Saturday, March 31, 2012
I heard that line in a sticom not long ago when a table full of nasty old ladies was giving the wise-cracking waitress a hard time.
It spoke to something that has been on my mind for a while. I would suggest to those who think at some age you are given license to insult, criticize, demean with impunity, ignorning basic courtesy and respect, in other words a bitch pass, maybe you think you have that right, but I wouldn't start too early because when the time comes that you might get away with it, there won't be anyone around to listen to you.
I realize by writing about it, I may be embracing the very concept I am about to be criticizing. But because I am approaching that birthday with a seven and a zero in it, I can say what I want, right? Truth be told: Wrong!
In the past few years three different people, all younger than I am, have told me they like being older because now they can say what they think. I am not sure who made up that rule, that you can speak your mind without caring what the effects might be on another person because of your age, but those who've adopted it as gospel may be making a mistake. Of those three people, one is no longer a friend, one I keep at sort of arm's length because I get tired of being criticized and told what a jerk I am and tiptoeing through conversations so as not to speak the triggers that set off that particular eruption, and the third, well, I never see that one very much anyway so it hardly matters.
What matters is that at whatever age you decide you can speak your mind, there are still consequences and repercussions. And who decided at what age that rule kicks in? Is there a specific dividing line somewhere? Is there a book? A law? I always thought that point arrived in your 80s and as you approached death, when not much of anything really mattered anymore except making some sort of peace with whatever deity you choose to join shortly. But even then, hurtful, critical, insulting words still have effects and perhaps repercussions. I am not sure I would want to insult the person standing next to the thin plastic tube who could easily pinch off the morphine drip.
What made today the day to write it was once I again I was called a jerk, only this time it was because I did the same thing, I spoke my mind without regard to the consequences. Only, the older person I was talking with didn't like it. So apparently most often this sort of discourse is supposed to be only a one-way conversation. Can you picture two old codgers sitting face to face telling each other a lifetime of complaints, or worse, one complaining and the other just sitting there taking it? At some point conversation stops and slugging commences.
One of the last things one of those three told me was he liked being able to tell me "fuck you" whenever he felt like it. When I politely told him I didn't appreciate that, he acted totally surprised as if he were allowed to say what he wants regardless of its effect on the person it was directed at, me in this case, or on others within listening distance. Later I overheard him telling someone else with some measure of surprise he had just discovered I didn't like being told "fuck you" all the time. That person looked at me questioning. I rolled my eyes. As if anybody wouldn't mind being told "fuck you" whenever someone felt like it. The last thing I ever said to that person was "fuck off."
Maybe the real advantage to aging is your skin gets a little tougher
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Over the past year there has been an orchestrated attack on government workers, particularly those who belong to unions, people in power blaming the economic condition on the wages and benefits paid to government employees because of their unions. Union-busting is nothing new but this attack legislature by legislature is. Among those being blamed for the high costs of government are police officers, firefighters and teachers.
Teachers, those overpaid underworked educators in an education system that leaves America behind much of the world in terms of academic achievement. Of course it has to be those teachers, imagine getting a full salary for working only six hours a day and only nine months per year. Amazing that some of the most vocal critics can barely spell or form a simple declarative sentence without an error in it. And, of course if they recognize this shortcoming at all, it is going to be the fault of the schools the writer attended.
Well, over my lifetime I have known several teachers very well. Every single one of them amazed me with the amount of work they do outside the classroom, often at home late at night grading papers or planning future lessons, and then there are the continuing education requirements, advanced college courses that need to be completed within certain time frames.
This is not one of those jobs where you go home every night with a sense of closure having manufactured a completed product that day. This is a job that goes on day after day, week after week, year after year with only a vague sense of what has been accomplished. And it is a job that continually throws new situations at the teacher, new children, new problems, new regulations in a constantly fluid and changing environment, always maintaining order no matter what surprises should occur
My friend Gail ran into one of those unexpected events the other day. This is something new for this blog, I am going to let her tell her own story:
"You have not had your full share of life's excitement until you have had a moose run toward you while you are trying to get children onto a school bus!
