Friday, March 27, 2009

New blog @

Hi gang! Andrew here again to let you know we've moved this whole party over to We'll be posting all the new stuff there from now on, so update your bookmarks!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Is kitsch the right word?

Andrew here. I'm going to take advantage of (abuse?) the new posting rights Sarah granted me on the team blog by sharing this mid-90's ad I found for the Daihatsu Hijet. As far as I'm concerned, it's always about quantity.

There's currently a question about whether our particular Hijet will meet the requirements put forth under the rally's new Ten-year Rule (in short, that cars must be less than 10 years old). We're waiting on a check of the original registration papers and then we'll know if we squeak in with it or not.

PS: The very first episode of MTV's show Pimp My Ride featured a Hijet. Procurement is left as an exercise for the reader.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Meet the team: Andrew

That's right! One more teammate slipped in at the last minute. Andrew lives in Seattle and spends most of his days typing and getting paid for it. In that sense, he is a professional keyboardist, which he may put on his new business cards now that he thinks of it. Andrew's never been too tied down to a place. He's moved cities on average every three years since birth, and moved housing several more times than that. He's also been lucky enough to see a lot of the world traveling, but this big chunk of Eastern Europe and Asia will be all new, and he is incredibly excited.

Hometown: If we define this as "places I lived with my parents," then Albuquerque, NM; Redwood City, CA; Toronto, Ontario; San Mateo, CA; and Scottsdale, AZ
Current Location: Seattle, WA
Job: Programmer. I'm working on a fighting game starring some insect monster things.
Mongol Rally Job: Sextant
Countries visited: Australia (have citizenship), Belgium, Brazil, Canada (lived there), Czech Republic, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg (barely), Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland (barely), UK
Languages attempted to have spoken: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese (Brazilian)
Where you will pretend to be from when you get tired of answering questions about America: Australia
Instruments attempted to have learned: Trombone, Tuba, Clarinet (I own three, all by chance), Guitar, Banjo, Jaw Harp, Harmonica
Card games you will insist be played while camping: Doppelkopf and Cribbage
Ukulele song most excited to learn: Gone, by Danielle Ate the Sandwich. See here.
Country you're most excited about: Iran, if we get to go there. Otherwise Turkmenistan because I hear they have bread there named after Turkmenbashi's mother.
If you were a car part, what would you be? I would be a turbocharger because it packs more air in to the cylinders and gets more power out of the engine. That's how life should be. Pack as much in as you can, and make the most of what you have.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

We now have a team phone number and a vehicle!

The most exciting news first, Anand managed to win us a very fitting chariot for the race from ebay-motors! Turns out, we will be driving a white, 1.3L, 1999 Daihatsu Hi-jet microvan. We got it for a cool £800.00 (bumped up from 500 at the last minute, sadly). It's got two sunroofs and some ...personality quirks. More about that and some pictures soon! Start thinking of good names for her!

Second, we now have a telephone number. It is an international phone number, so we should have coverage in most countries, provided there's a GSM tower around. We get free incoming texts, so feel free to say hello along the way! For reference, our number is: +44 7525 303790. We'll let you know on the blog once we've initiated the number.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Meet the team: Sarah

Sarah Olmstead
Sarah grew up semi-nomadically all over the East coast. When she was around seven she took part in a section of the “peace wave,” an offshoot of the “Great Peace March,” which aimed to walk across the US. Apparently the beginning of her love of travelling long distances, when she heard about the Mongol Rally in 2005, she decided she had to do it. Every year since then she and Anand have tried to enter, only to be denied each time. This year, as Sarah arrived in Uzbekistan to do fieldwork for her dissertation, she received an email from Anand saying they’d won a slot. Currently Sarah is a grad student in Santa Monica studying water management in Central Asia. She spends her “free time” fixing up a motorcycle, playing music, and making things (furniture, art, etc).

