Thursday, June 30, 2011
A quick update here: One of the people on board the Kaisei with us last summer produced a segment for the Dan Rather show. It explains the purpose of the trip and what we found very well. In time he has promised me a version of the production that I can embed on here, but for now it is available on iTunes for the small price of $1.99. Follow this link to it if you like. It is episode 22 (June 28, 2011). The segment starts at minute 31:O4. Or if you will be patient, I will have something on the blog in a couple of weeks. Chip and I both show up in it but only briefly. I am in the sort of greenish plaid heavy shirt and Chip has traditional brown Carhartts pants on. Don't blink or you will miss us. Have fun.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
There were three of them. One was solved pretty much for sure given the visit by the missionaries. That was the mystery of the strange tracks. The motion sensing lights probably were set off by the cats that roam the neighborhood. What remains is the mystery of the wrong way guardrail bending. This one is still a head scratcher. In the larger picture it's very obvious the rail was hit from the off road side. Even the 8x8 supports are broken toward the road. The smaller picture shows the terrain on the other side of the rail.. pretty much muskeg swamp. Nothing came from that side hard enough to cause that damage. The railroad is about half a mile or so across the swamp. So, this mystery is deepening. I looked at both ends of the railing, it goes on for almost a mile contiguously, and nothing had hit the end that might have made it buckle. My guess? UFO. Flying low. Ok. A bear? So, maybe there is another option. Maybe it was pulled toward the road by something. Now I have to go check again to see if there are chain marks or some other indication.
Friday, June 24, 2011
A lot's been going on around here and has built to the breaking point. Interesting how such small things can change the mood, like some success in the garden and then a little change in the background music, too. One of those days when money was burning that perpetual hole in the pocket, seems most of my pants have that hole. So that explains the pictures. The plants are those peas that threatened to take over the house. Would you look at them now. Not to bore anyone on here (like i don't anyway) but there is a small album of garden pictures here.
And then there's the second picture: How long were we going to go without mentioning her anyway? Actually the subject of the photo isn't really her. That money burning that hole led to the display of iPhone docks that amplify the music. They were on sale and I grabbed one and was heading away when I saw this one. Whoa. an iPAD dock. Of course it was the only one that wasn't on sale. And to top that off, and I know I'm late with this, but discovered Pandora, too. Now this is cool. I plugged in just a few favorite musicians and since then have been listening to an assortment of music I haven't heard in years, including many I didn't name in my list.
"Broken windows and empty hallways,
a pale dead moon in a sky streaked with grey"
Prime time television was interrupted last night for one of those alert test messages. I thought it strange it wasn't done in the early morning hours when it only interrupts TV for those of us limited to those hours of freedom. Then it came up with tsunami warning. There was a sizable earthquake in the Aleutian Islands and a tsunami was deemed possible. Then the predictions for the time of arrival at various places came up on the screen. At first I thought that was a good idea, and then I looked at the clock. All those arrival times had already passed. I was already dead. Thanks GCi. Save it for late-night next time.
"...the frozen smiles to chase love away ..."
Driving around the past two hot and sunny days, I have seen several children sitting on the grass, lawns and parks..... reading.....books..... real books. I waved to them. It's been so warm the top almost came off the Jeep today.
The other night driving home I saw a moose wading through this swamp:
Understand it was after midnight you could still spot a moose against a dark background. Twice last week I pulled out of work about 11:30 p.m. and the sun was so bright setting that I had to put the visor down. That of course was right on the solstice which passed without much fanfare this year. Still a solstice and now the days start getting shorter or the nights start getting longer depending on your outlook.
"Bright before me signs implore me..."
And one pretty neat thing came up this week, but to see it you will have to click on the "More Wild Critters" book cover in the right hand column. I came across it by accident just wandering around the web on a lazy day.
"Help the needy and show them the way."
