Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Southern Exposure: on the deck, in hammock, with beer

Ahhh, fantastic long weekend. Much time spent on the deck, test driving the new hammock, and of course, guzzling beer.

And and on the topic of the hammock, would you believe that I went to two local stores in search of said device and was met with puzzled looks? "What is this hammock thing you speak of?" or something to that effect. At which point I had to explain what one was, ya know, made out of rope, you lay on it, etc. Strange.

Despite the fact that the slow-moving, big, early mosquitos have been replaced by the fast-moving, smaller ones, the deck experience was not a bloodbath.

And, this weekend marked the debut of my freshly repainted bean bag boxes. Bean bags** is an excellent game, if for no other reason than no matter how many beers the contestants consume, no one is gonna get hurt tossing them around. Unlike, say, horse shoes. There is some evidence that one's bean bag tossing abilities increase with the consumption of beer in a mathematical relationship similar to that most famously demonstrated in the Beer & Pool Playing Bell Curve.

And hey, bonus: Tony Knowles announced he is running for Gov! Yeah, sure, the man would be a moderate Republican in any other state but this. Now how about Fran? Bring back Fran! (Am still bummed she didn't beat the Murk.)

The Sunday totals:
# of beers consumed*: ~18
# of liters of soda: 3
meat side of the menu included: smoked, marinaded moose ribs (courtesy FlictheBic), thai marinaded chicken thighs, moose burgers
non-meat side of the menu: something cauliflowery, organic quinoa w/figs, marshmellows, chips and salsa, grilled asparagus
# of dogs = 4
# of people = 10

Oh, and the thai marinade came courtesy of http://recipes.epicurean.com/recipe/15207/thai-chicken-marinade.html. It comes in in second place of the three marinades tested in the Cabin Dwelling Kitchen so far this summer:

Thai Chicken Marinade
Ingredients: 3 cloves garlic-minced, 2T fresh ginger-minced, grated zest of one lime, juice of 1 lime, 1/4 tsp. red paper flakes, 1/2 C water, 1/4 C soy sauce, 1/4 C worcestershire sauce, 1 T sugar.

Directions: Mix all together and pour over chicken breasts and let marinate at least 4 hours but overnight is better. Drain and discard marinade and grill the meat until done.

* Consumed by all the persons drinking beer, not just me.

** In other parts of the world, folks call this game 'corn hole.' In the boozy little community in which I used to live, it was called bean bags, and frankly, that's a much better name.

At right: Rosario, Mat-Su Valley Dog of indeterminate origin, fond of Subaru seats, steering wheels, and combo switches on the steering column. Hobbies include: treeing squirrels, even long after the squirrel has left a particular tree; excavating foul old bones and dragging them home; throwing up inside the cabin after consuming things dragged home.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Misadventures of an Amateurish Gardener

Or, "There are Reasons Why You Don't Put Out Your Plants Before June 1."

If one is inclined to try the whole gardening thing here in Squarebanks, it is a good idea to get advice from those who have lived here and gardened successfully for some time. That way, when you ignore their advice and something goes wrong, and, say, your tomato plants fall prey to a Really Freaking Late Frost, the chagrin is powerful, indeed.

And you might actually heed the advice next year.

But in my ignorant, advice-ignoring defense, it's been really warm out lately, venturing up into the 80s at least once last week. So, you know, I figured, what's a mere four days???

Yep, it actually frosted here at the CabinDwelling compound on the night of 27th. I got up to empty the tiny dog at 5 a.m. (doh!) and noticed that the plants on the ground looked 'funny.' Funny, as in, they had a tracing of white on them. Funny how it looked and felt like FROST. And across the yard, in a move sort of one of those faux-edgy television programs might jerk the handheld camera around, I noticed that both of my Sun Gold tomato plants were frosty, too.

Pictures to follow. Advisory: Scenes are graphic and may offend Real Gardeners.

The horror, the horror.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Greed and God - Musings on the Blind Eyes of Christian Fundamentalists

But it must be true – it's in the Bible!

It would appear that our esteemed Representative Young is using just a wee bit of science, quite a bit of Ice Age, the movie, and a whole lot of fundamentalism and literal bible interpretation to conjure up his stew of misinformation about modern and paleo-climates. As an old dinosaur himself, you would think that the Honorable Young would know that mastodons did not roam cheek by jowl with the apatosauri and other sauropods and theropods 65 million years ago – when all of those big beasties, plants and ocean critters big and small were proliferating and dying and becoming the organic goo that later would transform – after 65 million years, not 12 Don!!! – into the stuff we so freely guzzle.

Speaking of fundies, this leads me to a great little piece I heard on Morning Edition a couple of days ago (May 23) about an evangelical Christian minister who apparently was appalled to find out he had been “unwittingly”(yeah-right!) used as a front for Jack Abramoff’s illegal activities.

