Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

We will be watching fireworks tonight from campus. There will be a full moon. I bet some nice photos will come out of it--the full moon with fireworks against the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, the Merlion, the Golden Gate Bridge, etc, etc.

Here is a photo of the moon from the top of my driveway last night. I knew I'd miss it if I waited a few minutes longer, so I stopped as I was pulling into the driveway, opened my window, and took the photo right then and there. I edited out the power lines, but this is the only time I've done that. The rest of my photos have been only cropped. :)

Here is a photo of the same moon, taken from Kotzebue by blogger Cathy. It looks like another planet, doesn't it?

Here is a photo of the girls being warm and fuzzy. And smiling!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Collected snow samples for the first time this season this morning.

Note to self: When you need to preserve snow samples, you can't heat the car. When you drive in an unheated car, you need to wear more clothes. Don't you remember from last year?

Anyway, here is an image for your amusement. I don't know who took it, but it's floating 'round the internet.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Time for me to be smug

"A strong inversion is developing over Fairbanks again, with a 20-degree temperature differential over an elevation gain of 300 feet..."

I live at about 700 feet, and the town is about 400, so I'll be about 20 F degrees warmer than town. Ner, ner, ner.

As long as we're on the topic, the Tanana River, leaving Fairbanks, flows another 100-150 some odd miles before it hits the Yukon, which then travels another 1000 or so miles before hitting the ocean. All that over an elevation drop of just 400 feet. Isn't that amazing?

And... behbeh elephant cuddling his human caretaker! Ahhhh!!! I want to cuddle one!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Views down the hill, and Christmas at Sam's house

I'm really glad my land faces south. I have beautiful views, even while doing distasteful chores. Such as carrying firewood up the hill. Manually. By myself. Since a certain silly goober of a dog hurt her shoulder bouncing around in the woods at much faster than is prudent after a fresh snow.

This is the sun at around 1 p.m. There's just a bit, but on my hill I get all that there is.

Moving westward, and now peeking from behind my outhouse:

"I'm a goober. I hurt myself, and now my mama has to haul the firewood herself."

"Woe is me. I'm not sure why I look depressed, but I always do when I am indoors."

"I get all the veggies now, and nobody humps me. Life is good."

Huskyballs come in four sizes. I have one small and one medium.

Here are some photos from Christmas at Sam's house.

"We'll pose nicely for you... but... we think..."

"... we smell something from over there..."


"Where do we line up?"

"Our best side"

"Let's maul Uncle Dan!"

Dave and Agatha's oven. It's the latch I love.

A closeup of the dial for you. Dave informed me that his sharpie marks had rubbed off and that the dial is due to be renumbered.

"Oooohhhh... are we full!"

This is Sam's cat, Berenices:

Berenices is very shy. Although I'm at Sam's house pretty frequently, I only see Berenices maybe twice a year. I once had forgotten she existed when she came sauntering in the room. I jumped up. "Whoa! A cat!"

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Notes from here and there

So I just now mailed Christmas cards from the Ester Post Office, where our friendly neighborhood postal clerks helped me sort through my thirty some odd cards to three different countries, and four different types of stamps in various obsolete amounts of postage. Christmas cards are on time if they are postmarked before Christmas, right? Merry Christmas, all!

And, a bit of good news for Bay Area bibliophiles... Black Oak books has reopened!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


So, I just barely finished coursework. Literally finished my final project an hour before grades were due to the registrar, giving my professor/adviser an hour to grade it. Bless his heart, he took this all in stride. I know that grad students are infamous for procrastinating, but I'm not generally of this sort, and cutting it this short is a record for me!

This morning, I checked and found he had given me an A-. I don't think I deserved above a B, but I'll bow to his superior judgment. :)

So now it's four straight days of skiing for me! Yay! Then back to the grind of research. There are a few interesting things to do, that I'd put on hold for my trip to meet my niece, conference travel, and coursework, so it'll be good to get back to it.

And it's another year! I can still remember when I was a kid, calculating how old I would be in 2000! And now it's been ten years since then!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One thing about the short days...

... is that you can always feel virtuous, being up before sunrise. Also, they were playing the Nutcracker score on the radio this morning, and it is really a magical experience, to be driving into the sunrise during a soaring Tchaikovsky waltz.

And that is all I have to say for today.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Solstice!

The days will start getting longer from here! Pretty soon, I'll be sneaking in evenings of skiing after work!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


When I stepped outside for the first time this morning, I was surprised to find it pleasant. I checked the thermometer, and sure enough, it read -5F/-20C. When I skied to the bottom of the hill, the thermometer down there read -20F/-29C. Now I'm on campus, where the thermometer reads almost the same as the bottom of the hill. I'm glad I live on a hill! During inversions, I'm that much warmer, and above the ice fog.

Tomorrow is the Solstice! I must confess, I kind of enjoy this kind of year, despite the cold. I love the pinkish orangish light on the fluffy snow. It looks like the whole world is made of cotton candy.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A white Christmas, and brrrrrr!!

It is about -30F/-34C at my cabin right now. Here are some photos I snapped from my porch. The girls, incidentally, spent the week hanging out with Sam. The conference went okay. It was nice to meet in person several people with whom I'd previously corresponded in email.

Here I am manning my poster. I was there for two hours, and of all of the browsers, other than my correspondents who came to meet me in person just to say hello, I had two! whole! visitors! who actually happened to wander by and find the poster content interesting enough to talk to me about.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

White moose calf!

White moose calf born to a brown mama!

Photo by Lisa Stossmeister.

Is it just me, or is this behbeh moose smiling?

And... I'll be traveling this week again, so there will be another hiatus in silicon2tanana reportage. Good luck with all the work going into the holidays, everyone! And to my friends in the meat world, I'm very sorry, but your Christmas cards will be late. I still haven't received them from the print shop, and I fly tomorrow and won't be able to get mail until the following Monday, so there's no chance I'll have them written and in the post on time. :(

Friday, December 11, 2009


When I'm having a bad day and need to relieve stress, I go skiing or split wood, or sit by the wood stove and read non-academic books.

Apparently, some people have different means of coping.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Almost over...

... but it ain't over 'till it's over. I took my final exam today, but I'm still working on a final project. My adviser, who is also the prof, glanced it over as I handed it in, while I cringed. He then informed me that I had done okay. I was amazed. I totally thought I had screwed up one of the three problems. Thank goodness!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

And where is Mr. Bunn now?

Here is a topic that has some relevance to Life in Fairbanks... the ground is frozen, so burial is not possible. My plan had always been that if any of my pets passed away in Winter, I'd leave them in the shed to freeze until spring. But when it actually happened, this plan became obviously unfeasible... For starters, the body would thaw long before the ground would. Additionally, there are some days when air temperatures come above freezing in Winter--what then? A partially decomposing rabbit? No. And I could not do less than give Mr. B. some sort of honorable end, lest I fear him haunting me at night. I decided to have him cremated, to scatter in a nice patch of dandelions or anything else he'd like to eat, come summer.

I've heard of people with elderly pets pre-digging graves for them before the ground freezes for Winter, in case the need should arise, but that just seems really sad and morbid, to me. I'd rather not think about my pets' passing until it actually happens. The cost of cremation is small, compared to my feeling of doing the right thing by an ill-tempered rabbit whose vengeance I fear!

Mr. B. is the first pet I've ever lost who shared little mutual affection with me. Yet I'd had him for so long, almost my entire adult life, and though he provided little in the way of friendship, he did provide lots of entertainment and conversational topics among other animal lovers. Everyone is amused by tales of being harangued by an angry rabbit!

My recent hare loss has me musing on death in general. It is inconceivable to me that he is actually just gone, which I should believe if I were truly a devout atheist. But my religious training offers no explanation for animals, either, dismissing them as mere objects. I personally believe that he is somewhere, harumphing and grumphing in another world.

Here is a story I've enjoyed time and again. Another one I enjoy is the story of the Rainbow Bridge. However, I do not flatter myself that His Majestic Grumphusness, Mr. Grumpylicious McDoofus, Harumpher Extraordinaire, will wait anywhere for me!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Skijor tips

1) Don't be afraid of falling down. If you fall down, 99% of the time you won't even get a bruise. Being frightened and tense, and doing crazy acrobatics to avoid falling down, however, is more likely to cause injury.

2) If you trust your dogs, trust your dogs! They are smarter than you. Oh, yes! There is a reason that 30-40 percent of the work force work in padded cells. Oh, right, they call them cubicles.

3) Put on extra clothes. Wind chill.

4) If you have a bad sense of direction, trust your dogs.

5) If you are a poor judge of snow conditions, trust your dogs.

6) Trust your dogs.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My sister's cats

Just working, skiing, and splitting wood. Not much to report, so here are my sister's cats:

Naya, the sweet kitty (her equivalent of Millie bun):

Lemma, the evil kitty (her equivalent of the late Mr. Grumphus Bumfus Bunn B. Doofus, Esq.):

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bunn, February 2000 - 4 December 2009

The saga of Mr. Grumphus Bumfus Bunn B. Doofus, Esq. is over. His end was more peaceful than his life ever was--he simply went to sleep and never woke up. I dropped his body off to be cremated this morning, and his ashes will be scattered on my land near all of my rats'.

Goodnight, Mr. B. Rest easy. Please don't haunt me. We had a difficult relationship, but I truly did my best. I hope you have lots of fresh cilantro where you are.

Edited to add some links in tribute:
Bunn on my homesite
Bunn on Cute Overload
Bunn yawning, on the bunnyyawn site
Bunn on Disapproving Rabbits

Thursday, December 3, 2009

End of Semester Potluck items

Here is what has been signed up for so far:

Ambrosia Salad
Moose chili
Caribou soup
Aluutigaq - Caribou meat with gravy and rice
Smoked salmon dip
Noodles of some kind
cup cakes
Soda pop
Green salad with dressing
Moose Steak

A menu that could not be repeated anywhere else!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Heat wave

This is what animals look like when temperatures come above freezing in Winter.