Thursday, January 31, 2008

1 800 U Suck

That is the phone number for our internal IT department (really, it is!). They are the most non-helpful IT group I have ever encountered (scary, I know). (This is the group that took 8 weeks to get my email set up and 3 weeks to fix my phone extension problem.)

Here's one of the helpful messages I received when trying to do something with my computer.

"The background process that grants you administrative rights on your computer usually takes two or three minutes, however due to the nature of Active Directory replication, it may take as long as fifteen minutes if you happen to be particularly unlucky. "

If you're one of the "particularly unlucky" people, the next step is that you have to call 1 800 U Suck.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Gorgeous Gustavus

Wow, now THIS is Alaska. Check out these incredible views from around Gustavus, headquarters of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Mountains, eagles, moose, water, sun, moon ... what more could you ask for?!?

I'm working from Robin's this week but with weather like this, it's been difficult. I work from the library part-time. This small community has a really great facility. They have a satellite Internet connection -- pretty cool!

One day I was working from Robin's and said that I was worried the power might go out. He gave me this really funny look. Then I realized that duh, the power isn't going out because it's all on generator power and he's the one who maintains the generators! (Side note: Electric clocks run faster on generator power. The electric clocks in Robin's house gain minutes every day so by the end of the month, they can be 30-45 minutes fast. It is really confusing sometimes but just one more quirky thing about living in Alaska.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Another top 10 things Mom and Robin have in common

  1. Blue is one of their favorite colors.
  2. Both have a collection of plastic bags in a kitchen drawer.
  3. Both have never used an ATM card.
  4. Neither can handle their liquor.
  5. Both hate snakes.
  6. Both love Sleepytime tea.
  7. Both hate pills and have a difficult time swallowing them.
  8. Both hate needles.
  9. Both have a tea kettle with a wooden handle that spills water everywhere.
  10. Both like oatmeal.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Traveling trophy

My family isn't very competitive ... except when it comes to croquet, card games and board games. Then you do whatever it takes to win (outwit, outlast, outcheat is a common motto)! The same holds true for the annual Christmas sock contest.

As with many things in my family that start as a joke, this event has evolved into Something Big. Competition is fierce. All for the coveted prize: a hideous flamingo statue. Modeled after the Stanley Cup tradition, the trophy spends the year in the winner's home. The winner has to add something new to the trophy before passing it on to the new winner.

See pictures of the contestants, the awarding of the trophy and a video clip from this year's contest.

Unfortunately, this year's winner was also last year's winner. What's unfortunate about that? Well, Mike, the winner for two years running, and being the generous guy that he is, decided that he didn't want to be selfish and have the trophy all to himself for yet another year.

Guess what I received in the mail the other day? Yes, that would be said trophy (shipment was insured). Now I have to haul it all over the 49th state ... and I have to "embellish" it and return it before this year's contest on Christmas Eve. Somehow, I don't feel like a winner here. Thanks a lot, Mike!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Search and rescue

Each season, the Forest Service dispatch department (at least in Alaska), sends out an e-mail covering sunrise, sunset and the time to be back at home base. The "be back at home base" indicates what time the aircraft or boat needs to be back at its base to allow time for Search and Rescue activities. For example, right now, the sun rises at 8:13 a.m. and sets at 3:53 p.m., which means you better be back by 2:53 p.m. or they're coming to look for ya!

They also are very particular about how often you check in when you're out and about. You must report in every 30 minutes. This is quite different than the Park Service, where you basically have to tell them when you're leaving and when you'll be back ... unless weather is bad and then it's a whole different ballgame.

Ah, life in Alaska....

Monday, January 14, 2008

3 minutes a day

That's the amount of daylight I'm gaining each day. I don't mind the weather, clouds or amount of daylight. There are lots of things that make up for any of those drawbacks, including:
  • I see "sun breaks" or holes of blue several times a week, which has been great.
  • I see eagles from my walk to and from work, and from my window at work.
  • I see something awesome every day. Last week, there was an intercom announcement to stop working and admire the fantastic sunset (and it ~was~ fantastic).
  • I might see the aurora borealis and check the aurora forecast frequently.
  • I saw whales just a few weeks ago while I was driving down the road.
  • I can't be late to work because there is no "late".

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Holidays in review

Between the ducks, housesitting and getting engaged, December was a whirlwind of activity. Add in the Polar Dip, a Winter Solstice party, hosting Christmas dinner, New Year's at the P-Bar and it's no wonder I failed to keep up on the blog.

