I got back the roll of film I had developed yesterday and began to flip through them. Lo and behold, some of the pictures were from back in early June! So here's a little trip from June to August.
A man, a platform, a dream: Tom surveys the start of our new home. It was just some slabs of wood back then.
A few days later, framing went up for a wall.
And the next thing you know, you've got four wall framed! It looks small, but remember there will be a second story.
Tom has been a very dedicated, if not experienced, builder. He especially excels at painting, since I refuse to climb up on scaffolding to do it. I'll make up for it by painting the interior. Purple.
There's some sort of tradition, possibly Norwegian, that builders must put up this small tree on the roof when the roofing is done.
This interior wall will be part of our Arctic entryway, and will also hold the circuit box.
If you look past the grinning Tom, you can see that there are no exterior walls in the second story. Nor is there a ceiling.
Ahh, what a difference a few days makes!
In order to get electricity down to the cabin site, a big ditch had to be dug from Savage's cabin. Tom's foot is in the picture to give you a sense of scale. Bear in mind that's a size 15 foot. The ditch was two painful feet deep.
Normally you can see for miles. But then the smoke from wildfires rolled in. Unlike last year, it rolled back out after only a week or so.
We prefer to smoke ourselves the old-fashioned way: In the Hidden Hill sauna! Savage destroyed the MacGyver stairs this summer, so I am building new ones.
There's a family of grouse that hang out between Savage's cabin and the building site. They're not smart, but they're too fast to become dinner.
For right now, I'm living in a room upstairs in the main cabin. Fortunately it's a big room.
Unfortunately, I live in it with all my stuff, so it's also a very messy room.
I got back the roll of film I had developed yesterday and began to flip through them. Lo and behold, some of the pictures were from back in early June! So here's a little trip from June to August.
Chinese Try to Get Chimp to Quit Smoking
XI'AN, China - The handlers of a smoking chimpanzee in a zoo in northwest China are trying to get her to kick the habit.
The 26-year-old female chimpanzee has been smoking for 15 years. Her mate died recently, which caused her to smoke even more.
Now, the chimp's keepers are worried about her health as a result of her intense smoking. So, they're trying to give her milk instead of cigarettes.
She started smoking years ago by picking up butts from tourists.
But what if she's lactose intolerant? Or what is she gets hooked on the milk?
Last night was the kick-off of kraft*nite. What is kraft*nite? A group of ladies getting together to work on craft projects. But this isn't your grandma's knitting group. Far from it.
Inspired by Craftster, we're looking for a few like-minded individuals who want to get in touch with their crafty side, while staying subversive. As Craftster says, "No tea cozies without irony."
My renewed interest in crafts began last fall, when I started planning a Christmas gift for my sister. She's a cross-stitcher, and while I had experimented briefly with cross-stitch when I was younger, I usually teased her about her "Old lady" hobby. Then I found Subversive Cross Stitch. When I realized I could show her up in my own little way, I began working on a Candy Ass cross-stitch for her. It was either this or make her a sofa-sized cross-stitch of the last supper. Just as long as I was showing her up, I was happy.
When we talked on Christmas Day, I had to admit the truth: I had found the cross-stitching ... soothing. I soon found another cross-stitch project to embark on. I designed and made a pattern based on the movie Freaks for some friends who were moving back to town. Next I tackled record bowls, with moderate success. I continued to sew clothing all the while, but soon picked up my old high-school habit of reconstructing granny dresses.
Now it's a few months later, and I've gathered friends and friends of friends to join me in crafting. Last night Susan Godwin, Melissa Hart and two of Melissa's friends, Melissa K and Devin, came out to Hidden Hill to work on some projects. Melissa K brought a knitting project, while Devin brought along a kit of fingerpaints. Susan was working on repainting a mirror frame to better fit her goth tendencies.
Melissa H and I were using our awesome MH powers to silk screen T-shirts. We used a technique I found on the Internet that involved making a screen out of an embroidery hoop, tulle and Modge Podge. This technique met with some success, but I hadn't counted on how annoying it would be to cover parts of the tulle with Modge Podge. The lovely font I'd chosen for our logo (Cooper Black, a lovely rounded serif font, in case you care) came out rather pixelated due to the nature of the tulle screen. Nevertheless, our shirts rock.
