Episode 020: Technical Technicalities

O Generator, Where Art Thou? Everest Base Camp might be in the wilderness, but there’s more technology here than in some small countries. Luckily, our little generator has arrived from Kathmandu. When you’re shooting a film about Everest, the one thing you always need is the ability to charge your batteries. I’ve been filming now for over a week without our own power source and it’s been a little dicey. Luckily I’ve befriended the Russian team next door and they have been very generous with their large generator. Right when we arrived, Lhawang was able to bribe the Chinese Mountaineering officials to let us use their generator. The price? Well, they just wanted to be able to borrow the collection of DVD movies I have brought along! Now, I’ve got pretty good taste in films, and they apparently do as well. My copy of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” was visibly missing from its case when the movies were returned. I guess they just really like that good old-timey music. If you listen carefully, when the wind isn’t blowing too hard you can hear verses of “Man of Constant Sorrow” or the more fitting “Big Rock Candy Mountain” streaming from the administrative bunker on the other side of camp.

Oh, I’m bound to go where there ain’t no snow
Where the rain don’t fall and the wind don’t blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

Jon Miller

Total Running Time: 20:37

Email From Jon’s Twin Brother Chris, April 22nd, 2003
Hey Jon,
Hard to believe you’re at Everest. I’ve been out of contact because I was studying so hard for my engineering test, but I took it last weekend and I have all this free time now (so I can start writing you). I sounds like things are all working out – I check my e-mail for dispatches about 10 times a day (partially because I’m still not sure what time of the day it is there compared to here). You probably received a note from mom just before this one – she’s visiting until tomorrow afternoon.

Are you doing alright at that elevation? Getting over the headaches yet? I’ve always said I don’t want to get into real mountaineering (anything more that the sierras or rocky’s) because it is just too damn uncomfortable – and here you are at Everest. What are you doing with your time – getting work done on the film, hanging around with an international crowd that speaks about 20 words of english – and who aren’t even sure they like Americans ever since Bush acquired a foreign policy? How’s that 100 person Chinese team – that must be kind of like a zoo visiting their camp.

Anyway, mom and I are going to go visit town and the future site of my house and all that mom-visit stuff.

I should say that I expect that I failed the engineering test – I’m thinking i have a 40% chance of passing it (which, by coincidence, is the passing rate for the exam in general). I think I did really well on the first half (120 questions in the morning 4 hours) but poorly on the second half (60 questions in 4 hours), so it’s just a matter of whether the morning was good enough to bump the afternoon above a combined 70%. I was so tense studying that the night before the test, at about 9:00 PM I went to stretch and actually tweaked my back so badly that I had a hard time breathing – let alone trying to sleep that night, and the next day I couldn’t turn my neck at all (which made the proctors of the test hover over me like vultures since if I wanted to see how many folks had finished the test at any point I had to move my entire body around to take a look – and proctors see that kind a thing and don’t like it much – I even had one guy more-or-less plant himself right in front of me for the last 30 minutes of the PM test).
I’ll start writing you more often now. Mom and I are going to run, so we’ll check in later today I’m sure. Talk to you soon. Love, Chris.

He passed the test with flying colors. -Jon