Sunday, December 25, 2005

Feliz Navidad y Prospero Anno Nuevo!

Gosh I hope I spelled that right :). We are in the San Juan Airport after our cruise to the Carribean, and I've found a FREE wifi connection! Everyone is in a good mood -- the employees all have instruments and have been playing music for us. Unfortunately, it's always the same song, so it will be a long two hours.

Anyways, happy new year and merry Christmas to everyone!

Monday, December 12, 2005


Finally it looks like our warm weather has broken, and we actually have snow in ANC today! Hopefully, this means that we can go ski before leaving for our Carribean holidays!

Penguin Blogging!

If you love penguins and don't have a sense of humor, don't click here...

Friday, December 09, 2005

Narnia and other News

Blogs4God is collecting reviews of the Narnia film for your perusal. I never read the books or watched the film, but I have gotten into C.S. Lewis through the power of If you are planning on going to the movie, these might be good to read.

In other news...Frank and I did two awesome things yesterday!

1) We went to the VIP restaurant, which is Korean. It was well-decorated (Frank and I both are partial to Korean asthetic), and well-attended. Frank got bulgogi, which is a spicy barbeque meat, and I got bebimbap, which is a mix of rice, vegetables, seaweed, and a big egg on the top, all in a stone pot. To top off the meal, we got an assortment of little dishes of things like seaweed, kimchee and tofu, each of which were a bit different and super tasty. The tea also was suprisingly "ricey" and good. If you get a chance to go there or to any Korean restaurant, I suggest you go, because it is a lot of fun!
2) We bought Delicato's Bota wine box. Boy has the world of boxed wine come a long way from Franzia! It's a great idea -- you can get a box of wine, which is like four bottles, and it comes in a box. When you would like a glass of wine -- you can actually go get it without having to worry about ruining an entire bottle of wine with light and oxidation. Supposedly it keeps up to a month without changing into icky vinegar wine. I suspect it's good for the environment and also it's good for your wallet (you don't have to pay for the extra glass/packaging).

The question of the day is, why is the band Dokken still around, and why are they playing in Anchorage this weekend?

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Marathon Race Report

My super-belated Marathon race report is up!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

It's a beautiful day!

Today, the strangest thing happened. I was sitting in my office around noon, and I saw a light. A big bright one. Suddenly I realized I was seeing the sun actually shining! At the same time, it was snowing, and Bohemian Wax Wings were flying around our house again:

Anyways, I had a wonderful 20 minutes or so of hobbling around and taking pictures before the sun disappeared behind the clouds.

I'm hoping that tomorrow I will be able to manage some semblance of normal walking, so that I can at least shuffle in the snow and pretend to be skiing. Today, I walked up the stairs, with pain, without having to hold onto the handrails :)

EDITED TO ADD...the name of the birds. Thanks Dave!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Mission Accomplished!

I finished! Dad did too! I am very sore and miserable at the moment, it truly sucks to be me today, as I am reduced to a "monster mash" sort of herky-jerky walk if I want to get out of this chair. And that's not mentioning stairs...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

When squirrels attack...

Squirrels kill a dog in Russia!

Yeah, and we got frogs

Central Middle School kids dissect a baby beluga whale. Can you imagine how much cooler it is than the frog?

Running in AK: Three more days to go...

Agh! Just a few more days to go until the Marathon!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Feeling the earth move under one's feet...

I felt it this time. There were two distinct pulses this time. Pretty weird!

Update: Apparently, 48 people in the area felt it.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Skiing Fools

I love to cross-country ski! For the last few days, we had done our regular route through Russian Jack Springs park. Today though, armed with a new map, we were brave and tried Beach Lake Trails in Chugiak, which at the moment is the only tracked ski trails in the area for Classic.

Since the sun went down at 4:30pm or so, it was dark by the time we started. There is nothing like skiing on a new trail at night to get you confused. We were doing fine until we accidentally found ourselves on "Executioner". The trails I am more likely to ski are called things like "creampuff" and "pancake", so this made me a bit worried. Somewhere around executioner we got turned around, and probably skiied 10k or so to get back to our car. It was great!

I am also excited about learning to skate ski. This of course required new equipment, and although I have not tried them out, our stuff looks very fast. Frank's new skis even say "Ultrasonic" and his boots are a beautiful silver color.

Of course, first is the marathon next Sunday! Agh!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Day in Anchorage

Happy Thanksgiving from NorthtoAK! Today we woke up to more snow to go with the snow from yesterday and the day before. The streets continue to be covered in white snow and many of the side roads are not plowed.

Last night, I remarked that the roads were not so bad, and that how my definition of "not so bad" is much broader after a year in Alaska. In the midwest, if the roads look like they do up here, people would be banned from being on the road.

So, Frank had fun using the snowblower in the driveway this morning(notice the tennis shoes):

Sadly, the driveway has about two-three inches more snow on it, so it will need to be plowed again, likely tomorrow.

