Thursday, November 17, 2005
Here is a sampling of the hard-hitting journalistic endevours that Parade has taken on in recent months:
*not actually killers of a President. But Smitz is the flagship face of the "New" West Wing, which is KILLING the show's legacy, until recently the best TV show since MASH.
Wow - A murderer's row of muckraking, eh? That's about like getting rolled for lunch money by the chess team. If you can't get a fluffer-piece from Parade, you may have a loser on your hands.
And, they do.
This week, Congress, in a desperate lunge at the shores of Sanity, pulled the plug.
Or DID THEY? Thanks to Ted Stevens, Alaska does not get the money for the bridge. But they do get the money.
And Stevens calls it a "compromise." More, surely, to come.
Friday, November 04, 2005
(UPDATE: The below-discussed "Maggie's Song - Walls Of Stone" Is it me, or is there more than a hint of Phil Collins' Coming In The Air Tonight in this)
this one's for my buddy Anthony because I know he is, like me, a
collector of unredeemably horrible radio ads, which is a hobby anyone
here in Anchorage must take up if they want to listen to the radio.
Anchorage, for obvious reasons, doesn't have the highest ad rates
for radio, most notably on its hopelessly feeble sportstalk network
(major announcement from earlier THIS YEAR: "we finally have a
website!"), and now, i've found, on it's Air America affiliate, which
carries Al Franken (snapshot opinion: Al is great; the rest of AA's
talent is unlistenable).
Anchorage's radio, in fact, is so feeble that the sports station -
which has nothing but ESPN's network feed and, inexplicably, Seattle
pro teams, but nothing local - fills a solid half of it's commerical
time with public service announcements. I assume they just can't sell
So these PSA: there are, maybe, 4. All horrible, all boring, all
insulting ('don't be an energy hog' 'natives saved lewis and clark,'
'poverty sucks' 'gun crimes' etc).
And then, over the horizon and gone from the pack, is the Arbor Day
This ad, which i guess is supposed to help trees, incites me nearly
to forest arson. It's this soaring, pulsing, hateful song by some
overwrought woman singer, extolling trees, who wants you to plant
"trees across the nation!!!"
It's like Helen Ready-goes-Green. Absolutely the most brutal 30
seconds you'll ever sit through in your car short of an engine fire.
I actually have seen a toned-down version on TV - similiar music -
but the radio one is 30 times as grating. And it's on EVERY SINGLE
commercial break, occasionally TWICE.
It's been probably a year since i heard the end of it - it's a
stone-cold channel turner everytime.
I know Anthony and I have had several conversations about the
unassailable horrors of the Arbor day ad.
Well, we have a serious contender:
over here on 1080, during Franken (and other times) is the Maggie The
Maggie, you'll recall, is the Anchorage Zoo's elephant, which they
shouldn't have. It's Alaska. We don't need elephants! Not surprisingly, she's gotten a
lot of press over the years.
Evidently, there is a "save maggie" group. (UPDATE: it's called Friends of Maggie, and this is their site). They want Maggie out of the
state. As far as i know, they might be a front group for some Lower 48
Zoo looking to get Maggie on the cheap. I don't know. I'm not getting
And i'm REALLY not getting involved after being subjected - over and
over - to their ad.
So you get the over-wrought woman, but this time just talking and
reading a script, with every cliche of useless feel-goodism imagineable
("we love maggie but we need to think of her needs" "elephants are
social, and they grow lonely when seperated from their own kind").
But over the top of this ad is - well, it's amazing.
It's another woman (maybe the same one) chanting - yes, chanting -
in a distinctly native-america way, only in complete white-girl
English. Only not in sentences. Just words and phrases. Just
uninterrupted moans of "Free! Freedom! Set us free! Love free" I'm telling you, tuneless moaning. Unreal.
See the link above to hear it.
It's the audio-version of a trunk covered with bumper stickers.
But here's the hammer: somebody has a drum. Ya know, a
drum-circle, bongo-like drum.
And they have no earthly clue what to do with it.
rhythm-on-opposite day. Absolutely no connection to the voice, nor to
any sense of time.
Just absolutely horrific. Moaning, rhythm-less banging and an
annoying woman prattling on about an elephant's feelings.
Anthony - you need to get in on this.
ps - i just realized: the sports network has local programming - high
school football playoffs and hockey - local minor league (go Aces!) and
Which still doesn't explain why the hell they think anyone wants to
listen to the Mariners.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Monday, October 31, 2005
Happy Halloween - In the vein of Holiday Craziness, do not miss Christopher Walken, replete with echo
effects, screaming wind and accompanied by eerie guitar, reciting The
Raven. Still another gift of Coverville, the best podcast I know
And straight from the U. Alaska-Anchorage catalog:
Distance learning, from New Hampshire (really!)
- enrolled students must have access to broadband internet, spreadsheet and database software, extreme cold and lotsa Crazy.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
And that's his own press release.
Some of the better lines he let fly on the floor of the Senate: he
said he would quit the Senate if the Coburn amendment passed, saying "I
don't threaten people, I promise people."
I do enjoy the comparison between the Bridge To Nowhere and the Golden
Sunday, October 23, 2005
among the highlights: the state rep referenced in the top of the story
is my local rep. muldoon, the stated neighborhood, is my nieghborhood.
and as good as the story is, go through all 10 of the pictures - don't
miss the one with the gator at the top of the stairs and the nervous
cat at the bottom.
i said 'gator'.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Sunday, October 16, 2005
That was the real headline on Yahoo! sports all weekend. Couldn't
have picked a better word. (Here's what I thought)
#2: Meanwhile, back in CrazyLand: "Inmate flees after father's
it's not for all the marbles from the one-inch line in hip-high grass.
Just another weekend in Crazy.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Here's a great story that covers several drums I like to bang here on
the Crazy list.
This story provides both the context and details of the absurdity of
the "The Bridge to Nowhere" in Southeast at Ketchikan. $223 Million of
federal money for a bridge connecting an isolated town with a
population of a few thousand, and a completely empty island.
Now you will be able to take flights be able to get on the Crazy
FishPlane at Ted Stevens International, land at Don Young International
and take the Bridge to Nowhere - all of it courtesy of the American
I can't wait.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
I've lobbying for people to come take advantage of my guest bedroom for over 2 years now. I've tried to be nice about it, friendly even.
Not so much the AK tourism board. They just let you know the clock's tickin.
thanks to Danny and LB for pointing me towards it.
ps - Extra-super credit to anybody in Seattle, LA or Minneapolis who sends me a picture of one.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
And it only cost you $500,000.
