"A mind once stretched by a new idea can never regain its original dimensions." ~Oliver Wendall Holmes

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Alot of snow and drifts galore!

A few days ago we had some unbelievable winds that kicked up all the snow that was out on the tundra and dropped some new snow on us as well. I think just about all of it ended up in MY driveway! That's an exaggeration, of course, but it sure did seem that way, when I came home from work to a drive way with a drift as tall as me and as wide as the driveway. Our front stairs were more like a slide. Avery carved them back into stairs just this morning.The worst part of having a drift that size in your drive is that the water truck will not deliver your water if they cant get in. So, my wonderful and helpful landlord came over with his truck to plow it for us, but the drift would not budge. He then brought over the heavier machinery to move the snow. He had to use a front loader to move the snow.
So, we now have piles of snow at each end of the driveway. The piles in the front are almost as tall as Avery and the piles in the back are taller!
It is nice to have a clean driveway. And the water was delivered bright and early this morning. There is a nice little barricade around the house now so Taboo cant run off except in one direction, which is nice! It was cold and sunny today and the days are getting longer. It is still sunny until after 6pm.

I've been cooking all day to get ready for my ThanksSuperBowl Party tomorrow. Should be a good time. I'll be rooting for the Cardinals! Maybe we can have upsets two years in a row!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Phil Dry the Climate Guy

I dont know if this upload worked or not, but we'll see. This is the video that my robotics team did for their project this year. It is a spoof on Bill Nye the Science Guy called Phil Dry the Climate Guy. I suppose you'd have to know who Bill Nye is to really appreciate the video, but even if you dont, it's pretty funny and actually quite educational. I think they did an amazing job! It's kind of long and may take awhile to load. You might want to pause it while it buffers and then watch the entire thing once it's completely loaded. Enjoy!

Ok....the upload didnt work...for now it's just a picture...I'll try again later!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A question I just can't say NO to...

It's 10:15PM and Avery asks...Can I stay up and read?

Out for a ride

This sign was posted recently in Bethel in an effort to give the snowmachines a path across our one and only "highway". The Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway is a five mile stretch of paved road that connects the center of town to the airport. So, now I have a snowmachine crossing sign to add to my moose crossing sign and my dog team crossing sign.

So, Avery and I took the snowmachine out for a ride on Sunday. We rode it to church, then to get some oil and gas in it, get the brakes fixed, and to the post office. We had a good time.
Here is Avery driving out on the river. He only almost ran us into a cab once. Good thing I got that brake fixed!

For some reason there were a couple planes tied down on the river, this is one of them. I dont know why they're there, but it was kinda cool. I wanted to ride the snowmachine to school yesterday morning, but Avery wasnt feeling well and wasnt up for it. He had a fever and stomach ache the night before. I was fearing that maybe he had caught the flu, but he was fine in the morning.

In other news...It is getting lighter...noticeably. We are up to 7hours 28minutes of daylight and 9hours9minutes of visible light. It really makes a difference, especially in the evening. I went to the post office after school last night at around 5:30 and it was still light when I got home. It was great! We are gain 5 minutes 4 seconds a day now! The temps are back down in the freezing range, but still above zero which makes it nice. Right now it is 10above.

I think I'm in my winter funk...all I want to do is sleep and all I want to wear anymore is jeans.

I'm cooking a big Thanksgiving dinner and having some people over for the Superbowl on Sunday. It should be fun! I'm calling it ThankSuperbowl!

Today is Crystal and Andy Mensch's anniversary. Crystal has been my friend since I was about 12 years old. They have been married 9 years! WOW! Congratulations!

You know what looks really silly...when people wear socks with sandals. I dont get it...why would someone do such a thing? I just had to throw that out there. Any thoughts?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Things to do in Anchorage

While we (robotic team) were in Anchorage last weekend, we had the chance to do lots of fun things in addition to the competition. I already wrote about how we went ice skating, which was alot of fun. We also spent some time walking around the mall and shopping. Whoever came up with the idea of having an ice skating rink in the mall was on to something. It is really convenient to have it there. There was also a bowling alley and a movie theater at the mall, but we didnt have time for all of that. After the competition on Saturday night, everyone voted for dinner at Chuck-E-Cheese. They had a blast playing the games and didnt eat near as much pizza as I thought they would because they were so busy running around in the glow of flashing lights and the clank of sound effects. I enjoyed it very much as well!
Here are the two Bethel teams having fun at Chuck-E-Cheeses. The other team is a Kilbuck elementary school team made up of 5th and 6th graders. They did very well at the competition, coming in 3rd in the robot performance rounds and taking home the 1st place teamwork trophy.
Later that night, we went back to the hotel and the kids went swimming. Even with all that action and excitement, they still managed to stay up until well after midnight. On Sunday morning, we got up, had breakfast, and went to the indoor waterpark, H2Oasis. Catchy name, eh? They had a blast at the water park.
It is pretty small, but still nice to have when it's -10 outside (although it was 30 above while we were there) and not much else to do. I can tell you that all of the people were noticably lacking of any sort of tan. While the kids swam, us adults took turns going shopping for supplies to bring back to Bethel. I am pretty sure that that is the last time that I will make it out of Bethel for awhile, so I brought back as much stuff as I could. And considering there were 16 of us travelling and we are all entitled to 3 pieces of luggage each, I was able to bring back quite alot of stuff.
All in all, it was a good trip. I would have liked to see my team step it up a notch. They did very well and improved their scores over the scores from the district competition, but I do believe if they would have just put a little more effort into it, they could have walked away with a trophy in their hands. We did get some very positive feedback from the judges since I last wrote about the competition. They said that our team was in the top ranks on all of the various judgings throughout the day and that they are pleased to see that the LKSD teams are finding themselves in the top slots. They said that over the last 5 years that we have been doing robotics, that we have improved tremendously. It's good to hear that all of the hard work has paid off.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fish camp in winter

Avery and I rode the snowmachine out on the river the other day. I suspect that we got almost to the next village before I turned around and went back because I didnt really want to get lost.As we were riding, we came across this pretty large conglomerate of fish camps on the edge of the river. They looked so rustic, so deserted, on the brink of becoming a victim of the rivers will,
So patriotic, waiting patiently for the ice to break and the river to flow, for the river to renew the life blood of the tundra and its people,
Waiting for the salmon to run and the people to come chasing them, waiting for the elders to bring their grandchildren to a place where it's easy to pass on the native ways,
Only the ghosts of winter occupying this space. I could almost picture what a bustling place this will be come summer.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My first (three) moose!

I saw my first moose when I was in Anchorage last weekend. Actually, I saw three. They were standing off of the highway in Anchorage about 20 feet. We pulled over to the side of the road so that I could get these pictures. It looked like a cow with her calfs. They were stripping bark off of these downed trees.Then, about 100 meters up the highway was a buck munching on some bark as well. He sure was a big guy!

Here's a close up...Then, when we got to the indoor water park where we were headed, we saw another buck standing up on the hill. It must have been moose lunch time. It was about 11am.

So, I saw 5 moose in all. All within the span of about 15 minutes. They were HUGE. None of them have antlers. The bucks shed their antlers to conserve energy in the winter.

I've been thinking about the math of all this...would the first 3 that I saw be the 'first' moose that I ever saw, or would all five count as my first moose?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A friend recommended it!

Avery told me when he started reading this book that his friend recommended it to him and that's why he was reading it. He has been totally into it for about a week now and last night, I had to peel it out of his grip and turn out his light because he fell asleep reading it. Then, when he woke up as I was taking the book, he insisted that he wanted to finish it and I had to (easily) convince him that the ending would still be there in the morning. This morning when I got out of the shower, he was sitting on the couch reading it. I'M SO PROUD OF HIM! He used to hate reading and now he loves it. The other night, he even called the library asking about a book because he knew he would be done with this one soon and wanted to have another one lined up. He's so awesome! I just think it's so funny that he is getting book recommendation from his friends. How much faster could he possibly be turning into a young adult?
Taboo had a nice bath the other night and then Avery asked if he could sleep with him. Taboo really loves the attention and Avery treats Taboo much more like the old dog that he is lately. This weekend while I was in Anchorage, I let Avery take the snowmachine over to his buddies house with him. He actually dropped ME off at the airport! Him and his buddies rode the machine all weekend. As a result, it is missing its windshield now. They got it stuck in some deep snow and had to turn it on its top to get it unstuck. I guess it's fixable, but I dont know. I was trying to give him some extra opportunities to ride the snowmachine so that he could get good at it, but this weekend he took advantage of it and road it out around the main part of town. So, I'm a bit dissappointed about that, but glad that he is getting a chance to ride it.
Another thing that Avery is getting really good at is cooking. Last night, he actually asked if he could cook dinner. He made grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. He burnt the first set of sandwiches, but the second set turned out good. Awhile back, he wanted to bake a cake, but we didnt have any frosting so I told him to make some from scratch out of cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla. He used granulated sugar and it turned out funny, but tasted good. It was weird and different, but good, and he learned the difference between powdered sugar and granulated sugar. He is turning out to be quite the little chef.

