Friday, June 30, 2006


Dial in public radio

Good ol' Anna, as of tomorrow Larry's only phD student, is getting married on the radio:
July 7th on that What do you know show
I know without a doubt I don't really like the show but pretty cool anyway. As of today she still hadn't broken the news to her folks back in Sweden yet, either. Hee hee.
...Look for subpar stuff from Nome tomorrow...


Happy 4th of July early

Sometimes seems a bit old fashioned but hurray for a little respect for the rule of law.

Happy Birthday early America. I like the way they think letter from March (to busy to link to it back then but it's once again seeming appropriate).

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Weekend Pt. 2

So, with Friday out of the way Rob and I headed up the Steese again for a bit more stupidity. Didn't get out real early, sevenish. That's okay, what's the rush, right. Yeah, started off the trip with a visit to Helen's. She and Sarah, (both ARCUS people I think) just got some baby chickens for eating. Apparently no one from the FDA had approved their pen and the chicken's water supply so I investigated part of the water delivery unit (try #1, try #2) try #3:

(... and why is stuff like that such a magnet for my head?)

So, once we got out of town it was a pretty nice night. A quick stop near Boston Creek (where I sort of have a data station still) scored us a ton of wood from the recently trimmed power line trail:

...Thanks for wondering about the status of our previous wood source. It remains unfilled and it looks like some little animal might have some trouble at the pearly gates:

So, we headed back to the 12 mile camp from a couple weeks ago. Incredibly, despite arriving around 10 no one was camped there yet. The food was good (although perhaps overly meaty again... since coming back tonight to balance all that out I've eaten 1/2 pound of baby carrots and started eating a head of lettuce like an apple until I couldn't do it anymore... yeah, it doesn't work all that well to begin with):

The scenery was awesome like always:

... The dogs were happy:

You might notice Bergey's on the leash here. My dogs rock. I love them to death. At this campsite here it's a big gravel pit. Bergey's been so annoying with her barking at strangers that she's scared away three of four redneck would-be camper types. But I started putting her on the leash until they left. Midge even got in on the act last night. Her bark is woeful. She's such a sweety she never barks so when she does it sounds like a person trying to sing first thing in the morning just after they've woken up. Quality.

Of course, as the night went on things went downhill:

Earlier in the day Rob had picked up this flint & steel from in town. I think it's the new flavor sensation sweeping the nation. I picked one up last year and use it to start everything now and I highly recommend it. They may seem a little scary survivalist but if you get a cool one that has a huge flint then they're the best. You can start your coleman stove or even a regular fire pretty easily with the flint and scraper and don't have to contend with wind like you do with a lighter or matches.

Finally, a bit of healthy breakfast from this morning before the rain and hail started (we waited it out rather than fleeing back to Fairbanks in the vehicles):

...and check out who's getting along now:

How funny is that! That stick's a bit of a peace offering. The dogs loved that stick even if they couldn't move it very far.

Today finished up with a quick trip to Eagle Summit. The bugs were annoying (even by my lower than low standards) but the cool part was seeing my first Steese highway caribou today. Hopefully there's more to come but this guy was a cool first start. He ran alongside the road for a quarter mile or so:

So, I guess another high quality full summer weekend... back to Nome Tuesday and Wednesday and who knows what next weekend! So, catch you later in the week maybe.


Weekend Pt. 1

Started off the weekend with a fun barbecue. Lowlights included four people armed with bug zappers killing mosquitos and way more food then anyone could eat. Here's just the meat leftovers:

Another highlight was towards the end of the night. When Hagen left he took a step back into the chair with the donut holes and pudding (I'm still trying to get rid of my pudding supply from last Friday and the first trip up the Steese a couple weeks before).

... Cameraphone journamalism at it's best. The dogs cleaned house on the donuts before anyone could get to them and paid the price Saturday. Both had sick little tummies. Ahh. More in a moment.