The airline got a federal grant - courtesy of the Alaska Congressional Delegation - for the paint job.
That's a King Salmon, by the way. A Chinook, they call it, the biggest of the breeds. You can tell it's a Chinook by the specks on top, the the black tail and it's the size of a 737.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Those gunning for Don Younge's bridge - which, really, is anybody on
earth who's looked at it - are now using Katrina to slow it down. Of course, what
they're really doing is trying to defund stuff they already hated,
using the hurricane as a cover, but there it is.
If you like Crazy, then this may break the record: Don Younge may have
to go to bat for PBS.
Monday, September 19, 2005
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Monday, September 05, 2005
twice in one day - crazy is on the march!
i flew over this bridge a few months back. nicest bridge. big river.
you have to drive about 50 miles of horrible road from the nearest
anything to get there. and by 'anything', i mean, a town you can't
drive you to in the first place.
and then you cross the bridge. and a mile later, no more road.
ARCHAIC PROJECTILE: He just wanted to find out if it was volatile.
By MEGAN HOLLAND
Anchorage Daily News
(Published: September 5, 2005)
When he called police and the bomb squad showed up at his Anchorage home last week, Yale Metzger just wanted them to examine the cannonball he had picked up in Cordova. He didn't want them to bring out the remote-controlled robot, haul away the cast iron ball and blow it to smithereens.
But that's what they did.
Now Metzger is saying the Anchorage Police Department was looking for an excuse to dynamite something and that they owe him a cannonball.
The police are calling Metzger "an idiot" for carrying the incendiary device around in his truck, then bringing it into downtown Anchorage, where they say it could have sent shrapnel flying for blocks had it exploded.
Metzger, a 45-year-old Anchorage attorney, found the 4-inch, 8-pound, cast iron ball in downtown Cordova last summer while excavating property he had purchased. It was unearthed in what was most recently a snow dump.
Metzger put it in the back of his pickup, where it rolled around for a year, he said. Over time he began to investigate how a cannonball -- an archaic projectile that stopped being used more than a century ago -- could have ended up in Cordova at the southeastern end of Prince William Sound in the Gulf of Alaska. One possibility he came up with was that it came from the ships of Russian or European commercial traders in the 18th century that were in the area looking for lucrative sea otter pelts.
State archaeologist Dave McMahan said other cannonballs have been found in Anchorage, Valdez and Sitka, adding that the Russians were pretty much all over Alaska during their occupation in the 1700s.
But "it is doubtful we will ever know where exactly it came from," he said of Metzger's find.
Linda Yarborough, archaeologist for the Chugach National Forest near Cordova, says round iron balls were used to crush ore in gold mine machines. Not having seen Metzger's, she can't say for sure, but her hunch is that it could have come from a mill at the historic McKinley Lake Mine east of Cordova that dates to the early 1900s.
"Unfortunately, not having it, it is really hard to look at a picture and figure out what it might have been," Yarborough said. Photos of the object are the only evidence Metzger now has of his souvenir.
Anchorage police, however, say a fuse hole in the device convinced them it was a cannonball, and the explosion when they destroyed it backs that position.
The experts say whichever possibility may be true, the ball was of historic value. And that is precisely what incenses Metzger.
Several weeks ago, he decided to bring his find to his Anchorage home on 11th Avenue. He got a friend to pack it with him on a state ferry. Metzger had heard of old cannonballs blowing up, but he chalked up those stories largely to urban myth or at least something that happens extremely rarely.
Still, once it was in Anchorage, Metzger was slightly concerned the ball could be still active and thought he would check it out. He wanted to know if his cannonball was solid or hollow, and if it was hollow, did it have volatile black powder?
He tried to get a friend at the airport's Transportation Security Administration to put it through one of the machines. That didn't work; it would have gotten his friend in trouble. He tried to get a friend at a medical office to X-ray it, but the machine was judged not powerful enough.
So he called the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. They told him to call the Anchorage Police Department.
Police said they would take a look at it. Last Monday, the bomb squad took one look at it sitting in Metzger's garage and treated it like a bomb seconds away from blowing.
"Could it have exploded?" Metzger asked. "Sure. So could a meteor fall out of the sky and hit your truck."
The bomb squad vehicle contained a portable X-ray machine that could have determined if the cannonball was hollow, but that wasn't an option, said police Sgt. Ray Jennings, head of the bomb squad. The super-powerful rays to see through metal would have punched through Metzger's walls and his neighbors', exposing everyone to the harmful rays, he said.
Taking a look at it, the police knew by the fuse hole that it was potentially live, they said.
"A cannonball is nothing more than a large grenade," Jennings said. "It could have sent metal flying blocks."
Metzger wanted the squad to take the cannonball and X-ray it elsewhere, but deputy chief Audi Holloway said, defending the department's decision, that moving it just puts officers in unnecessary danger.
"You never know what point an explosive device is at," he said. "If it is anything that may have explosives in it, that may cause damage to a person or property, we have to assume it will explode. We have to destroy it."
The bomb squad exploded the cannonball at the Anchorage Landfill, said Lt. Paul Honeman, but police won't say how for security reasons. Sgt. Jeff Morton confirmed that a secondary explosion occurred and said a different color of smoke blurted out, making it certain that the cannonball had volatile black powder.
Did the police destroy a potentially important historical artifact?
"We're not going to put a bomb technician's life in jeopardy over a cannonball or anything else," Jennings said. He called Metzger "an idiot" for bringing the bomb into town and for questioning the bomb squad's decision to destroy it.
Now Metzger wants the police to buy him another cannonball on eBay.
"I was going to make a doorstop out of it. They owe me a cannonball."
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
As this article makes clear, the craziness didn't end there.
First, Bush tried to visit the Scouts - grieving for their lost Alaska fellow scouts - but he cancelled for weather.
Something like 300 scouts promptly got sick from the heat.
Bush Visit Take 2 was then postponed for crowd control reasons.
"Succeeding on his third try to visit them," as the News puts it, the Scoutmaster in Chief got to see the Scouts... and a blackhawk carrying a bunch of photographers almost crashed on them all.
It wasn't in Alaska - but I'd like to think we set off the avalanche.
Bush makes it to Boy Scout Jamboree (08/01/2005)
After Alaska leaders' deaths, president offers praise, speaks of military
By DEB RIECHMANNThe Associated Press
Published: August 1, 2005 Last Modified: August 3, 2005 at 12:36 PM
BOWLING GREEN, Va. -- Succeeding on his third try to visit them, President Bush comforted thousands of Boy Scouts on Sunday at a national jamboree marred by the electrocutions of four leaders and stifling heat that sickened 300.
