Friday, December 29, 2006

A Completely Biased Review of 2006, Part II: Things Et

2006 was a good year, gastronomically speaking, even though we live in a state that is very fond of the standard American fare, meaning fried, cholesterol-bomb food.
  • Best New Restaurant in Squarebanks: Taco King. The food is better than any of the other Mexi joints in town, the prices are very reasonable, and I spent more lunch dollars there than at any other location... even if the pozole is kind of bland. All hail Taco King!

  • Best Existing Restaurant Rumored to Be Closing, Maybe. Sort of: Cafe Alex. I finally got downtown and had a really good meal there. "High end" food (at least by FBX standards), but not as pricey as Lavelle's Bistro. Nice atmosphere, good service, really good wine list.
  • Best Place to Eat Half a Cow, On a Bun, With Fries: Ivory Jacks, out in my neck of the woods. $9.00 gets you a pretty damned fine cheeseburger and fries. The menu is pretty much the usual American fried affair, but we all need a little grease in our lives. Moderation in moderation, too.
  • Best Pizza in the Entire Freaking State: Magpye's in Sterling. We stopped off here this summer on the way back from halibut fishing and clamming. Wow. With apologies to my local fave, College Town, as well as the Moose's Tooth in Skanchorage and that one place in Unalalakleet, this is the pie to beat -- tasty, and the extra large is HUGE.
  • Best Way Reduce the Amount of Petroleum Used in the Production/Transportation of That Tomato or Cow: Support local agriculture! Buy a share, or split one with a friend, at either Calypso Farms or Rosie Creek Farms and get fantastic, organic local produce all season. For the omnivorously inclined, BY Farms out in North Pole sells a whole lot of locally produced meat.
In the CabinDwelling Kitchen, 2006 was a bit of a challenge, due to the fact that for six months of the year, I was living in a cabin that had only a two-burner hot plate ... which allows one the option of either scorching or completely burning the crap out of something. Thankfully, summer allowed for use of the trusty Coleman stove and grill. Fave new recipes from 2006:
  • Citrus Grilled Goose
  • Lime and Cilantro Halibut
  • Favorite Carnivorous Cooking Tip, courtesy of the M.I.A. Flic the Bic: When you get some moose meat with some fat on it, cut off the fat, cook it in the pan a bit until it releases enough oil and then fry the moose meat in it.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Completely Biased Review of 2006: Part I, Sounds

As is the habit of the opinionated here in CabinDwelling Land (and the many places where all those poor folks unfortunate enough to live elsewhere live), it is time for a review of things 'et'1, quaffed, played far too loudly and on repeat, and whatever else that caught my attention this year.

Of course, with apologies for my crap grammar and in many cases, reasoning no more sophisticated than whatever it is sounded, tasted or looked 'cool.' Oh, and also with apologies at this juncture to my dear significant other who has to put up with my tendency to embrace something(s) obsessively to a point of nearly lethal annoyingness.

Yeah, I've had coffee. Want to make something of it?

Review Part I: Bands/Albums that I Played Too Often and/or Too Loudly Out of Teenage-Type Joy2:
  • The Be Good Tanyas - released their first album in 2001. I just found out about them.
  • Alton Ellis - Roots ska giant who I just found about this summer. I lurve him. Thanks Lou!
  • The Avalanches - 7 deejays produced an album. If you like a completely mixed album of electronic/dance/whatever-other subgenre, this is your bet.
  • Carolyn Mark - Kind of country, kind of folk, engaging, funny. Albums: Terrible Hostess & Party Girl.
  • Ska Cubano - Album: Ay Caramba. Hello, my name is CabinDweller, and I am a ska-coholic.3 This second album of ska by way of Cuba is awesome, but their first album is only available by import.
  • Lily Allen - Album: Alright, Still. British pop with a bite. Only available via import and in tiny pieces through ITunes.
  • The Holloways - Album: So This is Britain.
  • Bitter:Sweet - Album: The Mating Game. Ever hear one track from an album, fall hopelessly in love with it, buy the album and actually like the whole thing? "Dirty Laundry" was the track that sold me.
  • Cut Chemist - Album: The Audience is Listening. Deejay formerly with Jurassic Five/collaborator with everyone. "What's the Altitude" stood out for me.
  • Devotchka - Another band I failed to notice until this year. Thanks to M. for righting that wrong. Albums: How it Ends; Una Volta.
  • Hem - Atmospheric, sort of reminds me of Trinity Sessions-era Cowboy Junkies.
  • Sonic Youth - Album: Rather Ripped. Indie veterans who still rock and produced one of 2006's best. They are pre-Nirvana, pre-Pixies, releasing their first album during the dark days of the first term of the Reagan era.
  • Kocani Orkestar - Album: Alone at My Wedding. I really drove some folks crazy playing this one. How to describe them? Thomas Bartlett at wrote:
    " The chaotic music made by Macedonian brass band Kocani Orkestar and other similar Gypsy Balkan brass bands, largely exposed to the world through the astonishing films of Emir Kusturica, is, for me, some of the most viscerally emotional in the world -- from frantic, crazed, drunken elation to tearful, almost inexpressibly deep (drunken) sadness."
  • The Meat Purveyors - 2006 brought us Someday Soon Things Will Be Much Worse. This ?punkgrass? band broke up about a month ago and I'm still pissed that I will never see them in concert. Standout tracks include Liquor Store and 666 Pack.
  • The Morning After Girls - They rock. I don't know if they've released anything more than the two E.P.s.
  • Novalima - Album: Afro. Music from Peru, and not the woolly-hatted, flute stuff that comes to mind. Standout track: Bandolero. Reminiscent of one of my favorite albums ever, Afro-Peruvian Classics: The Soul of Black Peru.
  • The Rapture - Album: Pieces of the People We Love. Dance, dammit! Standout track: Whoo! Alright, Yeah.... Uh-Huh. The whole album makes even a avowed non-dancer like myself want to shake it.
  • Tom Waits - Album: Real Gone.
  • Wax Tailor - Album: Tales of the Forgotten Melodies. Categorized as 'Electronic' but trip-hop and rap and a complete album that should be listened to in one block.
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Albums: Fever to Tell; Show Your Bones. Two excellent albums in two years. I still have to crank up "Maps" whenever it comes on in the Soob.
  • Honorable mention: Neko Case, Asylum Street Spankers, The Hold Steady, Be Your Own Pet, Bebel Gilberto, Black Motorcycle Rebel Club, Cat Power, Madeleine Peyroux, Chitlin Fooks, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Franz Ferdinand, Kasabian, The Kaiser Chiefs, The Rakes, (boy, we had quite an 80s revival, didn't we?), Jurassic Five, Nickodemus.
1Defn. "et": The way my mamaw said "eaten." And if you know how to properly pronounce "mamaw", you'll know what I'm talking about.
2Most of which were released in 2006, but some not. Those not are noted as such.
3Not only do I love ska to a point of irritation in others, I make bad jokes about it.

[edited on 12-28 for numerous typos. ]

Monday, December 25, 2006

Just What we Needed for Christmas!

Snow! Thank you! Am off for a snowmachine ride - and tomorrow will be my first ski day this year.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Festivus, and Kwanzaa and Yule to all my fellow Squarebanksans, with a little something extra for my neighbors in the Goldstream Valley. Hope you all are having as much fine as I am, whether it is running dogs, skiing, or just snowshoeing around. And a great big glass of nog to all the other local bloggers - Deidre, Gary, Super Smoov Andy G, John W., and all the rest!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Pre-Christmas, And I'm Still at Work Playlist

And I Went and Screwed Up the Blog Template
  • Flathead, by The Fratellis
  • You, You, You, You, You, by The 6ths and Katherine Whalen
  • Radar, by the Transmissionary Six
  • Jams Runs Free, by Sonic Youth
  • Postcards from Italy, by Beirut
  • Unlisted, by Carolyn Mark
  • Steady Rollin', by Two Gallants
  • So Much Love, by Alton Ellis
  • I Don't Wanna Go Home, by The Slackers
  • Flats and Jobs, by The Gurus
  • I'm on You, by Izabo
  • Shattered, by The Trucks
  • Standing in the Way of Control, by The Gossip
  • Retreat (Phones Mix), by the Rakes
  • The Power is On, The Go! Team
  • A Bocquinha e Minha, Juliana e Fogosa
  • Bole 2 Harlem, Bole 2 Harlem
  • Jaw Modulation, Head Set
  • Adir Alam, Balkan Beat Box
Sources include the always marvellous KEXP-Seattle, various mp3 sites, and of particular note, a certain British chick who introduced me to the wonders of Alton Ellis. How could I not have had any Alton Ellis?

