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Sunday, December 30, 2007

At the races!

There was a sled dog race on Saturday, so Avery and I went down to the river to see the start of the race. All the shrubs are covered with that eerie snow/frost again. It's so pretty, but strange too. This bush was down by the river where we went to see the sled race.These are all the dog sleds teams and their trucks out on the river. The race is called the Holiday Race. It goes about 50 miles. The racers go 25 miles down the river then turn around and come back. The race started at 11am. There were 10 teams total. The winners time was
2 hours and 45 minutes. You can go to the K300 website on the right and click on the Holiday race to see the results.
Here's Avery and I trying to help keep the dogs calm before they are ready to start. Two of the Klejka kids were running the race. Jessica is 17 and is a senior. She came in 2nd with a time off 2:55....only ten minutes behind the winner. Jeremiah got the red lantern(that means he came in last). Jeremiah is one of my 8th grade students. He ran their Bteam (that's there second best team).
Here are all the teams lined up at the start of the race. Some of the dogs were going crazy and some of them just sat quietly and watched all the action. I was surprised to see that many of the dogs were wearing the same booties that I bought for Taboo.
These are two lead dogs from one of the teams. I thought they were the most beautiful pair of dogs I saw. They are just gorgeous. Each team had 8 dogs for this race. In a race like the K300 or the Iditarod, they race with a 16 dog team. I put links up for the K300 and the Iditarod, so you can check out the races if you want.
The K300 runs in mid January and the Iditarod runs the first weekend in March. I'm going to post a couple of videos of the Holiday race getting started too, so be sure to watch them.

Holiday Race Videos

The first video is when all the teams are getting ready for the race. Avery and I were helping hold the dogs on Jeremiah's team. We had to hold the dogs so they wouldnt try to take off before the race began. Their dogs were very eager to run and many of the dogs on Jeremiah's team were young and less experienced. The video is really bumpy because I was holding on to a pair of dogs with one hand and shooting the video with the other. The dogs were going nuts, jumping around everywhere. The woman at the end is the mom of the kids who run the dogs.

The second video is of the start of the race. For some reason when the race started Jessica's dog team veered off to the left instead of going straight ahead on to the river. She got the dogs turned to the right and back on track pretty quickly. Jeremiah's team followed Jessica's team off to the left and you can hear people yelling "Gee, Gee". Gee is the musher command used to get the dogs to tu rn right. Our first experience with dog sled racing was fun and exciting.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Out on the river!

Friday morning Avery and I decided to go for a walk around town. We walked down to the river and decided to walk across it. The Kuskokwim river is officially frozen solid. And when I say solid, I mean solid enough to drive a truck on solid. You can see a truck and a snow machine driving on the river. The truck was just pulling out onto the river from the snow covered beach. You can see the spot where there is some overflow. Over flow is when a bit of water gets up onto the ice. It is not open water, there is ice underneath, but it is still pretty scary looking.
Here are our tracks that we made walking through the overflow to get out onto the river. Mine are the ones on the left and Avery's on the right. It was our first time walking on a frozen body of water and was a little scary, but when a huge truck drives by it eases your nerves a little.

Once we got to where there was no overflow Avery made a snow angel. This is the whole river in its frozen glory. You can see all the tracks from vehicles, snow machines, and dog sleds. Notice how high the sun is in the sky. Looks like it may be either rising or setting, right? Pretty low? Think again. It is at its zenith for the day. That's as high as it gets right now. That's Avery lying in the snow by the way. You can see how far across the river is and we were already out on it about 50 or so feet when I took this pic.

I've really been wanting to go ice fishing and everybody says that all you need is a stick, a line, and a hook. We found this spot out on the river where a couple of people had already dug holes in the ice. They put those sticks down in to mark their spot and help keep the ice open. I've been thinking about just going out and opening one of those holes back up and dropping in a line. Think I'd catch anything?Here's Avery by one of those ice fishing holes. We found the piece of ice that had been cut out to make the hole, so you can see how thick the river ice is. We are all the way on the other side of the river in this picture and you can see the city of Bethel in the background. It gives another perspective on just how wide the river is.

