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Friday, November 30, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AVERY!


12 years old today!

Anchorage

This is the plane that we flew out on. Everybody was making a big deal about getting to ride the Disneyland "make a wish" plane. I didnt think it was that big of a deal, but....here it is. I was just thankful for being able to get out of Bethel for a few days. We didnt really do a whole lot on the first night in Anchorage. We had dinner at a restaurant downtown called Humpy's. Something I never thought i'd miss...sitting at a restaurant having wings and a beer. At the restaurant, Avery was being his usual antsy self and the table we were sitting at had stools. When he went to switch from one stool to another...he missed. Avery fell off the stool and the plate he was holding on to went flying through the air. It came crashing down and broke into a million pieces. Classic Avery. We got a real good laugh out of it anyway.For Thanksgiving dinner, we had reservations at a fancy hotel for their Thanksgiving buffet. It was good. They had all of the traditional Thanksgiving foods, but my favorite item was baked salmon with cranberry sauce on top. Yum! This ice sculpture was outside the main entrance oft he hotel. Chandra and I went out on Thanksgiving night and had a great time. Kassia....have I got a story to beat Madison...call me!
After dinner, we went for a drive. We were hoping to spot some moose and ended up taking a drive through the foothills of the mountains. It was all very beautiful. Some of the houses were on very steep roads. It reminded me of the year I spent Christmas in the mountains of Washington State. It is amazing that people can live on a road that steep. Our rental car was definitely not cut out for it.
On Friday we went shopping. This is a picture of the chocolate fountain at Alaska Wild Berry Products. I guess it is the largest chocolate fountain in America (maybe the world?). It actually looked really gross! Avery thought it was pretty cool though. We were able to get all of our Christmas shopping done. I have a link on the right if you want to check out the store. They make their own chocolates and sell all kinds of Alaska stuff.
On Saturday, we went to get hair cuts and tried to find a store to buy Avery a Packer jersey for his birthday. When we were trying to find this mall, we drove a ways out on the highway and got really close up to the Mountains to the east of the city. I think they are the Chugach Mountains (but i could be wrong). Either way...they were beautiful. We had lunch at this dinner theater place where we watched the Simpsons movie while we ate. It was pretty fun.

Our big plans were to go skiing. It was going to be Avery's BDAY present, but it was warm (in the 40's) and raining most of the time we were there so the ski resorts were all closed. We were kind of bummed because we didnt get to go skiing, but that's ok. maybe next time. I was actually very surprised that there was relatively little to do in a city the size of Anchorage. Anchorage is a little bigger than Fort Wayne at about 350,000 people (more than half of the entire states population). Most of the things that there are to do are out in nature and the weather really wasn't cooperating. Not to mention it was the holiday, so many places were closed. Just to get out and eat at some restaurants and listen to some new music on the radio was a treat.

Things have been crazy busy since we've been back. Just getting back in the groove of things is hard an those four days went too fast. The robotics tournament is on Monday so my robotics team has been practicing everyday this week. I'll post more on that after the tourny. Avery has his last wrestling tournament this weekend. No more wrestling practice, but i dont know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Wrestling helps burn off some of his energy, but it also takes up sooooo much of his time. I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving and that you are all very thankful for what you have. I know I am. Living here has given me a greater appreciation of the little things.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Avery and I are on our way to Anchorage today so I won't be blogging again for awhile. We have a four day weekend for the Thanksgiving holiday. We are going to Anchorage to celebrate the holiday and Avery's birthday. Avery turns 12 on the 30th. I am so excited to go to Anchorage and just to get out of Bethel for a couple of days. Dont get me wrong, I really like it here in Bethel, but once you are here, you're stuck. There are no roads leading into or out of Bethel, so it's not like you can just hope in your car and go. Avery and I are used to being able to come and go as we please. This will be the first Anchorage trip for Avery. We have plans to go to the dinner theatre, eat Thanksgiving dinner at some fancy hotel, go skiing, do some shopping, get haircuts, go to some museums and maybe to a glacier. He's really excited too. He especially wants to go skiing. We found out last winter that we really like skiing. I hope that everyone else has a great Thanksgiving.