Keep in Mind, This All Started As a Simple Plan

So, several hours in to the "new and improved' Blogger and with much gnashing of teeth and garment-rending on my part... I'm am totally rueing the day, which was Tuesday, actually, that I set out to play with the the Damned Blog.

Right now it looks like something that came out of Ro, the Dog from Hell, after she got loose and ate something with a lot of green in it.

It will not be fixed until sometime after this weekend, when I'll either revert to the old layout or get yet another one.

But stick a fork in my back and turn me over, I'm done.

In the meantime, posts will continue as if nothing has occurred. Denial is not just for homophobic religious extremist pastors.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bear With Me, I'm Tinkering With the Template

Am trying out the new version of Blogger and messing with the template today.

It looks to have some better features already, but I'm getting some weird glitches.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Further Evidence that Basket is Fiery, Red, and Blazing

Or, Thoughts Prompted by the Discovery that L.L. Bean Sells Kindling Out of a Catalogue.

No, I am not kidding. They are selling wood by the pound:
"Nature's most efficient kindling for your fireplace or woodstove. This season, a handy supply comes in a variety of package styles perfect for gift giving, including our new L.L. Bean gift box. Rich in natural resins, our fatwood helps sticks ignite quickly and burn for a long time. A clean and efficient alternative to newspaper or paraffin fire starters. All natural with no chemicals or additives. Hardwood Gift Basket 7"H x 9" diam. Weights are approximate. Imported."
  • Thought #1: Fatwood? What the hell does that mean?
  • Thought #2: Here I've been eking out a waterless, aged-Soob dependent lifestyle in the Goldstream Valley when I could be making my fortune selling off small packages of my front yard to rich people. What was I thinking?
  • Thought #3: All natural? Well, it is WOOD.
  • Thought #4: John over at Life in Alaska left too soon. All that obsessive wood-gathering could pay off if we sell it as Authentic Alaskan FieryBlazing Fire Starter. Apparently, Yuppies, the primary market for L.L. Bean's stuff, will buy wood by the pound. According to the product description, it comes in 7, 15, 25, and 35 pound sizes.
  • Thought #5: Not only would it be natural, but I see serious potential labeling it as 'wild' (as opposed to farmed) kindling. Of course, given the way the regs are written, we still might not be allowed to call it 'organic.'*
*Was that too obscure?
[Photo above: actual product photo from the L.L. Bean website. Product description from page 59 of their Christmas catalog.]

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Alaska Wireless is Closing Up Shop.

And the screams of the couch potatoes will be heard as far as Delta Junction.

So, the rumor I heard last night turns out to be true. Alaska Wireless is closing up shop here in Squarebanks at the end of this month. When I spoke with a salesperson this morning, she confirmed it. And for the record, she was very professional and gave me a few recommendations on other companies that might provide internet and cable teevee.

Unfortunately, it seems, AW is not really advertising the fact that it is out of here. I went to their website and there is no mention of the fact that they won't be providing service after the end of December. I wonder if they'll do anything to inform those who expect to be sitting slumped in front of The Tube* after a night of New Year's revelry that they better find someone else to get them their dose of programming while they recuperate.

Wow. There are gonna be a lot of pissed off football fans.

*The teevee, The Boob Tube. Not to be confused with Uncle Ted's system of tubes by which I post this entry.
Image: found at

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Blazing Handbasket Frozen Over, Incident #1

Incident #1: I agree with something in a Snooze Minus' editorial column*

From today's editorial, which is a shocking display of, well, getting it:

But in October the resident voters of the city changed that so in 2007 Wal-Mart will pay the city of Fairbanks just over $12,200, an annual savings to the corporation of about $152,300. That’s a great savings by most people’s standards, but in the scheme of things this is chicken feed for the Arkansas-based retail giant.

And now with a new employee head tax — one of the options proffered by the author of Ballot Measure No. 3 and now approved by the City Council — the employees who work for Wal-Mart will have to help make up the difference by contributing $20 of their own paychecks each month to the city instead.

That's the Walmart break, but what about Lowe's, Home Depot, Barnes and Noble, Old Navy, Petco and all the rest??

*This may actually be Incident #2, I think I agreed with something that Craig Medred of the Anchorage Daily Snooze wrote several years ago.

Tuesday Playlist

Twang! Resistance is futile, v. 5:
  1. Wake Up Sleepyhead, Jeff Bright and the Sunshine Boys
  2. She's a Nail in My Heart, same
  3. Wasted, Laura Cantrell
  4. Drinkin' Blues, Wayne Hancock
  5. Thrown Out of the Bar, Hank Williams III
  6. Goin' to Texas When I'm Through, Wayne Hancock
  7. Watching the River Flow, Asylum Street Spankers
  8. If I Could, Sunny Sweeney
  9. No Friend of Mine, BR549
  10. Looking at the World Through a Windshield, Son Volt
  11. Why I'm Walking, Gina Lee and the Brisket Boys
  12. Nothin', Moot Davis
  13. Jackson, June Carter Cash
  14. Folsom Prison Blues, Johnny Cash
  15. Pretty Little Shoes, Big Medicine
  16. I Couldn't Believe it Was True, Carla Bozulich
  17. Liquor Store, The Meat Purveyors
  18. 666 Pack, same
  19. I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive, The Pine Valley Cosmonauts
  20. Let the Mystery Be, Iris DeMent
  21. It's Not Happening, The Be Good Tanyas
  22. Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss, Mary Z. Cox
  23. How Many Times, Chitlin' Fooks
  24. One by One, Kitty Wells
  25. Stone Walls and Steel Bars, Junior Brown and Ralph Stanley
  26. Honky Tonkers Don't Cry, Dale Watson
  27. You Can't Get That Stuff No Mo
Sources: Audiofile contest winners, KEXP Seattle, ITunes browsing, and other assorted influences.
At Right: Country Goddess, Kitty Wells, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

$240 a year for the privilege of working here?

Or, Stick Your Head Tax, I'll Start Shopping in the Borough
Even if it Costs More in a Largely Futile Gesture

In light of the Fairbanks' City Council's decision to meet its voter-stupidity-induced budget shortfall by levying an employment head tax, I decided I needed to find out more about this particular form of taxation.

Here's what Wikipedia had to say about it:

A poll tax, head tax, or capitation is a tax of a uniform, fixed amount per individual (as opposed to a percentage of income). Such taxes were important sources of revenue for many countries into the 19th century, but this is no longer the case.*
Ah, the good ol' 19th Century. Lots of fun examples of governance back there.

Apparently, some cities in the United States an employment tax, though it was hard to find much information about it. In some cases the employer kicks in a portion of the tax. But it seems to be a rare thing - when I Googled the topic, most of the hits I got were for some tax the Canadian government levied on Chinese immigrants to discourage immigration to Canada beginning in the good ol' 19th century.

According to today's Fairbanks Daily News Minus, city officials think that this tax will generate about $4.7 million of the $10.3 million dollar budget shortfall. Other sources of possible future revenue generating measures include a motor vehicle tax and a business gross-receipts tax.

I have a few suggestion where Fairbanks might squeeze out a little more revenue:
  • Canine head tax: Ever been to a Squarebanks or Goldstream party? That's right, more dogs than people. Tax the dogs too!
  • New traffic tickets for those who insist on idling their vehicles in parking lots when it is not cold enough to require it.
  • Two words: PULL TABS. Yep, let the city fund itself by selling the most boring form of gambling ever devised.
  • Public eyesore tax: Not to apply to clothing. But if you want to have piles of junk at home visible from the road, when you don't actually operate a junkyard, a fee would be assessed based on sheer ugliness and total volume of junk. There would be a blue tarp exemption.
  • Budweiser, Crappy Beer That No One Ought to be Drinking Anyway, Tax: Through its vast marketing machine, Bud sells well even though it tastes awful. Tax the Bud drinkers!
  • McDonald's Drive Thru Tax: Have you ever seen the lines at that drive thru? A sin tax par excellance.
  • And a Very Special Goldstream Valley Tax: Remember the Other Prop 2? Well, let's just say it enjoyed popular support out there. Legalize it and tax it before the Mat-Su Valley does!

