You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category.

I love Star Wars (what geek doesn’t? Except maybe some Trekies. They don’t count.) So what could possibly be a better Valentine’s Day gift from my lovely wife than a trip to the Star Wars exhibit at the Anchorage Museum?

My only regret is that the line to see the inside of the Falcon was two hours long, and I’m pretty sure I would have actually fainted from hunger before getting inside.



Behold the majestic ridiculousness!  The awesome oversizedness!  A word of advice though: Don’t mess with the males during mating season, and don’t mess with mothers weaning their calves.  (Seriously.  Someone gets stomped to death every other year or so.) But a lone moose in March? Photo op!

Yes, another Picasa album (I find it easier to work with than WordPress’ own stuff

Shortly after getting married and moving about 3,600 miles, we went on a sight-seeing drive.  Coral’s then-future boss had taken her on a short (by Alaskan standards) drive down the Seward Highway while she had time to kill before her flight home from the interview, and she thought I’d get a kick out of it too.

These pictures are terrible.  I mean, they’re fine, but really, they don’t capture the subject.  Clearly, you should email us to reserve your spot on our couch to come see them in person (hurry: summer will fill up fast!)

Album at Picasa

It seems like Mr. Dale is pulling together pictures to write up his own blog post, so I guess we have a case of “feast or famine,” as far as blogging goes. Hopefully, besides showing you beautiful mountains and cute puppies, he’ll talk about what he thinks about Alaska so far. People keep asking me, and I just kind of shrug and say “Better, now that it’s lighter out.” But I bet he puts it more clearly, himself.

It really is nicer, now that the sun’s coming back. It was weird the first time I realized it was bright out after 5pm. Now it’s light past 7, which is excellent. Soon, we’ll overtake you folks in VA, PA, and CT. As far as the weather goes, February was strange and melty, with temperatures in the 40s–Dale and I really liked it–but we’re back to hardcore winter, at this point. I think it’s 19 degrees out (I’m writing this around 6pm on Friday the 12th, but it’ll get posted later, when it’s a different temperature, I’m sure). And there were many inches of snow over the course of this week, starting just after the AkLA Conference/Iditarod start and going… well, there were 24 hours of steady snow on Monday and Tuesday, and a little more has fallen since. It was enough that UAA closed campus on Tuesday. I won’t lie, the snow day was appreciated! I was “Technical Coordinator” for the Alaska Library Association (AkLA) conference, last weekend, and it was a bit bigger job than I’d anticipated. But I got to see librarians from all over Alaska and, as I mentioned above, the sled dogs at the Iditarod Ceremonial Start, on Saturday.

I’m a little sorry I don’t have more to say about winter festivities, actually. Next year, we’re going to attend the Fur Rondy (I was too busy with conference preparations) and more of the Iditarod start (conference was going on, and neither of us had a second layer of pants or thick enough shoes or, for that matter, hats on)–maybe even drive up to Willow for the real start. That’ll be pretty fun! But even the little bit we saw was pretty exciting.

I guess our big news is that we found an apartment. It’s cute, walkable to work (at least when the weather’s OK), has a washer/dryer, and will have room for a garden out back when the weather improves! A good find! We’ll post pictures of that, as it pulls together, too. The birds seem to more or less like it, and the chinchilla loves it. So, a happy (if residually stressed out) family!

In other news, Dale’s name change worked fine. He still has to go to DMV, but since his Social Security card and lease both say Sheldon-Hess, there’s really no concern that DMV will give him trouble. (There is some concern that he’s now past the 60 day limit for getting a license after getting to the state, though. Hmm.)

Anyway, here’s hoping this post means we’re back to blogging! Feel free to comment and let me know how you’re doing! If you didn’t get our mass email with info about our new address, phone numbers, and email, that means I had the wrong (or no) email address for you, and you should let me know, so I send that along. :) If you did get it and wrote back, I am still way behind on replying to those replies, but don’t feel like I don’t love you…

Before we get to the point of the post: Dale’s and my phones are both 907- numbers, now. If you don’t have them, let us know. Our 412- numbers are off, or will be by tomorrow.

I bought the tickets for my flight to and Dale’s, Ella’s, and my flight back from Boston. I’m getting there in the afternoon on Thursday, January 14, and there will be conferency goodness on the 15th-18th. I know Saturday afternoon, evening, and night are full of librarian shenanigans, but much of the rest remains semi-unscheduled. (I don’t think Event Planner has opened up yet. When it does, I’ll know better what’s what.)

After the conference, Dale and I will head back to his parents’ place from Boston, hang out for 3 days, and fly back to Anchorage on Friday the 22nd, with Ella. Sadly, no airline seems to allow chinchillas in the passenger cabin, after all, so we’ll have to trust the cargo people. It’s going to be a little nerve-wracking, but I’m fairly hopeful that everything will go smoothly.

We get back late enough on Friday night–and the jet lag will be bad enough–that we’ll probably have to spend most of the weekend recuperating (though I kind of hope to show up to whatever shindig the gamer friends might be having, so they can meet Dale right off :)). I’ll take off Monday–or possibly Monday and Tuesday–to show Dale around town a bit. And then I’ll start back to work and, hopefully, he’ll start interviewing for work.

Dale’s Move:

First things first, I’ve gotten this question a lot, so I think maybe I didn’t mention it in the blog before: Dale’s moving in mid-January. He’s staying with his parents in Connecticut over Christmas and through the beginning of January. I’m flying out to Boston for the ALA Midwinter conference, which he’ll also be attending (he’s agreed to take charge of book signings, since I’m always too busy to wait in line; also, I’m hoping Exhibits Plus will get him into the NMRT Social :)). And I’ll take a few days of vacation, to hang out with his family, too, either before or after the conference. Then we’ll put Ella into a travel crate, sized to fit under a seat–which reminds me, I should probably poke Dale to get her that crate now and let her get used to it–and fly to Anchorage, hopefully on a non-stop flight.

After that, we’ll try not to spend any money until he’s employed.


I got a new phone, since Verizon up here is terrible, and that contract’s ending soon. If you don’t know my new number, email me for it. Or call my old phone; it’s hooked up until the day after Thanksgiving. Dale’s, too. (We are on the same area code AND the same exchange, this time, which is cool.) Or, I might call you. If you see a 907 number, pick up. If you have tips about iPhones, share them. Dale has a texting-friendly phone, with a keyboard (or he will, once I mail it), because he didn’t want the Internet Everywhere. I did. And, yeah, we have 3G in Alaska, though it’s new within the last year or two.

My growing pains:

I’ve sort of hit that wall that people moving to new places eventually hit, where I know some people and have some friends to hang out with, but I’m not really full integrated into any one group. The best stories all predate me and will for a long time, I know. [I had only just gotten to the point, in the Pittsburgh crowd, where that seemed less true.] And, as wonderful as people have been, I still feel a little bit like an outsider. Although these people are part of my life, now, it’s not clear that I’m part of theirs, yet, if that makes any sense–and, by all rights, there’s no reason I should be: I haven’t even hit the two month mark, yet. (I feel like I should point out, they’re putting in a real effort. A couple of them invited me along and showed me all these cool things in Anchorage, last Sunday, and it was super fun. They didn’t have to do that, and I am super grateful. They’ve been great. This complaining, it’s not about them; it’s about not having what I already know and where I already fit surrounding me, like I’m used to.) There’s nothing for it; that’s just how moving to new places is. It’s not just socially, though that’s arguably the bulk of it: I know a lot about how to do my job, at work, though I’m still not quite “expert” at it. I know most of the people there, though I’m still learning how all the little pieces fit together, between all the departments and individuals and what sits where and… you know, all those things you learn on a new job. I’m still new, which lets me ask naive questions, but gives me a bit of that outsider feeling, too.