What I am thankful for...
  • The opportunity to live in such an amazing place
  • The friendliness of the people here
  • Great friends...I miss you all!
  • Avery is doing so well and has grown into a great person
  • My profession/teaching...I cant think of anything I'd rather be doing
  • Being healthy...i feel good lately and avery is healthy as a horse
  • Indoor plumbing and electricity
  • Having great students...the kids here are just awesome
  • Taboo...he's been there through it all
  • Being financially stable
  • Laughter and Smiles
  • Hugs and kisses
  • Comfortable pj's
  • The internet...I'd go crazy without it
  • Having a good education...thanks BGSU
  • Aha! moments
  • Having courage enough to pursue my dreams
  • All of my experiences...they make me who I am
  • Good books...there's not much else to do here
  • Wrestling...It's such a great sport, I'm so glad that Avery loves it and is good at it
  • Working under a great administration again...the administrators here are so supportive
  • Good food...I can't wait to have a Thanksgiving feast, but I will miss cooking it at home
  • Driving/my truck/transportation...the freedom to go where you want, when you want
  • Everyone who reads and comments on the blog...you keep me connected to the world
Happy Thanksgiving! I love you and miss you!

Take this time during the Thanksgiving break to complete the challenge that I presented to all of you in the blog post titled, "Oh...precious water". I cant wait to hear your responses.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Welcome to the World!

Meet my new Van Wert neighbor, Lila. Lila was born on October 31st at 9:10pm. She weighed 9lbs 1oz. She's beautiful! I wish I could be there to coo over her, but this will have to do for now. Wow! Where did all that black hair come from? Who does she look like?


Congratulations Tim and Jodee! And Meghan too! I'm so happy for you. I miss you guys. My neighbors here are great, but they're just not the same. I'm sure that Meghan will be a great big sister. I miss hearing the sounds of all the neighborhood kids as they run and play outside. Kids here just don't really play outside much, at least not in our neighborhood.Jodee...so glad to hear that those people moved out. Could you hear the sound of our property value going up as they packed their stuff and drove away?

Tim...I am almost finished with Final Fantasy 8. I have just the last two bosses to go. You were right, it was a good game, but not as good as 7. Do you know if there are any other FF games on playstation 1?

As soon as you get a family photo taken with the new baby, I'd really like to have one. Miss you! Take care! Keep me posted!

It's official

I got my Alaska drivers license and plates, and am registered to vote. I'm not sure what it takes to officially be an Alaskan resident, but I think these things must be a least part of it. YOOHOO! Yay me! My jaw almost hit the counter at the DMV, when the lady said my registration was $196! You've got to be kidding. Yes, but that's for two years. Even so, it's still crazy expensive. Then my drivers license was 20 and my engine heater and oil pan heaters were $444. That's almost $700 i've dropped just to drive in a town with only 35 miles of roads. Have I lost it or what? So, I took my license plates home, but I haven't put them on yet because I don't have the right tools and because my truck is so ridiculously dirty, that I want to wait until I get a chance to wash it. Then I realized that no one can see my plates anyway because there so covered with snow. The funny thing is that if I knock off all the snow, you still wont be able to see the plates because they're covered with mud leftover from the fall muddy season. Oh, well. I'll get my plates on as soon as...oh, I dont know...whenever. It's not like anyone will notice.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Random tidbits



It's cold lately. It's been hovering around 20degrees for the daytime temp for about a week now. This morning it was 8degrees when i drove to school. one day last week, we got down to -5 with wind chill! We havent had any new snow for awhile, but there is about 4 inches or so on the ground that is not going anywhere. I've deemed my front stairs hazardous to ones health. I just cant find that time or have the tools to free them of their snow. When doing research for their project last week, my robotics team found out that we get an average of 50inches of snow per year. I'd say we've had about 5 so far, so we've got a long way to go on the snow accumulation.

We're going to Anchorage to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday and Avery's birthday. We have plans to do some fun stuff like go skiing, to the movies, and maybe even a water park. I am also hoping to do some touristy stuff like visit a couple of the native museums, go to alaska wildberry products(see link on right), and maybe see a glacier. We will also do some routine things like shopping and haircuts. And when I say shopping, I dont mean the fun mall type shopping, I mean everyday walmart toothpaste and toilet paper type shopping. We are allowed three checked bags each, so we will carry home as much stuff as possible since it is so much cheaper to buy stuff in anchorage than it is in Bethel.