*(Editor's note: the following material also courtesy of Wikipedia) There are several famous cases of poll taxes in history, notably a tax formerly required for voting in parts of the United States that was often designed to disenfranchise African Americans, Native Americans, and whites of non-British descent, as well as two taxes levied by John of Gaunt and Margaret Thatcher in the fourteenth and twentieth centuries respectively.

The word poll is an English word that once meant "head", hence the name poll tax for a per-person tax. However, in the United States, the term has come to be used almost exclusively for a fixed tax applied to voting. Since "going to the polls" is a common idiom for voting (deriving, of course, from the fact that early voting involved head-counts), a new folk etymology has supplanted common knowledge of the phrase's true origins in America.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Mush on, Herbie

Herbie Nayokpuk, the Shishmaref Cannonball, one of the premier mushers from the days before the Iditarod evolved into the high speed, highway-trail race that it is these days and it became dominated by teams with houndy dogs that tend to quit in real cold, passed away last night yesterday in Anchorage.

Herbie, an Inupiat Eskimo from Shishmaref, never won the race, finishing second his best year, but he was a top finisher for quite a number of them. Some of the dogs in Rick Swenson's winning teams were from Herbie - he also learned a lot from him by going up to Shishmaref from what I hear.

The Shishmaref Cannonball exemplified the best qualities of my favorite part of the planet, Western Alaska. It's not a part of the world where it is customary to showboat or brag about yourself or your accomplishments. But he was one tough guy, in that hard-working kind of way that many of the elders were, and still remarkably generous and open. He was famous for charging out into weather that today would probably stop the race. For him, that was just winter weather, what you deal with on the coast.

I had the good fortune to meet him years ago in Shishmaref.* He and his brother ran a store there, which is no easy task in a small, isolated village. He had retired from the race, but talking to him about it, you knew that if his body wasn't preventing him then, he'd still be behind a sled. You'd still see him at the finish line after he retired from the race, cheering the teams in. Everyone knew who he was, not just because it is a small town, but because he was respected and, I think, loved.

Rest in peace, Herbie.

*This was back before the rest of the world discovered that Shishmaref had an erosion problem. The village has known about it for, oh, say, 50 years. Nowadays, every journalist writing about global warming wants to visit Shishmaref and write about the Alaska Native village threatened by it. If the feds had just got off their butts 35 years ago and put in a proper seawall, it'd be a different situation all together. But I digress.

Friday, December 01, 2006

World Aids Day: Local and Global

For many Alaskans, AIDS is one of those issues that happens elsewhere and is visible only as images on TheTube when you're skipping through the news. That's just not true. But rather than rant/lecture on that one, I'd simply like to urge you to donate to a worthy local nonprofit, the Interior Aids Association. They do good work.

Better yet, donate to IAA AND attend the candlelight vigil/walk tonight @ 5:30 at the Alaska Peace Center at 507 Gaffney. A reception is being held from 5-8 p.m. there this evening.

At the U, the movie "Rent" will be shown at the Hess Center at 7 p.m. tonight. Tomorrow's film is "Zero Patience" at 7 p.m. at Schaible Auditorium.

40 million people worldwide are currently infected with HIV. 25 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses in the 25 years since the first cases were identified.

My brother was one of them. At right is his panel in the AIDS quilt.

Bong Hits for Jesus: Part II? Part III?

Again, I just had to put that in the header, because the phrase amuses me so much that I have to fight back the urge to giggle.

And I am not a giggling type person.

As reported this morning in the Anchorage Daily Snooze, the Supreme Court of the United States has decided to hear the case of the Juneau high school student who was suspended after a school administrator witnessed him brandishing a sign that read, (note to self: do not giggle) "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" at the Olympic Torch Relay in 2002. The brandishing occurred at a location that was NOT ON SCHOOL PROPERTY, (although nearby.)

So it's a free speech thing, but hey, we've already chucked habeus corpus, why not throw out a few other foundations of government?

Sadly, YouTube only has the FoxNews* coverage of the case, but I'll link it, because despite how craptastically bad that right-wing-propaganda-machine-masquerading-as-a-news organization is, sometimes, it is quite funny. Unintentionally, but hey, I'm writing from Squarebanks. One has to take the funny where one can find it.

*Ha! News, my foot.

Friday, November 17, 2006

No Bunny Boots Required

Further Evidence We Are Sissifying Up Here

Not much time for a post today, my Interior friends, because I'm up to my eyeballs in alligators* here at work, as the saying goes, and we're throwing a party tomorrow night that will require a serious amount of cleaning and reorganization beforehand.

So we can really trash the place. You know?

I was watching some teevee last night and stayed up late enough to watch the local weather forecast. This being Podunkville, with (your newspaper) and teevee stations you expect poor production values and annoying 20-something year-old sports reporters with these jarringly affected 'sports news' delivery styles and those funny short haircuts with every hair coated individually with 'sculpting' product. But you expect that the weather is a gimme, how possibly could they make weather annoying?

Well for one thing, two different stations can promise that COLD winter is coming before a commercial break and then come back and tell you that it might get down to minus twenty the next few days.

To which I ask, where are they getting these people? And for the ones who have been here a while, what the Hell? Minus 20 is perfectably expectable for this time of year. If the Weather God/desses would just give us some snow, all would be well out in Cabindwelling Land. One can ski at negative twenty, one can grill (with a little effort, granted), one can drink beer outside by the fire.

(The latter being what I'm planning on tomorrow night.)

*Phrase courtesy of Lana Creer Harris, Jack Mormon storyteller extraordinaire.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

And why isn't someone following Don Young around with a camera?

Some changes afoot here at the blog - and I must say that only Uncle Ted shows up on YouTube. Nothing for Lisa Murkowski or Don Young. But really, if you wanted awesome footage of one of our pols saying stupid stuff or behaving boorishly, Mr. Young is your man. Why isn't someone following him around recording everything he says??

Then again, that might be something Dubyah actually considers 'torture.'

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Yeah, It's Another Outhouse Post

I'm still in a post-election euphoria here, but my cabin-dwelling backside has compelled me to a more practical, down-to-earth consideration: the state of my new outhouse.

As is the fashion in my neck of the Goldstream Valley, I've already strung Christmas tree lights in the black spruce so that visitors can find it in the dark.

It was shocking amusing how grossed out some of my Lower 48 friends were by the poopsicle post. Grossed out, as in, they actually remembered some of the things myself and others wrote about frozen poop. But where one takes cares of business, and in what degree of comfort, is as important as the whole eating thing, really. You eat every day and correspondingly, you visit the loo every day as well. Cycle of life, the human machine at work, blah blah blah.*

But digressing, again.

So, the new outhouse, while as fine an example of carpentry as the new cabin and not yet plagued by the dread poopsicle, has no blue foam. It's just wood. What was the previous tenant thinking?? As the temperatures have begun to dip down,** soon, I'm gonna freeze my ass off. So I'm headed to Home Despot today.

And all of this is old hat, scarcely worthy of mention in the water-challenged circles in which I socialize. But I happened to be reading The New York Times this morning and came across an article on interior decorating that is such a world away from my blue foam concerns that I felt compelled to share it with y'all.

It seems that there are people in the world that have weightier concerns at their residences than mine. Indeed, Joan Rivers and a number of very posh folk have to worry about decorating disasters:

There is a giddy intoxication that can overtake the traveler, and that is a good thing — nature’s way of inuring one to $350-a-night hotel prices. The savvy decorator, however, must always be vigilant; remembering that however delightful those scrap-metal Haitian sculptures look in Port-au-Prince, it may be quite another thing when you get them back to your apartment.

Such was the case with Jeffrey Podolsky, a New York journalist. Visiting Buenos Aires, he found himself in a leather-goods neighborhood, where he fell hard for a $1,000 black and white pony rug. It would have gone very well in a monochromatic living room, Mr. Podolsky said, but the apartment he shares with Milly de Cabrol, an interior designer, is more exotic, with oranges and deep pinks and touches of green and red. He did not realize the magnitude of his error until Ms. de Cabrol, seeing the rug, screamed.
Let's just say that the decorating issues at the CabinDwelling Compound differ. With a wood, wood, and wood motif, coupled with some Very Ugly Carpet***, and an eclectic mixture of couches and action packers, we are so far beyond "good taste" that nothing we can do is really a disaster at this point.

