Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I told you so

I know I have mentioned the fact that I need to distill water everyday for drinking.
Maybe I have even made comments hinting towards the 6 hours it takes to do so.

I have not, however, had any actual proof that the water is bad. Only the word of my principal and the talk of other teachers.

Today, I received the confirmation that I have been longing for.
Today, in the halls of Kilbuck Elementary (a Bethel school), I saw the sign.

The proof that our water is lead-filled and delicious.

And to give you the context of this photo...

Monday, January 30, 2006

flight plan

It has been awhile since I have had kept my camera with me in the front of the plane.
Here is a few of the great white expanses.

Nothing, as far as the eye can see...

My village in the winter.

Friday, January 27, 2006


For Christmas, from a very good friend, I received a thermometer.
This device is able to measure the temperature outside and inside.

I have the outdoor remote in my arctic porch.
(Think: covered doorway.)

It is a bit warmer in this pseudo room than out in the wind.
But not all that much.

The temperature range of my new toy goes from –22 to 140 degree F.
It has been stuck on –22 for the past day and a half.

Then, this afternoon, when I looked at the frosty liquid display screen, I saw something amazing.
It had now fallen to –25.

My thermometer has exceeded it’s own limits! I can’t wait to see how much farther it will go!

But, as a side note to those who think I am insane for moving to a place where my thermometer is at the risk of bottoming out, it’s really not that cold.

I mean, it is cold. Dreadfully cold. Painfully, fingers falling-off, frostbite on the nose, cold.

But after you fall below –10, I guess you just give in to the frigid mind-numbing icyness. And if you dress correctly you can actually function almost normally out of doors.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

still smelly

Thank you everyone who showed support in this time of need.
My stinkiness from lack of a shower has been something of an increasing problem as the issues with water continued.

I have not been properly clean since Saturday.

Then, last night, something changed.

With the help of several (indoor) space heaters grouped around the water pump, we finally had running water again! As of 7 pm last night we could once again bathe.

I, however, in my infinite wisdom, slacked. I spurned the evening shower in favor of a refreshing morning one.
(There was also the issue of temperature. It was really very cold in my apartment last night and it is never fun to be all wet in a cold room)

Waking up this morning, I almost ran to the bathroom, excited for prospect of hot running water.
I turned the pseudo crystal water knob and prepared myself for the dearly missed feeling of actually being clean.

Then my hopes and dreams came crashing down.

There was no water pressure.

A trickle of water ebbed forth from the shower-head.
Damn damn damn.

I weighted my options. Do I scream, yell, and throw things? Do I just get out of the shower, still without a cleaning?
Or do I stand, hopefully, below the drizzle, willing some meager amount of water to do its best?

I choose to stay. And as I stood under the water’s tiny stream another realization was made.

The damn drain is frozen again.
Water was pooling at my feet.

So, I am in the torn situation of wishing there was water in my shower stall and wishing that same water would go away.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Guess what!
I was just informed that something special has occurred in my village.

It will affect the school and my apartment.

It effects how I will smell tomorrow.

The water pump is frozen. We have only two water tanks left for everyone to share.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006


I could tell you all about the "enjoyable" few days I have spent stuck in Bethel.
The phrase "weather permitting" has once again reared its ugly head.

Since Saturday I have been attempting to get back to my village.
Since Saturday I have been hearing nothing but the painful words, "weather hold."

But I will not tell another drawn out tale of being stuck in Bethel.
Instead I have pictures of dogs.

Puppies are cool.

These doggies make up a sled dog team.

This is Jack and his human Jenny. He is ready for his first run with a sled.

And their off!
Jack and his buddy ended up giving Jenny quite a ride.
There was a belly flop into the snow involved.
But we won't mention that.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


I realize that a majority of my postings deal with the wonderful world of travel. Though I try to limit them, there are times that it can’t be helped.
There are times that transportation is funny.
Plus, sometimes I feel like all I do is travel.

The previous post was written at the Denver airport while I was almost patiently awaiting my two hour delayed flight to Anchorage.
The cause of the delay was a lack of pilot. He was on another punctually challenged flight.

When he had finally boarded, a half an hour after the rest of us, an announcement came from the front. Our captain was attempting to re-route our flight plan. There was a looming possibility of the flight being further delayed.
Why would they have to change the flight plan?
Why would they consider canceling our trip?
Because of the volcano.

As we sat in the stale re-circled airplane air they tell us that a freaking volcano might hold up our thoughts of leaving Colorado.
180 miles south west of anchorage is a volcano about to/ in the process of erupting.
And 180 miles in a very short distance when it comes to the volcanic ash that fills the air, coats the ground, and does bad things to aircrafts.

After another 20 minuets of planning and re-planning we left the ground.

Oh yeah, there is a crying baby directly behind me.

Stupid Friday the 13th.

Upon arrival in Anchorage the “Arrivals” board was covered with interesting word.


Every Alaskan Airlines flight from the lower 48 was canceled. All Continental flights followed suit.
In fact the only airline that got in at this late hour was United.

Damn volcano.

Friday, January 13, 2006

the 13th

Today is Friday the 13th.
Today is also the day I begin my cross country, 32 hour commute back to Alaska.

A superstitious person might be concerned.
But, I am not much for the superstitions. (While knocking on wood and tossing salt over my shoulder)

My three-week break has finally come to an end.
It has been a good time.

I met with old friends, slept on many couches, and ate some great food.
And, oh, the shopping. I spent hours in the post office shipping off box after box of shopping fun.

But, I have also found that the cliché is true, you can never go back home.
So much has changed. Both in myself and in the friends I left behind.

They all went on changing and growing without me. We took different paths.
The old groups have new members and relationships have sprung up in the most unlikely places.

Maybe three weeks back was too long.
It made me think about all that was different about my life

The regret I feel about going back to Alaska has nothing to do with my job.
I love my job. I love the experiences. I love the world I have found.
But there is a sadness associated with everything I am leaving behind.

It’s odd how different it all feels from the first journey I made up here.
When I left Cincinnati 5 months ago I was facing the unknown. There was the excitement in that. Thoughts of what I would miss were squelched below the world of the new.

This time things are different. I am not filled with the same wonder. I am simply going home.
It was harder to say good-bye to them all.
They asked me when I would be back. I couldn’t say.
I don’t know.

Wow. This is a really depressing post.
On a lighter side, I will be spending the night in the anchorage airport with my partner in crime, Jodie.
There should be much in the way of merriment and alcoholism.
Plus, I will have the opportunity to test the merits of sticky vinyl benches against my findings on random couches.

It will be excellent.

Happy Friday the 13th!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

couch crashing as an extreme sport

Friday I hit the runway and head back to Alaska.
Friday will bring the end of my three week winter vacation. But untill that day, I continue to participate in the new found extreme sport of:

Couch crashing.

The time-honored tradition that takes a person from one domicile to another, testing the pros and cons of many different couches.

I have not slept in a bed for over a week and have long forgotten what it’s like to sleep without one arm hanging over one side and my back pressed against the cushiness on the other.

There is also the matter of my fingers and face being devoured by miscellaneous dogs and cats in the wee hours of the morning.
The moisture in my ears will not be discussed at this time.

What will be discussed is the topic of couches.

If you decide to couch hop or be the recipient of a couch hoper there are a few things you need to know.

Leather couches: often very comfortable. Or at least, squishy. However, thick blankets are totally unnecessary. Even if the air temperature is below what you would normally find comfortable, reach for the lighter weight blanket, maybe even an afghan. Leather quickly warms to your body and will create a sweat-producing surface.
This uncomfort will not come to light until a half an hour after your host falls asleep and will leave you sticky and sleepless all night.

Love-seats: in the search for a place to lay your head you may find it necessary to crash a love-seat. Be warned, love-seats, if not handled properly, can lead to stiff necks and twisted ankles (don’t ask about the former). To avoid injury find a chair or foot stool to place next to the “foot” of your bed. This will allow you to stretch at least one leg out and therefore give you head a little more room up top.
Don’t be afraid to use extra pillow by the arm-rest at your knees for added joint comfort.

Over-stuffed couches: you will roll off. Lay with your face into the back of the couch. This may prevent movement and keep you off the floor.

Man eating couches: these are cozy cushions that you sink right into. Pat yourself on the back. You hit jackpot. These couches are wonderfully comfy and will keep you from rolling away. Do bear in mind that you will need a decently tough pillow here, but the decorative ones that always seem to find their ways to couches should be fine.

Popizan chairs: sleep in your car.

Recliners: test the springs in the reclining part of these wanna-be beds before agreeing to anything. Some chairs have a habit of sitting up without your permission. With a well broken in chair you can look forward to an almost good night’s sleep. If you have found a tightly wound recliner, sleep in your car.

I hope this guide helps you in all your travels.
It has taken many bruises and stiff mornings to research.

But the study is not yet complete. Tonight I try something new and daring.
The infamous, futon.
Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

2006 has started off with a bang.

The evening began with the coroner’s visit to the
apartment building next to the porch I was standing on
and ended with a hit-and-run.
There is also the matter of the ruined cashmere

Thankfully, neither me, nor my friends were on the
ouchy end of the previously mentioned events.
Though not knowing a victim’s name is rarely comfort.

Maybe proximity determines your reactions.
When the flashing lights came screaming into our
parking lot early in the evening we ran to the porch
to see the carnage. The curiosity was palpable.
Heightened when a woman came tearing from the house
screaming, “He’s dead! He’s dead!”

Later the coroner pulled up confirming the woman’s
frantic cries.

We were mildly shocked by this turn of events. But
thoughts of mortality were quickly pushed from our
With the next round of drinks.
With the sight of a drunk streaking through the
parking lots.
With the “knowledge” that we are young and immortal.

Many hours later as the closing time lights came on
and our evening was drawing to an end we streamed from
the bar en-mass. Hundreds of 20-somethings hit the
Hailing cabs.
Discussing dinner plans.
Attempting final hook-ups.

Suddenly the sound of fear ripped through the crowd.
Someone had been hit by a car.
It was a hit-and-run.

A nameless boy lie on the street. His legs skewed at
odd angles.
His eyes closed.

Somehow I ended up at his side, commandeering a
sweater from an onlooker to stem the blood from the
back of his head.

A good friend of mine was talking to him when he was

We later heard that he was doing fine.
This accident hit us all harder than that of earlier
There were tears and trembling hands.
There were long discussions and rehashing.

How could we dismiss the loss of life so easily?
Was it because we never saw his face?
Could we remain immortal because we never saw the

This is how I began 2006.
What does this say for the rest of the year?

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