I just finished reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Good book. It has a unique way of making you think about the process of growing older. It is a very interesting account of the circus in the early 1900's. I dont know if it would qualify as historical fiction, but it sounds like the author spent alot of time researching and getting the facts straight before writing. Very interesting novel. Would recommend.

Avery didnt wrestle this weekend because the river wasnt frozen. The village that they were supposed to go to called Nunapichuk is divided by a river. The airport is on one side and the school on the other. If the river is thawed, they can cross by boat. If the river is frozen, they can cross on foot, by sled, or even drive across. Right now the river is in the process of freezing, so it is neither liquid or solid, therefore, they could not travel to Nunap to wrestle.

I had to take my Praxis I exam on Saturday morning. It was ridiculously easy. Ohio does not require Praxis I, only Praxis II, but Alaska requires both. They say we'll have our results in 4 weeks or so. On Saturday night, I chaperoned a high school dance. That was interesting. They had a DJ, complete with disco ball and everything. It looked like a dance club in the school commons. It ran from 9-11:30pm. All the kids seem to have a good time. They are so well behaved, it's amazing. There was no grinding, no inappropriate behavior, they were so cute and innocent. I really like the kids here alot.

Happy Birthday Margina Hoover and Laura Stocksdale! Have a great birthday!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Oh...precious water

Do you know how much water your toilet uses? I do....1.6 gallons per flush. How about your shower head? Mine uses 2.5 gallons per minute. I never would have know these things before, but being here in Bethel makes you really appreciate your water.

We get our water delivered to our houses. This is the water truck backed up to my apt. delivering my water for the week.

Here is the water truck driver filling my water tank. They dont keep track of how much water they give you, they just fill it up. They know it's full when the over flow starts to drip water. When you first go in to sign up for water service, they ask you what size water tank you have and how often you want it delivered. That is the information they use to determine what your monthly bill will be. I have a 500 gallon tank and get it filled once per week. My monthly water cost is $181. That's $181 for approx. 2000 gallons. I bet that gives you a new appreciation for your monthly water costs.
Here is my tank being filled. The tank is in the utility room with the water heater and the washing machine. The water is pumped from the tank into the pipes using a shallow well pump. The pump is really loud and if you run out of water, you have to unplug your pump so that it doesnt burn out.
Here is the sewer truck coming to suck the sewage out of a tank that is buried under the house. It smells so bad. You can always tell if there is a sewer truck in the neighborhood. The sewage tank even has a heater that I have to plug in during the winter when it gets too cold (ok, i'm up to three things to plug in when it's cold...my truck, my bathtub, and my sewer tank. think i'm going to remember all this?). The whole water situation has been my biggest headache of living here in Bethel. For two weeks in a row, we were left a note on the door that said they did not give us water because there was dog poop on the ground in front of where they need to drag their hoses to suck out the sewer. It is so frustrating to come home to find out that you did not get water. And it seems kind of silly too....the guy that sucks the poop out of your sewer tank wont walk up to the tank if there is poop in the way! Does that make sense? They were pretty adamant about making sure we knew that they wont fill the water if there is dog poop in the way, so we've always been very careful to clean everything up on Sunday night. The first time they didnt give us water it was because the sun had come out during the day and melted the snow and there was poop under the snow. So, I called before they closed and they came out and filled it. The very next week they didnt fill it again. This time I was really mad because Avery and I had gone outside and cleaned everything up on Monday morning before we left for school. I called and let them know that I was sure there was NO POOP there and they came back out and filled it. It's very frustrating...basically you are at the mercy of someone else's whims.

Some parts of town are actually hooked up to city water that is delivered in unlimited amounts through pipes that are insulated and run above ground. They cant put the pipes in the ground because the permafrost freezes and thaws causing the ground to shift and move. Here is a picture of some of the pipes. These are the ones that run along the main road in front of the post office. All of the city buildings are hooked up to city water and there are a couple housing divisions that are hooked up to water.This is the main water pipe that runs out to a subdivision called city sub. All the houses in city sub are hooked up to piped water (ahem...chandra's place...she's soooo water spoiled:)). If I understand it correctly, even the people who are hooked up to piped water dont pay there bills based on how much water they use. They just pay a certain amount each month and get unlimited water.