"The men you lost were models of good citizenship," Bush told the estimated 50,000 Scouts, leaders and visitors attending the event near Bowling Green, Va., where boys yelled "Boy Scouts rock!"
"As Scout leaders, they devoted themselves to helping young men develop the character and skills they need to realize their dreams. These men will always be remembered for their leadership and kindness, and you Scouts honor them by living up to the ideals of the Scouting they served."
The four Scout leaders were electrocuted when they were putting up a tent and the metal pole came in contact with overhead electrical wires. Those killed were Ron Bitzer, Michael LaCroix and Michael Shibe of Anchorage and Scott Powell, who moved to Ohio from Alaska last year.
Shibe was at Jamboree with his twin sons, while LaCroix was there with one of his four children.
A fifth Alaska Scout leader, Anchorage dentist Jay "Larry" Call, suffered electrical burns in the accident.
"Through the generations, Scouts have made America a stronger and better nation," Bush proclaimed. "Thousands of Scouts have shown the highest form of patriotism by going on to wear the uniform of the United States."
Marine One landed in a grassy field, and Bush, a former Cub Scout in Texas, was ferried by van to a stage where he was met by a sea of cheering Scouts wearing uniforms covered with colorful patches and badges.
As the sun set, Bush told the crowd that the first man he often sees every morning, chief of staff Andy Card, is a former Scout from Massachusetts; Vice President Dick Cheney was a Boy Scout in Wyoming; and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was an Eagle Scout in Illinois.
Bush's speech was about patriotism and community and military service, but he also recalled how his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, was the den mother of his Scouting pack.
"It's about the time her hair turned white," he joked.
Before Bush arrived on stage, an Army band performed and a man wearing an Army T-shirt led groups of Scouts in chants of "OO-rah" and "U.S.A." Tall pines provided a backdrop for blue, red and black hot-air balloons emblazoned with military and Scouting emblems.
It was Bush's third attempt to travel to Fort A.P. Hill, the Army base hosting the Jamboree where Scouts are trying to end their 10-day gathering with cheery memories of mountain biking, fishing, scuba diving and trading patches with newfound Scouting friends across the nation.
On Wednesday, Scouting enthusiasts waited hours in the heat for Bush, who later canceled his appearance because of threatening storms. Scouts began collapsing from high humidity and temperatures in the high 90s. More than 300 people were treated for heat-related illnesses.
Bush's second attempt to visit the Jamboree was postponed from Thursday at the Scouts' request. Officials wanted to review safety procedures for large crowds and replenish water and other supplies.
The illnesses came as the Jamboree participants were still trying to overcome the deaths Monday of the four adult Scout leaders. An investigation into the accident is under way.
The day before, a volunteer was taken to a hospital, where he died of an apparent heart attack.
"I appreciate the rain check," Bush said.
The weather was considerably cooler Sunday, but Scout officials took extra precautions. Scouts hiking to the arena from the most distant subcamp about seven miles away set out at 3:45 -- more than an hour later than on Wednesday -- to give them less waiting time in the sun.
Several running buses with signs on the windshields reading "Cooling Station" were available, there were more tents to provide shade and stretchers were spaced out over the field in case they were needed.
Cases of bottled water dotted the sloping lawn of the arena like hay bales.
Even so, the day was not without incident.
A military helicopter carrying several photographers made an emergency landing at the Jamboree after its engine failed Sunday afternoon, Jamboree spokeswoman Renee Fairrer said.
She said the Black Hawk helicopter was carrying adult photographers for the Boy Scouts. She was unable to say how many people were on the helicopter, which she said landed at its designated spot on base.
The Daily News and the New York Times contributed to this report.
Alaska's Road to Nowhere
By HEATHER LENDE
YOU have probably already heard about the pile of cash going to Alaska from the federal transportation bill. There's about a quarter of a billion dollars for a bridge to connect the airport on Gravina Island to Ketchikan (population 14,000). The bridge will rival the Golden Gate and Brooklyn Bridges in length and height.
Then there's $230 million or so for "Don Young's Way," a bridge between Anchorage and a swampy, undeveloped port, which is named for the man who got us the money, Alaska's lone congressman.
But it's the $15 million designated for a road between Juneau and Skagway that is dearest to me. Haines, the small town I live in, is close to Skagway - separated from it only by the waters of the upper Lynn Canal, which is not a canal at all, but the longest fjord in North America. The transportation money will go toward the first road ever to be built along the canal. Actually, the project will cost about $300 million to complete, but Gov. Frank Murkowski assures Alaskans that he'll get whatever he needs from the federal government.
The communities directly affected - Haines (population 2,400), Skagway (population 870) and Juneau (population 31,000) - have voiced opposition to the road for a host of good reasons: it is a waste of money; with at least two dozen avalanche chutes, it will be too dangerous to drive in winter, which is most of the year; we already have a fine ferry system that gets us just about everywhere we need to go in all kinds of weather; some places are too nice to be paved over.
Oh, and did I mention that the road won't fulfill its ostensible mission? The whole purpose of the new road was to connect Juneau to the Klondike Highway at Skagway, so that Alaskans who live in the interior would be able to drive to the state capital rather than rely on planes and ferries. But now the road is going to stop in the middle of the wilderness, 18 miles south of Skagway. Earlier this month, the Federal Highway Administration announced it would not finance a road that went through Skagway's Gold Rush-era park, a national landmark. The result? We're on course to get a $300 million road to nowhere.
The highway's designers promise to fix the problem by building a new ferry terminal at the end of the proposed road and purchasing new boats to haul people and cars from there to the ferry docks in Haines and Skagway, frequently in the summer, less so in the winter.
But this will make regional travel even harder. Right now, I can get on a ferry in Haines and take it all the way to Juneau. I can also stay on and go to Sitka, Petersburg, Wrangell, Ketchikan, Prince Rupert, British Columbia or even Bellingham, Wash. With the new plan, Haines and Skagway residents (or my son's high-school basketball team) will take the ferry across Lynn Canal for about an hour, get off, and then have to drive about 75 miles to Juneau, which has no roads out of it.
The plan makes no sense. Instead, Alaska's politicians should do something they don't do very often: they should put the money for the road in the bank. The interest alone could go toward operating and maintaining the current Lynn Canal ferry system. A few rules would probably need to change, but I'm confident Alaska's politicians have enough clout when it comes to dealing with federal transportation money to bring this about.
