Saturday, April 17, 2021

Keeping Busy Doing Nothing - AK Press Club, Seedlings, Bike, Cooking, Redistricting, COVID, Spanish, Grandkids. . .

 Time seems to whiz by.  Suddenly it's Wednesday and I have to take out the garbage again.  How can it be 10pm, it's still light out?  I just paid that bill.  Making it worse, it seems like I haven't gotten anything done.  

But when I try to track what I'm doing, it turns out I'm really doing a lot.  I'm tracking and posting  the Alaska COVID numbers every day.  I'm doing 20-40 minutes into DuoLingo Spanish.

I try to do the Cryptoquote and the Sudoku in the paper every day.

My Seattle granddaughter FaceTimes with us for an hour or three several times a week.  And I've been volunteering in her class, via zoom, listening to kids read books of their choice.  The SF grandkids have a regular two or three hours every Wednesday afternoon.  

This month, the Alaska Press Club has been having Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 8am workshops in lieu of a three day in person conference.  Despite the horrible hour, all the ones I've listened in on (all of them so far) have been excellent.  Yesterday was one on covering Corrections and included a reporter who does cover corrections, an ACLU employee who works on corrections issues and used to work for the Dept of Corrections under Walker, and a woman who started a non-profit called Supporting Our Loved Ones Group - people who have friends and relatives in prison.  One part of the discussion focused on the words that journalists use to describe people in prison. I guess I've had a soft spot for the plight of prisoners ever since I visited a former 6th grade student (he was then probably in the 9th grade) at a juvenile detention center outside of Los Angeles maybe 50 years ago.  Other sessions have been on Climate Change and How to Choose And Write Stories. They also did one on setting up an elections debate commission for Alaska that was very compelling.  You can see the commission proposal here.   I've got notes for blog posts on all of these, but the Anchorage Municipal Election and the Redistricting Board have distracted me.  

I haven't seen much coverage at all in other media about the Alaska Redistricting Board and since I covered it intensely in 2011-13, I realize I know a lot about what it is, what the issues are, and what was done last time.  So it seems I'm stuck doing it again.  Right now not much is happening - setting things up procedurally and getting staff - they've hired a law firm to advise them and they are getting an RFI ready to hire a Voting Rights Act consultant.  They are behind the pace of ten years ago because the Pandemic and Trump policies slowed down the Census Count and the State redistricting numbers won't come out until maybe August this year.  Last time they got the numbers in March.

I've started my summer biking in earnest yesterday, keeping to the trails along streets while the trails through the greenbelts still have snow on them.  I did a seven mile test run south on Lake Otis, east on Dowling, north on Elmore, then wandering through neighborhoods back home.

Here's Campbell Creek from Lake Otis

An aside about snow this year.  I'd asked Weather Service guy Brian Brettschneider, via DM on Twitter, if we'd had more snow days this year, because it seemed like I was shoveling snow all the time.  He responded: 

"Anchorage will finish with about 5" less snowfall than normal. But our snow depth was one of the greatest on record. We basically had 0 melting events throughout the season."

Riding along Dowling, the ice and snow were gone from the trail the whole ride.  

And then Campbell Creek again, this time looking back from Elmore.

My knees have been showing signs of being past their warranty.  Running is out.  Biking was ok last summer.  I'm hoping I can do another 600 km or more this summer, but it will depend on how my knees react.  

We've been zooming in to the Alaska Black Caucus' Sunday panels. (Link to this Sunday's forum is on the upper right of their page.) They've been doing a great job covering a lot of topics from candidate forums (School Board and Mayor, and this Sunday they are going to have the mayoral runoff candidates - Dunbar and Bronson) to discussions on things like body cameras for police and the military experience in Alaska for Blacks.  They've been having 50 and 60 attendees every week.  Really well done.  I've never heard candidates talk so candidly.  But then the 

There was also a Citizens Climate lobby meeting and a few other zoom meetings.

One way to get through all the zoom meetings is to do relatively mindless tasks that allow me to pay attention, but also get something done.  Eating is the most obvious, but I also prepared and baked a bread through one meeting.  

And used the left over dough to make a veggie pizza.  

And I've been planting seeds now that I can see patches of ground through the snow outside.  Trying Arctic Tomatoes this year.  But I've also got arugula, stock, snapdragons, pansies, sweet peas, flax, and a few other seeds growing.  

I suspect that feeling like I haven't gotten anything done comes partially through the fact that zoom meetings let you stay home and so you don't get out that much.  When you physically go to a meeting, it (probably, it's hard to remember) feels more like you've actually done something.  So I have to write things down to remind myself that I've actually been busy and doing worthwhile things.  

Oh, and watching some of the video of each of the UAA Chancellor candidates.  A really diverse selection.  Not a good time to be a white male in this crowd I'm guessing.  Most looked reasonable, some very good, and our Superintendent of Schools must have been unwell, because she couldn't be still or say more than platitudes.  You can watch them yourselves.  I'd recommend about ten minutes of each to get a sense of them.  Really, these tell us mostly how well they speak in public.  To some extent how much the know about higher education.  But not too much about how well they can run a university.

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