I bought him a new coat while I was in Anchorage and he was very happy and grateful for it, which was nice! He is doing great in school, all A's and B's on his semester report card. He is getting pretty good on his sax. He joined the junior high paper for his friday club (on my insistence that he join some sort of academic activity). He is really trust worthy and honest> He is responsible and manages his money well. He knows how to cook and clean. He has a great sense of humor and likes to have fun. He is just really shaping up to be a great kid...oh, excuse me....teenager!

Well, I have to go pick him up from Boy Scouts now....it's 32 degrees outside. Nice and warm!

Monday, January 19, 2009

I gave myself whiplash

All weekend long my neck was sore and stiff and I couldnt figure out why. Yesterday and today, my back aches. When I got home last night and was putting away my snowmachine helmet, I realized why...I gave myself whiplash. Remember when I said I had fallen on the ice on Friday and cracked my head on the ground, but was lucky because I was still wearing my helmet? Well, my helmet is seriously broken and with all of the sore and stiff muscles in my neck and back, whiplash seems like a logical conclusion. I never thought my helmet would save me from walking, but I'm sure glad it did.

The K300 dog sled race is in full swing after many days of delays. The mushers left Bethel on Sunday afternoon and are due back sometime in the morning. We should probably have a winner by the time I wake up. The musher's banquet and awards are tomorrow night...maybe we'll go check that out. It doesnt seem like we've spent much time out around town this year. I think robotics kept me more busy than usual. I am happy to have my evenings to myself again, even if most of them will be spent working on stuff for my college class. Speaking of which...I need to sign up (and pay the outrageous fee) to take my Praxis test.

Well, I am reeeeeaaaaaalllllllly sleepy tonight after our busy robotics weekend and am going to head to bed early. Good night!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Robotics Tournament results

Below I have pasted a write up about the tournament this weekend. It was written by our robotics coordinator for our school district. I think he said everything so well that it doesnt need much alteration. I just added the pics. You can also click here to read the Anchorage Daily News article about the competition.It was very fitting that this year's FIRST Lego League theme, "Climate Connections" was right in line with the wacky, warm and windy weather the YK Delta and the rest of the state has seen this week leading up to the 2009 Alaska State Robotics Championships in Anchorage. Not only was the weather unseasonably "hot" for Alaska in January, both of the LKSD robotics teams brought some heat of their own by setting their season-best scores at the competition during the Robot Performance rounds. In total, 37 teams participated from Bethel, Anchorage, Soldotna, Seward, Nikiski, McGrath, Palmer, Fairbanks, Juneau, Skagway, Akhiok, and Chugiak. The weather has been so terrible, just over half of the teams which were expected to attend actually made it to Anchorage. Many ended up competing by live video teleconference instead. The BRHS Warrior Avalanche team coached by Alisha posted a high score of 190 points, while the Kilbuck Tundra Techs squad coached by Jeff Blevins set a blistering score of 210 points in Robot Performance. To give one an idea of how high these scores were, the best score at the LKSD Regional competition in December was 145 points and no team at the Fairbanks State Competition or the Juneau Regional held last month posted a score higher than 195. Both teams did an outstanding job representing LKSD and improving upon their previous achievements.

LKSD brought home some heavy metal - or should I say Legos?!?! - as well. The Kilbuck Tundra Techs received the 3rd Place award in the Robot Performance category - the first LKSD team to ever receive an award in this category at a state level competition - and the Tundra Techs also received the 1st Place Teamwork Award in the form of a unique trophy made entirely out of Legos! Way to go Tundra Techs!!!

This year's state competition also featured a separate "tournament of champions". In this event, robotics teams were invited to enter a single elimination bracket - with no breaks between rounds for robot maintenance and repairs - to determine who takes home bragging rights as this year's Alaska's top team. (It is a winner-take-all event.) The BRHS Warrior Avalanche fought all the way to the final round, including 2 matches in which the team completed missions in the final few seconds to seal victories! In the end, the BRHS Warrior Avalanche finished in 2nd place just behind the Robotic Sealz team from Anchorage. Way to go Warrior Avalanche!!!

