Thursday, April 28, 2005

Blast from the Past

I am want to go to see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy this weekend. I read all the books in my youth, and can't wait to revisit it. Hopefully it is good!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Media Confusion

Apparently, people are getting Cliff from Cheers (John Ratzinger) and Pope Benedict confused.

The speculation continues here.

The secret life of Mosquitoes

Is it spring? Whatever it is, it's great. We actually got up to 66 yesterday, can you believe it?

Last night I went to my running team practice, and got stung by a mosquito on my forehead while doing my last lap of our APU course. Noone else seemed to be bit, but that's not suprising since I am an official mosquito magnet, although I was hoping that the Alaskan mosquito variety (yes, they are quite big) was one I would not attract so much. I guess I will have to start wearing my deet again, or a mosquito net. Sigh.

So "Spring-ish" (maybe "Sprummer?") has it's positives and negatives, I guess.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Sunrise, Sunset

Ah, Anchorage is slowly getting to that lovely time of the year where the sun is still up when you go to sleep, and rises before one wakes. By the end of the month, the sunset will be at 10pm.

Go here to compare your sunset and sunrise to ours. For example, Chicago's sunrise is 15 minutes earlier than ours, but we get two full hours of extra sunlight at the end of the day. Pretty cool!

A great idea

UAA offers the top ten percent of every AK high school a scholarship of about $11,000. It's the only scholarship of its kind fully funded by a university through land endowments, and allows kids the option of actually finishing college debt-free. By offering the program, the school has increased diversity (so that they offer to the brightest kids of every culture in the state), and also raised the number of Alaskans that go to college in state rather than out of state (which is still extremely typical).

Illinois had a similar idea, except they only gave about $1000 to the top ten percent of every school. Even with the scholarship, IL schools were significantly more expensive than out-of-state schools of the same caliber.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Email lowers your IQ, and other news

Email and IQ
A British study finds that email juggling lowers your IQ. David Smith, of Hewlett Packard, states, "The research suggests that we are in danger of being caught up in a 24-hour "always on" society. This is more worrying when you consider the potential impact for workers, and the consequent impact on businesses." Duh. I can tell you being available 24x7 is expected already in many companies, especially if you are IT. So there's two parts to this: 1) workers are not productive because they are multitasking too much and 2) the corporate culture pressures employees to do this multitasking -- in fact, if you do not do email while in a meeting, you're seen as not productive. I think people forget that if you just concentrate on one thing for a while, you might actually get it completed in less time.

More on the wind
ADN finally wrote a story about the wind damage. We've got pieces of someone's roof in our yard. I'm not sure if it is ours or not because the roof is so high.

Musk Ox Poachers
Some jerks poached a musk ox herd in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, angering many. Basically, there has been a push to reintroduce musk ox to Alaska, and a new herd of 29 musk ox had migrated from the Nelson Island herd to this area of extinct volcanoes in the delta. The hope was to let the herd grow, and allow a legal hunt of the animals in a few years, helping susinance hunters in the area. These guys totally screwed up the whole thing for everyone, including themselves, as the herd's been decimated.

Hockey season is not over yet in Alaska
The Alaska Aces, our ECHL hockey team, are in the playoffs. They are still winning, despite losing their NHL star Scott Gomez to a very cheap shot in the Bakersfield matchup that they just completed. As Scott was halfway in and out of the bench, a guy checked him into the corner of the door frame, breaking parts of his pelvis. The goon says he's sorry, but good for the ECHL to officially suspend him for eight games -- it would have been better, of course, if they'd kicked him out for a stunt like that.

Weekend Activities
We are also seeing Patty Larkin tonight at the Snow Goose.

Other happenings
Anne should be finished running the Flying Pig by now. Please send her good vibes on a speedy post-marathon recovery!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Windy weather

Yesterday, the radio announced one of their frequent "Wind Advisories for the Turnagain Arm and Higher Elevations". Usually, this does not apply as much to us on lower hillside, although I have seen trees bend in peculiar directions due to gusts of wind.

Last night was different. The weather stations on Klatt and Upper Hillside are down, but when I last saw them yesterday, the wind gusts around us were up to 80 mph. Oh, but they got stronger. Pieces of someone's roof (I hope it's not ours) is sitting in our yard. Our neighbor's basketball hoop was toppled, and I saw a hot tub cover fly through the air into our fence. My favorite sight, though, was the empty garbage bag flying through the air, out of sight, like a balloon. Every time these wind gusts hit, our house shook.

