March 31, 2006

Saturday Mornings of Yester-year

I was feeling sort of nostalgic today after browsing through some of the archives at X-Entertainment. This site has a whole gaggle of old 80's television commercials that you can watch. Most of them center around toys and candy, but that was all that really mattered back then, right? Anyway, I have very vivid memories of this commercial here. In fact, every so often I suddenly get the urge to shout "LEEVERS!" and hop around the room. Just watch the video and you'll understand everything...

Video hosting by Photobucket

Watching this commercial makes the images flood into my brain. Waking up at 5:30am on Saturday mornings to watch the Muppet Show and Mr. Wizard before the "real" cartoon marathon began. Begging my mom to buy us a box of C3PO's cereal, then realizing after the first bite that its nothing more than glorified Cheerios (needless to say, that box sat in our cupboard for months before finally getting chucked). Spending fifteen minutes creating a bowl of nothing but crunch berries by picking them one-by-one out of the box. Gluing my butt to the couch until 11 o'clock, when all the stupid sports shows came on and my mom was yelling at us to get off the couch and go outside. There's no such thing as a Saturday morning cartoon marathon, anymore. It's sad, really. Even the Cartoon Network doesn't come close to the sequence of animated glory that captivated us in the mid 80's. Kids don't know what they're missing.

This commercial even fits nicely with one of my little brother's recent posts, too. By the way, I think he needs more little red dots, so be sure to visit his blog, too.

So, as you can see I figured out how to post videos on my blog. This opens up a whole new universe for me, and you can probably expect more in the future. Although, I'm not entirely sure how this is going to appear once I post it. I also haven't figured out how to post more than one video at a time, so this is all you're going to get.

March 30, 2006

Good Advice

It's been a long week...and it's not over yet.

It's also snowing again. Not that I don't like snow, but the weather has been so nice lately it's kind of a downer to see more of the white stuff blowing around.

But spring is coming, and with it the glorious Alaskan daylight and a summer filled (hopefully) with hiking, kayaking, and getting out and having fun.

I don't really have much else to say right now, but I will leave you all with one of my favorite all-time quotes. This is, in fact, some of the best advice I have ever seen, read, heard or pulled out of my ass. Every couple of weeks I try to re-read it, then sit back, take a deep breath, and let it sink in. It's simple, almost crude...yet speaks directly to the heart of why I think the way I do.

"One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast... a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it's still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for awhile and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards."

- Edward Abbey

If you liked this, I would strongly recommend reading more of Abbey's work. "Desert Solitaire" is always a good place to start. Oh, and thanks to my brother-in-law, Rik, for taking that beautiful picture of Resurrection Bay while he was visiting last summer.

March 28, 2006

"Alaska 200 Club", or "How to become the biggest bird geek possible"

Well, I just submitted my first application for future employment. This time it was for a lead interpretive park ranger position at Crater Lake National Park, in Oregon. It certainly is a beautiful part of the country, and Sonja and I are both interested in living in that area (as long as we could avoid going to Klamath Falls as much as possible). I'm also going to be pursuing jobs in Denali and Rocky Mountain National Parks, as well as any others that show up along the way. So we're still not completely set on any particular location.

Not much else to report, although there is a rumor that a female Hooded Merganser has been spotted in town lately. She would bring me that much closer to joining the "Alaska 200" club (somoene who has identified at least 200 species within the state of Alaska). Certainly a prestigious group that anyone would be honored to be a part of. I think at last count I was at 191 species. These last few are going to be pretty tough, though, since I've weeded out all the really common ones. All that's left are regional specialties and the random vagrants from the lower 48 and Siberia.

So if any of you are planning on visiting us this summer, try to sneak a few of these or a couple of these into your suitcase. It would be a tremendous help, and shouldn't be that difficult.

March 27, 2006

Ocean Spitting and a Canyon to Explore

With summer right around the corner, I recently moved out of my winter office in the park headquarters building and back into the Information Center near the harbor. Now, if I wanted to, I could lean out of my office window and spit into the Pacific Ocean. Cool, huh?