We then got a chance to speak to our families, and Mandy taught me this cool thing that I have missed called text messaging. The only problem with text messaging is that every time my cell phone goes off with a text message, I get all jumpy since it's the same tone that pages me for work! But I think txt is gr8! I am going to learn lots of lingo like "LOL" and "ROTFL".

At noon, we went to Thanksgiving Dinner at Mick's at the Inlet, which is a great restaurant in the Inlet Tower downtown.

Mick's is a really cozy place to eat, with upscale food but a nice laid-back atmosphere. The music is really great as well. Sometimes, people mistake non-overbearing music for boring, which is a mistake. Mick's had a nice balance of music, from jazz, oldies, and even world music, to actually enhance the ambiance. We also had a very nice Pinot Gris from Maryhill Winery, which tasted very green and fruity. The food was great too! The highlight of my lunch was twofold -- I got to eat pomagranate seeds, which I had never eaten before, and also had chilean sea bass for Thanksgiving! The chilean sea bass was flakey but very tasty with a spice mixture on top and a chili oil sauce. Frank had the porterhouse steak, which was also good as well. Galileo, of course, got the scraps of steak, for which he was very happy.

After lunch, we scrambled to the grocery store to get supplies for the next few days, since the stores were all closing around 4pm. After a brief nap, Galileo and I went on a walk around the block, which was more difficult than usual since we had to break trail. The sky was hot pink in the southwest as the sun went down as we walked along (4pm!).

There's a bit of snow on the trees...

How do these branches stay up with all that snow?

We also got to ski for the first time all year! One of the coolest things about Anchorage is the lighted ski trails in winter. We went to Russian Jack, and it was beautiful -- everything sparkles in the lights, and the trees are just incredibly magestic. You'd never know you were right in town!

Anyways, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Moon Picture

Better late than never...this is a shot from my driveway looking east. The moon has been huge lately!

Of course, we haven't seen it so much this week. It's been raining off and on for the last two days (a virtual "heat wave"). This was a total bummer because we all were looking forward to good skiing, and our snow melted!

Things are looking up this morning though. We had some sort of an ice/snow/sleet/wind (I would guess around 40 mph) last night, and it's continued today. Wunderground says we will get about 5 inches of wet snow, but it's always hard to tell.

I have heard complaints that there is not enough hockey blogging lately. This is because there's not much to say. UAA keeps finding more frustrating ways to lose. Last night, they *almost* won -- even scoring first for once -- but gave up a goal in the third and then another in overtime to Minnesota-Duluth. It's so frustrating, because last night was the best the Seawolves have played in weeks!

Anyways, up this weekend is a 15 mile run, yoga, and the Italian Lady from Algiers (it's an opera by Rossini). Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Think of it as the midday moon...

ADN points out something that I have been noticing in the sky. The moon is out a lot of the time, like the sun in the summer here. I've got a few pictures from the weekend and will try to post today.

Monday, November 14, 2005


A Subaru crashed into Barnes and Noble: "The crash unleashed literary upheaval -- the sort of disorganization that would surely horrify any type-A minded librarian: Books on Mexico and Venice intermixed with volumes on Vietnam and George Washington. Alaska Mileposts mingled with tomes about Spartans and ancient Rome. Thick texts on the FBI were shuffled among massive atlases. "

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Ginger Kids!

Did you watch it? It was all about Ginger Kids, which are kids with red hair, pale skin, and freckles. Oh, and Ginger Kids have no souls and suffer from "Gingervitis".

Here's the summary if you missed it.

As a "Ginger" myself, I couldn't help people really think of redheads in this way?

Anyways a really funny episode. South Park still has its' charm!

Speaking of comedy central, the Colbert Report is really funny and, sometimes, even makes a good point....

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"Baku is the most beautiful city in the world!"

This was the regular cry of Georgi, a fictional character in my Russian reader during my semester in Moscow. I remember him saying that they have some really nice gardens. Now Georgi and other Azerbaijanis need support to establish a democracy in their country.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Underpants Gnome Theory of Investing

I was reminded of one of my favorite South Park episodes ever, called " Gnomes (Underpants Gnomes)" today, while reading Boing Boing.

I've found that the gnomes' three-phase business plan:
(1) Steal Underpants
(2) ....
(3) Profit! used quite a bit by companies. Here's a financial article on the Underpants Gnome Theory of Financial Investing which is basically this...make sure that the companies you invest in actually have a phase 2 strategy for turning an idea into profit!

If you are interested in investing, I also have to recommend my favorite show to run to...Mad Money. Jim Cramer cracks me up, keeps me interested in financials, AND makes me run faster!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Who knew?

There are military applications for Silly String!

Moore Blogging

Frank's research has been blogged by IlliGAL! He's also giving a seminar today for the Complex Systems group at UAA on his research.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Кандидат (The Candidate)

Golly, looks like we have exported another reality show! The Russian Apprentice show Кандидат (Kandidat) is down to the final two! It's down to Tatiana and Elena. I'm rooting for Tatiana because she works for PricewaterhouseCoopers, which is a very long name.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Search Results Fun

While looking at my list of referring pages for this blog, I found that I am #2 on the French version of Google for "art of killing counter"! Who knew that writing about UAA hockey could bring such things!