Apparently while it raised no one’s eyebrows that politicians, lobbyists or Indian Tribes (why Tribes are lumped in with the politicians I will expound on at a later date) were feeding at Abramoff’s trough – it has caught some attention that an “unlikely”* victim of the DeLay-Abramoff scandals was the pastor of the Redeemer International Family Church (ever notice how these fundamentalist churches have names that go on forever while also implying that their congregation is spread all over, well, creation??.) Guess it surprises the liberal pundits, but certainly not the neo-cons, to find out that these paradigms of virtue and morality might be found mucking down in the mud with the rest of the money grubbers. Well, it certainly doesn’t surprise this writer, since the Bush administration and its cronies have never hidden the fact that they are running our country according to the Book of Revelations, while at the same time fleecing the people with a brazenness that would have made Jesus squirm in his tomb (had he stayed in it.)

Located in Fredrick, Maryland, in an old carpet warehouse is the Redeemer International Family Church (http://www.redeemerfamily.org/), pastored by Chris Geeslin and his wife Maryellen. Maryellen seems prone to rambling, rapturous soliloquies devoted to the ties between God, power and money: “We say yes to your kingdom come, your will be done…we say yes to your dominion and your rule [6-2-06, Ed. note: changed from 'pool.' It does appear she indeed said 'rule' not 'pool', as originally published. See 'Comments' below.] and in our finances…”….This is delivered in that tight, nasal monotone I have come to associate with evangelical Christian women who are either deliberately dowdy in long shroud-like dresses, or overdone with fussy, beribboned and be-flowered dresses and lots of makeup (think Tammy Faye.) They are usually accompanied by a florid, heavily overweight white man of a certain age, and in this respect, the Geeslins don’t disappoint.

The couple, in addition to running their church, also served on the board of the now-defunct US Family Network – famous for being (allegedly) a slush fund for Abramoff and Tom DeLay. USFN was run by Ed Buckham, former chief of staff of and spiritual advisor to DeLay. Buckham and Geeslin were buds back in the day – Pastor Geeslin ordained Buckham, (whatever that means – I think it’s the evangelical equivalent to spawning, but since I have never been witness to it, I am not sure) and in return Buckham made Geeslin president and his wife Maryellen Secretary/Treasurer of the board of the US Family Network.

To Chris Geeslin, Buckham appeared to be a man who was “ very devout, a man who prays, who is in the bible. Everything that we want in the church person…‡”, which I am guessing also meant a source of millions and power. Hey, its OK to want millions of dollars and lots of power if you are seeking to “bring glory to God through loving Him and following Him as he builds His kingdom in the Frederick area and beyond.”§] But get caught out with your hand touching those tainted dollars, and watch the serious evangelical back-pedaling begin.

“I feel we were used in a grand way**”, bleats Geeslin. Apparently, the Geeslins paid no attention to the fact that the secret list of USFN, that they were privy to as board officers, included Russian oil oligarchs, and textile companies with sweat shops in the Mariana Islands – even though investigative reports and Congressional hearings had publicly exposed those sweat shops. Well, to set the record straight, they did know about the sweat shops – but they chose to believe the propaganda that Buckham produced and Abramoff paid for – pablum to the effect that these factories were promoting free enterprise or some such garbage through their model working conditions in the Mariana Islands – working conditions that allegedly included forced prostitution and abortions.

I don’t know. I get a lot of pleasure out of hearing someone caught with their hand in the cookie jar prattling about “corrupt”, “evil” (Geeslin’s adjectives, not mine) money coming from companies and individuals that endorse decidedly un-Christian activities. And we are to believe that these two – officers of the Board of this Christian family-oriented organization that did nary a lick of charitable or ecumenical work in its short five-year life (despite having an income of $3 million) really didn’t know the score? Puh-leese.

* John Ydstie’s characterization, not mine… I don’t think it is unlikely at all, but well matched bedfellows.
†Transcribed from Church Leader Says He Was Lured into Abramoff Web, John Ydstie, May 23, 2006, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5424662
‡ Ibid.
§ Quoted from The Purpose of the Redeemer International Family Church website: www.redeemerfamily.org/purpose_mission.asp
** Transcribed from Church Leader Says He Was Lured into Abramoff Web, John Ydstie, May 23, 2006,

Photo credits:
Diplodocus: http://www.psi.ch/medien/Medienmitteilungen/mm_dinosaurer/03_diplodocus2.jpg
Geeslins: © Redeemer International Family Church

All Hail Taco King!

I write this sitting at my desk in a state that I suspect approaches that experienced by an anaconda after swallowing an entire deer. Seriously, all I want to do right now is to find a nice rock somewhere and lay there in the sun for a month or two, contentedly digesting the deer-sized lump in my belly.

