New Steps!

In Alaska, in the winter, footing can be very treacherous.  Especially in SE Alaska.  i grew up in Barrow, and it’s really not that slippery there for most of the year.  In the fall when the snow comes, we skip right past 32 degrees F and go right on down to the sub zero temperatures.  Since it’s rarely near the freezing point of water, it is rarely slippery.

In Haines, it can be right near freezing for a good portion of the winter, which makes for some slippery footing for a good portion of the year wherever there is any slope at all.  If you’re at all familiar with Haines, You know there is not much flat ground to be had in the Chilkat Valley.

IMG_6549Holly and I got to thinking about or driveway and how difficult it is to get from the car to the house and we decided it would be better to spend some money on a safe way to get into the house than to risk accident and injury later on in the winter.  So we called up Coleman Stanford and asked him to build us some steps. 

We told him we really liked the landing style steps that Randy Miner built so he built us some similar steps to go up to our house from the lower drive-way and also from the upper driveway.

We really like how they turned out.  They are just like we wanted, and the finishing on the concrete is first rate.  I’m convinced that the steps are going to be very safe for many years to come.

In the photo above, you can’t really tell that the upper steps are landing style, large steps, the last step which ends at the driveway is a standard step.  In the photo below, I think you can see that the stairs are pretty gradually sloped.  The only thing to add still is the railing at the bottom of the steps plus a light-pole at the bottom with a 3-way switch.  The steps are beautiful to walk down.


We had stairs and a sidewalk before, but we rarely walked on the sidewalk, we always went down where these stairs no go.  We still need to get the extra dirt hauled away, as you can see in the photo above.


Also today, we did the picture day retakes for the school, plus retakes for the community photos, I replaced the toilet seat which had a broken hinge, and I cleared the brush out to the shed so we can get some electrical service installed out there for lights and the occasional power (battery charger) need.

Severe Electrical Problem

On Monday Holly called me at work and said that her mother had called her to say that the dryer had made a flash and a loud noise and then the Toyo Stove (Laser 73) had shut off along with a bunch of lights.  The breakers had flipped.

It was during the 4-minute passing period when she called right before my prep period, so I went home in a borrowed car and unplugged the dryer and the Toyo stove and then flipped on the three breakers that had tripped.  Immediately they tripped again and also gave off a large spark with a snap.  Obviously this wasn’t your garden variety electrical problem.  I found an outlet that was still working and ran an extension cord to the Toyo stove to keep it working and keep the house warm, then called Irwin Hertz, the electrician to puzzle it all out. 

Houston, we have a problem.

For three days, we heated the house by closing doors on in the extra rooms, running electric heaters on working circuits that I’d bought at garage sales over the past 10 years: an 1800w oil/electric register type on wheels, a small 1500w thermostatically controlled ceramic heater with a fan, and a parabolic radiator dish on a stand.  We kept them powered down to 2/3 power most of the time and lit the house with extension cord powered lamps.  When it got too cold, we turned on the oven at 350 degrees with the door open.  The nice thing is that we have a propane stove to heat with and the circuit for the hot water heater was not faulty.  We didn’t dare try the washer or dryer.

In the end, the power company had to run a new wire to the house, as the old one was corroded and insufficient, we lost the Toyo stove, the dehumidifier, a number of the lights, and the electric piano.  This will probably cost around $1,700 by the time we have our Toyo heating stove back from Gene Strong, as it needed both circuit boards replaced, along with the wick and the burn pot, which amazingly was cracked due to the excess heat in the igniter, if I’m understanding everything correctly.

When summer comes, we’ll have to run a new wire to the power box in a metal conduit, if we can find the time or perhaps see if AP&T can move the box to the house for us.  For the time being, we have all the proper wires from the power pole to our house and we are safer than we’ve been for a long time.

Currently, the house is being heated with a loaner Toyo Laser 72, the model that preceeds our model, which Gene installed to keep us warm until the parts come in for our stove. 

Life is good.

Best Burgers in Anchorage: Tony’s Burger Stop

IMG_0452Does anyone CARE what I ate for lunch? 

Usually, I just eat the cheapest, healthiest meal I can find that will leave my blood-sugar level at an even keel. And usually, that’s two bean & cheese burritos that I buy by the package at $4.80 for 10 burritos. I love this meal, because it’s cheap, easy to fix, relatively healthy, and does not put my on the blood-sugar roller coaster.

But today, I was in Anchorage.  And I wanted to go to Red  Robin.  I told Jack to take us to the place in town with the best burgers and was expecting to be taken to some national chain restaurant with a clean floor, tons of space, a TV going in the background, and a few options. 

IMG_0454Instead, we went to a tiny little out of the way shop downtown.  The building was lousy, the seating was minimal, the ambiance had left much to be desired, but was better than having a TV going, and the refrigerator was WAY too loud.  But their burgers were Awesome.

The thing I liked about the burger is that it had a dark, almost burnt crisp exterior, but a nice juicy red interior.  I opted for the swiss mushroom burger, the curly fries, and about 14 oz of ketchup.  It was really good, juicy, and messy.  It was not crowded, but we weren’t there on a weekday.

John Caleb Meets Senator Stevens!

  I’m not sure what his political leanings are just yet, but we took John Caleb to meet the senator anyhow.

IMG_8255cSenator Ted Stevens is in town to give speeches, shake hands, and dedicate a frog, or some such thing, out at Klukwan.  This is the Second Senator we’ve met this year in Haines.  Cool. Lisa Murkowski was here for the beer festival back near the end of May.

The meeting took place at the Bald Eagle Foundation Building from 7:30 to 9 AM on July 5th and just about everybody who’s anybody (or WAS anybody) in Haines Politics showed up.  Robert  V., Doug Olerud, Fred Shields, Roger Schnabel, Bill Thomas, Tim June, Chip Lende, etc.  It was fun to jump in there at the start of the question and answer time to get a grin-n-click photo with a baby.

PS–in order to get John Caleb to grin at the right time, Holly pinch/tickled his leg, while I made silly baby sounds.

Nobody cares what we ate for dinner!

Tonight was left-over night…

One of the books I really want to get is a blogging book entitled: “No one cares what you ate for breakfast”  As you can tell by this post, I need to buy that book.

IMG_0094Tonight, Holly and the older two boys ate left over beans and rice, with chips and cheese and I ate left-over pasta with olive oil & parmesan cheese.

When I was growing up, Dad bought a dairy farm and everyone thought that milk was necessary for healthy bones and strong teeth, so we bought milk by the gallons.  With current research it’s pretty well established that the societies that consume the greatest amounts of milk have the highest rates of osteoporosis.  Interesting.  It wouldn’t be so bad if the milk was actually neutral, in terms of its contribution to health, but it turns out that much of the evidence points to milk actually contributing to poor health, especially as we get older.  Bummer. 

Now, the only time I buy milk now is when family comes from out of town to stay with us (and I’m happy to do it, ’cause I love ’em).  I figure we save about $10 per week by always drinking water with our dinners.  We do buy powdered milk to cook with.

I’m not a total idiot though, Milk still has it’s rightful place at the table: tonight, the only thing John Caleb ate for dinner was milk.

My Taxes are in the mail & the older boys are asleep.

Cha Ching!  It doesn’t get any better than this…

IMG_1936Today I went over to get some work done at school, then Holly and the boys came over to check out the Hoonah vs. Haines Jr. High Volleyball game. 

The boys were more interested in playing around in the room than they were in watching the game and I was too busy with stuff I had to do than the stuff I wanted to do (take pictures at the game).  Perhaps there will be a game tomorrow.

Today, John Caleb is just really making strides.  He can hold himself up on his elbows and smile really big!  His favorite thing to do is smile at Holly and have her pick him up.  That’s his best tool too.  She’s quite smitten with him (as is Pappa, Grandpa Plucker).  It’s impossible to get him to smile at the camera, as you might imagine, so Holly gets behind me and goo-goo’s, and gaa-gaa’s at him in a high pitched feminine tone.  I have to admit, it was really hard to decide how big to make this picture.

Three pieces of big news we heard today:  1) My first cousin Maurice & his wife Dasa are expecting a baby any day.  Wow, this is the first I’ve heard of that. 2) Another first cousin Jeremy & his wife Elisa are now expecting as well. 3) My mother is going on the HCG diet which is the subject of KevinTudeau’s latest book: “The Weight Loss Cure: ‘they don’t want you to know about.'”  This is really a bunch of information that is hard to get my mind wrapped around. 

I guess these things happen.

The TABLET is in!

And it’s better than I thought it would be.

Well, last Tuesday, I got the Motion Computing LE1600 in the mail  and started to learn how to use it.  I tried the two main tablet applications: Windows Journal, and OneNote.   I have to say that OneNote is an awesome program and that the LE1600 is a wonderful tool for lecturing on math.  The kids love it, I love it.  Frankly, it’s awesome.

I will go into detail later.  But it’s very easy to use and very intuitive–almost organic.  I really can’t say enough good about it.  The school bought the wireless adapter for it, so that should be in pretty soon too.

I am expecting to get MS Office 2007 with OneNote pretty soon too, and I simply can’t wait!

Also, I went to and ordered another GB of RAM too. 

More later…

Oh, I’m low on cash right now too. 

It happens.

Two most vibrant factors in your day-to-day existence…

Here’s an interesting thought I read recently…

IMG_9922The two most important factors in your day-to-day existence are: 1) your finances and  2) your weight. 

This my seem superficial. But if you think about it, when you can’t pay your bills and you can’t fit into your clothes, it ruins your day. 

I always like to make fun of the superficiality found in the the public eye: in the media, in our lifestyles, and in advertisements. But when I think about the things that are portrayed on a daily basis and the methods used to sell things, we mainly see two types of people in ads: people who are beautiful and who have money: Beauty and Wealth.

The beauty thing, in America really boils down to what things, as portrayed by the media?  Help me out with some comments here.  And likewise, how does the media get at the financial component of well being with its imagery?

IMG_0015n So here’s the logical conclusion of this argument:  1) eat healthfully every day and 2) spend less than you earn.

What are your thoughts on this?  Is this the key to happiness?  What’s missing here?  I could go argue either side of this with and it’d be fun, but it’s time for bed.  Tell me what you think by clicking on the comments section.

I read this on Gary Fong’s site the other day the other day, by the way.  Also, in case you were wondering, the juxtaposition of the text in this post and the content of the photos was purposeful.

Life is good

The last two days have been idylic.

I’ve gotten home from work and everything has been (just about) perfect.  The house was clean, the kids were happy, the meal was planned and nearly ready to go, the towels were ready to be folded…  it was all peace and love.

Two nights ago, we had home-made pizza.  Yum.

Last night, we had home made macaroni.  Yum.

Another cool thing is that the Cross Country Album has arrived and I’ve sold two more of those.  I really like doing the albums, because they are a really cool finished product and a fun way for me to be creative.  If you haven’t seen any of my albums, please take some time to check out a couple…I still have to make two custom alubms and then order one more.

I need to do a cost analysis on this next album and see if it was worth the extra time if I sell x number of albums.  I like making them, but at least once so far has not been worth the extra effort.

Too many Pictures

Sunday, May 28, 2006

So, I had a parent tell me tonight that there really are too many pictures on my site.  And honestly I had to agree.  She said she really just couldn’t look at them all, and I had to agree, there are just too many pictures to look at.  She said sometimes she starts too look at them and just gets discouraged, and I had to agree with her, “Yeah, I said I wouldn’t look at them all either.”

It was an interesting conversation.  Really, I do know there are a lot of pictures there, but to be honest, people buy the oddest pictures–pictures that I’d never have thought people would buy.  She was wondering how many I’ve sold like that, since it’s such a pain to look through them, and I had to tell her the truth: I’ve sold about 8500 photos in the last year and a quarter on shutterfly.

It would be nice if there were an easy way to organize the pictures in a cost effective way.  I can’t think of a good one right now.

Here’s a site that sells event photos of marathon runners: but take note of their prices which start at 14.95.  I really don’t think that is my market.

I do hope that people interested in my photos will find it is enjoyable to look at them, but know that sometimes that’s not the case.  At really fun events, often I look at the pictures numerous times and enjoy them each time.  This was definitely the case with the 12th night pictures and also with the weddings I’ve shot recently, and it’s true of pictures of my boys and family trips on which we’ve been (plus I have a lot of pictures of Holly).  It is these types of events that are really the most fun to photograph, the ones where the pictures bring back the memories and keep them fresh in the mind.  I like that (when I have the time–which I don’t have right now).

What I really like to do is design photo albums for these special types of events-but this type of product is inherently expensive with the genuine leather cover and the archival, acid-free paper, to say nothing of the color balanced and clean images I have to take in order to make the albums look nice.  What I really like about them is the finished product, that just smacks of quality from beginning to end.  I pick up the book and I can tell it’s a work of art.

Some albums I’m going to make when I get the time are: A Cheer/Dance album, and a Cross Country album of the 2005 season.  I will definitely make time for the wedding that’s coming up, and hope to have a link to it here on the blog.

By the way, blog is short for Web-Log.