Also, those of you looking for Thanksgiving pictures, including those that are searching for an "Anchorage Turducken", are probably looking in the wrong place.

I'm happy to see that I've helped at least a few people researching running topics as well as volcano preparedness.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Bulgarian Update!

Frank made it back from Bulgaria last night, safe and "relatively" sound (as sound as one can be after flying for 30 hours and being fed seven times). He brought back pictures to share of Bulgaria as well, I'll try to get them up on the web soon!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Making a Mess with Lori, part 2

I had another handyman experience today!

In quintessential Anchorage fashion, I came home from running eight miles at the gym to find our fence had fallen apart in a first snow miracle. One of the boards was sitting on the ground, and the gate was in an impossible position.

The gate, which swings inward towards the backyard, was now in front of the fence, meaning instead it was -5 degrees forward from where it should be. I didn't take pictures, so here's a quick illustration of what I'm talking about.

This is what it looked like before it was broken:

Note the lines indicating the swinging motion that the fence can usually handle. Now, here's the after picture:

Now, there are many things that prevent this gate from getting in this position other than the hinges. First of all, this fence is impossible to actually move, because it's hung all wrong. In order for me to close the gate, I have to actually raise the gate with all my body weight and push forward. There is also a little metal thingy that holds the gate to the fence. Somehow, the gate pushed through all this, and also split the board that holds the metal thingy.

In addition, there was another board lying on the ground (I won't draw a picture of that). Its' nails were crooked upward at a funny angle that I find unlikely to have held the board to the fence.

Now, I know what you all Outside are thinking, and I don't think it was moose :). In order for the moose to do this, I believe they would have needed to be inside my fence and pushed outward. Last I checked, no moose in my yard.

A similar thing goes for "hoodlums". We did have an egg in our lawn the other day, and I assume since we don't have chickens, teenagers of one sort or another were involved. Kids might have done this, but I don't get why they would be hanging out on our fence, pulling down boards. If so, those are some seriously bored children who should be channelled into playing hockey.

So I chalked it up to a first snow miracle, got out my working outfit and shuffled out into the cold to fix my fence. Somehow I got the board back on, but it's really crooked. I'm hoping that snow will cover that up until spring. For the fence, I had to take off the metal thingy, push the gate back in place, and put back the metal thing. I left the split board there for the time being -- after seeing what a horrible job I did on the one board, I think I need some help before fixing the other one.

All in all, considering that it was below freezing and I had just run 8 miles, not such a bad job!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sports Report

First of all, from what I understand, the White Sox won the World Series last night!

But seriously, shouldn't we be talking about winter sports now? It's hockey season, you know!

If you're a regular reader, you know that I had some pretty ugly words to say about the UAA hockey game on Saturday. Apparently, some of them read my blog (ha), because they won 2-1 on Sunday! They actually scored on their own power plays! This week, they play at Wisconsin and will be on GCI Cable and on the internet as well!

Apparently when some people think of frosty air, they think of shooting things. It's riflery season in the schools up here. Where I come from, guns meant gangs and therefore riflery was not really an appropriate after school activity.

Other than that, we are all just waiting for the snow to start. Our skis are all waxed and ready, waiting for the trail!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bulgaria Update

For those of you who don't know, NorthtoAK has a special correspondent in Bulgaria this week! Frank is doing fine, and has successfully mastered international travel as well as the Bulgarian transportation system. The word: He's jetlagged in a hotel in Sophia. He didn't have much to say because he was very tired. I'll let you know if I hear anything else.

On Being 29

Monday started like any other day. As I went downstairs to start work, I sent Galileo into the cold dark outside for his morning break. Even in the dark it was evident that it was not summer by the frost on the deck and the crunchy sound of the grass that puppy trampled.

Ah, but Monday was not really like any other day for me! It was my birthday, and I turned 29.

Anne also turned XXIX this week!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Driver's License Story

On Thursday, I found myself at the Anchorage DMV on Benson to finally get my Alaska driver's license. I realize I've been in Alaska for more than a year now, but since I procrastinate, I waited until four days before my license expired to change it over.

Well, that's not completely true. Believe it or not, I get anxious over tests -- even silly written tests in the DMV office. It's not really the taking of the test that worries me, honestly. I worry about not passing a test. For those of you who know me, it must sound very strange, because I've probably failed less than 20 tests in my life, and at least 5 of those came from graduate-level differential equations courses. I guess after going through so many years of school, I just don't especially relish the idea of facing tests anymore, especially those that I can potentially fail. So, I waited until the last possible second to take a basic test at the DMV.

I stood in line, clutching a rule book in hand, waiting in the written test line with my application for a new license. Although I was reading the book, I had already read it online a few hours before. At the end of the written test line was the world's slowest data entry operator, so I had a good amount of time to re-review the book.

