About David Kralik

David Kralik

David W. Kralik is manager of the Silicon Valley office & director of Internet strategy at American Solutions, founded by former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. In 2008, Kralik was honored as one of the “Top Ten Changing the World of Internet and Politics,” for his work on the “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” campaign which garnered 1.5 million signatures for its online petition.


Latest Posts by David Kralik

It’s the End of the World (and I Feel Fine)

June 13, 2010 by  

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NOTE: The following was written in 2006 during David Kralik’s trip to Antarctica.  This is a re-print.

Greetings from Ushuaia, Argentina! The Blogger-in-Chief has graciously allowed me to veer off topic (yet again) and write a daily travel entry on the blog. Similar to last’s years travel report from Australia, where this humble blog was the first to post a blog entry in 2006, we are making yet another historic first. Today begins the first of ten blog entries on our voyage to Antarctica.

We arrived today from the Buenos Aires (EZE) aeropuerto (airport) to Ushuaia.Ushuaia is flanked on one side by the Andes Mountains. A town of about 60,000 people, it looks like something out of the TV show Northern Exposure.

It is here where the Pan-American Highway (Route #3) begins and ends (the other terminus is at Fairbanks, Alaska).
Some people have been known to ride their bikes or motorcycles for six to eight months to travel the Pan-American Highway’s entire distance. The highway ends where Tierra del Fuego National Park begins. At that spot, a sign reads, “End of the road. No more roads south.” For that reason, and because the city is the southernmost city in the world, it is often known as the “end of the world.” In Tierra del Fuego, you can visit Bay Insada Post Office where for $1, you an get your passport stamped that says, “End of the World.” I always imagined the end of the world looking different, but alas, here we are.

Ushuaia is also called the city of four seasons because one can experience all four in the same day. Currently, daylight hours are from 6 AM to 9 PM, and in another month those hours will extend from 3 AM to 11 PM.

We had another briefing when we got to our hotel, where, among other things, our $400 local payment plus an additional $250 fuel surcharge was due. Geeze. The Blogger-in-Chief was right about energy costs having a major effect on the economy…globally too!

We boarded the boat at around 3:30 PM and I put on my Transderm Scope patch (to protect against sea-sickness). The Crew aboard the M/S Explorer is amazing. Many are PhD scientists with degrees in biology, botany, geology, etc. Aboard the boat, we had an orientation to the crew followed by a safety evacuation drill. We later had dinner and proceeded to sail through the Beagle Channel and onto the Drake Passage.

Tune in tomorrow for the first full day of our voyage through the Drake Passage.

Antarctica: Life at Sea

June 13, 2010 by  

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NOTE: The following was written in 2006 during David Kralik’s trip to Antarctica.  This is a re-print.

Today is our first full day at sea. We are very fortunate in that the turbulent waters of the Drake Passage that plagued explorers nearly a century ago have been quite calm for us. The Drake Passage can be difficult to navigate because of the Antarctic Convergence: a place where the warmer south Pacific waters meet with the colder Antarctic waters.

It’s hard to imagine that less than a century ago, in 1916 (the continent was first crossed in 1773), Antarctica was still dangerous place for explorers and their crew, including the notable expedition of Ernest Shackleton. The 1916 trip by Shackleton aboard the Endurance was a risky proposition. In fact, Shackleton’s call for explorers to join him read, “Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, return doubtful.”

We are fortunate to have catered meals on our ship, but back then, food was difficult to come by. One set of explorers wrote they ate the rats found on the ship. Drake would remark that in one day, in order to survive, his crew killed atleast 3,000 penguins.

Belgian explorer Adrien de Gerlach would also find a food in the form of penguins and remarked about their taste, “If it is possible to imagine a piece of beef, odoriferous cod fish from a canvass-backed duck roasted together in a pot with blood and cod liver for sauce, the illustration would be complete.”

But today, heroes like Drake, Shackleton and Cook have paved the way for researchers and expedition ships like ours.

Many have asked: What the heck do you do on a boat headed for Antarctica? Well, actually, there’s more to do than you might think. Today, for instance, there were two lectures to attend and two movies shown. One lecture was about the birds of Antarctic seas and many on the boat could be found afterward looking outside for notable birds including the Wandering Albatross which has the wingspan of twice the arm length of a human! Unfortunately, these birds were not very plentiful due to the unusually calm waters.

