Thursday, May 29, 2008

Spring Evening Photos

This is the moment of my commute that takes my breath away:

This is nice, too. I cannot believe I live here!

Here are the girls doing the Dance of Joy when I get home. For them, this consists of running circles around the yard:

Sizing up the neighbor's beagle:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sled dogs on a boat

K was nice enough to send these photos from last weekend.

Autumn and Linden are both uncomfortable when they don't have traction, so they weren't thrilled about getting into this plastic boat, but after they were in, they quite enjoyed the ride.

Autumn's goofy face:

Wile E. Autumn:

I guess this is something of a seasonal marker

Last night was the first night we didn't turn on any lights in the house. And I was reading by the window until 11 p.m.

In other news, the natural gas pipeline looks likely.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Documenting Greenup

Spring here is comprised of two distinct periods, breakup and greenup. Both are sudden and startling!

Here is the road at the top of the hill at the beginning of March:

And here it is today:

Here is the view to Quist Farm:

And here you can see how grass can make a muddy road passable again:

And here are the girls doing what they do second best:

For some reason, when they sleep with their paws upturned like that, I always want to grab them and squeeeeeeeeze them.

Awwww... brand-new moose!


And guess what else I learned today?

That crazy ice sculpture on the Steese Highway has a webcam.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Remaining ice chunks along the river:

First real summer meal: grilled squash and peppers, pasta with homemade pesto, fresh mozzarella, and tomato slices:

Behbeh musk ox with his mama:

He's shy:


Got my TA evaluations back. I guess they still think I did a good job, even the one lab that I thought I struggled with because it took place immediately after setup, when I wasn't sure whether the equipment was working, and I hadn't had a lecture prepared. Those poor kids got this treatment every week, for an entire semester, and they still thought I did well for them. Aw. How humbling. Here is my favorite. Apparently the person who compiles evaluations saw fit to staple this one on top of the stack:


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cooling rain...

... and notes from here and there...

Last night I went to bed early, promising the girls a long run this morning, getting up early to beat the heat (45F is hot for us... don't laugh!). This morning woke up to rain and of course mud! So we slogged through the mud...

Several other bits of silicon2tanana reportage that I had neglected to mention... Summertime is construction time, and the highway becomes one lane as they work on the other one. The wait can be as long as 20 minutes, if the highway is a low-priority one. We live off the highway that goes to Anchorage, so the city takes good care of us and the wait is only about five minutes. In the Winter, our highway is plowed almost immediately after any snow. I've been reluctant to switch my commute to take the other route along the river, because the campus exit from the highway brings me right by the reindeer, and I need to check every day if there are more behbehs!

I also need to post some photos I took a few weeks ago, of the river shortly after breakup, which is fast once it starts! It was a warm day, and I was in a T-shirt and shorts, standing by the river enjoying the intense sun on my skin. Imagine my surprise to see chunks of ice on the sand! Such cognitive dissonance.

And finally... did you know that an out of print book that had a list price of $145 can be sold for between $1800 and $4000? Oh yes, it can. If you were the publisher, wouldn't you just re-issue the darned thing? Geeze. As for me, I'll snap up the library's copy as soon as it is returned and save my two thousand dollars for something else, thanks!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Apparently, this is a new addition to campus. I've got to take a walk up there and check it out. I have some books I need to return to the IARC library anyway. They are apparently building a whole bunch of new of stuff on West Ridge, though I'm not sure exactly what. I do know that plans include a new experimental forest, to include representatives of trees throughout the entire circumpolar region. How cool. I am much amused by the experimental forest near my home. Autumn and I stumbled into it when we were out skiing. It was all normal vegetation, and then suddenly a square plot of all black spruce, then a square plot of all white spruce, then a square plot of all birch, etc. Pretty funny, out in the middle of nowhere.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Well, it's official

My paperwork came through today. I am now an Interdisciplinary Studies PhD student, and my degree will be in "Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics." Pretty cool, no?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

In Which the Girls Beg for Reese's Pieces

"What's Papa got there?"

"If I can just..."

"It looks so exciting!"

"The excitement is too much!"

"Don't let him resist our cuteness!"

Hahaha, actually these photos are completely staged. The girls neither beg at the table, nor enjoy sweets. They are real dog's dogs, and only eat dog food and meat. Dan actually had a cup of dog kibble there to get these shots. :)

Friday, May 16, 2008


Is this possible? In San Francisco? In May? Is the world coming to an end?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Grades, and other stuff

It is apparently 80F in San Francisco right now, but San Francisco heat is better than Sili Valley heat, because there is an ocean breeze and less pollution. It's probably a great day for tourists! Flip-flopping around in flip-flops and shorts, which tourists love to do but can so rarely do in San Francisco. Tourists have begun to arrive in throngs here, as well. They wander around campus and take photos of the views. I've been pleased to point out my friends the new baby caribou to several of them, who were all as delighted as I was to see them.

I must confess I am a bit baffled as to why Fairbanks is such a popular tourist destination. I mean, I love it here, but I'm not sure why anyone would choose it as a vacation spot, because it's sort of boring for a tourist. I mean, you know how sometimes people say "that was a great vacation, but I wouldn't want to live there"? That's because vacations should be exciting, but homes should be comfortable. Fairbanks is a warm-hearted, slow-paced, sleepy city, which is why it is comfortable to live here, but why would anyone visit as a tourist? I'm not even sure what they do... I know they go to the salmon bake (but you can do that in Anchorage). Hunting and fishing are great here, but I don't think nonresidents can even get a dip-netting license, and anyway most of them don't do that. I just see them wandering around campus and riding around in buses. What on earth do they do? I have a friend who has a summer job giving talks about the aurora. But the tourists can't even see the aurora, since it doesn't get dark in Summer! The talk would be just as effective in the lower 48! I just don't get it.