The areas of town that have piped water also have fire hydrants. None of the other neighborhoods have them. I know the fire dept has at least one water tank truck, just in case there's a fire in an area of town without fire hydrant, which is most of the town. If I had to estimate, I'd say about 20% of the buildings in Bethel have piped water.
In addition to not being able to shower or flush the toilet, this is what happens when you run out of water. I think just about every dish in the house was dirty in this picture. Basically, here's how it works...I get my water delivered on Monday. That means that on Sunday, we try to use all the water (doing laundry) so that when they fill the tank on Monday, we get the most out of our fill up. What this means though is that sometimes if we completely use up the water on Sunday, we wont have any for Monday morning. So, we keep a gallon of water under the counter for just in case we run out. It also means that if we dont keep very close track of how much water we use on Sunday, we could run out before the day is even over.I challenge you to find out how much water your toilet uses per flush and how much water your shower head uses per minute. I get 500 gallons of water delivered each week and we use every bit of it, mostly on laundry. I would be so curious to know...how much water do you use? How much does it cost? Look at your water bill and see if it tells you, then post a comment letting me know how much water you are using per week. I am willing to bet it's more than 500 gallons. If anyone is willing to share this information with me, I would be very interested in finding out. I never really paid attention to how much water I used when I lived in the lower 48. Now, I make sure I turn the water off while I brush my teeth, we dont flush EVERY time, and we catch the water the usually runs down the drain when you are waiting for your shower water to heat up. All of these small changes that we've had to make to live here in Bethel will, hopefully, become lifelong conservation habits.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Veggie Tales

I love fresh fruits and vegetables. Produce, just like everything else, is so expensive here, so we get our fruits and veggies through a company called Full Circle Farms. FCF is an organic farm out of Washington state, near Seattle. I get a small box of fruits and veggies once per week for $43 per box. Basically, when you sign up to receive a box, you choose what size box you want, you choose your favorites and let them know the five things that you never want in your box. On Thursday, FCF put out a list of the 13-15 items that are going to be in the next weeks box. If you want to, you can go on the website and substitute up to five items that you dont want with replacement items. The boxes get here on Wednesday and you have to go pick up your box at the local pick up center. The produce is all fresh and very tasty. It's so nice to be eating good food again. This is a picture of the contents of one weeks box. YUM! If you want to check out FCF, you can click on the link at the right of the page.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Close sky

The sky always seems so close. Like you could reach right up and grab a cloud. Or maybe if the incline of the road would just continue a bit longer, you could drive right up to it. It is pretty amazing, but can also feel a bit smothering at times too. I think it must have something to do with our latitude, but I'm not sure. Here are a few pics for awhile back that show the sun going down on the fall sky.






Back when it was still fall, sometime near the beginning of the school year, we had about two weeks when we saw rainbows in the sky on a daily basis. The pictures definitely dont do the rainbow justice. This was the most amazing rainbow I've ever seen. It was a complete arch the stretched in a perfect half circle across the sky starting on the eastern horizon and ending on the southern horizon. Combine that rainbow with the magnificent colors exploding in the west and north from the sunset, it sure did make a spectacular sky!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Saturday night...Bethel style


There's really not a whole lot to do on Saturday nights here in Bethel. You could go to whatever sporting events are happening at the high school, but after spending all week there, that's kind of the last place I want to spend my weekend. I am so used to being able to go out on Saturday night. We used to go out to putt-putt, roller skating, movies, laser tag, the zoo...you name it, we did it. We always had some kind of plans for the weekends, even if it was just going to visit with friends. I miss having fun things like that to do on the weekends.