We call this, in the environs of my cabin at least, the "anaconda effect." Usually this is a Sunday-afternoon-on-the-deck post grilling sensation, but today at lunch I paid a short visit to the drive-thru of my new favorite Fairbanks restaurant: Taco King.

Dining out in Fairbanks is already pretty well covered in the various weeklies that sprang up like mushrooms around here. But I have seen no mention of Taco King.

You scoff, n'est-ce pas?

I'll admit that I might not have given it a try if my significant other had not made me gently suggested we go to the one in Anchorage. But I left there happy and full -- and it was much delight that I greeted the arrival of one here on the Old Steese next to Play it Again Sports.

Yes, the decor, the outward appearance of the building and its location are, shall we say, as aesthetically challenged as most of Squarebanks.

But the food! It scores highly on the Broke Ass Cabin Dweller Score Card in two critical areas: cheap and good. I would rank the food there on par and largely above any of the larger Mexican restaurants in town. You know, the ones that don't serve the food on styrofoam with plastic utensils. But styrofoam, plastic and decor issues aside, so far I've sampled the enchiladas, the special taco and the chili verde. All have been tasty and did I mention cheap? I paid $6.00 for lunch today and am a very contented anaconda.

I might also take this time to mention that the other restaurants in town have proven disappointing. At one, the chili verde, a dish that any self-respecting Mexican restaurant ought to be to make at least adequately, was truly awful. It is rare that I won't eat something that I've purchased, but it was vile. And at another one, the buffet that was once a thing of legend is just poor.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Silly Me, I Went and Paid Attention to Things Again

Ahhh, the blissfullness of totally willful ignorance. Seriously, peoples, I have been taking a few days off from really reading the news, because at some point I reach a saturation level that renders me incapable of even ranting about events.

Or, waaaaaaaaaaah.

Really, I don't mean to pick on Don Young, RFAA, but he just keeps saying stuff like this, in this case re: global warming.

"What concerns me the most is the possibility of a fear tactic being implemented in the warming threat."

(Yeah, let's not govern by fear-mongering. Nope. Fear-mongering is baaaad. Not gonna see any of that from the Bush Administration, nope.) But I interrupt Mr. Young:

"Let's have a good study. "

(Oh yeah, this hasn't been studied. It's a brand new idea, and no groups of internationally renowned scientists have studied this issue or come up with any opinions as to, say, whether global warming exists. It's all just an opinion.)

But back to Mr. Young:

    "Let's have a debate and division of what is occurring by scientists. Let's look at the model. Yes, the Earth is warming, in some areas. I just read a report, in fact, that Greenland is cooling. The thing I think strikes me the most is if you will take the time to study the globe, the world as we know it, and look at what has occurred in the past and possibly will occur in the future, we are now pumping 1 million barrels a day from Prudhoe Bay. Prudhoe Bay, the most northern part of this continent, we are pumping that oil.
     Now, I ask you, my friends, if you studied science, where does oil come from? What occurred on this globe at that time to allow mastodons, ferns, tree stumps, a tropical atmosphere to be there to create that oil? And that is the reality.
     I ask you, secondly, if you go back to the Ice Age, and we have had four ice ages, three majors and one minor, if you go to New Mexico 12 million years ago, there was 287 feet of ice in New Mexico. I won't ask you what created that ice. But I will ask each and every one of you and everybody watching and everybody talking this fear tactic what melted that ice all the way to the North Pole before mankind set foot on this continent. It certainly wasn't hair spray or freon or automobile emissions. It melted, 287 foot of ice, before we set foot.
     I am a little bit concerned when everything that is wrong is our fault, that the human factor creates all the damages on this globe. That is pure nonsense. That is nonsense.
     And so I am asking you, let's have the hearings, let's have the scientists, let's have some debate about really what is occurring here instead of having hysteria and saying it is all our fault.
     And, by the way, it is always the fault of the Americans. It is never the fault of the bigger countries that burn as many barrels of oil as we are doing today, not per capita but as many barrels of oil, and burn the coal as we are trying to do. It is never their fault. It is our fault.
So let's have a sound debate about this issue and not be caught in this attitude that we must do something right now because we are the Federal Government. Let's do it the right way."

To which Rep. Obey replied: "Mr. Chairman, I knew we still had charter members of the Flat Earth Society walking around this country. I didn't realize there were quite so many in the United States Congress."

The Anchorage Daily News, which I often fault for not calling bs, and just writing 'he said, she said' type articles, did a very nice job or reportage on Young's, shall we say... non-factual arguments against global warming, particularly his assertion that other countries burn anywhere near as much oil as we of the Big F---ing SUVs.

Check it out at in its entirety at : http://www.adn.com/news/environment/warming/story/7744525p-7656597c.html

Friday, May 19, 2006

Friday Playlist v.2

In true Goldstream Valley, cabin-dwelling fashion I drive a 15-year-old Subaru Loyale. Yes, it sports several green-themed slogan bumper stickers as is required by the laws governing these things. Francesca (the Soob) just spun past the 200,000 mile mark, though, and requires work of me, and when that proves insufficient, with some humiliation I call in the professionals.

Francesa*, so-named because she is made up from parts from at least 5 other dead Subaru's, has survived hitting a moose, my deranged Valley (Mat-Su) seat-and-steering-wheel-eating dog, and the idiocy I demonstrated trying to cold start her at 38 below. Oh, and my learn-as-I-go mechanicking.

The totals:
1 new fuel filter
several cups of gear oil pooled in the driveway
rolls of paper towels to attempt a clean up: 1
a new record, approx. 50, the number of times I f-bombed in 5 minutes

Seriously, changing the rear differential oil looks easy, and sounds easy in the book. However, contrary to many of the nifty design features of the old Soobs, putting the gear oil back in comes in under the category of Big Pain in the Ass. You just can't angle it right to get the gunk in there without getting it all over. Correction: you might be able to, but I managed to make a big freaking mess.

But the highlights of today's playlist:

1. Stupid Day Job - Wally Pleasant
2. Tabu - Ska Cubano
3. Ask Me How I Am - Snow Patrol
4. Dance Me to the End of Love - Madeline Peyroux
5. Fuel for Fire - M. Ward
6. Miyabelle - Baaba Mal (hmm, that doesn't seem to be spelled correctly...)7. Poor and Weird - The Briefs
8. Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk - Rufus Wainwright

* Frankenstein, Francesca. Ah ha ha ha. Yeah, it doesn't take a lot to amuse me. Frank, of course, was off the table, because of the unsavory associations it would bring to mind.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Even in a Time of Budget Surplus, Rural Alaska Gets Screwed Again

Seriously, if there ever was an indication that representative democracy can fail to take care of whole segments of the population, this most recent session of the Lege proves it. Case in point: flush with revenue from the high price of oil, our Lege embarks on a spending spree but somehow fails to reinstitute municipal revenue sharing.

I know, I know, those are not three sexy words. Municipal revenue sharing. [snore.] Whoops, fell asleep sitting up there.

But you know what? All the little tiny communities across our state depended on that money to keep the lights in the city building on and the basic functions of local government operating. The program had been in place since 1969, long before we even had the taps turned on and oil money flowing in. The program had been funded even back in those bleak budgetary days when oil was only fetching $14 a barrel...

And yet, in 2003, Frank "No One Likes Me, Even in My Own Party" Murkowski eliminated it.

The practical results: over 40 communities have shut down what little basic public services existed such as police and fire protection. At least 10 have closed their city offices entirely.

From the Alaska Municipal League Website: "In 2003, there were 94 cities with annual local government operating budgets under $300,000 per year, and averaging $164,000, to provide public services for an entire community according to State figures, DCED. From 2003 to 2005, those 94 cities (out of a total of 146 cities in Alaska lost an average of approximately 42% of the revenue required to provide basic public services. The crises are due to massive State cuts to cities at a time of skyrocketing local costs and economic downturns. In 2004, Alaska became one of two states that eliminated its local government revenue sharing programs. Most small rural cities operate in a cost effective manner with many part-time or volunteer positions. However, most of Alaska’s small rural communities have very little local tax base due to cash poor subsistence economies."

So here we are, funding all sorts of nonsense like those two stupid bridge projects, and we're giving rural Alaska a big box of nothing. This despite the fact, that the entire state's economy is built upon rural Alaska.

It's no secret that thanks to population distribution, Anchorage and its environs dominate the Lege, and rural Alaska is left begging for crumbs or trading its votes to ensure at least the flow of money to needed capital budget projects. (Hello Richard Foster, I do miss you.)

Why does Anchorage exist? It's a flow-through point for administering services and goods going to and from rural Alaska. It's where the money changes hands and the paper is pushed. All those high-paying jobs in our large cities originate in resource development, health care, transportation, building schools, working on airports, barging fuel and getting well-heeled touristas out to the Bush. And let's not even mention where this state would be without the North Slope. [cough. ] Nowhere. [cough.]

All the ancillary jobs, like making a $4 coffee at Starbucks, selling tans at one of those ugly-ass strip malls, looking down one's nose at shoppers in Nordstroms, all of it -- depend on those high-paying jobs and disposable income, which are tied to the existence of rural Alaskan communities. Where do folks in the Bush buy their groceries in bulk, their school clothes, their ATVs and outboards? Anchorage. Fairbanks.