Anger + Cheap Bumper Stickers =

No complaints here although maybe their blatant disregard for backing safety makes me a little sad. Ignoring the no parking sign is a nice touch, too. Not a real shock but I doubt this would go over well in the driving class BP made us take last year. They had some rules about backing I've forgotten...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


So long shakespeare

So, as luck would have it I left work a bit later than regular tonight. Hagen had left me several phone messages so I gave him a call. I'm not the greatest but I seem to handle walking and talking on the phone okay. So, I'm walking on the shortcut between IARC and the bike trails behind regular campus and I start hearing these funny voices (outside the head not inside). Doesn't really register but I'm talking loudly to Hagen anyway. Eventually they get noisier and I mention it to Hagen. He's like, 'dude, are you close to the museum?' No, I'd past the museum. I was closer to the student apartments. 'There's a shakespeare reading going on somewhere up there this week I think' yeah totally. Oops. So, then we kept talking but I was quieter until this tubby monk in a long brown robe started chasing me (cue hanging up with Hagen). As luck would have it I was rocking out to Beethoveen on the ipod at that moment so it was like I was in a scene from some drunken version of Robin Hood or something. Fortunately I'd left my 36 pounds of dumbbells back at IARC instead of in the backpack so he never caught up but I guess I probably won't be seeing any plays in the near future.

Thanks to the multimedia features of my trashy camera phone this may become the first podcast. I recorded the events with the voice recorder after I was clear of the monk. Lamecast is more like it but I'll put it up tomorrow if I remember.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006



Here's a classic website I came across tonight that cracked me up a bit. What a great name:

A sweet bio from the site, starts out normal sounding and then takes a hard swing towards nutty:

William has more than 25 years of experience as an embedded computer hardware and software engineering consultant. He has provided consultation in these areas for companies such as Motorola, Honeywell, General Electric, Bendix, Rockwell International, Mack Trucks, Cummins Diesel, etc. He is a 1979 graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois, with a B.S.E.E. degree. He is also the President of INTALEK, INC., a small privately held Corporation specializing in research and development of FREE ENERGY, Antigravitational, Time Travel devices and systems. The company was founded in July 1983 by William and is an Indiana-based Corporation.


The clauseses

So I'm turning in all my Nome trip receipts at the moment and started checking out the *** READ BEFORE DRIVING VEHICLE*** list of extra conditions and legal fine print. Here's a uniquely northern clause (it's in bold on the terms and conditions sheet):
Absolutely no seal oil is permitted in the vehicle, or an extra charge of up to $200 may apply

Ah Nome.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Steese highway trip for the ages

So, super fun trip this weekend. The original plan was to head down to Nabesna and hike / bike down there over the weekend but Rob called from Denali with plans to head up the Steese. I hadn't been up there (or driven the whole thing) since Kim and I went up ages ago to go hiking... got super rained out... headed back... got a flat tire... broke the tire jack from some nice North Pole people... got re-rescued by some BLM guy. So, that left a few years of scarring I guess. Anyway, Rob's pretty funny, he just got a cat that's turning into a camping cat. So, it made the drive, too. Bergey's pretty cat neutral. Loda has cats and Bergey's weirded out by them when she's by herself (when Loda's 6 dogs are around then she's more confident around the cats). Midge is dumbly curious about cats and nearly got a paw to the face more than once so that was great.

So, we head up the road. Strange trip. On the way up to Cleary Summit in the steep part of the road I had a pretty good flashback. I'm 90% sure it was this hillbilly red neck that Johnson and I had met up Standard Creek four or five years ago. We went out one late winter day just to do nothing productive maybe shoot trees or something like that and as I'd pull off the road into the powder we'd laugh about having to get unstuck. So, sure enough when it comes time to leave the truck's stuck. After shoveling for a while and nearly getting back onto the road this hillbilly drives on by in a big blue truck. He offers to pulls us out and we're like no thanks we're pretty much out. But, he's super insistent. So, we agree. As we're hooking up the chains he's telling us about his truck and how he just got big new tires. His only inheritance from his dad who'd just died. Classic awkwardness there. So, he pulls us out and we're like thanks. The guy and his friends don't leave though. They want money for pulling us out! So, eventually I write him a check and we're like geez what a day. Flash forward to Friday when I saw him with the same big blue truck with the hood up in the steep section going up to Cleary Summit. Hopefully he had a long wait until help arrive...

