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Saturday, April 26, 2003

This guy can write

I spent a little more time reading Carter Liotta's Bethel adventures and am compelled to add a little more than a mere link. I think we are fortunate that he came to Bethel last summer, and even more fortunate that he took the time to diary his observations. He did us- Western Alaska- a good service in what he wrote. If someone was coming to Bethel, and wanted an idea of what they might be in for, I would have no hesitation in pointing him to Carter's website.

Hooper Bay

Never know what you'll find when you go a Google'ing. I was pleasantly surprised to find this gem of a first-person report on Hooper Bay by Carter Liotta, an optometry student who spent last summer working at the Yukon-Kuksokwim Health Corporation Optometry Department. Dig around a little in his site and you might be surprised at what you find apart from his Western Alaska travelogues!
He also has these photos of Hooper Bay squirreled away on a Yahoo page.

Things aren't so different

I just got through reading the Letters Page in the Nunatsiaq News (the newspaper in Nunavut) and find it an interesting comparison with editorial and public opinion from our own region. Take a look.

Don't they hang horse thieves? Good thing that preacher from Big Lake wasn't around!

A cautionary tale, aptly subtitled: Crime Doesn't Pay to Advertise
Or, Where do we find these people?, Part 3

Two charged with stealing an Appaloosa
STERLING: Horse owner heard it being advertised on a radio station.
Anchorage Daily News

(Published: April 26, 2003)

A young man and woman from Sterling were arrested this week on charges they stole a neighbor's horse on Easter and then tried to sell it on a local radio program, Alaska State Troopers said.
Apache, a 12-year-old, brown-and-white gelding Appaloosa, vanished Sunday from his home on Robinson Loop in Sterling, troopers said. Apache's owner, Alvin Tomlinson, 61, reported the horse stolen that same day, along with the horse's saddle, bridle and halter.
Three days later, Tomlinson called troopers to say Apache was being sold on "Tradio," a popular radio program on KSRM in Kenai where people can sell, buy or trade just about anything.(more)

Smells like...Summer!

I went walking across town today and the air had the unmistakeable aroma of summer to it. I don't know if it was the smell of the mud finally showing as the snow melts, or the sea opening up, or just a long-fetch south wind. But summer is definitely in the air.
The sun is just bound to come out one of thse days!

Friday, April 25, 2003

Senator Murkowski addresses former colleagues

By CATHY BROWN, Associated Press Writer

JUNEAU (April 25, 6:40 p.m. ADT) - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski told her former statehouse colleagues Friday she's working on incentives to get a North Slope natural gas pipeline built, and backing a tax credit for stay-at-home parents.
Murkowski also told legislators she thinks the Transportation Security Administration has turned into "government gone amok" in small Alaska airports, and the situation needs to be fixed.
Murkowski, R-Alaska, spoke Friday to a joint session of the Legislature. (more)
Native Youth Olympics
Alyssa Joseph of Bethel was a portrait of concentration in winning the girls Alaskan high kick with a kick of 71 inches (5 feet, 11 inches). Before each kick she went through a routine not unlike that of a golfer lining up a putt. She walked up to the ball on tiptoes, extended her arm next to the ball and then slowly sank to the floor with her hand still in the air. Her eyes never wavered from the ball until she kicked.
"Standing up on my toes makes me feel tall, like I can actually hit it," said Joseph, who is 15 and stands about 5-foot-2. "It's like mathematics. If you want to solve a problem, you look at all your options."