So much for observations, now on to the adventures in Alaska government. Once again the powers that be have shot themselves in the foot, though it's possible it was done on purpose. There is a federal program for coastal zone management. It was ostensibly designed to give people living in coastal areas some voice in the development of resources along the coast and offshore. Each state with ocean frontage has to develop a coastal zone management program. Once that is established it gives those folks their voice. If the state fails to install a program the state and local folks are excluded from influencing development in their neighborhoods. There is also federal grant money available through the program for projects like studying the effects of such development and creating base line data banks among other things. The state of Alaska has such a program, at least until June 30. It expires then. During the regular session of the Legislature passage of an extension failed. It failed again in a special session. Now there's another special session set for Monday. It may still work out. The effort to pass some kind of bill that would keep the program received no support from the milktoast toe-the-conservative-line governor and a lot of opposition from people like the oil industry. Giving people who live in an area a voice in things like offshore oil exploration and development, well, that can create some expensive problems. Much better to keep the people out of it so they can go ahead and develop without restraint. That worked out really well in the Gulf of Mexico last year. And anyway, what harm could come from drilling offshore in the Arctic? That may be the real reason for the lack of leadership from the governor and the Republicans in the Legislature. A person in the oil industry once told me there are no coincidences where that industry is concerned. Perhaps a sharpened harpoon launched from the people who will be most affected by offshore drilling in the Arctic would be enough stimulus to get some action.
But there's a twist. No politician worth his salt in Alaska ever ran for office without using the word "jobs." It is like they think it is the magic word that will grab votes. You can't talk about any issue at all without someone saying it will either cost jobs or create jobs. It took politicians to create the mess in the Legislature a mess that is costing 33 people their jobs. Thirty-three people in Juneau, Alaska, which isn't that big a place and has no industry to speak of, except government. Wonder how many of those guys will talk about creating jobs next time they have to campaign. Answer: All of them, conveniently forgetting they put 33 people in jeopardy of losing their jobs.
"Tin can at my feet.
Think I'll kick it down the street.
Human kindness overflowing,
and I think it's going to rain today."
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Just some things that came up in the past few days:
Serious one first. Seems a fellow in Texas crossed a small town and then proceeded to rape a 77-year old woman. Now, think of those erectile dysfunction ads that say “Check with your doctor first before any sexual activity.” The guy died in the process, 52 years old, just rolled over, had a heart attack and died. Can you imagine the 911 call? I know it is a bit of bad taste about what was really a despicable crime, but, come on.
OK moving on. Bull coffee. Yesterday because of a medical need to fast, I was allowed only clear liquids and realized at one point during the day that I was actually drinking bull coffee, which was largely the invention of my own imagination. Not only that, I told the story to a couple of people and they actually knew what I was talking about. One of the lines I use often with people is to tell them to pay attention because the quizzes are going to be tough. These two passed one of those quizzes.
The reference? In a story I wrote several years ago an old man was attempting to discourage a young boy from drinking coffee. As an alternative he offered “something a little too strong for an old man, but something a strong young one could probably handle.” Then he made a cup of bullion and gave the kid his first cup of bull coffee. It figured later in the story. One of the people who knew what it was asked, “You actually drink that?”
And, on the political front: Over the past few months it has been quite entertaining to watch extreme Republicans shoot themselves in the foot, though succeeding to some extent in getting their programs in place. The attacks on unions, teachers, police and firefighters among others; one governor calling his constituents employees and another selling off schools to private industry; while another takes a state helicopter to watch his son’s Little League game; all while in Congress they try to kill Medicare. This all in an atmosphere of crippling the bulk of the population while passing the savings on to the rich. I have a term for it but it is clumsy, If there is anti-matter, anti-Christ, why can’t there be an anti-Robin Hood, steal from the poor to give to the rich. These people are trying to get rid of every advance the country has made since the days of Franklin Roosevelt. Now they are lining up to run for president giving the rest of us one good laugh after another. Still they are worrisome. I brought up the idea that they will get buried in the election next year but a friend hesitated and pointed out the amount of press they receive, the publicity. I said they are just loud and draw the most attention and there are a lot of people who aren’t saying much who will have an effect, but I am not convinced that’s true.
Then I thought of this: In the month of May, Jon Stewart’s Daily Show ratings were higher than all of Fox News.
The pictures? Same place, different seasons.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
Haven’t done an absurdity roundup in a while so here goes.
The first one is a little complicated, so bear with me for a while, it does get absurd, I promise.
There is a population of beluga whales in Cook Inlet. They are the small white toothed whales. In the past few years the Inlet group has been discovered to be a genetically distinct population different enough from other belugas so as to be treated almost as a different species. In the ‘70s there were as many as 1,500 in the Inlet, but now they are down to fewer than 300 animals. Hunting was stopped in the ‘90s but the whales have shown no sign of recovery.