We've exchanged e-mail addresses and have discussed future kraft*nite project ideas. Toothbrush bracelets? Liner note coasters? Anything's up for grabs at this point. I've posted our plans on Craftster, and Melissa's got a notice in Square. Kraft*nite is here, and it's growing.
It's no secret that I'm a strong advocate of outhouses. Sure, they can get a little stinky, and there's always a high risk of spider encounters, but they are a lot easier on the environment. I didn't realize just how much water they save until the toilet in Tom's apartment stopped working. The cold water wasn't working in the building, so we had to fill up the tank with hot water from the tub to flush it. It took 12 liters of water to flush one toilet. 12.
That's a lot of water. I usually do other things to make sure I'm cutting down on water use, such as turning off the water while I brush my teeth and using the drained pasta water to wash the dishes. Now I've realized that I'm saving countless liters of water every time I sit on that blue foam. Plus, I don't feel so bad about the occasional long, hot shower.
Nun's wild dancing earns her a reprimand
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A Belgian nun's acrobatic and indecorous dancing with a missionary during the Catholic World Youth Day in Germany over the weekend earned her a reprimand from her mother superior, a Belgian paper said Tuesday.
Daily Het Laatste Nieuws showed pictures of a dancing Johanne Vertommen being held up in the air by the missionary, and then clinging to him with her legs wrapped around his body.
"I wouldn't do this at home but at such occasions I get carried away by the enthusiasm of the group," the 29-year-old told the paper later.
"My mother superior raised the issue today: she thinks I should watch out a bit and bear in mind that I represent our community," Vertommen said.
Pope Benedict attended the celebration at the Marienfeld, outside Cologne, in the presence of some 700,000 people.
I've got a million naughty Catholic schoolgirl comments running through my head, but I'm not going to share any of them here. I'm trying to keep from going straight to hell, though that may already be a foregone conclusion.
The cabin is still progressing. On Friday, Robert and I put in the front door and the two windows in the bedroom. A while ago, a ditch was dug from James' cabin and the new electric and phone wires were buried. Steve came out Friday and finished hooking the wiring up to the cabin. Now we need Jim Cheydleur to do the interior wiring, which is in the works. We've discussed lighting and outlet placement, and he has a plan that's ready to go.
During Meeting on Sunday, Tom and I went down and worked on insulating the bedroom ceiling. Several people came down after meeting to help out, and the bedroom and living room ceilings are now insulated, sealed and hung. There's even a kitchen window in place.
I apologize again for the lack of pictures. I'm filling up another roll and will get it developed as quickly as possible. And may I just say once again that not having a digital camera sucks.
Survey Finds Fewer Drug-Free Schools
WASHINGTON - More teens are saying there are drugs in their schools, and those who have access to them are more likely to try them, said a Columbia University survey released Thursday.
Twenty-eight percent of middle-school-student respondents reported that drugs are used, kept or sold at their schools, a 47 percent jump since 2002, according to the 10th annual teen survey by Columbia's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.
The number of high schoolers saying drugs are at their schools rose 41 percent in the last three years, to 62 percent, the survey said.
Twelve- to 17-year-olds who report that there are drugs in their schools are three times likelier to try marijuana and twice as likely to drink alcohol than teens who say their schools are drug free, the survey showed.
"Availability is the mother of use," said Joseph Califano Jr., the center's president. "We really are putting an enormous number of 12- to 17-year-olds at great risk."
Most of the teens surveyed — 58 percent — said the legality of cigarettes has no effect on their decision to smoke or abstain, and 48 percent said the fact that marijuana is illegal doesn't affect whether they use or don't use the drug . Meanwhile, the survey found teens who viewed drugs as morally wrong were significantly less likely to try them, as were those who felt their parents would be "extremely upset" to discover drug use.
The report found that teens who confided in their parents were at much lower risk of drug abuse than teens who turn first to another adult.
"If this survey does anything, it really shouts to parents: You cannot outsource your responsibility to law enforcement or the schools," Califano said. "I think when parents feel as strongly about drugs in the schools as they do about asbestos in the schools, we'll start getting the drugs out of the schools."
The survey also found that teens who say they watch three or more R-rated movies in a typical month — about 43 percent — are seven times likelier to smoke cigarettes and six times likelier to try alcohol than teens who do not watch R-rated movies.
The correlation between R-rated movie watching and the risk of substance-abuse remains even after controlling for age, the report said. This was the first time the annual survey asked about R-rated movies.
"There's no question the correlation is very strong and it obviously wants further study," Califano said.
The survey was conducted by phone and involved 1,000 randomly selected teens aged 12 to 17 years old and 829 parents. Twenty-six percent of the teens said someone nearby could hear their answers. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points for the teens and plus or minus 3.4 percentage point for the parents.
OK, I don't want to shock anyone, but kids do drugs. Are these numbers accurate? Probably not. Do I believe that 28% of middle-schoolers know people in their school who use or sell drugs? No. Those kids are lying. And do you know why they are lying? Because doing drugs is cool. Bottom line: that's the problem the anti-drug czars are facing. Kids know that doing drugs is a sign of being a mature rebel. And being different is fun! Of course, most kids choose to be different in the same way, but that's neither here nor there.
Do you want to know how to keep kids from doing drugs? Parents should talk to them. Oh, not about the dangers of drugs or the joy of keeping clean. They should talk about all the drugs they did back when they were Brianna or Connor's age. Wax rhapsodic about smoking pot, dropping acid or shooting heroin. Get a far-off look in your eyes and sigh a lot. Nothing will scare a kid straight like thinking they have something in common with their parents.
Last night I wandered over to Tamarack Knoll, the commune next to my commune, for dinner. It's always an interesting bunch of people over there. Nancy was cooking, and she invited her friend Karyn along as well. Carol, Jay, Margaret, Trusten and Robin rounded out the group. Our conversation seemed to focus a lot on drugs:
* did that house on our road burn down because it was a meth lab?
* is the house across the street from it a meth lab?
* Nancy always hated anti-drug school presentations that gave false information
* milk, not marijuana, is the true gateway drug
On a side note, Margaret, who also works in a library, seemed excited to hear that permafrost is now an official Library of Congress subject heading. No one else cares.
Completely unrelated to dinner: I got my hair cut yesterday. I decided to chop a good bit of it off. When I got home, my new wig had arrived, so I guess I have "fall-back hair" if I get paranoid about it. Savage decided that I looked like a hooker in the wig, jeans and halter. Sadly, he only offered me $20 to go to his cabin. I'm worth so much more than that. $25 at least.
Thanks goodness, Sean Coombs--I mean Puff Daddy--I mean P. Diddy--I mean Diddy has finally made it easier for all of his diehard fans (Hi Mrs. Diddy!) to figure out what to chant at his concerts. It took him four years, but now we'll all know what to yell during his concerts. Shut up and go back to New Jersey being my choice. (Note: I am aware that Sean Coombs aka Puff Daddy aka P. Diddy aka Diddy is not from New Jersey. It's just what I feel like yelling, 'kay?)
Diddy Drops the P.
"It's the era of Diddy."
So proclaimed the hip-hop impresario formerly known as Sean Combs, Puffy, Puff Daddy and now P. Diddy on Tuesday's Today Show, as he explained that he was changing his name once again.
The rap mogul last switched it up--from Puff Daddy to P. Diddy--in 2001, while seeking a "fresh start" after being acquitted on gun charges.
As for what brought about the latest change in moniker, the entertainer admitted that his previous name change left his fans uncertain of how to address him.
I felt like the 'P' was getting between me and my fans and now we're closer," Diddy said.
"During concerts, half the crowd is saying 'P. Diddy'--half the crowd is chanting 'Diddy'--now everybody can just chant 'Diddy.' "
He confessed that his unwieldy name was even starting to befuddle him.
"I even started to get confused myself--and when I'd called someone on the telephone it took me a long time to explain who I was. Too long," Diddy told the New York Post.
"One word. Five letters. Period," he added.
Of course, just talking about his new name isn't enough for the scene-making mogul, who's planning to throw his latest title a coming-out party of sorts when he hosts the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 28.
"To be honest, the unveiling of Diddy, you gonna see that at the [Video Music Awards]," he told MTV News.
"You gonna see that in the entrance. You gonna see that swagger. You gonna see how I'm gonna navigate you through the journey. I'm gonna play my position, my role. The artists are gonna play their role. We're gonna have an incredible, incredible party."