The effects of defunding services to our small communities that need it are profound and far-reaching. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd say it is more thinking along the lines of Uncle Ted's brilliant vision to empty out the rural villages and move everyone into the large regional centers. (Like Shishmaref wants to move to Nome. Right. I got two bridges to sell ya.)

And I might point out that our tiny little rural communities are mostly Alaskan Native communities and suggest that there might be some racial and class issues here lurking about and being avoided nicely.

The Alaska Municipal League's website has some excellent material on municipal revenue sharing that I won't summarize. Go visit them at www.akml.org.


Photo: http://www.arcticgaspipeline.com/5-2002.htm

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Monday After

Dayum. It seems that the advent of summer is going to make it just hell to try to update this thing.

Saturday night, apparently, was Fairbanks Folks Tying One On Night. I had the fortune to attend some friends' annual party, eating, quaffing, and fortunately bailing out after a shot purportedly of sweet potato and Korean origin. I also missed the appearance of the cops and ambulance after an acquaintance got mean drunk and decked one of my friends.

Several of my coworkers also showed up this morning with tales of frolicking and the subsequent recovery period. So despite the usual fury about political idiocy, I just couldn't work up enough steam for a full-on rant.

Sunday consisted of sitting on the deck, grilling some caribou with jerk seasoning, and drinking some of those awful Mike's Hard Lemonades. Oh, and being sampled by the big slow mosquitos now in constant attendance.

I'm not going to watch Dubya's speech. With the Alaskan Lege done until the special session, in order to get my rant on I may have to go off state politics and dip my toes into the muck that is national politicking. Thing is, though, there are plenty of bloggers doing a fine job of dissecting and commenting upon such things and it will be largely an exercise to force myself to pay attention.

There is not, however, enough alcohol in my house for me to listen to a speech by Dubya.

Friday, May 12, 2006

In the interest of History

Don Young, Representative for All Alaskans*, on terrorism, recently:

"There are more natural disasters than there are terrorist attacks, and will continue to be that. Thank God, in a sense. But there are more tragedy occurred by Mother Nature than any of the terrorist groups."

Way back in my first ever post, about a week ago or something, I gave a rundown on our Congressional delegation. I didn't even really try to explain Don Young, because who can really explain why we some people, I don't know who, keep electing him? And I provided that excellent quote on art made by none other than DY, RFOA. Well, certain people, we shall call them Alaskans Interested in History, swore that after Young made his infamous comments to the West Valley High School students, some parents with a sense of humor came up with a t-shirt and sold it. I confess, I thought it some kind of rural legend.

Fellow cabin-dwellers, persons-residing-in-non-aquatically challenged homes, and Outsiders behold, I have pictures of that shirt, confirming its existence.

* But not this particular one.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Friday Rant

The decidedly non-political nature of recent posts reflects the simple fact that current events at the state and national level are so profoundly distateful and disheartening that I can't even post about them:
  1. National Security Administration data-mining collecting phone records of American citizens. Of course, I'm sure Dubya's administration will go back to that old fascist saw, "those who haven't done anything wrong have nothing to fear."
  2. King George apparently thinks that he is not required to obey the law, and apparently missed the civics lesson on the separation of powers and why it is a good thing for democracy, which we are supposedly protecting and fostering all over the world.
  3. The Sudan. Dubya isn't too concerned about genocide or democracy there. Hell, if we applied the same supposed standards that Dubya supposedly employed as justification for our imperialist misadventure in Iraq, our butts would be doing some protecting of people in Africa. Oh, wait, that's right, we're not into protecting people in Africa. We had to rush into Iraq, but hey, let's take our time on this whole genocide thing.
  4. It sounds like the Republicans are going to dust off the 'let's scare the fundies with gay people' campaign ploy again, aka 'Federal Marriage Amendment.'
Hey guys! You know what I want from government? Not much, really.

I want decent public education. And not just in places with healthy tax bases - I mean in rural Alaska and in Detroit, L.A. and the like. Invest up front, sheeple!

I want a workable public transit system. Not some crap, bare-bones system that is not particularly useful and only runs until 7 p.m.

I want the people running stuff, like say FEMA*, to know what the hell they are doing and not be more concerned with their freaking hair than the welfare of people in the midst of a catastrophe.

I want to see meaningful energy policy, not some joke crafted behind doors with Big Oil and King Coal, and we're not going to achieve it by drilling the hell out of the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge. We can't drill our way to energy independence or cheaper gas prices, no matter how many times the pro-drilling folks repeat that lie.

Health care would be nice, as would too. Y'all who are so concerned about the threat that gay people supposedly pose to your heterosexual marriages? You know what is the #1 cause of bankruptcy? Medical expenses. Try keeping a young family financially afloat when one of the couple gets sick or injured. And my elderly parents drive to Canada every few months so they can afford the prescription medication that keeps my dad alive.