As I sit with my window open the breeze carries the sharp tang of the ocean into the room. Unfortunately, once salmon season starts to ramp up that nice tang will suddenly become the rancid odor of rotting fish guts. But I guess that's the price I have to pay for being able to spit into the ocean from my office.

Yesterday Sonja and I went for a snowshoe hike into a small canyon across the bay. It was a beautiful, warm afternoon, with just enough weather threatening to the north to make things exciting. We decided to leave the dogs at home, partly because Harvey somehow managed to slice up his leg on Saturday's beach hike, and some friends had mentioned they thought there was a lot of trapping that went on back there. So the dogs got to sit in their room all afternoon.

After skirting the edge of Alaska's only maximum security prison, we ended up passing a recent avalanche chute. It was pretty cool to see how the snow had oozed out into the creek, then how the water had sliced the end off.

A little farther upstream we encountered the only wildlife we saw on the trail. Well, we did see some Pine Siskins flying around in the spruce trees. One was even displaying a bit for us, doing figure-eights directly overhead.

As we entered the forest things got much more interesting. The trees got bigger and the canyon walls began to close in around us. As we got farther in we realized that there would be no way we could ever get into this canyon in the summer, as the meltwater from Godwin Glacier will be roaring through the narrow gorge. I think we picked the perfect weekend to see it.

The ice that was left on the creek was still several feet thick, but the running water and warm weather had opened up some rather large holes that needed to be navigated. Luckily, we were able to squeeze by on ice that clung to the edge of the cliffs and get even farther into the canyon.

But eventually, the creek won. The water had opened up enough holes in the ice to completely block our progress upstream. Sonja didn’t like that, and she got this plotting look in her eye. I spent the next ten minutes trying to convince her not to try jumping across to the next ice island.

Instead we spent a few minutes enjoying the feeling of being surrounded by ice, rock and sky.

It was a really cool hike. One that I’m really glad we got a chance to do before all this warm weather melts enough ice to make even getting to the canyon impossible.

March 26, 2006

Footprints and Climate Change

So I have been informed that it might have been difficult for non-bloggers to post comments on my blog lately. Well, I've fixed that, so now everyone can post a comment. Not sure this was the best idea, but we'll try it for a few hours at least. I also have been trying to fix the error with the neocounter thingy (all the cool little flags). Haven't figured that one out, yet. So it's just gonna have to stay broken for now.

Sonja and I took Harvey and Luna hiking across the bay yesterday. The snow is getting very crusty, but is still quite deep in places. The dogs had a great time swimming and plowing through the snow. I happened to take a picture of their footprints and think that it actually turned out pretty cool. I like how Luna's smaller print is headed off in some random direction. It's very typical of the way these two hike with us. Harvey tends to follow the trail, or if we're not on a trail, he will continue to plod along in the general direction we happen to be moving in. Luna, on the other hand, dashes back and forth across the trail sniffing out all sorts of disgusting treasures to eat/roll in. She also tends to annoy Harvey by occassionally tackling him or trying to incite him to chase her by biting his ankles. Their personalities are so different, but very complimentary.

The tide was extremely low, too, which gave us access to areas of the beach that are usually well under water. We actually came across some pretty neat tidepools...something that seems to be rather rare here in Seward. It's probably due to the steep, gravelly beaches, which preclude any significant pooling of water as the tide recedes. Anyway, we found several that even had a couple sea anemones in them. Including this funky green one.

I couldn't quite get the camera to focus on many of them. It kept trying to zoom in on its own reflection in the water rather than on what was two centimeters below the surface. But I did get this blurry picture of another cool anemone:
I think we're going to try snowshoeing up the canyon opposite the beach we were at yesterday. We met a couple that had just hiked out of there who said it was really cool. So I guess that means I should get off the computer and go get our stuff together.

Holy crap, it looks like mainstream media is finally starting to take global climate change seriously. Check THIS out! Looks like I'll have to pick up this week's issue of Time magazine. Not that any of it will be new to me. Most intelligent people, and me, have known all of this stuff for years. What will be very, very interesting to see, however, is the Bush administration's reaction to this huge article.

