December 30, 2009 at 8:04 am | Posted in alaska, anchorage, photo du jour | Leave a comment
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X-mas excess, Turnagain style.



December 29, 2009 at 7:49 am | Posted in anchorage, photo du jour | Leave a comment
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Scenes from the heart of midtown Anchorage — south of 36th Ave. where C St. splits into the A-C couplet.  Not exactly bustling with activity, except for car traffic — although one can walk from place to place here, given a little time and a dare to be different.  This area was someone’s homestead tract [as was all of the Anchorage Bowl outside downtown] in the 1920-40 era.  Some roads were punted through [just rough dirt two-lanes] along the borders between 20-acre homestead parcels, over land that used to be boggy creek drainages punctuated occasionally by patches of spruce forest.  Scattered strip retail and trailer parks appeared in the ’50s and ’60s, as the roads were extended and connected to destinations to the south.  The roads were widened and improved in the ’70s and ’80s.  And in the ’90s the trailers were finally moved out and the pattern of mid-rise office towers and acres of parking that began north of here expanded into this area. 

A block or two north, Fish Creek makes two ninety degree turns, in culvert pipes underneath the busy 36th Ave. and C St. intersection.  A mile to the west, the municipality made a big deal in the mid-’90s when they exposed 500 feet of the creek, installing a new bridge where it passes beneath Spenard Rd.  Once in awhile, a fish can be found in Fish Creek.

I ate lunch at Burrito King, across A St. from the roadside coffee stand in the photo below.  The people ahead of me in line were coming in for a break from Midtown Park nearby, where they’d been skating on the new speedskating oval.  The park has been built slowly and fitfully over the years, but is a real gem.


December 28, 2009 at 3:11 am | Posted in alaska, anchorage, photo du jour, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Love is all around.


December 27, 2009 at 9:13 am | Posted in anchorage, photo du jour | Leave a comment
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Roof drain pipe and icicle, Mt. View art studio.

Beautiful ceremony, seven to go

December 27, 2009 at 2:28 am | Posted in alaska, anchorage, art, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I just got back from the 43rd wedding of Maria the Korean Bride.  This time she got married to local poet and part-time dog musher Emil Churchin.  It was a wonderful ceremony held on a little mound at Kincaid Park, overlooking Cook Inlet and with a backdrop of happy people skiing and sledding, and simmering orange sunset light glancing the tips of the Chugach Mountains.

Emil, looking princely in fox pelt hat and gloves read vows he had written, promising to love, cherish and care for the bride “until the end of the performance”, as local paparazzi recorded the event for posterity.  Afterwards Emil told the guests a funny story about a dogsled ride, mechanical trouble and food allergies.  A real whirlwind of a courtship, apparently — all taking place yesterday.

Probably the best wedding I’ve ever attended, and a fun Alaskan experience for the blushing bride.  I went to another small wedding, almost twenty years ago that was similarly festive and emotionally transformative — but they ended up getting divorced!

Update 12/27/09:  ADN has a slideshow up by photographer Marc Lester.

Thankfully, no one gave me these yesterday

December 26, 2009 at 8:26 pm | Posted in politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I know some people who would dispute his conclusions about the lingering effects [of both smoking and supply side economics].

Best field report yet from a Palin book signing event

December 26, 2009 at 10:10 am | Posted in alaska, politics | Leave a comment
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Just read [linked via Progressive Alaska] Wasilla freelance photojournalist Bill Hess‘s writeup of Palin’s Wasilla book signing.  Hess gracefully portrays some disturbing people and events; covering wingnuttery, the plight of longtime reporters and photographers, the current state of the Mat-Su and the former governor’s strange way of being indifferent and uninformed but simultaneously inquisitive.  His photo narrative pauses at regular intervals for reflection and insertion of nuggets of historical context.  Progressive Alaska proprietor Phil Munger said this is an award-winning piece.


December 26, 2009 at 9:53 am | Posted in photo du jour, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The nicest my living room has looked in over five years living in this house.  I’m not over my pack rat-itis completely, but getting there.  I can actually invite people inside now and not be embarrassed!  Progress.

Bike commuting still on the rise?

December 15, 2009 at 10:27 am | Posted in biking | Leave a comment
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My resolve has flagged a bit these last few months, but hope to be biking at least four out of five workdays again soon.  This time of year, with the oppressive darkness, just makes me want to sleep in.  So I’m less inclined to get ready for a 35-minute commute, if I’m already late when I wake up.  [I have sometimes driven home at lunch and biked back to the office afterwards — but that only meets the health portion of the overall objectives, not the anti-polluting part.]  At least it’s only a week until we start gaining daylight again.

This Daily Kos post scratches the surface nicely about the joyful aspects of biking to work.  It still seems to me like people go overboard on needing to shower after arriving, and on clothing and gear — but whatever it takes, to get them out there. 

From the thread’s comments, tips from an experienced rider:

— as in on the bike close to every day the last 30+ years.

1. Clothes are not where to skimp and save. Get waterproof shoes, warm ones, for the winter. Get a nice windproof waterproof and breathable “shell” with a hood that fits over your helmet. I spent $178 for mine, marked way down, and I would buy it again every time I go out the door into -15F with a 30MPH wind, even just to use that once. Thermals are your friend, especially “whicking” ones. Silk is awesome but expensive and fragile, and worth its weight in gold to layer for uber cold days. Good socks are a must.

2. Don’t think about your bike like a car driver does. Be willing to spend money for quality parts and equipment. The average car driver spends $7,000 more a year on transportation than the average bicyclist. You can afford to splurge on the gear you need to make bicycle commuting viable and comfortable and safe and easy.

3. Sell your car.

4. Plan your life around your mode of transit. Choose where to live based on ease of bike trips to shopping and so on. Shop most every day to keep the loads down, find routes that take you past the stores.

5. Always ask yourself, “what would be the worst, dumbest, most dangerous thing that driver could do?” Assume they will do that.

6. Right of way and traffic laws are irrelevant when it comes to staying alive. That car may have a red light, but if you expect them to stop it may cost your life.

7. Be aware of your surroundings, road conditions, sounds from all sides. Often you will hear trouble before you see it. Never ever even think of wearing headphones.  

Another stunning change of heart

December 15, 2009 at 9:52 am | Posted in politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The Yes Men may finally be heading into the popular narrative, I think.  If you look up “subversive” in the dictionary you’ll see their picture.  The people responsible for the recent fake NY Post; and fooling some reporters into believing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had become enlightened.

Yesterday their latest escapade was a fake statement from the Environmental Minister in regards to the Canadian national government’s stance on carbon emissions.  The ruse was cleverly crafted and supported with diversions and supplementary convincing evidence.  They are still at the top of their game.

Mixed reactions amongst the people I told about the Copenhagen hoax.  “Can’t they get in a lot of trouble for impersonating government officials and web sites?” or some variation.  Yeah, maybe — but Ottawa would look ridiculous in the process: you cost us our credibility by making us appear that we give a damn!

Various news accounts include a statement from Yes Men member Mike Bonanno:

The idea was to confuse the Canadian government, which set up a ‘war room’ to positively spin their position in the debate, even though everyone here knows that their position is a cruel joke.

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