So, what do we do on the weekends then? Well, here is a fun pic of Chandra and I doing a puzzle at my house on a Saturday night. She came over and we did a puzzle while we watched Christmas movies. I supplied the puzzle, Chandra brought the Christmas movies (I finished the puzzle by the way). That was two weekends ago. This past weekend I was at the wrestling tourny all night Friday night. On Saturday, I was in class all day(do you think there will ever be a time in my life when i'm not taking classes?), after class I met with some of my robotics kids (more on that later) and by the time I got home I was so tired I just read and went to bed. On Sundays I usually watch football while I cook and clean all day. I usually cook/prepare several meals on Sunday, that way all I have to do it put something in the oven on a week night and it's done. Avery has been wrestling most weekends for over a month now. He usually hangs out around the house and watches TV or plays video games. He usually has a friend spend the night, too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Conference numbers

One of the secretaries here at school crunched the Parent Teacher Conference numbers for us, so I thought I'd share... We had about 50% of the parents show up for conferences. Now, I realize that I haven't had alot of experience with other schools, but I think this is a really great number. It's pretty hard to get that many parents to show up. I personally had 55 kids represented by parents out of my 119 students. That's almost 50%. I was so happy to get to talk to and meet so many of my students parents.

The school offers incentives if the parents show up. First, the parents get entered into a raffle drawing to win one of three prizes...a $25 subway gift certificate, a $25 video world gift certificate, and a nintendo wii. Also, each student gets a homework coupon from the teachers that the parent visits, which are good for a free homework assignment. I think those are all pretty good incentives to come to conferences. I think that it's great that so many parents showed up, even if they have to be bribed to do it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More of Avery wrestling

So, here are some more videos of Avery wrestling this weekend at the Bethel tournament. He wrestled really well. He won his first two matches on Friday, then lost one on Friday night, and lost another match on Saturday morning. I got to see all the matches except for Saturday's match. Even when he lost, man, did he put up a fight. It amazes me to see him becoming so strong and muscular. These videos were from his first match. He got slammed in the first round and then put a head and arm lock on the other kid in the second round. He has learned SO much about wrestling since we've been here. He is finally to the point that he is combining his natural, instinctive talent with some actual wrestling skills.
video

video

video

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My bathtub is special


Many bathtubs (and toilets, for that matter, but not mine) are up off the ground. My tub is no exception. It is about a foot or so off the ground. It makes it a bit hazardous to get into and out of, so we use that handy step stool that you see in the picture. The purpose for having the tubs/toilets of the ground is to give the pipes a place to run so they won't freeze. It addition to being off the ground, my tub also has a heater. I have not seen other people have heaters on their tubs, but, then again, I don't go around inspecting peoples tubs either. In the picture you can see that there is a vent under the tub. There is also a second switch next to the light switch. At first, we didnt think that the switch had a purpose because we could not tell that it did anything. Then one day, we heard a faint fan noise in the bathroom. It was coming from that vent, so we figured that the switch must control an exhaust fan that is under the tub rather than in the ceiling like most. Then one day I noticed that the porcelain of the tub was quite warm. The switch was on (picture light bulb going on above my head). AWESOME...we have a bathtub heater. My maintenance man told me to turn in on when we get to about 0 degrees. So, I have to plug in my car at -20 and turn on my bathtub at 0. Think I'll remember that? So, not only does it keep the pipes warm, but it keeps my bath water warm as well. Aren't you jealous?

Tisha

I just finished reading the book Tisha by Robert Specht. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in reading a true story of a teacher in bush Alaska. The summary of the book on the back cover reads...

"Alaska was as remote as the moon, as roistering and lawless as the Gold Rush. And a pretty young schoolteacher from Colorado like Anne Hobbs was even rarer than nuggets. 'So appealing are the people here, even the villainous ones; so dramatic is the landscape in which they act out their adventure; so pure is the moral conflict that forms the story's backbone, and so honest is its sentimentality--that I managed to suspend all my disbelief as I read it. And it was with pleasure that I raced through this good old-fashioned yarn, hissing the villains, holding my breath at each succeeding catastrophe, and above all adoring 'plain old Anne Hobbs,' as she calls herself, the pretty slip of a nineteen-year-old who in 1927 had the courage no only to brave the Alaska wilderness as a teacher in a tiny gold-mining community called Chicken, but also to face down the community's violent disapproval when she dared to treat the local Indians as human beings..." ~Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times--

Here's a link to a good map that you can see Chicken and Eagle; the towns that were talked about in the book. http://www.travelalaska.com/images/maps/AlaskaMap.jpg

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Akutaq

Akutaq (pronounced a-gu-duck) is also known as eskimo ice cream. It is made with crisco, oil, white fish, sugar, and berries. Sounds gross, right? Well, it's actually really good, but obviously not very heathy. It is a native dish that I've had a couple times and that we are making in our culture class today. Traditionally, akutaq was made with caribou fat, seal oil, and berries. There was another type made with snow and berries. Then when Crisco was introduced to the people, they stopped using caribou fat and started using the Crisco instead. Even though eating all the lard seems really gross to me, the purpose of eating so much fat is to store energy to get through the long winter. Our culture teacher said that it keeps you warm.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Parent teacher conferences

I found this really cool website that you can check the aurora forecast. I added it as a link on my list of links on the right side, so it will be there when you want to check it out.

http://www.gedds.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast/

There's not a whole lot new happening these days except our parent teacher conferences. Conferences at the high school are from 5-8:30 on Wed and Thurs evenings. Because we work two evenings, we get Friday off! YAY! Every teacher has a table set up in the gym and the parents just go around to each teacher for conferences. Most of my conferences last night went really well. Parents seem to be more involved with their students here, so that's nice. One more night of conferences left. It makes for a pretty long day, but it will be nice to have Friday off. I'm going to go get my drivers license and plates switched over on Friday, run a bunch of errands, and make a bunch of phone calls. Oh, and I have to write a paper for the culture class that I'm taking.

Avery's teacher set up student led conferences. So, when I went into the room, Avery had a checklist of things to cover with me. He showed me all his work that he's done and wrote down an improvement goal. Then, he called the teacher over and Mr. Johnson showed me his report card. Avery is in the highest phase class that he can be for each subject. They have phases here so that students can progress at their own pace. I was really glad to hear that he is doing well. Not only is he in the highest phase class for math, reading, and writing, but he is also doing well with those classes. He is scoring at proficient and above proficient in those subjects. He is also reading at grade level, which I was glad to hear because he has always struggled with reading. I think this is the first time that I have ever heard a teacher say that he is reading at grade level! YAY!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Insomnia

Before it gets too far out from Halloween, here is a pic of a couple of the other first year teachers all hippied out! I feel blessed that I came to Bethel as a new teacher in the same year as the other four did. Together, there are five of us new teachers here in Bethel that have become good friends...and thank goodness. I think I might have gone nuts a couple times if it hadn't been for them. Thanks girls!

Ever seen the movie Insomnia? Its on right now and I'm watching it. I've seen it before and knew it was supposedly set in Alaska. Being here is like watching it from a different perspective, although the plot is the same either way. It stars Al Pacino and Robin Williams. It is set in Nightmute, Alaska. Nightmute is part of LKSD and is about 100 miles from Bethel. It is on an island in the Bering Sea. Now, I don't know for sure, but I dont think it is REALLY set in the town of Nightmute. There are so many things about the movie that make it obvious that it can't actually be filmed in Nightmute. Such as...
The movie shows paved roads, drinking, mountains, no natives, corporate businesses, and modern buildings. The movie takes place in the summer when the sun does not go down at all(this is why it is called Insomnia...because the main character cant sleep because of the midnight sun), but school in session in the movie which would mean that school would be in session during the middle of the summer. Not to mention, the sun does go down for at least awhile during summer in this region because we are not far enough north, not above the arctic circle.

Nightmute demographics...208 people, 38 families, 91% native

Here's what I found on Wikipedia...
Nightmute is featured in the 2002 film Insomnia, which misrepresents it as being above the Arctic Circle. The town in the movie shares little in common with the real Nightmute - the film was shot in British Columbia. If the town shown in the movie was in Alaska it would have to be in Southcentral Alaska (given the forests and fishing industry and the fact that the fictitious town is on the road system). Nightmute residents live a subsistence lifestyle, which include in their diet a variety of fish, seals, and birds.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Winners

I forgot to tell you earlier...Avery took first again this weekend in Napaskiak! He's on a roll! GO AVERY!