I don't want our public lands sold off to big corporations under the guise of 'development.'

And I want clear air, clean water and plenty of wild salmon returning to our rivers.

Look, I can deal with the fact that my taxes are going to some things I don't like, like the stupid missile defense boondoggle. One can't win them all. And I can accept the fact of paying taxes.**

* In the White House, too, while we're at it. But we might have to wait a little while longer for that.

** There is something unseemly about Alaskans bitching about paying taxes. It is, shall we say, a bit hypocritical. We don't pay a state income tax (though we used to, all you recently-arrived-don't-want-to-pay-for-services newbies, even back BEFORE Big Oil turned on the taps) and we get more money back in the federal tax dollars than we actually send.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Experimental* Cooking 101, Event 1: Grilled Goose

disclaimer right up front: not my recipe, got it online, have linked to it above, felt it worthy of posting here for the maintenance of historical grilling/deck-recreating records.

Grilled Citrus Goose
1 goose, cut into pieces 1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup brown sugar 1/3 cup orange juice concentrate
1/3 cup Dijon mustard 1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce 1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder

Combine all ingredients, except goose, in a small bowl. Place goose pieces in a shallow pan and cover with half the marinade. Cover, and allow to marinate in refrigerator for 3-4 hours. Preheat grill for medium heat. Place goose on lightly oiled grill grate and cook for 20-30 minutes. Baste with reserved marinade often during cooking process. Once juices run clear, remove goose from heat and serve.

The verdict: Excellent marinade, not requiring of any exotic ingredients that would force those residing in the Goldstream Valley to make an extra trip to town.

*Experimental in the sense that it is a recipe previously untested in the Cabin Dwelling Kitchen.

Hard Core Goose (yet another non-politico posting)

Well, the speckle-belly previously referred to was quite easily gotten – winged and hit in the Flats a short ATV-ride from Minto. It sure was tasty bar-be-qued up in that fine orange marinade. It was also restorative, or more so were the appletinis, when I showed up shell-shocked from a rough ride in and out of Minto Flats in “Goose-Hunting, the Sequel”. Twenty or more miles of travel and only about eight of those on snow, with two snow machines, one of which is now consigned to the bottom of the lake.

Note to self: never again.

Little known fact about snow machines: They can be driven at high rates of speed on rocks, dirt, muskeg, and through ponds and open leads, though admittedly the ride is much smoother on snow.

“They are a tool” said the hardcore NDN as he rocked the machine back and forth, back and forth, mired as it was in several feet of peat bog at 3 AM. It was our only way out (except by foot) for the next 15 miles to the road, with a small, eight-year old boy in tow. The belt was wet and slipping. It burned furiously, spewing sulfurous clouds of smoke and steam that would have done Lucifer proud. We sat on a mound of peat and watched the spectacle, and then helped change the limp, bedraggled belt, hoping that the last one would hold the remaining miles. A dozen geese and some gear in the banged up sled behind us.

I sat under the moonlight and contemplated my latest epiphany – that getting thrown off a snow machine as it caromed down a rutted, gutted, narrow woodland and bog trail – blazing through open ponds, puddles and creeks was really not so bad, and a broken leg, should it happen, would really be quite manageable. In fact, such a rough ride was preferable to the alternative, which we had endured just a little time earlier.

Faced with a vast lake ahead, on which the ice was breaking up fast; we headed out from the cabin at 1 AM – three people on a snow machine, me riding behind the driver, old school Native man, with small boy tucked in up front. Heavy powerful snow machine with gear sled on long chain behind, in case we went through the ice. Ahead glinting in the moonlight, wide stretches of open water, no way around them. Full-open throttle to buck and skim the machine across open water before it could sink. Getting air under my seat every time we hit the rough edge between rotten ice and water, knowing that if I lost my grip, and flew off at 100 mph, I was dead. Feeling the sucking pull at the back end of the machine as it strained to sink even as the wide-open speed counteracted to keep it up on its skis until we could hit the next patch of rotten ice – which shattered and cracked and broke as we raced ahead of the collapsing ice front.

When we reached the shore, I retched.

Never again.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Blame it on the goose

First off, plans to be a diligent blogger and create a Big Oil Propaganda Drinking Game fell apart on Sunday afternoon, thanks to a combination of sunshine, the deck of my dumpy quaint cabin, the preparation of a speckled belly goose, and prodigious quantities of appletinis.

The plan? To come up with a drinking game based upon the ad campaign being waged by Big Oil to convince us not to change the tax structure.

Conditions were such on Sunday afternoon that the sacrifice of watching Squarebanks local television and composing the game was judged too great a burden for even the most outraged cabin dweller. So we skipped straight to the drinking on the warm, sunlight-exposed deck.