While I was waiting, three people failed the test. In a row! This even made me more nervous, and I quickly flipped through the pages, looking for any trickery. Eventually I made it to the front of the line, and was assigned a little computer terminal for my test.

The fact was, the test itself was not so hard. It consisted of 25 questions, and you had to get 21 of them correct to pass. The only question I missed was "How close can you follow an ambulance?" (answer: 500 ft).

What a relief! I was happy to get my license, and was happy to see that my picture looks less like an axe-murderer's wife this time. I look happy, like someone who is relieved to have passed a written test :)

What I learned is that I had let anxiety transform a silly multiple choice test into the driving GREs. This year, I'm going to work on not letting test paralysis, or any other anxiety stop me from doing what I want or need to do.

Sunday Morning Hockey Report: The Man in the Box

So guess what? UAA lost to Fairbanks yesterday 2-1. In fact, the Seawolves have only had one goal in the last two games they have played. Agh!

As someone who likes to solve problems, I have put in some time thinking about what the problem is.

Let's start with what is good. They did do pretty well in keeping up with the Nanooks, and they certainly did not let Fairbanks get an exorbitant number of shots on goal like they did against Vermont. They actually had some passes that weren't awful, although this was still inconsistent. Furthermore, I actually saw then running some sort of an offense during a power play, which was certainly an improvement.

In between the improvements, though, was a huge chasm of ugliness.

The first problem, of course, is that no matter what people say, the best offense is really to have an offense. UAA just doesn't seem to do that -- they just kind of push the puck into the boards and hang around behind the goal waiting for something to happen. Sometimes they would pass it around in a big half-circle, but rarely got it to the guy in the middle who could actually score -- granted, the guy in the middle was usually just standing there in the middle of a bunch of opponents so he wasn't helping as much as he could have. They should do more plays like in the Vermont game, where every once in a while one of the guys on the outside of the half circle would "charge" the center. They should also work on creating an offense that is somewhat effective.

The other horrible thing is, the Seawolves have to figure out how to take advantage on a power play. If I was on the other team, I would just commit penalties in order to get the Seawolves on power plays, since that's the one time you know they won't score!

The third thing that the Seawolves need are anger management classes. They spend a lot of time concentrating on hitting the other team as hard as possible, and there were many times where they forgot the puck. Now granted, when we play thuggishly, we tend to drag teams down to our level, but we also got into some huge penalties and fights because of it. I mean, it was one of those games where there were LOTS of fights -- to me, it's embarrassing.

The coolest thing last night, though was that the NYE remote-controlled blimp that flies in between periods has a new friend! Another guy had a remote-controlled airplane that was doing all these fanstastic acrobatics -- loops, stalls, spins. We were all fascinated -- I could watch it all day.

Sigh. Anyways, they play today at 5...we're going to Tivo the game and see if it comes out any better tonight ;)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Long day and Driver License

Well, it's been a long day. Work kept me up until midnight then called me every two hours for the rest of the night. So I'm not very optimized for writing much today.

1) I finally got my AK driver's license. You might ask why it's taken me a year. Good question. I will explain that hopefully after some sleep.

2)Anne talks about important things. I am all for discussions about important things too, which is probably why we've been friends for so long :)

Anne and I also share something else...Monday we both enter our last year of 20-something. I met Anne in the basement of a dorm at UK while doing laundry so that I could move out of the building. Anne wanted to watch X-Men on the basement TV. Somehow, I got her to help me and a band guy with a hatchback to move me to Boyd Hall on the other side of campus. We've been friends ever since!

3) This "Bridge to Nowhere" backlash is bumming me out. I was angry and wrote a note about it, and no you don't have to agree with my opinion, in fact if you disagree it will make me happy because I am cranky:
I read your blog everyday, but as an Alaskan I see the highway arguments against the "Bridges to Nowhere" you present as severely one-sided, and I feel it's unfair to single us out like that. The fact is, both of these bridges are vital to the growth of their communities.

I think what you're missing is an understanding of what these communities are like. Anchorage is surrounded almost by water on two sides, and federal land on the other. Almost all of the land in between has been filled in, and there's no room to grow. The other side of the Knik Arm is available land, but right now you have to drive many hours to get to Anchorage (there is no ferry and Knik is considered unnavigable). With a bridge "to nowhere" we connect this open land to our city, allowing us to grow. Maybe I'm wrong, but to me, it's no different than the bridges built in NYC or San Francisco to connect land.

In the case of Ketchikan -- have you ever been there? This is the place where many streets are sets of steps going up a mountain. The main street to the other side of the mountain where most people live sits precariously on top of other people's houses. This is another place where there seriously is no room to expand, and to expand they really do need to build this bridge to the only available land for expansion.

I also know people are giving the general argument that Alaska gets so much money for highway transportation. I invite those people to come up here and see why. The fact is, we're still a fairly new state, and don't have the transportation system that other states do. We not only need to keep building road to connect towns (how many towns in Tennessee have no road access?), but also to maintain the ones that span such a large area and are vital to our way of life.

