Friday, March 28, 2008


So never mind about the Polar Bears getting killed off by global's about we worry about them heading this way and eating me!!

From the Anchorage Daily News (though I first heard it on APRN this morning):

Wandering polar bear pays with life.

A polar bear that drifted 250 miles south of Alaska’s north coast to Fort Yukon was shot and killed after it charged a hunter, a Fairbanks Daily News-Miner story says. Community residents didn’t believe first reports that a polar bear had come that far from its usual territory and was in their region, but half a dozen hunters began tracking it when the reports persisted, according to the story.

Two hunters caught up with the animal outside of town on the Porcupine River and one of them shot it with an AR-15 after it came out of a brush pile and charged him. “I shot from the hip, seven or eight times,” said Zeb Cadzow. “If I had gotten it to my shoulder, it would have been on top of me. It happened so quick; by the time it was down, it was about 10 feet from my feet.”

Why do I think Stephen Colbert might have something to say about this when he comes back with new episodes??

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Following the North Trail to the Yukon

We had a three day weekend for Easter, so I decided to ride along with some folks that were headed up to the treeline by the Yukon river. I had never been before, and it was something I've been wanting to do for a while, though every time the opportunity arrives I seem to come up with an excuse not to go. It's a ways, about a 2.5-3 hour ride each way, and I'm always a little over-concerned about whether or not my snowmachine is up to it. Not to mention, it can be a bit of a gas hog, and it's not like there are any other villages (not to mention gas stations) along the way. This time, however, I just said "why not" and decided to give it a try.

So we got started and headed out around 8:30 Friday morning, and I have to say it was a beautiful ride. After about the halfway point you start to see scattered trees, and all of a sudden you come over a small ridge and see trees everywhere. Which I know doesn't sound like all that big of a deal to you Wisconsinites/Minnesotans out there, but here on the flat, treeless tundra, it's like seeing an oasis :-) Even the trail conditions, which last time I rode to Bethel were horrendous, have really improved due to a bunch of powdery snow over the last couple weeks. The ride was a little bumpy, but nothing compared to the concrete-hard drifts a month or so ago.

The big difference in snow, really, was after we got up there. Down here where there is much wind and no trees, all the snow that doesn't pack down and drift just blows away. I think I know where it goes. As you can sort of see in the top picture, the snow in the trees was deep. Very deep. Like, when I got off my machine to walk into the trees, I immediately sank into my waist and didn't touch the ground. Which made cutting trees (and more notably dragging them out to the river) quite difficult.

I rode up with Carey and Maria, who wanted to bring back a load of wood for steaming, and with Matthew (the school's Site Tech, Community Advocate, and general jack of all trades/glue that holds the school together) and one of his sons. Matthew had brought a chainsaw, so he went about cutting down dead trees, which then had to be de-limbed and de-nubbed, tied to the back of our machines, and drug down to the river where we had left the freight sleds and our stuff. It's quite an operation, and a lot of work dealing with the waist-deep snow while cutting, axing, dragging, and towing. Not that I did much of the work, seeing as I was mostly along for the ride and just to get to the Yukon and see trees...but still. I helped a little, with what I could.

One thing that we could not have done any better with was the weather. The forecast had made me a little nervous, calling for the wind to pick up and snow to move in, but it stayed perfectly clear for us, warmed up to about 10 or 15 degrees, and what wind did pick up was at our back the whole ride home. So, we got back home around 8pm or so, a little sore, but having avoided and of the misfortunes or misadventures that seem to usually plague my snowmachine/airplaine/boat travels around the tundra. Carey attributed our luck to the "evil eye" stone she brought along to ward off evil spirits. Normally, I wouldn't put much stock in such things, but after the poor luck we've had in the past, to go on this lengthy of a trip without anything going wrong....well, I'm certainly not going to question it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

No Halfback Left Behind

So, I know it's basketball season, and that I'm committing a cardinal sin of blogging by posting an *email forward* here, but I just thought this little analogy was pretty appropriate...being testing season, and all.

Plus, it might help all the non-teachers in the audience realize what's really going on in the schools right now. So enjoy:

No Child Left Behind - Football Version

The football version of what is going on in education right now. (If you're not an educator, this may not make a lot of sense to you. But send it to your friends who are in education. They will love it!)For all the educators - In or out of the system.

1. All teams must make the state playoffs and all MUST win the championship. If a team does not win the championship, they will be on probation until they are the champions, and coaches will be held accountable. If after two years they have not won the championship their footballs and equipment will be taken away UNTIL they do win the championship.

2. All kids will be expected to have the same football skills at the same time even if they do not have the same conditions or opportunities to practice on their own. NO exceptions will be made for lack of interest in football, a desire to perform athletically, or genetic abilities or disabilities of themselves or their parents. ALL KIDS WILL PLAY FOOTBALL AT A PROFICIENT LEVEL!

3. Talented players will be asked to workout on their own, without instruction. This is because the coaches will be using all their instructional time with the athletes who aren't interested in football, have limited athletic ability or whose parents don't like football.

4. Games will be played year round, but statistics will only be kept in the 4th, 8th, and 11th game. This will create a New Age of Sports where every school is expected to have the same level of talent and all teams will reach the same minimum goals. If no child gets ahead, then no child gets left behind.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Video Quickie

So as I mentioned, last week was cultural week here at school. As always, it was pretty challenging, but there was fun to be had.

Here's a quick video of some of the students out on the river chipping clean ice. We loaded up sleds (8 in total over the course of two days) and delivered the ice to elders around the village. Kind of an eskimo ice machine, as someone put it...

(Sorry 'bout the video quality...the file got really squashed when I uploaded it to the web...)

Yes, that's one of the students hiding in a hole chipped in the river ice. I didn't have anything to measure with, so I'm not exactly sure how thick the ice was in that spot, but it was a good three feet at least. Hope you're enjoying spring, Wisconsin....heh.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Gotta take a step back..

Been busy lately, as you can probably imagine, but wanted to update on how the rest of last week went, as well as what we're up to this week here in Nunap.

The multimedia training last week was a lot of fun for the kids. They basically got to work on video projects (this group on the right was filming their short movie at Bethel's video rental shop!), play with new effects and learn things about iMovie, as well as hang out with friends and see some of the games at the district basketball tournament that happened to be going on at the same time! So, all in all, while it was a big ol' pain in the butt to be in Bethel and away from home for a week, I have to admit it was well worth it. I even learned how to do green-screening (or chroma-keying, as I found out) in iMovie. So I've got a tarp and a few good ideas...once I get something together in post-able form, I'll be sure to share :-)

And this week is Cultural Week here at A.T.M.S. in sunny Nunapitchuk, AK. I won't go into too much detail (for fear of digressing into an epic rant), but let's just say it's not the easiest week of the year. There are some attitudes on both the student and the staff sides of the coin that combine to make this one of the big "humps" to get through second semester, as I learned last year. This year is certainly proving no exception to the rule. Though on the positive side, I was able to get my snowmachine into the school shop this afternoon and have a couple of the high school boys help me fix a problem I've been having, so that was pretty productive. But I'll post a more comprehensive Cultural Week entry after it's entirely in the rear view mirror. I promise.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

So let's take stock...

Here I sit, on a chair in the District Office in Bethel. I'm tired, I'm hungry, I vaguely smell. And my week is just getting started. Time to take a look at my situation.

Sara and I went to Anchorage on Saturday, hung out and had a generally good time, and had our last pre-coming-in-for-good appointment yesterday morning. The plan was to try to get back to the village yesterday afternoon, get a day (and more importantly a night) back at home, and then come in for the multimedia competition and training here this afternoon, and staying 'til Friday.

Well, as often is the case, the weather had other plans. Bethel weather was crappy yesterday, so our flight from Anchorage to Bethel was late, and flights out of Bethel to the villages were all shut down. Too windy and rain/snow mix. Then, Era Aviation, who we like to fly when we don't have the dog with us (slightly cheaper, much more convenient than Alaska Airlines for BET-ANC), bumped our bag. We've flown with them twice now...the first time they sent our bags to Kodiak, despite everything being clearly labeled and us checking in 2 hours ahead of the flight. This time, they just "bumped" our suitcase...the plane wasn't full, our box of groceries made it, thankfully, on the plane, but our suitcase did not. It wasn't heavy, it isn't large, there was room...they just didn't bring it. So I don't think we'll be flying with Era again. Their baggage people in Anchorage are just too...sketchy.

So we spent last night in Bethel, paying Bethel prices for a Bethel-quality B&B room, picked up our bumped bag at Alaska Air, who brought it in for us last night on the jet, and got Sara on the first Yute flight back to Nunap. I'm just hanging here, as it didn't make much sense to me to fly back to the village this morning, only to turn around and fly back in with the team this afternoon. So Sara's going to send a bag with some clothes, my school-issued Macintosh that I need for the training, and other etceteras with the team when they come.

So here I sit. I'm depressed because Favre retired today and the last starting quarterback I've seen for the Packers was Don Majkowski when I was 12 years old. I'm tired, I'm grumpy, I'm dirty, and I'm ready to go home (notice "hungry" disappeared from the list...a very nice lady took pity on me while i was writing this and gave me a donut :-P ). And my trip hasn't even started yet. I'll spend the next three nights on a classroom floor. Wish me luck.