We also heard a lecture on “Antarctica: The Frozen Continent.” A few things they mentioned which I took notes on:

  • At 40 million square kilometers, Antarctica is the third largest continent (behind Europe and Australia).
  • The mean temperature is -50 degrees Celsius and the coldest temperature ever recorded was -89 C.
  • The ice averages 2.3 kilometers thick and covers 98 percent of the continent. The main ice sheet covers some 14 million square kilometers. And its weight is actually pushing down on the earth’s crust. So, yeah, despite the cries about global warming, there’s still a lot down here.
  • In fact, if all the ice in Antarctica melted, the oceans would rise anywhere between 50-60 meters. But, the waters still manage to freeze over and grow to some 19 million square miles in September and October every year.
  • But the continent isn’t all ice. There are mountains including the TransAntarctic which run for 3200 kilometres.
  • Well, that’s about all. Tune in tomorrow where we will will report on our findings from Elephant Island.

    Antarctica: Cabin 223, Tag No. 51

    June 13, 2010 by  

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    NOTE: The following was written in 2006 during David Kralik’s trip to Antarctica.  This is a re-print.

    You know how when you take a vacation, it usually takes a few days before you really feel like you are on vacation? Then, something happens where you finally fall into vacation mode? Well, today that was that day, for several reasons.

    Currently, I’m sitting in the back of the boat’s on-board movie theater watching — what else? — but March of the Penguins awaiting arrival at Brown Bluff, which will be our first official landing on the continent of Antarctica (up until this point it’s been the nearby islands).

    Today’s adventures actually began very early when I suddenly woke up thinking I had missed breakfast only to look outside my window and see huge icebergs float by underneath what appeared to be an early sunset sky. It was actually 2:30 in the morning. At this time of year in Antarctica, there is no permanent nightfall, just a dim, yet colorful sunset. Now that I was awake, I quickly recalled the crew’s suggestion that if we were up at that time during the voyage to Paulet Island to head up to the observation deck and watch some amazing iceberg formations float past. To the average person, icebergs might be boring, but when you see one up close, and realize that any ONE of them could have sunk the Titanic, you quickly develop a sense of amazement.

    Shortly after 9 AM, we boarded our zodiac boats and headed for Paulet Island to view our first penguin rookery. We didn’t have to see them to know they were there: we smelt them from afar. To ensure ensue that all passengers are accounted for, the exit door towards the zodiac boas have a wooden peg with a tag number corresponding to each guest. My cabin room number is 223, and I happen to be tag # 51. The tags serve a useful purpose to keep safe
    track of the passengers should they want to leave the boat for any extended period of time.

    Back on Paulet Island, our scientific guide estimated that there were 100,000 Adelie penguins present.
    This afforded us the opportunity to see most of the classic penguin activities. Some were lying on their bellies keeping their eggs warm or standing up to turn them over. Others were collecting small rocks in their beaks to build a nest for the future chick. We heard mating calls, saw a few fights break out and, of course, were fascinated by herd mentality as we watched a group of 100 or more penguins all jump into the water at once. When I came across a group of penguins sitting at the waters’ edge, I jokingly said aloud, “OK, guys, on the count of three. One…Two…Three.” And, believe it or not, at that very moment, an entire group jumped into the water and quickly disappeared as they swam their average speed of 5 meters per second. I tried a few more times at getting them to push off in unison into the sea but had no such luck.

    I find penguins quite fascinating because it is really interesting to see evolution at work as you observe their walking or swimming habits. Penguins have wings and legs. But neither are completely developed to make them fully useful: they can’t fly and they waddle at best, falling down many times. So, they are kind of like the animal that nature forgot to finish its evolutionary cycle. No matter, though. As our guide explained: “Penguins have no competition for their land they use or the food they eat. So, they don’t need to adapt or make any further biological changes. Every single aspect of their body is adapted to their environment.” Sure, they look goofy, but they are perfectly content creatures.

    Following our return to the main boat, we had an opportunity hear a talk on “The Little Guys in Tuxedos.” When people think of penguins, its very likely the image that comes to mind is that of the emperor penguin, which was featured in March of the Penguins. At three feet tall, they are the largest of all the varieties of penguins but also the fewest in number. During the late spring/early Antarctic summer months (i.e. right now) you are not likely to find very many emperor penguins in large quantities. So, it was with great amazement that following the lecture, we walked out to the bow of the ship and within 20 minutes we spotted a lone emperor penguin. Ordinarily, that would be a highlight of any trip…but today gets better.

    After sailing further, our ship ran into some pretty serious pack ice and we dropped anchor. The crew decided to exit the boat and test the ice to see if it was safe to walk on. After about 45 minutes of testing, they gave the all-clear sign. I quickly flipped tag #51 to the “out” position and made my way outside. Mind you, this wasn’t just any ordinary ice. We were given the opportunity to literally walk on water. We were walking on the Weddell Sea!

    We walked around a bit and then someone spotted another emperor penguin! It was about 200 yards away. The combination of our patience and the curiosity of the penguin resulted in him continued to walk/slide toward us. As a general rule of thumb, we learned that if we remain low to the ground (at the penguin’s height), stay silent and immobile, the penguin won’t feel
    threatened and waddle away. So, sure enough, he came closer. And closer. And closer until finally he was less than one yard away from yours truly. I took the opportunity to get some really close up pictures shot in RAW format on my Canon Reel xTi 10.1 mega pixel camera.

