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

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

13 done, 17 to go

Number 12 on the birthday list in complete. I stayed in the state of Alaska for the entire summer this year. It's actually kind of weird to think back on the summer and realize that I never left...not even once...not even for a minute. Here's a recap of my super insanely fast paced summer...

weeks 1/2- took a class in bethel
week 3- prep for summer science camp
week 4/5-taught summer science camp
week 6-travelled around alaska with Kass
weeks 7/8-taught summer science camp
week 9- half relaxing in bethel, half having fun in juneau
weeks 10/11-art institute in Juneau

Summer seemed ridiculously short this year, but I think it was because I was so busy. When I look back on it, I actually did quite alot! Now it's time to start making plans for next summer!

Monday, August 30, 2010

12 done, 18 to go

Number 30 on the birthday list is complete. The goal was to visit at least 3 Alaskan villages/towns/cities that I've never been to before. First, I visited Nome back in April with the music kids. Second, I fell in love with Whittier back in July when my friend Kassia was here visiting. Third, I attended the art institute in Juneau and caught two huge halibut that I will spend the rest of the winter eating.

I have plans to visit several more places this winter once the ground freezes up and we can snow machine again.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tundra Plants

A couple of friends and I went on a flower walk. We collected many different kinds of tundra plants. Then we came home and pressed the flowers while having a glass of wine. It was a really good time. Some of you might remember this summer, when Sadie and I took a papermaking class. The class was fun and the paper that we made was really neat. So, we ordered a couple of papermaking kits and are waiting for them to come in the mail.
We collected a lot of tundra cotton to use in our homemade paper. The cotton gives the paper an interesting texture. We also collected many different kinds of tundra grasses to use in our homemade paper as well. I'm looking forward to the kits getting here. I have a couple of projects in mind involving pressed flower and homemade paper. I think they will turn out nice!
Just what I needed...another hobby!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Through the Tunnel

This summer, I took the trip through the tunnel that leads to Whittier, Alaska. Kassia and I only spent one night there, but I fell in love with the quirky little town with less than 200 permanent residents. According to the locals, the population swells in the summer during fishing season.
While in town, we stayed the night at The Inn at Whittier. It was a cute little place that was comfortable and nice with plush towels and bedding. The view out of our window was amazing, as were all of the views from anywhere in town. The town is nestled into a beautiful little nook in the mountains on the edge of the ocean. According to Wikipedia...
After we finished our day cruise around Prince William Sound, we walked around the town, checked out all of the little shops, and had dinner at a quaint little family fish fry restaurant. We sat on the patio over looking the harbor and cloud covered mountains. In the peacefulness and serenity, my rolling rock seemed to taste better. And the fresh fried halibut was pretty yummy too.
I could really see myself having a boat in this harbor someday. I could live and teach on the road system north of Whittier and keep a boat in the harbor for fishing in the summer. I think this little fishing town would be an interesting place to spend the summers.
Being there just felt so peaceful. And the town was kindy quirky. And the people all seemed really great...just felt like my kind of place.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Future Politician

I have a deal with Avery...I will support him in all of the sports that he would like to participate in as long as he also participates in at least one academic club at some point in the school year. Our school has a decent number of choices including academic decathlon, speech meet, battle of the books, yearbook, science fair, student newspaper, student government, pep band, and robotics. I even suggested AWANA as being an option. AWANA is the church youth program.

Of course, as we were going through the list of choices, none of them appealed to him at all. Eventually, it become of a conversation about which choice was the least unappealing. He had settled on academic decathlon. Student government was the one I was trying to talk him into because I think he would enjoy it. Avery loves to debate/argue for how things should/shouldnt be or things he should be able to do. I think being in student government would have him to see that there are more sides of the argument than just his own.

A funny related story... the other night, we were having dinner and he told me that he was thinking about being a lawyer when he grows up. I asked him why and this was his response..."Because I like to argue about things, even sometimes when I dont even agree with them myself." Yes, that's what lawyers do...and politicians. Student government could help you refine your debate skills. But he still refused to consider student government even though several of his friends are in it.

So, today was the day for the kids to nominate people for class officers during class meetings. As I stood in the 10th grade class meeting and watched the chaos of nominations and seconds unfurl, I knew there was going to be NO WAY that Avery would escape from his 9th grade meeting without having been nominated for something. And knowing how susceptible to peer pressure he is, I knew he wouldnt decline his nomination. Sometimes peer pressure can be a good thing :)

With a few minutes of the school day left, he tracked me down and told me that he was running for 9th grade class representative. He then proceeded to describe his plans for his campaign posters and asked if he could go over to a friends house to work on them. Sure. About an hour later, I got a call from him asking if I would drive him out to the sand pit so that he could do a photo op for his campaign poster. Sure. And could I bring him a laptop from school to work on it? Sure.

By the time he went to bed last night, he had used the picture above to create a champaign poster to hang around the 9th grade hallway. He worked on it for several hours. Elections are next week, but given the competition he's pretty confident that he'll win. Joining student government also means that he'll have STUCO homeroom, which I think will be another good opportunity for him.

