Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Vote Is In!

Yesterday I stopped in at City Hall and voted. I should be home on Friday but I was a little paranoid that something might happen and I would get stranded in Anchorage, as has been known to occur. We are urging people to vote early this year but I have to admit that it was not nearly as much fun as showing up at the polls on Election Day, standing in line and chatting with friends and neighbors, being a part of this big exercise we call Democracy. On the other hand, the most important thing is the vote, not when or how we do it, right? The clerk handed me a blue pen and I was nervous that maybe black ink was required (don't ask me where I got that idea) rendering my votes invalid. She reassured me that blue was fine (yes, we are still coloring circles on paper ballots in Unalaska). I marked my ballot for Obama/Biden, Mark Begich, Ethan Berkowitz, and Bryce Edgmon. Yippee! It felt great! I folded my ballot, placed it into a little cover, slipped both into a big envelope and sealed the edge shut. On the outside, there was a spot for the clerk to confirm that she checked my ID and another for her to sign the envelope as an election official. She just took my envelope and set it aside. That made me nervous, too! I told her I wanted her to complete her part before I left the office. I did not want to take any chances that my ballot was not going to be counted! I feel (fairly) certain she would have filled it out as soon as I walked away, but I was not about to risk it. She probably thought I was a bit overbearing, ya think?

The good thing about voting early is that I will now be able to dedicate November 4 to my duties as a poll monitor, calling people to remind them to vote, and assisting with getting folks to the polls. I love this stuff!

Get out and vote, everybody! Now is our time!

Defending my home town

I arrived in Anchorage this evening and will be here till Friday for job related training. Left home at 2 PM and had an uneventful ride on Pen Air (just one hour late pulling away from the terminal, and only some of the guys sitting all around me reeked of alcohol). It was just gorgeous approaching over the snow covered mountains with the sun shining down on the water. I was reading an interview with Bono, from U2, in which he talked about the frustration he feels that the songs that he hears in his head can't really be translated to music that is played outside his head--they don't ever quite sound the same way. (I'm paraphrasing, but something like that). It made me think that there is really no way to describe the beauty of Alaska in words, and even the photos we take do not adequately represent what we see with our eyes. You just have to come and experience it!

Riding the hotel shuttle, I was accompanied by an older woman from Washington and a fairly young guy who'd been out fishing "off Dutch Harbor."   This came up because the woman asked me if I had "just flown in to Alaska." I told her where I live ("Unalaska," which is usually met with a puzzled look, and then we have to say, "Dutch Harbor?")  so he piped up, "Dutch Harbor--that's a dangerous town!" I said, "Dangerous? What do you mean?" He laughed and sorta trailed off with "Well, between the Unisea bar and the hotel bar..." I can't tell you how DEFENSIVE I immediately became! The dude started talking about all the drinking and fighting he'd seen; the woman joined in that she'd also read that Dutch Harbor is "dangerous" and overrun with alcoholism. I could not hold myself back from giving these people (and the poor innocent van driver) a lecture about our great little community of people who live there YEAR ROUND and are very involved in making it a vibrant and happy place to live. It's the people who live elsewhere and come in for a few weeks or months a year, spending their time drinking and fighting in the bars, that give all of us a negative reputation. Yes, we have our share of problems just like any town does, but many of us, astonishingly, rarely step foot in a bar and almost never get into fistfights or pull knives on anyone else.

Dangerous? We don't lock our house or our car (in fact, we leave our keys in our car, don't tell!) Kids walk and ride their bikes everywhere. People pick up hitchhikers because they probably know them, and if not, they are just nice folks lending a hand. The top speed limit is 30 mph and there's not even a traffic light to run when it's red. As far as I know, no gangs have infiltrated and we haven't had a drive-by yet. I love to read the Police Report in the paper, which is typically loaded with such dangerous occurrences as "dog at large," "taxi drivers having an argument over fares," and yes, too many reports of "intoxicated individual asked to leave establishment." Dangerous, yes, if you are fishing out on the Bering Sea, as we saw last week with the sinking of the Katmai, the kind of tragedy which, unfortunately, seems to occur each fishing season. Dangerous, maybe, if you choose to get drunk and get into a fight. Not so dangerous if you live and work on land and know what you want your life to be. Here's my advice, Mister: Don't judge us by your own behavior and the company you keep.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Oh, my goodness!

Hubby's in bed after a 15 hour day (and another one in store for him tomorrow), I am bored with SNL, and browsing my favorite Alaska bloggers' sites.   Guess what they are reporting?  Yes, it is a beautiful surprise.  The Anchorage Daily News has endorsed Barack Obama for President!  I have to admit,  I sure did not see this coming and figured the paper would go with the Guv.   Wow, congrats to the editorial board for having some ethics and some good sense.  I tried to copy the editorial here but it's not happening, and our internet issues don't allow me to add a link, for some unknown reason.  Go to www.adn.com for full coverage.   I am going to sleep with a smile on my face!

Reality TV

I'm watching McCain on TV telling more lies about Obama.  Honestly,  how could anyone who is truly a "socialist" end up the front runner in an American Presidential election in this day and age?  It's laughable.  Meanwhile, Ms. Palin is criticizing research that could prove to be beneficial to people with autism, while claiming that the Republican ticket would go out of its way to take care of children with special needs, even when its administration would be in favor of a huge budget freeze.  They'd free up some money for special needs kids by cutting funding for silly items like research on autism (okay, it's fruitflies, but read a little further about that fruitfly research and discover what it might do).  Follow?  

Man, I am so ready for this election to be over with.  I have such a love/hate relationship with it.   I almost cannot stand to watch the latest news, and yet, I cannot stay away.  Rich and I do this very same thing with some of those ridiculous reality shows, especially the really trashy ones on MTV and VH1.   I admit it.   Flavor of Love?  I Love New York?  Rock of Love?  Charm School?  Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew?  Yes, we have watched them all.   Now we don't schedule our lives around them, but if one of those shows is on and we come across it, you betcha, we can't resist. Mostly, I think,  because we just cannot BELIEVE that people actually behave this way.  I think the campaign holds that same sort of attraction for me.  In fact, after the campaign, Palin might pursue a career in  reality  TV.    You remember that kooky family, the Osbournes?  How about "Pallin' With the Palins"?  There's already plenty of drama with two investigations into abuse of power & unethical behavior, pregnant teen daughter, rumors about Trig's true parentage, family divorce antics, an inside look at hiring and firing State officials, moose hunting, snow machining, assigning the children official state duties at events to which they were not invited,  charging per diem for staying at home, shopping sprees that would put Paris Hilton to shame, putting the kids up in fancy hotels on the state's dime. 

Pallin' with the Palins, Episode One:  Sarah Returns to Elementary School to Learn the Responsibilities of Each Branch of the Federal Government.    I think we have enough material for at least 13 episodes.    Whaddya say, VH1?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Frost on the Windshield

8 AM on Tuesdays, we have an all-staff meeting.  I am chronically late and I imagine my boss does not look too kindly on my weekly comments about why.  It's always something, of course. What I really cannot figure out is how the clock at home and the clock at our meeting place can be so far apart.  Last night I made up my mind that I would get up early enough, not spend too much time on the computer, not tarry over my hot tea, not spend ten minutes sitting half dressed waiting for the hot flash to pass before I put on my pants and sweater, not have to come back in the house because I forgot something.   Feeling full of myself that I was not only going to be on time, but maybe even first to arrive,  I opened the door to let the cats out. Remember all of our beautiful blooming flowers on the porch?  The poor little darlings were shivering in their frosty  snow-covered pots.   OH NO.  I hurried to the car and, sure enough, there was a freakin' inch of ice on my windshield.  "So sorry I am late, but I certainly was NOT expecting to have to scrape the car windows this morning...."    

Early voting started yesterday in Alaska.  Get out there and vote--don't wait till Election Day and risk something coming up to prevent your participation.   There's early voting in lots of states so check your local information and see if you can take advantage of this opportunity.  I just found out that I am going to Anchorage for my job next week so I am definitely going to vote before I go.  It would be just my luck to get stranded due to plane problems or weather issues  (see previous post about When Air)  and not get home in time.  I am taking no chances!

Our local radio station had a GREAT pledge drive.  Our goal was $10,000 and we raised $18,000!   Thanks to a certain friend of mine from Mississippi who pledged a membership from afar--now that's some support!  Your cool  KUCB sweatshirt will be on its way tomorrow. I heard a rumor that some of the guys from "The Deadliest Catch" will be wearing those sweatshirts this season.  You know that will make them the latest fashion trend.  :) Speaking of "The Deadliest Catch," the brother of one of my coworkers  is on one of the boats this year and their whole family was video-ed at the dock, saying goodbye.   Now I will get sucked into watching the darned thing again.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Shutterbug Rich Takes Two Prizes

The annual Unisea photo contest just wrapped up and Rich was again a two-place winner. You've seen these photos on previous posts, but I wanted to put them up again and say "congratulations!" He won the grand prize a couple of years ago and has been hankering for a repeat, but alas, it was not to be. Still, it sounds like the company is going to use all of the winning photos for a calendar so you know what you are getting for holiday gifts. :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pledge Week on Local Radio

We have a great community radio and TV station! Want to have your own radio show? Want to host the weekly news on Wednesday nights? Want to learn how to use the equipment and become a volunteer? Have some video you want to show the community? All of that and much more is possible through our little local station. I have been amazed at everything this very small staff covers! No matter what's happening in town, they are almost always there. I've learned a lot more about community radio and TV since I joined the Board last year and I certainly have a much better appreciation of the role the station plays in our town. We just switched to FM and what a difference it has made in the quality, reception and sound of radio in Unalaska. Very exciting! This is Pledge Week for our new station, KUCB--89.7 FM, and I had a blast being a guest dj this morning. That's station manager Lauren in the background and finance person Rhonda in the front, making some announcements. They are so much fun and I had a great time playing my favorite tunes and encouraging folks to call in. We are trying to raise $10,000 and are doing pretty well, but if you are so inclined, click on Unalaska Community Broadcasting on the right side of this page and make a pledge to support true community programming.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Aleutian Prognostication

The Chinese decipher meaning from chaos with simple tea leaves in porcelain cups; the ancient Chaldeans looked to the stars in the heavens for answers.

They say that the Roman soothsayers could divine the fate of men by studying the sacrificed entrails of innocent creatures. And in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the town’s folk and national media gather every year on February 2nd, Groundhog Day, to see if Phil, the local celebrity rodent, sees his own shadow, which is said to mean another six weeks of winter.

I don’t believe any of that for a minute.

Here in Unalaska, come autumn, we need look no further than the mountains to see our future. With a late, mid-morning sunrise with an unmistakable and familiar chill to the air, like yesterday, we notice it: the first snow. Just a dusting on the mountains and volcanoes, but a good thousand feet of it, looming all around and over us.

We all know what it means. The short days, the long nights, the coming snow…winter.

We don't need a weather man-or magic rituals-to know which way the wind blows. It blows hard, and it blows cold.

by Rich

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Snow on the Mountains, Our Produce Finally Arrives, and Palin Abused her Power as Governor

It's Sunday in Unalaska and I am mulling over the events of the last few days. Our fresh organic produce was set to fly in on Thursday but nothing is simple out here in the Aleutians. Pen Air bumped it the first day, the plane had to turn around for weather the second day, our boxes were bumped again yesterday (for PASSENGERS, good grief!), and today, finally, we have our corn and green beans and cabbage and plums and grapes and taters and more, most of which are none the worse for wear, thankfully. When I was out in Nikolski for my job last year, one of the locals referred to Pen Air as "When Air," which completely cracked me up. He stated, "When Air comes when When Air wants to; it's the only game in town!"    So true! Now I do not want to get on the bad side of Pen Air because it's the only way in and out of Unalaska except when the ferry is running in the summer time and I don't want to take the chance of being put on some sort of Bering Sea No Fly List, but let me just say that it does get a bit annoying at times. On the other hand, what other airline still gives you as many cookies, chips and/or soft drinks as you want (free!) and has flight attendants who can handle the most drunk (okay, drunk enough to be having a good time but not too drunk to be denied boarding) and unruly passengers in the world? Once I was the only female on a plane full of fishermen who had just finished their season and let's just say they were enjoying themselves immensely, alternating with threatening to fight each other in the aisle. The flight attendant calmly took care of all of them and then sidled up to me to say, "Hi sweetie; you are my only pearl amongst all the swine." Said with a smile and genuine affection, not to be misconstrued as anything near a slur toward those guys, so don't anyone get angry and start threatening me or Pen Air, okay?

Yes, there is snow on the mountains. I ordered some new wintersilks and some heavy cotton tights so, to quote Flavor Flav, "you know what time it is."

And then the really big news is the fact that the Legislative Council agreed to release the Branchflower report regarding the "Troopergate" issue (huge thanks to these legislators, including mostly Republicans, so who can say it was "politically motivated"?) This spells out the conclusion that Sarah Palin did abuse her power and behave unethically as Governor. I am in awe of the audacity of the McCain Palin campaign who have tried to spin this as a vindication for the Governor and saying that she was cleared of any wrongdoing. In what universe is that happening? Yes, as Governor, she has the right to let any of her Commissioners go for whatever reason. However, it is noted in the report that Walt Monegan's refusal to fire Palin's ex brother in law was a factor in Monegan's firing from his position as Public Safety Commissioner. I will not go into all of the details as there are many others doing a fabulous job of blogging about this on a daily basis such as Celtic Diva, Alaska Real, Mudflats and more, so look at their blogs and get all the scoop. The good news is that the real Sarah is becoming more and more evident to the populace across the country. And hurray for Alaskans for Truth who pressed to get this report released to the public, who held rallies and circulated petitions and called for all of us Alaskans to speak out. The power of the people cannot be denied!

Speaking of our Sarah, I cannot get over the angry people and violent language being used at the Republicans' rallies these days. Honestly, do we really want elected leaders allowing folks to yell out racial slurs, call Obama a "terrorist" and shout "kill him?" Seriously?? So McCain had to play nice and tell people that Barack is not an "Arab" and that they do not need to be "scared" that Obama might get elected. At the same time, McCain's ad keeps on a'runnin', calling Obama "dangerous." Okay, does McCain not get the connection? It is appalling that McCain and Palin are so desperate that they will stoop to just about anything any more, it seems.

And lastly,being a South Jersey girl, I have to send a shout out to the Philadelphia Flyers fans who held up the Obama/Biden signs while Sarah was dropping the puck at the hockey game the other night. Go, Philly!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Playing Catch-up

With lots going on at work, meetings or activities almost every night and, oh no, internet issues, I have not had time to post in awhile. I know I am way too dependent on the internet. I was having severe withdrawal while arctic.net was reportedly working on some sort of "switch" and changing something related to the satellite or whatever they decided to tell us so we would think we would have improved service when we got back on. Finally had service tonight and I can't tell a bit of difference.

Thursday night we had another debate watch party--well, actually, two different parties, so Rich and I stopped in at both. It was great fun hanging out and yelling at Sarah Palin when she went on and on with her nonsensical non-answers. At the second party, we got to play Palin Bingo, which was a hoot and a half. If you have not seen it, go to www.palinbingo.com--I know it is after the fact, but it's still well worth a look and you can use it during her next speech.

My friend Donna and I set up a table for voter registration at the Community Center yesterday, during youth basketball games, where we knew we would have lots of traffic. We were excited to register several first time voters and were encouraged to hear just how many people were already registered and fired up about the election. Today we set up our table at the Eagle grocery store and registered quite a few more, including more first time voters! Here are a few photos.

While we've been baking for the Blueberry Bash and registering voters in Unalaska, I see that our kindred spirits in Anchorage have been working hard on keeping Palin accountable and insisting that the Troopergate investigation go forward unhindered by the McCain/Palin campaign. There's been one big rally after another, with a great turnout for Obama this weekend, while only 300 or so attended a Palin post-debate victory celebration. Wouldn't you love to know what definition of "victory" they're using?