"Yesterday was another gorgeous, sunny, warm day and the weather made it the perfect spring day. There were sixty children, mostly ages from five through ten, that are in the after school program that I teach. We had the children lined up in two groups to get on the buses, but as we walked them outside, there was a mother moose and her teenaged offspring near the school building. We got the children back into the building - a good trick in itself since the kids were trying to look at the moose. There were little kids trying to go forward and little kids trying to go back, and it was total confusion with a lot of pushing and grumbling going on. Only the people at the front knew about the moose. The rest of us were just confused at this was unusual behavior.
"The two moose were roughly forty yards away from the school bus, and the woman in charge was yelling and barking contradictory orders like a drill sergeant, her voice frantic. "Move it! Move it! No, go back! Get in the building!" Get against the wall! Get back out here! Move! Move! Move!" I was in the back of the line and had no idea what was going on, but was annoyed that she was screaming at everyone.
"Finally she decided that the moose were busy nibbling branches and were far enough away that we could load the students safely if we hurried. One bus was too close to the moose, but the one we needed was a little further away from them, directly opposite the front door of the school. We had to walk thirty little kids about twenty yards in a straight line to the bus.
"The "drill sergeant" kept frantically barking orders at the children to hurry up, and we got the kids on the bus. Just as the last two children were getting on board, the young moose put his head down and started running toward us! The "drill sergeant" and I were the only people outside the bus in his trajectory. The kids were still boarding the bus, but she grabbed me, screaming for me to get on the bus, and she pushed me. I fell on the steps, jumped up, and leaped on board. She kept pushing me and we sort of got on the bus as one unit and stood on the steps inside the door. Hahahahaha. The adrenalin was running rampant for sure!
"Meanwhile, the thirty kids on the bus started screaming at the tops of their lungs when they saw the moose coming toward the bus! We couldn't get them calmed down for what seemed like the longest time. It was pretty awful. The bus driver was on her microphone but it was impossible to hear her. Finally, the "drill sergeant" took the microphone and saved the day. Her familiar voice caught enough children's attention that they quieted. She told them to stop screaming because they were scaring the moose. She told them the moose were looking for a way to get away from the school since there weren't any woods right there to run into. She appealed to their sensitive natures, and the children quieted right down. (The fact that the moose were obviously leaving helped too.)
"The bus driver had managed to close the door as the young moose ran by us. The moose slowed his pace and looked the other way after he passed us. He wandered over to a different spot nearer the front door of the school. At the same time, the mother moose ambled over to him, and they both trotted off down the parking lot and out into the street. Whew!!
"At last the other thirty children were able to come out of the building and get into their bus to go home. It was quite an exciting afternoon!!!
"WOW! The joys of teaching..... Was that in my contract? Hmmmmm, I wonder..... (No matter. It was exciting and fun!) "
Now, was that in the job description of any overpaid, underworked government employee?
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Besides Alaska, Chase customers include at least Rhode Island, Tennessee, Illinois, New York, MIchigan, Louisiana, West Virginia and Texas.
According to RIFuture,org, Rhode Island outsourced these payments with no charges to the state if the bank was allowed to charge fees for their use. In addition to the fee for bill payments I discovered, at least in Rhode Island the bank was charging a 50-cent fee to check a balance, $1.50 to withdraw funds more than once a week and $3 for using a bank out of the system.
The State Senate in Rhode Island in February voted to have the governor review the fees Chase is charging.
According to Felix Salmon, who blogs for Reuters, states actually sell contracts to manage the accounts to the banks in exchange for letting them charge fees. He also reports that California, for instance, has hearned $7.7 million from Bank of America for handling such accounts since December 2010.
The Huffington Post first ran an article in November 2011 about these fees and how they are cutting into unemployment benefits. This was the most comprehensive article on the practice I could find.
What happens is the states are selling out their own citizens in order to make a few bucks and move some of the work out of their bureaucracies. And, Alaska is not alone in the practice. As stated in the beginning, at least 40 states are doing it. If you start multiplying the fees by the number of unemployed in 40 states, the banks are pulling in huge numbers, all of that money taken directly from those who can least afford it.
Here's another link published 1/31/13 Banks force jobless to pay needless fees
Friday, March 23, 2012
In case you miss that page in the detailed Web application, the default is the Chase account. Chase sets up an account once you qualify for benefits and your payment is deposited into that account. You can use your debit card the regular way and you can also use their bill-pay function by setting up the accounts for each entity you pay for regular billings.