As usual, it's been a busy year for Diddy.
In April, he announced a deal with Warner Music that gave the company a 50 percent interest in his Bad Boy Records label. Though exact figures were not released, it's estimated that Warner shelled out a cool $30 million in the deal.
Meanwhile, the multi-monikered one has also been dealing with various legal issues.
Last month, he settled a lawsuit with Random House over a $300,000 advance he received to pen his memoirs, which he never completed.
Diddy has also been battling his ex, Misa Hylton-Brim, over child support payments for their 11-year-old son, Justin.
After he was ordered by a judge in April to dole out more than $21,000 a month for the care of his son, the rap mogul vowed to appeal the ruling, claiming that Hylton-Brim was acting out of greed, rather than in the interest of their child.
UKIAH, Calif. - A Ukiah elementary school may not open in time for the new academic year because of an army of Norwegian rats that has invaded its garden.
Since June, local officials have poisoned about 60 of the rats that have taken over the garden at Oak Manor Elementary School, but the rodents have been reproducing faster than they can be killed.
In their latest offensive to overcome the rats, officials on Monday deployed smoke bombs, explosive gas, dogs and a bulldozer.
"It really is a war, no question," said Tony Linegar, Mendocino County's assistant agricultural commissioner.
School officials don't know yet whether the latest effort to get rid of the rats worked, so until they hear otherwise they plan to ship Oak Manor students to other schools when classes start on Aug. 29. Estimates of the number of rats outside the school range from 100 to 1,000.
The brown rats were discovered living in the school's compost pile and garden, which became lush and overgrown after students abandoned them during the heavy spring rains, school officials said.
I think my only question here is how officials decided that the best method to get rid of the rats involved dogs, smoke bombs, explosive gas and a bulldozer. I mean, I use a.44 Magnum to kill spiders in my house, but that's completely different. A woman's home is her castle, after all.
First pot brownies, and now a pot entree.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's long winter will just fly by for a herd of Russian cows which, a newspaper reported on Tuesday, will be fed confiscated marijuana over the cold months.
Drug workers said they adopted the unusual form of animal husbandry after they were forced to destroy the sunflowers and maize crops that the 40 tonnes of marijuana had been planted among, Novye Izvestia daily reported.
"There is simply no other way out. You see, the fields are planted with feed crops and if we remove it all the cows will have nothing to eat," a Federal Drugs Control Service spokeswoman for the Urals region of Sverdlovsk told the paper.
"I don't know what the milk will be like after this."
Drug use in Russia took off with the decline of the Soviet Union and police have been fighting drug smugglers -- often shipping heroin from Afghanistan for years.
Such large hauls are relatively common, although they are normally burned.
Please forgive the ABBA reference. On Friday and Saturday, Tundra Caravan performed at the Tanana Valley Fair in Fairbanks. With two different performances, we were all able to perform solos and a variety of troupe routines. Since this is my blog, the pictures are very Mary-centric. All pictures courtesy of Jacob and Gretta Stone.
Chandani (Teresa Ortego), Samira (me) and Zara Noor (Terri Massa) performing a sword dance. I struggled a bit with the sword, which only made Chandani and Zara Noor look better as they easily balanced their swords.
Samira, Myriah (Suzn Hanson) and Zara Noor perform Talakik, with choreography by Hadia. This routine is new to the troupe this year, but we all enjoy the lively steps.
Zara Noor and Chandani during a veil performance choreographed by Margo Abdo O'Dell. Margo was the guest instructor at the 2004 workshop in Fairbanks. She taught the troupe this routine, but we've added many small changes since then, tweaking the choregraphy here and there for different numbers of dancers.
Souzana (Susan Chapa), Samira and Myriah spin around the stage during Amayguena. I didn't think I was ready to perform this one in public, but the troupe said I was. They were right. The dance is a fun, Spanish-inspired number with lots of dramatic movements.
Finally, my solo! This is an original choreography I created after 6 months of Middle Eastern dance lessons with Zara Noor. I got to add in lots of veil work, shimmies and floor work. The dance is performed to "Salma Ya Salama" by Alabina. I've developed another solo routine since then, but it's a Bollywood number. It's high time I create another Middle Eastern dance solo. Tom has recommended Istanbul (Not Constantinople). I was thinking of something more serious, but that could work.
