Sunday, May 31, 2009

The best cheeseburgers in the world

One of the greatest pleasures in not being a vegaquarian any more is the cheeseburger. All hail the cheeseburger. America still can't quite compete with France or Italy or Hong Kong for food, but we gave the world cheeseburgers and peanut butter, and for that, my stomach and I are eternally patriotic.

There are a lot of good cheeseburgers in Fairbanks. My two favorites are the Ivory Burger at Ivory Jack's, and the Carlburger, which my friend Carl makes whenever we have a cookout. He puts feta and cinnamon in them. Mmmmm.

But the best cheeseburger of my acquaintance is at Alice's Restaurant, on Skyline Boulevard and Woodside Road (highway 84). Sweet jeebus, do they make a good cheeseburger! And they also have several local beers on tap and proximity to San Gregorio State Beach, the most beautiful beach in California. Have you ever been to Alice's? If not, then you should go!

And that is today's post. An ode to the cheeseburger, in prose.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ester Dome, again and again

Almost all of the snow is gone from the top now, save for one nice patch that the dogs got to enjoy. The weather is still hot (mid 80s F), so it was nice to get them in the snow! I kidnapped our friends' dog, Sam, since her mom is in Montana preparing for her wedding, and her dad planned a "male bonding" canoe float with Dan. I said to them, Sam's a girl. She's coming hiking with us!

The hillside:


The trail is pretty much dry now:

A nice stand of birch:

Views across the valley:

We need to rest again! In the Summer, Sam is the strongest of the four of us.

Some straggly trees:


"Ohhh snow! I loff you soooo much!"

Sam loooooves snow!

"Ahhhhh, yessssss!"

Autumn is much more dignified in her enjoyment:


You have a choice of views from the top, 180 degrees apart from each other. Here is the view to Murphy Dome:

And here is the view to town:

While I eat, I have veeeerrry close company:

And here we have last night's dinner--king crab legs and salad. Yum!

"Yes, we are cute."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Misc Photos

Today feels tropical. It's warm (high 70s to low 80s F) and a bit muggy, as clouds are gathering overhead and threatening a Summer storm. I've transplanted my seedlings and am waiting to see if I get free water to water them.

Here is a view to the outhouse today:

Contrast with a Winter shot:

Here are another neighbor's dogs. This family lives three doors up the street, two doors up from Mike and his dogs.

This is Houdini. He is a big, sweet, sappy guy. You pet him, and he melts into a puddle on the floor and puts his paw on your arm to encourage you to pet him some more.

I don't remember this one's name, but she is shy and reserved. She does a great "woe is me" look, as quite a few huskies do.

Oh, here is a story about a guy who feeds wild bears, with photos. You should check them out. I think his heart is in the right place, but unfortunately, his brain is not. Cute photos, though.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A plethora of cheap seafood

Now that we are getting close to this Summer's boon of seafood, the stuff that's been in the freezer since last year is on deep discount at the supermarket. Half-price king crab legs, salmon, and halibut! It's wonderful.

Food here is expensive in general (although, being California-raised, I tend to be less affected by sticker shock on food or housing prices), especially produce. But the shipping times up here are so long that often produce arrives at the peak of ripeness, and so it must be sold immediately and so goes on sale at deep discount. I've gotten grapefruit at 3 for a dollar, avocados at $1.50 each, oranges for $.70 a pound, pineapples for $3 each, and giant globe artichokes for $2 a piece. The result is that I go shopping for produce quite frequently (since I seldom get anything underripe), and never know what I'm going to get when I go. It's like the Fairbanks supermarket equivalent of the CSA box.

Another funny result of this is that when I eat lunch with friends, we all find that we have similar things. Does your sandwich have spinach instead of lettuce in it? Oh, mine too! Got that cheap spinach, eh? So you have Granny Smith apples this week? Oh yeah, me too!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Some sweet dogs who aren't mine

First we have Miley, winner of the 27th Annual National Hero Dog Award. He saved the lives of his humans, Arkansans Stacie Pitts and Randy Childers, by repeatedly rousing them from sleep when the house was overcome with carbon monoxide fumes. Doesn't he look sweet? His expression and mannerism looks like those of Alaskan huskies. :)

Here we have a ginormous malamute who was on the Chena at the same time we were last Sunday. And then his family and we stopped at the Pump House for beers and deep-fried things at the same time, and I got to meet him! Isn't he sweet? He is the same size as I am!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Avocado and shrimp salad

Alaskan shrimp are amazing--light and buttery, and the same color (pink) raw as when cooked.

Here are the girls lounging around:

Here are the doofi lounging around:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Glory Be!

Studded running shoes, folks. They are studded running shoes.

How wonderful! I can't wait 'till October to try them out!

Oh, and here is some other awesomeness.

Behbeh Rhino

Here is Ema with her four-day-old behbeh at the Chester zoo in England.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ester Dome today

The drive up:

It's a nice view from the top:

There is still a bit of snow on the North side.

If I walk carefully, I can mostly manage to stay on top. But sometimes a foot just breaks through, and down I go.

The girls are so happy:

The mountains in the distance:

The north side of the hill still looks like Winter:

There is an outcropping of rocks on top:

A lot of the shards of rock are shiny, impregnated with metal:

Autumn on the lookout:

Here is this trail on the north side of the dome. It's quite steep, with very few switchbacks.

Here are photos on Ester dome in the Summer and in the Fall. It's stunning in the Fall, isn't it?

In other news, we tried a new Cuban restaurant last night that had recently opened in the location of a pizza place that we had used to frequent. The food was surprisingly good, and between the music and the lilting Spanish accent of our waitress, the place really did a good job of creating a unique cultural environment. I haven't spent much time in Latin America, but to me, these things remind me of home in California, since there are so many Latin American immigrants there.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Behbeh musk oxen and behbeh caribou

I must go visit them.

You must visit their website and click on the thumbnails of the behbeh musk oxen. They are crazy cute!

Here is one named Jalapeno:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Final grades

I got an A in math and a B in ice physics. I had a feeling I wasn't doing so hot in ice physics. I averaged about 75-80% on the homework assignments, which would be very high in most physics classes, but... taking a glaciology class where three quarters of the students are glaciologists... yeah, not so good for the self-esteem there.

And now that I am all done with coursework I can say that my GPA from UAF is 3.42. That's not too shabby. I have never gotten very good grades--I was a B student in high school and a C student in my undergrad years. When I did my master's, I finally earned an A/B average, still below most of the smarty-pants people in the Silicon Valley, but I was pleased. And I'm glad I've maintained acceptable grades at UAF.

Besides, I've taken a wider breadth of courses than most people have. I am an engineer by calling and by trade, but I have taken English literature courses with English majors, math courses with mathematicians, graduate level physics with physicists, and now glaciology with glaciologists. I perform near the bottom of some of my classes, but I learn a lot of interesting things and pull off okay grades in the end. I have no regrets about the way I've chosen my educational path, though it gets hard on me sometimes. It's not easy always being the person with the least educational background in all of your classes. There have been days where I've felt just plain stupid. Concepts that are "obvious" or "intuitive" to people that have long been in the same field are not so to people on the outside just now looking in.

And sometimes, I honestly feel that I have out-performed my own natural intelligence, which is quite limited. I have never been one of the "smart kids" in school or one of the "smart people" at work, but I work hard enough and am determined enough (and masochistic enough) to place myself among them. So yes, I have to honestly say that I am one of the least smart people I know, but that that is not a bad thing because I've worked very hard to place myself above where my own limited intelligence would otherwise have placed me. And that's damned cool, thankyouverymuch!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

As the rain goes away...

A light summer storm is on its way out. The trees are budding:

A view to Chena Ridge:

The Alaska Range in the distance:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Th-th-th-that's all, folks!

For me with classes, anyway. My adviser has informed me that he'd like for me to stop taking barely-relevant classes for my personal amusement and focus entirely on my research. So no more postings about exams, homework, projects, or course-related triumphs or failures.

We attempted to start Summer with a nice long canoe float down the swollen Chena River. Here was the planned route:

But as soon as we got into downtown Fairbanks, our friends hit an eddy line, Sam sprung out from the canoe, and they tipped over and dumped into the water. So, rather than continue the trip with them soaking wet and hypothermic, we called a cab for a ride to our shuttle car, which we'd left at the Pump House, and ended the day. Sam's parents were shocked to have dumped their canoe, which they'd had for years and used on miles of trips, for the first time in the relatively gentle Chena. I was shocked that they were shocked. I thought to myself, so that's what it's like to be coordinated. You are shocked when you do something clumsy, instead of accepting it as part of your daily life, as I do! Haha!

Here are the girls looking bored:

"Oh are you taking our photo? Okay, I'll pose and look cute."