*I am reminded of a certain pair of businesses in Nome owned by the same couple: Fat Freddie's Restaurant and Suck N Shine. Fat Freddies restaurant serves a variety of tasty, cholesterol-bomb foods and Suck N Shine traffics in sewage. As the t-shirt they commissioned boasts, "Serving both ends of Nome's alimentary canal." I am not making this up.
**I can't say it's cold because Good God people, it's only getting down to -15 at night.
***Whitish, and formerly the primary habitat of a scruffy terrier mix named Murray. Murray and his owner have moved on, but Murray's hair keeps turning up no matter how many times we vacuum.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Night: Am I Having a Good Dream for Once

Okay, so I'm some kind of crackhead who couldn't make the CNN free Pipeline thing work. It's no big, because I'm at a location with cable television tonight. I've been driving everyone crazy jumping back and forth between CNN and local coverage.

And, how bout that? Hot damn! Looks like Seekins is out. And Kawasaki is in, finally, it looks like. Sadly, it looks like Knowles won't pull this one off, but I kind of expected Halcro to be the spoiler in that one anyway.

It is a shame that Benson doesn't look to be defeating Young, but she had a fine showing. And oh yeah, Don? You demonstrated how in tune you are with that prediction that the Dems wouldn't pick up any seats. Remarkably accurate there, except for the fact that it is possible they took the House and Senate.

Holy crap! I thought they might pull the House, but didn't think they could take the Senate, too. Unfortunately, that 30-something year-old thing is forcing me to go get some sleep. But you know? I feel like my country is waking up from a long national nightmare. Let's hope the Dems will accomplish something and govern more effectively* than the Republicans have for the last few years with their majority.

As the sort-of candidate from Texas, Kinky Friedman said:

"How hard can it be?"

*Where to start? That could be the subject of a post unto itself.

Election Night Musings: Early On

Can I just say how much I enjoy the fact that my voting location is at the local bar?

So, what's up with CNN's "free" election pipeline thing? I've clicked on it and no matter what, you have to pay. (Okay, there is a $.99 day pass, but generally, day passes to paid material are FREE. And when someone advertises something as 'free' that's what I expect.)

So, looks like I'm going to be glued to the television tonight watching the returns. I've been saying all day to my coworkers (poor captive audience that they are) that I think the media has overstated the Dems chances of gaining seats. It's not surprising, the networks need some kind of angle to hang their stories on - but I'll never put my faith in an exit poll again.

Of course, we can still celebrate that Frank the Bank is gone. Yee-haw!

Sadly, as I was talking to a friend last night about Diane Benson, he said he'd never heard of her till last night. Is that a reflection on him or on the amount of airtime she was able to buy? I hope she gives Young a run for his money, at least.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Soob Rocking Playlist: the Halloween Edition

As an compulsive, and perhaps obsessive, mix-CD maker, I offer the most recent compilation rocking my clunky old Soob.* I confess that I added Beck reluctantly, because I kind of lost respect for the man when I found out that he is a Scientologist. Why should it matter what cult religion a person belongs to, really, for the purposes of mix making?**

Halloween Mix:
  1. Remember - by The Figurines
  2. Enough to Get Away - by Joseph Arthur
  3. The Staunton Lick - by Lemon Jelly
  4. Rules of the Game - by Brazilian Girls
  5. Ungodly Fruit - by Wax Tailor
  6. Whoo... Alright, Yeah... Uh-Huh - by The Rapture
  7. Parade of Punk Rock T-Shirts - by Maritime
  8. Dream at Tempo - by Silversun Pickups
  9. Money Folder - by Madvillain
  10. Jaadu (Nickodemus and Osiris Remix) - by Ustad Sultan Khan
  11. Front 2 Back - by Playgroup
  12. Driving Through the Redlights - by Monster Movie
  13. Insistor - by Tapes 'n Tapes
  14. Figaro - by Madvillain
  15. String of Blinking Light - by Paper Moon
  16. Moonbathing - by Sky Cries Mary
  17. Benton Harbor Blues - by The Fiery Furnaces
  18. Halo of Gold - by Beck
  19. Dunes Dub - by Strategy
*You know the one that y'all in the big honking pickup trucks tailgate as I putter up Ballaine Hill? Yeah, that one. I apologize for making you slow down on icy roads and all, but I didn't have snow tires on for the last few weeks. Of course, slowing down is such an inconvenience - pickup trucks never go off the road or anything as they are not subject to the laws of physics.
**I don't know the answer to that one. I haven't added U2 to any mix in years, for that matter, on the grounds that Bono has gotten entirely annoying.
-- Powerpuff Girls image at

Is Squarebanks Sissifying? A Politics-Free Post

Oof. Being in your 30s sucks for several reasons, including the fact that staying up until 6 a.m. quaffing whatever is left in the house (and playing darts) just plain knocks a 30's-something person out for a few.

So, here I sit at work, not blogging about the election, though I'd like to do so. This is going to be a three cups of coffee kind of day.

But in regards to our purportedly Worst Place on Earth to Live*, Squarebanks, what the hell is going on with people idling their cars right now? I broke my rule of never shopping on a Sunday afternoon yesterday and there were at least a dozen cars left running while people shopped.

At 40 below, that is acceptable behavior. At current temps, it is wasteful, polluting, and completely unnecessary. What gives? Are we sissifying up here and unable to jump into a car that's not preheated? Or is this some kind of herd thing where people all follow suit after one bozo does something?

*According to The Absolutely Worst Places to Live in America. Of Fairbanks, Gilmartin writes, "Take the most horrible place you’ve ever been, then subtract the sun." I'm pretty sure some other Alaskan has blogged about this already, but for the life of me, and because of the whole 30-something year brain damage thing, I can't remember who. Apologies.
** Snowmiser courtesy of

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Post-Debate Rant: Shocked by Palin

As much as I'd like to witness the first woman* elected governor of Alaska, there is no way in hell I'm voting for Palin.

Oh, anybody would expect a lefty like me to lean Democratic, but frankly**, I can't believe Palin's response to the question about abortion during the debate the other night. Or rather, her non-response.

When asked if she would sign into law legislation that would further restrict access to abortion, she said yes. As for exceptions when abortion would be legal, she said that an exception would be when the pregnancy threatened the life of the mother. When asked if an exception would be made for women who are victims of rape she would only reply, "I'd choose life."

Which is such a horrifying non-answer, I can't even wrap my brain around it. I only wish that a followup question would have asked about an exception being made for victims of incest.

Look, having perused the Palin website, it's pretty clear that she is one of the extreme rightwingers that the Mat-Su Valley tends to send to the Lege. Her approach to the subsistence issue is to duck and toss out the term 'personal use.' But more on that later. I'm moved into my palatially-sized new cabin now and will be able to rant as frequently as I'd like.

*Why couldn't it be Fran Ulmer? Why?
** Oh, heh, I just enjoying using the word "Frank" in celebration of the end of his term.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Goodbye Shoebox, Hello San Salvatore

Okay, that is such an obscure reference that I suspect only one person on earth will get it.*

It's been a good interval of silence, I think, largely brought about by: 1) my trip back east and 2) the fact that I can't really blog at work right now. Obviously, it's hard to blog from someone else's computer when they have a crap dialup connection. The real problem is that, of late, I've had to do more work at work, with less time for a diversion to the blog. Of course, my boss will probably end up reading this.

I'm working right now, just not for the next 30 seconds. Really.

Most of my good ideas, rare though they are, come to me at inappropriate times. The muse never visits when I'm trying, she tends to wait until I have actual work things that I'm not fond of and tempts me to procrastinate just a bit longer or have a beer or something.

On occasion, she brings manhattans.

But before I return attention to my job here, I must announce that I am moving.

Not from Squarebanks, or even the Goldstream Valley. But people, I am moving on up. Or over, actually. I am vacating the craptastic cabin this weekend to a larger, less craptastic one. It's actually quite nice and a whole lot bigger. We might even be able to play bean bags indoors.
I'm contemplating buying roller blades just so I can do laps around the downstairs.

That's right, there are two stories even.

But still no running water. What did you think, I was going all posh?

Pictures will undoubtedly surface after the move and the celebratory drinking housewarming, and possibly even a political post. Damn. I missed a lot while I was gone.

*The villa in a not particularly great Merchant-Ivoryesque movie called "Enchanted April."

Monday, October 16, 2006

CabinDweller Abroad: a particularly immaculate version of Hell

Heh, that was a shout out, y'all, going all meta here, from Motown. I'm still here back in suburbia, coping with 8 days spent mostly in the company of my parents.