That was a pretty good start to the trip. Eventually we got to 12 mile summit like 50 some miles down the road. It was blowing hard but no bugs. Pretty good evening for cooking these crazy sausages Rob picked up from this bar / midwestern food maker in North Pole.

The menu was great: 4lb sausages, 4 lb bacon, 3 onions, 5 tomatoes, chips, tortillas, sour cream. Simple yet filling. We put a dent in the sausages but not really the bacon. Everything gets burned over the fire. Kim Nielsen would be proud.

It was blowing like crazy up there (nice for the bugs) but the poor old kitty had the tent blow over on him when it was time to leave:

So, that was pretty fun. Went hiking with the dogs Saturday and they had a blast, too. We followed this four-wheeler trail up to the top of a mountain opposite the Pinnel Mountain trail. Not super hard for a hike but looks like you could go for miles up there. Another trail that starts at the camp site and connects Circle and Fairbanks. Sounds like a long one. Anyway, the views were cool and hopefully I'll get back there again this summer.

The wild flowers are just starting to pop out but they're so tiny anyway it's easy to miss them if you're not looking. These little flowers are like a quarter inch across or something.

When we got up there the dogs were beat. They went right to sleep till I was done wandering around. Pretty big hike for Bergey, her first off the leash in a couple summers. Usually she runs off exploring and then comes back to the last place she saw me whereas Midge is content to explore in the general direction we're going. Creates trouble sometimes but this trip she was already tuckered out from a day of exploring so that worked out cool and she hung close. You can see they're tired though:

After getting back from the hike I met up with Rob again and we headed down the road looking for a new camp site and wood. The beauty of summer up here, I didn't leave for hiking until 3:30 and got back sometime way later but who cares when the sun doesn't go down. So we head out lookng for wood. Coming up on one camp site down in the valley was the super score. Cool that someone had cut would for us but why do they want that bible book to be burned? The world must be going crazy! The night before we scrounged wood from the other fire pits at our camping spot. Enough to cook a little meat anyway.

We gratefully traded wood piles:

Thought about leaving something even more important than wood (pudding snacks for my world famous pudding dipped donut hole desert), too but didn't:

So, that was pretty sweet. Made for some nice dinner making just outside of Circle later in the evening:

Bergey was getting killed by the bugs at this new camping spot so into the tent she went for a break. Not satisfied to be in there by herself she knocked the tent over, too. Plus, second trip of the year without a rainfly on. Yay!

By the way, if you head this way only head to Circle if you're desperate to see the Yukon. Central to Circle the road was pretty rough. In Nome we were laughing about the road warning markers how the huge bumps wouldn't get them and the small bumps would. Same deal - to the extreme! - out on the Steese. Lots of miles of this junk (camera phone strikes again):

The end of the road is pretty anticlimatic, too. Just another trashed out picnic spot:

Just like in Nome lots of stories waiting to be told. Here's probably the only deck of cards I could do magic tricks with:

... is it the nine of hearts?

Anyway, we spend the afternoon in Circle checking out the river and the sun when out of the blue Sveta shows up. Apparently her and Martin here flew to Eagle yesterday and dropped off some canoers. Before flying back to Fairbanks they checked in at Circle. They cracked me up. After landing at the air strip they took the plane down the gravel highway and parked it at the general store. So, had to get a picture:

The capper on the day was a couple of locals. After seeing Martin and Sveta off, Rob and I headed back to the vehicles. A thirtyish dude and a sixtyish dude in a big truck with a bible verse bumper sticker on the door stopped us:

After chatting for a bit about Rob's camping cat (this cracked me up, the guy was allergic so that was the conversation starter) they mentioned church was beginning in twenty minutes and we were welcome, here's directions to the house, yell if we get lost etc. I really should have gone for the experience (can you imagine?) but the scene just got a bit weird so that was a good moment to high tail it out of town. So, pretty fun trip. Now I'm hooked on the Steese highway, too. It's way closer to town then Tangle Lakes/ Denali Highway etc. so maybe there's more exploring to be done up there this year.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Set to Random