Because of the decline and lack of recovery and allowed by the distinct population discovery, the federal government has attempted to have portions of the Inlet designated as critical habitat. From what I understand that doesn’t remove the areas from commercial uses but it does add more steps to the process in order to try to help the whales.
At any rate the wonderful state government of Alaska and the congressional delegation decided on their own without the benefit of any scientific input that the Cook Inlet belugas were a) not threatened but indeed a healthy population saying the scientists had counted wrong and b) are not a distinct population but are just like belugas everywhere. This is now state policy, which is where the absurdity comes in.
Through the National Marine Fisheries Service a federal board was established to study the beluga situation and come up with a solution. Under that board was a scientific panel. That panel included two state of Alaska biologists. The past tense is correct in this instance because they are no longer on the panel.
It seems an executive order defining state policy says scientists doing work outside their state jobs as in participating in studies of beluga whales by the federal government have to adhere strictly to state policy and not to the scientific fact of a specific situation.
When the board discovered our biologists were required to represent state policy rather than the science of the matter, the two were removed. So, now it seems Alaska biologists take their research results from what politicians say is right, not something based in scientific integrity. And, Alaskans have removed themselves from the table and the table loses valuable insight from people who work with the whales. Driving home last night I couldn't help thinking about the belugas swimming around in the Inlet less than a mile to my left, oblivious to what humans are doing because of them.
It is also state policy that Arctic ice is not melting and therefore polar bears are not endangered either. Of course, this has nothing to do with the assault on the Arctic Ocean by oil companies, who can now operate because the ice is melting.
Now, if an Alaska politician says the earth is flat....? Don’t laugh there are tea baggers who probably think it is and some of them are in Congress.
Which brings up tea baggers. By now anyone who cares knows the Governor Interrupted made another Palinism the other day flubbing the facts around the famous ride of Paul Revere. Later she even argued on television she was correct despite tons of evidence to the contrary. That’s to be expected; how dare anyone tell Palinzilla she is wrong. However today comes a new absurdity. It seems her believers (yeah. lord) have attacked the Wikipedia entry about Paul Revere attempting to change it to the Sarah’s version of history. This takes revisionist history to exciting new levels. She actually said he rode to warn the British that Americans had guns and were going to defend Second Amendment rights. Among other things there was no Second amendment as the Constitution had not been written at the time, let alone amended. Wikipedia has never been something to trust totally in research but now with tea baggers rewriting American history it is even more suspect.
This last one is so bad, I kind of hesitate to put in a column of things I am making fun of, but something needs to be said.
A high school cheerleader in Texas was raped by a star on the school’s basketball team. Eventually he was convicted of a lesser assault charge, but it being Texas and it was basketball season he never went to prison for it.
Back at school the victim refused to participate in a cheer that specifically named her assailant. She was actually supposed to yell in support of “Rakheem” every time he went to shoot a foul shot. Given his history it can be expected he was fouled a lot. When she refused she was kicked off the cheerleading team. Not only that she was advised not to eat in the cafeteria, not participate in other school activities and to avoid the prom. This is the victim we are talking about.
Her parents sued the school district. They lost and now are obliged to pay the district $35,000 in court costs.
A reminder again that this is the victim of a rape. That goes beyond absurdity.
Could a fiction writer in his wildest imagination make any of this up? It all kind of makes me want to fly out of here and join the flash mob on Wall Street tonight.
Why do i feel like an endangered species with only a politician between me and extinction?
Friday, June 3, 2011
Winter machines put away. Summer ones ready to rumble.
Garden is planted, such as it is.
Wild roses and forget-me-nots are blooming,
Yard fairly well cleaned up.
Time to man up. Expotition to the East Pole next weekend, god willing, lack of rapture and the creeks don’t rise (which is the most likely). All that Bush gear in the closet has been tempting me for weeks now. Time to use it.
The spring porcupine explosion has finally occurred. They are on the road every night and every one I saw alive was still alive after I passed.
More moose these days, particularly in the Knik River brackish marshes. One thing you don’t want to see is two moose obviously agitated and staring frantically at the road running back and forth as if something farther back in the dark is chasing them.