After moving some snow around...We found the river! It's under about 6 inches of fresh, soft powder! It was so weird to think...we're standing on a massive river right now. Pretty crazy stuff.
Right before we were about to leave, I heard some dogs barking in the distance. Finally, they came around the corner and we got to see a dog team mush on bye.
The musher was a woman who waved and call out to us, "Beautiful day." Gorgeous was my reply. And it was...about 20 degrees and the sun was shining. Believe it or not...it was warm!As I write this, I am putting iron on reflective strips on all of our winter gear. It is dark so much of the time and it seems we are being invited to go out on more and more adventures all the time. So, I thought it would be wise to make sure we were visible when we're out there. More on our other adventures later.

We're gaining over a minute every day now. How exciting! Winter is definitely here to stay for awhile, but at least we'll see a bit more sunshine each day.

Latest read...Playing for Pizza by John Grisham. It was an easy, fun, and fast read with a little finding oneself and Italian culture thrown in. The book is light and uplifting and sometimes even full out funny. Good for a leisurely weekend. The focus is definitely on football, although you could read and enjoy it even if you knew nothing about football, but if you absolutely detest football or sports in general then I wouldn't recommend it. The story line is strong, but the ending is weak. Toward the end I felt like maybe Mr. Grisham might have been in a rush to get this one out to the publisher.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Heat wave!

It's 21 degrees right now! Today when we were out running errands at about 2pm it was 18 degrees. That's seriously like a heat wave after is was -22 last week. We had coats on, but unbuttoned and we were sweating. Sweating! In 18 degree weather! I never thought I'd say 18 degrees was warm, but it sure did feel good. There's been snow most of the day too. The light fluffy stuff that coats everything fast and thick. Its pretty!

Packer update...they lost their last game miserably against the Bears, mostly on screw ups due to weather. It seems that even in this great season that we're having that the Bears are still going to come away with something to gloat about. Such is football. We've got a great record though and are looking good for the playoffs. First round bye already clinched. Up against Detroit at home this Sunday, which should make for an easy last win for us. Such a great season we've had...our record is 12-3. I think we've got a good shot at beating the cowboys in the playoffs considering that when they beat us this season we were missing three of our top players...including Brett Favre for more than the last half. GO PACK!

Lastest Read...I just finished reading a really inspirational book called No End in Sight...My Life as a Blind Iditarod Racer. It is the story of Rachel Scdoris. It is a true story. It was light reading, but very interesting and fun. I learned alot about sled dog racing and about how the world perceives the blind. It will definitely give me new interest in paying attention to the Iditarod this year. Good book...would recommend.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I thought of something

There have been several people who have asked if there is anything we need or could use that we can't get here in Bethel. After many no's, I've finally thought of something...a pair of computer speakers! If you have an old pair laying around or if you know somebody that does, it would be great if you could send them to me. I really dont want anyone to go out and buy new ones because a pair of old used ones would be perfectly fine. I dont need anything fancy. Let me explain why I need them....there are only two radio stations here, a christian station and NPR. The only way we get to listen to any decent stations is if we listen to the radio online. The internet has hundreds of stations that you can listen to, but the sound on my laptop doesnt go very high. You cant even hear it across the room and if the washer or dryer is running, forget it!

The internet has really become a crucial part of my life, as has music. I have always been a music lover, but over the last few years music has become less and less important, less and less of a major necessity. Since i've been here music has gained its place back in my life. There is just so little here to help keep you connected to the world that music has become my way of staying connected. (most of you know how much I despise sitting in front of a tv, so staying connected that way is out) I really miss being able to flip on the radio and listen to all the new songs playing, but I've found an alternate way to do that...the internet.

Music is very important to the people here too. I would say probably about 90% of my students have IPODS and are always listening to music whenever they can. We frequently listen to music in class. The science teacher next door is a 30something year old who plays music in her classroom almost daily and when the bell rings at the end of the day, she cranks it up and jams while she works after school. She loves music. Music is very important to the people here and I havent really figured out why yet, but I can only assume that part of it is that there is so little else to do here that that must be at least part of it.

So, along with a set of speaker, I would love some new music. If anyone could burn me some cd's, that would be spectacular!

