Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It must be Spring!

The geese and swans have been returning! Big honking Vs in the sky! Honk-honk!

Not to mention... Hot Licks has opened their kiosk for summer! Yay!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A reprieve from the mud, and a morning to remind me of home

It's been chilly lately--below freezing nights and with light snow sticking to the ground... it's been nice to have a reprieve from the mud, as the mud is frozen again, making nice surfaces to run on. The copious puddles have not refrozen, though, and lightly dusted with snow they make for bad surprises! I managed to dunk both my feet yesterday.

This morning, the tree-covered hills were shrouded in fog, and looking like that, they reminded me of the hills on the San Francisco peninsula. I used to love hiking to the top of Windy Hill in Winter and enjoy the view to the West--row after row of rolling green hills until I could see (on days when the fog was less thick) the ocean shimmering in the distance. To the North, where the San Bruno Mountains take a slight dip, I could watch the fog rise up over the ridgeline and roll down into the Bay side, gently tumbling and creating giant rolls as it went. I strongly encourage my Bay Area readers to try this hike in late Fall! It's awesome! (But be careful to bring lots of water if you go in Summer, because the hike is hot and has little cover, and dress for a wide range of weather no matter what time of year you go, because the change in temperature from the bottom of the hill to the top of the hill can be 20-30 degrees F! It's amazing that you can get such a range of microclimates on a little 2000-foot hill and in an hour's hike from bottom to top! But I digress...)

The hills today reminded me of that, except that the fog was stationary and there was no ocean on the other side (although I could pretend there was!).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Baby reindeer! Awwww!


So... wobbly...

Snoozing in the sun with mama:

And to change topic, here are Autumn and Linden on our last day of skiing last week, before all the snow melted away. This trail is all mud now, and the trees are nekkid.

And here they are grooming the bejeebus out of poor Millie:

And here we have the whole crew relaxing together:


Apparently, we are getting dust from the Gobi Desert in our air. I haven't noticed anything but blue sky, but I'll try to pay attention to see whether we have particularly pretty sunrises and sunsets over the next few weeks. Dust from the Gobi Desert! Whoda thunk?

And as long as we are doing trivia, I learned today that although we are below the Arctic Circle and thus never have 24 hours of sunlight in Summer, nor 24 hours of darkness in Winter, Murphy Dome is apparently high enough that you can get such effects for three days near the Solstices. Yup, from the top of Murphy Dome the sun won't set for three days near the Summer Solstice, and won't rise for three days near the Winter Solstice. Cool, huh? Maybe we should plan a midnight hike! :D


There's a little bitty behbeh reindeer at the reindeer place! And I don't have my camera!! Ahhhh! I'll have to bring it tomorrow. :) Then I was told that about fifteen are born every year. FIFTEEN behbeh carry-boos! AHHHH!!

And, I must go check out if there are behbeh musk oxen as well, then!


Reindeer Farm link
Suggest a name for one of the calves!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Weather Report

Well, it's mid 40s F today, and is supposed to be mid 50s F all next week. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am, it's Spring!

The snow is melting and dripping off our roof, making it sound as if it's raining. The recent snow, which made possible some awesome late-season skiing when it was fresh, is now wet and packable, and yesterday I gave our Thanksgiving snowman a new head. I also made a snow-woman, complete with giant boobs (the snow is so packable now that it can support cantilevered structures!), and a snow-husky, sitting at the side of the snow-couple. But that was yesterday, and today, the heads rolled off both snowmen, and the husky lost his ears one by one, and then finally his head as well. :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Rather Nice Compliment

I bumped into one of my students in the hallway today as he was looking at the posted solutions to a quiz they had had in class. After we exchanged hellos, he beamed at me, "I got a perfect score on the quiz!"

This is not a compliment to me because I taught him the skills for that particular quiz. It's that... well you know how it is when you do really well on some academic endeavor that not everyone did... and you are so pleased and proud of yourself, but you can't mention it to anyone because you don't want to brag or make anyone else feel bad? Well, he was clearly in that state, but was happy to brag to me, knowing full well that I'd be thrilled for him.

One of my students last semester wrote to me in an email, "Its nice to have instructors who actually CARE what youre (sic) doing." If I've communicated that, then that's a hell of a nice thing!

Monday, April 14, 2008


We got dumped with about ten inches of snow last night!
Here is the yard today:

Here is Fred's side view mirror. It's amazing, we have noooo wind at all!

Fred, half excavated:

And look what we got! Now we are all ready for Summer hiking! Looking like dweebs! But not getting bitten!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dog Market

Maybe I have a sick sense of humor, but when I saw them lying there like this, it reminded me of fish lying on ice at the fish market. Wahahahaha!!