But, I'm back and back to Internet connectivity so I can recap all the great events in sunny Sitka during December 2007. See photos of all these events.
  • Robin made it to Sitka after a long-haul, 20-some day trip to Florida. Unfortunately, his luggage returned before he did. This meant that I had to haul out to the airport (it's 5 minutes away!) and retrieve his 87-pound bag (literally!).

  • "What was in that 87-pound bag?" you might ask. Well, it was a pile of stuff for me! Including a, well, uh, a very sparkly Christmas sweater from Robin's mom. (It's the thought that counts, right?)

  • "What wasn't in that 87-pound bag?" you might also ask. Well, the engagement ring for one, along with the rest of the wedding ring set. (Yep, we really are engaged!)

  • Robin, Louie and I witnessed the annual Polar Dip. It was hysterical, to say the least. Where else but in Alaska would you find 100+ people eager to jump into water that you don't even jump into during summer?

  • Louie deserted me as my best friend and claimed a new best friend. Robin went to herd the ducks and left out a bunch of leftover ham on the counter. (Louie was sick for days.)

  • We left Louie and the ducks to go to the next housesitting assignment, complete with another unique mixture of pets.

    • Pepper, the dog, has short-term memory problems. Each time she looks out the window and sees the Jeep, she starts barking ... until she remembers it's mine. Then she stops. But starts again when she looks out the window and sees the Jeep. Then she stops. But starts again when.... Reportedly, Pepper doesn't really like men so we were really good friends ... until Robin bribed her with some turkey and bread.

    • Button, the cat, likes to sleep in this one room all day or on your lap if you let her.

    • Lightning, not a very speedy cat, is friendly but likes to pee on things.

  • We celebrated New Year's at -- where else -- the P-Bar, complete with hats and champagne.

Duck demise

If you were reading my blog in December, you know I was caring for and herding a flock of 9 ducks (plus holiday visitors). While in my care, no ducks were harmed in any way.

Yesterday, while hiking with the duck's owner, I learned that two of the ducks met their untimely demise just this week. It seems that eagles often prey on ducks and that's exactly what happened. (It caused quite a ruckus and I'm sure Louie was scared.)

In the meantime, the duck(s) have laid about 4 known eggs. I estimate that each egg costs a mere $1,625 when you factor in food, the duck house, time, care and maintenance costs. But, I hear the eggs are delicious!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Engaging source identified

SITKA, AK -- January 7, 2008

Phone companies, cell phone providers and ISPs across the nation determined that the widespread service outages on Christmas and the days that followed were caused by unprecedented network traffic, caused by a single source in Sitka, AK.

"Robin and I got engaged over Christmas," says Karen Smith, Sitka resident. "I told a few people but didn't expect the news to have such a big impact on the nation's communications network."

According to Smith's nephew, Jesse, rumors began to swirl about a love interest based on photos linked from blog entries portraying Smith and some guy referred to only by his first name intermingled with beautiful scenery. The speculation ran rampant.

"I'm glad this will put an end to the speculation," says Smith. "And no, I'm not pregnant. Just insanely in love."

The couple have decided to determine a date, location and all other details sometime in 2008.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sitka Sentinel

As I've mentioned before, the local paper is the Sitka Sentinel, published Monday through Friday. Reminiscent of the Smith Sentinel, you never know what you'll find in the paper. Other than the renown Police Blotter section, there are many, many interesting articles.

Some articles from recent editions:
  • Anchorage to launch Running of Reindeer: This story talks about an inaugural event on February 24 patterned after Spain's Running of the Bulls. The reindeers' owner has some concerns, however, stating, "I'm afraid the deer are just gonna stand there. It may be a very slow walk, with the animals sticking their noses in people's pockets, looking for something to eat." He also describes the threats they pose to the race runners, such as having only one set of teeth so a bite doesn't really hurt and having soft feet so a kick doesn't really hurt.
  • Restaurant wages food fight: This story talks about a couple of buffet frequenters who were billed roughly double the Chinese restaurant's regular buffet price. The eaters were allegedly told by a restaurant worker: "Y'all fat, and y'all eat too much." Their response? "I was stunned that somebody would say something like that. I ain't that fat, I only weigh 277.
Perhaps the best news is that the Sitka Sentinel is now available online. You can subscribe for a mere $5 a month to try it out or $50 a year (better than the home delivery rate of $82 a year). Plus, they accept payments using Paypal!