John Muir warned young people not to travel up the Inside Passage of Alaska. After you see it, he pointed out, you'll either have to stay, or every place else will be a disappointment. Nothing much has changed since he died. The Lynn Canal still looks like Yosemite by the sea. If the road ever gets built, I'll call it Disappointment Highway.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Alaska's smallest halibut (not to be confused with this halibut)...
Alaska's ugliest fish.
If you can't see the bulging eyes, orange and yellow scales and the huge mouth (it's a kind of bass), then take my word for it: it's ugly.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Got the bikes out last night and went for a quick ride through the
neighborhood- near 60s, bright sun 9pm (post-Hacienda's, so speed was
not the goal).
One guy was mowing his lawn, odd since everybody's grass is dead.
Another guy within a block, was snowblower-ing his lawn - odd because
all the snow is gone. except i guess at his house.
ps - got our 'favorite' waitress at Hacienda's. Had to ask for a knife
3 times and soda 4. Then when we paid with 2 credit cards (party of
4), she took one to the register, said she'd come back for the other.
she did - 10 minutes later. by that time she was giving us the
stink-eye for taking her table.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
First the rules of democracy, now the fate of the UN. James Bond, call your office - the Native Corps got ya beat.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Let's see. Dot 1: the US Senate is currently considering the "nuclear option," yanking the filibuster out its rulebook for votes on federal judge confirmations (an horrific idea regardless of your ideology, but that's not what this post is about. not at all).
One of the key votes the rule-changing Republicans need to pass that rule change is none other than the otherwise inconsequential junior Senator from Alaska, Lisa Murkowski. Senator Murkowski's highly Crazy road to her current post has been well chronicled here and elsewhere.
Senator Murkowski, who if she does anything well, it's vote as she's told, has a superb record as being an automatic vote for whatever the Establishment Republican Leadership wants (keep in mind, her "boss," as she's publicly called him, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, is very much a heavy-hitter in that Leadership).
Why, then, this week is she acting so coy on this highly-charged, hyper-high profile vote?
Meanwhile, in what we can all safely assume is utterly unrelated government lawmaking minuteau (sp?), reps from other states are starting to ask a question that Alaskans have comfortably not asked themselves for many years: Just what in the hell is going on with all these Alaskan Indian companies?
And that is VERY bad news for Alaska's well-documented federal pork habit and, nominally, for Alaskan Natives.
Here's a Mother Jones article that nails it completely, but very briefly, thanks to Ted Steven's legal acumen, Alaska native tribes (DON'T call them Eskimos... (read to "Mascot")) can set up corporations that are utterly exempt from government contracting laws - they get special access to no-bid projects, and the projects have no legal size limit. They can also sign up to do these contracts with "partners."
This is true, in all of Federal contracting law, ONLY for Alaska Native Corps.
On the upside, it beats forcing natives into the casino game (which would likely be doomed in, say, Nome).
On the downside, it puts Halliburton and similiarly sized (and connected) firms, through the 'partners' loophole, bypass nearly every line of defense between them and the Republic's Treasury.
Alaska is still the great untamed land in nearly every resepct, as I hope this blog chronicles - and it certainly is true for politcal gouging.
So now let's draw our line....
A couple of relatively tough reps from state's not lucky enough to have licences to steal start poking around Alaska's and Ted Steven's Golden Rule.
And, out of nowhere, the unknown, powerless junior Senator from deeply-red Alaska appears to get a case of the vapors at the notion of playing hardball.
Friday, April 15, 2005
Man, if i'da known they were gonna
let the Crazy People come talk about the Crazy Bridge, you couldn't
have kept me away. damn.
this story is pretty straight. No mention of the woman, reported on local NPR, who wanted the funds diverted to a subway to Kenia. As the Rabbi Says, "Buy me a token. I'm on the Subway to Dairy Queen!"
If Alaska has an answer to hip hop's late, great Ol' Dirty Bastard (ODB - RIP), it has to be Frank. And just like ODB, the OCB says: Gimme My Money!
Monday, February 21, 2005
Crazywise, we are off the charts.
Let me start personal, than blow it up to the full Crazy scope.
I’m in Fairbanks this week for one of the capstones of Crazy Air Force training, the Arctic Survival school aka Cool School. In practice, the concept is crazier (Camping in Alaska! In February! Without tents!) than the reality (teens and 20s this week), but classes with 4 hours of daylight per day and ambient temps of negative 50 are not unheard of.
Anyhoo, that’s where I am, which perhaps has been the karmic trigger for the Crazy eruptions, but who can say? I made the roadie up here, driving the 400 miles from Anchorage to Fairbanks, a trip on which I figured I might be able to hunt down some crazy but no – I only had to keep gas in the car. It found me.
Gas station #1 – Just north of anchorage in the Palmer/Wasilla area, which are two suburbs. Only, apparently, there’s a sweet spot on the map between them – so 100 yards east of my gas station was Wasilla sales taxes. 100 West was Palmer sales taxes. Mine was no sales taxes.
A little weak, but just the opening act.
Gas station #2 – in a strip mall in North Pole (Fairbanks suburb, 10 miles from the Cool school and – as the highway sign now says – 2004 State Football Champions), next to a barber’s shop. Big sign on the barber’s window, handpainted – “I Will Be Closed For Surgery” (Dammit! Now we have to go all the way into Fairbanks for Surgery! - Thankee!!!!)
And now, the three damndest things. First, the Big One.
Or, rather, the No Longer Big One.
Destined to be a national story. Just remember's whose Crazy it is.
‘No Problem With Appeal’
As he asked his girlfriend: “I don't Believe it. Do you?” Let me answer for all of us: If it was anywhere else, no. But...
North To Alabama
Call me a screamin' liberal, but you show me a petition to ban King Salmon fishing in Alabama, I’ll sign it.
Let me give this story just a bit more serious discussion than it deserves: I like PETA in the same sense I like the NRA and Jerry Falwell and grooved pavement on freeways. Without them you might just drive straight off into the abyss before you knew you were out of the lines. PETA is nothing if not a group of moral absolutist blind to the holes in their morality, but isn't that the best part of being morally absolut? (as The Enemies List might put it "No Grey Areas, Only Enemies!") So I am never offended or shocked by PETA's antics and I’m often amused.
But I am offended by this story strictly as a consumer of liberal social movements.
I fall pretty firmly in the same corner as (to name a few of my most-abused favorites) the ACLU, the Sierra Club, the NAACP, Greenpeace, even the sorry-ass Democratic National Committee. And here's PETA - not so much 'one of us' but with a long list of common enemies - wasting everybody's time (and money) without even managing to show a clear grasp of the difference between Alaska and Alabama.