Somewhere in the fine print they sent it said some bill payments may be charged a fee. Some. On checking my first round of payments I discovered Chase had charged 75 cents for each transaction. Later the bank charged me 95 cents for a paper statement. This bank just a couple of years ago received a bailout from the federal government to the tune of $25 billion (with a B) and then turned around and used it for acquisitions of companies that were expected to prosper during a recession and even a depression, rather than try to ease the mortgage situation that started the process that ended up with banks needing bailouts.
That very same bank is charging Alaska's most unfortunate people, the unemployed, a fee, outrageous at any price, to use their unemployment benefits. I have been using bill-pay with two other banks for years and have never been charged a fee. Now, the state of Alaska, by using Chase, is enabling that theft. I suspect the state also pays Chase for the privilege of letting them manage the account, so the bank double dips to steal from Alaskans on unemployment. I intend to research that and find out what management of that account is costing the state. And what does Chase gain from charging Alaskans for bill-pay transactions? In January, 29,233 Alaskans were on unemployment. If two thirds of those used the Chase account and paid four bills a month, Chase would receive $54,446. Not much by megabanking standards but over a year it comes to $701,592, taken off the backs of Alaskans struggling to make ends meet.
This sort of thing goes a long way toward explaining what the Occupy Wall Street movement is all about and why it is important. In support of that movement I have already moved all my accounts out of the megabank I was using, one that took a bailout and then held a retreat for its top executives that was scheduled in Palm Springs, Calif., at a cost of more than $1 million. What little I have is now in two local credit unions and in recent statistics I learned there has been about an 11 percent turnover in depositors following this route. That's a number that pretty soon should start getting some attention from someone.
Meanwhile the Chase connection with the state of Alaska is going to be examined.
I am not alone: Make this Google search: Chase Bank rips off Alaska unemployment. Seems people in other states are experiencing the same thing at the hands of JPMorgan Chase.
Update 1/31/13 Banks, states force jobless to pay needless fees
Follow-up with links to other posts and stories
Move your money
Monday, March 19, 2012
I know, I know, the porch broke. Materials, not craft. Explanation coming.
Anchorage has had nearly a record snowfall this year. Not the kind of snow where I used to live, but significant nonetheless. A lot of snow in Anchorage also means a lot of snow at the East Pole. It took a huge snowload several years ago, according to figures by a fellow at the National Weather Service there could have been 37 tons on the roof. I doubt it was that much but it was a lot. That load moved some things but caused no real damage. Still I hadn't been there since last June so I thought I would make a quick run in and check on things. There was an ulterior motive that made it necessary but more about that later too.
The trail was a surprise. Apparently there is some work being done on the power line we go under about five miles in. Bulldozers have been over the trail recently and it looked like a four-lane highway, smooth and wide, and fast.
I was tearing along on a pace for less than half an hour to the cabin, a trip that usually takes 40 minutes to an hour. Once took three hours. Tearing along until I came upon three people stopped in the trail. I was about to wave and pass them when I saw the moose. When the snow is deep like it is, moose get on a hard packed trail and they don't want to get off it. This moose was standing perpendicular to the trail apparently staring off into the woods. But a moose's eyes are on the sides of its head so most likely it was staring straight at us, ears back, hair on the back straight up. The people said it had sort of bluff charged them once already so they were just waiting.
Also a consideration was this winter has been hard on them and they are in a weakened condition this time of year and I don't like the idea of adding to their stress. We shouted a couple of times but all it did was walk a few steps, then stop and assume the same pose. I tried firing my .44 once; that got its attention but it didn't move so we gave up on that. Then it walked off down the trail. I followed gingerly but not too closely. Pretty soon it stopped and began nibbling some twigs. Then I had an idea. We had always stopped with the snowmachines in a line one behind the other, giving the moose a view of only one which probably didn't look all that threatening.
