Wednesday, July 30, 2008


That last post was a test of a different way of posting. So is this.

Fwd: What a Difference A Day Doesn't Really Make

Yesterday was gorgeous. The temperature unofficially rose into the 70's and it was only partly cloudy. We went for a ride as far as Mchugh Creek and then up to the third parking lot. You know how great it is when you do something you're proud of, and you have that quiet sense of accomplishment? You know the one thing better than that? When you ride up what's practically a ladder, and someone you know is in a car at the top. Plus, I got to meet his fiancee, and ask her what she was thinking of marrying a man almost twice her age. I told him, "Geez, Pedro, she's younger than the girl you tried to get me to set you up with!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Politics as Usual

The senior senator from Alaska, the longest serving Republican in history has just been indicted. What I really wanted to talk about, though, was our only House member, Don Young. He's a buffoon and a bully, and for years he's been a joke we've played on the rest of the country. Now there's an ad running in which he talks about increasing the federal gas tax. He's coherent, and lays out reasons why this would be in the public interest. This ad is being run by the people opposing Don Young, who has already disavowed the only thing he's ever said that made sense.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bear This in Mind

The bear that was frolicking down the street from here made it onto the front page of today's newspaper. He was up in a tree in one picture and he looked so cuddly. So cuddly, as bears in pictures often do. There have been a lot of such interactions here in the urban/wilderness interface. That's the kind of jargon that people looking at pictures of bears use. Confronting a real bear in your little corner of the interface often leads to screeches and then sprints. "Sprints", it turns out might have more phonemes than any other one syllable English word. It has seven, which kind of casts doubt on the whole meaning of the word "syllable". Good to know when you're running for your life. Well, maybe not just then, but if you survive, you'll have a good story, and you can just kill on trivia night.
By the way, is it just me, or I should say, me and Rush Limbaugh who I still can't stand but who has been blaring down one of my streets lately (and now, a new aside, a lady on the new part of my route asked me today if I would always be coming about that time; I had to tell her that I didn't even know from day to day if I would be coming back at all) so by the way is it just me (and Rush) but what's the deal, is Obama running for the presidency of Germany, or of the world, or what?
Now, for extra credit, you can diagram that last sentence.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice."

That poem by Robert "Jack" Frost perfectly summarizes our "summer" so far. The paper reported the "news" that by any measure-temperature, clouds, news stories, overuse of quotation marks in a blog post-this has been the coldest summer ever.
To further confirm the ice age aginess of it all, the snow has crept farther down the mountains (on little polar bear feet, I suppose Carl "Ice Fog" Sandburg would say) and a bear was frolicking for about 3 hours yesterday in a yard about 8 blocks from here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Advertising v Reality: Life Is Not a Dream

"A typical weekend in Anchorage is the dream of a lifetime anywhere else," says the Big Wild Life ad. Unfortunately, my day off this week was Wednesday, July 23rd. We had scheduled a ride, and even though it was pouring rain, ride we did, about 25 miles out towards Eagle River and back. Cold, wet, colder, wetter, painfully cold, scalding hot shower,and then later in the day looking up and seeing fresh snow on the mountains.
I'm still kind of waiting for the rosy retrospection to set in.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This Practically Made Me Happy

Reading a list of biases and flawed reasoning does lead to one conclusion; a nice thing about seeing the world through black glasses and glasses as not half full, but ready to break into flying shards*, is that it spares you from a certain number of decision making errors. For instance, I never suffer from rosy retrospection.

*I just found out that when I changed the settings on this post, I did get a pale yellow background.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather. Quiver in my voice as I cry, "What a cold and rainy day. Where on earth is the sun hid away."*

The clouds were so low today that it seemed like I could reach out and touch them, but I didn't have to because after noon, the clouds started reaching out to touch me.

*~10000 Maniacs

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Yesterday Only

So far this summer you could cast aspersions, you could cast stones, you could cast a die, you could cast lots, you could cast lots of dies, you could cast a pall, you could cast for fish or at the same time you could cast bread on the water, you could cast pearls before bears, you could cast your cares on the Lord and your fate on the wind, you could cast spells, you could cast a broken arm, you could even cast a movie, but it's been so gray that it was almost impossible to cast a shadow. Until today. For about an hour.

Oh, by the way, I used Skype for the first time last night to talk to our little Russian girl who has been sent home for a longer vacation than she'd planned. It was amazing; it was clearer than talking to her when she's here, and she has an iphone.

Friday, July 18, 2008

No, This Time I Mean It

Another cold day, so cold in fact, that I really could see my breath for most of the day. Yesterday, the weather service was telling us how normal this summer was, and then practically in the same breath (that you could see!) they mentioned that yesterday tied a record for the coldest high temperature ever on that date and the most rain.
Things are getting back to normal at the post office. That is to say that after doing route inspections that took forever, and then making adjustments that didn't make much sense, they are throwing the whole process out, and starting over.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Things About Anchorage

It's been a cold, gray, depressing summer. The weather service is reporting almost every week, that after a couple of warm years, this summer is a return to normal patterns as if that isn't depressing.
As I typed that, the news reported a story about new improved equipment that the weather service just got to make more accurate forecasts. What we need are better forecasts. Along the same lines, Fish and Game is saying that despite a girl on a bike being mauled as well as horses in corrals on the Hillside, this is just a regular bear year, nothing special. Don't be alarmed, oh, and don't go outside.
I just finished a book a friend gave me, called Anchorage Place Names. It's fascinating; I actually knew some of the people whose names grace our city. For instance Terry and Arlene streets are named for the two kids that grew up across the street from us. What they don't mention is that Terry ended up living on Arlene St. Even my pediatrician is mentioned and the husband of one our Hardly Davidsons and a lady that I took a class from and, and, and... I guess people who didn't grow up here might not be as excited by this book, but I think it's a jewel, just like Jewel Lake over by the airport.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