It will be funny to see them try to ignore this.

March 25, 2006

Farthest North Birdathon 2006

It's that time of year, again. The snow is melting, the ice is thawing, and the frozen dog poop is emerging. It's also time to start planning this year's birdathon.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of competetive birding, it's really quite simple. Take a bunch of dorks who like birds, stick them in a car and give them 24 hours to identify as many birds by sight and/or sound as they can. The team that finds the most species wins. Simple enough, right?

Well, when you start talking to serious bird nerds, like me, things get a bit more complicated. Now, the rules for the "Farthest North Birdathon," a fundraising event for the Alaska Bird Observatory and the Arctic Audubon Society where competing teams collected pledges on a "per species" basis, state that a team may choose any 24 hour period between May 13 and June 11 to give it a go. Well, that's all fine and dandy, but if you really want to go for the gold teams must also adhere to the Big Day rules set forth by the American Birding Association, which state that the 24 hour period must be contained within one calendar day. That means 12:00 am to 11:59 pm. This makes it doubly difficult, since most birdathoners like to start the clock at 7am, giving them two morning choruses to take advantage of. Big Day competitors only get one.

The record Big Day for Alaska is 125 species, according to the 2004 ABA Big Day Report. The Farthest North Birdathon record is 130, set just last year. I plan to shatter both of those records. The Golden Binoculars Award is so close I can taste it.

If you think you'd like to sponsor me and help out some really cool organizations, send me an email.

If you think this is the stupidest thing anyone could possibly spend their time doing, think again.

March 23, 2006

Birding Seward

The seabirds recently discovered that one of the canneries in town has been busy bringing in some fish, so they've begun to congregate just south of the Alaska Sealife Center. This afternoon, Sonja and I stopped by with a spotting scope to look for a couple uncommon visitors this close to shore. After scanning the flocks of gulls, mergansers and assorted ducks we finally managed to zero in on a beautiful pair of Ancient Murrelets. These tiny little birds spend 99% of their life at sea, only coming ashore to lay and incubate their eggs. Once the chicks hatch, they make a mad dash over logs and through bushes, into the surf, and then finally out to their calling parents, who have been swimming farther and farther out to sea calling for the chicks the entire time.

There's a fantastic clip of this exact behavior in an episode of David Attenborough's Life of Birds series, from the BBC. I would strongly recommend watching this entire series, if you haven't seen it. One of the best documentaries ever.

While we were looking for the murrelets, we ran into one of the local birders we hadn't met yet. Birders are a strange bunch. They tend to be incredibly hospitable. I've even had experiences where total strangers have invited me along on their own birding adventures, just to share the experience and have another set of eyes to keep watch for interesting species. They also tend to talk about each other alot...but not in a Melrose Place sort of way. This was demonstrated by the fact that this guy knew who we were, where we lived and what we did for work. He was rather excited to have finally met us.

I also find it interesting how blase' we're becoming about marine mammals while living here. I noticed a couple Stellar's sea lions swimming around while we were looking at the birds, and neither myself nor Sonja even commented on them, let alone take the time to look at them through the spotting scope. And the other day I was out watching the Crested Auklet that's been hanging around when these two women from Florida stopped to see what I was looking at. I started talking about how cool the auklets were and offering to let them look through the scope when they told me they were really only interested in watching the sea otter swimming around right below me that I hadn't even noticed. I think I even said something like, "Oh, yeah. That's an otter." Then went back to looking at the auklet.

Ok, there. I made a blog entry about birds. Now hopefully I can get those stupid oil spill ads to go away and perhaps be replaced by something more neater. I figure between this bird post and the whole skunk ape thing yesterday, I should be able to come up with some pretty nifty ads.

We'll see...

March 22, 2006

Journalistic Integrity and the Florida Skunk Ape: Fact or Fiction?

Today, during a press conference in the White House, George W. Bush called on Helen Thomas, often referred to as the "First Lady of the American Press" and who has worked as a White House correspondant for 57 years covering every President since JFK, for the first time in three years!

Here's a transcript of the conversation that took place between Helen and Georgie.

Unfortunately, Bush refrained from actually answering the question or responding to the points made by Helen. You know, it's about bloody time a journalist had the balls to actually ASK Bush a question that needs to be asked. Although, to be fair to Helen, this is the first time Bush has called on her since the start of the Iraq war. Maybe someday during one of Bush's one-on-one interviews on Fox "News" the interviewer will suddenly remember that they are also a journalist, not just a pundit, and will continue to press Bush like Helen tried to do and get him to actually answer the damn question.

In other news, I recently began taking a SCUBA certification course through the Alaska Sealife Center. Haven't actually gotten wet, yet, but I'm assuming that eventually the course will involve moisture of some sort. The best part is that because Sonja works at the Sealife Center, I get to take the course for free. Sonja's already taken the classroom section, but will be joining my group to do the confined and open water dives. She's not as excited about seeing an octopus as I am, though. I like octopus.

I'm also beginning to apply for jobs in other parks. We've officially decided to leave Seward this fall, but will wait to see what kind of jobs I'm offered before we decide where we'll be ending up.

We have decided, though, to restrict our search to places that have their own monsters. Unfortunately, that limits us to:

A lake in British Columbia (Ogopogo)

A swamp in Florida (Skunk-Ape)

A bridge in West Virginia (Mothman)

I don't know...we may have to reconsider our listing criteria.

March 19, 2006

From Space With Love

In keeping with the current "flavor" of my blog, I am taking a moment to bring you the BEST. GAME. EVER.

That's all I've got today, really. Just got back from Anchorage a little while ago. Tonight we'll be meeting a couple of folks from out of town to go owling. There's a pair of Western Screech Owls that have taken up residency just down the road, quite a ways outside their normal range. If they start breeding we could get "them" to expand the range of the species.

March 17, 2006

You want Proof? You can't handle the proof!

"Some of the most powerful IEDs we're seeing in Iraq today include components that come from Iran,"
-- George W. Bush, March 16, 2006

Not a surprising statement from Dubya, right? And Bush isn't the only one claiming this. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said last week that Iranian Revolutionary Guard personnel had been inside Iraq.

Wow...pretty frightening accusations, huh? The ramifications of the Iranian government sending weapons and soldiers into Iraq to fight the invading Americans would be huge. No way Bush and Rummy would say anything like that unless they had solid proof, right?

*rolls eyes*

When asked whether the United States has proof that Iran's government was behind these developments, Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, while standing RIGHT NEXT TO DONALD RUMSFELD, said, "I do not, sir."

I repeat...

The top U.S. military officer said on Tuesday the United States does not have proof that Iran's government is responsible for Iranians smuggling weapons and military personnel into Iraq. it just me, or have we seen something like this before?

*makes futuristic flashback sounds*
Doodeedoooeeeeeoooooo Doodeedoooeeeeeooooo
*stops making sounds*

"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production."
-- George W. Bush, January, 2003, State of the Union Address

Ok, how many times can the President of the United States blatantly lie to the American public before said public gets completely and totally FED UP?

Are we truly a nation of mindless sheep who rely solely on soundbites from Fox News to tell us what to think???

Recent polls seem to be FINALLY reporting that we are not. But given the events of the last five years...and the dominance of American apathy, I don't have much hope.


Anyway, we're headed to Anchorage for the weekend to attend a symphony concert, so there probably won't be any updates until Monday. That will give you all a little break from my political tirades.

I hope you all have as much fun this weekend as these guys
did singing "YATTA".

Senate Approves Arctic Refuge Drilling in Budget Resolution

"The Alaska senators are obsessed. They're obsessed with drilling in the refuge. It's kind of sad. There are so many other energy issues to work on. But we'll fight them again, and we'll win again."
-- Cindy Shogan, Executive Director of the Alaska Wilderness League.

Can we please elect senators who aren't married to the oil industry for once? They just never give up, do they? Well, neither do we. And it's time, once again, to rally our forces (that image is the cover of Debbie Miller's book "Circle of Testimony"). The Senate yesterday voted to approve a budget resolution that includes language that would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. All of you undoubtedly know where I stand on this issue, but I'm asking you once again to please help.

The budget resolution passed by the Senate now goes to the House of Representatives. This is where the Arctic Refuge drilling language has usually been stripped from the budget bill. But it's not certain to happen this time around!

PLEASE, call your representatives and let them know that you do not support this backdoor attempt to destroy America's last great wilderness! Go to THIS SITE, enter in your zip code and find who your representative is. Then CALL THEM, WRITE THEM, EMAIL THEM! Tell them if they want your vote, they will do everything they can to strip Arctic Refuge drilling language from the budget bill.

We're closer than we've been in a long time to losing this battle. So unless you want to see the image above transformed into this:

Please call your representatives today!

March 16, 2006

The Bill of Rights: They Were Good While They Lasted

Last night I watched the documentary “Unconstitutional: The War on our Civil Liberties”. Needless to say, this movie pissed me off. Not because it sucked, or because I thought it was a bunch of bull.…on the contrary, it was a fantastic film. But it was sickening all the more because I know it’s true.

Watch this movie. If you can’t find it in your local video store, sign up for Netflix and stick it on the top of your queue. Just watch it. Trust me, it will piss you off, too.

I emailed every member of my congressional delegation today, despite the fact that I know all three of them stand for everything I stand against. I told them that they will never get my vote until they support the immediate closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention center, where over 500 people have been held for over four years without legal counsel, without charges brought against them, and without any sign of affording them due process of law.

I reminded them of a nifty little passage I found that they apparently have never read. Here’s what I sent them:

“No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

That’s a wonderful quote, isn’t it? Too bad it doesn’t seem to apply anymore. Which should be surprising considering this is the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Notice that this quote doesn’t state “No American citizen,” rather, it simply says “No person.” That includes the prisoners held in Guantanamo.

Not only that, this facility also violates nearly every international law (see The Geneva Convention) relating to treatment and prosecution of war prisoners.

That the United States of America, the supposed “beacon of liberty and justice” in the world, would allow a place like this to exist, let alone create and operate it, makes me incredibly sad for my nation.

It doesn’t matter if they are the “evil ones” that Bush preaches about. If they are guilty, charge them with a crime, give them the trial they deserve as an inalienable right of being HUMAN and bring them to justice. But if they are innocent, as I suspect at least some of them are, LET THEM GO! But to hold them in perpetuity, without charges, without dignity, and without due process of law makes us the “evil ones.”

Do I think Senators Stevens and Murkowski and Representative Young are going to do a damn thing about it?

I seriously doubt it.

Anyway, to close this gloomy thread, the movie discusses the many ways our civil liberties have been stripped away and blatantly ignored since 2001, all in the name of protecting us in the “war on terror” using legislation such as the USA Patriot Act (which was recently, and very unfortunately, renewed) and Presidential orders such as the illegal, warrantless wiretapping of American citizens. A friend of mine at Dragonmount had this to say about the whole thing,

We aren't at war. War implies there is a way to win. People claim that the terrorists are after our 'freedom'. So we turn around and give up that freedom. War over. They won. We can all go home now.” -- (Goblingirl, posted on, 03-15-06)

You know what? I completely agree with her.

March 14, 2006

Censuring the President with a Devil Tomato

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) yesterday called for a vote on a resolution to censure President Bush over the illegal wiretapping of Americans (read the story).

Bravo, Senator! It's about damn time that someone has the guts to hold Bush accountable for SOMETHING. If they're not going to call him on how he lied the American public to gain support for his illegal invasion of Iraq, they might as well get him on this. Unfortunately, it's probably not going to amount to much.

*start sarcasm*

I mean, seriously...all he did was ignore the Constitution and illegally spy on American citizens without a warrant a bit. They weren't even using their civil liberties. Come on, it's not like he had sex in the Oval Office or anything REALLY bad like that.

*end sarcasm*

Anyway, I don't care if people call it "political grandstanding" or "posturing" or any other phrase political pundits like to throw around. At least Feingold is DOING SOMETHING. Too bad he seems to be the only Democrat with any balls.

So I haven't taken any pictures today so I figured I'd post one from last summer. This is from a day hike Sonja and I took over Portage Pass with Harvey and Luna.
That's Portage Glacier in the background. It's a beautiful hike over the pass...took us about 2 hours to hike up and over to the shore of the lake, then another hour to hike back to the car. The trip also requires a fun drive through the Whittier Tunnel, the world's longest railroad-highway tunnel. Good times, I'm tellin' ya.

I added a few annoying things to my blog, again. But these are cool cuz they give me money. Seriously, if any of you click on the adds over on the right (below all the links) or use my nifty Google search bar, Google pays me moolah. And I know how much you all love it when I get moola. So yeah, there's that.

Oh, and here's the Devil Tomato.

March 12, 2006

250,000 Gallons of Oil

That's how much oil leaked out of a British Petroleum pipeline last week on the North Slope before oil company officials discovered it. The spill covers over 2 acres of fragile tundra with the thick sludge. It's the largest oil spill in the history of Alaska's north slope oil production.

Read more about it here.

What blows my mind is that every drilling proponent I have ever spoken with does nothing but sing the praises of "low-impact, modern drilling technology." What a crock of bull. Let's run down the oil industry's track record with respect to spills on Alaska's north slope, shall we?

  • The Prudhoe Bay oil fields and Trans-Alaska Pipeline have caused an average of 504 spills ANNUALLY on the North Slope since 1996, according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.
  • Forty different toxic substances, from acid to waste oil, have been spilled during routine operations.
  • There were 4,532 spills between 1996 and 2004 totalling more than 1.9 million gallons of toxic substances, most commonly diesel, crude oil, and hydraulic oil.
And I haven't even touched on their other illustrious legacies:

  • Prudhoe Bay air pollution emissions have been detected nearly 200 miles away in Barrow, Alaska.
  • The oil industry on Alaska's North Slope annually emits approximately 70,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, the main component of smog and acid rain. This is more than twice the amount emitted by the city of Washington, DC, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
And just to rub salt in the wound, there's this bit of news. Please, please, PLEASE call, email or write your congressional delegation and tell them that you will NOT vote for them if they do not vote against oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge!!!!

On a more pleasant note, Sonja and I took the dogs for a swim over at 4th of July Creek, on the other side of the bay.

While there, we were able to admire some of these: While we took a stick and poked at one of these:
Then picked up one of these:
Thought these looked pretty neat:
All while letting Harvey and Luna do this:
It was a good morning.

March 11, 2006

Hypocracy of a Theocracy

Is he serious??? Suddenly Bush is worried about how the world might react to our nation's foreign policy decisions? Apparently his concern about world opinion doesn't apply to little things like illegal unilateral invasions of soveriegn nations based upon faulty and/or made-up intelligence. I guess he doesn't worry what the people of the world think of us when he decides to make the U.S. the ONLY nation on the planet not to radify the Kyoto Agreement. But when one of his oil-soaked buddies isn't allowed to profit from a juicy port out! Cuz now Bush suddenly cares about the worldwide ramifications of U.S. policy!


And people actually VOTED for this guy?? TWICE?!?!?


Ok, let's think about something else...

Isn't it purty? That was the view from the beach this morning. It's nice to see the sun actually rising in the East, again. This is also the two-thousand-four-hundred and eightieth picture we've taken with our digital camera. That equates to approximately $843 worth of film purchasing and developing. I love the digital age.

I also discovered some new toys. You'll probably notice the little world map over on the right. That should eventually start displaying little red dots in the places where all the millions of visitors to my blog live. It will probably be pretty boring for a while, though, since it will undoubtedly only contain about four dots. But I thought it was cool. I also added a "Read a Book" section to the links, complete with nifty little thumbnail images of the books in question. Those should change periodically...whenever I find a book cool enough to recommend. Look around some more and you should find a few other little additions to the menu thingy. I'll refrain from pointing them out so you all can experience the satisfaction of finding them for yourselves.

And looky at this cool map thing:

create your own visited states map
check out these Google Hacks.

That's all the states I've been to. Pretty impressive, huh? Although, I wish they hadn't used red.
It gives me flashbacks to the last election, something I wish I could forget. Although, to be fair, at least it gave people a chance to vent their frustrations with fun little parodies and satirical graphics. Like this one...which happens to be one of my favorites. It also works nicely to carry the theme of this blog entry further through the entire article. I did that on purpose, cuz I'm smart like that.

This next map isn't nearly as impressive as all of the states I've been to.

create your own visited countries map
vertaling Duits Nederlands

I mean, look at all of that grey. I guess Sonja and I have a little work to do, eh? I'm thinking that in the next year or so you'll be seeing some red right around the region of east Africa. Either that or somewhere in south Asia. To be honest, though, this map is a little misleading. I have yet to actually visit Baffin Island or the Yucatan Penninsula. Oh well.

I do like that I can now add Mexico to my list, however. I only made it about two blocks into the country, but it still counts. Particularly since I had to pay 25 cents to get in. Funny thing is, they charge five cents more to LEAVE Mexico than they do to enter. I find that ironically appropriate.

March 10, 2006

Harvey the Voonder-Hoond

It's been a long week. The wind has been insane...gusting up to 70 mph for the last five days. Sonja's been sick with the cold I gave her, and I've got the runs. Not that you wanted to know that last part. But I figured it added a little more color to the paragraph.

We DID get more snow, however...something that Harvey and Luna appreciated very much. Although, it has all blown away since then, but it was fun while it lasted.

Holy crap, I just buzzed over to CNN to see what's been happening in the world when I read THIS!

Wow...I suddenly feel like dancing.

Not that I have any hope that her replacement will be anyone even remotely qualified or conservation-minded. In fact, they'll undoubtedly be even worse. But for the moment I am quite content.

In fact, I'm so content that the stupid dancing baby from Ally McBeal doesn't even bother me. Rather, I find it disturbingly appropriate for this occasion

*stares at the dancing baby and sighs* wonderful life can be sometimes.

Now, if we could only get this guy over here to do the same. Then the world would be a happy, happy place.

And for those of you not interested in politics, I've even got a little animated image for you. Now, this is one of my favorite little film clips, and not just because I have a fetish for guys dressed in monkey suits.

*looks shifty*

Which I don't, by the way. Rather, I just think it's one of the most intriguing and talk-provoking film clips of the 20th century. If you watch closely, you might even catch a glimpse of some bigfoot boobies. Now, who in their right mind would think of adding boobs to their bigfoot costume if this was all a hoax? Although, including them definitely adds a certain je ne ces quoi to the whole experience, don't you think? Discuss...

March 06, 2006

Sunrise Below the Wires

It's nice to see the sun steadily creeping northward as spring approaches. With the mountains all around us, it was a rare day around the solstice when it actually managed to poke itself above the peaks to the south. It's also pleasant to actually be able to watch the sun rise as I walk to work in the morning. I've gotten into the habit of carrying our camera with me whenever I go out. I've been trying to take a picture for every post I put on here...but we'll see how long that lasts.

I just found out that I've been "tagged" by an old friend from Fairbanks. Now, I haven't responded to one of these things for years, but I used to be notorious for sending along every forwarded email that popped into my inbox. This is just different enough, however, to warrant a go least once.

3 Things you wish for (just for you):
A President of the United States from the Green Party.
A long, happy life with my babe.
One of these.

3 Things you would do to/for yourself if there was no one to judge you (or if you had the guts!):
Grow an Amish Beard.
Wear my lederhosen in public.
Start my own chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Or not...

3 bad habits you have:
Taking off my socks and leaving them on the couch.
Talking loudly.

3 insecurities you feel:
I'm getting old and fat.
I've got an annoying nasaly voice.

3 talents/skills you wish you had (cuz girls only like guys with great skills):
Bowhunting skills.
Computer hacking skills
Ability to play an instrument that isn't associated with polka or fat, unpopular kids...skills.

