Monday, December 10, 2012

As with most models I paint or build, I always know I could do it better if I had another shot. I'd like to think I get a bit better each time, whether it's learning a new trick or finding a perfect way to blend a specific color.

The F-15 below has many miles on it. I purchased it in middle school because it was one of my favorite planes. I was building quite a few models back then and was decent at it. However, I knew I wasn't good enough to do the F-15 justice yet, so I wisely shelved it. Plastic will last just fine.

Due to a variety of reasons, it followed me from Chicago, to a barn in Indiana, to Madison, and eventually to Anchorage. I knew I did not want to throw it away, so it sat happily in a box with several other unbuilt model planes. I knew I'd build them all some day (plastic lasts). After building a F-4  and hanging it in my son's room, I quickly realized the kid needs more planes to point and smile at, so out came the F-15.

I like a lot of it, cringe at a few places I was sloppy, but in the end couldn't he happier because my son loves it flying just below the top of his ceiling. Not bad for a 25 year old kit.

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Yes, I know that it is assembled to sit in the hangar, not up in the air.

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Thursday, December 06, 2012

I really wish we could finally get some snow. Granted, there is about 6 inches of snow that has been lingering for 7 weeks, but it's not enough to ski on . And the -10 temps are getting old. Please, come on snow!

Monday, October 22, 2012

My favorite new bumper sticker around town:

Alaska is full. Try the Yukon.

Friday, August 17, 2012

While slowly urging my Orbea up all 2000 feet of steep Hiland Road, I passed two men clearing some brush next to a driveway. I was standing on the bike and huffing and puffing as I ground the pedals in a slow circle. They caught my eye because they were wearing kilts. Yes, kilts. They smiled at me and one offered this perfect sentence in an American accent:

Our labors are no easier nor worse than yours, so we wish you well on your climb.

That is the coolest thing I've been told in a long time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Alaskan Alleycat

To the best of my knowledge, there are no alleycat bike races here in Alaska. I've heard of cute little scavenger hunts amongst some hipster circles, but it seems that all racing here is legal and organized. I've never placed very well in alleycats, though I have participated in my fair share in Chicago and Madison. I loved them all but with a family and a mortgage these days the thrill of burning red lights indiscriminately just to get to the pbr a little quicker does not have the allure it once had. I burn my red lights with a little more tact. The goal is now to get a good ride in and get to work safely.

If I designed an alleycat up here, I suspect it would be like my Saturday last week -- ride 24 miles out to Chugiak, pound a Clif Bar, change into Carhartts, work on the septic drainage field for the rest of the day, have dinner, work a bit more, and finally pedal the 24 miles home at 9pm. I arrived home at 10:30 pm with just as much blaring sunlight as when I left earlier that day. I was certainly a bit tired, but you just can't waste warm, long, sunny days up here.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

The timing was really perfect. Becky and Henry were back in Wisconsin and I was in the midst of 14 days of bachelorhood. My job sent me to Juneau for a day to chat with the client and enjoy some of the best weather Southeast Alaska could hope for all year -- 70's and sunny. There were only 2 cruise ships in town so the amount of "tourons" (tourists + morons) was reasonable, though they did dominate the downtown -- newlyweds and nearly-deads they say. Our meeting went well and quickly so we had some free time to cruise around all 44 miles of Juneau's road system.

Juneau is a beautiful town and I'd really like to get back there for a few more days and just drift around and soak it in. Hell, I'd even go on a cruise ship. Sometimes you just have to throw it all out the window, declare yourself a tourist, and not care what the annoyed locals (whom you will never see again) think.

I'm sure when I get back there will be nothing but rain. It would still probably come off as a pretty place.

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More Juneau pictures here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Finally, after an epic amount of time, the last remaining pile of snow melted on Sunday. We awoke to our shady deck finally bare. The shade did not help, but this is still a little late in the year to finally see wood everywhere out there.

All the bikes here now have new chains and tires and have been cleaned and tightened up. The trails are dry, clean, and exploding with riders and pedestrians. Time to start climbing the 2000 feet up Hiland road in Eagle River. I suspect there is still snow up there.

As I hike through the neighboring bog this time of the year I am reminded daily that cows are dropped calves any time now. The moose deserve some extra space this month.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Growing up, I never knew that Dressel's cake was a uniquely Chicago treat. I only knew that those frozen cakes appeared for my birthday every year. And I loved every one of them. They were not terribly fancy, but now that they are gone I really would like to have one. It looks like that will be possible as some wonderful soul has cracked the code.


Becky had knee surgery last week and everything went exactly as expected -- tears were fixed and soreness lingers. Henry and I spent quite a few hours cruising throughout the hospital, looking at the mountain views, and checking out the folks drifting about. Most of the folks are either employees or patients and it was a somewhat jarring experience. The last time I was in the hospital Becky was having Henry so my walks were mainly through the maternity ward, which is a place filled with happy people living on some degree of recently found energy. This time I saw almost every place except the maternity ward, and in general that is not as happy a  tour. I understand terrible health problems happen for a variety of reasons well beyond our control, but it sure looks like many are slow moving train wrecks due to atrocious eating and activity habits. Within a few minutes of settling on this thought, I decided to make an even better effort to be a healthy person. I feel that I do a pretty good job already, but there is always a little more to do. I'd like to live long and strong. 


Today in Anchorage was Bike To Work day and when I left my house at 6:30 it was 32 degrees. There was a noticeable surge in new riders using the trails and they all seemed to be dressed in one of two ways: ready to go ice fishing or freezing in their free 2012 BTW t-shirt.  Hopefully these folks are out on the trails next week with a simple fleece and some modest gloves.

Monday, April 02, 2012

The snow may be melting outside, but winter is not over for another month at least. It also seems that we get a dump of snow in early May every few years. The winter threat lingers. It's still perfect weather for crock pot projects and digging around in the freezer. I grabbed the frozen ham bone from Christmas and attempted one of my favorite soups -- split pea. I've always loved it, yet never made it in the crock pot. After some quick googling I had a well reviewed recipe and was off.

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It was excellent!

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

In yet another step in my pursuit of Alaskana, I completed my Hunter's Safety course this past weekend. Most of it is self explanatory, though all extremely useful. Handling different weapons was also well worth the time. At the completion we shot a bit with .22's and needed to pass a very liberal accuracy threshold. Everyone completed it on the first try, which says something considering we could not use a rest. I was quite impressed at my shot clustering considering I was shooting from a kneeling posture. I'm sure I'll get better as practice increases.

I now need to take my time choosing the proper caliber and rifle for big game here in Alaska. Thankfully, the range has rifles for public use so determining the round that fits me will be relatively inexpensive. I'd like to buy one rifle and enjoy it for the next 40 years.

Finding time to hunt is the greater challenge. Aside from cycling races, fishing trips, and canoe trips, my year is fairly booked. The hope is that  next year I will be able to book a solid week of hunting after dabbling on a few weekends this fall.

There are infinite hunting options here in the great white north. I just need to live long and strong to take them all on.

Monday, February 27, 2012

We have had well over 100 inches of snow, and here we stand facing 2 more months of winter. We are on track to break coldest and snowiest winter records here in Anchorage, so let's just go for it. This means that we south central Alaskans need to trim some inches from our roofs. Technically, our roofs are rated for well more snow than we have, but does anyone want to prove it for 2 more months? Where is the prize in that? The condo association decided to pony up for some roof shoveling -- wise move.

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If I have a single story house in the future,  I will probably shovel the roof myself. Watching these guys shovel our 3 story town homes, one is immediately struck by the use of harnesses. I'll tuck that fact away for the future. One annoying coda is the coke can one of the workers left on our roof. Keep it classy, guys.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Our deck sits along an outdoor closet that contains the hot water heater and boiler. Add it all up and you have a good place for a mouse to hide out. Occasionally we would see a certain mouse running across the snow covered deck. There is no way for it to get into our home, so it was a very charming thing to observe. It would often run and climb into our small gas grill, usually after we had grilled chicken or steak. He never came around after grilled fish though. I guess cow grease is infinitely tastier.

After these past weeks of -17 temps he finally hit the wall. It seems that one climbing expedition into the grill resulted in a stuck tail, which spiraled into a frozen doom.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Chicago is inescapable. It finds you everywhere and reminds you that it is still part of your world, mostly in happy ways. I walked out to my truck to head off for some -18 degree xc skiing. Below is what I discovered in my parking lot. It's called dibs in Chicago, and John Kass knows all about it.

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I don't know if I completely agree with saving a spot in Chicago by putting lawn furniture in the street, but I do get it. It's completely illegal, but if you put the effort into shoveling out that spot so perfectly and cleanly, it is hard to watch it snatched away by the next car cruising down the street. Parking is tough in many Chicago neighborhoods and hard work does entitle one to a degree. But here in my townhouse complex! The parking lot is rarely more than half full and it is plowed by a truck. Beyond brushing off your car after a snowstorm, the tenants have no work to do. It's why we pay condo dues. Maybe there is a Bears fan lurking somewhere nearby...

The chilling temperatures not withstanding, skiing was terrific. The tracks were fresh and frozen into near concrete. The creek steamed in the deep freeze.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

I always get a chuckle out of inadvertently stumbling into a classy moment. It's interesting to try something new and not have built it up in your mind.

"Here, try this."
"It tastes ok. Not bad."
"It's Dom Perignon."
I wonder what my reaction would have been if I knew the champagne was coming from a $150 bottle.

After fishing in Homer last June I ended up with 20 lbs of King Salmon fillets from 4 different fish. I never examined them too closely, but after grilling a piece yesterday I was finally struck by the fact that one of the fish was a White King. It was definitely much  milder as I have since read, though I do prefer a traditional King. I'll probably pass on an "Ivory King" if I see it at an upscale restaurant, though it is very fun to know that I snagged one myself.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

With such a snowy weekend and temperatures rising into the low teens, there was no choice but to get out and ski a bit. I have never skied in Kincaid Park even though it is acknowledged as the crown jewel of nordic skiing in town. It's the largest park and has a near infinite maze of trails. However, it is on the other (south) end of town. It's not a far drive, but it is so much easier to just drive 5 minutes and jump on the trails in my backyard. Well, Lesley (a recent family transplant from WI) lives on the southside so the lure of Kincaid was irresistible. We stayed on the mellow trails and sweated away for an hour or so in some heavy flakes, surrounded by quiet, still Alaskan woods. A perfect Saturday night.

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