 29, 2009 the checked baggage allowance for USAP flights between Christchurch
    and Antarctica is increased to 150 pounds (68 kg) for summer and winter participants. This allowance
    is the combined checked weight of your ECW gear and personal luggage. Maximum weight for a
    single piece is 70 pounds (32 kg).
    For WINFLY participants, the baggage allowance remains 75 pounds (34 kg), due to operational
    considerations. However, items can be mailed through the Christchurch APO and will be sent to
    McMurdo during WINFLY on a space-available basis.
    Changes to the RPSC-issued commercial airline flights are not affected and remain 70 pounds
    maximum per checked bag.
    E-Mail Addresses
    USAP e-mail addresses changed from first.last@usap.gov to either first.last.contractor@usap.gov
    or first.last.guest@usap.gov. This applies to your contacts within RPSC as well as your own e-mail
    address on the Ice.
    RPSC and NANA employees changed to first.last.contractor@usap.gov.
    Grantee e-mail addresses changed to first.last.guest@usap.gov.
    More details:
    • All NSF (sub)contractors, including RPSC, NANA, PHI, KBA, SPAWAR contract and full-time
    employees, have “contractor” addresses. Grantees and visitors have “guest” addresses.
    • Generic and group e-mail addresses, such as medical@usap.gov or MCM-MacOps, remain
    the same.
    • Military and U.S. Government e-mail addresses remain the same.
    • Vessel addresses still use the vessel name to the right of the @ sign, e.g.,
    first.last.guest@lmg.usap.gov.
    Airlines
    Airline operating policies continue to present challenges to the Program. We aim to accommodate
    everyone’s travel preferences, but please be flexible.

    #9852
    Mradyfist
    Member

    So according to this, they’re now allowing summer people to bring 150 pounds instead of 70? But later they say that you can only have 70 pounds per checked bag, so I’m assuming that means you need to split your stuff up between two bags.

    #9853
    thepooles98
    Keymaster

    I would add that it is a royal pain to travel with lots of bags. For you first timers, without knowledge of what life is like, you will probably bring a lot more than you will use. For example, my first year in anticipation of boredom, I brought books, hobbies and all kinds of stuff that I never had time to even open.
    Things to bring?
    Halloween costume. Your first year, you will want to attend this event. Mailing might not get there by the end of October.
    Bring enough clothing to give you several changes of clothing. Make sure you have a change of clothing in a carry on just in case your luggage gets misplaced. Mail the rest. It should get there by the start of November. For a few weeks you will be wearing the same clothes a lot. I try to wear everything at least twice between washing. I usually wash clothing once a week.

    I wear a set of clothing. Put one in the carry on and pack away 2. That gives me four sets of clothing and I can wear them twice and still last the week.

    You will need a lightweight rainshell jacket for NZ. Plan on it being rainy while there. You will be going from the heat of summer in the states to the end of winter in NZ so pack a few lightweight warm layers. Mostly keeping the cold wind from your skin is enough.

    If you can live with any brand of soap, shampoo etc., the store has that for you. No need to bring more. If you crave good hair conditioner or skin moisturizers, better bring or mail, you may not find anything you like.

    Mailing yourself a goody bag/box is nice. Save your weight for nice things to buy in NZ. This would be the way to get down thousand year old Scotch and 200 year old aged cheese, provided it’s worth your while to spend $10,000 to buy it. Getting some nice trader joes food treats after you arrive is a delight for both you and the people you will share it with. Our workcenter last year was full of people with family back home willing to send stuff to make our lives nice. It was a treat for everyone.

    You can live with ECW gear provided, but you will look like everyone else. Lots of people bring down custom cold weather gear, just to look different. Keep it in mind if you have something nice and it’s important to you to have an identity by clothing.

    Mail down or carry some nice clothing for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Wine tastings, or nice get togethers with friends.

    There has been some talk of doing away with mailing packages, but I think for now it is still on. Mailing isn’t cheap and I would think hard your first year about what you are sending down. You will likely not use much and you will have to pay again to send it back.

    #9854
    silentsports
    Member

    If deployed, I see there are Christchurch layover accommodations (i.e. Windsor B&B, Hotel So,etc.). If there is a choice, what do you who have been there recommend?

    #9855
    m0loch
    Keymaster

    @silentsports wrote:

    If deployed, I see there are Christchurch layover accommodations (i.e. Windsor B&B, Hotel So,etc.). If there is a choice, what do you who have been there recommend?

    Depends on what you like….

    I presume the “Y” is still a choice. If your priority is a fun social scene, then you will probably like this one.

    If you want to be treated like you’re a guest in your Aunt’s English countryside house, the Windsor might be right for you. Delightful staff there!

    If you enjoy all things Richard Branson, then I would suggest Hotel So (my favorite)

    If you absolutely abhor being near the center of things or being near restaurants and cultural attractions you might want to think about the Sudima (did this make the list again this year?)

    #9856
    thepooles98
    Keymaster

    I like the Y. It’s near the gardens and across the street from the art center. Kind of plane, but clean and lots of bathrooms. They have a coffee shop on premise.