Get this, it didn't even make the news. This is just how it is here. Now, I can totally envision the stories that we were told of people's roofs flying off in high wind. Hopefully this does not happen to us!

If you are interested, you can check Weather Underground, which will show you weather stations around town that are online that show the gusts.

Summer confusion

Last Wednesday, our street was covered in kids in of all ages playing. Although it was barely 50 degrees, most were wearing t-shirts and jeans. As we made dinner, I started to hear a very odd song somewhere and started searching the street for the source of the sound. There was an army green van with a little yellow police light on top with it's windows rolled down. On its side, there was plastered colorful blocks of ads. Kids and Moms were flocking to it.

Any guesses what it was?

Of course, an ice cream truck. Apparently, the ice cream trucks, like the canadian geese, have found their way back from their southern migration. This phenomenon of midwest summer was doing a pretty decent business from what I can tell, as Moms and kids all bought a decent amount of cold sweet treats, and then stood out eating them, with tshirts and jeans, in barely 50 degree weather in Anchorage, AK.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Condoleeza's Russian is rusty

Yahoo! News reports on Condoleeza Rice's interview on Echo Moskvy. Apparently, when asked whether she might run for president, she mistakenly answered "Da" and then quickly answered "Nyet". She goes further to describe to the audience how she is out of practice, and that Russian verbs are very difficult.

Oh, how many stories do I have that I cannot write here about the great mishaps that can be made with Russian verbs! She uses a verb for "to earn money" intead of "to do", and causes confusion, but there are many more interesting mistakes one can make!

Instead, I started thinking about what I would be able to say in Russian off-the-cuff if I was in the interview.
Some of my favorites:

Kakaya Kracivaya Mebel! -- What beautiful furniture!
Pagoda Holodnaya. -- The weather is cold.
Ya Neudachni -- I am not lucky.
Yest chornii xleb? -- Is there any black bread?
Ostaroshnoye. Dveri zackaraitsa. Sledushe Stancia, Vykhino. Platforma Sprava. -- Caution, the doors are closing. Next stop, Vykhino. The platform's on the left.
Moya lubimoe cvet eto zelyonoe. -- My favorite color is green. (My favorite color is NOT green, but I don't remember yellow)
Ya hochu Obed C big makom -- I want a Big Mac Meal.

I think it's unlikely Ms. Rice will be asking for my Russian services soon :)

Monday, April 18, 2005

Four Months, then it is over

Lance Armstrong says he will retire after the TdF this year.

I think this is a good thing for cycling, and for Lance. Lance will continue with the Discovery team in a non-rider role, will be able to spend more time with his family, and he will continue his efforts in the fight against cancer. Cycling gets superior drama for this TdF, and will also gain room for the next generation of excellent cyclists.

Update: In another blow for US Cycling, Tyler Hamilton was suspended for two years on his blood transfusion charges. The case is sure to be brought to a higher court.

Open letter to Father Frost

Dear Winter --

This weather is really cruel. I do not enjoy breaking out the snowplow in mid-April. Anchorage is tired of you. Stop dumping snow on us -- go visit Manitoba or something.


Sunday, April 17, 2005

Here are some pictures from Galileo's photo shoot on Sunday. I am learning to use my camera, and have been experimenting with doing things manually. So far, it's a mixed bag--there are tens of pictures that aren't very good of me trying to vary the White Balance and attempting to focus the camera. Agh.

Galileo caught mid-spin

I manually focused this one!

Galileo is getting tired of the camera..

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Day 3 of Diet Coke self-rehab

Well, today was day 3 of my self-imposed Diet Coke fast. It all started on Tuesday when I forgot to go get another "Big K" 24-pack after running wind sprints with Exceed. Then it became a challenge, to see if I could really rid my life of Diet Coke and its' unpronouncable chemical goodness after all these years. It was also an adventure -- Frank and I have collected many teas and coffees from around the world, although to be fair, some teas and coffees in our posession have origination dates prior to our marriage. I figure, if I drink tea every day for a year, I *might* run out of tea by then.

