Sunday, September 24, 2017

Getting Into the Woods And Marsh - Swans Fueling Up At Potter Marsh And Eagles

It wasn't raining any more and I needed to get out.  So we headed to McHugh Creek and did a short uphill hike.  I hadn't been there since last summer's fire.  There are signs of the fire, but a lot of stuff is growing back vigorously.



















I think this might be an oyster mushroom, but I'm not sure.  My mushroom book* says
"On many deciduous trees, especially willow and aspen."
View from the trail, looking out at Turnagain arm, with Kenai Peninsula on the other side of the inlet.
Luckily, as you can see, we got a fair amount of blue sky and sunshine.




Then back to Potter Marsh where we'd seen lots of swans as we drove by on the way.

They spent most of their time with their heads under water and it took a while to get a picture with both their heads above water at the same time.

I'm pretty confident these are trumpeter swans.






I counted 15 that I could see all at once and be reasonably sure I wasn't double counting.  Seven in the picture above.





Then to the boardwalk, where I got this fall view of the marsh.





Walking on the boardwalk, I notice a dozen or so ducks suddenly take flight, and then this bald eagle flew right by me.   If you click on the image below, you can also see one of the ducks in the air.  It's on the left side, just under the blurred leaf.  The eagle's left wing points at it.


And here's another eagle - or maybe the same one - off in the distance zooming down.  It's the Y shaped thing just about in the middle of the picture.  Again, click on the picture to enlarge and focus.








*The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Been Raining, Creek's Rising, But Nothing Serious

Took advantage of a long break in the rain as well as in my lethargy to get on the bike and move my legs.  The rain's made an obvious difference on Campbell Creek.


Last time I looked, that picnic table was on gravel.  (This is near Campbell Creek park.)

I went on.



There was a bit a blue sky reflected in a puddle on the bike trail.















And when I got near the State Troopers Headquarters, I saw the only white stuff near the mountain tops was cloud.   It's September 23, and no termination dust so far.









Then up the new bike trail along Campbell Airstrip Road.  You can see a greener version of this spot about a month ago here.













I figured the bridge at the Campbell Airstrip trailhead would be a good place to turn around.  That gives me about 9 miles round trip.

Here is today's picture on top of one 11 days ago.  I wanted to compare the water levels.  If you click on the image, it will enlarge and sharpen and if you look carefully you can see differences in the water level.  But nothing like the picnic table.





Here's looking to the west from the bridge.  On this one the water level is more apparent.  The gravel bank is now an island, and there's white water along the left bank.  Again, clicking on it will enlarge it.









On the way home, I stopped on the viewing platform that just reopened a couple of weeks ago.  There's a little stream of water coming in from the east.  There's a much bigger one coming from the west (the creek flows basically east to west but has various loops.)


I'm not quite sure what I thought the many other times I've been at this spot.  Maybe it was the bright yellow/orange of the birch tree, but I focused on this little water way coming in from the left (east).  I wondered how Campbell Creek had gotten so small.


Then I looked right (west) to see the much larger flow of water.  I think I'd always thought this was a loop in the creek, but both bodies of water were flowing toward the platform and the little one essentially joined the bigger one.  Were these two different creeks?


Humility is a good trait.  All these years and I never even thought about this.






So when I got home I checked the maps.












The red is the reduced sized platform (see this post) with the boardwalk from the bike trail.  You can see clearly from the map the one from the east is the North Fork of Campbell Creek and the one from the west is the South Fork.  Unless you go out onto the platform, you never see the North Fork join the South Fork.






Below is a map of the Campbell Airstrip road a few miles east of the top map.  We still have both the north and south branches of the creek.  The bridge I took the pictures (above) from is the red rectangle going over the south fork.  The bike trail ends at the turnout for the Campbell Airstrip trailhead.  The new bike trail ends just before the bridge over the north fork of the creek.  I took that bridge picture for the post about the new bike trail.  The pics are there just to help anyone who's trying to connect the pictures and the location.


Click on image to enlarge

Friday, September 22, 2017

By-Lines Alaska Dispatch Readers Won't See Anymore At The ADN [UPDATED AGAIN]

[UPDATE 9/24/17:  Charles Wohlforth has filled in a lot more information in his column this morning at the ADN - personal comments on colleagues he's worked with.]

The Alaska Dispatch News had a story Thursday (Sept 21, 2017) about layoffs at their newspaper.  We all know that the paper has been going through bankruptcy and is struggling to survive and that the new owners are trying to keep it going.  So, we were expecting some cuts and that hard decisions would have to be made - as the article says.

Two things struck me about the article:

1.  The new owners wouldn't say how many people were let go
A "significant" number of employees have been laid off at Alaska Dispatch News as part of a restructuring under the company's new owners.
Every department in the company — the newsroom, advertising, circulation, production and finance — was affected. The job reductions began last week and continued through Wednesday. Layoffs in the newsroom included editors, reporters and others.
"It's a significant change in the size of the newspaper," said Ryan Binkley, one of the new owners of ADN. He would not say how many people in total were let go.
The Binkley family, who bought the ADN, are more experienced in business than running newspapers so I understand going with their business instincts to keep things close to the vest.  But newspapers report on other businesses all the time and when there are layoffs, they push for a number or at least a percentage of people being laid off.  It's a matter of public interest to know how something like this is going to affect the local economy.  Newspapers should be models of transparency.  After all, other companies can now point to the ADN example when they decline to give ADN reporters this sort of information.

And how much is a reporter going to push her new boss to get more information, especially when the boss has just laid off a 'significant number' of her colleagues.  She doesn't want to get to the point where he says, "I told you 'no' now back off or I'll add you to the list."

Binkleys:  Bite the bullet and be good newspaper owners and set the example for other companies that your paper will be covering.  The information is going to come out eventually anyway - especially if you are a media organization.



2.  They didn't tell us which reporters', photographers' and others' by-lines we won't see any more were.

Publishing the names of people laid off may be a sensitive issue.  Shouldn't the employees involved have the right to let people know on their own terms?  Generally, I'd agree.  But in this case, we're talking about people whose names appear on by-lines every day in the newspaper (and, of course, online.)

Should readers just start guessing when names stop appearing?  "Oh, maybe this guy got laid off."

So, when I got a chance to talk to someone who worked at the ADN yesterday, I asked.  The person gave me a list of names, including some involved in less visible positions, like copy editors.  I didn't post yesterday because I wanted to get confirmation from another source.  I did that today.  For all but two of the names.  I got through to one, who confirmed, but not the other.  But he had on his Twitter account that he was a "former reporter."  I was told that Lisa Demer has posted on her Facebook account (not her public one so I couldn't confirm it) that a total of 17 were let go. [UPDATED 9/22/17 5pm - Lisa let me see her post.  In part (she goes on to pay tribute to all the people who were laid off) she wrote:
"One-third of the newsroom was cut — 17 newsroom positions gone — and the rest of ADN experienced something similar."

So here's a list of some of the people I know about, whose work appeared regularly in the ADN, some very prominently and frequently, others not so much.  I'm leaving out copy editors and advertising people who aren't directly responsible for telling us what is happening in our state. I must acknowledge though, that while their names aren't common knowledge, copy editors certainly influence how we see and read the stories.

Below is a list of people who work(ed) for the ADN.  You might have noticed these lists aren't showing up in current editions of the ADN in print or online.  I was able to find an old one online.  (It says 2012 and updated 2016, scroll down past the gibberish.) Then I went through ADN online bylines to get as many current folks as I could.  If you click on someone's by-line you get all their articles and a brief description of the reporter.  That's where I got my descriptions.  I put the folks laid off on top and bolded their names.

I'm also putting up the whole list (that I could gather, I may have missed some people) so you have a sense of the large impact of the layoffs.  These are the people whose names appear on articles or photos or illustrations only.

Those Laid Off:  
*Rich Mauer - Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and more recently a news editor [Updated: Sorry, I lost this name as I was reformatting the original list.]
*Columnist Dermot Cole, who lives in Fairbanks, has been a reporter, editor and author. For 40 years, he has written extensively about Alaska politics and history. 
*Yereth Rosen has been a journalist in Alaska since 1987. For most of that time, she was the sole Alaska-based reporter for Reuters. She has been reporting on energy issues, the environment, politics and all things Alaska  from oil spills to sled-dog races. She enjoys running, skiing and other outdoors pursuits. She lives in Anchorage with her family. 
*Erik Hill has been with ADN since December of 1984. Before that, he worked at The Kansas City Star following stops in Jacksonville, Florida, and Charleston, West Virginia. Originally from Oregon, Hill earned degrees at Stanford University and Ohio University. Memorable assignments have included the Exxon Valdez oil spill and several Iditarods. 
*Pamela Dunlap-Shohl - [couldn't find her description, but she does most of the charts that graphically help tell the stories hidden in numbers.]  
*Bob Hallinen has been a photojournalist in Alaska since the 1980s and has traveled extensively around the state. 
*Jerzy Shedlock is a reporter. A graduate of the University of Alaska Anchorage, he worked at the Peninsula Clarion before coming to Alaska Dispatch News. [I couldn't get a second confirmation on this one, but his twitter account says "former reporter."] 
*Rugile Kaladyte is a visual journalist for Alaska Dispatch News. 
*Doyle Woody grew up in East Anchorage and is in his fourth decade at the ADN. He's been covering hockey since the Ice Age 
*Jeannette Lee Falsey joined Alaska Dispatch News as a business reporter in 2015. She has worked as a staff writer for The Associated Press and as a researcher for the federal government's Alaska gasline office in Anchorage and Washington, D.C..
Some of these folks were getting ready to retire.  I know that one volunteered to be laid off.  But most were not ready and I wish them a gentle landing and hope that the jolt ignites lots of new opportunities and ways of telling the stories they tell.


People Who Apparently Are Still On the ADN Staff 

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers the oil and gas industries and general assignments for Alaska Dispatch News 
Michelle Theriault Boots is a reporter for Alaska Dispatch News. 
Marc Lester is a multimedia journalist for Alaska Dispatch News. 
Charles Wohlforth's column appears three times weekly. A lifelong Anchorage resident, he is the author of more than 10 books, and hosts radio shows on Alaska Public Media. More at wohlforth.com. 
Michael Carey is an Alaska Dispatch News columnist and the former editorial page editor of the Anchorage Daily News. 
Erica Martinson is Alaska Dispatch News' Washington, DC reporter, and she covers the legislation, regulation and litigation that impact the Last Frontier. Erica came to ADN after years as a reporter covering energy at POLITICO. Before that, she covered environmental policy at a DC trade publication. 
Annie Zak covers business and general assignments for Alaska Dispatch News. She previously wrote for the Puget Sound Business Journal and the Orange County Register. 
Tegan Hanlon covers education and general assignments. She also covered the 2016 and 2017 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Reach her at 907-257-4589 or Bob Hallinen has been a photojournalist in Alaska since the 1980s and has traveled extensively around the state.thanlon@alaskadispatch.com. 
Devin Kelly covers Anchorage city government and general assignments. 
Beth Bragg is Alaska Dispatch News sports editor. 
Zaz Hollander is based in Wasilla and covers the Mat-Su region for the ADN. 
Lisa Demer is based in Bethel and covers rural Alaska stories. She has been a reporter more than three decades. Reach her at 907-543-3555. 
Nathaniel Herz covers politics and general assignments. 
Kelsey Lindsey is a 2017 graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and is covering Arctic-related issues as part of an Alaska Dispatch News-Columbia fellowship. 
Laurel Andrews was born in Bethel and grew up in Fairbanks. She covers cannabis and general assignments. Reach her at laurel@alaskadispatch.com or 907-257-4382. 
Stephan Wiebe writes about all things Alaska sports. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Getting Rid Of Disgusting Online Ads

I was seeing a disgusting ad over and over again on a blog using the Blogspot platform, which is run by Google.  It just was a visibly disgusting picture advertising something I have no interest in.  It was so bad - the visual and the repetition - that I finally googled "how to stop seeing of ads on website."

I got to this page that google runs:  https://support.google.com/ads/answer/2662850?hl=en titled "Remove unwanted ads."

It tells you how to get rid of adds on different platforms that google runs.  Since Blogspot is owned by Google (it wasn't when I started here, nor was Youtube when I started there, nor was Twitter, do you see a pattern here?)

It's really simple and seems to work.  I'm sure lots of people take care of this through some sort of ad blogging app or they already know this.  But I figure if I didn't know about this until now, there are probably other Neanderthals like me.  This is for you.

I didn't want to subject you to the disgusting visual and so I found a less obnoxious ad to show you how to do this.







No guarantees here,  But it seems to have worked for the offending ad.Not all ads work this way, but if they have an x in the corner you can try.  Here's another option I found doing that:   Opt Out Information

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

1. Bird House 2. Northern Lights Inn Is Out

1.  I didn't realize that the bird was INSIDE the window until J pointed that out.



It was a black capped chickadee and it was trying to figure out how to get out to those trees.  I did wonder how it was sitting on the glass like that.  But it wasn't.  We have shades that you can pull up from the bottom or down from the top.  If down from the top, there are cords which I can't even see in the photo.  It was holding on to that.  

It didn't panic when I went toward the window.  It just flew to a nearby lamp.  I closed the shades and we opened the sliding glass door to the deck and it found it's way out quickly.

2.  I had a chance last night to take a picture of the lot that used to house the old Northern Lights Inn. It's totally gone now.


The four or five story structure has stood there empty since 2002 according to this ADN story from last October. (It has pictures too)  It went down sometime last month.   It seems like the building has been empty for much longer than 15 years.  Builders complain about no available land in the Anchorage bowl.  But places like this remind us it's there.  But the owners aren't ready to do anything with it.






Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trump Threatens To Kill (At Least) 25.3 Million People

[Note to Readers:  This was meant to be a short response to Trump's comment at the UN this morning about destroying North Korea.  But as I read the whole speech, (which you can read here) I realized that there was a lot more to it than just that comment.  Though that comment certainly stands out.  Analyzing the whole talk is worthwhile.  My initial reaction is: 

  • There are a lot of worthwhile aspirational ideals
  • There are lots of contradictions between those ideals in some places and what he says in other places.
  • There is nothing particularly thoughtful or detailed.  
  • There are some parts that might be revealing of how Trump thinks about the world (though I suspect he tends to 'feel' rather than 'think')
When I tried to find some factual reference for the consequences of the US attacking North Korea, I found a long New Yorker article dated yesterday by Evan Osnos who was in North Korea in August.  The article itself offers a lot of context for North Korea's behavior, for our (mis)interpretations or them and theirs of us.  

So I'm going to stick to the comment on destroying North Korea in this post, recommend the New Yorker  article to readers, and maybe be able to review the speech and the article in separate posts.]

Post starts here:

Trump doesn't exactly say he's ready to kill 25.3 million people.  I doubt he has any idea of the population of North Korea or has visualized what his threat would mean. Here's what he actually said:
"The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do."
There are SO MANY different angles one could (and should) address this.  I'm just going to look at the implications of "totally destroying North Korea."  

1.  North Korea had 25.37 million people in 2016.  But experts argue that an attack on North Korea cannot be undertaken without North Korea also attacking South Korea, whose population was estimated to be 51 million in 2016.  

From a long New Yorker article by Evan Osnos, dated September 18, 2017: 
"The Obama Administration studied the potential costs and benefits of a preventive war intended to destroy North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Its conclusion, according to Rice, in the Times, was that it would be “lunacy,” resulting in “hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of casualties.” North Korea likely would retaliate with an attack on Seoul. The North has positioned thousands of artillery cannons and rocket launchers in range of the South Korean capital, which has a population of ten million, and other densely populated areas. (Despite domestic pressure to avoid confrontation, South Korea’s President, Moon Jae-in, has accepted the installation of an American missile-defense system called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or thaad.)
Some two hundred thousand Americans live in South Korea. (Forty thousand U.S. military personnel are stationed in Japan, which would also be vulnerable.) A 2012 study of the risks of a North Korean attack on Seoul, by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, estimates that sixty-five thousand civilians would die on the first day, and tens of thousands more in the days that followed. If Kim used his stockpiles of sarin gas and biological weapons, the toll would reach the millions. U.S. and South Korean forces could eventually overwhelm the North Korean military, but, by any measure, the conflict would yield one of the worst mass killings in the modern age."
Were Trump to really attempt to 'totally destroy North Korea' he would find himself moved high onto the top ten list of the world's mass murderers - along with Stalin, Hitler, and Mao.

There are many ways one can look at this statement.

  • Is it just bluster?  
  • What kind of language is appropriate in the UN?  
  • How will the UN members react?
  • How will North Korea react?
  • Does Trump's behavior give license to others to act badly?


All of these could be discussed seriously.


  • Are there times when bluster is appropriate and inappropriate.  One could argue that Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump might have a lot of similarities and thus can understand each other's bluster.  But that's open to a lot of debate.  
  • One could argue that the UN is overly stuffy and people say what's polite and never confront serious issues and thus some bluster is needed to shake the place up.  I think that might be true on some issues, but frank talk does not equal bluster.  
  • Maybe, as the rest of the paragraph suggests, this 'totally destroy' language is simply to provoke the UN to do its job of ensuring peace.  


I would note that Kim Jong Un might rather like the nickname "Rocket Man."  From the New Yorker  article:
"On an embankment near a major intersection, workers in gray coveralls were installing an enormous red sign that praised the 'immortal achievements of the esteemed Supreme Leader, comrade Kim Jong Un, who built the nuclear state of Juche, the leader in rocket power!'”

Go read the New Yorker article, it's got much more meat than I can add here.  

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sanctuary State - Why It's Harder For Trump To Dominate US Than It Was For Hitler To Dominate Germany


Back in February I did a post called Structural Difference Between US and 1930's Germany That Makes It Harder For Trump which recalled the lessons I learned from my mother who grew up in Nazi Germany and how that helped me see, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, the stark differences between a centralized national bureaucracy and one where each state had significant independence from the capital.

Screenshot LA Times 9/17/17



Yesterday I was reminded of that lesson once again when I saw this headline for an LA Times story:  State to become a 'sanctuary'.




In a centralized bureaucracy like they had in Nazi Germany or have in Thailand, all government is controlled out of Berlin or Bangkok - education, police, health, everything.

But in the US the federal government is in charge of certain things and states have the power over everything else.  The Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
(Article 1 of the Constitution which enumerates the federal powers is not nearly as brief.)


Some of that state independence has eroded as Congress has, over the years, tied federal funding to compliance with the federal mandates.

But individual states, police departments, school districts, can risk the funding if they object strongly enough to the federal demands.  They can, essentially, tell the feds to go to hell.   In this sanctuary case they are telling state employees not to enforce (partially at least*) immigration laws because those are federal, not state, responsibilities.  And in this sanctuary case, it appears that so far, the courts have agreed with the states that the feds can't withhold federal funding to sanctuary cities.  (That's also mentioned in the LA Times story.)

Of course, states rights are a good thing when they protect what you feel is important, but not when they protect things to which you object.  The rights of African-Americans were horrendously violated in the post-civil war south through to Jim Crow and even after the civil rights acts of 1964, on the grounds of 'states rights.'  And the states that have legalized marijuana are improvising a tricky dance with the feds around conflicting laws.

But I'm pleased to see how many Americans are standing up for the rights of immigrants, particularly the DACA folks.  We've come a long way since Japanese-Americans, including US citizens, were incarcerated during WW II, with very little objection from the rest of the population.


*The new sanctuary law in California, the article tells us, does allow some cooperation, mainly regarding immigrants with criminal violations.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Having Trouble Figuring Out What's Politically Correct And What's Just Correct?

I don't see much difference in concept among these events.  But some have been called politically correct while others aren't.  Can you guess which of these events have been labeled 'politically correct' and which ones haven't?



The only distinction I can see is if the action is taken by liberals, it's political correctness.  If by conservatives it's not.

Which just helps demonstrate what I've said all along - political correctness is when someone behaves  a certain way so as not to rile the powers that be.  But the Right has done its PR magic to make it seem that only the Left is politically correct.  When the Right does this, it's just the right thing to do.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Turntable's Working Right Again Thanks To Old Fashioned Craftsman

The turntable is old.  From the sixties, and it had a serious problem:  the arm didn't lift high enough when the record was finished and it scratched its way back.  The only way I could safely listen to a record was to be careful to catch the arm when the record was done.  You know I'm going to miss my cue now and then.

I'm listing to Aftermath as I write this thanks to Jan Ok Han who runs Sunset Service out of his house.  I got his name from Obsession Records a while ago and I finally called him a couple of weeks ago.  He repairs electronic equipment, like turntables, and he also teaches guitar.  When I dropped the turntable off we had a wide-ranging conversation that included a history lesson on Korea and Japan and information on classical guitar in Anchorage.  That's what I meant in the title about old-fashioned techie.  

There are folks at Best Buy or the Apple store who will take time to talk to you about your computer or camera, but Mr. Han is really an artist who takes great interest in and care of items he works on.  He explained to me in detail what he was going to do and today, what he did.  No giant corporation is tracking data in this transaction.  This is an interaction of love (of what he's doing) and trust between the customer and the  craftsman.  There's both the time and interest for there to be a human interaction rather than just a commercial one.  



Here he's showing me his own guitar which he repaired.  He was showing me how the finish where he repaired the hole wasn't perfect.  It was hard to tell.  He doesn't repair guitars for others now.  This one took too long to do for a customer he said.  

David Oistrahk is playing Prokofiev now.  It reminds me of an incredible concert I went to in Florence the year I was a student in Germany.  Oistrakh was magnificent.  There was a standing ovation at the end, but most of the people left.  There were maybe 40 people left in the audience, yet he played another encore.  It was one of those concert experiences when you leave your body and fly with the music.  

Thanks Han for the pleasure of meeting you, for fixing my turntable, and reconnecting me with Oistrahk right now.  

Friday, September 15, 2017

For Something Totally Different - Casting Out Nines

My son-in-law sent me this video.  It's always cool to learn new tricks, especially when they are 'simple.'  I've put quotes around that because this trick is simple up to a point.  The practical part.  The explanation of why it works might need a couple of reviews to catch.

Trust me here and just start watching this.  If you don't like it, just stop.  But you won't stop if you have any curiosity at all.



He does say that people used this trick back in the old days, before calculators. Well, I learned arithmetic before there were cheap, readily available handheld calculators, and I don't remember anyone ever mentioning this.

He explains why the nines don't matter by giving the example of there being seven days in the week so the sevens don't matter.  But he doesn't exactly say that we're just using nine digits (which I guess get us back to zero which also doesn't matter).  I'm assuming that's the link to seven days of the week.    Anyone know if that's right?

Also, anyone know where he comes from?  I'm assuming UK, but what part?  Listen to how he says Monday for example.  That must narrow it down for people who know British dialects.