My homophobic, racist parents. Good times!

But by a certain happy circumstance, someone gave my parents a bottle of really good rum. Rum and cokes can do wonders for one's attitude.

So, heh. The Detroit Tigers are in the World Series, I am here, but alas, couldn't get tickets. And frankly, the constant rehashing of the World Series thing is getting pretty freaking irritating. 119-loss, blah, blah, Leyland, lunch bucket attitude, blah blah. It's like they just trot out the same stories they always write, in what I used to call the cotton candy form*, when a Detroit team wins something, like they have to service some mythological needs of the community every damned day....

Oh, and did I mention the 8 days with my family???

So, homesick for my outhouse and alien/dog and squirrel-infested cabin, I called home today. Or at least I tried to - damn! Did some maniac with some equipment painted yellow get a little enthusiastic?

That, and I am very entertained to find out about the hunters who got their trucks stuck up on the Dalton. You know, where you CAN'T drive your trucks offroad? Heh. All those trucks commercials showing pickup trucks going through anything just don't educate folks on how fantastically stuck you can get on tundra. Bog, slick clay kind of soil, and then, dayum, you're there for the duration.

And perhaps, guys? Maybe driving the second truck out there wasn't the best idea.

*Defn. cotton candy form: lots of volume (word count) with no substance whatsoever.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Dog or Alien? You Decide

Well, Rosario, possible-dog, possible-alien, is recuperating nicely. I'd planned on a stylish picture of her with her Cone of Death* but I am tired of dealing with her and it together.

And it turns out duct tape is quite useful in dog bandaging. It's not easy to keep the dressings dry - but with a cut up grocery bag and the silver stuff, presto! Dog-bandage-protector thingey. Ro has a check up appointment on her not inexpensively repaired foot in a few hours and the dressing has survived 4.5 days of... her.

Oh, and I get .5 CabinDwelling points for incorporating duct tape into a medical circumstance.**

I'm off to my hometown, Motown, for two whole weeks, so Flic will be picking up the slack I hope, ranting as she does so well. And I will point out that I did not time the vacation to coincide with playoff season - it is mere good fortune that the Tigers have somehow*** ended up in the running for the first time since I was in high school.

Yikes. That was back in the Reagan Years.

*Known in veterinary-type circles as an "Elizabethan Collar." Based on the amount of damage she inflicts when wearing one, Cone of Death more accurately describes it.
** You get more points for medical circumstance involving humans; points awarded for degree of difficulty, ingenuity, and seriousness of the medical circumstance.
***Excellent pitching.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Righteous Pagans Get Thumbs-Up from St. Peter

Limbo is shutting its doors forever

As heard today on Public Radio International, the Vatican has decided to rescind the concept of Limbo, thereby redirecting un-baptized babies and “righteous pagans”* to some other type of eternity that is not spent hovering betwixt and between one of grace and one of debauched hellfire and brimstone. A little bit of additional research revealed that the Vatican’s plans to shut down Limbo actually were made just under a year ago, when a Vatican-appointed group of theologians recommended that the Catholic Church abolish limbo. There is no further information on what sort of chaos this created in the celestial train station while souls en route to limbo waited, well, in limbo, to see if they could really get their tickets upgraded to a one-way to the pearly gates.

And what of the souls already in limbo – which according to one roll call includes Plato, Lincoln, Moses and Abraham (even the Old Testament VEEPs were not immune) and lots and lots of babies – how are they handled? Is there some vast immigrant processing center – a heavenly Ellis Island – where their souls are examined for blots and blotches and their paperwork stamped with a golden seal? Or are they sort of raptured up and out?

Now, granted, I am no theologian, but how the hell, er, heck, does an earthly construction like the Church simply decide that for the past 800 years or so, its just been dead wrong about Limbo? Isn’t that the sort of re-organization that should be left to the CEO and the board? Which in this instance would be God and his several angels - with maybe the apostles as an advisory committee, as ones who have been there, done that in terms of earthly matters. I cant imagine the Greeks one day deciding that Mt. Olympus was simply not prime enough real estate for Zeus et al – or Thor and Frya and all the other Teutonic Gods and Goddess up and decamping from Valhalla because they were offered a better deal on a condo in the French Alps from their puppet humans.

Doesn’t Pope Benedict worry that going Limbo-less is just the thin edge of the wedge? I mean – isn’t the establishment of afterlife clubs really up to the deities in charge? It surely seems to this pagan (righteous!) that if a earthly body of men (certain-sure, there were no sistahs in that Subcommittee on the Status of Limbo) can suddenly wipe out Limbo – it calls into serious question the existence of other afterlife states - and thus futher weakens that tremulous house of cards called "organized religion".

* defined variously, but generally by those in the know as “people who for whatever reason never had a chance to know Christ's teachings but otherwise were good people who would have lived according to those teachings if given the opportunity."

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Candidate non-answers ought to frighten Rural Alaskans

As a reluctant Fairbanksan (and a transplant from Rural Alaska), I'm pretty suspicious of the number of questions that Sarah Palin failed to answer that deal with the state outside of Anchorage, Wasilla and Squarebanks.

If you're reading this, you're either one of my friends bored at work or you are like me and read most of the Alaska blogs regularly, including Alaskan Abroad, who teamed up with the Anchorage Press on a gubernatorial candidate questionnaire, which is posted here. Their questions were a pretty well thought out survey on statewide issues.

Questions which Palin skipped:
  • Do you support oil and gas exploration in Bristol Bay? How would you ensure that the salmon fishery there is adequately protected?
  • How would you change the Alaska coastal management program? Would you move the Fish Habitat Division from the Department of Natural Resources back to the Department of Fish & Game?
  • Do you support a 90-day legislative session?
  • How would you rectify the long-standing issue of dual wildlife management in rural Alaska? Do you support changing Alaska's Constitution to match federal law on subsistence?
  • Would you reinstate municipal revenue sharing? How would you find a sustainable way of paying for the program? Is a Permanent Fund community dividend a possibility?
  • How would you improve health care in rural and urban areas? How would you lower health care costs?
  • What is your position on law enforcement in rural Alaska and the wish by many predominately Native communities to use tribal courts and tribal police to resolve disputes in the absence of state troopers?
  • How would you describe the cultural value of Alaska's Native communities? Should that be enough of a reason to preserve them?
  • How would you deal with attempts to expand tribal sovereignty in the state?
I'm not sure whether she is unwilling to say what she thinks about these issues and risk showing her true colors/priorities and cost herself the rural vote - or more frighteningly, is perhaps so unfamiliar with Rural Alaska that she can't formulate answers to those questions... that it is all completely off the radar for her campaign. Which is worse, cluelessness or dissembling?

To be fair, Knowles skipped a question, too. Go read the rest already!

Alaska Dividend Breakdown

Amount of this year's dividend: $1106.96
  • Deduction for traffic ticket from 2004 that languished in my desk w/administrative fees : $150
  • Cost of timing belt, water pump, tow, and labor after Sept. 30 breakdown in the Valley: $697
  • Vet bill for wayward dog that returned at 1 a.m. last night with an artfully* cut front paw: ~$20
Actual amount of this year's dividend that is not spent one day after receiving it: $59.96

How? Why? Will I ever have a fall where calamity does not descend immediately after the PFD arrives?
*The vet looked at Rosario, supposed-dog-but-possibe-alien-masquerading-as-dog pictured above, and said the cut was "artful." In addition to the vet bill, I now have 30+ bloody paw prints in the Soob and cabin to clean up. Oh, and duct tape is unsuitable as a subsitute for roller gauze and medical tape.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

But at least we don't live in Texas

Hobbyist or Intent to Distribute?

In furtherance of the argument that liberals indeed possess a sense of humor, for your perusal I offer the linked bit of YouTube hilarity which has been making the feminist, liberal-type blog rounds. Plus, it seemed relevant in light of Flic's recent post regarding the fact that 'personal lubricants' may once again be carried on board airplanes.

Oh heck, I might just as well add that you oughtn't watch the clip if you are youngun or easily offended.

The clip about 'educational devices and personal massagers' comes on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to hear a case from Texas that deals with laws there governing the sale of sex toys "educational devices and personal massagers."

Hee. And once again, I count myself lucky not to live in Texas, where I might be considered a criminal. :)

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid!!!