In trying to do my job better, I went to a reception for engineers, with the hope of meeting some of the students and faculty, and the feeling of otherness was overwhelming. The students and alumni relations people all had name tags, but there was nothing to separate the professors from the industry people. And, while I have the guts–after a fashion–to walk up to somebody and say “I see you’re a professor of [whatever]. I’m one of your liaison librarians,” it was beyond my comfort level to walk up to somebody and not know whether they were a professor, someone from the Chancellor’s office, or someone from totally outside the school. So I ended up standing around, a lot, and talking to five or six students and someone from, I’m guessing, the Green Party, before I high-tailed it back to my office. It’s hard to describe how disconcerting that was, being the non-engineer–but not really!–in a room of engineers. (“Are you an alumni?” someone asked, not quite grammatically, and I responded “Not of this school.” Which is less than helpful.) It was just super awkward and has kind of thrown me into a funk, I think.

And I’ve had my nose rubbed in to the fact that my politics don’t fit in up here, which I knew, sure, but… In one week, I received three replies from three different representatives (well, one Representative and two Senators), all disheartening. Murkowski used the term “rationed health care” in her reply, at which point I fed her letter to the birds, because I hate being lied to. (They’re enjoying it.) Begich showed he hadn’t read my letter–he assured me most assiduously that nobody will ever be forced to have an abortion, which is definitely not what I wrote to him about. And, when I called Donald Young’s office, his punkass staffer told me he will be voting no on the health reform bill, opting to support the Republican bill, instead. (When I asked “You mean the one the Budget Office smacked down this morning?” he said “Well, I don’t know about that.”) Argh.

On the bright side, although there was more of the whole “I’m an outsider” feeling, I did have a nice time at Bird Club on Tuesday. And they suggested that I could prevent night frights by leaving the birds uncovered at night. I want to get them some sort of ceramic heat-maker, or something, because I worry they’ll catch a draft. But it’s been most of a week, with no night time freakouts. So that’s good.

I didn’t have the social energy to go meet with the campus feminists or attend the amateur radio club, yesterday. But I went to dinner with my friend from the first apartment building, and that was nice.

I’m going to drop off a thing at the gamer friends’ get together, today, because I’m not feeling up to socializing. I’m tired and in a funk (as if you can’t tell) and possibly not entirely well, on top of that. And then I’m going to come home and spend the day regrouping. And tomorrow, too, if I need it (though I need to go by CostCo for a SAD light and some other stuff).

Once I’ve regrouped, I’m planning to go to Drinking Liberally, as well as meeting up with another gaming group for some D&D fun. (If we all hit it off, I’ll have to come up with a way of distinguishing “gamer friends,” on the blog. :)) While meeting more people won’t help me get over the “otherness” thing, so much, it will help me have more to do. I’ve been at work a lot more than 40 hours a week, and I need to have more reasons to leave.


I picked a good time of year to get into the Song of Ice and Fire series, I guess. (It’s winter for years on end, in that world. And winter has been coming for the last book and a half; maybe it’ll get there, in-book, when it gets here, in reality.) We’ve had a longer, nicer autumn than we could have asked for. And all of the snow that’s been predicted for the past couple of weeks has failed to arrive. But it’s time. The radio is hinting at lots of snow. So I need to suck it up and get studded tires, I think. Will it ruin my normal tires to be stored on my porch, under a tarp? Because I have nowhere indoors for them; it’s there or inside the car itself.

Anyway, sorry to be a downer. I’ll come back with a happy post later this week. Things really are fine; it is, as I pointed out, just growing pains I’m going through. And it’s getting darker and colder, and I miss Dale and Ella and old friends and family. It’s not a knock on new friends, even, to be feeling that way. They’ve been nicer and more accommodating than I have any right to expect. I’m just, you know, still trying to adjust. This isn’t the first wall I’ve hit, and it won’t be the last, and I’ll get over them all. I’m adaptable.

I go to work next Monday! I’m excited! And nervous–the first few months at any new job are stressful, and I feel like I have extra to learn, this time, somehow. But I have a crate of decorations (won’t the other Systems folks be surprised when I decorate for Halloween after work on my first day ;)) and mugs and tea and such, so I’ll be more moved in, my first week, than I was for probably the first six months at BAH.

Other things on my mind: I’m still not unpacked. It’s hard to get up the motivation to do it, after getting so close at the last apartment and having to pack it all back up again. Also, I need more hangers, so a Target trip is in order. I may go after I finish this post, actually; I haven’t left the apartment, yet, today.