No swans on the pond this year, and I hope the fellow who shot those two last year is sitting in a cell somewhere. Just as well though, no candidates this year either.
The garden is in but with the usual bare spots so maybe off to the store again today. I still like the idea of having fewer plants so I have a more personal relationship with each one. The petunias are challenging that connection though.
I’ve been told no more peas and petunias but I don’t care; there may be film later in the day.
Oh yeah, wild roses blooming in the yard.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
So, what brought that on? Catching up with my peeps after waking up this morning I came across this video, It seems Newsweek magazine called Grand Rapids, Michigan, a dying town. That didn’t go over well in Grand Rapids. In response they produced a dirge for themselves defying Newsweek’s assessment. It now has more hits on YouTube than Newsweek has subscribers and the magazine is for sale. It doesn’t look like Grand Rapids is. That could lead into what is happening to print media in general but who is calling whom dying, anyway, I have never liked that arrogant bunch of supposed journalists ever since they plagiarized my book without credit, lifting whole quotes from it and when I called them on it they said they could take their information from wherever they wanted and I as a minor regional author could just suffer their superiority.
So now they went and told a town it was dying. Maybe it is only sleepy. Have to wonder if a sleepy little Newsweek writer could tell the difference.
She has a new last name now and is, of course quite a bit older, but the minute her page came up on the screen I recognized the singular beauty in her eyes burning off the screen mesmerizing me the same way she had done every time I saw her in that previous incarnation. A wonderful group of kids worked on those boats and even so she stood out among them. I remember she took the good-hearted teasing that went on constantly on the boat and gave back as equally as she received. Gruff old boat captains and surly engineers could not intimidate her. She was an athlete, starring on a volleyball team that went to the state championships though I can’t remember if i ever even knew how they did.
Later in the day as I drove to work memories of that time kept coming up and one was very distinct. Early one season we pulled up to the fuel dock and the tie offs there were to 3-inch diameter horizontal bars rather than the cleats where the crew was used to securing the boat. Once alongside and tied off, I stepped off and noticed her standing by the stern. Reasonably sure she was not used to this kind of mooring, I told her the boat should be tied to that bar using a clove hitch, fully expecting to see some kind of Gordian knot. I was preparing myself to show her how to tie the knot, maybe even looking forward to it. I can't remember if she put her hands on her hips or not but it would have fit the situation. With a hint of superior disdain she smiled aloofly at me and with just a hint of outrage, said, "I tied a clove hitch." I looked and sure enough she had. All I could do was laugh. But I am sure my eyes were showing embarrassment and apology, or at least I was hoping they were.
Now, who would you guess learned a lesson from that particular encounter?
Some interesting quotations
You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper. -- Jackie Faber, "The Wake of the Lorelei Lee"
If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both
If an insurance company won't pay for damages caused by an "act of God," shouldn't it then have to prove the existence of God? -- I said that
German General to Swiss General: "You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?"
Swiss General: "Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice."
Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else. -- Gloria Steinem
Exceed your bandwidth-- sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center
One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done. -- Patricia Monaghan
Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world. -- Brett Arends
It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way. -- Andrew Jackson
3:30 is too late or too early to do anything -- Rene Descartes
Everything is okay when it's 50-below as long as everything is okay. -~ Hudson Stuck
You can have your own opinion but you can't have your own science. -- commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming
He looks at three failed marriages as a good start -- TV police drama
Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem. -- a handmade bumper sticker
"You're either into the wall or into the show" -- Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500
Makeup is not for the faint of heart -- the makeup guerrilla
"I'm going to relax in a very adult manner." --Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti
"Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet." -- a roundtable participant on Fox of all places
As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to the think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her. -- me again
Hunting is a "critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison." -- a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting
Each day do something that won't compute -- anon
It's not about how many times you get knocked down; it's about how many times you get up -- Tim Tebow
I can't believe I still have to protest this shit -- sign carried by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration
Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing -- Meg Chittenden
Life should be a little nuts or else it's just a bunch of Thursdays strung together -- Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in "Rumor has it"
You're just a wanker whipping up fear -- Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer
Being president doesn't change who you are; it reveals who you are -- Michelle Obama
Best headlines ever
GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality
Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy
Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high
Give me all your money or my penguin will explode
How zombie worms have sex in whale bones
Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower
Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles