Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dawn Simulator Alarm Clock Fail

As long as I can remember, I have used a very offensive alarm clock that jolts me from sleep with a strident BRRZ! BRRZ! BRRZ!:

The other day, it occured to me that I did not have to live like this, so I ordered a dawn simulation alarm from amazon. It slowly increases brightness starting from 30 minutes before your scheduled wake-up time, and then it wakes you up with a gentle sound of your choice. I chose the bird chirp. This is how it should work, in theory:

However, I did not anticipate that Linden would pop up like a caffeinated squirrel at the first mere hint of light:

So I'm sending it back.

Almost there!

This morning, we were aaaaalllllmmooooooost below freezing. A few degrees above it. I am excited for the trails to freeze up so we can run on them! And shortly thereafter, of course, they will be covered with snow, and we'll be able to ski again! And the dogs will get fuzzy and clean and quit shedding fur and dirt and grit all over the place! And I'll get to eat lots of bacon!

Here is my third to last veggie share for the season:

The fireweed in my yard is in its fall colors:

And here is a photo of a puppy that I took just because he was so darned cute:

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Announcements to all nine of my loyal readers:

1) I've turned off the "prove you're a human" requirement on the comments. If the spam gets out of control, I'll either turn it back on or learn to live with it. I agree with what y'all have said--those word verification thingies are getting ever more difficult to read!

2) I've gotten rid of the scrolly-photoviewing thingie and changed it to a simple click-to-expand, use-your-back-button-to-go-back. If you like it better the other way, let me know, but I prefer this way because I'm a Luddite and don't need no fancy-scrolly-photos.

Eskimo Rap

The rhyme animal, rap hanibal, canibul, severely damage, ur admirals
clavical, lyrics are magical, n other emcees, are non compatible,

Native rats, that spit native raps, grab the gats,
the first pocket thats fat, we put it 2 they back,

MC smasher, leaven ur cranium
shattered, n brain splattered, back
fractured, crush everything
about u, that is matter

"naw mean!"

I listen 2 rap, made in 97, 98,
whoever fronts, I bruttaly





My favorite is this:

Yo yo yo, check dis crazy flo!
U don't rhyme for attention, putcho mind in suspension
Look @ me, Look @ you; no need to compare
every hata be giving you the glare.
Don't let no one trouble yo mind,
people are more crazy dan kind.
whatever u do, do you
or someone will try shoot u down like a caribou
yeah, I'm bringing up the culture, listen you
haters hangin' like a vulture.
I'm eskimo so I got crazy flo
I know you'll wanna hear mo

All of the misspellings are deliberate. There is a correctly used semicolon. There is a caribou reference. There are multiple correctly used apostrophes. I'd love to meet the kid who wrote it!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Chanel, emotions, feminism, so much in one post!

The other day, I gleefully informed my direct supervisor that I had tracked down one of the original designers of a project I had been researching. She is now in her 70's and retired, but to be not only a woman engineer but to rise to the top of the ranks in her engineering firm must have been quite an achievement, in the 1970's.

Later, he asked me whether I had personally experienced any sexism in my career. I told him quite honestly that while I may have heard the occasional remark that made me uncomfortable, I had never experienced any institutionalized sexism, nor had I ever felt that my career had been hindered by being a woman, especially in Alaska. He told me how when he was growing up in rural North Dakota, women did heavy farmwork, hunted, and wore jeans and no makeup. "Feminism" was not a word that was on anyone's mind, but women had all of the rights, responsiblities, priviliges, and burdens as men. When he later moved to Maryland and worked in Washington D.C., he was somewhat taken aback to see women in crippling high heels and time-consuming makeup, talking loudly about feminism and women's equality. It struck him as ironic and contradictory.

Later that afternoon, this beautiful advertisement crossed my path:

And I have to admit that I love it--the music, the beautiful model, the focus on the woman's mature self-celebration instead of the sexy coquettishness that is so often emphasized in women's cosmetic ads. It is often said that there are two ways for a woman to dress herself nicely--to appeal to men and to appeal to women. Men don't care about designer clothes, don't know what hemline length is currently trendy, and don't like red lipstick. Red lipstick, then, becomes synonymous with a woman dressing to feel better about herself, instead of to attract or seduce a man.

The mesmerizing ad closes with a quote from Coco Chanel herself:
"If you are sad, if you are heartbroken, make yourself up, dress up, add more lipstick, and attack. Men hate women who weep."

Generalizing that last line to remove the sex-focus that was still de rigueur at that time, you have a stunning moneymaker of a statement:
"If you are sad, if you are heartbroken, make yourself up, dress up, add more lipstick, and attack. People hate people who weep."

That, my friends, is professional advice for the ages. Just as there's no crying in baseball, there's no crying in the professional world. As BT has eloquently pointed out, bringing your personal drama to the office does not get you sympathy. It gets you distrust, suspicion, and loss of faith in your abilities. Especially if you are a woman.

Coco Chanel was a very savy former of her own life. She was born to an unwed laundrywoman of peasant stock, in a class-concious 1880's France. She grew up, as you know, to form one of the most powerful fashion houses in the world. She was also a savy businesswoman, if ruthless enough to ally with the Nazis when it was advantageous to her personal fortune.

Coco Chanel promoted in her women's clothing designs love and celebration of self. Her Wikipedia description says, "As a couturière, the milliner and dressmaker Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel presented and established new clothing and costume designs that promoted women from being male objects of conspicuous consumption and sexual display, to being persons who dressed for themselves, in comfortable clothes that allowed free movement."

So while my personal style closely reflects my boss's feelings about women's fashion (right now, I'm rocking a floral print cotton skirt, a cotton T-shirt, Clarks sandals, and tinted lip balm), I have a deep respect for the Chanel philosophy. And if some women feel stronger in a full face of makeup and designer clothes, who is anyone else to say it's anti-progress?

And, if I were a lawyer in New York or a stockbroker in Hong Kong instead of an engineer in Fairbanks, I'd totally buy that lipstick.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Et Cetera

1) Smoky, smoky, smoky. The wind is blowing smoke from the Dry Creek fire into town. It sucks. But my neighborhood seems okay. I didn't smell a thing amiss on my run this morning. There are some pretty cool photos in that article.

2) So the other day I was visiting my old home department on campus, when I literally stopped in my tracks at the sight of a luscious, enormous painting of a single flower:

Mesmerized, I walked up to it. The detail was incredible:

I recognized the name. The artist is my neighbor a mile down the road, in whose yard I'd been keeping a gallon jug of water for my Equinox training runs. She's quite well-known in the artist community, and beyond.

Look, her painting is almost indistunguishable from a photo:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It won't be long now!

This morning, I woke up to this:

Indeed, the Minor News is predicting frost for low-lying areas (that's not me; I'm not in a low-lying area).

Other notable front page headlines today:

North Pole woman wants to thank unknown pickup driver who stopped to rescue her.

The experimental farm on the UAF campus had sweet corn ripen in 56 days.

Vandals tore up the flower beds downtown--again!

Also, also! Here is a photo of some lovely sunflowers, with my friend I:

I is a tiny woman (she comes up to my clavicle). But the sunflowers dwarf ordinary-sized people, too!

And! Here are my veggies for the week:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


This attitude is why people think runners are self-righteous:

And that, my friends, is why I don't tell people that I am a habitual runner.

If that graphic makes you high-five yourself, hey, props to you if that's what makes you happy. But don't be surprised when your friends roll their eyes at you and don't bring you bacon chicken narwhals or invite you to Cheez-It quiche parties. Because bacon chicken narwhals and Cheez-It quiches are not for you; they are for the Rest of Us.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Weekend on Kesugi Ridge

Last weekend, M and I joined the Fairbanks Area Hiking Club on its annual hike of Kesugi Ridge. This time, fourteen humans and six dogs showed up, up from the four humans and three dogs of last year. We were also joined by several day hikers, including one tourist from Germany, who spent her summers roaming around Alaska with no particular agenda in mind. When she bumped into us, she decided to join us for the day. All in all, it was a heck of a crowd:

There were watermelon berries aplenty:

This is P, on the initial ascent that got us to the above group photo spot:

And me, having passed my camera to P:

The scenery was stormy and green and very beautiful:

This rocky traversal is my least favorite part of the trail:


Across the valley, we could see the glacier that flows down from Denali:

Denali briefly showed itself above the clouds, but I didn't take a photo.

Walking, walking:

Linden stopped to rest:

And Autumn:

A light drizzle followed us all evening. As we arrived at a good camping spot, a wind started to build up as well. We pitched and staked our tents in a hurry, then cooked and ate in the rain. Then, not having any other shelter, we retreated to our tents at about 8 p.m. I listened to the rain and hoped it would be gone by morning, even as it continued to worsen. Autumn and Linden snuggled up against me, putting me promptly to sleep, until a gust of wind whanged one side of the tent, pressing the wall against my face. I was quite unhappy with the weather gods, but the tent popped right back up, and remained dry on the inside, so I figured Marmot was better than the weather gods for the time being. This event repeated itself several times through the night, but all in all, we were warm and dry and comfy inside.

I awoke in the morning to the storm still storming, and I had never in my life been so disinclined to get up. Even the dogs, who normally pop out of the tent as soon as I open the zipper, remained snuggled against me for the eleventh hour of rest:

Finally, I unzipped the tent, reached outside for my toothbrush, and brushed my teeth from my bag, spitting carefully into the edge of the vestibule. Then I rebraided my hair, put in my contacts, and pondered. You see the dilemma--if I wanted to get up, I'd have to put on my rain pants, jacket, and boots, which would promptly get all wet, and I wouldn't be able to go back into my little orange sanctum without stripping them all off again. So getting up would be a commitment, and did I want to be the first to do it? I looked at my watch. It was 6:45. I decided I'd wait until 7. I knew for certain that M would be up by then, and her company was a gracious plenty for breakfast for me. So we emerged:

Soon the whole camp was up:

It was drizzly all through lunch the next day:

The muddy sections were quite so, and I sloshed mud everywhere:

It was still beautiful, even though our view of Denali was blocked by clouds:

This is the ominously named Giardia Creek. Worse, I think, than Bitch Creek:

I probably wouldn't drink from it, even with my filter!

And a lovely waterfall:

When we returned to town, I was duly informed that while we were being rained upon, wondering why we had left gorgeous sunshine in Fairbanks for this, a fire had been pouring smoke into said sunshine. So then I felt less bad. Schadenfreude! I haz it.

Observations I Made During This Trip:

1) My dogs are, sadly, starting to show their age (13). They no longer dart around exploring with the younger dogs, preferring instead to walk sedately down the trail with me.

2) I should do product testing and/or endorsement for Marmot. I am ever so impressed with my sleeping bag, my tent, my rain pants, and everything I have ever owned that they make. To sleep--warm, dry, and comfortable--through that storm is an amazing thing indeed. I think I'd be an ideal endorser, because I am:
* Alaskan ("Marmot tents can handle Alaskan weather!")
* A woman ("Even widdle ol' I can lug around Marmot's ultra-light bags and tents!")
* Not particularly bright ("I struggle to lace my boots correctly, but my Marmot tent is so simple that I can set it up in five minutes flat!")

Marmot!! Are you listening? Send me your new products! I will test and endorse them!

3) Backpacking in large groups, pros: It's like a mobile cocktail party. You get to circulate around and chat with different people. You also get to hike with your own mouth shut while eavesdropping on multiple interesting conversations at once. Also--more shared food!

4) Backpacking in large groups, cons: It can take a long time to do anything. For example, after I was packed and ready to leave camp Sunday morning, after I had breakfasted and packed up, I then proceeded to stand and wait in the cold drizzle for forty-five minutes for the last stragglers to break camp. Ayiii! I was cold!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Whoomp! There it is!

The first yellow leaves on the aspens:

And rainbows (four of them on my drive into town this morning):

But alas, no fractal broccoli yet, so I guess it isn't yet truly fall:

In other news, I have been informed that today's women engineers are allowed to look nice. Well, well. Whoda thunk it? I think I need red shoes.

Edited to add: A hummingbird has been spotted in Fairbanks! So cool!

Photo by Debbie Dean

Now all we need are bats! I want bats!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Behbeh Rhino

This is 4-day-old black rhino Akili, at the Berlin Zoo, with his mama and her tongue:

Photo credit: Gero Breloer, Associated Press / SF

And that is all I have to say for today.