For the first two days, everything seemed to be going well -- I was a bit dehydrated from not drinking enough liquids, and lost some weight (or perhaps that was the wind sprints?). I haven't been as awake as usual, like the brain is in a bit of a fog all the time.

Today, though, has been bad. My appetite is finicky, and the tea does not help my headache today. I'm especially cranky for a Thursday as well. My writing is not good either.

Hopefully this will pass as well, and by next Monday I will have fully kicked my Diet Coke habit.

P.S. Apparently I am not alone in my Diet Coke addiction.

Aurora's a Mom! reports that the eggs of Aurora, the giant octopus at the SeaLife center in Seward, are hatching!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

My fast-food dreams have *almost* come true

Despite the abundance of suburban conveniences, Anchorage is still missing many things that I miss, namely a Target, Cheesecake Factory, and a Chipotles. In fact, I have frequently passed an abandoned Gateway store on Benson and Seward and thought, "THAT should be a Chipotle!", hoping that somehow the fast food gods would hear me.

Apparently they have. Sort of. A Qdoba is being built in the old Gateway Country building. While not exactly the tasty goodness of Chipotle (it's mostly a taste preference, like Burger King vs. McDs), it is certainly a step in the right direction!

Now to work on that Cheesecake Factory...:)

Monday, April 11, 2005

For some Monday fun after a hectic day...Here's a South Park version of me using the following website:

Friday, April 08, 2005

Dinner with the Family

Richard Lawrence Cohen writes a story about the serious conseqences of substituting Stravecchio for Parmesan in a family dinner.

More news in AK

ADN reports that a man drove his car into the DMV office yesterday, then calmly waited in line to renew his license. Get this, later, the police decided to suspend his license.

Also, the AK Parrot Education and Adoption Center is offering classes this weekend: "Parrot Safety" (is this for the owner or the parrot?) and "Sex and the Single Parrot" (about hormonal parrots).

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Anchorage News: Archi-Drama!

Apparently, although a winner has been chosen in the Juneau Capitol Competition, there is still archi-drama as modernists and traditionalists clash.

Also, soccer season finally opens in town, after constant weather teases.

Another person is apparently a little too upset at Home Depot, for building another Home Depot in a town where it only takes 15 mins to get from one side to another. A vandal used a front-end loader to do much damage to the jobsite. My question is, how can one do a quarter million dollars in damage with a front-end loader in Anchorage without being noticed???

And...the bears are out! Includes also accounts of mysterious black-tailed deer that have somehow made it over the mountains to the south.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A New Book!

Margaret Atwood has written a review of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishigiro. It sounds like an exellent book from an excellent author. I've added a link here and on the side for you if you'd like to buy it.

Also: We just had another earthquake as I was writing this -- check Recent Earthquakes to see what the rating was -- I'm suspecting it was over 4, but what do I know? Again, it was a side to side movement, and kind of felt like being suspended, maybe like the swinging bridges in the pictures below.

UPDATE: Looks like it was a 5.22 in Prince William Sound, about 114 miles from Anchorage. As a good citizen, I reported it to the seismology office via the web form, it also estimates that I felt a 4 :). I'm getting the hang of this earthquake stuff! For those Midwesterners reading who think this is funny, here's YOUR map!

Running Notes

Anne is running both the Flying Pig and Marine Corps marathon this year! Wish her luck!

After the Las Vegas Marathon, I have had trouble jump-starting my enthusiasm for running again. I think it has something to do with always running slow and running on the treadmill, which is not fun.

So, I am joining the "Exceed Women's Running Team" here in Anchorage. The idea is that many women will not do speed workouts on their own, so they organize a workout every Tuesday of drills.

It started yesterday at the Cambpell Creek Science Center, which is relatively near my house (in Anchorage, where it takes about 15-20 mins to get to the other side of town, practically everything to me feels relatively near). As I walked to the meeting point, there was a HUGE MOOSE in the trees. Luckily with so many people using the area, I didn't think it would be a problem. We had a fartlek run, basically running around cones in different "stacks" (for those of you who remember stacks in gym class). It was hard!

Anyways, I felt good about finishing, and think it will definitely be worth it. Who knows? Maybe I will get motiviated to do another marathon or triathlon soon.

Monday, April 04, 2005

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas???

The night flew into Anchorage, it was snowing. It didn't stop for two days. Then we had a thaw, and yesterday, we could see about half of the yard. I thought that this week I would be able to start running again on the roads, since the ice was all melted on the sidewalks. Silly me -- I was just begging for another cold snap, wasn't I?

Today, take a look at the AlaskaCam in downtown Anchorage. That's right, it's April 4th, and it's snowing. Up here on the hillside it looks like we have about 2-3 inches already, and it's still snowing. The good thing (I try to be positive about this) is that we can probably go cross country skiing tonight. The negative is, it's snowing and it's APRIL!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Iditarod on OLN!

OLN is showing the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, including shots from Anchorage, this month. Last night, we got to see the first episode, covering the ceremonial start of the race in Anchorage. We're not on it, but certainly it is weird to see a well-made show about something that you were present for.

Just in case you have forgotten, here is a picture from the ceremonial start (blogger is still having trouble with hello and pictures, argh!):

One more dogsled picture

Anyways, Tivo nation, please consider taping these shows, I think you will like them a lot!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The long-awaited Maui pictures

Below are all of our Maui pictures. Hope you like them!

We did do many things that I did not take pictures of, mostly because I did not want to water-log my camera. Here was our itenerary:

Arrived around 1pm Hawaii time after spending our night on an airplane. We stopped at the activities booth at the hotel and booked all of our tours/etc. all at once. Then, we went to Tedeschi Winery, which took about 1.5 hours from Kiehei to drive.

Maui Tacos (very good, like a Maui Chipotle's!)
Thailand Cuisine (slow service at first, but food was very fast)

Whale watching in the morning on the Maui Princess, then we drove the West Maui Road (all the way around) for the rest of the day. A great day!

Cheeseburger in Paradise (was a place before Jimmy Buffett ever knew about it)
Bada Bing (early in the evening, service is quite good. Good inexpensive meal)

Drove the Road to Hana and around Haleakala. Maps will warn you not to go around there if you have a rental car, but we did not have any problem with our Dodge Stratus. If you have any questions, I'm sure the park officials at Ohe'o gulch will let you know if it's safe to drive.

Breakfast of Champions -- Skittles/M&Ms and Diet Coke (Paia service station :) )
Cafe Ciao (in Kea Lani, Wailea. Very good food, service was a bit slow but they gave us our dessert for free)

Snorkel trip to Molokini Crater and the infamous Turtle Town. Molokini Crater was used for bombing practice after Pearl Harbor, but is now a bird sanctuary. Beautiful fish will swim within three inches of you. Very safe and calm waters here. Turtle town was great since we got to see so many sea turtles.

Shopping in Lahaina -- Lahaina is a great place to shop. Although the shops are mostly tourist-oriented now, the downtown area has retained its' character, which is great.

Somehow during this day I got really sunburned, but only on my face. I had to put makeup on to cover the burn so that people did not feel sorry for me :).

BJ's Pizzeria (good but not worth the wait at lunchtime)
Sarrento's on the Beach (best service I have ever had, great dinner, make sure you get a reservation early so that you are there during the sunset!)

Kayaking day. We took a kayaking trip along the cliffs near Papalua beach. To make it more exciting, Frank and I had to share a double kayak (we've always insisted on separate kayaks since neither of us canoe well). We survived with only one capsizing, and got to snorkel in some amazing places along the cliffs!

Maui Ocean Center. Frank and I went to the aquarium on Maui. It was really great, although privately owned and quite expensive. The fish exibits were really wonderful, and the gift shop is one of the better ones on the island.

Greek Bistro (very good greek food and wine, wonderful Baklava!)

The infamous mountain bike day. Frank and I got up at 2am (!) in order to get to a bike shop. The bike shop then fitted us with super helmets and other goodies, then bussed us up to the top of the crater to see the sunrise. Then, we biked down the mountain on our own with only a map of where the bike shop was and some vague directions given in the dark to us. We made it, but it was dangerous. We saw one girl put her head into a guardrail, and another flip over her handlebars while trying to come to a dead stop on an incline. They were both relatively OK. But the fact that we made it down unscathed was a big deal for me, since I hate biking downhill.

At night, we went to Kaanapali and walked along the beach. It's a beautiful place as you will see below. Probably the best relaxing night we had on the island.