Congratulations to both the robotics team members and the coaches for doing your best! It was a great way to end a fantastic season full of learning and fun.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Call it a stroke of luck....
Call it a gift from God...
Call it a fluke of nature...
Call it whatever you want to...
But miraculously enough...
We made it into Anchorage today!
We went ice skating at the mall after dinner tonight...it was a blast.
Even though the sky looked like this....

And the roads looked like this...WE MADE IT! I have to admit that I had pretty much given up on traveling. We had resorted to plan B, which was to hook up the two way video conferencing equipment in my classroom and participate in the tournament that way. Just as the tech guy was finishing hooking everything up, we got the word that the plane had left anchorage and was headed for Bethel. So, I called all my kids and told them to get their little robotics butts to the airport. Then I rounded all the stuff we would need, including our robot, and loaded it on the snowmachine to get it to the airport. I was driving the snow machine because the roads were WAY too bad to drive my truck. I dropped off the robotics stuff, then hurried to my place to grab my stuff and Avery's stuff and loaded that on the snow machine and drove to the airport that way. Avery went to his friends house for the weekend and Taboo has someone taking care of him, so everybody's is good and happy and taken care of. We had a pretty rough landing when we got to Anchorage because they were having wind gusts up to 95 mph. It really felt ALOT like being on a roller coaster and there were many owwwww's and awwwwww's coming from the passengers and even some hands up in the air. At the skating rink, we had a kid crack his chin open, which required a bit of first aid, then when we got back to the hotel, we had a kid fall on the ice and scrape up his elbow and arm pretty good, which required a bit more first aid. Not to mention that when I got off the snow machine earlier today at school, I took about 10 steps before my feet flew right out from under me and I cracked my head on the ice. Thank goodness I hadnt taken off my helmet yet or I probably would have been knocked out for sure.

Now I need sleep because today was an exciting, intense day and tomorrow will be too! Good night and wish us luck at the tournament!

This is getting ridiculous...

I woke up to my phone ringing at 6am this morning. School is cancelled again. I am so sick of this. We are supposed to leave on the afternoon flight today for the Robotics Tournament. None of the flights have made it out of Bethel in the last few days. The last flight that made it out was on Tuesday! I also got a call from the robotics coordinator last night. He is already in Anchorage and said that many flights arent making it in to Anchorage because they are having wind gusts up 100 miles per hour! We are probably not going to make it in to the competition in Anchorage. Bummer! We may still get to compete over the two way video system but that certainly is not even close to the same as being there. Not to mention that we had planned on doing some fun stuff while we were in Anchorage, like going to the water park and bowling. And I was going to do some shopping to pick up some supplies that would last up through the rest of the year. This was kind of my last chance to make it in before the end of the school year. It is so much more expensive to buy everything here...such a bummer. Maybe the competition in Anchorage will get postponed as well. That's what I'm hoping for at this point because the likelyhood of a plane flying out of here today is slim to NONE. On the upside, I may get to see the K300 after all, which is exciting. I may even get my chance to volunteer like I wanted to. I also wont have to worry about having someone come in and watch the house and dog for a couple days. I will also get more time to do some planning for what I'm teaching in my classes.

yep...the morning flight has already been cancelled. :(

In other news...
I fell down the stairs when I was leaving school last night and my back really hurts this morning. I'm going to have a pretty major bruise, I can feel it coming on. The corner of the stair hit the bottom of my back and then scraped its way about halfway up my back. It really hurt and knocked the wind out of me too.

My field trip went pretty well, but I forgot to take pictures except at the pizza place, so I'm not going to write up a separate post about it. At the power plant tour, we got to see the 6 huge 16 cylinder diesel engines that generate the cities power. We learned alot about how the power plant runs. It was very interesting. At the water treatment center, we got to see (and smell) the water as it went through its various stages of purification. The water that we use comes out of an aquifer that is 600 feet under the city. It is extremely full of iron and other minerals that must be taken out of the water. We had lunch at the pizza buffet, which of course is always the kids' favorite part of the field trip. After lunch, we hung out at the culture center's library for a while before going over to the university campus for a scavenger hunt. They got to learn about what kind of degree programs are offered by the college and what they should do to start preparing for college. Then we were supposed to go for a presentation about the hovercraft, but when we got there, the Discovery Channel was there filming a documentary about the hovercraft. They wouldnt let us go anywhere near the hovercraft while it was out, so we ended up just going and getting some hot chocolate and play Uno for a little while before heading back to school. I think the kids had a good time. I know that last year's field trips were a bit better than this one, so I will probably look at doing those things again for our trip next year.
We watched Dont Mess with the Zohan the other night and IT SUCKED! Do not waste your time on this movie. I usually enjoy Adam Sandler films, but this one was terrible!