Sometimes getting want I want is pretty easy. Things have a way of working out just the way that they should.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Just busy and tired

School has started. So far it has been great. I did two really super fun science activities for the first two days and the kids enjoyed them very much. Things are moving fast again. I have so much to do and not enough time to do it. Once I get home, I am beat. I've tried to blog a couple of nights this week, but always end up nodding off at my computer. I'm working on building my teaching stamina back up again. Right now my stamina is still pretty low. I'm still getting into the swing of regular day to day life again. I'll try to get back on the blogging band wagon soon. I have alot of blog posts in mind. Lots to share, just to busy and tired to sit down and write.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

3 years already

Such is Life! is 3 years old today. It's hard to believe I've been blogging that long and that I've been in Alaska even longer. Time does fly. The blog sure has morphed over the years, but it has been a constant throughout my Alaskan adventure. It will be interesting to see where the blog will go from here, especially now that I've joined facebook. If anyone has any ideas for the blog, let me know.

In 3 years, the blog has seen about 20,000 visitors from about 75 countries. It has 31 followers, but an average of about 45 readers each day. This will be my 748th post in 1095 days, which makes out to be an average of 1 post every 1.5 days.

Thanks for reading everyone!!!

(Sure would be nice if you started commenting again...I havent gotten a comment in the last 5 posts. If you are someone who reads regularly but doesnt comment, today is the day to come on outta the commenting closet :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bethel fun

I know I've been slacking at blogging these days (you guys wanted me to join facebook). The first week of school was hectic and I am enjoying the down time of my first weekend. It's 3pm and I'm still wearing my PJ's. I didnt have to wake up to an alarm clock this morning...it was great. I got up at about noon. Anyway...we have a BUNCH of new teachers at our school this year. And I have a BUNCH of halibut to cook up. And Sadie bought this dance game for the Wii. So....some of us got together last night, ate, drank, and danced on the Wii.
It's funny how things that wouldnt necessarily be fun or funny in the lower 48 become the friday night entertainment here in Bethel.
Oh yes...the dancing got a little bit intense for a little while. And a little bit competitive too.
It was great to see some friends that I havent seen all summer. It was also good to meet and get to know some of the new teachers in town, two of which are part of the science dept at my school and I'll be working closely with.
All in all we had a really fun friday night...Bethel style...just the way I like it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cold and Wet

Public Information Statement

Statement as of 4:00 am AKDT on August 12, 2010

... Cold and wet pattern continues for southcentral Alaska...

The overall weather pattern for much of Alaska this Summer has been
cool and wet. Alaska as well as portions of the western conus have
been reporting below average temperatures for much of the Summer
while upstream in eastern Siberia and downstream in the central and
eastern US have been experiencing warmer than average temperatures.

The abnormal weather is a result of a long wave pattern that has
remained stagnant since early June. A large upper level trough has
been positioned in the central and eastern Bering Sea. Areas of low
pressure develop at the base of the trough... tap into the subtropical
moisture... and move northeast toward the Gulf of Alaska. The result
is increased cloud coverage and periods of rain.

Similar patterns have occurred recently during the Summers of 2006
and 2008. Both Summers saw higher than average precipitation and
temperatures below climatological norms.

Here is how the Summer of 2010 is shaping up...

June 1 through August 11 average high temperature
1. 1971 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 60.2 degrees
2. 2008 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 60.6
3. 1987 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 61.0
4. 1917 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 61.1
5. 1973 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 61.3
6. 1982 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 61.5
7. 1980 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 61.7
8. 1970 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 61.8
9. 1939 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 61.9
10. 2010 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 62.0

(normal high temperature during this period is 64.3 degrees)

July 1 through August 11 average high temperature
1. 1971 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 61.6 degrees
2. 2008 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 61.8
3. 2010 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 62.5
1959 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 62.5
5. 1970 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 62.6

(normal high temperature during this period is 65.5 degrees)

Precipitation June 1 through August 11
1. 1958 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 7.89 inches
2. 1981 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 7.24
3. 1980 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 6.28
4. 1989 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 6.18
5. 1979 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 6.15
6. 2010 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 5.98

(average precipitation during this period is 3.54 inches)

Consecutive days with a trace or more of precipitation
1. 1951 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 27 consecutive days
2. 2010 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 25 (as of Aug 11)
1946 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 25
4. 2008 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 24
1989 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 24
1950 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 24
7. 2008 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 23
8. 1947 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 22

Outlook... this pattern is expected to continue through this
week... and possibly beyond. There is an indication that a ridge of
high pressure will build from the northeastern Pacific late this week
which will likely bring an end to our consecutive days with a trace
or more of precipitation. Any break will be short lived as the large
trough settles back over the eastern Bering Sea allowing the moisture
to return to southcentral early next week.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Rain, rain...go away

Record Report

Statement as of 4:07 am AKDT on August 8, 2010

... Record rainfall...

Record rainfall of 0.82 inches yesterday August 7 2010 broke old
record of 0.47 inches in the year 2001.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Our Art Show

On the last night of class, we had an art show. We displayed all of our visual art. We wore our new kuspaqs. We sang. We danced. We read poems. We played drums. It was awesome.
Above are our self portraits. Mine's not in this pic. I forgot to take a pic of the wall where mine was hanging. Below is my self portrait painted on silk. It doesnt look anything like me, but it was a super fun project.
This is us doing our Yup'ik song and dance.
Below is the K-3 group doing a dance about liquids, solids, and gasses. Our theme was integrating art and culture into science.
Next is the 4-7 group doing a WED dance. WED stands for weathering, erosion, and deposition.
Here we are singing an African song.
And here is my group doing a dance about the 4 macromolecules of life...lipids, carbs, proteins, and nucleic acids.
This was our ending...the double helix.
Here is another song we learned. During this song, I was drumming.
Here is our whole group, including our teacher leaders and Tlingit guest speakers.
This was a community art project that we completed as a group. All of the teachers worked on this silk painting that will be displayed somewhere in Juneau. It turned out awesome!!! I totally want to do silk painting with my students.
These are the teachers that I shared a dorm with over the two week course. Erin was my roommate and the other two, Pam and Mary, were in the other room in the suite.
These were the teachers from our school district, LKSD. We have the largest group because LKSD is the partner in the grant the funds the art institute.
These were our teacher leaders. They are represented in the silk painting on the totem pole. We came up with Alaskan animals to symbolize them on the totem. The base of the totem was the lady who organized and kept track of the whole institute. Next up was the lady who taught about brain research and music. Next up was the guy who taught us about movement. Next up was the lady who taught us visual art. And on the top is the lady who taught us about native culture.
The institute was amazing and I learned soooooo much. I cant wait to go back and do some of what I learned in my classroom with my students. First day of school is about 10 days. My first day back to work is on Monday. Can't believe summer is over already. It went by soooo fast.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Adventures in Sewing

We had to sew a qaspeq for our culture class. A qaspeq is a traditional shirt that the Yup'ik women wear. There are men's qaspeqs as well, but they generally only wear them when they dance.
I had a hard time with the sewing. I've never used a sewing machine before so this was a new experience for me and I struggled with it in the beginning. After I got the hang of it, it was fine, but even then I didnt enjoy it.Sewing is definitely not a hobby that I plan on taking up soon. I made my kaspeq blue and yellow for our school colors (blue and gold). I didnt follow the traditional pattern. Usually it would only have one fabric, but I used two.I have a new kaspeq to wear and it turned out really nice. I have to wear it tonight for our cultural performance. We will be singing, drumming, dancing, and displaying all of the artwork that we've completed this weekend. Fun!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Marimba Time!!!

As a part of the Art Institute, a local art studio set up a marimba workshop for us. So, we spent 2 hours on Saturday learning how to play these African instruments. We learned a song from Zimbabwe. It's kind of like a xylophone, but with wooden bars. Above-I'm playing the big bass marimba. Below-learning how to play the lead.
Learning, learning, learning...doing art, art art. I've learned so much about the arts over the last week. And I've had a TON of fun doing it. Can't wait to get back to school and start sharing all I've learned with my students.
I wanted something more challenging, so she taught me the lead. It was more challenging, but I got it eventually. I sure would love to have these instruments to teach with in school. It's about $10,000 for a complete set.
Take some time to goof off too!!! Here's the song we learned....enjoy!

Makin' the news...

I managed to make the newspaper while here in Juneau. Here's the scoop...


We had so much fun learning 3 Tlingit songs and dances.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

They take their trash very seriously around here

All of the trash here in Juneau (and in many parts of Alaska, but not Bethel), is locked up securely to prevent the bears from coming into the populated areas. It is an effort to keep the people and bears separately. The trash cans above are found all around the city. There is a little lever under the handle that you lift to open the trash can. There is also a chain that prevents the lid from opening much farther than about 6 inches.
Here in the dorms, I spent awhile trying to figure out where to take my trash. Then I finally figured out that these little shed looking building actually had dumpsters in them. They are locked up like a fort with multiple levers, latches, and locks to keep the bear out.
Speaking of bears...I have found myself having conversations with nonexistant bears these last few weeks. There are bears that live in the area and the trail from the dorms to the campus runs right through the woods. So, the few times that I've found myself walking down the trail alone, without someone to talk to, I've just talked to the bears instead. It is safe practice to make noise while you are walking through bear country so that they know you're there and will run away.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Heat wave!

This morning when I looked at the weather there was a "special public announcement". It said that there was a massive high pressure system moving over the Alaska panhandle (SE Alaska). It said that the temp was expected to reach 75 on Tuesday and Wednesday. It warned that people should take precautions to not got overheated. They recommended wearing light colored clothing, drinking plenty of water, and not leaving kids/pets unattended in cars.

So funny! A 75degree heat wave with a warning! You know you live in Alaska if...