Thursday, December 27, 2007

LIMA - Landsat Image Mosaic Of Antarctica

Yes, we are officially in the "International Polar Year". Here is a new web site that is fun to look at. You can zoom in and out, looking at all sorts of cool images. There are also some intereting research links. Check out the Antarctic Mysteries at this location:

"In support of the International Polar Year (IPY 2007-2008), LIMA brings the coldest continent on Earth alive in greater detail than ever before through this virtually cloudless, seamless, and high resolution satellite view of Antarctica. "
"The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), created LIMA from more than 1,000 Landsat ETM+ scenes."
"As the first major scientific outcome of the IPY, LIMA truly fulfills the IPY goals. LIMA is an international effort, supports current scientific polar research, encourages new projects, and helps the general public visualize Antarctica and changes happening to this southernmost environment. Researchers and the general public can download LIMA and all of the component Landsat scenes at no charge."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Continuing House Plans

Last week when I was in Homer, I had a chance to meet with David (architect) and Paul (builder). We're moving forward pretty well with the house plans. We should have everything ready for blue prints by early March and then start construction in June.

Here is a preliminary drawing I printed out of the CAD program. It shows the front of the house (though I've already asked for a couple of changes :-). When I get the next update, I'll post a floor plan. But basically 2 guest rooms and a bath on the left, then the living room/kitchen and then the master suite on the right.

The basement will only be under the main part of the house, and will have the cistern, furnance, etc., and some room at the very front for some exercise equipment. Plus a couple of windows.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Is it sunrise or sunset?

Up here this time of year, they both run together. The sun doesn't come up over the horizon, but we're getting some beautiful sunrise/sets.

Here is a picture taken 12/1/07. One of the guys down at ERA took it and e-mailed it to Skip who forwarded it to me. This is looking south out over the runway.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Antarctic Sun

The Antarctic Sun used to be a summer season publication, that we all read on Sunday at brunch when I was at McMurdo. I've been reading it on line the past few years, there is a lot of fascinating research going on down south.

The web site has changed and updated this year, and it's now going to be published year round. So I thought I'd publish their link. They do have all their previous years publications on line, so if you get snowed in and need something to do, take a look.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Today I finally got around to adding some labels to my old posts. I'm starting to get quite a few built up, so this should help me categorize them.

You can click on any of the labels you see on the right side and see all of my enteries associated with that topic.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Winter - It's Here Now

Well, winter is here. It's cold and has been snowing for at least a week. I can look out my office window and watch the snow blowing down the runway.

On the bright side are the winter sunrise. This morning was clear when I walked to work. The moon was up and lots of stars. The sunrises this time of year start really red/orange. Just a faint light along the horizon. As it gets lighter, the sky turns amazing shades of pale blue.

These pictures don't really reproduce the colors, but I though I'd post them anyway.

The first was taken at 7:02 AM

And the 2nd at 7:20 AM.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More Driveway Pictures

The driveway is in and held up well to the pouring rain we had the past couple of days. I may decide to line the ditch with cobble stone, but I'll see how it all holds up after break up next spring.

And the bottom of the path close to the spring is pretty muddy. We'll look at it again next spring, but I may have a load or 2 of gravel dumped on it when the foundation is being dug out.

The spring is rather muddy, I'm hoping it clears up after the spring thaw. There is a flexible pipe buried that should let the spring water flow into the pond down the hill.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fall Colors

Wednesday I drove up to Anchorage for a dentist appointment. Driving home on Thursday I took a lot of photo's of the color changes. We don't get all of the reds & oranges, but the yellow are beautiful too. These pictures don't reall capture all the shades of yellow and gold through the pass. And you can see a little termination dust in the 2nd picture which I took at Summit Lake.

And then here is a Friday morning picture of my lot.Greg & Joe have all the alder burned and should be doing a little finish up work today. Then we'll be done until spring.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What a difference a day makes.

Here is a picture from Monday afternoon, which was pretty nice and mostly sunny.