Also, the Packers won today...33-22. GO PACK!

Get your flu shot!

They were giving out free flue shots at the National Guard Armory yesterday, so Avery and I went and got one. The interesting thing about this is that once we got done with our flu shots, we received an interesting card. It's a business card from the State of Alaska and the YKHC (Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation) and this is what it says....

Bethel Mass Dispensing Exercise
Fall 2007

______________ has received an Influenza Vaccine
On November 3, 2007.
In the event of an infectious disease outbreak this
verification would gain you access to an emergency
shelter

Of course, they wrote our names in the blank. Epidemics and pandemics are a real concern here. They have many awareness programs and they keep a close eye on all the birds for the bird flu. Most experts agree that if the bird flu was going to come into the US, it would probably happen via Alaska. The Wildlife Refuge department is VERY active here, as is the Fish and Game department. YKHC is the largest employer in Bethel. My friends (who all came with to get the flu shot) and I were talking yesterday about the SARS outbreak in Japan a few years ago and how easily something like that could hop across to Alaska. Then there is our remote location to think about. You can only get in and out of the region by plane. I'm sure that if an epidemic broke out that they would not allow anyone to come in or go out. Kind of a scary thought...being stuck in Bethel during an epidemic. Yesterday, they also gave us a pamphlet that outlines the ways to be prepared for an epidemic and what you should do if one were to break out. At least when people worry about stuff here, they worry about the big issues. You can go to pandemicflu.gov if you want more information.

Packer update...the Packers record is 6 and 1. There are only three teams that have the same or better record than the Pack. For those of you who watched Monday night football, you got to see Brett Favre at his best. Today they are playing Kansas City today and they are beating them 6-0. Today's game and only one other has not been televised here, so I've got to see almost all the games! There are a crazy number of packers fans here. It's great!

Friday, November 02, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY NAN!

Avery definitely had a better Halloween than me. Here he is with his friends when they stopped by to trick or treat me. Avery brought home a nice big bag of candy. Meanwhile, I sat at home being sick and miserable and I only had two trick or treaters besides Avery and his friends.

In other Avery news, he got to travel again this weekend for wrestling. He's in a village about 3 miles down river called Napaskiak. He just called and said that he had a bye his first round and won his second round, so he should be wrestling for first in the morning. I was supposed to go with them to chaperone the JH girl wrestlers at the same tournament, but being sick kept me home.

Noticing a pattern? Being sick is a real bummer. Not only am I missing out on a ton of cool Halloween stuff, but I really feel like I'm not a very effective teacher these days. Being home sick and not having a good plan for the sub and just generally having everything completely out of whack. And if that weren't enough...we have no subs here. So basically that means that if you are out sick, it falls on the other teachers to cover your classes. That means they lose their prep time and have to try to piece together a disfunctional lesson plan because you were sick and couldn't put anything of substance together for them. So, in addition to all those other reasons why being sick is a bummer, you also get to burden your fellow teachers. Ok, I'm done venting now...

On a more positive note...I am feeling much better, except for a cough that just won't seem to let up. And what is the deal with chicken noodle soup, really? Is there some scientific evidence that says that eating it with help you recover from a cold/flu? Or is that just one of those old wives tales? Or maybe it's just a comfort food, so we think it makes us feel better? Placebo effect anyone? Anyway, while I was home sick, I made some chicken noodle soup, from scratch. Ok, well mostly scratch, I had this chicken noodle soup season packet deal, but I added the noodles, veggies, and chicken. It made this huge pot of soup that turned out very yummy, but way too much to eat. So, I froze some for next time. Hopefully, I won't need it.

I think I got my first semi-glimpse of the aurora last night. I was up really late because I had slept most of the day trying to get over being sick. So, I was looking out the window and the sky was just on fire. It looked like the sun was setting on an overcast night. There were reds, oranges, and yellows just blazing over the overcast sky. It was WAY past sunset, so it must have been aurora! How exciting! I can't wait to see my first full blown aurora!

One more really important thing...HAPPY BIRTHDAY NAN! 75 years! 3 quarters of a century! Hope you get well soon(she's been sick for two weeks)! If you see her out, make sure to wish her a Happy 75th Birthday!