I just checked the K300 website. The races are delayed as well with no new start times yet.

What else? I'm going to go back to bed for a little while and see what happens with the flights and robotics. I hope the weather doesnt suck as bad where you are!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Another day

School is cancelled again today because we got freezing rain and the busses wont run. Last year, we didnt miss a day of school, this year we've now missed 3 days. The first was for freezing rain, the second for -50 below temps, and now today for freezing rain again. This is craziness! I know you are probably sick of hearing the about the weather and maybe you've been thinking about leaving a comment to tell me that the title of my blog would be more appropriate if it were Such is Weather! But weather really is what rules our world up here. Everything is dependent on the weather! The thing I would like to know is...when are we going to make up these weather days? We only keep one calamity day in our schedule and we've already used it. I've heard rumors that the days will be made up on Saturdays. YUCK!28*F
Light Freezing Rain
Ice Pellets Snow
Forecast for Kuskokwim Delta
Updated: 10:49 am EST on January 14, 2009
Blizzard Warning in effect until 4 PM akst this afternoon along the coast and Nunivak Island...
Blizzard Warning along the north coast and over Nunivak Island... Through 1250 PM...a mixture of snow sleet and freezing rain continues over the Kuskokwim Delta. Light snow continues to over areas mainly north and west of Bethel. A mix of snow sleet and light freezing rain is falling along and east of the Kuskokwim River. Two to four inches of additional snow fall is expected.
Snow and blowing snow...with visibility one quarter mile or less at times along the coast and Nunivak Island. Snow accumulation 2 to 4 inches. Areas of freezing rain from Bethel south. Highs in the mid 20s to mid 30s. Northeast wind 15 to 25 mph. Gusts to 45 mph along the coast.
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Snow...possibly mixing with rain in the evening. Less than 1 inch accumulation. Lows 25 to 35. Southwest wind 10 to 25 mph.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Some are larger than others

When I got into my truck after school today, I noticed a small little snow drift that had found its way into my back seat. I looked all around to figured out how this little drift had maneuvered its way in and finally I found that the window was open just a tiny little quarter of an inch. Of course, the window is frozen, so I cant roll it up.

The snow has drifted so gracefully around to the front of the house that it has literally turned our front stairs into a slide. Avery used a shovel to carve out a little path when he got home from school, but it is still fairly treacherous.

This 6 foot drift has taken up permanent residence outside the back door. Just for scale...the refrigerator is sitting on the back deck, which is at least two feet of the ground (dont ask why there's a refrigerator on the back deck...that's just where it landed after the landlord bought a new one for in the house). My only hope is that the water delivery guys will be happy enough with that little path beside the drift. My sewer pipe is just to the left in this picture and my water pipe is just behind me in this picture. They get a bit picky about things when it's this cold and dark out. We'll see what happens on Saturday. I sure hope they deliver our water because we are down to only about 200 gallons and it's only Tues. By Saturday, we will be out for sure!
Here is Avery and his friend standing on top of the big drift behind the house. They were outside playing in it this weekend. Notice how cool the moon looks in the background. This picture is being taken about 4 pm. That's about 45 minutes before sun set. I'm facing NE, so the sun is actually setting right behind me.
Here they are with the snow cave that they built. The actual cave part is dug about 3 feet above the ground, so you can imagine how large this drift outside our back door is. Being out on the edge of the tundra is nice in someways, but snow drifts is not one of them. Or maybe if you're a 13 year old boy with a friend over for the weekend, it is.
Also...we're experiencing a heat wave. It's POSITIVE 16 right now and feels amazingly warm. Of course, with the rising temps brings snow and we are also currently under a blizzard watch until noon tomorrow. It is supposed to get all the way up into the 40's by thursday. We are already up to over 8 hours of visible light and gaining almost 4 minutes a day! It is forecast to be equally as warm while I'm in Anchorage this weekend with robotics. I like the warmth and I like the snow and I like not having to plug my truck in.