Or, Living With the Consequences of Yesterday's Local Election

Apparently, enough people harbor the belief that we can do all these simultaneously:
  1. Wipe out 1/2 of city revenue in Fairbanks by capping the mil at .5 mils
  2. Make enactment of a sales tax a voter-approved action not available until the next general election in 2007
  3. Have the City of Fairbanks provide in any meaningful way any of the services that we have generally assumed that municipalities provide: the cop shop, fire protection/EMS, snow removal, etc.
I don't know, maybe there is a tiny workshop in North Pole where tiny, non-unionized, illegal immigrant elves will spin gold from used straw?*

The cop shop has been working without a new contract for over a decade. They have a total of three detectives working for the ENTIRE city. So what happens if a homicide happens? All those cops will be working the homicide, forget about investigating anything else, like, say, the recent rash of burglaries. And, I must point out that the city hasn't been honoring the old contract anyway, really, because they haven't been funding what they agreed to... I mean for chrissake, until last year, the cops had to buy the tires for their own patrol vehicles.

Perhaps it'll be like my hometown, way back East, where it is not uncommon to have an hour wait on a 911 call.

Oh well, this bit of fiscal folly comes to you courtesy of folks like the one quoted in today's Fairbanks Daily News Minus:
"Proposition 3 sponsor Nelson Miles applauded the results of his initiative. He suggested the elimination of the city’s property taxes will encourage more borough residents to start to move inside the city limits over the next few years. It’s just a positive thing for the people in the city,” Miles said."

What? You think my cash-strapped, waterless self is going to move into the city? Now???

And, just consider for a moment the tax revenue which the voters have just pissed away in the form of that box store complex on the east end of town, which is inside city limits and would have been subject to the old property tax rate.

*With all the dog lots around here, if this is the case, I stand corrected and we merely need await a budget surplus. Apologies for the fractured fairy tale/political metaphor. The coffee just ain't doing it! [Edited on 10-4 because of stupid Blogger font issues.]

Friday, September 29, 2006

September 28, 1215 A.D.

What is this basket-thing, and how did we end up here?

Secrets courts, secret evidence... Good morning Mr. Orwell!

I know this much, none of our representatives: Stevens, Murkowski or Young even commented upon the bill, at least not that I could tell from reading the Congressional record. Nada. They just voted 'yes.' It would seem that conservatives, while capable of working themselves into a frenzy over certain 'expansions of government', like oh, say, a working freaking healthcare system of any sort, are more than happy to preside over an unprecedented expansion of power in the executive branch.

Shame on you Senators Stevens and Murkowski. Shame on you, Mr. Young.

Last I checked, the folks we elect were supposed to uphold the Constitution; I dunno, perhaps they mistook 'uphold' for eviscerate...

When people I know insist on doing something stupid, despite the obvious consequences, there's a point at which outrage gives way, not to resignation, necessarily, but a sense of, "Fine. That's what you want to do? Live with the consequences."

Unfortunately, it's not just the fools who voted for the Military Commissions Act who will be living with it. It's every American down the line.

You don't know what I'm talking about? Not paying attention? Go and read the Ester Republic article by Deidre, linked above. Your, our representatives just gutted the basic underpinning of our legal system.*

Or better yet, read the New York Times op-ed in its entirety. An excerpt:

Here’s what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws — while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.

Republicans say Congress must act right now to create procedures for charging and trying terrorists — because the men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks are available for trial. That’s pure propaganda. Those men could have been tried and convicted long ago, but President Bush chose not to. He held them in illegal detention, had them questioned in ways that will make real trials very hard, and invented a transparently illegal system of kangaroo courts to convict them.

And for those who think this is one of those cases of "if you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about" - well, please consider that the way the legislation is written, anyone, meaning U.S. citizens, not just the "Islamofascist" Boogeymen that Dubyah and the Ministry of Truth have used so well, could be held without any way to challenge their detention. Anyone. So, if you are innocent of the charges, not only can you be held indefinitely, you have no right to challenge that detention.

And it's not like we ever imprisoned an innocent person, have we? Nope, well, there was that Canadian fella.

Me, oh, I feel so much safer.

*Habeas corpus, you say? Defn: Latin for "you [should] have the body", in common lawhabeas corpus is the name of a legal instrument or writ by means of which detainees can seek release from unlawful imprisonment. A writ of habeas corpus is a court order addressed to a prison official (or other custodian) ordering that a detainee be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether or not he or she should be released from custody. The writ of habeas corpus in common law countries is an important instrument for the safeguarding of individual freedom against arbitrary state action. At I would like to point out the word 'arbitary.'

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Personal Lube OK on Flights - says TSA

Kinky sex practitioners heave a sigh of relief!!!

Well, women with personal “dryness” and practitioners of other assorted sex acts needing a little bit of extra there can now relax – they can tote that tube of K-Y jelly in their carry-on luggage, as long as it doesn’t exceed 4 ounces!

In the peculiar logic so characteristic of the Bush Administration, the TSA* announced yesterday that it was easing the ban on certain liquids and gels on airplanes. TSA Chief Kip Hawley proudly announced to the press that passengers could now carry lotions and gels on planes, but only as long as they were no more than 3 ounces – and only if they were sealed in a quart-sized, clear, zip-loc baggie. Not a sandwich baggie, not a gallon baggie, not a dime baggie. Certainly no fold and tuck baggies – and definitely not any of those designer color Reynold’s Wrap baggies. WOW – hard to believe that the TSA could come up with something even more ridiculous than the Crayola box of threat alerts and handyman’s chemical warfare protection kit of visquine and duct tape, but yes indeed they did.

OK, the 3 ounces wasn’t much of a puzzler, and even the inclusion of personal lubricants with eye drops, saline solution and nonprescription meds, just generated a “tee-hee”, but the zip-loc baggie? What’s up with that????? Does the Bush family have stock in the zip-loc baggie industry? Well, nope, turns out there is a reason….our fearless leaders have determined that a quart bag cant hold enough gel bomb stuff to blow up an airplane.

Can it even get any more ridiculous???? What is up with us sheeple? Why are we sitting here letting this Orwellian BS go on and on and on? Why are we letting TSA generate a laundry list of household items that supposedly can cause airplanes to fall out of the sky when the real reason we are targeted is because our government is hated for its actions and led by a petty despot? Isn’t it time to take a stand and brandish the K-Y, the visquine, the duct tape and the shampoo and say – hell no, we wont take it any more? Well, if it isn't, we could still have one heck of a party!

*not to be confused with the other TSA – Tourette’s (%***@##) Syndrome (**&@###!) Association

Monday, September 25, 2006

Alaska on the Tube: Men in Trees

Well, my fellow 49th Staters, I finally found myself at the CabinDwelling Compound on a Friday night, and actually remembered to tune in to catch an episode of Men in Trees.

For those of you with much better and interesting things to do than watch television, it's the newest show purportedly set Alaska. And it has perhaps the most famous hasbian* of all time, Anne Heche, as its female lead.

The audience at the CDC: myself and three other CabinDwelling folk, four dogs, and a mostly full case of shorts of Old 55 from the Silver Gulch Brewery.

Expectations were low, I must point out. But keeping in mind that it really Is Just TV, a couple of thoughts:
  • Okay, so the show must be set down in Southeast. At least they have the sense to name drop towns from down there.
  • Everything is too... clean. Perhaps that is just the way Southeast is, what with all the rain and all.
  • Oh, we'll grant the show a break on the fish-out-of-water cliche, but that'll get old quicker than you can say Joel Fleischman.
  • Radio show? Cribbed directly from The Show That Will Not Be Named. But, will grant a pass on that one because, ya know, radio has a greater importance here than anywhere else in this country.
  • Okay, so I did like the AH character, Marin, ringing the bell at the bar. Now that felt authentic.
  • Apparently, in Elmo, cops can just go ahead and set bail, and change it. Bizarre.
In general: Meh. Kind of bland. It was not the worst amount of time I've wasted on the Tube**, but the writing needs to pick up for me to justify my sacrifice of brain cells.

*Oh, just look it up.
**Not to be confused with Uncle Ted's system of tubes by which I post this and send email.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Okay, Greenies, don't say no one ever listens to you

Here's your chance, CabinDwelling and Non-Water-Challenged alike, to express yourselves to one of the candidates.

Ethan Berkowitz, Knowles' running mate on the Democratic ticket, is going to be in Fairbanks on Saturday. He is holding a roundtable session at the Cloudberry B&B - so if you want to talk about what issues matter to you in this election, there is your opportunity.