Friends who hunt had kindly given me a goose. I'd never cooked one before, so a Googling I went. It turns out the usual way to cook a goose involves an oven. However, as Marvin the intrepid landlord has not yet provided stove/oven... it was down to crockpotting (a less than suitable option on a sunny day) or the grill. About.com provided an excellent recipe for a marinade.*

The Totals:
Beers consumed: 5
Goose 'cleaned': 1
Fresh goose received from cool, hunting friends: 3
Appletinis consumed: 14**
Cabin Dwellers present: 3
Dogs: 3
Persons in attendance residing in buildings not H20 challenged: 1
Playlist: Ska Cubano, various mix Cds, Kocani Orkesta
Additional foods consumed: jambalaya, organic green salsa, tortilla chips
* I'll post the recipe later. I need to get to work here at work.
** This is an estimation. No controls were in place to monitor appletini consumption, although it can be conservatively reckoned as prodigious.

Gratuitous puppy photo.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Big Oil Propaganda: $2 million in three months

No wonder it seems like those television ads are everywhere.

It's because they are.

The ADN reports today that the Big Three of Big Oil have spent nearly $2 million in the first three months of this year waging their campaign against proposed changes to the way they are taxed. That amount exceeds the total they spent bombarding us with Iconic Alaskan Imagery for the entirely of 2005!

If I had the time and the intestinal fortitude, I might try to watch four or five hours on the three channels I can get, simultaneously, and figure out just how many versions of the ads there are, and perhaps dissect them in Mystery Science Theatre fashion.

Or perhaps just come up with a really good drinking game - that might be inducement enough.

Any volunteers?? Bueller? Bueller??

Friday playlist v. 1

While it is therapeutic to rant about politics, I seem to be falling into a pattern: political rant followed by a non-political one. This does not indicate well-roundedness, or Buddistness, or any other positive spiritual/mental state on my part.

Or rather, it's not intelligent design on my part, it's just random.

Confession #1: I am a serious music junkie and compulsive mix CD maker. Highlights of the playlist for today:

1. "Requiem for O.M.M. " by Of Montreal
2. "Velocity Girl" by Snow Patrol
3. "Melt Your Heart" by Jenny Lewis
4. "Little White Lies" by Ella Fitzgerald
5. "New Slang" by the Shins
6. "Siki Siki Baba" by the Kocani Orkestar
7. "Poor Ellen Smith" by Neko Case and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts
8. "Leader of the Free World" by Elbow
9. "Noisy at the Circus" by Head Like a Kite
10. "Memorial Day" by The Perceptionists"

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Big Oil Propaganda Count: 3 in one hour.

Okay, now I'm beginning to get pissed off.

I type in my little post, get ready to logoff, and then Big Oil shows yet another version of the 'don't mess with the tax structure' propaganda. That is three since I turned on the idiot box one hour ago.

In this one, we get another Alaskan (dude with baseball cap and beard, very Anchorage- professional-looking type of person) ... and the message is this:

"The oil companies want to enlarge their workforce. You kids will be that workforce. Unless of course, you triple* the tax rate and put your childrens' future at risk."

And it ends with the same damned tag line: "Less is more."

UPDATE 5-5-06: Actually, the total (on the one station) in the hour was four, but I wasn't about to log on again.

*Bullshit! Tomorrow I'll link to some info on why this is a misrepresentation.

Announcing: The First Mosquito of Spring

Swallows of Capistrano, shark repellant of Nome*, turkey buzzards of wherever-the-hell it is, take note.

Tonight while I was standing on the deck, the first mosquito of spring buzzed past. This is not an insignificant event. There are places here where the little bastards can carry off a small child or a puppy. There are places here where the only effective protection is a shotgun loaded with birdshot.

And out in the country, say, in July, you just don't even go there. Think: clouds of them, so many that there is this overwhelming hum all around you. I admit to running back to the truck, no matter how sissy that might sound. You weren't there.

Now, the early ones are pretty slow, but I didn't kill the one I saw. It was rather plucky flying out there in the rain. I just stood there thinking, "Damn!" This year should prove to be less of a bloodbath because I am no longer living below sea level in a Goldstream swamp. I'm like, 100 feet higher and probably won't be living in a mosquito-nursery/moat.

Unless, of course, it rains all summer.

Oil Industry Anti-Tax Propaganda count: 2 in one commercial break. One was a BP one tying the gasline development to us not rocking that boat, the other featured a "real Alaskan" talking about how we were going to triple the tax rate on the oil industry.**

* Interesting and actually true: when 'breakup' occurs in Nome, melt water flows through this old stockpile of shark repellent/marker dye from WWII and Steadman Avenue (which has a downhill grade) has a bright green flow of the stuff, thereby announcing the arrival of spring.