Merry Christmas!

This Christmas greeting is a little late, but better late than never. We were invited to a friends house for Christmas dinner. It was wonderful to eat, drink, and be merry with another wonderful family. They have a large family with 7 children ranging in ages from 1 to 17. Their youngest boy is a year younger than Avery and was on the wrestling team with him. Their two middle boys I know very well from working with them in junior high classes and robotics. It is their 17 year old daughter who I was talking about running the dog team in a recent post. She said that she would take me out with her on a run with the dogs and I'm totally pumped about that. I cant wait. Anyway, when we got there, they had some gifts for Avery which was a really nice surprise and Avery was excited about opening something on Christmas since we had already had our Christmas early. We took a birthday cake that said Happy Birthday Jesus on it. There were a couple of other families that came over, most of which had children that I know from school, and we ate a huge Christmas feast. They even had shrimp and cocktail sauce which is what we traditionally eat in my family on Christmas eve, so that was nice because I was missing it. After dinner, all of the kids(and there were quite a few) played guitar hero and the adults sat around talking. Oh, so nice to have adults to talk to. Anyway, we had a great time and felt blessed to be included in their Christmas celebration. I totally forgot my camera or i would have some pics to post.

Here are a few more really cute puppy pics. I know they're probably getting old, but she's the one thing keeping us busy right now. Taboo is not too happy about her, but tolerates her just enough.
Here are the two dogs all cuddled up with me. Taboo likes her much better when she's sleeping.
We've been putting Bailey in a box to sleep in for now while she is still small. She wakes us up at all hours of the night. It's kinda like having a baby.
And she plays alot too. She loves this little stuffed, squeaky elephant that she got for Christmas. She plays with it all the time and sometimes falls asleep with it too.
Taboo is still trying to figure it all out. And she's not too sure about Taboo either. She regularly checks his belly for titties to milk from and you can imagine what she finds instead!
She peed in the little box we have set up for her in the house for the first time by herself tonight. She is pretty regular...she sleeps, eats, plays, then sleeps, eats, and plays again. It's a continuous cycle. Now, if we could only get her to sleep through the night we'd be golden.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas Eve!

Since it's Christmas Eve and we got a new member to the family for Christmas...I thought I'd post another video of our adorable new puppy. Her name is officially Bailey.

She is so cute and feisty too but she's a chewer. we've already busted her chewing cords and shoes. Taboo is so jealous. He nipped at her for the first time today. She is just so playful and always buggin BooBoo to play with her, but he is fat and lazy and doesnt want to play.

We didnt really do anything today except sit around and watch some movies and play with the puppy. It was kind of a lazy day and it felt good. Merry Christmas Eve everybody.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Fun filled day!

We got to have some fun and adventure today. We got a call at about 1:30 asking if we wanted to go sledding at the sandpit. (The sandpit is a huge hole where they dig out sand to use to build roads and such things around town) So, we instantly said yes. We met them out at the sand pit. I dont have 4 wheel drive, so I didnt drive down into the sandpit. I left my truck at the entrance and road in the 4 wheel drive vehicle in. Once we got there it was much windier than it had been earlier.

We sledded down the hills a few times, but it the snow was falling horizontally and it was pretty miserable. Then when their older boy started to get frost bit on his cheek, we decided it was time to go.

Some other people showed up with a sled hooked on the back of a snow machine. He gave all the kids a ride around before we left.

Avery decided to go over to their house to play for awhile, so he rode with them and I got a ride on the snow machine back to my truck. That was the first time I road on a snow machine! It was fun!

On my way home from sledding, I decided to stop by some friends who have a dog sled team. They said that we could come over and help sometime if we wanted. When I got there, they were just harnessing up the dogs to go for a run. I got to see all the dogs and watch them harness up and even help a little. They let me hold the lead dogs while they harnessed up the last two dogs. Then the team took off! I didnt do much, but it was fun and interesting to see.

Here are a few things I learned...they were running a 16 dog team, they were going on about a 35 mile run, which would take about 3 and a half hours, the team can run 13-15 miles per hour, but when they run the snow machine behind the team it slows them down to about 10mph. This helps train the dogs, so that after running them with the snow machine, it will be faster when they harness up the sled instead.