Time: 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.

This is not a fundraising type event - so being broke is no excuse, no one is going to be talking you into opening up your checkbook.* And if you don't tell the candidates which issues matter to you, how can you expect them to address them??


*Do people even have checkbooks anymore? I mean, I do - but I have serious Luddite tendencies, as evidenced by the actual record player sitting on the shelf.

Monday, September 18, 2006

CabinDwelling Checklist: Freezer

Ah, glorious fall. We've still been grilling up a storm, but because of my advancing age or the quantity of beer and mojitos involved, I didn't take any pictures AGAIN. So you'll just have to take my word for it that there was some very tasty food yesterday on the deck.

But the real news, my unwashered friends, is that I have finally gotten one of the items on the authentic CabinDweller checklist: the chest freezer in the front yard.

This joins the blue tarp, old Soob* with liberal bumper stickers, water jugs and used motor oil container thingey in all their ubiquitous Goldstream yard glory. Now we can hunt and gather with impunity, free of the restrictions imposed by the size of the usual freezer that comes with a fridge. A freezer in the front yard, in this context, is one of those life milestones you hit with pride, on a par with a getting your driver's license, turning 21, or to consider one's Alaska existence, knocking over your first moose,** making your first batch of dry fish, or the first time your eyelids eyelashes froze shut.

It also means not having to beg for freezer space from your friends.

The Zero Zone, and yes, that is its actual name, could not have come into our lives at a better time. Our houseguest brought more nigipiaq*** back with him from the coast. Between that and the halibut, salmon, moose, clams and other meat, opening the freezer has in recent days meant the risk of large, frozen items dropping out directly on to one's toes.

Freezer****, check. Next on the list? The requisite old, beater car in nearly driveable condition takes up residence in the driveway. But more on Darla later.

* This vehicle can also be an old Toyota SR5. You get the same CabinDwelling points for one those.
**Knocking over: not in the literal sense. I'm referring to shooting one. Of course, hitting a moose with your car/truck probably is a milepost on par with the others, and also worthy of some number of CabinDwelling points.
***Eskimo food! Thanks to the continued observance of sharing, we have at the moment in our tiny freezer: dried black meat, dry fish, muktuk, and seal oil in the freezer, courtesy of our kind friends/relatives out on the coast.

****Picture coming soon!

(Edited for lucidity and crap grammar on September 19.)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Rest in Peace, Ann Richards

Former Texas governor and perhaps the quickest-political-wit-on-her-feet-ever, Ann Richards, died yesterday.

I don't go in big for heros/heroines, but she was definitely one of mine. The fact that That State gave us Richards, Austin, Bob Wills, and Molly Ivins makes me almost capable of forgiving it for saddling us with Dubya.

She was, in my mind, exactly the sort of progressive politician that we need here in Alaska: smart, fiery, and unfailingly funny. Lord knows the lefties (myself included) could use a earnest-ectomy. Her governorship really set the standard in a state whose redneckness rivals (and perhaps even dwarfs) our own.

But rather than give you a history lesson*, I'll just let some of her quotes speak for her.

She is most famous for her quote skewering Dubya's daddy, George the First, at the Democratic National Convention.**

“Poor George [Bush], he can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

Or consider Ann Richards on How to Be a Good Republican:

"1. You have to believe that the nation's current 8-year prosperity was due to the work of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, but yesterday's gasoline prices are all Clinton's fault.
2. You have to believe that those privileged from birth achieve success all on their own.
3. You have to be against all government programs, but expect Social Security checks on time.

4. You have to believe that AIDS victims deserve their disease, but smokers with lung cancer and overweight individuals with heart disease don't deserve theirs.

5. You have to appreciate the power rush that comes with sporting a gun.
6. You have to believe...everything Rush Limbaugh says.

7. You have to believe that the agricultural, restaurant, housing and hotel industries can survive without immigrant labor.
8. You have to believe God hates homosexuality, but loves the death penalty.
9. You have to believe society is color-blind and growing up black in America doesn't diminish your opportunities, but you still won't vote for Alan Keyes.
10. You have to believe that pollution is OK as long as it makes a profit.
11. You have to believe in prayer in schools, as long as you don't pray to Allah or Buddha.
12. You have to believe Newt Gingrich and Henry Hyde were really faithful husbands.
13. You have to believe speaking a few Spanish phrases makes you instantly popular in the barrio.
14. You have to believe that only your own teenagers are still virgins.
15. You have to be against government interference in business, until your oil company, corporation or Savings and Loan is about to go broke and you beg for a government bail out.
16. You love Jesus and Jesus loves you and, by the way, Jesus shares your hatred for AIDS victims, homosexuals, and President Clinton.
17. You have to believe government has nothing to do with providing police protection, national defense, and building roads.
18. You have to believe a poor, minority student with a disciplinary history and failing grades will be admitted into an elite private school with a $1,000 voucher."

"I believe in recovery, and I believe that as a role model I have the responsibility to let young people know that you can make a mistake and come back from it."

And one of my favorites:

"I am delighted to be here with you this evening because after listening to George Bush all these years, I figured you need to know what a real Texas accent sounds like."

For a full transcript of her 1988 speech go here. You can even listen to the .mp3.
**All the big press orgs will be writing the history of her career. I highly recommend reading Molly Ivin's* description of how she beat a wealthy Texas rancher to become governor -- it is the funniest piece of political reportage I have ever read.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Cyanide? Alaskans, don't worry your pretty little heads about it

If y'all haven't noticed, gold has been up at the $600 around $600 per ounce mark for quite a while now, courtesy, largely, of Dubya's military misadventures.

The result: a boom in exploration and mine permitting not seen since, arguably, the first gold rushes at the turn of the last century. (Man, does typing that make me feel o-l-d.) And this activity has been encouraged by the least-popular-unindicted-governor-ever, Frank "And-Don't-Let-the-Door-Hit-You-in-the-Ass" Murkowski. He's been issuing press releases trumpeting his 'Roads to Resources' projects through the entirety of his term. But, in Nome at least, he might have built one road too many.*

Enter, stage-right, which if you bear with me, corresponds to 'west' and we're talking about west, of here, namely Nome... industrial scale hardrock mining, a highly fast-tracked mine project, a whole lot of nothing in terms of looking at the environmental consequences, an outstanding quantity of Nova Gold-don't-worry-your-pretty-little-heads-about-it-p.r. and a surprising number of pissed off Nomeites.

Murkowski's latest 'road to resource' is the upgrade of the Glacier Creek Road right outside of Nome. The area, no stranger to small-scale placer operations, is one of the proposed sites where Nova Gold wants to utterly despoil conduct open pit mining.

The transport and use of large quantities of cyanide make people nervous. The utter absence of any plans to deal with an accident makes people (the first responders in particular) nervous. The two open pit mines** at Rock Creek and Big Hurrah 30-some mile east make subsistence users nervous. And the long-term consequences (hello there, mine tailings!) of trying to deal with the toxic waste generated by the use of cyanide make one question the short-term (an estimated 5 year mine operation) benefits.

Or, as one more knowledgable friend of mine said recently, "All tailings piles leak."

Or, as former Nome Fish and Game fisheries guy Charlie Lean said:

"Pumps are going to wear out, ditches are going to erode, the plastic liner over tailings will degrade. A 30-year budget for maintaining the tailing pile is unrealistic," he said.***

Of course, DNR's large mine permitting honcho, Ed Fogels, downplayed the questions of safety, as reported in The Nome Nugget, saying that Nomeites ought to look at other big mines in Alaska that use cyanide to mine gold.

Uh, Ed, would that be Illinois Creek where the company that was using a cyanide heap leach went bankrupt and there wasn't enough in the reclamation bonds to properly close or cover reclamation costs... So the State of Alaska ended up putting out an RFP to reopen the thing to make enough money to properly do so... and lo and behold, the company that got the bid happened to have a former DNR commissioner and former Fort Knox manager on board?

I'm smelling the Orwell, here, I mean, does anyone else find it just fatally ironic that they reopened the mine so they could afford to close it????

Or Ed, do you remember Ryan Lode, near Ester, where cyanide (allegedly, must cover our butts) from the mine turned in up at least one residential well??

Despite all Nova Gold's assurances, it's hard to buy their p.r. when they're seeking to have the Snake River reclassified so they don't have to follow as stringent regulations at Rock Creek regarding water quality. That might mean they're gonna pollute it, don't ya think?