Researching boring stuff on the internet (snow thermal conductivity references) this afternoon came across this presentation from Matthew Sturm of CRREL that seems like a pretty accessible climate change presentation.
Some UAF Oral History deal

I guess it's also an extra thing going along with this USA Today article from a couple weeks ago:
USA Today story
... and movies

In a similar vein... perhaps I need to upgrade Donald Rumsfeld in my book of evil people from 100.0% unadulturated pure evil to a more trim 99.7%. Looks like from this article on (a pretty good website if you have the time to spend and want to increase your knowledge about national security stuff without becoming loony tunes). That DoD is interested in alternative fuels. They're still talking hydrocarbons in the article but maybe eventually they'll do a lot of research and we'll get some good trickle down in economies of scale and stuff into the private sector. Montana's also investing in this direction... and (this is a very pipedream type thought)... I wonder if Tony Knowles is re-elected Alaska will start experimenting with the Fischer-Tropsch method of converting coal / natural gas into diesel / jet fuel by doing joint research with Montana since their governor is a democrat, too. Hmm.

Otherwise, hopefully more cool stuff after the weekend is over. I was going to head down to Nabesna for camping etc. even after Gary bailed on that trip but another friend's coming up from Denali so enter Plan B... Steese highway or bust. Should be cool.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Last Dredges of Nome

Yay we're back! We didn't spend the entire time shouting for help from the mountain tops (one of my favorite ways to work here... to get out of the wind of course).

But it was pretty much all around fun. The weather was such a mixed bag. Been a while since I've spent quality time on the coast so the weather systems were moving through pretty quick, at least one a day until it settled on snow for Monday and Tuesday.

The trip itself was totally typical Nome. Our good friends at the Aurora started the trip by giving us an SUV instead of a truck and didn't have a reservation for Jessie in their computer... must have been the travel agents they said... except this happens like every trip. The first day continued down hill with three different versions of "Kiling me Softly" in the space of two hours. The original plus a countrified version and the soft jazz arrangement. Reminded me a bit of that dude on the oil fields rocking out to Celine Dion.

Once we got out into the field it was pretty fun (I can say since I was driving the four wheeler rather than being numbed on the back seat, an actionpacker lid) until this mid winter bear attack site.

Despite the carnage (precip bucket, precip alter shield, two broken air temperature sensors, the wind anemometer, and one sensor cable) only the wind speed was permanently broken.
I could never convince Jessie to drive the four-wheeler for all that long but she totally stuck it out on back seat duty. The tussocks are the crazy worst. Super bumps you know of like a foot or more drops out of the blue into the nether regions below the tussocks plus patterned ground and stuff and I think 5 miles an hour was bone jarring. For comparison, at the end of the trip going as quickly as I could across the tundra I only hit 2.2 mph hiking with a plane to catch back in Nome.

Pretty much one big roller coaster. When it wasn't bitter cold and snowing (in June!) was pretty fun! After one night at the Quartz Creek cabin 65 miles north of Nome these crazy park service people showed up. Awfully mellow, that bunch (in the chemically enhance sennse of the word)... They really brought their B game with them though, this guy thought we were somebody else from his party so he got crazy chatty until it turned out we weren't the four 'highly motivated' ladies he was expecting for the bear count. We'd run back to town pretty much because I spaced out what day it was and thought I had a goldstreak in. Ended up doing a bit of... shopping... in town so the work day started at 4pm rather than 7am. So as we're all frantically packing to head out for the day and loading up the canoe and stuff he keeps wanting to know if we're leaving for good (but he's joking of course. Real crackup.). Pretty sweet day that was. Once we got going it was time for round two with the crazy canoe. Who knows maybe lake canoes are the only kind you can get in Nome but the only canoe we own is this red coleman with a monster keel rivaling the red baron. Last fall Anna and I nearly rolled it coming back across the Kougarok river at flood stage in the dark and it was the same deal with Jessie and I with the water about the same depth. This time we inched out into the current from the eddy and of course the current catches the keel broad side and commence the roll.. now. The low brace remains one of my favorite moves when canoeing. So of course I was like 'Not to worry Jessie, this river's just like that'.