** Which is a crock. Along with the message that because of declining production, profits were going to decline. Last I checked, Big Oil was awash in record profit. Hell, they were still happy to produce oil when it was only $14 a barrel. Remember those days? Damn!

Daylight is Upon Us, Let the season of manic activity begin!

Whee! The daylight is upon us!

It occurs to me that an Alaskan posting about the weather is probably as common as other folks blogging about what they had for dinner and posting pretty pictures of the food. (Not knocking it, it's just the jealousy showing as it has been a time of slim pickings thanks to my continuing stovelessness. You try to get excited about cooking when all you have is a two-burner hot plate.)

One of the drawbacks of Goldstream Valley cabin-dwelling is that although many cabins are cheap, many of the owners of said cabins qualify as rural slumlords. My cabin (cheap, yes, check) lacks a stove.* My landlord promises one, soon, really. He's getting to it. Of course, I had to finally trot out terms like 'fire hazard' and 'electrocution hazard' to get him to fix the bad wiring by the door.

Whoops. Digressing. Here is the gist** of it:

May 4, 2006



Actual Time 5:06 AM AKDT 10:31 PM AKDT
Civil Twilight 3:47 AM AKDT 11:52 PM AKDT
Nautical Twilight

Moon 9:55 AM AKDT 5:52 AM AKDT
Length Of Visible Light: 20h 04m
Length of Day
17h 24m
Tomorrow will be 7m 2s longer

Yes, that is 20 plus hours of daylight. Yee-ha! We're still gaining daylight until Solstice and this is what makes living here in the Mostly, But Not Entirely North so fantastic, that 100 percent natural drug, sunlight! Seriously, I don't know about the rest of you, but I am going run till I drop: fishing, hiking, drinking, grilling,*** canoeing, running, softballing, soccering and all the other things that one can cram into our blissful three months.

Except sleeping. Screw that. Sleeping is what we do after we finally drop from sheer exhaustion.

Which usually comes about fall-time.

*It also lacked insulation underneath, something I discovered in that lovely -50 cold spell in January. Too bad I didn't have a blog then, the whole world could have read about the joys of ripping out insulation and reinstalling it when it warmed up to 20 below and 26 below on separate days. But to whine about the weather costs on the Alaskan Cred, so I'll stop there.

** Eat your hearts out, non-Alaskans!

*** Not cooking, mind you, unless Marvin gets off his butt and gets me a stove.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

How gullible do they think we are?

As a cabin-dwelling Alaskan who actually watches tv* - I can't help but notice that we are being bombarded with even more adverts from Big Oil than usual.

Could it be, perhaps, that there is some connection to the fact that our Lege appears to be actually reworking the way we tax the producers? Quel suprise.

For the non-Alaskans, an explanation is in order. Big Oil is our King Coal. We are way dependent on revenues from oil development, with something like 85 percent of our state budget coming from the industry.** Despite our all-too-willing role in the Great Big Petroleum Addiction, the industry spends... hmm... I'd guess hundreds of thousands of dollars each year telling us how great it is. They're quite well produced ads, with views of our ridiculously common scenic landscapes, smiling Alaskan Native elders, smiling pipeline workers, salmon and the like. They are constantly feeding us this propaganda, even when the Legislature doesn't have the guts to re-think the tax structure.

Despite the fact that they are rolling in record profits thanks to the price of oil going over $70 a barrel, somehow, Big Oil is skeered we're going to actually, ya know, maybe change the way we tax them.

Seriously, turn on the local channel and you'll be treated one of many versions of the same message: "If you make changes to the tax structure, we just might go away! We might just give up on the RECORD PROFITS and go away, leaving all your oil in the ground. The Alaska economy will be ruined, ruined I tell you!"

Being something of a skeptic, it's hard to tolerate such obvious crap. It's insulting really. It's as if they think we are simple-minded sheeple or something. (Or maybe the effectiveness of governing through the use of fear is all too apparent. Thank you, George W!)

What's even more insulting is that the industry, through our esteemed (ha!) Governor, is trying to tie all this to the natural gas pipeline issue.

But perhaps the most insulting fact remains:

Exxon still has not paid the damages awarded to those who lives were ruined by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. We're talking regular folks: commercial fishermen, subsistence users ... thousands were affected by that catastrophe. Big Oil has big pockets, and they'll keep that sucker in the courts as long as they can, while plaintiffs die off and the environmental effects remain.

* I watch the damn idiot box on occasion, and yes, I know how bad that is for my brain, and it probably reveals deep flaws in my leftie, feminist, tree-hugging ways, and contributes to the Downfall of Everything Good in the World. If it earns me a few points back, one should understand that I watch it often as a sort of anthropological exercise. Really. And 'Arrested Development.'

** Not to ignore, of course, our dependence on the continual hefty serving of federal pork courtesy of our Congressional delegation.