PETA picks up some first downs with most people when they stick to industrial cattle farms, animal lab testing and the lunacies of the fur-wearing world. And then they trot out something like this.
I’m fully aware that this is a publicity stunt and nothing more. Indeed, pub stunts are often what many groups on 'my' side are reduced to. But since these things are our only real weapons, I'd appreaciate it if PETA didn't waste one. Because this whole deal is gruesomely ill-concieved, likely only to alienate friends and set back real debate. Is that the goal?
There. I had my say.
If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the skydiver. Genital mutilation and PETA-attacks are good, but for pure Alaska Crazy, you can't beat a paranoid skydiving wack-job defending himself in open court. Except when he's surpised by the verdict.
Like I said, the sky is positively aglow up here.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Monday, February 07, 2005
Right there on the passenger seat where you left it.
It's the first painless, comfortable sensation since you left the car
that morning, the get-well dose on a gaping calorie deficit, an unplanned reward for the climb, and it comes with that little victory of knowing you didn't drop it along the way for some lousy, unappreciate squirrel.
I was reminded of this Law Of The Human Digestive System today when I
got back to my car late this afternoon and found the last three -
THREE!!! - slices of a spinach-roni stomboli from a place that knew how
to make it. Three full, soft, warm, lustily flavorful slices.
A perfect way to cap a climb up New Hampshire's - ney, New
England's - tallest, meanest, nastiest hill, Mt. Washington.
Now, let me tell you a little about Mt. Washington, how it vaguely fits
into the Alaska Crazy profile, and how my climb today was Crazy, even
by our high standards in the 49th state.
Mt. Washington, over 6K ft, sits at the three-way intersection of three
weather corridors. Weather comes down from Canada and the great lakes,
in the from the Atlantic and up from the south, and hits right on top
of Mt. Washington's bare shoulders.
The highest windspeed ever recorded on earth - 230 MPH, or some such
lunacy - was on Mt. Washington. 100MPH winds - sustained - can happen
any day, any season. Gusts way past that.
One of the well-built buildings on top of the mountain is literally
chained to the ground, with three iron, maritime-anchor-looking chains
going all the way up and over the roof, like the building was going to
make a break for it.
In fact, in the climbing world, it's a truism that Mt. Washington is
the only place in the Lower 48 that can, reliably, simulate the
conditions that ambitious climbers are likely to find on extended trips
in - wait for it! - Alaska.
In short, no matter who you are or where you are from - even if it's
Alaska - Mt. Washington can kick your ass.
And, like the rest of New England in winter, Mt. Washington's
angriest month, on average, is February.
Which is why I must report that as I stood on the summit today, the wind whipped itself up to a howling, sustained, 3 MPH. Gusts were way past that - like, 6.
Temps in the high-30s - in the shade. Out in the sun, i'd put it at
mid-50s. And 'out in the sun' was pretty much everywhere, since it
was, as the pilots like to say, 'severe clear' tO every point of the
Now, all over the mountain were, i'd like to think, some of the
upper-crust of New England's climbing community, at least 100 other
climbers. Each of them, without exception, was dragging full-sized
packs full of what i'm sure was survival gear of the highest order.
Absolutely everyone had the sturdiest of deep-cold hiking boots, many
of the plastic kind, and much more than half had on crampons, some as
early in the trip as the parking lot.
It was a mountain of people who were, in a word, scared.
I had plastic boots and crampons, too. Right there strapped to my
backpack. Same place as my mountain axe. Nobody was going to tell me i didn't know what to
But I don't think i was imagining the just-plain resentment in
the faces of absolutely everybody i passed when they looked down and
saw I was doing the whole thing in running shoes. And a tshirt.
So to my fellow Alaskans on this list considering whether or not
they want to take on the mighty pride of east coast mountaineering, the
bruiser from New Hampshire, the meanest square mile of real estate this side of Tibet, Mt. "Worse Weather Than Alaska" Washington - deep in the heart of
February, no less - my advice to you is do NOT underestimate the Beast:
Bring LOTS of sunscreen. And maybe a kite - in case the wind ever
does actually blow.
Oh! And get the Stomboli from Delancy's the night before,
Here is the comments from the weather intern who lives up there:
Sunday saw some of the most extreme weather on Mount Washington in years. That's right, good weather on the summit can be considered extreme. At 42F we smashed the old record high of 33F set in 1938. Just one degree shy of the all-time monthly record. Monday's record high has also been exceeded. Daily records are broken quite regularly though, often several times a year. The extreme event happened around 9am when the winds became completely calm. Even the slightest breath of air could not be found on the summit. If you visit the top of Mount Washington in the winter you are more likely to experience 130mph gusts than calm winds.
With all the nice weather in the mountains there was a flood of activity on the Rockpile this weekend. Scores of people reached the summit on both Saturday and Sunday. At times the Observation Deck was as crowded as a summer afternoon, and the summit crew could be seen playing baseball. In the late afternoon I found corn snow skiing the east snowfields. What a weekend!
For perspective, here are the archived pages of Mt. Washington weather from the same day in recent years:
Feb. 6, 2002
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Thursday, January 13, 2005
seriously - you can KEEP that flight) diverted to Cold
Bay, Alaska - scroll down to find it.
(and here's a Cold Bay-meets-airplane link that defies description - throwing snow into the engine?)
My favorite bit is that the locals had to ferry the
passengers to the local gyms in their own cars and the town's only two school buses.
Now...not ONLY is this the second
Tokyo-to-a-Major-US-City flight to land here in 3
years, making the state's #2 destination for
And not ONLY could the entire population of the
town (80) fit on the plane, probably, four times
And not ONLY did most of the passengers not speak
But they landed there because Cold Bay, Alaska
evidently has a Cold War (could there be another
kind?) runway built for bombers.
Which gives the town, by my math, 125ft of runway
I'm gonna just close the nominations right now and
declare Cold Bay the undisputed World
They said some sections of the city could expect to be without power for a month.
That's a rather stark claim for a city that spends 4 or more months hovering around 0. But here was the part that leaped out at me: Of the 15 largest earthquakes ever recorded on the planet, 10 were in alaska.
POST-TSUNAMI UPDATE!!!! Make that 10 of the last 16.
back door this morning. We had a light coat a week or
so ago, but it was hard to take that seriously when
the temps were back up in the 60s the following day,
sending locals running for their cars to bump up the
And that reminds me of the mid-July moment when
I stood outside an auto repair shop, up drove the
shop's shuttle van, and out hopped an old timer,
having just dropped off somebody's car. He walked
inside the store and announced, "Whew! Man, you don't
realize how hot it is outside when you've got the A/C
on until you open that door. It just hits you like a
blast." It was about 72 with a nice breeze.