It's not really a big river or anything but in this big bend here it's eddy central. The river width here is like two thirds eddy and one third rushing current so throw in a 3" keel and it's like firing up the roll-o-matic.

So, with that under our belts we headed out helicoptering on Saturday. Our poor repeaters got hammered pretty hard by the ice this winter and they all had broken anemometers and antennas. Here's the freezing cold Kigluaiks again.

Remember last year the pipe broken from the wind. And of course what trip isn't complete without a clinging to the station picture:

So pretty much sometimes the times were good and everything was flowing and the animals were out:

And other times it was like a cool picture waiting to happen but we were just at the wrong angle:

The final highlight was after Jessie left Sunday. I'd been waiting all weekend for some water level pressure transducers from an evil company in Seattle. They were supposed to be goldstreaked from Fairbanks but their ship date started slipping as soon as I paid for them and so when they didn't arrive Monday it was emergency time. Monday night I pulled an old one from the Snake site in Nome and drove back to Kougarok. Got in late to Kougarok and so decided to head out first thing in the morning. So, the day started at five-ish. The station stuff went fine, if I'd been clever and alert I would have only brought one wader to save on weight since the creek was narrow but I'm totally filing this move away for future reference (the yellow tape on one boot helps me with my lefts and rights):

That right there is what we in the biz call a time savings. After finishing, the grueling march back to the truck was boring up until about 20 yards from the truck. At this point I didn't care that the snow was really sticking and stuff but I was pretty glad I didn't see this treat in the brush until the end of the trip:

It may not be that impressive but it's the biggest bear dumpling I've seen in a while 12+ inches so who knows how big in centimeters. It wasn't steaming (phew!) but the snow isn't melting on it either. So, that included, pretty fun trip.

If you're dying for more Jessie's got some more cool pictures of the trip plus a few that I borrowed.


Nome Life

So, I was thinking a lot about what I like best about Nome on this trip and why of course I think everyone really needs to see Nome at least once in their lives. As of right now I think the key is how many stories are just laying around waiting to be told. Books and books of the stuff. So, here's just a sampling pretty much of the nutty Nome goodness.

Every couple miles on the Kougarok road there'd be a situation like this:

Seems pretty intentional you know, leaving the snowmachine for summer but what's the deal for real? Our helicopter pilot suggested it meant less stuff to drive to and from Nome in the spring but this snowmachines are going to be such a bear now to move with the snow gone that I just don't know.

Another highlight is the grafitti sprinkled around town. Full of character just like the people. Pretty sweet move by Britney and Angeline last year. Marked up this chunk of wood and then threw it in the water under the boardwalk so nobody's willing to get wet cleaning it up:

Nothing says contempt for society like young, angry, and bad spelling:

We get that they're mad at the world and want to tell everyone you know but what happened here? Did they get caught, or chicken out, or just honestly not know how to spell?

One of my other favorite things are the gold boats. Check out this one. It's like a one legged octopus:

So, at first glance it looks like some crackpot came up with this sand sucking boat for panning the gold out there and pieced it together from spare parts. That makes pretty good sense but I was looking over it pretty closely yesterday and it's actually a big investment somebody's made. The aluminum barge couldn't have been cheap to weld up and put together and then there's the rigging and stuff, too.

Another highlight from the walk to the airport and back was this surplus gurney parked in front of somebody's house:

Wouldn't you have loved to be in that room when the rest of the family sees the prize picked up from the government auction! The modern sensitive man is welcome in Nome, too. One of the ads on the TV was for Crazy Bill's Emporium. He's big into aroma candles right now.

I guess the final highlight for this trip was what awaited me at our storage unit. Looks like this teddy bear is fresh from the junkyard oven.

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