Alexander's fish and chips (pick your fish for your fish and chips, good and inexpensive)
Hula Grill (very good food, and the floor was all sand!)

Hiked Waihe'e Valley and did the hike along La Perouse Bay. Then we watched UK win against Utah.

Manana Garage (Great! Go here for lunch and have wonderful latin food!)
Sala Thai (not very good Thai food. We wanted to go to Bada Bing's, but the host was a real jerk to those waiting so we left)

Then we went home, where it snowed for three days straight. Argh!

A beautiful flower, very similar to one I saw in Norway, at the Tedeschi Winery in Maui

Frank and the Ocean on our way to Lahaina to whale watch

Frank under the oldest Banyan tree in the US in Lahaina.

Bird in Lahaina

On Sunday, we went on a whale watch. Yes, I know this is not a whale. This dolphin liked the currents under the boat and swam just ahead of the boat for a long while. I've never been so close to a dolphin before!

Another picture of the dolphin

Close-up of a whale who was within 20m of our boat. We'd see whales doing this everywhere we went in Maui.

Another beautiful whale

A whale waves hi to us, just after passing under our boat!

Good picture of a whale's tail

Lori at Dragon's teeth. To get there, you go to Kapalua and find the very ritzy golf course. Then, you walk alongside the golf course, avoiding the ancient burial grounds, and ignore the signs that say "don't walk here" when you get to the teeth. It's pretty amazing, and definitely worth it to see!

Close-up of the Dragon's teeth

Rock formation at Dragon's teeth, it looks like a turtle to me.

Water splashing

A strange circle maze near the Dragon's teeth. I'm not sure why it was here. From Dragon's Teeth in Kapalua, we continued around the West Maui Mountain. This is a great drive if you can take it -- it is down to one lane in many places, but it is not as crowded as the Hana road, and it's particularly beautiful as you will see in the pictures below.

Here's Honolua Bay, one of the great surfing spots in Maui.

Another beautiful pool along the ocean

Frank putting a rock on one of the various rock sculptures put together by tourists that think they mean something.

This is the Nakele blowhole, pretty neat, eh?


Here are the infamous Olivine Pools. These pools are relatively warm, but sit right on the ocean on the other side of the West Maui mountain.

Iao Needle. This area was the place of one of the most awful battles of ancient Hawaii between Kamehameha and the king of Maui. Kamehameha had brought to Maui his secret weapon, a cannon they dubbed "Robert", in order to conquer Maui. As the children and women fled to the Iao Valley, they witnessed the awful carnage of their sons and husbands being blown apart by "Robert the Cannon". The stream was so thick with bodies that the flow of the river down the mountain actually stopped. Pretty gross. So, there's kind of a mixed feeling about Kamehameha on Maui even now.

Here's a Taro leaf from the botanical garden area of the Iao Valley park

This is the start of the Road to Hana pictures. The Road to Hana is a very narrow road with one lane bridges that takes you from central Maui to Hana on the southernmost part of the island. Every day, 2000 or so visitors to Maui travel this road, as well as many commuters. While we liked the Road to Hana, and feel like it's something that you need to do once in your life, honestly, it's not something I would do again. It's beautiful, but too crowded with other tourists for my taste.

Here's a look back on the road to Hana

Right before we stopped at Keanae, we found this free botanical park. It was free, and relatively beautiful. Here's a picture of a cluster of bamboo

At the botanical park, we saw these painted gum trees. Can you believe the colors on these trees? It was just spectacular!

Painted gum trees

Here's the rocks at Keanae, a small town on the road to Hana

Here's Wailua, which is still a village mostly centered around Taro farming

Here's the Wailua valley lookout

Sigh, another set of waterfalls...

In order to get to the second set of waterfalls, we had to cross this viaduct. Believe me, it's scarier than it looks!

This was our reward!

What do you do when you find the most beautiful waterfall in all of Maui? jump in!

Frank in the Blue Pool, looking very cold

Do I really have to go in?

Lori in the Blue Pool, looking very cold.

Here's Wai'anapanapa State Park, home of the infamous black sand beach.

Here's a picture from the trail. You can see that the plants are so green, and the sand is so dark. It's just beautiful!

Coconut art shot

Frank on the black sand beach

Doesn't this rock look like a slingshot?