I imagine that people called the national road across the country "a road to nowhere" when it was built -- but someone knew that transportation was the key to expansion and growth. I also bet that some of that money was federal as well.

I wish I was more eloquent, but here's the point: I know that you are looking to cut pork, but these two projects don't really constitute pork. To penalize Alaska for trying to expand with this Highway Reauthorization bill is wrong.

4) This is my favorite new page today. It shows the backbone networks of the internet and how they are doing. I'm easily entertained.

5)This blog is #2 on Google for "Wolfgang puck rich expresso latte, exploding" and I've gotten 17 hits so far for "Thanksgiving Pictures". Ha.

OK that's it...more later after a nap...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

“I love that Aaron Brown, the way he sucks the flavor out of every word..."

Ha, any show that makes fun of Aaron Brown, the most pompous, platitudinous, and personality-deprived person on TV, is a good one! I might just have to add the Colbert Report to my Tivo list!

Mom also informed me that the White Sox will be in the World Series last year. Apparently some other teams are vying to be beaten by the White Sox in the World Series, so we don't know the other team yet.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Nye Classic Report: The Art of Killing Power Plays

Many of you might not realize that it is time for hockey. Another season of Seawolves Hockey is upon us. After last year's accident prone season, UAA is looking to have a good season.

The Nye Classic started off with a win for the Vermont Catamounts (yes that's their real mascot name) over Michigan Tech. We got there just to see the end of the game, so I don't have much to say about it.

Then it was time for the RPI Engineers to play the beloved Seawolves. It was Friday night, but I believe the show started with Spirit the Seawolf being pulled on a sled behind Martin Buser (Iditarod legend). The big spectacle of the night though was...the UNIFORMS! UAA wore instead of their Nye Classic Yellow jerseys, grey and green jerseys! The socks even matched.

UAA appears to have started their season about where they left it last a strange mixture of great defense, ineffective offense, and a great talent for power play killing. I'm no hockey expert, but when the opposition has only four people on the rink, and you have five, you would expect an advantage. In the case of the Seawolves, power plays appear to work the opposite way -- they let two goals into the net on their own power plays! This is a problem that needs to be solved. Somehow, though, RPI was even worse, and let UAA get six goals, mostly by defensive players, through, so the final game score was 6-3. Because Vermont beat Michigan Tech, this meant that Saturday's game of Vermont vs. UAA would determine who won the classic, which is cool.

In other stadium news, we got the joy of sitting behind "Mr. Oakley". Mr. Oakley wore Oakley glasses and apparently had too much to drink which caused him to act silly. He would stand after goals holding up a Satan sign facing us -- I think he was looking for someone, but they were apparently ignoring him. The problem was, he wasn't sitting back down when play started. He also really got into the stadium rock music, and would stand up at play stoppage and dance badly for everyone. Not good. Just for the record, Mr. Oakley was completely sane and normal at the Saturday game, and seems like a generally pleasant person in most cases.

On the other hand, a very nice young man handed me a free tournament t-shirt that he caught from the guys who were throwing them out on the ice from the back of very large pickup trucks. So now I have a relatively cool Nye Classic T-Shirt!

Let's fast forward to Saturday night. The game spectacles started out with a disco ball-induced swirl of little dots, reminiscent of roller skating rinks, accompanied by "Enter Sandman" by Metallica. Given my record with roller skates, I made sure to keep seated. I thought the song choice was a bit odd, especially since they decided to play the entire song! I mean, even the Bulls knew better than to play just a few riffs of the "Rock and Roll Part 2" (i.e. the "Hey!" song). To emphasize the dreamlike qualities of "never never land" , I guess, they applied dry ice to the rink. Spirit the Seawolf, the skating mascot, entered the rink waving the US Flag. After one swizzle around the rink, we are treated to the UAA fight song while Spirit waves the flag around. About the same time, all the free noisemakers in the entire place (thank goodness they were made to be relatively breakable) were clapped to create an impressive ruckus.

We were all ready for a good game between the Catamounts and Seawolves. The college kids started their favorite cheer -- "See what? SEA-WOLVES!" for us. This cheer does not make sense to me since the players are not invisible, but to the kids, this was very funny and cool to shout.

Now that I think about it, they could be making a funny poke at the "invisible" offense of UAA during the game. At the end of the first period, UAA only had like 5 shots on goal. Once again, I'm not a hockey expert, but when the other team has more than twice the amount of shots to score than you do, things are looking awfully bad for your team. The final score was 2-0 and it was a relatively frustrating game.

I'm really hoping that UAA does do better next week against UAF. They certainly have flashes of brilliance that, if chained together into an entire game, would be really awesome. The UAA/UAF matchup is kind of like the Cross-town shootout, except that the other town is Fairbanks, which is quite far away. Last year it was really rowdy, and we were the only mythical sea creature supporters in a sea of blue. Apparently all the people around us that know something about hockey feel that UAF will be really hard to beat.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The "Could be" Be Good Tanyas concert

On Saturday night, Frank and I went to see the Be Good Tanyas, our first concert in the Whistling Swan series of concerts in Anchorage. You know, I really was in the mood for a good concert, from the start. We wound up being in the front row as subscribers, which was great, and the PAC is just a beautiful place to see a concert.

So I really wanted the Be Good Tanyas to really be good.

The first set was done by the Derry Aires, a local group of women with incredible voices doing four-part harmony. Most of the songs were humorous in one way or another, although there were some good Irish-American influenced tunes thrown in as well. At first, I thought it would be a bit tiring, but the songs and the voices really made the set enjoyable. If you get a chance to see these ladies in Anchorage, definitely make an effort to go see them! For those of you not in Anchorage, here is a link to their CD:

I was ready for the main act. The Be Good Tanyas came on with vintage outfits on. Great, I thought, this band was going to be good!

The musical style of the Be Good Tanyas is kind of like Over the Rhine with a bit of a southern influence and more guitar. The style of the singing is ethereal, and the melodies were beautiful in moments. Unfortunately, by the middle of the first song I was underwhelmed. I don't know if it was the fact that we were so close (distortion), sound was off, or what, but I swear I could not understand a word of the songs, which makes it hard to really enjoy the music. It was like listening to a good album underwater, or listening to good singers who just had dental surgery or something. I'm sure that many other people either could understand the lyrics that I couldn't, or they already knew the words. At least the person right behind me was digging it as he kicked the back of my chair during the entire set.

Anyways, it was all I could do to sit through the entire set and encore (I have this thing about not leaving during a performance). Perhaps if I'd listened to the CD (I'm wondering if on the CD they enunciate better) and boned up on the lyrics a bit, the performance would have been better, because clearly the Be Good Tanyas have a lot of potential to live up to their name.

Chewy becomes an American

Of course, Chewbacca SHOULD be an official Texan!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Just a little puff of smoke...

Mt. Spurr, which is one of those mountains that you see west of Anchorage, produced a bit of steam on Oct. 9. Don't worry though...they're saying that it's not new emissions, although the volcano keeps having little earthquakes.

Just in case, one can review the FEMA fact sheet on volcanoes....

Monday, October 10, 2005

Storyblogging Carnival

If you have time, please consider reading the Storyblogging carnival XXIX this week. There is some great work out there! Oh, and they were nice enough to publish one of my pieces as well...

Paranoid Android

Every few days, I try to surf along and find new blogs to read that I normally wouldn't. All Robot Radio is one I probably will continue to check up on. This blog hosts podcasts of "radio for robots, by robots", including talk shows, robot news, and music. It's kind of creepy, but it's quite funny and interesting.


There's been a few people that have checked over here after I made some comments on Daniel Drezner's post about being denied tenure at UofC, so I thought I'd clarify a bit more.

For the record, I've never talked about the situation on my blog, mainly because I believe that the move to Alaska really was the start of a more positive chapter in our lives. The other reason I don't talk about it here, is that although it affected me, as a non-member of academia it's hard for me to really discuss from experience. On the other hand, it makes me madder than heck when I hear of someone being blindsided by their tenure committee, which is where my comments came from.

I will say this: There is life after being denied tenure. This is proven over and over again by countless experiences of many academics. I believe getting out of the school as fast as you can is a good thing, and being straightforward about your situation to potential new employers also is to your benefit.

In our case, UAA is a much better fit for us than "the other university" was.

Please, send good vibes to Daniel Drezner!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Carnival of Runners

The Carnival of Runners is up at The Running Guy. It's great to see a collection of blog posts on running pulled together -- please take some time to visit some of these running blogs!

Monday, October 03, 2005


Dave at Bird TLC tagged me for a meme! So here we go:

10 years ago...I was just entering my second year at the University of Kentucky (That year UK won the national championship...Go CATS!). I had just about had it with physics, and was thinking about changing my major to math. I had no car, and was getting my first job in the IT industry as a computer assistant in the Education Department. My dorm room had a leaky bathroom that turned my bedroom into a mold haven, cracking all the floor tiles and sending black mold up the walls. Not wanting to shake any boats, I put up with it until mid-October.

5 years ago...I had just gotten married to Frank on a wonderful day in July, and had gotten back from our "sound-bytes tour of Europe" honeymoon. I was working a "real job" in the top consumer products company in the world near Cincinnati OH. I believe in 2000 I had my serious car wreck in December on a very icy road, totalling my Celica.

1 year ago, well I just answered that in a post below! I was in full survival mode at that point, getting used to living up here in AK. I was also training for the Las Vegas Marathon, similar to this year.

Yesterday..I put studded tires on my car. We went to lunch at Red Robin, got our groceries at New Sagaya. I recovered from my long run on Saturday, and we made a great turkey mole for dinner. Galileo and I practised "roll over" and fetching individual objects while Frank graded papers.

Five songs I know all the words to... "We didn't start the fire" by Billy Joel (I had a joke of a teacher who thought that memorization of this song was a substitute for teaching), "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice (Geesh, I wish I didn't but it's still there), "Particle Man" by TMBG (another one that perhaps won't be helpful ever), "Least Complicated" by Indigo Girls, "Driving Sideways" by Aimee Mann.

Five Snacks.. This is a toughie! I eat sugar free jolly ranchers a lot. Popsicles, String cheese...but that's about it. If I could get away with it, I would also add potato chips/french onion dip and chips/salsa as well.

Five things I would do with 100 Mil dollars...I would 1) remodel our kitchen 2) travel everywhere! 3) Find a responsible money guy to deal with it for me and Frank 4)Help friends and family wherever possible 5) Use it to help out deserving charitable organizations and causes that I believe in.

Five places I would run away to....From Anchorage? Arizona, Mongolia, Brazil, Banff, Finland, Sweden (that's 6).

Five favorite TV shows An easy one! Survivor, Apprentice(s), The Amazing Race, Good Eats, Alaska Magazine Television.

Five Greatest Joys...My husband Frank, Family (including puppy), a job well done, sunrise/sunsets, exercising outdoors.

Five Favorite Toys This blog :), Tivo, MP3 players, Skis, my fantastic new microwave.

Five people I'm tagging... Let's see...Anne, Mom , Emperor Bob, Amy, and Ken.

Blast from the Past

As an experiment, I looked at what was going on last week of last year. I write about the early snow event we had last year here and here. Clearly, no snow yet this year, although the snow has now made it a bit closer to us on the Chugach range.

So yesterday, as a preventative measure, I got my studded tires put on. This of course insures that we will not get snow until November ;)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Recovery from Running Long

I keep reminding myself that I'm running a marathon in December by running these really long runs on a treadmill like a gerbil on a running wheel. It's not that I don't like running outside, but that I haven't found an appropriate loop to train on. As self-appointed "Safety Girl", on my long runs, I prefer to run in loops, because if I chicken out or break my leg, I always can run/hobble back home pretty quickly.

Yesterday, I decided enough was enough, and that running outside had to be better. So I just picked a set of roads and ran on it. What a difference! Mostly the run consisted of sidewalk trails, but at one point I was running on a low-traffic road which was only partially lumpy. For me, it was a great trail -- lots of rolling hills, very few heavy inclines, and views of the mountains. Before I knew it, I had run 14-ish miles (confirmed today via the car odometer). The fact that I felt so good on the run makes me feel better about my training.

What I want to talk about though, is recovery. Clearly science tells us that recovering is severely overrated, and that "no pain, no gain" is the type of mentality that keeps a person injured. The real motto should be "as little pain as possible", at least to me. So I take recovery very seriously after a long run.

This is my current routine:
1) I take 2 Super AO caps and two ibuprofen with a big glass of Crystal Light. I swear by Super AO -- I'm not sure what it exactly does, but it allows me to walk around through the rest of the day and not be sore the next day, which is an incredible result. If you run (heck you don't even have to run seriously to benefit), you should really think about E-Caps supplement products.
2) Take a hot jacuzzi bath -- Ideally, one should have an ice bath after running, but I am not so amenable to cold water. I've found that this combination works the best for me -- I use bath salts and jets on medium. Using the jets, I massage my feet until I can't stand it anymore. The result of this is that the next day, I can walk like a normal person, without feeling like the balls of my food are going to fall apart.
3) Use Jointflex Ironman over all significant areas of complaint after a run...namely feet, ankles, knees for me. This feels good, and I believe it does help you walk easier the next day.

Using this method, I was able to comfortably hop around last night like usual, and today I am only marginally incapacitated by stiff legs (it used to be that my legs would be totally sore after a 10+ run), so I think it works pretty well.

Some other cool things for running:
--Sole Custom Footbeds: Put the footbeds in the oven, then in your shoes to mold them to your feet. Great concept!
--Ipod Shuffle: I like the idea that even if I listen to every song on this player, I will not have that awful feeling that I'm starting over at the beginning. This is good for long runs.
--Injinji Socks have individual toes so that you don't get blisters. Dad used these last year in the LV marathon and just loves them.
--Under Armour Shorts: My new favorite shorts for running! They are compression shorts (which helps keep my quads loose), but don't lose their elsasticity as many of my other compression shorts do.
--Brooks Addiction 6: My new shoes. I chose them because they have a wider base -- this keeps my feet from turning in as much as they usually do, which is definitely a good thing. There is also a lot of toe room in the front, which is important for me as well.
--Hammer Gel: This is my energy gel of choice! If you like the inside of a McD's apple pie, try the apple-cinnamon flavor. I switch between that one and the expresso (which tastes a bit like chocolate pudding).

Anyways, that's the running report for this week :). Next week, Frank and I start XC training, which should be fun, and there will be another trail run on Tuesday!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

September Denali Trip, Part 6

OK, I *promise* this is the last of the Denali Pictures!

As we were driving back, getting artsy shots of the park, we found yet again another group of cars stopped along the road. This stoppage, though, was accompanied by rangers in the middle. Apparently, mama bear and three cubs decided to cross the road right in front of us. As Frank shot out of the car to catch a glimpse, I got this picture of a paw print (apparently this is a normal route for bears):

Frank was fast enough to see the last cub scurry across the like 20 feet!

We also got the chance to see a moose:

Of course for us, we see moose a lot in Anchorage, and have been a lot closer to them, so it wasn't super exciting for us.

So, we were back on the road from there...

...and eventually we got back to the hotel.

By the way, here's a shot of the Denali Princess from our hotel (The Moore's stayed there a few years ago):

In the morning, we got up and headed out. You might think that that's the end of the story, but the fact is that the drive back to Anchorage was incredibly beautiful, eventhough we chickened out of going on the Denali Highway to Glenallen (here's some who did). But the landscape was incredible nonetheless, and we had a lot of fun passing an infinite amount of school buses going back towards Mat-Su.

We made it back to Anchorage in record time. Whew! That's the end of the Denali Pictures!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

September Denali Trip, Part 5

More Denali Pictures are here for your midweek enjoyment!

Once we reached Kantishna, which is literally the end of the road, we finally ate our lunch in front of the landing strip. The sandwiches from the little gas station in town were suprisingly good (and still cold) by the time we got around to eating them, which was nice! At the end of the road there, it was pretty quiet at this point in the year, but there are many lodges there that you can stay at if you'd like. Certainly it is a beautiful place that you could certainly use as a base camp for hiking/etc for a week or two.

On our way back, we got to see how the light changes everything we'd already seen, and we had a chance to take more photos. Here is a tree at the reflection pond:

In particular, I wanted to get some shots of the beautiful ponds that we had passed on our way to Wonder Lake:

Here's an interesting one of a "Double Tree" also near Wonder Lake:

Here's one that worked well, with the mountains in the background and the yellow bushes in the foreground:

In this one, I fiddled with the K factor on my SLR, which makes everything a bit red:

Here's another good use of the K factor to get some interesting colors:

But that's enough for today...tomorrow (hopefully) I'll explain that bear paw print and we'll see some moose!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Bear with me...

I got all the pictures in blogger today, so I should be back in business tomorrow on Denali pictures. In the meantime, thought this picture would be appropriate...

Monday, September 26, 2005

Being bent out of shape...

I am still going through the second memory card of pictures from Denali and having a busy day, so hopefully there will be more pictures soon...

So a quick note for today...

People keep asking me if it's snowing yet in ANC. It's not snowing, but I did see for the first time visible snow in the mountains around Anchorage this weekend -- I don't know if there was enough to call it termination dust really or not, but I get the feeling (confirmed by accuweather) that the snow is not so far off. I am deep in winter planning mode -- harvesting the last vegetables and herbs, picking up water hoses, and the like. I wish the snow would come soon so that we don't have to mow our lawn anymore :). Time to wax those skis!

Also, do you know that hockey season is coming up as well? I hear that even the pros are thinking about playing this year. I look forward to following another year of mythical sea creature hockey, and tickets are on sale today!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

September Denali Trip, Part 4

Are you sick of pictures from Denali yet? I hope not, because here are some more:

Whoa, that's different! That's Denali, the mountain in the distance. It looks much bigger than I thought!

In fact, it was so big, we all had to get out of our cars to take a picture with it:

Not everyone gets to see Denali this clear when they get to the park...and certainly during the day the mountain's weather constantly changed.

I also liked this particular bowl:

So we drove closer to the mountain...

Along the way, there was more beautiful scenery:

And there was a turn-off for Wonder Lake. Wonder Lake is a campground with a spectacular view of the Alaska range and also a beautiful lake (for those of you who have been to Glacier NP, it's a bit like Lake Macdonald). However, with a lake, of course, comes all sorts of bugs! We were going to eat our lunch here, but bailed once the bugs started to attack us. I got a few quick pictures, than ran to the car:

Although Wonder Lake was really pretty, the better place to take pictures was up the road at Reflection Pond. It's just a tiny turnoff on the road, and I'm glad we stopped there! I hopped out of the car, and started wandering around in the swamp to get these shots. Gee, I wonder why it's called Reflection Pond...

This is my favorite:

And another tree shot:

More tomorrow!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

September Denali Trip, Part 3

So by the time we got halfway to Kantishna, we were giddy. It was just an incredibly beautiful trip!

In our giddiness, I suggested that Frank go out on this little hill that appeared to have a trail, so that we could get a picture. He had to scree down the hill we were on to get there, but he found a way:

Here's Frank on the hill:

And to give some perspective:

What a guy!

Then we continued along towards the big mountains and the end of the road:

Then, we saw yet another group of cars parked by the side of the road...and this time, for a bear! The bear was frolicking out in the tundra, a wee bit out of sight for my camera: