Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Branch Office

Well, the last week and a half or so has been action packed, to say the least. Last week was my final week in the 4th grade classroom in which I have been subbing since February 1st. Long story short, it was a good experience, but I'll admit being glad it's over. They definitely didn't make it easy on me.

Last week was also, of course, registration week for Trivia (for those of you unfamiliar, you might want to check out my team's page, or the official Trivia page), which means only one thing...Trivia Times pictures! After much brainstorming, digging, and emailing, we were able to figure most of them out, and my internet limitations didn't hinder me as much as I was worried, so I thought that was a good sign for my ability to contribute while playing remotely.

So Friday rolls around, and after school lets out (after lunch...what luck!) I head home to gather up some stuff for the weekend, stop by the store to pick up some snacks and caffeine, and set up shop in Sara's classroom. It didn't take long for the sounds of Freebird to start wafting from the speakers, and the contest was underway. Something soon became clear - despite the fact that most the sites I was searching and trying to access weren't blocked by the school internet's filter like I had feared, the speed (or lack thereof) of the internet connection was a serious issue. Compounded by the fact that I had Skype open and streaming in order to hear the contest in real time, it made internet searching a slow, tedious affair. My normal method of internet searching during Trivia involves a lot of "middle-clicking", opening up search results in new tabs half a dozen at a time and then looking for search terms in the pages...something that just wasn't possible this year. If a single page that was loading had too many pictures or things embedded, it would often take half a song to come up. Combined with some issues in the chat with members back in HQ, it made for a really, really frustrating year of Trivia. To be honest, it wasn't much fun.

Still, I soldiered on in Dad's Computers' Alaska branch office, managed to stay up all but 3 hours (6am-9am Sunday...when I wasn't even all that tired, just feeling frustrated, isolated, and needing a break), and was thrilled when the results were announced. 6th place! The top-ten three-peat and our best finish yet! And while I left school Sunday night feeling like I had done nothing to contribute to this year's success, it's made me even more determined to find a way to make a contribution in the future however I can, on a yearlong basis, so we can come back next year and "rock this house" as a team member put it during the awards ceremony.

Because, as the Oz said in an interview before the contest this year, "No matter what gets you down, Trivia returns."

Sunday, April 15, 2007

It's not like running to Copps

Happy Sunday! Just lounging around today, and since I'm able to get a bit of an internet signal here at home, I thought I'd post quickly just to share a link to an article about the looming hike in the bypass mail rate and its effect on the prices we pay for stuff out here in the Bush.

You know, just to give you all a little perspective :-)

But remember, when they're talking about Bethel, that's still a snowmachine ride (or at this point in the year, a plane ride again) away from us. Who knows how much it's going to affect prices out here at our little store...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The "Spring has Sprung" Update

Well, after a semi-relaxing week of testing (for me at least...everyone else was scrambling like mad, but luckily I was only tasked with a couple half-days of babysitting seniors and one morning of subbing in the third grade classroom), it was time for what passes as spring break here in Nunap...a 4 day weekend! Woo!

Except that, while Sara had accepted an invitation to head down to her old stomping grounds in Quinhagak for an Easter visit, I had decided to hang out at home for the long weekend and just enjoy the time off. Which, really, I did...at least for the first 12 hours or so. After that, I was bored as heck. You see, the temps have finally gotten up in the 40s consistently during the last week or so, which means melting snow, lots of water on top of the ice on the river, and generally horrible snowmobiling conditions. As such, I spent 4 days inside. Losing my mind.

Compounded by the fact that Thursday night before Sara left, the heat in our posh, trendy, luxurious teacher housing building decided to stop working. Which, while annoying, wasn't a huge deal. It wasn't -20 and windy outside, so we just put on sweatshirts and went to bed. Well, then after Sara left on Friday they came to "fix" the heat....translation: it was on full blast all weekend. Even with keeping the window wide open with a fan blowing in, and propping open the back door whenever Loki needed to go out to get some airflow moving through, my thermometer topped out at a balmy 91 on Saturday. Just lovely.

Take a guess when the heat decided to turn itself completely off (again)? Yep, about an hour before Sara got home. She might not even buy my story, now that I think about it...should have taken a picture of myself in shorts, with a straw hat, and a (fake) margarita!

Ahh, the wonderful world of the LKSD! And I'm not even going to rant about the other stuff...at least not today ;-)

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

April Fools

Yes, the apostrophe was left out on purpose. That's plural, not possessive.

So around here, people don't do much on Sunday. Store is closed, not much hunting or fishing or anything goes on. They go to church and that's about it. Religion is taken pretty seriously, which is understandable, considering the timeline.

Us kass'aq teachers aren't really bound by such restrictions. To us, it's the **weekend**, and we want to get out there and make use of the time off however we can. Sometimes, this means heading out for some hunting on our precious last day before the new week begins.

Sometimes this choice to disregard the fact that Sunday should be a day of rest....well, it comes back to bite us in the butt.

The original plan for the weekend had included a trip up to the treeline by the Yukon river to collect some wood for this week's school bonfire. I've never been, but supposedly it's a 3-or-so hour trip each way, and a pretty rough one at that. However, the weather didn't seem to want to cooperate, as the temps had (finally) gotten up to a couple degrees over the freezing mark, which made for some pretty thick fog and pretty slushy snow conditions. Not exactly the best riding weather.

So, the treeline trip scratched, Peter and I decided to take a quick trip out beyond the village to poke around for some ptarmigan. Not too adventurous, but it beats sitting around the house watching TV, etc. Little did we know what the fates had in store. First, Peter manages to dive his machine nose-first into a gully between drifts, getting hung up and monumentally stuck. After trying to dig for a while with hands and sticks, we decide to give pulling it out with mine a shot. Now, knowing the snow in front of his machine is going to be similar to the snow he's stuck in, I'm not feeling too good about where this is headed, and the prospect of having both machines stuck a few miles outside of Akula is making me a little nervous. As I pull in front of him, I feel my track getting sucked down, and after momentarily getting stuck I'm able to gun it out....and right over an 8 foot drop. Next thing I know, I'm flying through the air, off my sled, and I land on my back on the snow with my shotgun planted barrel first down to the trigger guard about 10 inches from my ear.

It's at this point I start wondering about the Sunday + April Fool's Day combination we're dealing with.

But, my machine is still free, and we've proven that pulling Peter's out isn't going to be an option, so after shaking the cobwebs from my head we get back to work digging. This is when we decide that larger sticks might be more useful, so Peter whips out his trusty Leatherman to use the sawblade....and promptly breaks the tool. So after digging for a while and trying to lift the back end out with no luck, we decide to head back home to grab more help, some shovels, etc. So after we get my machine all rigged up with out stuff and both jump on, and then finally decide with the help of GPS and a compass which way to head through the fog, we get on our way. On our way, of course, meaning needing to get out of the area of deepish, melting slush we've been digging through. I decide to try to move pretty quickly to avoid getting bogged down, which worked well, until the fog and lack of contrast between the air and the snow caused me to bang headfirst into a drift that turned out to be a pretty sweet jump...had we been prepared for it. Peter banged his face into my back, and we hit so hard that the GPS around my neck actually snapped off its strap and went spinning through the air in slow motion. Luckily, we didn't land on it.

So, after getting back and grabbing shovels and a couple people to help, we headed back and got the sled out...embarrassingly easily, in fact. I contend that we had loosened it up before we left. There was a little bit of an issue with getting separated on the way back, and having to double back and look for people, but at that point my machine was starting to not like the >32 degree weather, so I limped home before adding an overheated sled to my day's list of woes.

Moral of the story? Maybe there is something to this "no hunting on Sunday" rule. I'll definitely think twice next time, I know that.

Little Dribblers

The irony of that description not withstanding, I felt like I needed to share with you all the coolness that was the "Little Dribblers" games put on last week. As I've mentioned before, basketball is huge here, and even the littlest of kids wants to play. So, it was decided that on Thursday and Friday, before afternoon parent/teacher conferences, we (and by "we" I mean one person, who really had plenty of other things to do already) would organize some games for the K-5th graders.

Thursday was the really little kids' turn, and let me tell you...more than one person made the comment that watching the Kindergarten kids play basketball was the most fun they've had in a while, definitely a highlight of the year. There wasn't much dribbling and even fewer made shots, but man was it fun to watch :-)

Kudos to those who came up with the idea and made it happen...it was just the thing to inject some good vibes into the building at a time when they were sorely needed. For this week....is testing week!