And then here are a couple from this morning (Tuesday). It's a bit more overcast. But the driveway construction continues. Hopefully this first part will be done by this afternoon. It will allow us to get the excavation equipment in next June to dig out the foundation, etc.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Driveway Construction Part 2

Today started out cloudy & misty, which was good for burning, so Greg got started with the driveway. Then the sun came out and the wind came up, so he had to let the fire die down. He may burn some more tomorrow, but most likely will have to wait until it snows. The road fabric is 17 feet wide, so the driveway shouldn't be too narrow.

Friday, September 14, 2007

More Fire Pictures

The wildland fire smoke continues to drift in and out. Sometimes faint, sometimes very thick. Here are some pictures of the fire, I don't know who took them.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Smokey Deadhorse

Yesterday the wind switched around and came from the south. With it came all this smoke from a wild fire between here and the Brooks Range.

It's really thick and stinky. My hair smells like I've been sitting around a camp fire all night.

Friday, September 07, 2007

And More!

Wow, I should have waited 20 min. 2 more just landed. I guess we have a Congressional Tour going on. Our Federal Tax dollars are at work.

Important Visitors

Today started out pretty quiet. Normal cloudy fall weather but flyable, so everything is running smoothly. To liven up a quiet day, these private jets started to arrive. Someone important is up visiting the field. The 'entourage' showed up about 8:30 am and Security picked them up. Then the corporate jet showed up empty about 2:10 pm. So someone very important is going home on it. I'd guess back to the UK.

It certainly is a pretty plane.

Wikipedia says:
The Gulfstream V (also referred to as the G-V) first flew in 1995, was certified in 1997, and was one of the first "ultra-long range" (~6000 nautical miles) business aircraft. Capable of carrying up to 16 people in standard seating configurations, and able to fly up to 6,500 nautical miles (12,038 km), the GV became the longest range business jet ever made (at the time of its introduction).

And here is the entourage. There were 3, these 2 Falcons stayed and the Citation left. I didn't get a picture of it.

Here's what the manufactures web site has to say:
The Falcon 2000EX swiftly rises above.
An inspired airframe, a remarkable wing and two Pratt & Whitney Canada engines give the Falcon 2000EX the ability to sprint up to 3800 nautical miles at Mach .80 and fly shorter trips even faster.
Cabin Height 6 ft 2 in
Cabin Width 7 ft 8 in
6 passengers

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Lot Clearing

I got home on Sunday night, to find the guys had cleared my lot and then gone moose hunting. They should be back the end of this week to put the driveway in. Sunday was a bit overcast, so these aren't the best photos.
This first one is mom standing in front of the biggest burn pile. This is basically where the house will be built next spring. There are 2 more smaller burn piles. Lots of garbage alder to get rid of, and a couple of rotten cottonwood trees. Also one nice blue spruce that was just in the wrong place.

Here is Jemmy headed up the 'path' from Pattys back yard to my building site. It's rather big because Greg had to get the excavator down the hill to move some dead trees and to dig out the small spring (to the left of Jemmy but not in this photo). Eventually the spring will empty into the small pond in Pattys backyard.

And here is a view out across the bay with a few of the cottonwoods that we did save.

Monday, August 13, 2007

More on Mud Volcanos

The Indonesia Mud Volano still facinates me.
And now here is another one off the coast of Trinidad. It's built up to 40 feet over sea level a couple of times, but since the mud is soft the waves are washing it away.

This web site has some really good pictures and a couple of videos if you're interested.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Foggy Morning / Sunny Afternoon Deadhorse Alaska

Prudhoe Bay Weather, ever changing...but this summer we've had a LOT of foggy days. Actually this morning wasn't too bad, I just had my camera with me so took a couple of snapshots.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Driveway Construction

Well, here is the plan for the driveway. It's approx 180 feet long and is to be 14 feet wide. Gravel with typar underneath. With some luck the clearing and driveway install will happen the end of Aug.
Wish me luck.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

More House Ideas

Hmm, what do you like and what don't you like about this outside view?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

More Caribou Pictures

Last night I drove out to West Dock to take some Caribou pictures. It was a clear and beautiful night. The really big herds (4000+) have already broken up into small herds. We saw 100+ Caribou wandering both sides of the road, out by the ocean.

Here is a cow and calf standing on the road. The calf was trying to figure out if there was something on the road to eat or not. The cow was starting to loose her winter coat. She looks sort of mangy.

And here is another picture of a few Caribou in the tundra beside the road. In the background you can see a few scattered along the ocean shore, and walking under the flow lines.
I did take a few more. They're in the 7 Summer Photo Album. The link is on the right side of this page.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

3 Cups of Tea

I just finished reading 3 Cups of Tea. It's such a powerful story. No big companies, no governments. Just the work of one guy who saw a human need and wanted to help and to say thank you for being helped. Of course it's grown a bit, so now there is a team of dedicated people. But it's still about local communites and families, wanting something better for their kids and do what ever they can to provide them with some education.

Our schools here in Alaska constantly beg the taxpayers for more & more money. It's always a guilt trip at funding time. Always 'the kids must have ...'. And we struggle to keep our kids in school. So many drop outs. I sometimes think it's too bad that school isn't something to be earned. What's given isn't always appreciated as much as what's earned.

And then there are articles like this one in the Scotsman today.

Can you imagine what it takes to send your kids to school under these conditions. No school building, no books, and facing the potential of being shot, just because they're trying to learn.

Schoolgirls in the gunsights of the Taliban
WITH their teacher absent, 10 students were allowed to leave school early. These were the girls the gunmen saw first, 10 easy targets walking hand-in-hand through the blue metal gate and on to the winding dirt road.
A 13-year-old named Shukria was shot in the arm and the back, and teetered into an adjacent wheat field. Zarmina, her 12-year-old sister, ran to her side, listening to the wounded girl's precious breath and trying to help her stand. But Shukria was too heavy to lift and the two gunmen, sitting astride a single motorbike, sped closer.
As Zarmina scurried away, the men took a more studied aim at those they had already shot, finishing off Shukria with bullets to her stomach and heart. Then the attackers seemed to succumb to the frenzy they had begun, forsaking the motorbike and fleeing on foot in a panic, two bobbing heads - one tucked into a helmet, the other swaddled by a handkerchief - vanishing amid the earthen colour of the concealing wheat.
Six girls were shot here on the sunny afternoon last month; two of them died.
The Qalai Sayedan School, considered among the best in the central Afghan province of Logar, reopened only last weekend, but even with Kalashnikov-toting guards at the gate only a quarter of the 1,600 students dared to return. Shootings, beheadings, burnings and bombings are all tools of intimidation used by the Taliban and others to shut down hundreds of schools. To take aim at education is to make war on the government. Parents find themselves with terrible choices.
"It is better for my children to be alive even if it means they must be illiterate," said Sayed Rasul, a father who decided to keep his two daughters at home.
There has been some progress towards development in Afghanistan, but most often the nation seems astride some pitiable rocking horse, with each lurch forward inevitably reversed by the back-spring of harsh reality.
The Ministry of Education claims that 6.2 million children are now enrolled - about half the school-aged population. And while statistics in Afghanistan can be unreliable, there is no doubt that attendance has multiplied far beyond that of any earlier era.
A third of the students are girls, a marvel in itself. Historically, girls' education has been undervalued in Afghan culture. Females were forbidden from school altogether during the Taliban rule.
But after 30 years of war, Afghanistan is a country without normal times to reclaim; in so many ways, it must start from scratch. The accelerating demand for education is mocked by the limited supply. More than half the schools have no buildings, the ministry reports; classes are commonly held in tents or beneath trees or in the brutal, sun-soaked openness. Only 20% of the teachers are even minimally qualified. Texts are outdated; hundreds of titles need to be written, millions of books need to be printed.
And there is the violence. In the southern provinces where the Taliban are most aggressively combating US and Nato troops, education has virtually come to a halt in large swathes of the contested terrain. In other areas, attacks against schools are sporadic, unpredictable and perplexing. By the ministry's rough count, there have been 444 attacks since last August. Some were simple thefts. Some were audacious murders.
"By attacking schools, the terrorists want to turn the people against the government by showing that it has not provided for security," said Haneef Atmar, the minister of education.
Atmar is the nation's fifth education minister in five-and-a-half years, but only the first to command the solid enthusiasm of international donors. He came to the job after a praiseworthy showing as the minister of rural redevelopment and has laid out an ambitious five-year plan for school construction, teacher training and a modernised curriculum. He is also championing a parallel track of madrassas, or religious schools; students would focus on Islamic studies, while also pursuing science, maths and the arts.
To succeed, the minister must be a magnet for foreign cash. And donors have not been unusually generous when it comes to schools. Since the fall of the Taliban, the US Agency for International Development has devoted only 5% of its Afghanistan budget to education, compared with 30% for roads and 14% for power.
Virtually every Afghan school is a sketchbook of extraordinary destitution. "I have 68 girls in this tent," said Nafisa Wardak, a primary school teacher at the Deh Araban Qaragha School in Kabul. "We're hot. The tent is full of flies. The wind blows sand and rubbish everywhere. If a child gets sick, where can I send her?"
The nation's overwhelming need for walled classrooms makes the murders in Qalai Sayedan all the more tragic.
The school welcomed boys and girls. It was overcrowded, with the 1,600 students attending in two shifts, stuffed into 12 classrooms and a corridor.
But the building itself was exactly that - two stories of concrete with a roof of galvanised steel. Two years ago, Qalai Sayedan was named the top school in the province. Its principal, Bibi Gul, was saluted for excellence and rewarded with a trip to America. But last month's attack caused parents to wonder if the school's stalwart reputation had itself become a source of provocation.
In the embassies of the West, and even within the education ministry in Kabul, the Taliban are commonly discussed as a monolithic adversary. But to the villagers near Qalai Sayedan, with the lives of their children at risk, people see the government's enemies as a varied lot with assorted grievances, assorted tribal connections and assorted masters. Has someone at the school provided great offence, villagers ask. Is the school believed to be un-Islamic? Many blame Bibi Gul, the principal.
"She should not have gone to America without the consultation of the community," said Sayed Abdul Sami, the uncle of Saadia, the other slain student. "And she went to America without a mahram [a male relative], and this is considered improper in Islam."
Off the main highway, 330 feet up the winding dirt road and through the blue metal gate, sits the school. It was built four years ago by the German government.
On Monday, Bibi Gul greeted hundreds of children as they fidgeted in the morning light: "Dear boys and brave girls, thank you for coming. The enemy has done its evil deeds, but we will never allow the doors of this school to close again."
These would be among her final moments as their principal. She had already resigned. "My heart is crying," she said privately. "But I must leave because of everything that people say. They say I received letters warning about the attacks. But that isn't so. And people say I am a foreigner because I went to the United States without a mahram. We were 12 people. I'm 42. I don't need to travel with a mahram."
Shukria, the slain 13-year-old, was a polite girl who reverently studied the Koran. Saadia, the other murdered student, was remarkable in that she was married and 25. She had refused to let age discourage her from finishing an education interrupted by the Taliban years.
A new sign now sits atop the steel roof. The Qalia Sayedan School has been renamed the Martyred Saadia School. Another place will be called Martyred Shukria.
Life as a second class citizen
Although the power of the Taliban has been greatly reduced in Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led invasion, slowly but surely their influence, especially in the tribal south, is returning.
• In Badakshan, all women must get permission from their husbands before being allowed to visit a doctor.
• Women teachers are regularly subjected to beatings and assaults from roaming Taliban gangs.
• Mothers who send their children to school are also targeted by the thugs, who try to intimidate them into keeping their youngsters at home.
• Forced marriages and domestic violence feature regularly in the lives of many women who live in the south and eastern provinces of the country.
• Although more women are working in the media now, they are under constant threat. Shaima Rezayee, a popular MTV-style presenter, was shot dead after receiving death threats in 2006.
This article:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Caribou - Deadhorse Airport - Prudhoe Bay, AK

About 8 am this morning, a herd of Caribou came down the runway. My camera won't zoom in enough for you to see that they had 4 calves with them.

And here is another picture of Fred & Ethel. I took it last week at home. I really like watching the cranes. They must have nested some place fairly close, but behind Patty's house. They walk out of the back yard, hang out in the front yard for a while, then down the driveway. Then 45 min or so later, they walk back up the driveway and head into the trees behind the house. They're never in any hurry, just out for a stroll.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Micro Finance &

I've been reading about NGO's and Micro Finance projects for a while. The idea is to get small amounts of money to really poor people, where it can hopefully do a lot of good. I've also been hearing about for a while. It was started by a bunch of 'computer geeks' who run or work at businesses like PayPal, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. The idea is to let individuals lend money to other individuals, watch what it does and get paid back.

Take a look at their web site. This is certainly much more personal than sending a check to a big relief organization. And the overhead costs are hopefully much lower.

I really like what they're trying to do.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Site Plan

My lot slopes down from the road and there is a gully on the lower left side. So we're going to build at the top of the gully. The main portion of the house will have a walk out basement, but when you drive in, it will look like it's all on one level. The basement will hold the cistern and mechanical stuff, but all of the living space will be upstairs. The detached garage will connect to the house with a breezeway, and have an apartment on top which will also have great views out over the top of my house.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Potential Floor Plans

I've been working with David & Allegra (DnA Design) the past couple of months on building plans. We're slowly getting a plan sketched out and we're working on the site plan. I can't get the .pdf files they e-mail me to show up here with out hosting them on another site, and that's a bit too technical for me at the moment. So I went a head and scanned a couple of floor plans into .jpg format. This is about round 3, so we're making some progress.

I hope you can figure out what your looking at. Comments are welcome. The front will be mostly glass to take advantage of the view.

Today we walked around the site for an hour or so. The grass has grown up about chest high, so it's a bit difficult to see what's where. We took Greg Collins with us who's going to do the clearing and put in the driveway. So we talked about the pro's & con's of where to put the driveway but have it pretty well figured out. Greg will work it into his schedule sometime the end of Aug. The plan is to remove a few dead trees, a couple that are still alive but in the wrong places, and clear a lot of the alders. Then stack them up to dry so we can burn them all this winter, once it's snowed a time or 2. That way the part of the lot on which I'm going to build will be cleared and ready to build on next summer.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Lesser Sandhill Cranes

Fred & Ethel (that's what Patty named them) stopped by for a visit tonight. They live someplace pretty close, and normally visit every morning (around 5 or 5:30 am and boy are they LOUD). But they must have been out for an after dinner stroll. It's really a beautiful evening.

Anyway, I was sitting on the front steps talking on the phone when they walked by, totally unconcerned that I was less than 10 feet away. They messed around at the edge of the woods for a while so I finally went inside, found my camera and took a couple of pictures.
Then they decided to continue their stroll and headed down the driveway.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Kenai Forest Fire

Well, the summer forest fires are starting. This one is 1200 to 1500 acres and is now into day 3. Patty took these 2 shots about 12:30 AM 6/21. She was a mile or so from her house at the Jones gravel pit. They're a bit dark, but not too bad considering they were taken in the middle of the night.

Check the web site for some more daytime photos of the fire.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pine Grosbeak

Here is a picture from a couple of months ago. A male Pine Grosbeak at our bird feeder. They start off a rosy pink color and get darker & darker as it gets closer to breeding season. The females stay brown & gray. We had a small flock of them at the bird feeder every day for a couple of months.