Seriously, we need to rethink what we will tolerate for a few year's jobs - particularly when the aftermath and waste will linger long after we, our children, and their children have long become worm food.

For more info on Rock Creek, check out The Nugget's coverage.
For excellent reading on Big Gold's behavior here in Alaska, check out NAEC's mining page,
particularly 14 Fort Knox Facts.
And for more general info on large, industrial scale mines, go visit the Mineral Policy Center's site. It's linked over there on the right of this blog.

In the meantime, it is permits all round for Nova Gold so far. They plan to begin operations in 2007.

*And don't you just find in this a bizarre symmetry, what with the furor over all the 'Roads to Nowhere?' Maybe we just ought to leave road-building alone for a little while, and fix the ones we already have. And make the industries that want them built pay for them themselves. Hello, Timber Industry! Hello Big Gold!
**Not that they couldn't go ahead and amend their plan to include more pits. Fort Knox has sprawled far beyond its original proposal.

A reasonable explanation for Bush's behavior

Oh, normally I stay off the national stuff because there are plenty of people writing about it better than I, but this particular video clip at was too good not to pass along.

Of course, there are plenty of people writing about Alaska better, too, but I like to think I'm pioneering out the waterless, structurally unsound, squirrel-infested, tree-hugging cabin niche market.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Corrupt Bastards Club: Investigation linked to Alaska production tax issue and pipeline

File this in the realm of things that are so bizarre and appropriate, that you'd just have to think it was fiction.

The Anchorage Daily News reports this morning that the FBI raided the offices of VECO, the giganto oil service company, and several Alaskan legislators, looking for items, and now please pause with me to savor this one....

“Any physical garments (including hats) bearing any of the following logos or phrases: ‘CBC,’ ‘Corrupt Bastards Club,’ ‘Corrupt Bastards Caucus,’ ‘VECO.’”*

1. Could they have been that stupid? That arrogant?
2. I'm somewhat jealous, what with the nature of my feelings on Big Oil's tentacular influence in this state. I should have coined the term and been using it myself.
3. I will pay a sizable bit of money on Ebay if any of these items turn up. EVER.
4. And nothing, I mean nothing on this Earth would please me more than to spend some portion of Permanent Dividend Fund check on it. The symmetry, oh wait... I must swoon.
5. I need to trademark that term and start kicking out hats and t-shirts immediately.

"A copy of one of the search warrants, obtained by The Associated Press, links the investigation to the new production tax law signed last month by Gov. Frank Murkowski and the natural gas pipeline draft contract Murkowski and the state’s three largest oil companies negotiated," writes Associated Press reporter Matt Volz.**

This is going to play out like daytime television, friends, and I for one am going to be reading every piece of news I can get.

*"'Bastards Club' hats in probe" by Matt Volz, The Associated Press, September 1, 2006.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Musings On The CabinDwelling Life, Pt. 3

Although I left the waterless life in 2000 when I moved into my little red box in the exurbs of Fairbanks, I did cabindwell for 13 years – of which 4 were also without electricity – but that is a story for another day, another blog.

Aside from red squirrels and their fondness for eating and nesting in yellow insulation, there is probably nothing more iconic of the cabindwelling life than the Poop Popsicle.
Poop Popsicle, def.: A spire of human excrement that accumulates below the
outhouse seat during the winter months in northern climes.
Poop Popsicle growth is greatly hastened by addition of toilet paper, which is why many outhouses are copiously signed with exhortations from their owners for users to deposit their used TP in the provided receptacle (not the outhouse hole). However, even without the addition of TP, poop Popsicles grow at alarming rates, depending on the number of household users and the depth of hole. Now a really deep hole means that it is unlikely that a cabindweller will have to deal with a poop Popsicle that peeps above the hole, but on the other hand, it also means that it is unlikely to thaw and topple during our short summer months, thus eventually creating a towering shit spire - the base of which is out of reach.

For the most accepted way of dealing with uppity poop spires is to reach into the hole with a hefty stick (reserved expressly for this purpose) and deliver a mighty blow to the base of the poop stalagmite, thus toppling it. Obviously, if the hole is deep, it is difficult to really get to the root of the problem. This has led to various inventive and sometimes outright disastrous solutions to removing poop Popsicles. Cabindwellers have doused their spires with gas and lit them. They have exploded them with firecrackers (perhaps the real origin of the term “fire in the hole”), and hacked at them with axes and mauls and shovels and pulaskis. In fact probably everything and anything has been tried by outhouse owners in desperate attempts to avoid the inevitable – that at some point, the only way to deal with the ever growing poop pile that freezes faster and higher every winter, is to dig a new hole.

My first encounter with a poop Popsicle came my first winter in Alaska – lo these 18 years ago. I visited some friends (who shall remain nameless to spare them embarrassment) and in the course of the evening wandered out to use the facilities. When my headlamp illuminated the outhouse interior (another must-have item for winter outhouse excursions) I was stymied to find a poop spire that was a full two feet or more ABOVE the outhouse seat. I wisely opted for a squat in a nearby snow bank, but the mystery has plagued me ever since…not the formation of the spire itself, but just how the hell, and why the hell, anyone would go to the trouble of balancing and squatting and ultimately standing or maybe even hanging over an ever ascending spire of shit…wouldn’t have just one solid whack with a poop Popsicle stick done the trick?

Musings on the CabinDwelling Life, Pt. 2

A place can lack running water, or windows that actually open, or some quantity of insulation in the roof, but give me something reliable to cook on and I'm a contented, fatter CabinDweller. Sadly, the majority of places I've rented this state have had electric stoves - which are an insult to foodies everywhere.

Of course, even an electric stove beats no stove at all. After 6 months of tenantship cursing the Toastmaster 1500, an abominaton of a two-burner hot plate, in July I gave up on my landlord's promise of installing an actual stove and took matters into my own hands. We agreed - I'd buy the stove and take it out of rent.

It's been two full months of propane-fuelled bliss. Except, of course, that time I ran out of propane late at night and was also in between paychecks. Funny how those tiny details of propane-dependency are erased from your memory when you are busy whining pining for something you don't have.*

But thanks to the trusty, old, reliable Coleman stove** ... and a can of Blazo stashed for just such emergencies, it's not such a terrible experience. Who among us hasn't had to turn to the Coleman stove in such times of need?

It's a lovely time of year to be cooking on the deck, nearly yellow jacket free at this point, and it kind of reminds me of fish camp. Though I suppose the neighbors have to be wondering about the sound of the tea kettle whistling in the morning as I heat water for coffee.

*A truism for both propane and relationships. My god! I'm turning into Hank Hill!
** A $10 garage sale score!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Musings on the CabinDwelling life, Pt. 1

Today, my roommate [cough] went to the transfer station to drop off some trash, and witnessed a scene so perfect, oh, my peoples, it just encapsulates that je-ne-sais-quois that is Fairbanks.

Seriously, there was a dude dumpster-diving, which in of itself is no Big Thang here -- but the successful diver took his find ... and then drove off with it in his Mercedes.

And while we're at it, let us consider the sign at the University Road station which basically says, 'you might consider your animals trash, but you can't dump their bodies here.'

And in followup, I have a question, or rather a situation leading to a question.

I've got some squirrel issues. It all began with Bob*, the first one that was living in my cabin's roof when I moved in. Squirrels are basically rats with a nicer set of clothes and better p.r.**, and I was not too happy about listening to Bob's little claws as he'd walk around upstairs in the evenings. Not to mention that my old craptastic cabin leaks heat (costing me fuel) because there is likely not a shred of insulation up there in Ye Olde Squirrel Hostel and Party Pad.

And let's not even discuss how squirrel-obsessed my dogs have become.

So, months ago, I "did something" about Bob. And then, Evelyn moved in shortly thereafter. Again, I "took care" of it. Many squirrels later, and well, there seems to be a never-ending supply of them. Luckily, The Roomie is a good shot and has been unemployed and really has been quite dedicated dispatching them with a .22. (We're using .22 shorts because there are neighbors to consider.)

But we now have what I'll delicately term a squirrel remains disposal problem. Is the dump appropriate, keeping in mind the transfer station's sign discouraging that sort of thing? Do I keep digging little unmarked squirrel graves?

*Oh, it's too long a story to explain how the names started. 20-some of the furry little squatters later, we've stopped with the names.
**Thank you, Disney!