In other news, I apparently got a B in Statistical Mechanics. I averaged under 30% in my homeworks and exams, so I'm not sure how I slid by that one. The class only had three people, so it's not like the prof could curve it. The prof and I have a good relationship because I was his TA, and I also think he felt sorry for me because TA-ing his class is a heavier workload than most. So I went to talk to him to make sure I hadn't gotten any pity points. He said no, no, don't be silly. You learned a lot, blahblah. So I said to myself, why look a gift horse in the mouth? I got a B in stat mech! Not too shabby.

Oh, and I got a B+ in Nonlinear Dynamics, and an A in undergrad E&M. I'm not actually sure why I care, since this is the end of the academic line for me, and I won't be applying for admission anywhere else using these grades, and I certainly hope that at this stage in my career, no one will ask what my GPA was. But it'd still be nice to maintain a good average.

And finally, here is what I will be taking in the Fall:
Arctic Engineering
Grad Level Electrodynamics
Theory of Elastic Stability (courtesy of the civil engineering department)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lots of photos

I just started my new research position yesterday, so I suppose I should talk about that, but truth be told, while it's very nice and I like it a lot so far, it's not nearly as much fun to talk about as everything else. So here are photos.

I got the cutest photos of these little dudes the other day! They are getting big! Still only two behbeh reindeer so far...

"Yeah, I'm cute. Wanna make somethin' of it?"
Why, yes, actually. I'd like to kiss and smoosh your nose and bury my nose in your neck fur, if I might.

All of the reindeer run up to visitors and follow them right and left. Even when I have the dogs with me. I wonder if a lot of people give them handouts.

Two funny bumper stickers in the Natural Sciences building parking lot:

And now some photos from across the street from my building...

Blue sky and puffy white clouds:

The Alaska Range. They say that there are optical effects at this latitude that make the Alaska Range appear taller some days, and shorter others. I haven't noticed. But I do love to see it, white and majestic, hanging in the background of the city.

Looking Southwest is Chena Ridge. We live on the other side of Chena Ridge.

And here we have the state bird. The mercy about these mofos is is that they are slow and dumb. I can kill them by swiping them out of the air with my bare hands, without my glasses on.

I had just chosen and resized all of these photos to post, but then recalled that I have a few readers who only read this blog for my dogs, so I snapped these photos of them just now.

Linden cleaning her paws. Both girls had a bit of BO when they first arrived, but they don't at all now. In fact, I can bury my nose in their fur, and they don't stink at all. Linden in particular spends a lot of time cleaning herself. Hey it looks like I got the doofi in this shot as well!

And here is Autumn lounging around. Difficult to believe that she loves to run like the wind, but only half an hour ago, she was racing around the yard, so fast you'd miss her if you blinked.


I will not be in the Sili Valley for this!

Just bright blue sky, puffy white clouds, and a comfortable high 60s F.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Fairbanks isolation

Living in Fairbanks, it is easy to stick your head in the sand and not realize what is going on in the rest of the world. For the most part, people are kind, and living is gentle, if not easy. My grad student salary during the school year is a quarter my sili valley salary, and I get by okay without even really having a tough budget. We still eat well, we live in a nice cabin, and the animals eat well. And people here are so kind you forget that the rest of the world can be damned harsh. For example, I was out walking the dogs the other day and decided that since it had been so warm the prior few days, some of the mud might have dried off our favorite trail. We went, and it hadn't. In fact, there was a truck stuck in the mud there, surrounded by all the accoutrements of their having attempted to free themselves--wooden boards, shovels, poured gravel, etc. But apparently they had given up and left. I turned back, not wanting to get my boots and the dogs all muddy, and there at the trailhead was an idling truck, with a young couple inside who had been watching me walk out and who had evidently been waiting for me. The woman opened her window and asked if that was my truck stuck there. The two of them had been all prepared to help me dig it out! No, it wasn't, but what nice people. Things like this happen all the time around here. I pull over to look at a map, and someone pulls up behind me to make sure my car is okay. Living here, you are surrounded by natural beauty and human kindness, and it's easy to forget that our world is still a really tough place to be.

Sadly and tellingly, the local rag doesn't even mention any such things. To them, the headlines are local only. (Although, to their credit, we never have celebrity trash on the headlines, either!)

Methinks a letter to the editor is in order. Surely some of those people living in those beautiful big houses overlooking the river can spare a few dollars to a worthy charity.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Spring has Sprung!

Budding trees:

Iridescent blue sky:

The yard today:


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Welcome back, Turds!

Guess what we have now? Robins! What a friendly presence!

Same robins I've seen around my whole life. Same robins I fed bread crumbs to when I was a wee girl.

I never knew before that they migrated to Alaska, though. Nor that their Latin name was Turdus migratorius.

Friday, May 9, 2008

All done with year one!

That's my last final exam, and now I am off to Hot Licks for a hot fudge sundae!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The ice went out!

The ice went out, and we put three guesses on last week. Oh well. :)

It went out at 10:53 pm, too! I wonder how many people actually pick times at night! I guess the lucky bastards this year will split the pot with WAY fewer people!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Linden Ree-laxing

Apparently, being a napping expert runs in the family.

Approximation of a husky as a sphere, generalized:


The retired life:

Linden has the same cute profile as her sister: