Tuesday, January 27, 2015

University of Alaska Gets Four New Regents

The Governor's office announced the appointment of four new regents for the University of Alaska.  The indented text comes directly from the governor's press release.  The photo sources are linked to the names under the images.

“These appointments represent a broad spectrum of Alaskans and Alaska,” Governor Walker said. “All four will bring unique qualities to the Board of Regents that will help guide the future of our great university system.”
Andy Tuber
Andy Teuber (pronounced “TOO-ber”) of Kodiak has served as the Chairman and President of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) for seven years. During his tenure, he negotiated a $153 million settlement with the Indian Health Service for contract support costs, and has directed the organization from a $5 million loss in 2009 to a financially healthy position that allows the Consortium to invest its additional revenue in service expansion and improvements to ensure Alaska Natives have better access to health care. For the past nine years, Teuber has also served as the President and CEO of Kodiak Area Native Association, a non-profit corporation providing health and social services for the Alaska Natives of Kodiak Island. He holds a master of business administration degree from the University of Washington, Foster School of Business. 

Sheri Buretta
Sheri Buretta (pronounced “bur-ETTA”) of Anchorage is the Chairman of the Chugach Alaska Corporation Board of Directors. She has also served on the Board of Directors for the Alaska Federation of Natives since 1997, and the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation Board since 2012. Born in Anchorage, Buretta’s family is from the village of Tatitlek in Prince William Sound. She holds an associate’s degree in accounting from the University of Alaska and an associate’s degree in business from Gulf Coast Community College in Florida. 

 John Davies

Governor Walker also appointed John Davies (pronounced “DAVE-ease”) of Fairbanks to the Board of Regents. A former member of the Alaska House of Representatives, Davies has a long career in public service, including 10 years in the Alaska Legislature and seven years on the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly. For the past 12 years he has worked as a Researcher at the Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks, where he carries out research on public policy related to energy efficient building techniques for cold climates. Davies also worked for 12 years as a state seismologist and research associate for the UAF Geophysical Institute. He holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Reed College, and Ph.D. in geophysics from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. 

 Lisa Parker
To represent the Kenai Peninsula, Governor Walker appointed Lisa Parker of Soldotna to the Board of Regents. Currently the External Affairs & Government Relations Manager for Apache Corporation, Parker has an extensive background in natural resource development and state and local government. Prior to her work at Apache, she spent eight years as the Government and Community Relations Manager for Agrium USA, one of the world’s largest fertilizer manufacturers. She is also the former Planning Director for the Kenai Peninsula Borough, and served six years on the College Council for the University of Alaska, Kenai River Campus. Parker, a lifelong Alaskan, holds a Bachelor Degree in Political Science from The American University in Washington DC.

The Board has eleven members.  So this is almost 40% of the Board.  The only person I know at all is Lisa Parker, the daughter of Walt Parker.  Walt was one of the greatest Alaskans I've known.  The group represents people whose highest degrees are  an Associates degree, Bachelors degree, Masters degree, and Doctoral degree.

Since the Board of Regents sets the policy the University of Alaska,  it's important to have people who know how universities work from the inside, not just as a student, but also as a teacher and as a researcher and as an administrator.    I think it's important to have people with an Associates degree to represent the perspective of those students.  I would like to see more with PhDs.  The Board already has several people with business degrees, so I would like to see more diversity in subject matter.  Our society is already dominated by a business way of calculating and making decisions.  But we can't judge people by their degrees, but by who they are as individuals and what they value, and what they do.  Let's hope these four bring new energy and vision to the University of Alaska.

[The four regents stepping down were profiled here.]

Monday, January 26, 2015


The wind was coming from the south, the bike path was pretty empty and I got further up the coast in 30 minutes from my mom's house than before.  It was threatening rain, but really the few drops weren't serious.

It took a little longer to get back, and by the time I reached home, the streets were wet, but I wasn't really.

Good ride and LA can use some rain, but more than what's fallen so far.

Mac Art Options

The fact that I'm linking to a Mac ad, should tell you that I think this is pretty cool.  It certainly stretches my options for creating images with my camera and Macbook.

I got to this website due to a glitch in iWork's Pages (the Mac version of Word) so I'm even less inclined to highlight it.

It  has a dozen or so examples of things people have done with their iPhones and other Apple products with a little description of how.  Inspirational, in the literal sense.  Here are just a couple of examples from the site.

Marcello Gomes


Roz Hall

Here's the link again.  Start playing around.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Five Hours - Two Worlds

Five hours from Anchorage, non-stop, to LA.  Actually, it was about four hours and forty five minutes.  After getting the house-sitter settled, we took off a little before midnight Anchorage time.  And we landed just before six am LA time.   The LA picture is actually about seven hours later - after we got the bus, had breakfast, and then were walking the last mile to my mom's.

I hadn't planned on this order of the pictures, but when I looked at them, these two seemed so similar (long flat foreground, looking into the light) that they seemed a perfect pairing.  And a perfect contrast between the two worlds we've been bouncing back and forth between, as we visit my mom each month.

I've always been fascinated by how easy it is today to walk through a door in an airport in one part of the world and walk out another door into another part of the world.  I remember walking through the Brussels airport and seeing (to me) exotic African cities listed at the gates.  And the contrast between Anchorage and LA in January is pretty stark.

I contrast this with the ten days (in my memory anyway) it took to sail from New York to Le Havre in   1964 on the way to spending a college year in Germany.  Or to driving from Anchorage to Boston and back.  Overland (or oversea) one has time to feel the distance.  One's body has time to adjust to waking up closer or further from the sunrise.  One's brain has time to process the land or sea scape.  But planes abruptly fling one from one point on earth to another.  That's one reason I like window seats - so I can, when it's clear and light - get some sense of the topography I'm traveling through.

OK, enough musing.  Here are some shots as we got to enjoy the dawn.  (A positive side of the shorter days in Anchorage is that even people who sleep late get to see the dawn.)

Just off the plane in LAX terminal 6

Still dark waiting for the shuttle to the bus station
Just starting to get light as we get to the bus station

We then slept for half the day.

[Photo notes:I didn't bring the bigger camera on this trip.  Our flights are both in the dark, so no landscape shots, and I'm trying to travel as light as I can.  It would have been nice to have the polaroid filter Joe Blow suggested in comments to an early post, so the Good Bus Karma didn't have all the reflection.  I could have just cropped the picture to that sign, but I wanted the sense of being on the bus as well.  So I stretched the crop to keep the word bus and I included the driver and steering wheel.  The palm trees outside were pretty washed out, so I did play with brightness in photoshop for that part.]

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Snow Drought Relief Means Driveway Work

Anchorage got a little snow in the last couple of days.  Not much, but enough.

Having a one car garage and two cars becomes problematic in the winter.  My car is essentially a back up vehicle most of the time and a summer camping vehicle.  But when it snows, it has to get off the streets so the snow plows can clear.  At least we don't get tickets or towed if it is on the street, but it's a nuisance for the plow drivers.  And for the neighbors and us if there's a gap that isn't cleared.  

The snow also gets me some exercise shoveling the driveway.  It's nice to be out with the clean white powder  and the quiet and being able to very tangibly see the impact of one's labor.  And yesterday as I was shoveling, a young moose ran down the street.  No moose today, but I got to say hi to the neighbor as he put his snowboard in his car and headed off.  

We have a driveway with a bit of slope.  That means that if I don't clear it right away, the car tracks pack down the snow which eventually becomes ice and walking up and down the driveway gets treacherous.  So I try to clear right away.  Before my wife backs out of the driveway and starts to make tracks.  It's much, much easier to just clear the fresh, unpacked down snow.  (I did post a picture of the driveway two years ago when we had lots and lots of snow, here.)

But today, there were already tracks in the driveway.  I'm guessing the paper delivery folks drove up the driveway because there were no footsteps, just the truck tracks.  

You can see the tracks, on the bottom where I've already shoveled and then on the left up through the fresh snow.  

And here's what it looks like when I've shoveled the whole driveway, leaving the packed down snow from the tire tracks.  Then I have to get out the ice scraper and scrape off the tracks.  Just one pass on the fresh snow wasn't too hard.  But if a car goes back and forth over the uncleared driveway, the packed area gets wider and wider and harder and harder to scrape off.  And when it becomes icy it's much harder.  For people with flat driveways, this is less of an issue.

So I used the ice scraper.  

Now, if it gets sunny and/or windy and dry, then this will just evaporate and not leave any ice to catch an unwary heel.  But if it rains and freezes, then I have to get out the gravel.  I should have no trouble getting my car up the driveway now for when the snow plow comes.  

Sometimes I wonder why I write posts like this. I think there's value in documenting the ordinary, things that normally don't get noted. It's also because I don't have to think too much to get a post up,   people who don't have snow don't think about these things.    We do have a southern exposure, so when it is sunny and warms up a bit (it's in the teens now) the driveway will get all icy as snow on top melts, flows down, and then freezes overnight.  This is all preventive work, and I'm glad I'm still fit enough to be able to do it.  The body likes being given a workout in the fresh cold air.  

Friday, January 23, 2015

Four Regents Terms Up; Expect New Appointments From Walker Soon

The University of Alaska regents whose terms expire in 2015 include:  (descriptions are excerpted from from the University website bios of the regents.)

[UPDATE Jan 27:  Governor Appoints Four New Regents]
Term: 2005-2015 
Timothy C. Brady of Anchorage was appointed in 2005 by Governor Murkowski and reappointed in 2007 by Governor Palin. Regent Brady is from a pioneer Alaska family. He serves as president of Ken Brady Construction Company, where he has worked in various positions over the past 30 years. He holds a bachelor of science degree from Arizona State University's School of Engineering, Division of Construction. Regent Brady is involved with the Anchorage Downtown Rotary, Boy Scouts of America, American Red Cross, Better Business Bureau, and Associated General Contractors of Alaska.
Every time I look at these, I have new questions.  In this case, it's about why would Brady have to be reappointed by Palin?  He'd only served two years of an eight year appointment.

Term: 2007-2015 
Fuller A. Cowell of Anchorage was appointed in 2007 by Governor Palin. Regent Cowell was raised on a homestead in Fairbanks, attended Lathrop High School and studied biology at UAF. He completed his bachelors of business administration with an emphasis in marketing at National University, Sacramento, California graduating Summa Cum Laude. Cowell completed the Advanced Executive Program at the Kellogg Business School, Northwestern University, in Chicago, Illinois. In 1995, he was awarded the UAF Alumni Achievement Award for Community Achievement. The award was established to recognize outstanding UAF alumni.
I posted about Cowell in more detail when he was the lone regent who voted to retain the president's $320,000 longevity bonus.  

Term: 2007-2015 
Patricia Jacobson of Kodiak was appointed by Governor Palin in 2007. Regent Jacobson grew up in southern Arizona. She graduated in 1969 from the University of Arizona with a BA in Elementary Education, and from the University of Alaska in 1972 with an MA in Elementary Education.  Regent Jacobson taught various elementary grades, primarily gifted classes, for 26 years, 25 of which were in Kodiak. She was appointed to the Professional Teaching Practices Commission (PTPC) by Governor Hammond in 1979. She received the Christa McAuliffe Fellowship for Alaska in 1992.  As a teacher, Regent Jacobson was active in Kodiak and Alaska NEA and is a life member of NEA-Retired. After retiring she worked independently for the Kodiak School District as the village technology liaison, serving all of Kodiak's villages and logging camps, until she was elected to the local school board, ultimately serving as its president.  
She was chair when the president's bonus was approved and supported it strongly when it was challenged.
Term: 2007-2015  
Kirk Wickersham of Anchorage was appointed to the Board of Regents in 2007 by Governor Palin. Wickersham is an actively retired attorney and real estate broker. He is the developer and owner of FSBO System, Inc. a company that provides professional coaching to home sellers, and a former chair of the Alaska Real Estate Commission. Previously, he was an economic development consultant and won a national award for innovative community development regulations.

I'm pleased to see that each of these regents stayed in service for the whole eight years of the terms.  In the past, there has been very high turnover with people leaving well before their terms were up.

Let's hope there are some people with a higher education background in the new group.   

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Selma's Garbage Bag Problem

We thought it would be a good idea to finally see Selma on MLK Day.  And it was.  I'm hoping to get a post up on why before long.  But there was one scene that jarred me and I've done a little checking.

MLK and his wife are in the kitchen.  He takes a full garbage bag out from under the sink.  It's a clear plastic bag.  He empties it and then she unrolls a new bag which puts bag under the sink for the rest of the garbage.

What's wrong with that scene?  My problem has nothing to do with division of household labor.  My immediate thought when I saw that was:  No one used plastic garbage bags then.  Especially not clear plastic bags.

In Los Angeles, people used incinerators to burn garbage until they were banned in 1957 in an attempt to reduce smog.  (There's still an old one in my mom's backyard.)

I checked online and here's what I found:
  1. Plastic garbage bags weren't invented until 1950 (by a Canadian) and the first ones  were sold to businesses, not households.  The bags were green.
  2. The first green plastic garbage bags for the home were sold by Union Carbide - Glad Bags - in the late 1960s.  (The movie takes place in 1965.)
  3. Plastic bags weren't introduced to grocery stores until 1977!
I recall putting garbage into paper shopping bags until plastic bags were available.  And paper bags don't really hold  garbage well when they get wet.  

Here are some sources:

The familiar green plastic garbage bag (made from polyethylene) was invented by Harry Wasylyk in 1950.Harry Wasylyk was a Canadian inventor from Winnipeg, Manitoba, who together with Larry Hansen of Lindsay, Ontario, invented the disposable green polyethylene garbage bag. 
Garbage bags were first intended for commercial use rather than home use - the bags were first sold to the Winnipeg General Hospital. However, Hansen worked for the Union Carbide Company in Lindsay, who bought the invention from Wasylyk and Hansen. Union Carbide manufactured the first green garbage bags under the name Glad Garbage bags for home use in the late 1960s.

Reference: http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blGarbageBag.htm

“PAPER OR PLASTIC” WARS BEGIN: The plastic grocery bag is introduced to the supermarket industry as an alternative to paper sacks.[iv] At this point, plastic produce bags had long overtaken paper bags in the produce aisle. The grocery sack market was later, in 1986, described as “paper’s last stronghold” by Mobil Chemical’s marketing manager. [v]

Film makers:  If you're doing a film that takes place before you were old enough to remember, but not so long ago that there are still people alive who do remember, show the geezers the film and let them spot the anachronisms.

With technology changing so much faster today, future film makers will have an even harder time.
Is it a biggie? No.  But for people my age,  it's like seeing a film that takes place in 2000 with people using iPhones.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

For Anchorage Folks Waiting For Snow

I offer this picture I posted on January 12, 2012 to remind you what winter used to look like.

For those of you reading this from afar, this year there is a thin, raggedy carpet of hard, old snow with dead grass and fallen leaves poking through.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Low Tech Drying

Maybe it's because we never had a dryer at home.  For me hanging up the clothes to dry is restful - even when it's inside.

The clothespin and a line is such a simple design.  And with the low winter humidity inside Anchorage homes, the clothes  dry quickly. I like to think that it helps the humidity, but I'm sure only negligibly.

The simple dollar website cites about 3.3 kilowatt hours per load.  And Municipal Light and Power says 1 kw hour costs me 5.6 .   So I'm not doing it for the money since it only saves about 17  per load, and reduces my carbon footprint slightly.  But if one million other folks did the same it would have an impact.

Mindless tasks you can do without thinking let the brain relax and wander, and they're a good break from more concentrated brain work.

I don't want to give the impression I always use the clothesline.  But I feel better when I do.

Why I Live Here - Anchorage Folk Festival And The California Honeydrops

It's a five minute walk to the Wendy Williamson Auditorium.  The folk festival had concerts there Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  And I'm guessing it's one of the last of the free concerts of this calibre in the US.  And the auditorium was completely full.

High Lonesome Sound

We saw several fine acts - Shirley Mae Springer-Staten's group made amazing sounds.  High Lonesome Sound also got the crowd riled up.

I was among those who came into the concerts with no awareness of who the California Honeydrops were.

California Honeydrops
But it took less than a minute to realize how good they were and what a fine voice the lead singer had and how much he was in control of it.  The MC told us that the Honeydrops don't do concerts, they do dance events (I can't remember the exact word he used) and right from the start there were people up and dancing.  It was an exhilarating concert.  I'm always hesitant to put up videos of music from my little camera because the sound is only an echo thrice removed of the original.  But it will give you a sense of the rocking scene Sunday night.   I guess it blended blues and jazz, but you can judge for yourself.  You can hear some of their music with much better audio at their website.

The festival continues through next weekend.  Check out the schedule here.