And here we have Linden smiling. Isn't she cute? She and Autumn have the same smile.

And in other news, temps are apparently in the 70s to 80s in the Sili Valley. I honestly can't recall exactly when temps begin warming up for Summer there, so I can't tell you if this is normal for April or a heat wave. But wow, I'd be in shorts and T-shirts there, and here I am skiing in perfect powder! Weird!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Voices to Make you Believe in God

Okay these have nothing to do with silicon2tanana at all, but they are so beautiful.

First here we have Carmen Monarcha singing Ave Maria.

And here she is singing O Mio Babbino Caro. I was doing the dishes one night while listening to some Andre Rieu CD, and this aria came on. I was stunned and had to stop what I was doing to listen.

I just love her. And I love this clip. She looks exactly how a girl should look when asking her father for something important to her... at first coquettish, then becoming increasingly desperate and finally crying real tears as she threatens to throw herself into the river.

And here we have Hayley Westenra, just fifteen (!!) years old, singing a beautiful interpretation of Pokarekare Ana, a Maori love song that I learned when I was a child.

Wow! That voice! Some of her other clips give me cognitive dissonance, though. She's just not old enough to have experienced any of the heavy emotions that come with the songs she is singing. A particularly bizarre example is her singing Kate Bush's famous Wuthering Heights. She's all smiling and dancing along. She has none of Kate's madness in the original. She's so sweet and pure, that's not Catherine Earnshaw at all! Hasn't she read the novel? I don't think anyone should be allowed to sing that song without having read the novel, or else they miss the whole point.

But still... that voice! I hope when she comes of emotional age to deliver some depth in her performances, I am back in civilization and can catch her perform live!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

So it's 9:15, and the sun is about to set...

New snow!

When I woke up this morning, the light coming through the windows was white, and that could only mean one thing...

New snow! We had a warm day yesterday, and most of the surface snow melted away, but we got several inches overnight! Check out what Fred looked like!

Autumn and Linden, of course, love this. I think they look so pretty in the snow. So very in their element:

I went skiing this morning. It was awesome, but we had to turn back when Linden lost the polar fleece bootie I had put over her paw that she cut last weekend. :(

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Looking forward to the end of the semester...

My undergrads apparently only have TWO more labs! That means only three more complete weeks of class! Holy crap! And this summer I only have to work, and that means that when I come home, I don't have to do homework or study! Wowee!

For Fall, I am scheduled to take upper division undergraduate level quantum mechanics, grad level Electrodynamics (whoo... that'll be the big challenge of my UAF career), and Arctic engineering, which tackles engineering for cold weather conditions. But the first two are being taught at the same time! GAH! So I have to put off quantum until Fall 09, and pick something else. Hmmmm... And my scholarship will only cover classes related to my degree, so anything like Astronomy or Underwater Basket Weaving or Welding or Animal Behavioral Science is out of the question. I am considering "Theory of Elastic Stability," one of the fine offerings of our Civil Engineering department. Does it sound exciting, or what? Haha it actually sounds interesting to me. I must be really nerdy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Winter fights back

We are having cold weather again... a few inches of snow in the last couple of days. But it's not quite skiable, because the mud had gotten so rutted that you'd need a LOT of snow on top to have a nice ski surface. Anyway, mud puddles hidden under a thin layer of ice hidden under snow is NOT good! I put my feet through one today.

But here are some photos.

I caught my neighbor on his way back from his run with his huge-normous hugmonster team. They are so sweet and adorable. And HUGE! Their paws are almost the size of my whole hand.

Autumn and Linden running through the snow:

I was sitting there cuddling Millie when Autumn decided to go sit in the bunnies' pen. So funny!

Autumn and Linden in conversation:

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Friday, April 4, 2008

Catching up on Reportage

It's occurred to me that in my personal musings, I've been neglecting my silicon2tanana reportage, so here is some catchup.

Signs of Spring began to appear in early March, when the weather was still frigid. Giant horseflies began appearing in the house, but they were struggling and unable to fly, and promptly dropped dead. Where had they come from? Maybe they had frozen at the beginning of Winter and were thawing out now...

Then songbirds began appearing in the neighborhood, as well as rabbits and squirrels. Autumn thought it was great fun to chase them!

The campus reindeer herd are acting really cute, too, frolicking and binkying like happy bunnies!

Over the past week or so, we've had our first few days when temperatures came above freezing. It happened so quickly. Last week, I was still hoping for snow for the weekend, and this week it's patently obvious that Winter is WAY over. Snow has begun melting away, and in some places you can see grass underneath, grass that has been frozen all Winter. There hasn't been snow on the trees in a month or so, not counting that one morning, which Dan refers to as that "one last defiant act of Winter." And that promptly melted away that same day.

Our neighborhood is filled with mud. The (unpaved) roads themselves aren't too bad. There is quite a bit of clay and binder mixed into the roads, so while they are still sloppy, the water runs off them rather nicely. They also have lots of potholes, which I had forgotten about! Over the Winter, the potholes had filled with packed snow, and the roads kind of evened themselves out as people drove over them. Because it was snow packed with dirt, frozen solid, the surfaces were hard, but not slippery, and were very nice for walking/driving on. However, now that the thaw has come, we have mud and potholes. The trails and unmaintained roads are a whole different story, because they have no binder at all, and the soils are in their natural state. This means mud, mud, puddles, and mud.

It still gets below freezing at night, so this means that our morning runs are not so muddy (frozen mud is no problem), but it also means that puddles that have thawed during the daytime deceptively cover themselves with ice at night... perfect to stick your foot into and get a shoefull of mud!

And our snowman, he is melting by and by...

Thursday, April 3, 2008


I hope I earned a few karma points for walking away from this:

Not without staring at it longingly and replaying the image in my head over and over, but I did walk away!

And here we have another demonstration of why it is perfectly acceptable to approximate a husky as a sphere:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


'Twas the first day of springtime,
And the snowman stood alone
As the winter snows were melting,
And the pine trees seemed to groan,
"Ah, you poor sad smiling snowman,
You'll be melting by and by."
Said the snowman, "What a pity,
For I'd like to see July.
Yes, I'd like to see July, and please don't ask me why.
But I'd like to, yes I'd like to, oh I'd like to see July."

Chirped a robin, just arriving,
"Seasons come and seasons go,
And the greatest ice must crumble
When it's flowers' time to grow.
And as one thing is begining
So another thing must die,
And there's never been a snowman
Who has ever seen July.
No, they never see July, no matter how they try.
No, they never ever, never ever, never see July."

But the snowman sniffed his carrot nose
And said, "At least I'll try,"
And he bravely smiled his frosty smile
And blinked his coal-black eye.
And there he stood and faced the sun
A blazin' from the sky --
And I really cannot tell you
If he ever saw July.
Did he ever see July? You can guess as well as I
If he ever, if he never, if he ever saw July.

--Shel Silverstein

BTW, I am NOT moving to Barrow. That was an April Fools Day joke. That was Theodore Kaczynski's cabin in the photo! And no-one in their right minds will ever say, "I can't wait to move to Barrow!"

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


So here we have the two sisters lounging together:

They have matching smiles!

Autumn's look Linden's first night. "Who is that on my bed?"

Four round fuzzballs:

Here are these two neighborhood dogs who visit us when we are out running/walking/skiing on the trail. They used to be nice to visit, but lately this puppy has been following us. It's quite a nuisance because I always worry that she'll be hit by a car wandering the roads after us. She used to return to their home when the white dog barked after her, but lately she's been ignoring her "mom (I'm not sure if it's her biological mom)." Any suggestions? I've tried shouting at her to leave, but she won't. And my girls encourage her. It's actually really sweet, but I have to pretend not to be charmed. But they look after her, herding her away from the mean dogs in our neighborhood, waiting for her when she falls behind, etc, etc. But we are NOT keeping her! This morning Dan had to drive her back, because we just couldn't shake her off.

Linden running with her new pal!

Mama dog says, "Ayaaaaahhh!"

"Look, ma! We got us a puppy!"

Here is a photo from our snowy spring morning I had told you about:

Interesting news!

Well, I have some very interesting news to report...

I have decided to spend the next academic year doing fieldwork. And since I will be working in ice physics, we will spend that year in Barrow. We will be living in this UAF cabin:

They are moving it there just for us!

And Dan has a job lined up doing oil operations on the North Slope.

I will be taking cores of sea ice and measuring their structural strength. This will be the raw data that will form the basis of my later research.

But here's the best part.

Roads are quite terrible in Barrow, so my adviser suggested that we bring four dogs, for transport. Well, we've already got Autumn, who was trained a lead dog. So now we just need three big dumb ones to be pulling dogs. And of course, the most natural fit would be Autumn's siblings, who are being retired from serious pulling and have known and run with her their whole lives! We are getting them at one month intervals, so we have a chance to get to know them on a personal basis.

So here is the first of them. This is Linden!. She and Autumn were best buds before we adopted Autumn, so they were happy to see each other again!

Relaxing together...

Sitting up for treats!

Walking side by side. Gee, can you tell they used to pull together?

Pretty awesome, huh? I can't wait to move to Barrow!