If Johnny Cash Wrote a Song About the Post Office

I was off yesterday. When I came back to work today, they had moved my case back so that everything I'd learned was on the left was back on the right, although this time they'd bolted it together four inches off from where it's been for the last 12 years (except for the last 5 days).
Last week's move was to accommodate someone's interpretation of the handbook -letter case on the left, flat case on the right-until someone reminded them they took away our letter cases about 10 years ago. It's all moot since I've ordered new labels and the end of the route will soon be the beginning.
"Well, the one on the right was on the left
And the one in the middle was on the right
And the one on the left was in the middle
And the guy in the rear was a Methodist"

Oh, do you remember I was hinting about a friend of ours who was trying to get a reentry permit? She had gone to Canada, thinking it would be easier to get it in Vancouver, BC than going to Vladivostock, a thousand miles from her home in Magadan, Russia. Today they gave her back her Russian passport, and told her they wouldn't be able to give her a reentry permit because they were revoking her HB-1 visa that allowed her to teach Salsa and choreography at the University of Alaska; she was being deported. So, okay, our southern border is awash in drugs and corruption, but at least up here on our northern border we're safe from the pernicious effects of modern dance. So very infuriating that what made America great, our willingness to take people in and encourage the best and brightest to come to stay has been completely turned on its head. Non-Yankee go home.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Dixie Chicks Are Right Again, It Is A Cold Day in July

It's been a cold summer, so cold that I could see my breath this afternoon. Granted, I was in the Costco cooler, but still.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Catch 22: When Visas are Illegal, Only Criminals Will Have Visas

Did you know that you can only get a visa to come into this country, if you're not in the country already? That makes sense on the surface, but what if you are here legally, maybe teaching at a university, and you want to go home for a visit, but before you leave you want to be sure you can come back? Nope, you've got to go somewhere and apply for a visa. I can't name any names or countries, at this point, but here's a piece of advice for foreigners planning a trip; think about what country you want to get stranded in, before you go.
What's galling about the grilling you will be subjected to by the American consular officials is that only people who report to the consulate to be grilled, can be grilled. People who fake documents and sneak across the border are fine.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"Journeys End in Lover's Meetings"

Thirty four years ago today, when I first started at the post office, carriers sorted all the mail for their routes into delivery sequence by hand. Now almost all the letters are sorted by machines, but we still sort the "residual" mail into shelves with dividers and labels-called cases- so it's in the correct order when we get to our routes. Before we could even start today, though, we had to tear out the existing labels and put in the new labels for our adjusted routes. Casing is sort of like dancing, I imagine, since it depends a lot on muscle memory, and just knowing where each piece of mail goes. With new labels, each address is a search. Every time I was able to put a piece of mail in the case this morning, it was like, "Oh, there you are, I've been looking for you for so long." And each time I found it anew, "Oh, it's so good to see you again, I've missed you."
By the end of the morning I even had some addresses I could reliably find.
While I was on the street, they came through and turned all the cases ninety degrees. Now everything that was on the left is on the right.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Postal Theology

Yesterday's post reminded me of an old Calvinist friend of mine who said, "I don't just believe in the doctrine of the depravity of man, I practice it."
That's us with chaos theory.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Ugly Side of Butterfly Kisses

According to Chaos Theory a butterfly flapping its wings in China can influence the weather here. It appears that our post office has imported a confusion of these Chinese butterflies to implement our route adjustments. For example some streets now have one carrier going up the odd side, and another carrier going down the even side.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Sign Here

We went to a theater tonight. After watching commercials and previews for almost half an hour, I realized I've seen the future, and it's full of bad movies.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Little Pitchers, Don't Throw Me in the Briar Patch

I thought no one cared what I think, but I was wrong, sort of. When they asked me what I'd be willing to accept as an addition to my route I told them, and then they asked me about Northwestern St. I said, "No, that street doesn't conform to the character of my route."
The station manager thought that was pretty funny, and just to show he was paying attention, that's going to be the first street on my route.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Yesterday, Someone Told Me That "Screeched" Is The Longest One Syllable Word In English

Last night as we were riding to Eagle River for an Independence Day celebration, I already had that vocabulary tip at hand when I saw a bear next to the trail, and said, "LOOKABEAR!" Screeched, actually.
The bear was right next to the new Target store parking lot on Elmendorf Air Force Base property. It looked over its shoulder when it heard me, then ambled away, unconcerned with the news I had just imparted. We were separated by a low fence that he could have stepped over, but he didn't. I had meant to bring a camera in case we saw a bear, but it would have been hard to take a picture at the speed we were going, especially after we saw a bear.
On the way back home, I stopped where we had seen the bear. I didn't see a bear, but I did see the problem with eyewitness accounts. The fence was taller than I remembered it. It was over my head. I also hadn't noticed the barbed wire at the top.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

It Was Fun, It Was Pretty, What More Can You Say?

I should have something of my own to report since we went on a lovely thirty mile ride to Potter Marsh last night, but it wasn't irritating or amusing, just pretty and fun, so I'm not really the best person to write about it.
On the other hand, Exxon continues to provoke irritation, at least, up here. Although the Supreme Court after 15 years or so of litigation, cut the punitive damages from the Exxon Valdez oil spill by 90 per cent, Exxon has not begun making plans to at last pay the plaintiffs. Their reasoning is that the Supreme Court remanded the case to the 9th Circuit Court saying the damages could not be more than 10 per cent of the jury verdict. Exxon is now trying to persuade the lower court that it should be less. I think Exxon might be giving oil companies a bad name.