I met the group I’ll be gaming with, over the next couple of months. It’s hard to know whether a new group is particularly pleased to meet you, but I was definitely super excited to meet them, anyway. A number of them remind me of people I know and like in Pittsburgh and DC, which is simultaneously really neat and really strange. Dale was impressed that I so quickly stumbled into a group that includes SCAers and [some of] the remnants of the now-defunct [at least, as far as I can tell from Internet research] Anchorage Camarilla. I’m pondering SCA as an activity, though I haven’t decided, by any stretch. (Comment and sway me one way or the other, if you’re so inclined. :)) So I am getting Dale to email me Queen of Spades–a parlor larp [think “host a murder mystery”] by Shifting Forest Storyworks–and I’ll read it over a bunch of times and offer to run it, both because I think they’ll get a kick out of it, and because I feel like my gaming karma’s kind of weak, not being willing/able to run a real campaign of anything (at least not soon). Also, because Mirror Room is much too much for a first parlor larp–I know, because it was mine. :D

So, if you remember, there was what I thought was a broken garbage disposal; it was actually a very messed up set of kitchen pipes, which took the [very nice Cake fan of a] maintenance guy multiple days to fix. I celebrated having my kitchen back by making chili–and then I took a picture, to share with you; note Darth Vader’s head (that’s Dale’s) and my slowly regrowing spice collection. My Facebook friends will already have seen it, but I also carved a pumpkin. The pumpkin seeds came out awesome, and poor Mr. O’Lantern is already wilting pretty sadly; clearly, at least one more pumpkin will be needed. Maybe I can talk a few coworkers into having a pumpkin carving party, so I can make one for work and one for home? :)

I don’t think my solar-powered Christmas lights are quite going to cut it, in the winter. They’re already fading by 1am, now, when it’s light out until 8pm. I may have to supplement them with more conventionally-powered lights. (Anchorage recommends that everybody have white Christmas lights up during the winter, to help brighten things up a bit. It doesn’t look exactly universal, this early in the year, but I’m betting people leave them out after they put them up for Christmas, anyway.) Also, I hear the university rents out SAD lights and gives you those spiky things you strap to your shoes when you have to walk across ice–we’ll see whether that’s just a rumor, soon, though.

Summit Spice and Tea is going to bankrupt me. But I’ve started drinking echinacea tea (and eating vitamin C gummies) in preparation for going to work at the university. I’ve dealt with fewer people, over the last month, than I normally do, and I worry that it’s left me with less immune system than I’m used to, even as I live alone and would have to take care of myself. (Maybe I’ll buy some canned soup while I’m out, as a backup.) I haven’t taken the flu vaccine, but plan to do so this week, sometime. (I guess I should get on that.) And when the H1N1 vaccine comes out, I’m definitely doing that, if there’s no age limit. I don’t function well when I’m sick, and if it comes between going out for orange juice or staying home and doing without, I know which I’ll do.

It’s been getting cooler. I think I saw frost on the cars when I looked out last night, though it may just have been dew. If my weather widget is to be believed, it’ll stay above freezing for the next couple of days, but may dip down to 31 degrees on Thursday night. During the day it’s mostly been in the high 40s, though I swear it dipped down into the 30s when I was driving down to Portage.

My one really important and incomplete moving-related task is dealing with the car. I’m beginning to get a little concerned about it, honestly: I don’t have the Pennsylvania registration, because I left so soon after buying the car–and it never came to Dale, anyway. Sure, I have proof that I bought it, but the registration hasn’t come yet. So I can’t get an Alaska registration, bureaucracy being what it is. And, while I have 90 days, sort of, the PA tags expire tomorrow. The plan is for Dale to register it online and mail me the stickers when they come. I’ll print up the form they give you, to prove that the registration happened. And, as soon as the paper registration comes (Dale will overnight it), I’ll have to go to the DMV to get my AK driver’s license and tags. I could just wait until Dale gets up here, which is only a tad illegal, but I want an AK ID before the end of December, so I can apply for my Permanent Fund Dividend in 2010. Also, I need to call the insurance company, in case something happens, as it is wont to do in winter; I can’t go living in Alaska, when they think I’m in Pennsylvania.

So I’m a little stressed about that car thing. But I hope it’ll all work out.

Never did find my iPod. And I’ve unpacked enough that it’s pretty much a sure thing I lost it for real. :/ So I may go to the Mac Store (it’s not a proper Apple Store, as such, but it seems like nearly the same thing), sometime soon. After my first paycheck, if I can hold off that long.

I didn’t mean to include those photos in this gallery, but there’s no obvious delete tool, so you can see my army of knitted pumpkins, as well! And a not so good photo of my porch at night. :)

Today–despite the cold and bluster and, later, rain–I drove down the Seward Highway, past Girdwood. If you look at a map of Anchorage, you can see it’s on Cook Inlet, and if you zoom in, you can see the Seward Highway runs along it. I drove down to (but not past) the point where the highway turns and runs back up the inlet for a bit. I think I saw a glacier at Portage, but the clouds were so thick, it wasn’t worth trying to get a picture. I may head down to Homer early next week, in which case I’ll get a picture then. I’ll also stop at more than just Bird Point and Beluga Point, to get pictures, since they’ll turn out nicer. (Saw birds, did not see belugas.)

I did, however, stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, to see moose, bears (I didn’t actually see any bears, though there was a very, very large dropping outside the bear enclosure), caribou, elk, eagles, and bison. I thought I’d be clever and walk around, rather than driving. And I did get a few better pictures, that way, than I might have if I’d needed to get out of the car and turn on my camera. (They’re below. Mostly moose and elk, because those were the animals that stood still and had babies with them.) But I also got soaked. And terrified when I saw the aforementioned dropping, since it was in one of the more remote areas of the park. I hustled back to the car, singing the theme song from Indiana Jones (not sure how I picked that), so as not to surprise the bear. On the way, safely within sight of several cars and buildings, I figured I’d walk over to see the eagles, but I surprised one of the moose, who started snorting at me. Rather than bother the moose further–and thereby trust the fence to hold up to a moose charge–I walked over to the car, after all, and saw the eagles from the warmth and dryness of my vehicle. They were very nice that way.

I also drove back to the Alyeskan Resort(?), by Girdwood. I was too chicken to look into riding the chair lift up the hill–maybe I’ll do it, if Dale really wants to, when he’s here–but there were some pretty views back that way. Also, the bakery at the Tourist Trap (no, they call it that!) at the intersection of Alyeskan and Seward has awesome pecan coconut bars. I recommend splitting them three ways; that was my lunch, over several hours, and I still have about a third of it left (along with a rumble in my tummy for something made not entirely from sugar).

Anyway, it was about 100 miles, all told, and the pictures are definitely not as fabulous as they would be if I’d had nice weather, but I’m so glad I went. It was a really nice drive.

Since I’m doing a big batch upload of pictures, anyway, I’ll go ahead and include my (not awesome, but you’ll get the idea) pictures of the mountains around Anchorage, covered in “termination dust.”

And, on the homefront, the handyman here is very nice but will have to remove pipes from under my sink tomorrow. They don’t pay him to work overtime, and it was awfully close to 5pm by the time he got here to look at the garbage disposal. Snaking didn’t do it, so the pipes have to go. Bleah.

The sunken trees are kind of cool… and creepy. They used to be part of a forest, but they sank in the 1964 earthquake, then died when the salt water crept up around them.

With moving and not having non-borrowed wireless access (which not only do I feel guilty using, especially now that I know there are usage caps on GCI Internet accounts, but I also don’t like because it’s really sporadic), I’ve been somewhat lax about updating. But the bulk of my stuff’s put away, and the cable guy came today; so, I’m back.

Moving backwards in time… I bought a folding table and chair, which has improved my quality of life significantly, just in these few short hours. I also bought a couple of lamps, because the bedroom and living room are without fixtures. The birds also have a night light now, since Phoebe had a night-time freakout the other night and damaged 5 blood feathers. (That’s gotta be a world record. I didn’t think she’d make it, honestly.) This means I know where the emergency vet is, anyway.