    Next for me is the windsor.

    Hotel So is gaining in popularity. It’s right downtown where all the action is .
    M

    #9857
    spidey
    Participant

    m0loch has a great piece on applying for a job on the ice on his site Ramblings from The Ice and beyond.
    http://www.vagabumming.com/getting-a-job-in-antarctica-continued/
    I must say the majority of it applies to any job, just a few things hi-lighted in regards to how RSPC works (or what might work with them).
    I know I pointed out some similar advice to a couple hopefuls of which at least one made it further than I did. I’ll just need to do a more bang-up job next year.
    I think the dragged out process reduced my chances because I had the need for something now. Mortgages, daycare, and Summer camps can eat you up. Otherwise I would have been a bit more proactive. Knowing something in March could have allowed me to pursue a short term position, rather than juggling the idea of turn down a great offer on the hope of an ice offer, vs. take the great offer and see about negotiating a sabbatical for the following season. Well, we’ll just have to see what happens. At least I have positioned myself so that I could likely accept an offer next year.
    Seems to be the exciting time now with people PQing and getting itineraries. Hope everyone going gives us a good blow by blow with lots of pictures.
    Good luck everyone!
    -Spidey

    #9858
    capnsteve
    Participant

    I just talked to several people that are going down first flight and all were booked into the hotel so. Did not have a choice of hotels, at least for winfly. Not sure how they will book main body. This was the first time I did not have a hotel choice, although when I redeployed last year I did choose the SO but they put me into the Y instead.
    cap’nsteve

    #9859
    MightyAtlas
    Moderator

    Since the hotels now direct-bill, RPSC is gonna shove you in the cheapest places first. The Hotel SO(so) fits that bill. At least last year you also got to choose from the Y, and the Windsor (and a few others).

    The times, they are a’ changin’…

    #9860
    Mradyfist
    Member

    @spidey wrote:

    E-Mail Addresses
    USAP e-mail addresses changed from first.last@usap.gov to either first.last.contractor@usap.gov
    or first.last.guest@usap.gov. This applies to your contacts within RPSC as well as your own e-mail
    address on the Ice.
    RPSC and NANA employees changed to first.last.contractor@usap.gov.
    Grantee e-mail addresses changed to first.last.guest@usap.gov.

    Is this why in the video from Palmer that m0loch posted, all of the names in the credits have (contractor) after them?

    #9861
    m0loch
    Keymaster

    @Mradyfist wrote:

    Is this why in the video from Palmer that m0loch posted, all of the names in the credits have (contractor) after them?

    😆 😆 😆

    Yeah, that’s exactly why…my little statement of protest or something.

    #9862
    K7MT
    Member

    Howdy from Bill Erhardt,

    Here is the latest changes I received. They don’t really pertain to me since this is my second deploy and had a short stay last season.

    Okay, next up, for those of you planning to bring alcohol down in your luggage/carry-on to the ice- there will be a 5 liter limit per person. They will be screening bags, they will confiscate anything above your limit, and don’t even think about shipping it in as they are screening all that too.

    Next up- for those who don’t know, they are instituting a new housing policy this year. The reason you haven’t gotten an email on this is that the plan has not been officially approved by NSF yet, but it’s looking like it will be so they are beginning to implement it now.

    Basics are this: no more job points, only time points. You get a point for each month on ice, and you get a partial point for time in the Denver office. They are also looking at making MMI in to single person rooms available to upper management and directors only (it used to be they got their own room in upper case, so now they either have to share in upper case, or get a single in MMI). First years will go in 155, first year couples I imagine will be in Ho Cal. Now while this would improve most returnees housing options, this year may not be the year you see that because there is an 80% return in the program, so a lot of people have points. I suspect it will change some of your options, but not everyone’s. In addition to all this, Mike Rupp has left the company, and so there is a new housing supervisor, and a brand new rooms coordinator, so they will be having some adjustments for a bit. If you have an issue with your housing- I ask that you involve me first in it, and I will work with you to get things resolved. Please remember, the housing people have no control over decisions made above them, so be as nice as possible to them. If you come across someone throwing a fit about their housing, I suggest you try and help pacify them as well, housing gets a lot of heat for things they can’t do anything about- no fun for anyone.

    Cheers Bill Erhardt (aka Smokey)

    #9863
    skua77
    Keymaster

    Something I just heard from more than person…

    People who wintered have to pay their own tickets home to the US if they choose to travel between 12/8 and 2/1 because of new travel blackout dates. That leaves folks intending to winter again next year in the lurch. Even if they travel directly home, they will have to pay as much as $800 in supplement to the cash value of their tickets. Ouch!

    #9864
    Sciencetech
    Keymaster

    Flight snafus and ‘gotchas’ seem to be a perennial problem.

    #9865
    MATKATAMIBA
    Member

    Do you think they will limit winter-overs at the Pole to 5 liters of alcohol come February? That seems pretty strict for 8.5 months of cold and dark. I know there will be some to buy at the store, but I’m sure the scotch runs out well before the winter is over. All these rules – it’s beginning to feel like I’m back in high school.

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