Our friends from Juneau, Tim and Jenna, came up for a visit last week. Were Tom and I happy to see them? Does a bear shit in the woods? Tim was proud to capture this image of a bear relieving itself alongside the road. I was happy to borrow pictures from them. Check out their pictures for yourself. Warning: A lot of the photos do not involve me and are therefore boring.
Jenna and I enjoy one of many evenings drinking and smoking down at the cabin site. I shamelessly brought them down there repeatedly so that I could get updated pictures more quickly. I like friends with digital cameras.
See? Work is progressing. In fact, there is now a roof on the lower section as well. I will try to invite someone else with a digital camera over soon so you can see.
Tom and I are proud to show our Alaska pride by supporting two local breweries, Alaskan Brewing Company and Silver Gulch. I am holding the Silver Gulch because my thrifty nature just adores their Free Beer Fridays. We took Tim, Jenna and Larry out to Fox for this experience. Then we followed it up with buck beers at the Golden Eagle in Ester. Quite the drinking tour.
If you want to be invited back, always do the dishes. Tim's mother taught him well.
Look! There's Tom and me! We were enjoying our open, airy bedroom. Robert will finish putting up the other walls soon, and then it won't be quite so open and airy. A lot warmer, though.
Tim does his best thinking on the pot, and our outhouse gave him a lot to think about. Why does the floor have orange carpet? Shouldn't there be a door for privacy? If I fall off the shoddy deck, how long will it take for searchers to find my body?
Don't worry, Tim, we'll fix up the outhouse before your next visit.
Tim and Larry enjoyed a visit to the Hammer Museum in Haines on the way to Fairbanks. Tim told us that it was really quite interesting. I'd say that we'll check it out one day, but, honestly, we won't.
You can take the kids out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the kids. Tim's cowboy hat also made an appearance at Chena Hot Springs, accompanied by a pair of pimp glasses. Tim sure does know how to stand out in a crowd of Japanese tourists.
While looking for a subject heading for a fatal dog mauling, I came across this:
Maul, Darth (Fictitious character)
also present was
Skywalker, Luke (Fictitious character)
but Skywalker, Anakin needs to be written as
Vader, Darth (Fictitious character)
likewise, Princess Leia Organa is technically
Leia, Princess (Fictitious character)
There are no subject headings for Chewbacca, Yoda or any of the droids, yet Lando Calrissian gets a listing.
Since I feel the need to prove that I'm really a dork, I took this a step further. Yes, I boldly went where no indexer has gone before.
Picard, Jean Luc (Fictitious character) I thought his name was hyphenated
Riker, William T. (Fictitious character) The T is for Thomas
Troi, Deanna (Fictitious character)
No Beverly Crusher, no Worf, no Geordi LaForge, no Data, no Tasha Yar.
Kirk, James T. (Fictitious character) The T, the generic Star Trek middle initial, is for Tiberius
Spock (Fictitious character)
McCoy, Leonard (Fictitious character)
Scott, Montgomery (Fictitious character)
Sulu, Hikaru (Fictitious character)
But no Pavel Chekhov or Lieutenant Uhura.
I'm not going to take this investigation any further because, quite frankly, Deep Space Nine was crap.
See, if you're passive, bad things happen to you. It's all about making choices and sticking to them. And on a side note, has the Associated Press been using some sort of voice-recognition typing program? It's the only reason I can think of that would explain why the second paragraph says Teddy Claire Akin (the name of someone who would kill a hitchhiker if I ever heard one) was charged with petit theft. Unless he also stole small pastries, in which case they should fry the bastard.
Cops: Man Invents Story to Make Wife Leave
Fla.-A man made up a story about killing a hitchhiker and burying the body in the woods in an effort to persuade his wife to leave him, authorities said.
Teddy Claire Akin, 28, of Ocala, was charged Tuesday with making a false report and petit theft. He was being held without bail.
Akin's wife, Felicia, called the Marion County Sheriff's Office Monday to report that her husband had told her that he killed a hitchhiker, authorities said.
