Saturday, January 31, 2009

A photo from the farm

A scene from Autumn's and Linden's former home, taken last Summer:

I guess this explains why the girls are so good with not bothering the bunnies. They grew up with a unique understanding of the food chain. :)

By the way, that cat, Black, turned 19 last year.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Paw cookies

A friend made me these for Christmas. I'm late posting the photo.

Too bad the nails broke in shipping. But aren't they cute?

Compare. :)

My friend Carl's cat

This is Dog. She is not photogenic at all. She's actually a rather pretty cat, with beautiful green eyes and a heart-shaped face. She also has a sweet personality that doesn't show in photos. :)

HAHAHAHAHA. Bow at my feet, human minions. You are not worthy of me!

Dog comes from a long line of Alaskan cats. Like Autumn and Linden, she has a thick, double coat and is comfortable outside in Winter (though she lives mostly indoors).

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Firstly, a gold find.

Secondly, here is how to make ice cubes in Fairbanks:

Thirdly, here is a photo of Asia, a cosmetically-challenged dog whose mom is a colleague of Sam's parents. Sam's parents apparently keep her when her mom travels to conferences. Sam doesn't like her much.

Isn't she... something? She's sweet, though, and she is healthy with a shiny black coat. But isn't she something to look at! :D

Fourthly, here is what I did in my first SEM lab training session. It's hairs on the leg of a wasp. Cool, eh? I downsized the image by 50% before posting, so the scale bar is off by a factor of 2.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Year of the Ox!

And here is today's sunrise, which I photographed through the window:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another day, another weather

Today was overcast, as the storm that had been promising snow for several days finally came in. We had no fresh snow, though. We headed back to the hold neighborhood for another afternoon of skiing. The girls got to run loose the whole way, as I wanted to work on my upper body strength and push my way up the hills!

The sky is dark.

But the girls are still happy!

Here is the same ridge I took a photo of yesterday:

A portrait of Linden:

A portrait of Autumn:

Dan coming up the dark trail:

Brilliant sunset:

The cartons of the local eggs we buy are decorated by the farmers' children. Isn't it cute?

The eggs are a surprise assortment of white, brown, and green, and are delicious, with brilliant, creamy yellow yolks. Of course they are all varying sizes and shapes, and sometimes you get a double yolk. Store-bought eggs, with their efficient quality control and automatic scanning and packing, have lost a lot of charm for me.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A lovely afternoon in the old neighborhood

It was a lovely, sunny day. I needed sunglasses for the first time since last Summer.

A stand of birch in the forest. These are lovely in the Fall--splashes of brilliant yellow among the green--but this area is inaccessible when it's not Winter. It's all soggy, boggy mud.

Our shadows are still long. This is about 2 p.m:

Heading across the beaver pond:

Evidence that the wind that assaulted us on the river Thursday had evidently been whipping up the snow in this neighborhood as well:

Linden prancing up to the camera:

Autumn amusing herself by zipping around the pond:

The girls under an overhanging pine bough:

Time to go home! The girls take me home:

By the way, Autumn loves her Manmat harness. If I her put her in an X-back (like Linden wears), she puts her nose to the floor, stoops her shoulders, and looks very, very sad. But she likes that Manmat. :)

Lounging around the living room:

The beginnings of last night's dinner:

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Young and the Idealistic

So I've been to all three of my formal classes so far. The other students in Ice Physics are mostly in glaciology, and it looks like it's going to be enjoyable as the theory in it seems to be about my level. Sam's dad is in the class with me. The prof is his adviser. He is also on my committee.

Math Physics is just as I knew it would be, since I first started the course in Fall 2006. It's giving me a warm fuzzy to pick up where I left off, after having taken two detours away from this class: Dan's cancer treatments and trying to take the class from the math department. Both calamitous, though on different levels and in different ways!

I am also auditing a course called Sustainable Energy Systems, which looks like it's going to be very enjoyable and informative. It is, like Arctic Engineering, a very large class. However, unlike Arctic Engineering, it is not a requirement for anyone's degree, so most of the students are personally or professionally interested in the topic. There are also quite a few undergraduate students, most of whom I had never met. The prof asked us each to introduce ourselves and state why we were in the class. The reasons most of the students gave were poignant and optimistic. Quite a few were passionate about environmental conservation. One kid actually said, "Someone's got to put Big Oil out of business. It might as well be me!" Awwwwwww!

Recently, I have begun to believe that the next generation really might right a lot of wrongs and fix a lot of things wrong with the world. Things like racism, sexism, homophobia, and the destruction of ecosystems. I remember once at one of my first jobs out of college, I was tinkering about in the lab, building and messing with prototypes. I was saving aluminum shavings and rivet pins in a small box, and when I was done for the morning, I looked around for what to do with it. I asked an older colleague, who is an otherwise very nice man, where scrap went. He smiled and said to me, "Just throw it away! We always throw it away! Only you young kids worry about recycling and saving the earth!" That made me sad. But thinking about that incident today, it makes me optimistic. Why? Because if we only win the minds of young people, that will be enough. Like quantum mechanics and gay marriage, environmental conservation as a value will one day gain acceptance by attrition. The next generation will not struggle with whether these things are right or moral. They will just accept them as what is.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sunset on the Tanana

Sunset is at 4 p.m. now! And 9 a.m. is light enough to see by outside. Changes come quickly once they come.

Anyway, here is Autumn wagging her tail:

There was a wind today. Enough to make it cold enough for us to turn back earlier than planned. Here you can see the marks of the wind on the fresh snow:


Glowing over the river:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sweet Slumber

Look! It's the girls napping! I bet you never thought I'd post a photo of that!

The way I see it, I have three options for bloggage when I have nothing to report:
I can not post at all. I can post non-posts like "Hello everybody. I have nothing to say today. I'll write more later. Okay! Have a good day!" Or I can post photos of the girls napping. I think this is for the best, really. :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

And the wolf shall lay down with the wabbit...

By the way, these dogs happily and enthusiastically chase down, kill, and devour wild rodents and wabbits. They just know that ours are different. :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Back to normal...

... both weather-wise and school-wise. After two weeks of below -40 temps, we had a 5-day meltdown, losing most of our snow and converting many roads and walking paths to slick ice. Yesterday, the girls and I took a short walk along our neighborhood mushing trail, and found that there was still enough snow left to ski on! So I made plans to come back with skis today. Then we went to campus in attempt to photograph the ice sculptures before they were ruined by the warm weather. We were too late. :( for example, this is what this fella now looks like:

Sad, huh? A bunch of new sculptures went up over the past week, but none of them were photo-worthy after the warm weather had ruined them. I am especially disappointed in this one set of bears--they are sitting on their haunches, and the carvers had etched outlines of paw pads on their paws! But the paw pads are now gone. :(

And this is what the museum sculpture now looks like:

Now wouldn't that have been a lovely photo, with the sun setting behind it? Oh well.

Last night there were fireworks to celebrate Alaska's 50th anniversary of statehood. What a spectacular show they put on! It was much better than on New Year's eve. They got all those fancy, multi-colored, multi-tiered ones that lit up the sky. And what a perfect evening for fireworks! It was warm and clear, and Venus shone behind the fireworks. Here is a photo by Johnny Wagner of the News Miner:

Imagine my utter delight to wake up this morning to temperatures back below freezing, and almost an inch of snow, with more falling! I immediately scrapped my plan to take a turn around the neighborhood ski trail, and decided to head to our old neighborhood to take the girls for a good, long stretch of fun. I skied out, and we 'jored back. Along the way, we bumped into our former neighbor, who was out with his team of big ol' siberians and malamutes. I forgot the camera, though. :(

But here are the girls after we got back. Are they pooped!

Classes start this Thursday. What a short Winter break!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Look at this shocking photo that hit the media today depicting how terribly cold it is in Hudson, Wisconsin:

But I shouldn't laugh. I'm sure the weather there is actually far worse than we had here, because they have wind. I've seen photos from the Midwest during this cold snap, and they have sideways snow! I would find that intolerable, although they probably have healthier air quality!


Here is another napping permutation.

Here is a photo from the other day. Sam's wondering how Autumn got so tiny, and how she can hover in mid-air!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

We may get spared after all

So, it looks like we are being spared the mid-Winter meltdown I had feared. Temperatures are slightly above freezing now (32F/0C), but it will take more than that to melt our snow away, and thank goodness, that rain forecast has disappeared.

The unseasonable and sudden warm weather is both pleasant and a little unsettling. In the Bay Area, we call this "earthquake weather". I don't get the migraines or irritability that people sometimes attribute to Chinooks in Fairbanks or Santa Anas in California, and I certainly don't believe in the bad superstitions that often swirl around them. But all the same, I watch the mercury climb and I do wonder.

Raymond Chandler wrote of the Santa Anas in his short story "Red Wind": "Those hot dry winds that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen."

Here is a photo of the Tanana today:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hello Midwest. I feel your pain.

Shocking cold wave drops temps to 40 below zero.

Well all I can say is, a truck overturned and spilled 43,000 pounds of cheese? Wow. If this were near me, I'd be happy to help with the cleanup effort!

Yay playing outside again!

Warmer weather has finally come, and, mercifully, a threatened rain forecast has disappeared from my weather page. RAIN FORECAST? WTF? Yes, yesterday's yahoo weather page showed rain for Thursday, and I nearly crapped in my pants. I think I prefer -40 to Winter rain (which would melt away all our snow and cover the roads with ice, which would be very bad!).

Anyway, thanks to that threatened rain, I played hooky this morning and took the girls skiing in what I thought might be our last opportunity for a while. I even convinced Sam's parents to do the same, so Sam could have some fun with us. Yay! Poor Sam had been inactive even longer than we had. The girls' and my cutoff for going outside is high -30s F or mid -30s C. Sam's is about -10F or -23C. Because she's a relatively sedentary lab (instead of an active husky), she has no fur in between her toes to insulate them, nor callouses on her paw pads, nor fur on her belly. Her belly is nekkid and pink!

Monday, January 12, 2009


It was -20F/-29C this morning when the girls and I headed out for a run. And it felt gooooood.

Temps are supposed to continue to rise this week, thanks to a Chinook.

Thanks, weather gods! But try to keep it below freezing, okay? We'd like our snow to remain snow.

The Bay Area is also anticipating unusually warm weather. I find it astonishing that our thermometers go up and down at the same time!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Photos of the fuzzies

Here is Millie coming out for her nightly visit with the girls:

The bunnies and dogs can peacefully coexist as long as the bunnies remain on the floor. If I pick one up, they turn for the dogs from roommates into snacks.

Sitting pretty:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Warming up... gradually

So, temps look to be in the -30s F today, as our recent cold snap releases its grip from our collective throat. Thursday, I walked across campus to borrow some stuff from the friends in the physics building, and realized that I didn't have to cover my face. So Friday morning, I took the girls for a brief run, and felt comfortably warm, and the girls ran on on four paws, instead of three at a time, while keeping one warmly tucked against their bellies.

On my way into campus today, I saw an oddly familiar sight that I hadn't seen in a while--a packed tour bus. Evidently, Fairbanks is a big tourist destination for the Japanese in Winter, particularly for honeymooners. I think they believe it is good luck to conceive a baby under the Northern Lights. Well, this luck will be stingy givin' for a few years, as the solar cycle is at its minimum, and the Northern Lights will be infrequent and less spectacular. I read some tourist literature that informed its readers that if one stays in Fairbanks for 3 nights, he would have a 70% chance of seeing the Northern Lights. I hope no one books a flight based on this misinformation! I have only seen the Northern Lights about 5 times this Winter so far.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Otter disapproval

Stand up and be counted!

The London Zoo is doing its annual census. :)

A few other cute shots in the series here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Behbeh Moosyness!

"Hello. I'm a moose. Who are you?"

"I'm still learning how to use my gangly legs. Sometimes I list."

"I got snow on my nose."

"I'd better get back to my mama. Later."

Full disclosure: The raised hair on his hump generally means he is angry, so watch out and get away as fast as you can! But in this case, I was in my car and had obviously already startled him, and he wasn't making any aggressive moves, and his mama was in plain sight and I could see that she obviously wasn't disturbed at all, so I felt secure in snapping a few photos from my window.