Their oldest daughter is the one who runs the team, she is a junior I think, probably about 16years old. She is planning to run in the Holiday race next weekend, the Kuskokwim 300 this year, and was came in 3rd place at last years junior Iditarod. Her younger brother(one of my 8th grade students) was going with her on tonights run. They are going to be out on a frozen river for 3 and a half hours all by themselves in about 0 degree weather. Kind of a scary thought if you ask me, but exciting and adventurous. And totally Alaskan!

Merry Christmas to me!

The shortest day of the year(in the northern hemisphere) has passed. It was Friday the 21st or Saturday the 22nd depending on your location. It officially occurred at 1:08am EST on the 22nd, which would be 9:08pm on the 21st my time. Our shortest day was 5 and a half hours long with the sun rising at 11am and setting at 4:30pm. Now the days will start to get longer. Tomorrow will be 26 seconds longer. Yay! for longer days.
We had this really weird, sticky snow about a week or two ago. It covered everything and stuck to all the vertical surfaces. It kind of looked like that fake spray on snow that they spray on Christmas trees to make them look snowy. It stuck around for days that way too.

It really looked like a winter wonderland out there. It was very pretty, but kind of eerie too.
Last night at about 9:30pm, there was knock at the door which was unusual because we hardly ever get knocks on our door, especially that late. It was the UPS delivery and they brought me two boxes. I got some really great Christmas presents in those boxes! Even back home these would be great presents, but here they are amazing because i cant get these kinds of things here in Bethel. Thanks Kevin for the three on the right...You rock! And thanks Kassia for the one on the left...You rock too! I ran around the house opening the boxes and singing, "Merry Christmas to me, Merry Christmas to me, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas to me!" (you have to sing it to the happy birthday music). Avery really liked his presents too. He started listening to the music cd right away and has attempted to watch the HP movie twice, but then got distracted by other things. It's so nice to be thought of during the holidays...hopefully these gifts will help keep me warm through the long winter ahead.
I went to a cookie exchange party yesterday. I took 4 dozen ginger cookies and came home with 4 dozen other cookies. There was food and drinks and I got to meet some new people. It was good fun and the first time I've been to a cookie exchange.

Avery went to his first Boy Scouts meeting on Wednesday. They were just having their Christmas party, so they didnt have any actual Boy Scouts type lessons. They had alot of fun and all the boys there seemed really nice and like good kids. The type of kids I would like Avery to make friends with. About half of them were my 8th grade students.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

New puppy and other things

Last week it was about -20 all week. On Thursday it was -30/-59with windchill. I should have plugged in my truck and didnt. I came out of school on Thursday and couldnt start my truck. it was too cold. I plugged it in for a couple hours, but it still wouldnt start. then the battery died because i had tried to start it so many times. so anyway, i left my truck plugged in at school over night and then went back and got it the next day. thank goodness i had a friend to help me jump it and take me back to get it. so, I learned my lesson...plug it in when it's below zero. Here is Avery with his new puppy. Avery has named her Bailey. She's a lab mix. Basically she's just a mutt.
She's very playful. She's a chewer...i can tell already. She likes to chew on toes, finger, noses, chins, hair, cords...that kind of thing.
Here is her box where she is supposed to go potty. She usually just sits in it. Taboo is not very happy about her. He's jealous.
She is very feisty! She took immediately to Avery. They played all night.

It is 8 degrees today. It feels warm after a week of -20. my truck is running like normal again.

Christmas puppy!

Avery got a puppy for Christmas! She's so cute.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

No win situation

It's -15 out and the sun is shining beautifully. I went out just now to plug my car in for the first time. If I breathe through my mouth, the cold hurts my teeth. If I breathe through my nose, it freezes my boogers. Take it from me...frozen boogers are no fun.

More Brrrr

It was -22 on my way to school this morning. Forecast says it could get down to -30 today. THAT'S WITHOUT WINDCHILL!

Locked in!

It is so cold out that the door knob was frozen tonight. We went to let Taboo out and we couldnt open the door. We were locked in! I've been locked out of my house many times, but locked in? That's a new one! I had to get out the hair dryer and thaw it out. The cold is also starting to get to my truck. It is having a hard time starting in the morning and after school and the check engine light was on today. Guess it's time to start pluggin her in! It was -14 after school today, so I'm guessing it's about -20 right now. Everyone says...this ain't nothing yet! I have to get a cord to plug in the truck tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


On my way to school this morning it was -14 degrees F. The sun will rise today at 10:54am and set at 4:30. The sky has been clear this last week or so. The stars are amazing! on a clear night you can see millions of them. Even the smallest, weakest little stars can be seen. I still have yet to see the aurora, but I'm hoping now that it's clear out and getting oh so close to the winter solstice, I might get a glimpse of the northern lights over Christmas break.

We drove around this weekend to see if we could find any Christmas lights. NOPE. Well, there were about 3 houses in the whole town that were decked out. Most houses just have like a strand or two. It just doesn't feel like Christmas. I got my first Christmas card yesterday. Thanks Kas! A couple of people have sent me Christmas gifts of the kind that I can't get here in Bethel. Thanks so much for that. Can't wait to open them. We are going to have a mild, laid back Christmas. We've been invited to Christmas dinner at a friends house. They have like 6 kids so it should be fun. Other than that, we don't really have any plans. I have to read a book and write a report for my class. We are going to start Avery in Boy Scouts because he really needs something to do and he needs some men/boys to do it with. The Boy Scouts do all kinds of cool stuff, like winter camping. I think he will like it.

Here are some pics I took of one of the dog sled teams here in town. I took these back in the fall when it was still warm out and the grass was still green. Now the sled teams are actually preparing for the races with snow on the ground. We've had about 2 inches that came down about two weeks ago and has stuck for that long. The first local dog race that I know about is on the 29th and I'm planning on going. I've also volunteered to help with the Kuskokwim 300 which is the big race in this region.

This is how they train when there's no snow on the ground. it's so fun to watch.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Cold out

It's -10 degrees outside. Very cold. Enough said.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Want I want for Christmas...

I miss my friends. This has been a common theme in my life. Whenever I have moved, I never really miss the place I left, but I always miss the people. Even living in Ohio, I often missed my friends back in Las Vegas, but I never really missed Vegas. Now, living in Alaska, I cannot say that I miss Ohio, but I do miss having my friends around. I have made some new friends here in Bethel, but your new friends can never know you quite like your old friends.

So, what I would REALLY like for Christmas is pictures. Please send me a picture of you with your family or whatever you want. I would like to get framed pictures of all my friends to put up. I'm not going to hang them on the wall in the living room for everyone to see...no. I've got a little spot already going on top of my dresser in my bedroom where I will see them. I went out and bought some frames. Mostly 5x7 and 4x6. You can send the pics either framed or unframed, but I would like to have a little something to remind me of all the people who are important to me. It can be a snapshot or something professional...I'm not picky. Just a little something to look at so I dont forget about everyone that I love! If you dont have my address, just let me know.

In other news...

I just finished reading the book Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. It was a memoir about growing up in a poor, disfunctional family and becoming a great person because of it. I did not like the book very much at all(sorry Dan). It was just another version of the same story that has been told time and time again. It was very poorly written. It sounded as though it was written by a high school kid. It was told like a "and then this happened, and then this happened" sequence of events. The authors vocabulary seemed limited and her descriptions were plain and drab. I did not feel the pull to find out what happened next like I do when I am reading what I would call a good book. I could probably write a better book than this. This book put me to sleep on more than one occasion. Would not recommend.

Only 8 days of school left before Christmas break. It's hard to believe half the school year is over already. It's amazing how time flies. I am really looking forward to the break. It is much needed..for me and the students, I think. The funny thing is that it just doesnt seem like Christmas is around the corner. I didnt bring any of my Christmas decorations with me, so we dont have any decoration at all up. I havent seen many lights around town either, but, then again, I havent gone looking. Shhhh, dont tell....I'm getting Avery a puppy for Christmas. It's a blonde lab mix. A little girl. She's so sweet. She will be ready just in time for Christmas. We have been talking about getting a puppy for well over a year now and Avery is doing so well with taking care of his responsibilities, so I thought it was time to go ahead and do it! I'm so excited!

There's something wrong with my knee. It's been bothering my ever since the robotics tourny last week when I stood on the gym floor for 12 hours straight. I thought it was just sore from that and that it would be fine after awhile, but it's not. It's stiff and sore and has started spasming. I think something might seriously be wrong with it, but i dont know. I think i'll try to make an appt to get it checked out.

Now that wrestling is over...Avery's bored again. There just isnt a whole lot to do here. I am hoping to get involved with a dog sled team. Some friends of ours have a dog team and have said that we would be welcome to help them with it. The big race in this area, the Kuskokwim 300, will be coming up in January and there is already a buzz in the air about it. It is a qualifying race for the Iditarod. I'm looking forward to it! Should be fun...it's a pretty big deal with all kinds of thing happening and fireworks and everything.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Let it snow!

It's snowing again today. Huge puffy snowflakes that fall lightly toward the ground. The sky is grey with snow and everything is covered in the beautiful whiteness once again.It is so nice when it snows. It keeps things so much cleaner. Keeps the sand and dirt in its place.
These pics are the few out of my classroom window. It's nice to be able to see what's going on outside. I've never had a window before, it's nice.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

December Happenings and such

Congratulations Brian and Janelle! They were married yesterday. I hope the wedding turned out to be wonderful, but I am sure it did. As soon as you guys get back from the honeymoon in Hawaii, i fully expect to get some pics. I miss you and wish I could have been there. Have LOTS of fun in Hawaii! This is a pic of the happy couple from Easter dinner '07.

Happy Birthday to all the people who have a birthday in December....Lisa, Dan, Karyn, Cameron, Tyler, and Ashley. Happy Birthday to you all! I hope you had/have a spectacular day!
Lisa...I miss you so much. It was so good to hear your voice the yesterday. Thanks so much for sending me those labels and recipes. Getting mail is one of the highlights of my existence these days. Oh, and...Hi, Marcia, just in case you are reading. I hope you are doing well.

They're having an ice storm in Ohio. It's so weird to hear about them having way worse weather than we are even having here in Alaska. When you live in Alaska, you kind of expect to be the one telling stories of terrible weather to your friends and family back home, not the other way around. In Bethel today, it must be hovering around the freezing mark because one minute it's snowing and the next it's raining

Go Pack! The Packers won today. They are now have an 11-2 record. They are one of only three teams which have clenched their division. Hey, Go Pack, division champs.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Look closely

...and you will see.

What do you suppose these kids are doing outside on a sunny winter day? What else...flying a kite! Notice that there are power lines all around. This was just such an interesting sight, I had to share it with you.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

More Robotics pics

Make sure you look at the previous blog post so that you can get a better description of robotics and a video of the team in action.
Here's the team sitting on the bleachers getting ready for the first round.
This is the team giving their project presentation to the judges.
Here's the team during the teamwork judging. The judges said that they had built the tallest structure all day!
Here's the team with coaches and robot.
Here's the team receiving their awards.

Robotics Competition

This is a video of an exhibition round we were in. This round was their highest scoring round at 235 points, but did not count. If we would have been able to keep this score, we would have been in 2nd place. The first round of competition they scored 130, second round they scored 190 and the third round they scored 210. The first place team had a score of 245, second place was 235 and the third place score was a tie at 225.

The LKSD District robotics competition was held here at BRHS on Monday and Tuesday. I have been meaning to write about robotics for awhile now. I got the opportunity to coach the 8th grade BRHS robotics team. The team consisted of 8 boys who called themselves the ElectroWarriors. This year's theme was energy. The robotics program is put on by FFL, First Lego League. There is a link on the right if you're interested in learning more about the program. At first when I heard it was lego robotics, I thought it was going to be kind of lame, but it was actually really neat. It is a very well designed program.

Basically, the program has two parts. First, the robot challenge. Students have to build a robot and program it to complete tasks on a mission field. The tasks are all related to the theme, which was alternative energy. Some examples of mission that their robot had to complete are...put a hydroelectric dam over a river...connect communities to a power grid...put a solar panel on top of a house...place a wave turbine in the ocean...plant trees...place wind turbines in communities, etc.

The second part of the program is the project. The students have to complete a project that goes with the theme. To go with the energy theme, students had to complete an energy audit on a building and come up with ways to either reduce energy consumption or move toward the use of alternative energy. The ElectroWarriors actually chose to audit two houses...one running on "regular" energy and the other one completely powered by alternative energy.

Robotics has definitely kept me busy so far this year. We had practices every Monday and Friday since pretty much the beginning of the year. After Thanksgiving break, we had practice everyday to get ready for competition. We also had an open house to present our energy findings to the community.

Competition was two days of jam packed excitement and hard work. There were 15 teams at the competition. The competition basically consisted of five parts...the robot performance judging, the project judging, the design and programming judging, the teamwork judging, and gracious professionalism. These are the things that are looked at to decide which teams move up to the next level of competition....the state competition in Anchorage. Only two teams go on to state.

For the robot performance judging, they have 2.5 minutes to complete tasks on the playing field. Each task is worth points. They do three rounds and then use your high score to determine how you did. During project judging, the students share what they learned while doing the project. The ElectroWarriors scored first in project judging. They put together a skit where there was a husband and wife looking to buy a house. They had two real estate companies...one that sold regular houses and another that sold houses running on alternative energy. For the design and programming judging, they had to show the judges their robot design and the programs. They were judged on how complicated and high tech their design and programming was. For the teamwork judging, they had to use spaghetti noodles and marshmellows to build the tallest, sturdiest structure possible. This test was used to see how well they worked as a team. I thought they did really well at this task. Finally, gracious professionalism was judged throughout the whole tournament. This is looking for students who have positive attitudes and teams that are not just there to win, but to learn something and gain experience.

Our team did not earn the Award of Distinction to move on to state, but the BRHS 7th grade team did. Go PowerWarriors!

It was fun and interesting to be the robotics coach. I know I'll be a better coach next year because of my experiences this year. Maybe next year I'll ask to coach the 7th grade team so I can be Avery's coach.

Monday, December 03, 2007

OK...I get it now!

When I was researching Bethel before I came here, I read about how windy it was here. I read stories of people who said it gets so windy that sometimes you can't even stand up straight. Then, when I got here, many people told me how windy it was here. Occasionally I would hear stories about how windy it was. Even about how Bethel should have wind turbines to harness the power of the wind. Through all of this, I always wondered where was this wind that everyone talked about. I had yet to see it. I thought maybe everyone here was crazy or maybe they had a thing for wind. Maybe their idea of a strong wind was not the same as mine?

I understand now...it had been unbelievably windy for several days now. The house is shaking and creaking like crazy. I can hear the wind whistling in through every nook and cranny in the house. There are freezing cold drafts coming in from everywhere. There's no point in brushing your hair unless you are going to put it up. All the snow is gone and the melted snow has dried up now, so going outside is like getting sandblasted. It is still really dry, so I've been wearing alot of chapstick. Today, my lips were covered with sand because the sand sticks to the chapstick. we are getting gusts up around 60mph. It's crazy. I'm used to seeing wind like this for a couple of hours during a storm, but this has been a couple of days now...with no sign of letting up. I guess we're in for the long haul. Welcome to December!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Amish Friendship Bread

Ever had Amish Friendship bread? I was given a starter awhile back. How it works is that you are given a bag full of bread mix and you have to mush it everyday. then, on the 6th day, you have to add sugar, flour, and milk. then you mush the bag again for a few days. on the 10th day, you add a bunch of ingredients, mix it well, dish out four one cup starters, and bake the rest. the you give out the four starters to your friends...hence...Amish Friendship Bread.
The bread is SO good. this is what the finished products looks like...it tastes even better. apparently only the Amish know how to make the starter, so you have to wait for someone to give you a starter back if you want to make more(or you can keep a starter for yourself. after all you are your own friend, right?) Here is it in all it's cinnamonny goodness.the funny thing is...i've lived in the middle of Amish country for almost 10 years now and never heard of Amish friendship bread. I had to come all the way to alaska to find out about it. funny how those things work. Thanks, Angie, for my first starter.