That was when the wide trail came in handy. I suggested we bring all three next to each other and see what happens, a wider more imposing presence. We all stood up on the machines when we had moved into position. The moose took one look at that and took off trotting away from us. I was glad it was trotting and not running, not too stressed. We followed at a good distance, just enough to keep it in sight on the winding trail, being careful about blind curves and hill crests. I was in the lead when I saw the moose step off the trail and trot into the deep snow. Quickly I hit the throttle and raced past it and the others did too. The last I saw it, the moose was standing about 30 feet off the trail nibbling on some branches, so I am guessing it got away without too much stress.
That was the most eventful part of the trip. I was at the cabin10 minutes later or at least on the property. With the deep snow there was no way I was going to make it up the hill. I put on snowshoes and that was easy going given the compacted nature of the snow. Made it up without exhausting myself, happy at first just to see it still standing. Then I saw the porch. It shouldn't have broken and the fact that the whole thing didn't collapse made me think something different was going on. Sure enough, upon close examination, there was a vertical row of three large knots right where it broke, so it was a weak piece of wood and I can fix that. Might try to put a glue-laminate beam in there next summer.
The rest of the cabin was fine, the door swung open easily and all the windows slid open meaning there was no crunching pressure reaching them from above.. I shoveled some of the snow off the porch right over the break and let it go at that. I wanted to go up and shovel the roof ridge but the energy wasn't there. If you just break the tension at the ridge the rest of the snow tends to slide off sooner.
Then I found what I came for, what the trip was really all about. I have always resisted brand loyalty, but one brand sneaked in. Years ago I discovered absolutely nothing handles a headache like Excedrin. When I found out about the dose of caffeine in it, I understood why a couple in the morning always made me feel a little more mellow and more like tackling the day. Admittedly it became what I am sure is an addiction, but I seem to suffer no ill effects though I am aware of what they could be. At any rate it has been a habit for years. Then a couple of months ago came the recall. I had a pretty good supply so I wasn't too worried, but they are not back in stores yet, the company's web site says late spring or early summer and my stash slowly emptied until a couple of days ago I discovered I only had a few left with no hope of finding a substitute. That's when I remembered the huge bottle at the East Pole. I wasn't sure how much was there but figured it was worth the trip. What I found was a bottle of 250 capsules that was just about full. That much will last me between three and four months. Woo Hoo. Life is good. But, I wonder how many Excedrin addicts would drive 160 miles then take a snowmachine another 20 miles into the Alaska wilderness just to find a few pills. Probably more than you might think, given the number of posts on the Facebook page.
I did get to spend time outdoors on a sunny March day, make sure all was right at the East Pole and pretty much just be in the woods for a while. I even took a picture of my friend's cabin because she was worried about it.
One problem. I got a flash of what it might be like living there again and it looked pretty darned good. More to come on that.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
I noticed this headline today, small and in an obscure section of a news website. Encyclopedia Britannica ends print, goes digital.
If there ever was a first nail in a coffin, another sign of change from what we grew up with, that has to be it. Well, maybe not the first nail, but one of the big ones. The venerable encyclopedia that has been in print since 1768 is going digital. No more rows of thick books with matching binders for students to pull down and plagiarize from to write their history papers.
I came into publishing in the days of etaoin shrdlu. (No, contrary to what people think, I didn't start with Gutenberg) For those unfamiliar with the phrase they are the letters in the first two vertical columns on the left side of a Linotype machine keyboard. You see before computers, if a printer made a mistake in a line he couldn't go back and type over it, he had to write to the end of the line and then eject the zinc-lead metal and start over. The quickest way to get to the end of the line was to run down those two left-side columns of keys to quickly fill out the line with the mistake and then eject it. Thus many a line reading etaoin shrdlu ended up back in the melting pot.
There are very few people still working in journalism today who ever worked with hot-lead printing, where to read type you had to turn it upside down and then read it backward in order to understand to make a cut on the stone as we called editing in the composing room. I did what might have been my first real editing "on the stone." The stone was actually called a turtle, the stone being only the top surface, a thick, flat piece of steel on which the lines of type were arranged into pages. When there was more type than space, the printers would leave the excess type on the stone for an editor to make a trim to make it fit. That was my first editing, making cuts on the stone. And that was my first job in the four eras of news production I have managed to live through.
I have seen the old lead printing change to what was called cold type, where the stories came out printed on shiny paper to be cut with an Exacto knife and pasted onto a page for a camera to shoot to make an offset printing plate.
I have seen paste-up go away when computers came in and the editor also became the printer, doing the work of all the people who lost their jobs in composing rooms around the world. At every step there was a sense of loss, of craft, of art, of craftsmen, yet we always embraced the new technology.
And when the chance came to edit in the newest era, web publishing, I jumped at it, though looking back there were some young techies who would tell you my feet were still stuck in the lead.
At every step jobs disappeared, people were forced into new occupations and many of them died. The International Typographical Union used to own a sanitarium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where union members made ill when the fumes of heated lead and zinc had affected their lungs could go. It seems to go along with recent trends, the home today has been designated a State of Colorado historical site.
I will admit to reading books on my iPad so I am just as guilty as the next person, but I can see an iPad just isn't as warm and cozy-looking as rows of shelves filled with books. At each step of the way it always seemed like there was still room for the old way and people who would cling to the established and then a few years later, the old way doesn't exist anymore. One would think something as venerable as the Encyclopedia Britannica would be one of the last to hold onto the book in hand. And what is going to happen to those ubiquitous encyclopedia salesmen who came to the door trying to convince you that $20 per month for the rest of your life wasn't all that expensive considering the huge amount of knowledge available to you. Come to think of it, I haven't encountered one of them in a long time. Another job lost to the downloadable book?
This announcement seems like a big step, on the loss side, but I suppose for those students still plagiarizing history papers, copy and paste is easier than copying with pencil and paper. Of course it might be a good idea to change the font or something just to make it look original.
Questions remain. What are we going to do with all those bookshelves? The makers of techno gadgets probably are already inventing ways to fill them, so maybe the bookshelf makers aren't in any trouble yet.
Think about the movers. What will the movers do? A 6-year-old child can move an iPad, but what happens to the guys who used to have to lift those huge boxes people insisted on filling with books when they moved? There are so many ripples.
And what will we do when the power goes out?
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Race results are here.
Friday, March 9, 2012
It goes back to Anchorage journalism in the mid 70s when there were still competing newspapers. One year the Anchorage Times subscribed to UPI in order to get them to send a reporter to cover the Alaska Legislature.
I don't remember the fellow's name now, but he was obviously an old timer with UPI. In the world of news wire services UPI was always known as the creative one with writers producing marvelous featurish leads for everything, while the conservative AP seldom went outside the simple declarative sentence.
The fellow who covered the Legislature for UPI that year dragged out every hack creative lead UPI had ever used on a political story maybe dating back to the 1920s. They were fun to read in the opposition paper and not in ours. But soon he had his influence and competing reporters began picking up the challenge. Gradually our reporter and the AP reporter began writing more creative leads. This went on for a while until one night this lead came over from the AP on a story about legislation to change Alaska time zones and daylight saving time:
"The sun was just a fuzzy lemon over Rep. MIllie Banfield's shoulder as she addresd the legislation …"
That brought a series of groans in our newsroom and every funky lead after that especially if it involved weather became a fuzzy lemon lead. We had contests to write bad ones.
Over time, the UPI reporter left and the fuzzy lemon gradually faded until one night a new AP reporter in Alaska wrote this lead on a story about hours of daylight and darkness in Barrow, North America's northernmost city: "The sun was just a sulfur smear …"
The fuzzy lemon was back. There was a journalism awards banquet coming up and in keeping with rewarding outstanding work, I built a fuzzy lemon trophy. It was just two blocks of 2x4, one horizontal for the base and one attached to it vertically. I finished the wood nicely and then put a springy wire in the top. To that I attached one of those RealLemon plastic lemons. I glued some of the under coat from my dog to that and voila, a fuzzy lemon trophy which I planned to give to the new AP reporter at the banquet.
Fortunately, calmer heads prevailed and we did not embarrass the poor woman.
I did give the trophy to the AP and the last time I saw it, it was in their office near the end of the 70s. That was almost the end of the story.
But there was one more chapter. One night a feature photo came across the desk showing the sun shining behind some haze over a body of water in Anchorage. I could not resist and wrote, "The sun looks like a fuzzy lemon as it shines through haze over Westchester Lagoon Tuesday." I didn't think that was so bad and it did get fuzzy lemon into print for the first and only time that I know of, but even better, it led to the best memo I have ever received in my life. It was from the chief editor of the paper and it read like this:
Absolutely no more fuzzy lemons in the paper.
I still have that note, the typewriter ink fading on the low-grade newsprint copy paper we used at the time.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
You know the day destroys the night
Night divides the day
Tried to run
Tried to hide
Break on through to the other side -- Doors
Soft cumulus clouds drift along the mountains parting occasionally to allow almost a full moon to shine between them, sending light among the trees which cast moonshadows across eight inches of new fallen snow. Two lines of tracks mark the passage of spruce grouse that have been hanging around the feeders pecking in the snow for the seeds spilled by chickadees and grosbeaks. The almost deadly silence of deep cold fills the air virtually palpable until the muted hoot of an owl threads through the trees from deep in that forest. A raven passes overhead, his wings beating the air with an audible whoosh.
Early March in Alaska when winter clings desperately for survival against the increasing daylight and warmth.
And just like the song, a beautiful day follows a beautiful night. Clear, sunny, the undisturbed snow flashing back sparkles, temperature rising into the 20s, all point to why this is the best month to be in Alaska.
After three solid hours of writing, one of those days of tearing hair out, nowhere near Hemingway's one good paragraph, but progress nonetheless, enough so that in mid afternoon no guilt involved in following the lure of the outdoors. Dug out the snowmachine, but almost didn't go, it was frozen to the ground. A bit of prying under the skis with a solid steel shovel freed it. Started on the third pull and off to the river. No one around, peaceful except for the noise of the engine while the mountains and glaciers all reflect the sunlight. An hour of that and then home to a milkshake and now relaxing into the evening.
Friday, March 2, 2012
"... all I ask of living is to have no chains on me" -- Blood, Sweat and Tears (does anybody remember them?)
In 1980 when I decided to dump what there was of a career and go adventuring, I knew there would be a price to pay. I decided the price would be worth it. I traded adventure while my contemporaries were slaving away in offices and factories for a time when they would be out on golf courses while I went to work on a newspaper copy desk somewhere. Copy editing is very mobile and a job not many people like doing and there was almost always employment available so I figured to end my days on a copy desk editing stories and writing headlines until I couldn't any more, happy with the memories of adventures I had experienced while I still could. In 1980 I could maybe have predicted the technological revolution that was growing at greater and greater speed if I had thought about it a little, but I could not have predicted the demise of newspapers.
When I went back to the newspaper a few years ago, the whole industry was starting to falter. It looked like it was going to be a race to see who died first, me or the newspaper.
Given the state of the American newspaper these days and given my age at the time, it looked to be a fairly even race. But after a couple of pay cuts, some furloughs and a cutback in hours it was beginning to look like I would win but it would have been a hollow victory. Maybe I should have paid more attention on those nights when there were only two of us in the newsroom of the largest newspaper in Alaska. It was looking to me like the whole industry was burning the house logs in order to stay warm. Still, I figured I'd ride it down and maybe let it outlast me but that is not going to happen now. I will be on the outside looking in as the industry continues its slide.
But, what does a guy do when he's laid off in this economy at the age of 69?
Peggy Lee used to sing the answer to that one: "if that's all there is, then keep on dancing, break out the booze, and have a ball."
It's not as bad as it seems. Despite this blow to my version of retirement, this is a good turn personally. There is time for more adventure while I am still healthy enough to get it on; all I have to do is go find some.
During the first meeting of a college psychology class way back in the 1960s the teacher asked us to go around the room with each person in turn telling something about where they hoped to go in life. Everyone took the teacher seriously and told what we hoped to be doing, where we expected our careers to take us. That was until the turn reached the hippie looking fellow over by the window. This was the 60s after all and there were such people. With a big smile on his face he said, "I am going to the Beatles concert in August." That was it, his life's ambition. Most of the people laughed and then looked expectantly but that was his life plan at the moment. For some reason that spoke to me in words that said seize the present, set achievable goals, live for now, and obviously I have never forgotten that incident. Who can really recognize what is going to turn out to be a defining moment in life?
With that said, there is a plan for this new turm. Lady Gaga is about to go on tour. As soon as the venues and dates are announced I plan to buy two tickets for a show in a city where I have never been before. And, when the time comes, I intend to go. I have learned that when you make an indefinite plan going out that far into the future, you ought to do something to make it tangible. When I eventually built my cabin at the East Pole, I was actually taking tools out of the original packaging I had bought from a list I made 10 years earlier. Along that same line, I discovered recently as far as concerts go there is an app for that. The picture you see is that app, my lighter for the show. On my iPhone.
In the meantime, I have a book demanding to be written, and, oh yeah, three short pieces on Iditarod mushers. There are at least four ocean voyages out there that are possibilities, one of them for three years. And then there is the spring offensive with the Occupy Movement.
And, I need to get going. As, the Rolling Stones sang so many years ago: "I have my freedom, but I don't have much time."
Thursday, March 1, 2012
I've always thought it came when somehow your mind relaxes to the idea and you take the country as it comes without a lot of hyperbole and amazement, even though you never totally lose your amazement at what this country offers sometimes. As an example, it is pretty much another rule that the first year or so you live here, you love to point out the extremes your are going through. Like how cold it was last night. We have all tried to impress friends and family outside with something Alaskan now and then probably inducing total boredom in those captive listeners.
When those things somehow become second nature, is when you start growing your Alaska chops. Such a thing happened yesterday.
I am in the process of moving all my accounts out of one of those bailed-out mega-banks and into a local credit union. To do that I had to call an office Outside somewhere. I have no idea where, but it didn't sound like India. (An aside: a few years ago a failed bank robbery in Kissamee, Florida, turned into a hostage situation. When police tried to contact the robbers by calling the bank they were routed to a call center in India.) Anyway the woman immediately picked up on Alaska in what she could see about me on her monitor.
She had some connection from a project she had done in college, and asked me how cold it was. I said in all honesty and not even thinking much about it, it's beautiful, sunny and about 25 degrees. "Ooh," she said. I could almost feel her shiver through the phone. At the time, I had the feeling, maybe wondering what brought the shivering on. I mean, it really was a nice day and 25 isn't that cold, perfect March weather. It took a while to realize probably where she was, 25 is pretty cold and it might feel extreme to somebody, say, in San Diego. Then I realized for maybe the first time, it didn't even occur to me to make a big deal out of it. Part of the deal with being an Alaskan is you get comfortable enough that it becomes something not to make a big deal out of, no sense impressing someone Outside with how tough you are and how extreme your environment is when at 25 degrees it's a nice day, and that's all it is.
I think I made it and it only took 39 years.
Some interesting quotations
You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper. -- Jackie Faber, "The Wake of the Lorelei Lee"
If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both
If an insurance company won't pay for damages caused by an "act of God," shouldn't it then have to prove the existence of God? -- I said that
German General to Swiss General: "You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?"
Swiss General: "Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice."
Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else. -- Gloria Steinem
Exceed your bandwidth-- sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center
One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done. -- Patricia Monaghan
Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world. -- Brett Arends
It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way. -- Andrew Jackson
3:30 is too late or too early to do anything -- Rene Descartes
Everything is okay when it's 50-below as long as everything is okay. -~ Hudson Stuck
You can have your own opinion but you can't have your own science. -- commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming
He looks at three failed marriages as a good start -- TV police drama
Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem. -- a handmade bumper sticker
"You're either into the wall or into the show" -- Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500
Makeup is not for the faint of heart -- the makeup guerrilla
"I'm going to relax in a very adult manner." --Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti
"Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet." -- a roundtable participant on Fox of all places
As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to the think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her. -- me again
Hunting is a "critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison." -- a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting
Each day do something that won't compute -- anon
It's not about how many times you get knocked down; it's about how many times you get up -- Tim Tebow
I can't believe I still have to protest this shit -- sign carried by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration
Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing -- Meg Chittenden
Life should be a little nuts or else it's just a bunch of Thursdays strung together -- Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in "Rumor has it"
You're just a wanker whipping up fear -- Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer
Being president doesn't change who you are; it reveals who you are -- Michelle Obama
Best headlines ever
GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality
Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy
Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high
Give me all your money or my penguin will explode
How zombie worms have sex in whale bones
Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower
Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles