Sunday, January 29, 2012

Snow!!!

Years ago, when the L.Kane Store still sold groceries and fuel, there was a sign prominently displayed on the back wall of the office. You couldn't miss it if you entered. It said simply,  "Those requesting credit in this establishment will be pummeled repeatedly with punishing blows about the head and shoulders!"  I loved that sign. Unfortunately it was more humorous than factual because everyone and his brother would come in, give the manager a sob story and walk out with hundreds of dollars worth of goods or fuel which only occasionally was paid back. As you can imagine, the store eventually closed down; however, I'm not here to write about credit or Kane's or humorous signs,I'm here to write about this blasted snow. I've been shoveling massive quantities for days- so much so that I have almost nowhere else to pile it. The bottom picture shows the scene on my front porch. The snow that has slid off the roof is piled so high we almost don't have any room left to see outside. To say that I'm sick of this would be the understatement of the century. I wonder if I could hire Al Gore to come shovel my roof off for a day or two. I want him to experience global warming first hand. I had to climb up there a few days ago to get some of the weight off. The snow was up to my waist in some places and was getting kind of heavy. To complicate matters, it's a steel roof, so if I dug down to the steel, I'd lose my footing and start to slide. It probably wouldn't have hurt too bad, falling into a huge snow bank, but getting out would have been quite the challenge. By the time I got done shoveling I felt like a band of angry Pygmies had pummeled me repeatedly about the head and shoulders with punishing blows. My back and legs weren't feeling any too good either. The exertion of all that shoveling had me sweating in my coveralls, while my hands and feet were about to freeze. Oh how I love winter. The top picture shows the tools necessary to deal with the onslaught of snow- shovel, ice scraper, broom and ice melt. I should hook up my weed burner and start melting some of it, but I'd probably catch the house or truck on fire. Of course if that happened I'd have to move somewhere else for awhile, probably somewhere warmer, like Key West. I try to brush the extra snow off my boots before I enter the foyer, but inevitably some of the snow clings to the tread of my boots and drops on the linoleum. Of course it melts and I always manage to step in the frigid puddle with my socks. A guy could go through a dozen pairs of dry socks a day when the weather is like this outside. To add to my misery, the weather man keeps promising it's going to rain. Today is Sunday. It was supposed to warm up and rain last Friday, then it was going to rain today, now it's supposed to happen on Tuesday. Hope deferred makes the heart sick.  I really wish it would rain, it would knock down some of this snow. Of course the streets would be solid ice, but I'd be willing to put up with that for awhile, at least you don't have to shovel the rain.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Walk Across the Sun

I've been struggling for the past week,vacillating back and forth as to whether or not to do a blog post on this. When I finally made up my mind to do it, the picture wouldn't download this morning and I almost gave up the idea. I try to shy away from controversial subjects for the most part. I don't want to use this blog to discuss politics or religion, although I have strong feelings about both subjects. There are some things that must be addressed though, and even though I understand there isn't a large readership here, and I may offend some by what I write, I'm willing to take that chance in order to be a voice for the exploited and the innocent. I recently read  A Walk Across the Sun, by Corban Addison. I liked the cover and I was impressed by the fact that famous author, John Grisham,commented on the back.Over the course of twenty years he's had multiple authors request an endorsement,but he's always declined until the author of this book. He gave it a ringing endorsement which caught my eye. The book is a novel... fiction, but it's based on reality, the trafficking of human beings, which the author states is a thirty billion dollar a year criminal enterprise. I would venture to say that most of the victims are women and often young children. There are places in the far east where sex tourism is commonplace and the perverts who attend these places are in search of children. Though it is illegal, it still goes on with enough frequency to generate these huge profits. The author also states that in Eastern Europe there is a depressingly high rate of girls who were orphans being lured into prostitution by the traffickers once they are no longer in state care. Much like the illegal drug trade, people wouldn't be engaging in trafficking if it wasn't profitable. I can't think of anything much more distressing than to be forced to do something so inhumane and degrading than prostitution and to feel so helpless to stop it as these women and children are. I have five daughters and five granddaughters and I promise I would go to extremes without mercy if they were ever to suffer such abuse as I read about in this book. The author provides the web addresses of several organizations that provide data on this subject.
The U.S.Dept. of State provides a Trafficking In Persons report (www.state.gov/g/tip) He states that one of the best non-governmental sources of data on the trade is the Polaris Project in Washington D.C. (http://www.polarisproject.org/) . He goes on to list others as well as other books that delve into the subject deeper, one of which is titled Disposable People by Kevin Bales. The title is telling; are certain people disposable? Are there less desirable members of society who we could care less about, who don't really matter? Is it ok to let them fall through the cracks to be used and later discarded like a dirty tissue? I'll tell you frankly, I'm going out on a limb here, I'm out of my league on this one, but just because I've never been exposed directly to this problem doesn't mean it doesn't impact me. If we are silent on this issue then when will we speak? The world is in dire need of hero's. I hope that if this is an issue that bothers you, you'll investigate it more and let your voice be heard.Thanks

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Mickey V

It's a beautiful day here in sunny Hoonah Alaska. The only problem is that it's in the single digits and not supposed to go much higher. I don't know how the sun can be out and have so little heat to offer. I've known a few folks like that- beautiful people with no warmth to their character. Perhaps it's just as well- if they were good looking and kind too they might be intolerable. Anyway, it's too cold to wander around outside today so I thought I would tap into the archives of my  picture files. The top two pictures show the Mickey V on anchor in Neka Bay this past year. Neka Bay is named after a local Tlingit man who used to shoot a small cannon every time the fleet came back in. I saw a picture of him in a book. He's a very distinguished looking fellow and the cannon looked like it could do some damage if he loaded it with a pound or two of shot. The Mickey V (5) is owned by a friend of mine, Marc Miller. I don't know what happened to Mickey's one through four. Maybe the original owner just liked this name. There used to be a boat out of Juneau I believe called the Item 113. Who knows how the owner came up with that name, but I always kind of liked it. It seems like if you owned a boat called the Item 113 you would probably be pretty cool. In any event neither Marc or I own that boat, but I think he's a pretty cool guy anyway.  I love the lines of the Mickey. It looks like it could take some weather. Like all wooden boats, she takes a lot of upkeep to keep her looking this way. I think on this particular day I went in to pick up Mark so he could help me pull the long line we had set for halibut. We caught all that we were allowed by the first half of the first set and ended up shaking hundreds of pounds of large halibut in the sixty to hundred twenty pound plus range. That was both a blessing and a dissapointment. Not far from where the Mickey is anchored this sow and cub were walking on the beach. At times the cub was walking between his mom's back legs. It was entertaining to watch. I once saw two cubs walking by themselves on the beach at Humpback Creek. They were quite small and I was surprised to see that mom wasn't around. When I looked up the beach I saw the sow. A boar was barrelling down on the cubs. I understand that the boars will kill the cubs so that the sow will go into heat again. The sow stopped and stood up and when the boar stood, she smacked him ten or twelve times so fast he didn't know what hit him. His head was bouncing back and forth between her paws like a paddle ball. It was hilarious. Better go take a cold shower buddy, it aint happening tonight! Ah well, such is life.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Winter Landscape

This year, while the rest of the country has been given a reprieve from winter, Alaska has been getting it's butt kicked. We got slammed in November with huge amounts of snow, then the first half of December it rained copious amounts and melted most of it, but the day after Christmas it started snowing again and its been some form of precipitation ever since. We actually had a break today- kind of. It was snowing this morning but by lunch time it had cleared up, and while not exactly sunny, at least it wasn't snowing, so I decided to go get a few shots before the next storm. It's actually supposed to clear up and get cold- down below zero, which in Southeast is really chilly. When it gets sunny the wind usually blows, so no doubt there will be a rash of frozen pipes and other fun things going on.  I'm always amazed at the number of people who have lived here for years and still aren't prepared for the inevitable. We know that it's going to get really cold at least several times during the winter and yet there are folks who won't insulate their pipes or skirt their foundation. You see the same people running to Juneau to spend their Permanent Fund dividend and then needing bailed out with energy assistance because they don't have fuel. I think it's human nature that if you know you have a safety net it relieves you of having to act responsibly. I certainly don't want anyone to freeze or go hungry by any means, but I've lived here long enough to see that a lot of enabling goes on and that mindset becomes a way of life that is passed from one generation to the next. Guess I better get off my soap box. I may need to count on some help some day myself. Back to the weather. The town of Cordova Alaska has been in the news lately because they received some eighteen feet of snow. That's a lot of snow in any one's book. When Hoonah received twenty three feet of snow one winter we didn't make the national news- what gives? I think it's just like writing a book or being in a band or perhaps being a model. You've always been out there, but then one day someone takes notice and you're in the news. I'd just as soon not be in the news because of weather. The year of the big snow fall we had a terrible number of deer killed- too much of the area was logged and they couldn't find enough food. That spring there was over 200% of the normal amount of snow on the mountains too so the water in the creeks ran high and the bays were colder than usual. The salmon seemed to stay out in the warmer ocean water longer so fishing wasn't all that good. I really don't want to have a repeat of that scenario. I always feel bad for the animals when the weather turns foul. Food is hard to come by and I would imagine that staying warm would be an issue. I should probably see what I can do about building a condominium for the birds. I could insulate it and install little toilets so they wouldn't have to leave the comfort of home. I know I sure wouldn't go out in the cold if I didn't have to. Well, wherever you are, keep warm. See ya later.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

St. Louis Bound

Before I get too far into this post, let me apologize to my friend Doug. I'm fairly certain he doesn't want to see anymore posts on Yanni, but this one is really necessary. Last week I was sitting in my chair, minding my own business, when my daughter Jen presented me with an envelope containing confirmation on a flight to St. Louis and two tickets to a Yanni concert that is going to be held there in April at the Fox theatre. I was pretty much flabbergasted. It was a complete surprise. A friend of mine, who knows that I love listening to Yanni and who has been deeply involved in the music business for years, donated his air miles so that Jan and I could make this trip. Then my family bought the tickets to the concert and paid for the hotel stay. It was an incredibly generous gesture on everyone's part and greatly appreciated. I've never been to St. Louis before, so I looked up a few things there. Of course there's the arch, and Anheiser Busch brewing company. I wonder if they are like the Tillamook Cheese factory in Tillamook Oregon. They give out free samples of cheese. It might be nice to sample a cold beer fresh from the vat, especially if it was free. The St. Louis Cardinals are there and who knows, they may even be playing a game while I'm down there. I'm not a big sports fan, but I do like to watch a little baseball in the summer. I saw on TV that there was another incident at one of the sports functions where some fans of one team got beat up by fans from another team. I certainly wouldn't wear a jersey to a game if I attended one, but I'd probably wear my Hoonah Cold Storage hat with a salmon embroidered on the front.  It would be my luck I'd get beat up by someone who hated fish. I looked online at the Fox Theatre too. It mentioned that you shouldn't hang around out front too long after the performance and they also said that getting a taxi was kind of hit and miss. Being the pessimist I am I decided to look up the crime rate in St. Louis. One article mentioned that St. Louis was the most dangerous city in the US in 2010. Hmmmm... that's a little unnerving. Maybe it's not safe to hang out in front of the theater after hours. Perhaps I could catch a ride to our hotel in Yanni's limo. If he knew that I came down from Alaska to watch him perform it might give me an advantage. Once I start worrying about something, the sky is the limit. After my recent unpleasant stay at a hotel in Juneau, I started thinking about all the things that could go wrong in the hotel room. Security is a bit of an issue, and of course I hope the bed is comfortable and I'm not used to a bunch of noise. Hoonah is pretty quiet at night, with the exception of the occasional barking dog or drunk person yelling as they wander up the street.One of my biggest concerns is bedbugs though. I hate bugs. I watched a show on TV that talked about an infestation of bedbugs in one person's house. The family just about went broke trying to get rid of them. I'll make sure I check the sheets and mattress before I settle in. So, as long as I don't get slugged, mugged or bugged, I think we'll have a great time. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Chicken Man

Happy New Year everyone. As you might suspect, writing is a serious business, and you can see here I take my business very seriously. Sometimes you have to be in the mood to write- once in awhile you need a prompt or some such thing. When I first saw this chicken hat for sale at the school carnival I knew I had to have it. I didn't even wait for the carnival to start, I bought it before anyone else beat me to it. Chicken hats are in high demand. If I had a mind to, I could probably sell it on e-bay for an awsome profit. Tom Terrific had a funnel for a hat.  I guess he couldn't afford a baseball cap or a beanie or whatever. When I was a young lad at school I was told to put on my thinking cap, though I had no idea what that was so I didn't bother to think much. When you're wearing a chicken hat though, there is probably no end to the wonderous thoughts that will fill your head, although most of those thoughts will probably involve some form of eggs or nesting boxes. There used to be a radio program involving a chicken man- something like the Amazing Adventures of Chicken Man. I know I used to listen to it, I just can't remember any of the stories. When I lived in Key West years ago there was a local radio program about Super Chicken. It had a catchy jingle, but I've forgotten most of the words for that too except for the last little bit that went ...when it looks like you will take a licken, there is something you can do a method that is tried and true just caaaall on Super Chicken! I don't think the program was all that great, but it's been over forty years ago that I heard that tune and I still can't get it out of my mind. Oh well. I remember one of my favorite authors, Robert Fulghum, writing about walking down  a street in Seattle wearing a beanie with a propeller on top and the amount of attention it got him. People were pointing an laughing and folks that might otherwise have been having a bad day got a good laugh and something to tell their colleagues at the office. Sooooo... as we start this new year, let's try to make the best of the cards we're dealt, try to maintain a good attitude and if you can make someone else's day better in some small way please do it. We're all just trying to make it in the world. Let's hope it's a great year. God bless you all!