My first Costco, Target, Lowes, and Fred Meyer trips are out of the way. I have a modular couch that folds down into a bed; it’s pretty terrible, as far as comfort factor goes, but it beats the floor. It was also on sale, so that it cost less than an air mattress. Moving has been expensive, but other than the shipments Dale’s sending, it’s pretty much done for now. There’s some unpacking left to do, and I’d really like to get a few more pieces of furniture, such as an actual bed, bookshelves, and a TV stand (with a TV!), but I have a more or less functioning household, here. Bed aside, I can live without those other things for as long as I need to. And it’s nice to have the really big grocery trips out of the way! Once my garbage disposal is fixed (my own fault; I figured it would work like the ones I’ve always had, even though the community manager specifically said not to put carrot peels–or much of anything else–in), I will be able to make a really fantastic pot of chili. Until then, my kitchen’s kind of terrifying.

Speaking of terrifying, the zombie walk was excellent. There were zombies (and one vampire) of all ages, including a few adorable kids in princess costumes, pink bunny slippers, and cute sweaters, all with zombie makeup. There was even a zombie dog! And a zombie Palin! I was surprised at the number of people who had memorized the moves to Thriller. (Watch out, CL folks! I’m dragging you along, next year! Dale’s already agreed to learn part of Thriller with me–maybe we can do a zombie book cart thing…) It was fun to watch the zombies mob certain [volunteer] non-zombies. And the dad teaching his daughter how to shamble was just too cute. I’ll post pictures of it all after I finish blathering on with news. ;)

The zombie movie, Død Snø (“Dead Snow,” in English), was kind of terrible, but in the fun and entertaining way. I think they must have spent a lot of prop money on a rubber intestine; it got used a whole lot. My table was lively, and one of my tablemates talked with me at length (before the movie) about chinchillas, pikas, and related animals, which is always good. ;) Really, I enjoyed the whole theatre pub experience and will definitely be going back to Bear Tooth, possibly very often, in the future.

I bought my first pumpkin today! (I say “first” because I’m going to carve it sometime in the next few days, because, obviously, I have no patience. Clearly, it won’t last until Halloween, so I’ll have to carve another one. Two, if work has use for a carved pumpkin somewhere. [Anyone want to carve pumpkins with me in October?] I’d been cooking with my pocket knife up until now, but I did purchase an actual knife for pumpkin carving. Priorities!) It’s definitely fall; on the day of the equinox there was snow on the mountains (around here, it’s sometimes referred to as “termination dust,” though it was awfully thick to be called “dust”), and I saw a raven. Knowing it’ll soon be too cold for such shenanigans, I took the luggage carrier off the top of the car, today. I’m rather pleased with myself for managing it, not because it’s so very heavy, but because it was up pretty high, and it’s a big, bulky thing. For lack of a better place, I’m storing it on the balcony.

I still haven’t been to UU church. Last week, I was out late with the zombie thing, and given that I’d tried to sleep on the floor, after moving several carfulls (cars full?) of belongings, I was super exhausted, even pre-zombie walk. I was practically among the living dead when I got home. It’s hard to say if I’ll make it this week, either, since I’m going to go make characters, paint Warhammer figurines, and play Rock Band with the game group this Saturday. (I’m excited! Gamers! And I’m nervous! New people! What if they don’t like me? … But I got along with the person who’ll be running the upcoming game. He reminded me a lot of one of my friends from Pittsburgh, actually, so I’m pretty hopeful.)

You know, I have more to say, I’m sure, but let’s just go ahead and move on to pictures. This post is already too long! :) Bonus picture: the mountains being pretty, pre-snowfall. Next time: the mountains being pretty, post-snowfall.

Seriously, if I can find an apartment to move into before I have to sign a lease here, I want to do so. I’m unwilling to set up utilities for two stinking weeks, and I’m angry that the verbal agreement I made with my agent is not being honored. Since I’m planning to drive to Girdwood after my Subaru appointment, I won’t be available to sign the lease tomorrow, anyway. But I’ll come back in time to view apartments, if there are any to be viewed.

I’ve emailed a few places, and I have a few ads open on my computer, to be called from the Subaru dealership, while I wait for them to work on my car. We’ll see how it goes.

I’d listen to non-Weidner referrals, as well…

Posts by date

September 2019
« Aug