    This penguin sighting was yet another bonus from today. We didn’t expect to see another one when we got off the ship to walk around on the ice so, consequently, I wasn’t prepared for weathering the extended outside temperatures. As I found myself lying on my stomach, staring directly at an emperor penguin three feet away, I thought to myself, “OK, penguin, would you please hurry up and move on…my %$#* are freezing off!”

    Following this incredible photo opportunity, we had dinner and are currently watching The March of the Penguins.

    By this time tomorrow we will have reached Brown Bluff and officially landed on the Antarctic peninsula. Tune in tomorrow to learn about what else happens on this wild and crazy Antarctic Experience.

    Adventures in Australia

    May 12, 2009 by  

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    In 2005, I traveled to Australia, here is a video from my trip:

    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLvibcTRHB8[/youtube]

    From Nepal to the Taj Mahal

    May 12, 2009 by  

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    In 2007, I traveled to Mt. Everest and the Taj Mahal.  Here is a video of the highlights….
    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jm2nr54mYrw[/youtube]

    The Real Madagascar

    May 12, 2009 by  

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    In 2008, I traveled to Madagascar and prepared this video from my travels, I hope you enjoy it.

    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eSl_2bNzWo[/youtube]

    Antarctica: The Conclusion, Part II

    May 9, 2009 by  

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    As I conclude this last in the series of entries from Antarctica, I thought it would be helpful to make a connection back to manufacturing. No doubt, you are probably wondering why a blog on Antarctica is found on Shopfloor.org, whose topics are manufacturing related. Three quick points:

    1. At a superficial level, the boat that I am on, the polar clothing we had to wear to stay warm, and all things needed to make a safe, a successful journey would be impossible without manufacturing. We make it all; it’s not as if these things just fall out of the sky.

    2. One of the reasons for this trip was to look into the theory of global warming, which has been a big focus on our blog in the last few months. It’s interesting to note that not all the scientists on board here buy into this theory. During our concluding Q&A session yesterday, several of the scientific crew said that they’d like to see more evidence in another 50 to 100 years before one can say for sure we are really facing global warming.

    3. Finally, a definite connection can be made between the early explorers like Amundsen, Cook, Drake, Scott and Shackleton and today’s manufacturers. They share the same risk-taking and entrepreneurial spirit. The spirit of the early explorers exists in today’s manufacturers who are at the cutting edge of innovation, R&D, and discovery. Each also live
    according to the scouting model of leaving the world better than how they found it.

    This trip would not be possible without the heroism of the early explorers who paved the way for expedition ships like ours today. Many explorers gave their lives for the privileges we enjoy today. At Cape Horn, there is a monument of an albatross and underneath the sculpture a poem by Sara Vial:

    I am the albatross that waits for you
    at the end of the earth
    I am the forgotten soul of the dead
    who crossed Cape Hope
    from all the seas of the world
    But they did not die in the furious waves
    Today, they fly in my wings to eternity
    in the last trough
    of the Antarctic wind

    Thank for reading these entries over the last week and for joining me on this fantastic journey in my quest to reach all seven continents.

    Antarctica: The Conclusion, Part I

    May 9, 2009 by  

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    For the next two days, we will be travelling the Drake Passage. The waters are slightly rough today owing to the fact that we are travelling north as the winds blow east to west. By sunrise tomorrow, we will be at Cape Horn, having past through the worst of it all.

    This morning we heard a lecture about whales. Some of the passengers saw a few of them over the last few days, but I did not. It’s still very early in the migratory season for them. In about a month, viewings will be more plentiful.

    A few notes about whales:

  • They have a very streamlined form. For instance, the flippers of many of the species fit nicely into pockets and their mammary glands are tucked in. Together with their streamlined form, they have made special adaptations for underwater living like the ability to hold their breath anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes and slow down their heart rates as they dive deeper into the ocean.
  • Whales are like icebergs in that you only see 5-15 percent above the surface.
  • During the lecture, one of the crew members took out a piece of rope that was knotted off into various sections. The rope made it all the way around the lecture hall which helped to illustrate the various sizes of the whales from small (average fin whale: 66 feet) to the largest (blue whale: 110 feet and 160 tons).
  • The rest of the day was rather quiet with passengers going out to the deck to enjoy the scenery for one of the last times. Towards the afternoon, a number of passengers (myself included) started to feel a little queasy which afforded us a good excuse to catch up on some reading or sleeping. There were quite a few empty chairs at dinner as many just kept to their rooms or requested room service as a way of coping with some of the seasickness.

    Tomorrow: Final thoughts and the manufacturing nexus….

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