Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Our guesses are in!

We've put in our guesses for the Nenana Ice Classic!

I put in 6th May, 2:11 p.m.

Dan put in 2nd May, 1:18 a.m.

The ice is unlikely to go out at night (although last year it did!), but when it does, the number of winners is very low. Last year, the ice went out close to midnight, and a single ticket won the entire pot. It's over $300,000. Not bad.

At the last measurement, on the 25th of March, the ice was 42.75 inches thick.

If I had my druthers, I'd ruther the river stayed frozen and covered with snow as long as possible. We've had some awesome skiing and skijoring on it!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ordinary errands are different in Fairbanks

My errands on Saturday and how they went:

1) Let dogs drag me up and down a frozen river. Fun! Dogs got appropriately tired so they'd sleep the rest of the day and let me work in peace without sticking their noses in my face. :)

2) Went to Alaska Feed for a bag of dog food, a gallon of honey, and a gallon of milk. Found that I had just missed, by twenty minutes, a customer who had come in with a day-old baby yak. WAAAAAAAHHHH!!! I would have wanted to meet the baby yak! This had me bummed all afternoon. Baby yak! And I missed it!

3) Went downtown on another errand. I strongly dislike, and rarely go, downtown. In the one block I had to walk in between my car and the building, I was accosted by three derelicts. Charming.

4) Went to Freddie's to pick up some groceries. On the way out, the light got stuck in its cycle, as it frequently does, so it never turned green for us. We all had to turn right against the red light. Half of us, of course, were headed in the opposite direction to where we wanted to go. I looped around University Avenue to find a moose clomping down the sidewalk, likely on her way in between the Chena river and the University campus. Clomp, clomp, clomp. She loped politely and unhurredly up the sidewalk as people smiled at her. Totally cute! My first sighting of a hip, urban, streetwise moose! :)

By the way, after multiple sightings I can now give you a fairly accurate census of the moose population in my own neighborhood:
*1 mama with twins
*2 mamas with one calf each
*2 childless gals who hang out together
*1 lone gal who hangs out alone, or maybe this one is a small bull

Friday, March 27, 2009

In which the girls aid my research

We skijored out to my snow collection site, and then I unhooked the girls and figured they would run around and play for a while. I was concentrating on getting good samples and wasn't paying any attention to them. Then I happened to glance over my shoulder, and saw this:



My kid's sled worked like a charm for hauling home my snow. I tied it to my backpack and dragged it behind me.

While ahead of me the motors ran:

Are they pooped!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Photos of the fuzzbuckets

Linden sleeping in her Superdog position. Notice her impressive toehawks. They'll fall out in the next month or so, and we won't see them again until next Winter.

Mr. B. actually looking cute, for a rare occasion.

Autumn snoozing peacefully.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mother Nature cooperates with my research

I finally got some samples of coarse-grained snow, which I hadn't been able to find since December. All that had been available was the fine, fluffy stuff, and I need to test both. I finally found my magic spot on the Tanana this morning, a few miles downstream from where I get on the river. I filled the two tupperware containers I had with me, which should be good enough to keep me amused today and tomorrow. By Friday I will have purchased a cheap plastic sled from Freddie's, and I will load it with tupperware and tow it down the river, with the girls' help, and get enough samples of all kinds of snow to last me through the end of this Summer. Yay!

Here is a photo of Mr. Grumphus Bumfus Bunn B. Doofus, Esq., giving the girls a dirty look.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring comes to Fairbanks

This does not mean that the snow is melting away, nor that we are putting in gardens, nor that we see anything green growing whatsoever. What it means is that:

1. We have plenty of sun.

2. The delta between night and daytime temperatures is more than 10 F degrees or 6 C degrees.

3. Skiing is fun again (the snow is slippery instead of sandy).

I am down to running only two mornings a week now, and skiing and/or skijoring the other five. The girls are crazy strong! When I run with them on their leashes, they come close to pulling my arm out of its socket! I've also been skijoring with a friend. It's the first time I've split the two girls up to 'jor, so it's been interesting. I've found that Autumn must lead. She hates to be behind anyone. So whoever has Autumn goes first, and whoever has Linden goes politely behind. Sometimes when the trail is wide, we 'jor side by side, and the girls take the same positions they do when they pull me in tandem--Autumn on the left, Linden on the right, Autumn just a head's length ahead. It works better when I have Autumn and we lead, because Autumn doesn't like it when Linden and I fall too far behind. She will stop abruptly, and my friend will crash into her.

In other news, Mount Redoubt is still grumbling. Flights into and out of Anchorage were grounded yesterday due to the amount of ash in the air. What an ash-hole!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mount Redoubt goes kaboom

People in the Anchorage area are being warned about the health hazards of breathing falling ash.

Awesome photos here

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Grilled pears

Over a decade ago at a restaurant in Berkeley, I enjoyed a salad topped with grilled pears and prosciutto-wrapped prawns. I've incorporated the prawns (wrapped in a tiny piece of prosciutto each, then skewered and grilled) into my meals many times since then, but only just the other day got around to the grilled pears. I served them with Lamb Chopper cheese and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Here we have a slightly overcooked leek quiche. The leek had been languishing in the produce drawer of the fridge since before we went to California for the wedding.

Rounded out by a simple salad with crunchy greens.

Here we have the girls lounging around the living room.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Linden is a happy girl

Happy Equinox!

We will now beat you lower 48 folks for daylight hours, although not, as previously noted, for warmth!

And now, in utterly unrelated irrelevant news, here is an article with photos of an undersea volcano currently erupting near Tonga. You must go look. The photos are spectacular.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Don't try this at home

Nude hiking in the Swiss alps

Somehow I don't think this would fly once temperatures dipped below -5C. :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Photos from the Sili Valley

Our whirlwind trip was nice. The wedding was really lovely. We saw family, old friends, and new friends. And there is not much else to say. Here are photos (content limited out of respect for others' privacy).

Spring has already come to the Sili Valley:

This is my sister's cat:

My sister already gets lots of fruit from the Mountain View Farmer's Market, including several kinds of oranges in jewel colors:

Here is the Alaska range from my flight in this morning:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Photos from the Ice Park

Here are the official photos of the multi block winner. And you can see why! You can't even see the beautiful detail in the photos. And that one wolf balanced on one paw! Crazy!

I liked this one, too. Sea turtles! Some of those carvers said they got their start at the California Culinary Academy. Cool!

This is the winner of the single block.

I liked this caterpillar best.

Here I am in the tunnel!

And on the giant slides!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Photos from skiing in the old 'hood

I cannot believe how pretty and dainty our silly goober Linden can look in photos:

An overcast day:

The girls sitting pretty while we pause:

When Dan swaps his gloves to the ones in his pockets, the girls stop and wonder, is there a treat for us in there?

This is how Linden usually sits--on one butt cheek, wearing a big goofy smile.

Our shadows are getting shorter.

Posting will be sparse, if at all, for the next week as we go to the Sili Valley for a wedding. The girls will be staying with their good friend Sam. I wonder if babysitting Sam and babysitting our girls is a fair trade. When we babysit Sam, she is polite outside, will walk safely and calmly without a leash, and will not tug on her leash while she is on one. On the other hand, she roots through the trash, and puts her paws on the counters and table and helps herself to whatever she finds there. When Sam's parents babysit our girls, they cannot be off-leash outside, ever, because they won't stay with anyone but me. And they have horrible leash manners. But inside, they can be trusted completely.

The biggest upside, in both situations, is that they get to hang out with their best bud(s)!

Cross your fingers for me that I don't get sick! I think we have weakened immune systems up here since we are exposed to so few germs. Almost every time someone I know goes Outside, they return with a cold. Granted, people often get sick from airplanes and airports, but it doesn't happen so often and so reliably to Sili Valley residents. I think we develop strong immune systems in the Sili Valley as we are constantly exposed to travelers and immigrants, who carry a lovely variety of bugs to keep our immune systems in tip-top shape!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Dogs lounging around the living room

They're finally figuring out how to share the new Big Scary Bed, too!

Friday, March 6, 2009


And down came over a foot of snow in a time span of two hours. This brings our snowfall for the year back to normal levels. Yay!

It was still snowing when I got home, so I snapped a few photos in the front yard. Here is one:

I attempted to go skiing this morning, but it did not work at all. I sunk to my thighs, and my skis became digging tools rather than gliding tools. At one point I did a face plant, and it took me several minutes to stand up. HAHA

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Murray Gell-Mann comes to Fairbanks

I breathed the same air as Murray Gell-Mann!

And then this morning as I arrived in my first class I found that I had put my shirt on backwards. I've got to be more careful about which parts of being a physicist I adopt, and which I don't!

Anyway, tomorrow he's coming to the physics department! I'll get to shake his hand! Maybe he'll even eat pizza with us! Omigod! *squeal* !!1!!!1!!!!!!!1oneone!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The purpose of an outing on the river

According to Autumn:
* Watch your human and go to her if she falls down.
* Forage for edible things, and eat them.
* If harnessed and hooked to your human, pick out the trail, and run just quickly enough so that it looks like you're pulling, but not really. Your sister can do all the pulling.

According to Linden:
* Forage for things that fit in your mouth, and eat them.
* If harnessed and hooked to your human, pull and follow your sister.
* Wheeeeeeeeee!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Yay for ice sculptures!

We're going to go check them out this weekend!

I do wonder why anyone would carve a bear, though. There are already some half dozen ice bears on campus!