So there's that.
But this time the snow looks a little more determined and
its cold enough outside to get your fingers chilly, so
I think it's got a chance to stay.
To the Crazy update:
We're closing in on the State Football Playoffs in the
football season, with only two regular season games
left. Last week, as you might have heard, local
sports factory Service High went to Montana for a
game. And got beat 86-0.
But Service isn't my favorite team. I think my
favorite high school team just became the tiny 1A
fishing village of Aniak. Aniak is one of those
native villages which is also home to year-round
population of white fishermen.
And their kids take the field under the monicker of
the Aniak Halfbreeds.
When somebody told me that last week, I flat didn't
believe them. Google it yourself, it you like.
And here's another one, as promised in this
newsletter's charter, about dog mushing. And, in this
case, how much lots of people hate it.
Ya know, all i can say on this is that these people
are fighting the wrong fight. You don't have to learn
much about dog sledding to realize it isn't cruel at
all (though it's certainly Crazy), except to any
sensable nose. From personal experience, I can tell
you that if you get yourself passed on a ski trail by
a dog team, you're in for several minutes of
unbearable stink that wind doesn't help.
And per that article, it's particularly hard to
take seriously the anti-mushing efforts of anybody in
and just for the heck of it, hockey players behaving
she caught a 70 pounder. That was good, best on our
boat. It took her 30 minutes and a week's worth of
sore arm to drag it aboard.
Not near impressive as this woman.
- We're keeping our elephant. Phew.
I will most DEFINITELY let you know when the
world's first elephant treadmill arrives.
With wrist-snapping force are we pushing back the
walls of legal history in the 48th state.
we just tried, and acquited, the first murder case
in the entire nation where the defendent was charged
with murder for causing a fatal traffic wreck because
he was watching a DVD in his car.
A guy in Kenai - right next to Soldotna, home to the
patriotic water-thrower - did some bad driving and
killed a couple of old people. And he did have a DVD
in his car, which COULD be viewed from the drivers
By the way, none of that, including the act of
watching TV while driving, is illegal in the 49th
So the prosecutor wrung him up for Murder.
Apparently, the DA failed to present any evidence
that he was actually watching the TV.
So he walked.
Now, i see that logic, but i kinda have to squint
because... he absolutely killed those people. Not a
But he killed them while NOT watching TV, so it's
not murder. hmmm....
Pay special attention to the parts about the
reason, i think, that I flew all last night on a
distinctly Alaskan rescue mission. We found our way
out towards Glenallen, for those of you who speak
Alaska-WhereAboots, at 3am.
We (where "we" = 20 members of the national guard and
two of our airplanes) were sent out there to recover
a guy who managed to crash his truck in a corner of
Alaska 400 miles from a hospital (ie, most of Alaska).
He was good and beat up - broken-ish back,
broken-for-sure-ribs, etc. Defintely got his money's
worth out of the crash. But nothing that you wouldn't
see twice a night on an ambulance in any fair-sized
But what makes for a 20 minute,
don't-bother-with-the-sirens EMS run in Charlotte, in
Alaska is literally the starting bell to call out the
My cell phone started hopping off the kitchen
counter at 11:40 last night. We landed back home just
Most fun, though, was, due to the late hour and the
late date in summer, the flight was the very first for
every single member of both crews in darkness since
April. There simply is no darkness to fly through in
Alaska during summer months until - well, until right
about last night, actually.
That made for a keystone-cops episode of medical
work in the back. If you had emptied the contents of
a hospital's dumpster into the back of our Blackhawk,
there wouldn't have been more junk (on the other hand,
if you've never stuck an IV by the light of a mini-mag
flashlight held in your teeth, then, fancy degree or
no, you don't really practice medicine. there, I said
it). But far more important, it made for a whole lot
of 'Is that the ground?'-kind of talk from the pilots
(yes, they had night vision goggles, and no, that's no
They spent most of the flight comparing it to
flying in Afghanistan, which is a little like a rock
critic comparing an album to Hall and Oates.
Our crew and our friend the bad driver arrived at
our Anchorage area hospital at 5am, give or take. He
was given a breathalizer test. The accident had
happened prior to 10pm the night before.
That's, minimum, 7 hours to dry up.
He blew a 0.08.
'You know why they named their town Chicken?' he asked.
'Because they got tired of not being able to spell Ptarmigan.'
Man. I hope that's true.
thought it was. But with Reagan's death, there has
been some discussion here lately of... well, let me
set the scene.
You may have heard of Fairbanks, AK. It's the
state's #2 city, sits 400 miles into the interior of
the state from Anchorage, and is renowned for it's
crushing, relentless winter cold. Temps at or below -40 are
not unusual (that's when the Air Force base there,
Eielson, shuts down) and entire months come and go
with it never getting above -20.
Fairbanks isn't the coldest spot in the state, but
only indians and oil workers live where it's any
It is also far enough north that it can claim to
have months when the sun never sets and, alternately,
never rises (here in Anchorage, the longest day of the
year is about 20 hours).
Hunting in the area is the state's best, but as you
might imagine, Fairbanks, as a city, is not much to
see. A beat up downtown, some surrounding
neighborhoods and even one or two 'bedroom communties'
that sort of qualify as suburbs (including North
But not exactly Rome.
And speaking of Rome, i hope you can all recall
where our current President was when he got The News
about The Gipper. He was in Rome, meeting with the
(and how funny was that? The Prez, mid-war, shows
up and gives the pope the "Medal of Freedom" and the
Pope promptly spends the hour yelling at him like a
grade school principle, and spends the rest of the
week doing a Triumph The Insult Dog routine on Dubya,
the war and the whole country in general. Hilarious).
So that meeting - Most Powerful Man on
Earth-meets-the Pope - took place at the Vatican,
which we can all agree, seems an appropriate setting.
I'm not sure I'd say the same about Fairbanks. But
apparently, His Holiness and The Gipper would.
and here's an update on the, pound for pound, second-craziest guy in the state, behind only the snowmobile-skiiers of the Arctic Man.
of the 13 'Muzzle' awards given out by this organization - awarded to people or organizations who have worked to violate free speech over the last year - our guy is one of only two individuals."
The schools are 1,300 miles apart.
While Barrow was playing Mt Edgecumbe, 32 college teams were playing 16 games in the NCAA basketball tournment. Only 6 of those games featured teams from campuses farther apart than the two Alaska schools.
Barrow and Mt. Edgecumber are about the same distance apart as Thursday-opponents Air Force and North Carolina, Princeton and Texas, and Stanford and UTEP.
Of course, you can drive between all those schools. To get to Sitka, you must take a boat. You CAN drive to Barrow, barely, but there's really only two reasons to do so, because, as Barrow's head coach says:
'There are only two season in Barrow. Whaling season and basketball season."
And he backed it up, too: Barrow 55, Mt. Edgecumbe 47.
And of the 20 or so kids on the ice, he said the 4 who stood out and dominated - skated better and faster, better stick skills, just flat better hockey players - were three or four Mexican kids.
he said they even had a cheering section of family and friends who carried on strictly in Spanish.
maybe hockey-star Hispanics shouldn't surprise me - afterall, the Stanley Cup came to Anchorage last year thanks to NHL player and Anchorage-native Scotty Gomez.
But Mandy and I went to the mall yesterday with the temperature in the low 20s, and i saw more people in shorts (1) than i did Hispanics.
maybe that makes me racist, but at least i'm in good company cuz elsewhere yesterday, no less than US Senator John McCain let loose one of the most vicious, hateful, not-worthy-of-George-Wallace slurs in the English language. yip, he said the E-word.
"$200,000 for the City of North Pole, Alaska, for recreation improvements. I guess Santa had a tough year and the elves need a little help from the American taxpayer. "
i want to pull quotes out for you, just as a teaser, yet every paragraph is its own gem: lighters give out at -45; 'most' mushers voting to postpone because its too cold but 'also' because a guy broke his leg; touch a dog, stick your hand down pants, repeat; the guy who can't speak english; and, of course, bikini weather. matt"
I'll get around to recording the various feats and sights of lunacy soon.
on a far more somber note, here's some Crazy that even made the Drudge Report. here's a rather graphic - and very long - story about an ex-Alaskan, and former reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, and just TONS of Crazy. Unfortunately, that includes some pedophilia, so it may not be for all audiences.
The term 'Break up' comes from the maritime concept of sea ice breaking up. Locally, the term means we've reached the time of year when the temps are now pretty much everyday over 40, and the streets disappear beneath the seemingly inexhaustible oceans of water produced by almost 200inches of snow melt.
But up north, on the Nanana River, there is a particular ritual of Break Up, and one more closely tied to the expression's true meaning. Just north of fairbanks, while the ice is still thick, the locals go out in the middle of the ice-clogged Nanana and plant a pole. They tie a string to the pole, and the other end of the string to a clock. When break up comes - when the ice literally begins to break up and move down stream, taking the pole with it - the string trips the clock.
The town sells shares in a betting pool to pick the exact moment - day, hour and minute - when the river trips the clock and 'breaks up.' It costs a few bucks to enter, and many people must, because the prize money is over $300,000
I don't know exactly how many people enter, but again, it must be quiet a few, because last year 66 people put down money that the Nanana River would officially 'break up' on one particular day: April 31st.
Now fire up your dayplanner and check what day of the week April 31st falls on.
that was my favorite politcal ad, on Crazy grounds. Until now.
now, some quick background: one thing you discover quickly living in Anchorage is that if you go into a bar in the early evening, they may give you 2-for-1 on bad attitude, but never on drinks. No matter where you go, there are no drink specials in Anchorage.
so the local election for city assembly is coming up. last night, i caught this radio ad, which i've paraphrased from memory, but the key passages I'm really sure of. It was for one Dan Coffey (sounds like the beverage that sobers you up - a key point, as you'll see):
(sound of a party)
"In the 70s and 80s, Anchorage was a party town. Dance clubs stayed open all night and bars had happy hours where they gave away liquer."
"Dan Coffey helped push through laws regulating happy hours. Now bars give away buffalo wings - not shots."
(voice of Dan) "I'm Dan Coffey. I worked with area bars to end happy hours. somethingsomethingsomething."
"Paid for by Citizens for Dan Coffey. (voice of Dan) Have a cup of coffey!"
I'm No Damn Fun - Vote For Me
('Hillside' is, roughly, the southern half of Anchorage. 'Muldoon' is where I live)
skiers report on my porch- new snow last 24 hours: none. base: 0' conditions: slippery-to-bone dry. damndest 5-feet-of-snow disappearing act i've ever seen."
water temp: 34.
air temp: 28.
better to be in the water. really. Anyway, we pull into the Homer marina, which is choked but still passable with ice, and there is a long, mand-made rock jetty. just a 500 yard long pile of big rocks. and on top of every single rock along the jetty was a bald eagle. at least 50 of them. that was cool.
So after we tie up our freezing boat, surrounded by floating ice, shivering in our top-tier winter-diving gear, we pull out of the parking lot, trying to warm up and the business in the first building is:
Alaska Fish Freezing.
Well, yes - yes they are! Goodnight folks!
Crazy Stole The Ball
Last night i attended an internet-organized event for
people who vaguely support the efforts of a man named
Tony Knowles to run for the US Senate.
You'll enjoy this Crazy Eruption regardless of
political slant, but to fully appreciate it, a quick
word on who Knowles is and what this campaign is
Knowles, a Democrat of the went-to-'Nam variety
(and of the Loves-Oil variety, which is the only
variety in Alaska) is probably the state's #1 local
politician - he' a two-time mayor of anchorage, a
two-time governor which he had to quit because of term
limits and just tons of nice things like parks and
trails are named after him. So many, in fact, that
until I found out about this race, i assumed he was
And he wants the Senate seat currently held by Lisa
Murkowski who, as I mentioned, was appointed to the
seat by her father. But this is much bigger than just
a 49th state deal becauce of all the US Senators
seeking re-election this year, she is among the very
weakest and Knowles certainly has the resume to beat
Much more importantly, if just one or two Ds can
beat one or two Rs this time around, the Senate will
flip back to D control and all hell will break loose
in DC, Dubya or no Dubya.
All of which makes Knowles a serious man at the
center of a very serious race.
So I and about 30 people sat around the local Pizza
place last night, called the Moose's Tooth, wondering
if Knowles was going to show up. And about the time
the pies showed up, so did Tony.
So he begins to circulate among the crowd, shaking
hands at each table for about 30 seconds and moving
on. He skipped my table, which made me, mandy and
danny very mad cuz we wanted to know what he planned
to do to clean up all the Crazy.
Instead he went to the table just past us, and
Crazy found him.
We knew something was up when he had been hovering
over the table for 10 minutes and the only voice we'd
heard was the shrill, scolding voice of one of the
women sitting there. We couldn't hear her very well,
but on and on and on she went. I looked over and Tony
- the man out to switch the balance of power in the
world's mightest government - was smiling and nodding.
And then, well into the lady's 15th minute of
ranting, our table hit a lull in conversation and
these words came floating over to us:
"...and what they need to do is put something in the
water that makes everyone sterile. Until they're
qualified to be parents" - laugh laugh laugh - "no,
they need to."
Needless to say, my head snapped up but-quick and
there was Knowles, trying to become one of the 100
most powerful men on earth, nodding and smiling like
they were talking indexing benefits to inflation and
on and on she went.
Maybe all candidates for US Senate have to suffer
the rantings of the Art Bell-set, but I just can't see
John McCain or Bill Frist putting up with it for 15
unbroken minutes. or getting it at the very first
event the campaign bothers to hold.
But I guess in Alaska, if you don't get the Crazy
Vote, you don't get any votes at all.
oldest, most developed neighborhood of Anchorage.
this nieghborhood borders the downtown office
district, the coast and, to its rear, the inevitable
strip of car dealerships, bad hotels and the like.
in other words, Danny's neighborhood is very nice
but is as 'urban' as Van Nuys or Tempe or Evanston or
Danny's street runs by a small park, where I like
to play fetch with my dog, but that would have been
tough with the 5 feet of snow covering it. But, as i
thought that, i noticed somebody out walking their dog
on the sidewalk. or rather, i noticed somebody out
walking something by a leash.
but as i drove by and got a better look, i realized
it was somebody out walking thier reindeer.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
throws out a line in it that Mandy, Danny and I have
adopted as our unofficial motto here in the 49th
Sell Crazy Someplace Else; We're Full-Up Here
Indeed we are, and since this is 1/50th of your country up here (1/3rd if we're speaking geographically), I think the world needs to know how stark-raving Crazy everybody is here. I've lived here only since April, '03 and here's a short list of what i've come across:
- with no sales or income tax, pays every resident
over $1000 a year. Period. Sign up, here's your
check, enjoy the snow.
- that said, you will NEVER meet a population more
militantly anti-government than Alaskans.
- Dec 21st has about 4 hours of sunlight and Jun 21st
has more than 20, and that's just in
relatively-southern Anchorage - farther north (and the
state is as north-south tall as the lower 48) they go
months when the sun never crosses the horizon, either
above or below.
- You can't drive from the biggest, only city
(Anchorage) to the state capital (Juneau) without a
500-mile detour through Canada. Out of the 20 biggest
towns/cities, I'd guess a solid 7 of them you can't
drive to at all.
- Every year, they play the Nation's First High School
Football game (in July) and the state title game is in
- From Anchorage, you can regularly see Mt. McKinley,
the tallest mountain this side of the Himilayas,
which, distance-wise is the equivelant of standing on
the Santa Monica pier and seeing the Golden Gate
bridge, or going up in the Washington Monument and
- with caveats for distribution-sized stashes, it is
illegal for cops to arrest in you in your house for
pot. the state supreme court has said so.
- and then there's the politics, and in case you don't
know the most recent chapter: AK had 2 of the longest
serving US Senators in history, Ted Stevens, who's
still there, and Frank Murkowski. Murkowski ran for
Governor in 02 and won, which means he had to quit his
job as Senator. Since the US Constitution says state
Govs get to pick Senators when there's an opening, the
AK Legislature passed a bill saying that no new
Senator could be appointed until at least 5 days after
the old one quit - just enough time for Murkowski to
quit and be sworn in and, therefore, pick his own
successor (in fact, the lame duck-gov vetoed that
bill, and the leg over-rode him - hell of a fight).
So murkowski came in and appointed to fill his
still-warm US Senate seat...
And that's just the big-picture, government and
geography stuff. living here everyday you meet an
endless stream of the normal people who actually
aren't normal at all but are walking microcosms of all
the insanity i just listed above.
Why, just hours ago, i took my dog for some cross
country skiing on some local trails, and we were
nearly run over by a dogsled... four times.
Also on dogsledding, the chaplain at Kulis Air
Force Base races dogs - so he has a dog kennel on his
truck, the windows of which are crosses.
dogsledding, i pro'ly need not say, is ESPECIALLY
so I'm going to pass along, in MUCH smaller emails, a
running tally of the ridiculous events that fit one of
a couple categories.
- it could not possibly, under any circumstances, happen anywhere but here (an example might be getting
a ticket for driving without lights on at 10:00 am
since the sun still isn't up at that time this month -
i made that up, but barely)
- would seem odd elsewhere but hits you with
shattering unexpectedness since it happened in Alaska
(see my anecdote below for an example)
- straight links to stories in the anchorage daily
news which - as the paper of record for a state of
insanity - nearly every day produces the driest,
craziest headlines and stories this side of the Onion.
- it's just flat insane (say, the murkowski-daughter
thing, for example, or yesterday when the osteopathic
surgeon who stole a taxi on the way to a strip club
and, oh, nevermind, here's the link - they even have
'bizarre' in the headline.
- any personal contact with dogsledding.
You may be thinking that California - and certainly Florida
- has plenty of crazy, why concentrate on Alaska?
Well, keep in mind: There's about 600,000 people in
the whole state (including natives who ARE NOT Eskimos
- I don't think i've even heard that word uttered here
since my arrival). There's only one city, and its got
half of that population. We don't have an LA-basin
worth of crazy-resources. We're just astonishingly
efficient with what we have.
today, as the inaugural post, you get two examples,
an anecdote and a straight link.
First, the link:
I'm sure the bacon-grease industry is mobilizing its
and the anecdote: my friend Ben went to turn in his
Toyota pick-up for service at the Toyota dealership.
Non-descript, cinder-block and glass, slightly shabby
Toyota dealer along the main highway drag.
Who am i gonna call for a ride? he thinks.
Don't worry about it, says the dealer guy. We got a
shuttle service to take you back to work.
Great! he says. And right outside is a simple,
dull minivan with 'shuttle' on it.
That's not it, says the guy. we're calling the
service right now.
Oh, says Ben, and waits.
And up pulls... a black, stretch limo.
At a ratty Toyota dealer, in alaska.
So when he got back to work, everyface in the house
was pressed up against the window as the black stretch
rolled to a stop, the door opened and out jumped...
And yip - it had snow tires.
as the guy in the taxi story said: 'Geez, this is