Hometown: Boston, Brooklyn, West Hartford, and Washington, DC
Current Location: Santa Monica, CA
Job: Doctoral fellow
Mongol Rally job: Obstacle Avoidance Specialist and bazaar negotiator.
Countries visited: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Cayman Islands, Czech Republic, Dominica, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lesotho, Mexico, Mozambique, The Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Slovakia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan,
Languages attempted to have spoken: Spanish, French, English, Turkish, Russian, Uzbek
Where you will pretend to be from when you get tired of answering questions about America: Old Mexico. Hey, it’s worked before!
Instruments attempted to have learned: In chronological order: Violin, recorder, guitar, piano, kemence, ukulele.
Ukulele song most excited to learn: Borneo (the Jim Kweskin version)
Country you're most excited about: Turkmenistan. Turkmenbashi is too funny…
If you were a car part, what would you be? The idiot light; I’m paranoid about running out of gas.

Meet the team: Jessie

Jessie Wender
Jessie is the Senior Picture Researcher at The New Yorker where she researches and selects images to accompany the articles and fiction pieces for the weekly magazine. She grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she developed a love for the expansive sky and spicy food. Through her early pursuits in dance, theater, photography and the outdoors she cultivated a deep appreciation for creative expression. These activities were the impetus for many high school and college adventures and have taken her through every nook and cranny in New Mexico, from LA to NY to Alaska and across the globe to live in Sweden, Nepal and Scotland. Jessie lives in Brooklyn, enjoys running in Prospect Park, and is learning Capoeira. In this lifetime she hopes to spend a summer in Antarctica, get a higher degree and do a triathlon.

Hometown: Santa Fe, NM
Current Location: Brooklyn, NY
Job: Picture Researcher
Mongol Rally job: Rally documentation and Team’s unflappable positive attitude.
Countries visited: Canada, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Hungary, Israel, Mexico, Nepal, Norway, Spain, Sweden, UK and USA and Germany & Thailand if sleeping in an airport can be considered “visiting”.
Languages attempted to have spoken: Nepali, Spanish and French
Where you will pretend to be from when you get tired of answering questions about America: I’ll still say I’m from New Mexico.
Instruments attempted to have learned: piano, recorder and berimbau – I’m using the word attempted in the most forgiving of ways.
Ukulele song most excited to learn: I’ve never even touched a ukulele, so I’m excited to learn pretty much any song.
Country you're most excited about: Every single one of them! I have no idea what to expect… That’s probably not what you wanted to hear from your teammate.
If you were a car part, what would you be? I’d be both wing mirrors so I could have a wide view of the blind spots. Or maybe the U Joint.

Meet the team: Anand

Anand Patil
Anand was born in Detroit and got bitten by the travel bug when he went to college on the West coast. Since then he has climbed rocks all over the US, worked at the University of Alaska museum, hiked in the Himalayas, ridden a bike around Pinar del Rio province in Cuba and researched sickle cell disease in the Adivasi community as a volunteer at the Bhasha Research and Education Centre in Gujarat, India, among other travels. He pursued a childhood dream and studied physics as an undergraduate, but eventually realized that physicists don't actually get to go to the big bang and did his doctoral research on advanced statistical methods for inferring the processes driving ecological systems. He nominally enjoys playing the ukulele and banjo, outdoor activities and tinkering, but these days he spends much of his free time at the pub, because he lives in England.

Hometown: Detroit, MI
Current Location: Oxford, UK
Job: Postdoc Map-maker
Mongol Rally job: The Team’s keen sense of direction.
Countries visited: Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Cuba, Alaska, UK, France, Italy, Switzerland, Kenya, Nepal, India, not counting airports.
Languages attempted to have spoken: Spanish, English, Hindi, Urdu, Marathi
Where you will pretend to be from when you get tired of answering questions about America: Alaska
Instruments attempted to have learned: Piano, Banjo, Ukulele
Ukulele song most excited to learn: "Papa Don't Preach"
Country you're most excited about: Tajikistan
If you were a car part, what would you be? If I were a bike part I'd be the Star Fangled Nut... on a car, I guess the timing belt.