Thursday, November 30, 2017


Out on a winter adventure? Nah; that's just the view from my office's stairwell of an afternoon.

Cricket: "Pet me! Pet me! Pet meeeeeeeee!!"
Roo: "Whut...? Is up with her?"

My Serious Fuzzy Things look Very Serious!

I want a snuggle photo, too!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The illusion of atavism

Last Sunday, I patched a hole in the knees of each of my two favorite pairs of flannel-lined pants. I read the instructions carefully, ironed them on, and reinforced the edges with stitching. As I was stitching around the second patch, we had a brief power outage. It was still light enough to see through the window, but I lit a candle to thread the needle. It felt quaint, patching my pants by candlelight, in my log cabin, with my wolf-looking-dogs on the couch by the fire:

But it's all an illusion: the patch itself was ironed on with delivered AC electricity, the Carhartts are now made in Mexico, the patch is made in China, the adhesive in the patch is from petroleum from Canada, refined using a method that was only developed 20 years ago. The cotton was likely from India. That morning, I had made DL and me smoothies with pineapples from Costa Rica. Even my simple life is extremely complicated just beneath the surface, and none of us escape that time marches on...

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Snuggles and paws!

Roo, the fuzzball:

Sometimes I think Cricket looks like a fawn:

She makes a perfect huskyball:

I made a turkey pot pie out of leftover turkey. Added leftover green bean casserole, and roasted asparagus:



Tuesday, November 21, 2017


We have the mooshiest, gooshiest dogs.

Saturday, November 18, 2017


We hit -12F/-24C (below 0F for the first time this season) this morning. With THREE (!!) recent snowstorms, the snow was in awesome shape!

Here is a view from our spur to the main trail system:

We were the first on the trail this morning!

Starbuckeroo looking WOLFIE!

Cricket is super happy!

Oooo! Yellow shiny stuff on the ridge!

And a glowy sky!

Sun in the trees:

Happy pups!

I caught this thing through the back window!

Starbuck's right shoulder troubles her from time to time. It's the reason she was retired at only 7 years of age. Lately, it seems to be acting up again. Our vet had told us when we first got her, to only use Rimadyl (an NSAID) sparingly, because it's hard on her liver. Gapapentin would be the drug of choice if she had to be on painkillers long-term. I expressed concern about masking pain and letting her be too active when she should be resting, but both her vet and her former musher told us to let her judge her own abilities, and if she wants to run and play to let her do so. After stewarding Autumn and Linden to the ripe age of 17.5, I have decided that quality of life is way more important to dogs than quantity of life, so I am going to lean on the side of letting Roo have more painkillers, and also more time running and playing. I'd rather she pass away of liver failure sooner, than live much longer without having fun. She LOVES to have fun! :)

It hurts my heart to see her limp, but I comfort myself with two things:

1) Dogs can and do run and play and have fun with only three legs! Surely a bum shoulder is not as bad as that!


2) If Starbuck had not had a bum shoulder, she would not have been pulled from mushing to live with us! She'd still be working, and living outdoors. I think, surely she prefers her life with us and her couch!

So comfy!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Domestic photos

My warm fuzzies, warmfuzzying:


"Pet me!"

Winter is finally here for real!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Sarcasm is a cop-out. Sincerity takes courage

After the upsetting incident of finding my grad student in hazardous working conditions, I have started thinking about safety training in general. I've noticed that quite a few people are not only cavalier about safety; they are actually cynical and sarcastic about it. When folks are told to go to this or that safety training, they roll their eyes. Managers even sigh and say, "Hey guys, I know it's annoying and a waste of time, but we gotta follow the rules if we want our department not to get in trouble, okay?" Or even "Look, it's just a stupid online class; click through the slides, check the box and the end, and that's all it takes." I have to admit that I have been guilty of this attitude when it comes to other Human Resources trainings. Not in anything safety-related, but in HR-matters that I found mundane. No more! I am firmly pro-training and will never, ever, ever roll my eyes at it again!

I have actually learned things at safety trainings! Also... new information about human physiology is being learned all the time! Chemicals that were regarded as safe for handling in the 1970's are not so today. Certain positions to sit and stand that were considered acceptable in the 80's are now known to cause long-term joint damage and injury. The maximum safe exposure levels to chemicals are being lowered all the time. The level of noise exposure that is known to cause hearing damage is much lower today than it was even a decade ago. Here are some specific things I have learned:

* The maximum weight one should carry without assistance (20 lbs)
* How to handle a mysterious liquid found spilled on the floor (assume the worst and call the Haz Mat team)
* The proper position to sit long-term (shoulders, arms, and elbows neutral, head neutral)

I'm 40 now! I'm doing more thinking about the person that I Am and the person that I want to Be. That person that I want to be is not sarcastic, or cynical. She doesn't roll her eyes at HR trainings! The next time we have one coming up, I'm not going to roll my eyes and tell my coworkers how to cheat on the test at the end. I'm going to say it was a good use of time.

How about you, dear readers? The next time you remind someone to put on safety glasses or earplugs how about saying, "Put these on! They may save you from becoming blind!" instead of sighing and saying "I know this is silly, but you have to follow the rules."

Cynicism is a cop-out. Sincerity takes courage. Even if it's just the courage to appear uncool. Let us try together!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Still fightin' the fight

I'm glad all of these famous predatory men are being called out by "me-too'ing" women. It's long overdue, and I find it especially heartening that a few of them are expressing genuine remorse. The people that say, "why didn't the women complain earlier?" do NOT understand how often people minimize and ignore women, even "privileged" women with engineering degrees. When a man speaks up, people listen. If they don't hear him the first time, he repeats himself louder, and that's all it takes to get an audience. When a woman speaks up once, no one hears her, and she repeats herself, people call her "pushy", "rude", "shrill", and "demanding". In a thousand little ways, girls are taught from birth to be sweet and nice and not make waves. The silencing, ignoring, and talking-over of women is more insidious than the obvious harassment. Folks will gloss over your frustration by genuinely thinking "he didn't mean any harm..." Denying someone else's very voice is most definitely a harm.

I am not one of those people who reminisces over my youth or wishes to relive it. I came into my own when I was past 30, and now that I am well into the census-defined "middle age", I am loving my life. But the one thing I wish I could do over would be that I wish I had spoken up for myself when occasion called for it. Why was I so worried about offending people who deserved to be offended? Why did I want so badly to be "liked" by people who, by their very disrespect of me, proved themselves not worthy of being liked?

I spent much of last night fuming over some terrible treatment I observed being handed to a young lady who deserves a million times more respect than she had the courage to demand for herself. This was not even a sexual issue; it was about unsafe working conditions. She told me, "I didn't want to complain because I didn't want to be a princess." That just galled me. A woman asking for marginally decent, safe treatment is in danger of being perceived as a princess! I told her I'd call EH&S myself and tell them to make sure she is safe. I told her to demand better treatment for herself, and her life is worth it and she is worth it and dammit! Sigh.

How many years of terrible messaging does it take to make even the brightest, most competent women feel that their very lives are not worth someone else's trouble? And if not even they feel their worth, why are we not surprised when marginalized women--housekeepers, low-level "help", striving artists--don't report being harmed?

So, I'm now on the University Committee on the Status of Women. One of the projects we have right now is background research of gender bias in academia. As I comb through the literature, I can't help but glance at the articles that aren't just about academia, but about the workforce in general, especially in the sciences. The state of things is... not good. Implicit bias exists--in both women and men. A resumé with a male name will be viewed as belonging to a more competent individual than the same one with a female name. A grad student application with a male name will be viewed as more desirable than one with a female name. Competent men are complimented on their work. Competent women are complimented on their appearance and their friendliness.

Check this out.


Update, so as not to end on a totally depressing note: I am actually acquainted with the person in charge of industrial safety at UAF. She (is a she! wowee!) was extremely helpful, judicious, knowledgeable, and reasonable when helping me set up my lab to do snow science when I was a grad student. I did not work with anything chemically or mechanically hazardous, but I did work with chilling systems to test snow, and the chillers use CO2, which has potential to be a dangerous asphyxiant since it can displace oxygen. Anyway, she responded almost immediately to my email, and came to meet me at the site the next day. She agreed that it was unacceptable and agreed to help me find a new suitable space for our grad student. So yay!