3 things you would do if you had more time (or money):
Travel to Tibet, Nepal, Peru, Thailand, Uganda, Tanzania, New Zealand...
Visit family more often.
Work on my mad drawing skills.

3 things that bring you peace and relaxation:
Reading a good sci-fi/fantasy book.
Playing hide-and-seek with our dogs.
Annie, our cat, curled up in my lap.

3 things that spark your creativity:
Listening to inspiring speakers in my field, like Dr. Sam Ham.

3 bloggers your tagging:
Chris -- little bro
Jennifer -- cool cuz
Danielle -- nifty blogger I found

March 04, 2006

Don't let your dog eat bait.

Sonja and I took Luna out for a little adventure today. Our mission was to spot one of the Crested Auklets I've been talking about. We figured today was a perfect opportunity considering how calm the bay is. So we grabbed the spotting scope and the camera and drove around by the shore looking for this tiny little bird. Ended up that we didn't have to try very hard to find one. And here it is, in all of its blurry and indistinct glory...

If you look really closely, you can just barely make out a little orange on the bill, and a tiny little bump just where the bill meets the head. If this was the breeding season, you'd also see a single white "whisker" across its cheek and the crest would be a bit more dramatic. But nonetheless, there it is. Only took us about ten minutes before we spotted it, so we decided to drive around a bit more and see what else was out and about.

We drove south town to Lowell Point to see if there was anything else interesting swimming around. Well, there was. While Sonja and Luna took a little walk along the beach this sea lion came by, swimming to within about 30 feet of shore. It kept popping its head way out of the water to check out Luna and Sonja. Luna was pretty intrigued by it, but every time we've seen one she hasn't been very interested in swimming off after it. This one was so close that Sonja decided to hold onto her, just in case. Although I have no idea what a 1,500 pound, 8-foot long sea lion would do to a little 40 pound dog that decided to swim after it, I think we would much rather just not find out.

It was a very pleasant afternoon...except when Luna decided to swim after, and eat, a big chunk of floating bait that some fisher-people left strewn all over the place. Probably the reason the sea lion was hanging out so close to shore.

March 03, 2006


The last few days have, despite the wind, been spectacular here in Seward. On my way home on Wednesday I captured this reflection of the mountains across the bay in our livingroom window. It's really difficult to become complacent about the beauty of this place. Even though we're not all that psyched about the town, this is arguably one of the most stunning places on the least that I have encountered. I suppose if we had our own place it might be different. But we've been in Seward for almost a year now and it still doesn't feel like home.

Today is different, though. We're back into the grey, but the wind has died down, so the birds have begun to congregate on the water, again. I poked around the shore for a few minutes this morning to see who was out and about. Lots of Commom Mergansers , Barrow's Goldeneyes, and Pelagic Cormorants.

I also managed to give Sonja my texas cold, for which I am sure she is very grateful.

March 01, 2006

Old Man Winter and a Couple New Parks

The wind has been blowing like crazy from the north the past three or four days. Mount Marathon has grown plumes as the gales howl past its tip. Walking to work has been a struggle, even if it only takes five minutes. The strong, frigid gusts suck the air right out of your lungs and even push you backwards, boots sliding on the icy glaze covering every surface.

I'm feeling much better, although my coworkers don't really appreciate the endless coughing fits. Still haven't had a chance to go look for those auklets. Hopefully the winds will die down in time for the weekend. Can't really see much out in the bay with all of the wave action going on anyway.

An interesting bit of news... The National Park Service has just announced the creation of two brand new park units, Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site in Washington, DC, and the African Burial Grounds National Monument in Manhattan, NY. This brings the total number of NPS units up to 390. The monument design for the African Burial Grounds is still preliminary, but it looks pretty interesting. Here's what I found about it:

"The African Burial Ground was re-discovered in 1991, when construction began on a federal office building in lower Manhattan. The site was designated by the Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark in 1993. The burial ground is part of an original seven-acre site containing the remains of approximately 15,000 people, making it the largest and oldest African cemetery excavated in North America."