Thursday, January 27, 2005

Here is my first picture using my NEW E-300 Camera!

When will the Seawolves get a break?

UAA's Mark Smith will be out for the season due to a torn ACL. When will UAA get a break from the long string of injuries?

Weather Check

All the weather on the web say Las Vegas on Sunday will be windy, with somewhere between 6 and 11 MPH wind from the North-ish (either NNW or NNE). But, the temperature should be great!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Althouse buys an Audi

Althouse has bought an Audi. Mom, it looks like your car!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Bachelor, Wagner Style

First let’s introduce our Bachelor. The Flying Dutchman (“Dutch”) is a captain on the high seas. He owns his own big ship with blood red sails, and manages over 20 zombie sailors. His estimated wealth is beyond compare. His hobbies include long dour laments, archaic clothing choices, and eternal sea travel. Now, with a life this perfect, Dutch has appeared in a Norway bay as he does every seven years to find a faithful wife who will free him from his torment of eternal damnation due to swearing while sailing around a cape.

A Norwegian ship is in the same bay, and Daland immediately identifies Dutch as excellent husband-in-law material for his daughter Senta, although Dutch is completely lacking in social skills, and keeps hugging himself in agony.

In Act 2 we realize why Daland was so excited about Dutch and Senta – she is creepy as well. We find Senta in love with a painting. Apparently she is unhealthily obsessed with a story about a sailor doomed to sail forever and can’t find a faithful wife. Her boyfriend the hunter is a bit upset about this, and tries to snap her out of her insanity, but to no avail.

Daland, excited about this “opportunity” for Senta, introduces Dutch. This starts a staring match that lasts 10 minutes at least between the two “lovers”. I was immediately struck by how neither Senta nor Dutch had any communication skills – they spent their time singing to themselves and not saying a word to each other. This does not bode well for the long term prospects of their relationship.

While Senta stares at the ship, waiting to be carted off to certain doom by Dutch, the boyfriend the hunter comes by. While he’s talking about some day in the summer where they hung out, Dutch overhears the conversation. In a fit of overreaction, Dutch decides to sail away without her. Apparently because she hadn’t sworn before God, she would not be subject to the eternal damnation clause in the curse of the Flying Dutchman. Senta tries her best to convince Dutch she is true, but since she lacks communication skills, she can’t get her point across. Dutch leaves and as he does, she declares her love of him and hops into the ocean. Then of course, they both go to heaven hand in hand.

So, I guess “there is a lid for every pot” after all!

An Afternoon with Dr. Phil and Oprah on the Road to Nowhere

Yesterday, I ran my last long run before the Las Vegas Marathon on Sunday. Since the sidewalks are now sheets of ice due to the thaw, I was forced into an afternoon of daytime TV shows. Let me tell you a few things that I hate about running on the treadmill:
1) The "marathon" treadmills are directly aimed at Fox News. I always catch Brit Hume, who is actually not bad, but sometimes his guests are a bit bland.
2) The road to nowhere is paved with good intentions by the staff at Alaska Club. Many treadmills automatically stop at 60 or 90 minutes of running. This is unpleasant.
3) Watching Daytime TV (have I mentioned it enough?). Dr. Phil and Bill Cosby were on today. They "fixed" three kids on the show. I hate the "Kabam! Your son/daughter is FIXED" mentality that this show propagates.
4) Watching Ricky Martin tell me that Tsunamis are bad things. There's nothing to make your run more positive than watching someone visit Thailand right now.

But, the positive is, I ran my long run! I feel if I can make it through 18 miles of Treadmill, I should be able to brave Las Vegas.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Book(s) Report

For fun, here is a list of books that I read over and over again. If you are looking for some new reading, I can vouch for these books being great reads! In no particular order:

-- The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov. I remember fondly reading this book on the sunny fire escape overlooking Moscow. I've visited many places it talks about in the book, which is why it's so near and dear. Because it was written at a time when speaking your mind got you killed, it is full of hidden symbolism. If you read this book, you MUST read this version, because it has notes in the back that describe all of this.

-- The English Patient and In The Skin of a Lion, both by Michael Ondaatje. Both of these are great books, and complement each other, sharing a character. I read the English Patient at the same time I read Master and Margarita above, because we only had a few English language books. Anyways, both are excellent books that you should read.

-- Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco. Great book, very very thick with information. One paragraph of his prose wipes me out, because the sentences are so complicated. Yet, I still reference this book often when talking about Tetrapyloctomy (the art of splitting hairs four ways). Some people like The Name of the Rose better, but not me.

-- The Sparrow, Maria Doria Russell. I got this book from Anne (sorry Anne, I think I still have it here!). It's a sci-fi story that appeals to just about everyone. I will warn you though, it's not very happy in parts.

-- An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales, Oliver Sacks. Any book by Oliver Sacks is a good book, but this is my favorite. Sacks uses case studies to explore the mind in a fantastic way. The title comes from a lady who is autistic, yet functions exceptionally in the real world.

--Where is the Mango Princess?, Cathy Crimmins. It's about a lady whose husband gets hit by a speedboat, and the road to recovery from that. Out of all the books on this list, this is the one that I am most passionate about. It has made me understand things that I would have not understood without it.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

UN to save the world!

I have to agree, a 3000 page report does not sound like a practical guide to anything useful.

Fairbanks Trip

I realized that I never finished my story about the Fairbanks trip! To get it moving forward...Fairbanks and Chena Hot springs was a lot of fun.

Chena Hot Springs is about 60 miles out of Fairbanks along Chena Hot Springs Road. When we drove up there, it was dark and snowy. This is fine, except that when anyone passes the other direction or if you get too close to someone in front of you, one gets a whiteout condition, which is really scary. But we made it there in about an hour or so.

Chena Hot Springs Resort is at the end of the Road. That's right -- the road ends right there! It's more of a lodge than a resort, and is all run by a generator (meaning, for example, there were no plugs to plug your car into -- you just told them when you were leaving and they pulled a generator out to start your car). The first night, we had dinner in the dining room (there is only one full restaurant in Chena), and the food was really good. We woke up though, finding out that we did not have any hot water in our room! Apparently this is a normal thing for Chena since their piping is so old.

The first full day there we went XC skiing, which was fun, but a bit intimidating since we had never skiied without little tracks to help us out. Then, we went dog sledding (see pictures below), which was great, but the wind was very cold. It also made me miss Galileo a bit.

That night we went to see the Aurora Borealis with about ten people from Japan. It made me wish I knew more than Iron Chef terms in Japanese, because we really could not interact very well at all! I talk about the Aurora below in the snowcat picture.

On Sunday, we went Snowmachining. They had a lot of trouble getting us set up, because it was -25F and the snowmachines would not start well. But they got them started, and we drove all over Chena. I think the guy was a bit worried that I was not enjoying my time because I was driving so slow -- the fact was, I am not a speed demon, and therefore spent a lot of time concentrating on keeping safe than enjoying myself. Frank had a great time though, eventhough I put myself into a snowbank.

The other highlight was the Chena Hot Springs themselves. The first day, we went in the hot springs, and it was like one of those Zen paintings where parts of the mountain are not shown, because the fog coming up off of the water was so heavy. It was also snowing, which made for a really cool effect on the rocks and trees around the pool. On Sunday, however, we tried to go into the rock lake, and it was just too cold on your face for enjoyment. We spent about 30 mins in there and then sprinted back to the whirlpools inside.

Anyways, a great trip indeed! I recommend it to anyone!

This is Yankovich Road up in Fairbanks. Note the snowy road -- the roads in Alaska look like this for much of the winter.

Frank wisely running back to the car as fast as possible while I take more pictures

Here's a picture of the pipeline just out of Fairbanks

Grainy shot of the gate that takes you out of Chena Hot Springs and back to the road to Fairbanks

Here is a picture of the ice hotel that they are building in Chena Hot Springs

Beautiful shot of the mountains at Chena

This is the picture of the Aurora 3, the snowcat that we took to the top of the mountain to see the Aurora. It was about -35, and very dark, but the Aurora was beautiful. It started by creating a light green foggy arc across the sky -- you would have thought it was just a cloud, but then it started to "dance". Sometimes it would climb up the sky, and sometimes it would split into different sections. If you have never seen the aurora borealis, I strongly urge you to go to a place like Chena Hot Springs in wintertime in order to see them! It's just incredible!

Sven and Mikey are the last dogs, and then there we are!

Frank and I bundled appropriately on the dogsled -- with the wind, it was very cold!!!

The big dog at the back is really happy to take a picture

Here's a view of what it is like to sit in the basket of a dogsled.

Little bird on the other side of the window from the dining room. He has to eat a whole lot to keep warm in the winter!

Looking out over Chena Hot Springs during our XC trip

Another good picture of Frank on our XC adventure. We had never used poles before, but you can see that Frank had the right idea.

Frank on the Monument Trail in Chena Hot Springs. It was very exciting to go XC without little grooves like in Anchorage. It was also very cold and beautiful.

Hockey is a Dangerous Sport

Hockey Game

What a great game the Seawolves had last night! Although it ended up in a tie with UM-Mankato, it looks like UAA is actually playing well.

Once again, my reputation as a projectile magnet was upheld. After pointing out early that "hey, our seats are at a perfect place to be hit by a hockey puck", a puck flew straight for me, luckily hitting the top of the seat in front of me. Whew!

Moose Encounters

On the way back from our Monday XC lesson, we saw a moose hanging out at the bus stop, right on Northern Lights Blvd. They are so big!

Speaking of XC skiing...

Frank and I have officially "graduated" from beginner cross-country ski lessons! Today, we took advantage of the unusually warm weather (27F) to go skiing at Russian Jack Springs park on the northeast side of town. I am proud to say that we survived! Frank even is getting good on the downhills (I'm still recovering from a spectacular spill on Wednesday which left a huge bruise under my knee).

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

(Far) North to AK report Chapter 1: Leaving (Los) Anchorage

Of course, the snowmachine snafu was not what she was expecting when they started off to Ted Stevens International Friday morning.

As usual, Frank and Lori arrived at the airport extremely early, because in most cities this is required to start bargaining against late flights, cancellations, and other airline manglings. Suprisingly enough, Ted Stevens has never been closed due to weather, and most flights fly out on time unless there are big problems in Seattle. So they found themselves 2 hours ahead of schedule, making time to scour the new terminal for a Starbucks and bookstore. Armed with "Not Really an Alaskan Mountain Man" (which seemed fitting considering that they were going to Fairbanks), they waited for the plane to board.

The airline flight started off with a very cold shuffle outside to get on the plane. For some reason, although they had the walkway out, they decided to have us go outside and climb the stairs. The rest of the flight would have been uneventful, however, the guy sitting next to her during the flight was attached to an ice machine and hiccupping the entire flight. Since he had just had ACL surgery and was probably quite loaded on medicine, we tried to help give him the most comfortable experience he could have on a plane in those circumstances (he was flying to Barrow after we stopped over in Fairbanks!). Of course, there were sacrifices -- Lori had to sit cockeyed in the middle seat because he was taking up so much space (i.e. she lost the armchair superiority war).

Luckily, it's only an hour flight between Anchorage and Fairbanks. The first thing that you notice about Fairbanks when you get out of the airport is that it is COLD. Not COLD like ooh perhaps I should put on my coat, but more like you-will-die-within-minutes-without-protection COLD.

The second thing one notices is all these little poles popping out of the snow. Our car was plugged into a socket in the parking lot, and we were told that we would need this in order to continue to start our rental car. According to the rental agent, if it got under 25 below, we would also need to go outside and start our car "every couple of hours". We hoped that it would not get any colder than what it was already so that we didn't have to do this stuff.

Maximum Aurora

Looks like the Aurora will be out over most of the lower 48 today. I can vouch that they were out in Anchorage last night right outside our house.

The Greatest Disaster

If someone asked, "What was the greatest disaster of your lifetime?" what would you say?Here's one opinion I can't argue with.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

(Far) North to AK report, Snowmachine Prologue

"Well, isn't this nice!", she lamented as she looked down the Monument trail from this new perspective. Her helmet (and of course her head) were covered in snow from the snowbank she found herself in. Ironically, her left hand was still attached to the brake lever on her snowmobile that she was "riding", although it was overturned in the snow bank. Ahead of her, she could see that the instructor had gone around the curve already, although she was sure he would come back at some point. He would get in trouble if they were left for dead, she supposed.

Frank on the other hand, followed her into the snowbank but had stopped short of overturning the snowmachine. He had a relatively easy time righting himself but did not seem to enjoy watching her attempts to get out from under the snowmachine and the 4 feet of snow.

The fact is, the mistake happened so suddenly that she could not figure out why she'd ended up in the snow bank in the first place. It's not like they were going very fast or in a difficult place. Somehow, she had zigged when she should have zagged, and that's probably all there was to it.

Once she got out from under the snowmachine and stumbled out of the snow onto higher ground, the hunk of metal that was once underneath her heaved one of those sighs that only an overgrown lawnmower can emit and died. This is not suprising, since the engine was covered in snow at -25F. What it did mean, though, is not only could she not get it out of the snowbank, but if she did, it was going to take strength that she did not have to get it back running.

She sighed. What a fitting beginning to a lovely, frigid Sunday in Chena Hot Springs.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Miss Kitty, Nordic Ski Lessons, News of Alaska

Mom thinks Miss Scarlet's in heat.

Nordic Ski Lesson #2 Report

Yesterday we had nordic (cross country) ski lesson #2. As we did last week, Frank and I arrived a half-hour early despite another detour down Bragaw street (shouldn't it connect with 15th somewhere??). Between Monday and Wednesday, the temperature dipped 15 degrees to -10. Luckily, this meant that we spent a lot of time inside. We learned ski etiquitte (like, if you fall, get out of the way) and that ski tracks are one-way. We were handed these nice pieces of paper describing the many ways we can get lost on 100s of kilometers of trails. In addition, we went through a strething routine, were warned to dress in layers (you never know what the weather will wind up like here), and to always bring food, water, and emergency supplies. After this, we could not be held back anymore, and were led outside. On the little circle track outside of Russian Jack Springs park, we did more one-ski work. This time, it was not as easy (since when it's cold and the snow is hard it's hard to glide). The instructor says that when there has not been much snow in a while, the snow guys who usually work on the streets start really getting into the ski tracks, which is why the tracks were so nice.

Then we wound up skiing about two miles in the snow. You might be thinking -- was it cold? Of course it was, but I really didn't feel cold unless we were standing for a long period of time.

News of Alaska

It's time for Urban Starring Ceremonies.

Latest news on the Hmong refugees in Anchorage.

The Selendang Ayu situation is about to affect crab season.

Here's an account of the Kaktovik blizzard from someone who was there.

Fairbanks says that there is a record number of Redpolls this year!

Also, some people in Fairbanks don't like the snow.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Sodium Party w/a CORRECTION

I remember in college being a part of a sodium party once...I believe Pat got a big hunk of it, and decided to throw it into a retention pond. My experience: sodium is kind of like a bad firework that sets your swingset on fire -- I think I pushed someone down to get away the fastest.

Here,, they describe their own sodium party...

CORRECTION: Pat corrects me was even more impressive than I remembered, and I did push down Scott to get to higher ground faster! Nice to hear from you Pat!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

About the Fairbanks Trip...

Cold weather has finally come to AK. Today in Fairbanks it is -43F! Believe it or not, there are two positives (in the spirit of my title quote). Positive 1: there is no wind chill, so it only feels like -43F instead of something colder. Postitive 2: The coldness is nearly identical in centigrade and farenheit, so those of you who use celsius don't have to do math to figure out just how cold it is! I just hope it warms up to a balmy 10F this weekend like the meteorologists say!

Here in Anchorage, it's about -5 to -15 today. While that apparently is relatively warm, it's not a good day for many things. Since last night, I keep getting zapped by all of our light sockets repeatedly -- enough that my forearms feel stressed afterwards and my fingers tingle. I'm thinking about using candles more often, but if anyone has a better idea, please let me know!

Tuesday Update

The Art of Not Falling... a good way to describe cross-country skiing. Knowing that Anchorage is world-known for its incredible ski trail system, we had our first of four ski lessons last night at Russian Jack Springs park (Kincaid park is on the water and has not had enough snow stick yet). To make it more challenging, the weather was around 5F.

You might wonder what one wears when facing the possibility of standing outside in that type of weather. My first suggestion: layering is a good thing! Frank wore two pairs of socks, long underwear, XC windstopper/wool tights, undershirt, long undershirt, wool zip top, down jacket, hat, gloves. Being one that likes to be warm, I wore my new warmest long underwear/zip top (fleecy and quick-wick), "Russia" liners and wool socks, XC windstopper snow tights, wool sweather, down jacket (the "Russia" jacket), hat and pearl izumi winter gloves.

We had a great time, even though we did not get to use poles. They put these little tracks in the snow so that you don't have to worry about keeping your skis straight, so there was no problem with crazy ski legs. When you lean on your toe, you stop the ski, when your foot is more balanced, you glide. We first learned how to walk, then did these "isometric exercises", which are really more like pushing your ski like you would a skateboard. So far, it's pretty easy to do, and is a great workout!

I'm hoping next time it's a bit warmer so that I don't have to wear all this stuff! However, the outlook for Wed doesn't look very good...

Hoare Frost

That's the name for the phenomenon we have been seeing on the trees, and describes better the icy stuff below in the Zoo article. Here's a picture of it on some trees. I'll try to get a picture of it one of these days :).

Coming Up...

Fairbanks! Frank and I will be going to Chena Hot Springs for MLK (it's called Alaska Diversity day here) this weekend! We're thinking about bringing our cross country skis...

Monday, January 10, 2005

The Great Juneau Debate

Juneau is the most inaccessible capital in North America, and some lawmakers want to take some time to discuss moving it before they sink millions of dollars into a new Capitol building.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Second Saturday at the Zoo and other Saturday ramblings.

Saturday was a great day.

It started out with a peachy/pink sunrise, which was really beautiful. It had been cold the night before, so everything in Anchorage was dusted in white frost. The amazing thing was that the trees were also dusted in frost -- which was incredible pared with the pastel colors of the sky.

Frank and I went to the Snow City Cafe, which is on the edge of downtown, for breakfast. The service was quite good, and the food was pretty tasty.

Then, we braved the frigid cold to the Zoo's Second Saturday event. On this particular Saturday of each month, the Zoo has a special day open to photographers. The Alaska Zoo is quite small, and most of the animals are rescues and cannot be released back into the wild. They really are taken care of well and seem content.

Many pictures are below, but my favorites were the ravens, Maggie, and the Dall Sheep. The ravens were funny, because of course here you see ravens all the time in town.

We saw at least two uncaged ravens come by to visit/taunt the caged ravens. Maggie the elephant listens to Balinese music all day in her house. She was very smart and I believe took a liking to Frank -- pushing her trunk out to say "Hi". She also beat a stick on the wall and played with her tire swing. The Zoo is also making her a treadmill that should be available next year. However, as soon as we hopped into the elephant house, my lens completely fogged up. So there are no pictures of Maggie.

The Dall sheep were funny because they just sat there and stared at us. The female kept looking at me with her furrowed brow, and the Alpha at the top of the "mountain" was staring at Frank.

Anyways, although it was cold, it was a great day at the Zoo.

The next thing we did was take Galileo to the Pet New Year at the Northway Mall. It appears many people in Anchorage could not pass up an offer to take their dogs to the Mall! Galileo of course was very interested in everything, and even managed to poop on center court, much to our dismay. Once that was done :) we got him microchipped. For being such a good boy, Galileo got a very colorful bandanna. All in all, I think he had a great time!

Next, Frank and I went on our weekly grocery run. We hadn't done it this week, so we had to eat out a lot. Up for food this week is a crimean dish of some sort, Pasta Bolognese, Caldo Verde, and Butternut Squash casserole. Should be a yummy week!

Porcupine picture

Porcupine wrestling

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard

Here's an Owl


Here's another raven outside of the cage, visiting

Here's a raven in a cage

Otter is also enjoying the weather

Here's a Yak

The Bactrian camels are just waking up...

Bactrian Camel close-up

more Caribou


Male Caribou

Frank enjoys the Zoo at 20 degrees!

Pretty Creek


Pictures of the frost on the railings

Mr. Alpha Dall Sheep again

Mrs. Dall Sheep was staring down me...

Mr. Alpha Dall sheep was staring down Frank

Another Dall Sheep

Many of the AK zoo animals are rescues...this Dall sheep only has one horn.


Dall Female looks like how I feel sometimes :)

Tundra Swans (lens is a little foggy after seeing Maggie the Elephant in her house)

Bald Eagle

Here's a Cayote

Mr. Snow Owl was keeping a close eye on us...

Sitka Deer

The Arctic fox kept running around in circles...looked excited to see us!

Arctic Fox is curious...

Yak taking a nap