True tests
Events challenge competitors in many ways

Beth Bragg
Anchorage Daily News

(Published: April 25, 2003)

At first glance, the Native Youth Olympics look like the anti-sport of athletics.
Uniforms are optional. The only balls in use are covered with fur or seal skin. Opponents offer coaching tips to each other during competition.
The events themselves look and sound like something straight out of bizarro world, like the seal hop, in which kids get down in a push-up position and hop as far as they can on the palms of their hands. Many defy description and must be seen to be believed.
Get past the oddities though, and you find sport purer than almost anything you'll see at Sullivan Arena or on ESPN. These are sports born out of survival and revered as cultural touchstones.
The Native Youth Olympics date back to 1971, which makes them older than just about any of Alaska's "official" high school sports. And the games that make up NYO were ancient even back when James Naismith was tossing balls into peach baskets and calling it basketball.(more)

Where do we find these people?, Part II

No aerial spraying hearing, commissioner says
Public hearing 'provides forum for a fight,' not valuable input, official says

Anchorage Daily News

(Published: April 25, 2003)

The state's top environmental regulator says if Alaskans don't want aerial spraying of pesticides, they should talk to their legislators, not her.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Ernesta Ballard is developing new rules about spraying pesticides from aircraft without holding public hearings, a move that has outraged tribal officials, environmentalists and some lawmakers. Aerial spraying is permitted in Alaska under the Forest Practices Act and it's not up to her to stop it, Ballard said.
"I take my direction from the state of Alaska. In Alaska, it's legal," she said.
Ballard's department is accepting written comments on the proposed regulations until Thursday, but no public hearings are planned, deliberately.
In a letter sent to a pesticide watchdog group last month, one of Ballard's employees, Kristin Ryan, said that because pesticide spraying is so controversial that the DEC doesn't think public hearings are an effective way to gather input.
"It provides a forum for a fight. We get no valuable input," said Ryan, head of the environment health section.(more)

Faith-based initiative?

"The red of an old schoolhouse, the chapel sits just down the road from Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church and across Fish Creek from the Big Lake Motel. Patrons inside the motel's Hangar Lounge on Thursday evening said the two men got what they deserved, an opinion shared by several others who basically saw the shooting as God's wrath."
Translation: After a hard day of swilling down beers and other libations local alkies said "there but for the grace of God go us."

Big Lake pastor kills 2 men robbing chapel, troopers say
INVESTIGATION: Area has suffered winter's worth of break-ins.

Anchorage Daily News

(Published: April 25, 2003)

BIG LAKE -- A church pastor shot and killed two men he caught burglarizing his small chapel early Thursday morning, Alaska State Troopers said.
The pastor, whom troopers identified as Phillip Mielke, shot the men with a handgun, according to investigators still at the scene more than 12 hours later.
Troopers identified the two dead men as Christopher Lee Palmer, 31, of Big Lake and Francis Marion Jones IV, 23, of Wasilla.
Troopers declined to say whether the two dead men were armed or whether they were shot while inside or outside Big Lake Community Chapel.
A handful of locals interviewed Thursday cheered the shooting, saying it capped off a winter of unsolved break-ins and vandalism around this lakeside community of scattered residences. (more)
Say What?
from todays ADN Letters section

Why didn't our authorities reveal truth about local resident's death?

According to the obituaries, someone recently perished from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. This is the human form of mad cow disease. Why have the authorities not made the public aware that this dreadful malady caused this death, and how much of a potential threat it is to the population as a whole? Most of the deaths from this disease occurred in Britain. Isn't it odd that a person from Anchorage died from it? I am a bit concerned.

-- Johanna Patterson


Planespotting: Does Ray Smuckles fly a 172 or a 150?
I see my friend Hugh Short has figgered out how to put pictures on his blog. Now, all he needs to do now is figger out how to write a link!

Thursday, April 24, 2003

A Note To Our Readers
Although a lot of you know exactly what i am talking about (most of the time), those of you who may find some of my references at best obtuse and worst downright cryptic, Please don't hesitate to e-mail (at the address shown in the masthead) and ask for clarification. Thats what we're here for!
I have a new marketing slogan for Polaris Snomobiles: Polaris: Balls When You Need Them Most. Take it from me- driving to the dump across open water on my nephew's ancient Sport Indy, I was not suprised that when I had to punch it the ol' 340 still had plenty of spunk. And splash. And why, pray tell, was I driving to the dump across open water? Simple- the honey bucket was full (it ain't in the museum yet, Tony.)
Road season offically started here in Hooper Bay with the annual "plowing of the roads." It's an annual ritual, cloaked in mystery, carried out by the masters of yellow machinery, a position aspired to by many a small boy but attained by only a select few.
Who redesigned the State webpage? It's terrible. It is impossible to navigate in. The most important stuff is in small print. I think it's a good bet it won't be wining any e-government awards this year.
Where do we find these people?

Kott: "When was the last time you rented a car in Alaska when you actually had to pay for it?"
Shades of Marie Antionnette!

Kott's tax bill would target rental cars
STATE: Proposal would add levy of 15 percent; affected firms protest.

The Associated Press

(Published: April 24, 2003)

JUNEAU -- House Speaker Pete Kott wants to make travelers help pay for Alaska government by putting a 15 percent state tax on car rentals.
The Eagle River Republican said the tax, which would raise about $7.5 million, would be less painful for Alaskans than other measures being suggested to balance the state budget.
"I believe in most cases Alaskans are not going to be affected," Kott said. "When was the last time you rented a car in Alaska when you actually had to pay for it?"
Government rentals would be exempt, and if someone had to rent a car while theirs was in the shop, an out-of-state insurance company would probably foot the bill, Kott said. He estimated tourists would pay 80 percent of the tax.
But car rental companies say Kott's proposal would impose the highest tax in the country on their businesses at a time when the tourism industry is expecting a bleak season.
Dan Coffey, an owner of Dollar Rent a Car in Anchorage, told the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday that rental car customers in Anchorage already pay more than $8 million in state and local taxes and fees.
That's from an 8 percent Anchorage rental car tax on top of a 10 percent airport fee.(more)

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Mark your calendars
Reliable sources indicate the date for U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige's visit to Bethel is May 5. The Secretary, after taking a lambasting from Senator Ted Stevens about the impact of the "No Child Left Behind" act, promised he would visit Rural Alaska. So, we can look forward to an invasion by an army of U.S. Department of Education Security men ("hey, sir, this is a gun-free school...") and a couple of cute photo opportunties as the Secretary inspects a school in our region.
Stay tuned.
Wow- Federal rap for a rippies ripoff. A cautionary take if ever I saw one.

Women charged in pull-tab scam
KLAWOCK: The two used inside information to profit, federal prosecutors say.

Anchorage Daily News

(Published: April 22, 2003)
Playing pull-tabs is supposed to be a gamble, but federal prosecutors say two Klawock women used inside information to turn the odds in their favor and win $93,158 over one year.
Janine D. Harmon, 36, and Delores A. Peratrovich, 53, were charged by a federal grand jury last week with one count of conspiracy and three counts of mail fraud each.
Harmon was the manager of gaming operations for Klawock Cooperative Association, according to the indictment. She managed accounting records for pull-tab games and also was a dealer. Money from the games was used to fund the tribe's general operations.
Peratrovich had a similar role at the Klawock Liquor Store, managing pull-tab accounts and dealing pull tabs as the store's manager. Profits from the tabs went to the city of Klawock for education, public safety and heritage, the indictment says.(more)

Texas Justice
Hmmmmm....Texas...ain't Bush from there?

Originally published by Dallas Observer Apr 17, 2003
©2003 New Times, Inc. All rights reserved.

1-Hour Arrest
When does a snapshot of a mother breast-feeding her child become kiddie porn? Ask the Richardson police.

The service was fast, the judgments even hastier. Never did Jacqueline Mercado imagine that four rolls of film dropped off at an Eckerd Drugs one-hour photo lab near her home would turn her life inside out, threaten to send her to jail and prompt the state to take away her kids.

For Mercado and her family, last fall was a happy time, one they wanted to record and save in the venerable tradition of the family photo. Johnny Fernandez, Mercado's boyfriend, had just emigrated from Lima, Peru, ending a yearlong separation, and on top of that, it was their son's first birthday.(more)

Monday, April 21, 2003

In case anyone is keeping track, metrat are here! My son Walter (formerly the hunting boy, now the destroyer of snogos) brought a few home tonight. Mmmmmm. Time to start flipping over the herring boats, I'd say. The snow is starting to go fast (he blew up the machine just in time- I jokes.) The big question in a couple of weeks will be when to put in the king net. Hows that for optimism?
Download this. Now. Don't dilly-dally.
Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy
Hey- I thought up a joke!
Whats the difference between Frank Murkowski and Tony Knowles?
Frank Murkowski has already been in the United States Senate.

Letter of the day from the Anchorage Daily News
Life is different with the GOP in charge, but is it better? Hardly

Remember when Bill Clinton was president? The federal budget ran an unprecedented surplus. The national debt was being paid down. The economy enjoyed unheard of growth. The stock market boomed. Wages reached record heights. Unemployment was practically nil. The government withheld only a bare minimum of information from the public. Citizens were not routinely spied on. Our Bill of Rights was at least moderately upheld. America was at peace. We were respected in the world. Our nation's power was seen as a force for good. Our allies trusted us. And the Republicans swore by God that if they ran the country, things would be different.

Turns out they weren't kidding.

-- David A. James


Sunday, April 20, 2003

One author I really enjoy is Carl Hiaasen. He is a prolific novelist and newspaperman: a native Floridian so his books have a certain appeal to a winter-bound Alaskan. He has a sophisticated style that keeps the pages turning. He is funny as hell- one reviewer calls him "the Mark Twain of the crime novel."
The book rack at AC has kept me well supplied with at least three of his novels. I the first one I read was Double Whammy, about a crooked competitive bass fisherman. Sick Puppy features a hit man who collects bootleg tapes of bizzare 911 calls- he ends up being the subject of his own tape at the end of the tale.
The latest of Hiaasen's novels is Basket Case. The hero, as it were, of he novel is obituary writer Jack Tagger. He cracks a rock and roll murder mystery, scrogs his beautiful editor, all the usual but Hiaasen is a masterful storyteller. Read some of his stuff if you like mystery novels that will make you laugh.
All of which brings me to an obituary that caught my eye in the Thursday, April 17 2003 TUNDRA DRUMS newspaper. I never knew the deceased, but this is such a wonderful obituary I wanted to share it. New York Times obit writers, eat your hearts out!

"Charlie Karl Sr.
Sept. 29, 1924 - April 1, 2003
Charlie Karl Sr., 78, passed away peacefully on April 1, 2003 at his home in Toksook Bay. He was sick for a long time and never complained and waited patiently.
He was a loving husband, dad, grandpa, great-grandpa, uncle,brother and friend. He was everybody's favorite.
He was a fisherman and a subsistence hunter. Every summer he went to his fish camp at Urumangnaq and Qinaruq with his family and grandchildren.
He loved his grandchildren and kids. He loved carpentry, ivory carving and mechanics. He was a simple, humble man.
He leaves his loving wife of 54 years, Maggie Karl; sons Joseph, Karl, Evon, and Marlene Karl of Deering, George, Peter and Peggy Karl, Jimmy, John, Charlie, Jr., and adopted son Gregory Carl all of Toksook Bay; daughters Mary and Patrick Sr., Julia Karl all of Toksook Bay. His brother Qaguaq Paul Carl of Newtok; 70 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents Minegqalria and Apamaralria; brothers and sisters Ayapan, Lluvagaq, Qaltayak, Nalqik, Paugyak John Carl, Ayapan Annie Kilongak, Miisa'aq Molly Kassaiuli and Tuquller Tom T. Karl Sr., His daughter Joanne Karl and grandson Justin karl.
We, the Karl family, can only say thank you very much for being there for us. You were the very best dad, husband and grandpa we ever had.
May he rest in peace."