Akin told investigators he had picked up the hitchhiker, who wanted a ride to Tampa. He said he hit the man in the neck, causing him to gasp and make a gurgling sound, when the two got into an argument over how far Akin would drive him, authorities said.
Akin said he dumped the body in a forest near a gun range and kept the man's wallet, which contained the license of Utah resident Dennis Legrande Allen, authorities said.
Deputies searching the area Akin described with dogs and an air unit failed to find a body Monday evening, Capt. Thomas Bibb said.
Akin eventually told investigators that he was going through a divorce and had hoped the murder story would make his wife leave him, said Sue Livoti, a sheriff's office spokeswoman.
"It seems he wanted to get a little attention and sympathy from his wife," Bibb said.
Akin told investigators he found the wallet on top of a newspaper stand. Investigators reached Allen in Utah by phone; Allen said he did not know Akin.
The sheriff's office would probably bill Akin for the cost of their seven-hour search, Bibb said.
"This was something that cost us a lot of time and energy," Bibb said.
A message left early Wednesday at the county public defender's office was not immediately returned.
Sausage Vendor Fights Lemonade StandI think my main problem with this is that the "lemonade" is made from a powdered mix, according to one boy's mother. The only thing powdered "lemonade" should be mixed into is vodka. Make real lemonade, for crying out loud. And what's the the commission saying they'd "probably" waive the fee? If you want to waive the fee, that's fine. But just remember that these kids will then learn that if they turn their big eyes to you and start to cry, you'll give in. Never let children see you cave.
SALEM, Mass.-A sausage vendor has given two Salem boys trying to make a buck selling lemonade a lesson in cutthroat business techniques. Police shut down a lemonade stand on Salem Common run by Dominic Serino, 9, and Ryan Decker, 11, on Saturday after getting a complaint from a local sausage vendor about the boys selling lemonade without a vendor's permit.
"He said we were taking business away from him," Serino told the Salem News. "The police came," Serino added. "They didn't want to kick us out, but I guess they had to."
Salem police said they had no choice but to evict the boys. Lt. Scott Englehardt said that while "it is ridiculous that little kids can't sell lemonade," they have to enforce the rules.
Sausage seller Jarrod Clowery said he regrets ever calling police, and added he's been getting icy stares around Salem. Clowery told The Boston Globe he just wanted police to ask the boys to move their stand to a different location where the two operations wouldn't be competing. The sausage stand also sells lemonade and pays $2,200 for a permit.
"I didn't tell the police, 'Listen, throw these kids out of here,' " Clowery said. "I am superapologetic. I just didn't want them to be within direct line of sight. It's a tourist area. We
spend big money for the spot."
But the owner of the sausage stand, Kevin Kefalas, was unapologetic about the incident.
"I'm not the bad guy here," Kefalas told the Salem News. "I don't care if kids want to make a little money, but why can't they go to Pickering Wharf? Why do they have to do it 40 feet
Ryan Decker's mother, Angela Decker, said the boys started selling their powder-based brew on the Common last summer and made a "killing" — $130.
After Saturday's eviction, the boy's relocated to a spot in front of Serino's house, just down the street.
"We got a few customers, but not nearly as much," Serino said.
The boys can't afford a license. But city's Licensing Commission chairman Harold Blake suggested it might be worth their time to come before the commission for a permit.
"We'd probably waive the fee," he said.
Last night Tundra Caravan, my bellydance troupe, got together after rehearsal to celebrate Terri Massa's birthday. I won't tell you how old she is.
In true bellydancer fashion, we gorged ourselves on chocolate cake and ice cream while watching bellydance videos and being catty when the dancers were off rhythm.
Once we got the timer on the new camera figured out, we managed a group self-portrait. Back row, from left: Barbara, Suzn and Susan. Front row from left: Me, Terri and Teresa.
My pinkish hair shows up much better in this picture. I will have to get some fake hair for performances.
Dillon says my posts aren't visible with my new blog skin. Coldfoot says this one is better, but not to stop working on it yet. He also said the last one looked like a porno cross between James Bond and LSD. I've resolved the comments field issue, I think. I'm also on the lookout for a better picture, as Dillon has ever so helpfully pointed out that I'm not that skinny. He's a catty one.
Life in the far north is not always all it's cracked up to be. I can't see Russia from here, but that's probably because of the ice fog.
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