So on last Christmas Eve, I was up on a park overlooking Glendora California, and I noticed the way the sun light was reflecting off some of the buildings below. I kept trying to take pictures of it, and they were kinda neat, but they really didn’t pop, so to speak. I moved up and down the trail I was on, looking for the best angle, and nothing I did seemed to make this potentially interesting picture work. Finally, I glanced over to my right and saw this…
Way back when I first saw the ad for a social science professor at Iḷisaġvik College, I remember pulling up the college website to fight a polar bear alert on the front page. Now some might have found this a bug, but I can assure you that for me this was a definite feature. I really wanted to see this place. As it happens, polar bears don’t show up that often, and when they do, it seems that I’m always busy. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to get up close and personal with one of these guys; I just enjoy seeing them from time to time, and especially when I have a camera handy.
So, I’m sitting in the cafeteria during the orientation for this semester when a notice goes out telling us there is a polar bear on the beach, just across from our buildings. The point of the alert is of course to let us know that we shouldn’t wander out that way (at least not on foot), but they do sometimes have an ironic effect. I desperately wanted to take a really long bathroom break right then and then, but I managed to hold myself together long enough to take advantage of a legitimate lunch break.
…and then the bear stuck around for a couple of days. Apparently, a walrus carcass had washed ashore nearby and he was munching on that in between naps on the beach and out on the ice. Eventually the local Wildlife department moved the carcass, but not before I and half the town got plenty of pictures.
One of the first things I did when I moved to Barrow was walk out onto the tundra with my little Backberry phone and try to get some pictures of a snowy owl that stayed out behind the college here. He would stare at me as I approached and then fly away just as I was almost in range for a decent photo, only to land a hundred feet or so away and stare calmly at me as I repeated my efforts. I almost got some decent pics of that guy. All day, I almost got them.
There was something the way that owl just watched me approach. It was a forgone conclusion. It wasn’t going to get THAT close, so he was in no hurry to fly away. He took off just as I was about to get close enough for a decent pic, and he went just far enough to re-establish his own comfort zone, and incidentally to tempt me to engage in one more round of effort.
These days, I have an actual camera. I’m still a bit clumsy with a lens, but my camera is smart enough to compensate for some of my photo-foolishness, and the result is a (hopefully) passable batch of owlitations. Most of them were taken the summer before last. This year, there just didn’t seem to be enough hot lemming action to draw a big owly crowd. Anyway, …owls!
Well we started this New Year by correcting an egregious crime. See, my gal, Moni, hadn’t been able to eat much on Thanksgiving. This didn’t stop her from making a great turkey dinner for myself and several of our friends. (Her first time cooking a turkey.) It just prevented her from enjoying it herself.
…which was an egregious crime!
We corrected that crime tonight. Moni made an even better turkey for New Year’s Eve dinner, and this time she got to eat her share of it. Afterwards, we went on down to the fireworks display for the town. That’s the thing about Barrow. Fireworks aren’t that cool here in July, so we do our fireworks on January 1st, right in the midst of polar midnight. This being the modern age, it didn’t happen without some electronic record of it, so both Moni and I froze our hands for the sake of ontology. It was worth, I think. I got some pictures and Moni caught the whole thing on video.
Presented for your enjoyment…
(Click to embiggen)
Fireworks 2020 3 I lost count
It was delicious (Another pic from Moni)
Fireworks 2020 4
(Moni took this one too) Our Spirit animals had a meal as well.
Fireworks 2020 5
Fireworks 2020 6?
Moni took this. (Why this lovely happy woman is with my cranky butt, I will never know.)
I see this image from time to time circulating about the net. It passes, I suppose, for a kind of homage to Lozen, one of at least three women who fought beside Geronimo at one time or another in the course of his campaigns. Lozen, it seems was with him at the end. She was sent to Florida along with the rest of his warriors (and some of the scouts who had helped bring him). As mentioned in the meme here, the picture above was taken as she and the other prisoners waited in front of the train to be taken away.
So, what has me griping about this?
Well, take a look at the original. Lozen is the 6th figure from the right on the back row.
…and here is another close-up derived from that same photo:
So, just take a moment to compare the two and you might be able to tell what’s bothering me about the first photo.
Yeah, …they sexed her up.
The computer rendering in the first pic definitely lightened up her skin, brought her eyes out more, and gave the overall impression of much more delicate features. Hell, you can practically hear the photographer asking her to lick her lips and work it for the camera. The woman in this meme is a modern heterosexual (white?) male’s dream girl. From what I gather of the stories told about her, Lozen was no such dream.
Far from it!
The problem here isn’t necessary a question of objectivity. People make choices when they render a photo or tell a story. Maybe I’m being a little too cynical here, but I can’t help thinking the choices made in producing the image for this meme aren’t entirely in keeping with the spirit of the woman it portrays.
Well over a thousand miles separates Barrow from Juneau. It’s enough to make the place as different from Barrow as either place would be from much of the lower 48. I imagine many of my friends and family must themselves imagine the sights Moni and I have been enjoying here this last few days are common experiences. But we don’t have eagles in Barrow, nor trees or mountains. We don’t have glaciers either, unless you count the whole ocean as a glacier for part of the year. (Jokes aside, I’m pretty sure that’s not how glaciers work.) Southeast Alaska is a truly beautiful place. It’s one we don’t often get to enjoy.
This guy was a little ways off, which is why Moni and I weren’t immediately sure what we were looking at. I was busy snapping stills of this eagle with as much zoom as I could. Moni scooped me with a vid.
…the persistence of seagulls pays off.
A needlessly hurried spin around Mendenhall Lake.
…and a short photo gallery (click to embiggen):
Chilkat Weaving demo at the Alaska Native Studies Conference
Form Line Art on a Utility Box
Dancing at the Folk Music Festival
Sunset at the Anchorage Airport
Denizens of the University of Alaska, Southeast
Sitting on the Dock of the Bay
A Bit of Street Art
Shore of Auke Lake
Mountains Overlooking Mendenhall Lake
The Visitor Center and a small Pond at Mendenhall Lake
Couple friends walking under a rainbow
Mendenhall Lake in the evening
This was Auke Bay as seen from the University of Alaska, Southeast (taken through a chain link fence)
It’s always fascinating to see the slippage commonly coming between a story and its headline, and again between a headline and a social media message about it. The hackwits at Fox News are always happy to provide examples of this sort of thing. Last week I couldn’t help but gripe about their misrepresentation of a major story on twitter. Today, the angle isn’t all that clear, but sloppy slippage is a habit that seems to serve them well.
What got my attention a few minutes ago was this tweet:
So, I see this and I am thinking; Really? I always thought Bonnie and Clyde were in their car when they were shot. Or was that just the movie? No, I’m pretty sure they were in their car. So, when was this? Just before they got in? How long before… No, this says the pic was taken right before they were shot. But…
…and thus I clicked the link (which is admittedly to say that I fricking fell for this click-bait bullshit. Still kicking myself over that.)
So, anyway, and at the expense of providing a link to a common source of right wing propaganda, here is the story.
The opening passages of this story are fascinating in much the same sense that grading a freshman essay is often fascinating. By ‘fascinating’ I of course mean saddening. It’s not just the brief, blurby, writing style that jumps out at me. (Seriously, this is clearly written for people with the attention span of not-even-gerbils.) What really irks with a vengeance here is the complete inability to stick to a consistent account of the story.
Check it out!
Mini-paragraph 2 says the photo was taken ‘days before’ Bonnie and Clyde were shot down. Mini paragraph 3 says ‘shortly before’. I guess ‘days before’ could count as ‘shortly before’, at least if you aren’t paying attention enough to wonder why they are re-framing the time-scale in the very next sentence. Most sensible people would think that was at least a little odd. And most sensible people would think that change of wording does shift the meaning, at least a little bit. Either way, it would certainly be a stretch to say that ‘days before’ counts as ‘right before’ or ‘moments before’, as indicated on the Fox News twitter account.
So why do this? It really doesn’t seem like deliberate spin. It seems more like a short attention span. Perhaps, it’s a habit of a mind accustomed to spinning an inch into a mile every chance it gets. These micro-shifts in meaning can be damned useful if you are spinning a story with a purpose. A mountain is easily reduced to a molehill with a little crafty word choice. The folks at Fox News are well accomplished at this technique. Still, it’s a little odd to see this much slippage crowded into such a small and simple account. The only clear pay-off in this particular instance is the added dramatic value of the click-bait, but even that doesn’t explain the shear quantity of equivocation in the Fox account. The story itself uses two different time-frames, and that shift isn’t explained by the desire to generate click-bait. Neither does the use of two different time-frames on the twitter account. A subtle shift is one thing, but these guys are all over the place. I find myself wondering if they folks can stick to a simple account even when they don’t have an axe to grind on the story.
Seriously, I can’t figure out how this will help to advance the war on the poor. Neither will it enable the Manchurian Man-Child to gin up a war to help keep all our minds off the Mueller investigation. I can’t even tell how this proves Hillary killed Han Solo in the living room with a candle stick. It’s not all that agenda driven. It’s just drivel-driven. it’s also a hell of a way to hack up a simple story.
So, I flew out from Barrow a couple weeks back to spend a few days at a conference (Whalefest) in Sitka. I don’t get to spend much time in southwest Alaska. When I fly out, I generally go through Anchorage and then down to the lower 48. I can visit the villages of the Northslope about as often as I care to, and I can often spend extra time in Fairbanks or Anchorage, but a chance to veer off into the southeast is a rare treat.
To say that Sitka is beautiful is putting it more than a little mildly. It really is gorgeous. In the end I found myself plotting various schemes to stay longer, or to come back. Moni couldn’t be talked into spending Thanksgiving down that way, something sensible about money and inconvenient flight times, but I’d still give up a turkey for a few free days in this town, preferably while the humpback whales are still in town.
Which reminds me, whalefest did (oddly enough) include a chance to go on a whale-watching cruise. Grumbly me, wasn’t all that eager to get on a whale-watching boat. I get seasick easily and the last time I did that with my family in Hawaii, we barely saw a tail come up out of the water. This time was different, though, remarkably different!
So, yeah, that was cool!
My accommodations were at the old Sheldon Jackson College. The campus itself was beautiful. I wandered into the Sheldon Jackson Museum a couple times and found myself spending way more time in there than I originally planned. I also got to the totem park (otherwise known as the Sitka National Historic Park. I definitely needed more time in both those spots.
The conference itself was a fascinating mix of presentations on a diverse range of subjects. Oh yes, whales were the dominant theme, but speakers also addressed issues such as climate change, biology of other sea mammals, and sundry things-oceanic. The keynote speaker, Jacquelyn Gill, gave a wonderful talk on climate change and extinction, or rather persistence.
At some point I took a longish walk and found myself watching a sea otter playing in the harbor. It’s an oddly calming thing, just snapping amateurish pictures of an otter, waiting for him to do something interesting, like bring up another shellfish.
…just like the last one.
Damned cute, these little buggers!
It hasn’t escaped me that this is the Alaska that most people think of when I tell them I live in this state. They imagine trees and mountains, and moose, and bears, and all-manner of different forms of wildlife. My own experience of the state is very different, but that’s to be expected. Alaska is a whole buncha cool states.
Ah well, I really must get back to Sitka some time.
And to Whalefest!
Anyway, click to embiggen!
Tiny islands …er islets.
Swimming Off into the Sunset
Dining in Blue
Beware! When touristing, take care not to become the tourist attraction yourself. When staring at the otter, the otter stares back at you.
Sheldon Jackson College
Great collection of Alaska Native artifacts in there
I take a lot of pictures, not because I’m particularly good with a camera, but because I feel fortunate to see some of the things I have these last few years. Mostly, when I take a picture, it’s the sort of naive realist in me wanting to show others this really neat thing I saw just over there. Afterwards I may crop and I might bring out the colors a bit here and there, but there really isn’t much art to what I do with a picture box. Every now and then, though, what catches my eye is a pattern or a texture. The results might be more fartsy than artsy, but I still think these pics are kind of amusing.
(As usual, you may click to embiggen)
Termites Done it (at the Rancho Galllina Bed & Breakfast in Santa Fe)
This was a thin sheet of ice that had slid off the room of the Ramkota Hotel in Rapid City and melted itself to a paper-thin state. It didn’t last another 5 minutes.
Azusa Pacific University
On the Bar at Humpey’s
The Neon Museum in Las Vegas
A Place of Rest
Under the Fish Cannery at Metlakatla
Part of the Power Grid in Las Vegas
Apparently the Tundra south of Prudhoe Bay is made of blueberry swirl
Sea Ice in Spring (those chunks are actually quite big)
Alleyway in Anchorage
Ceiling at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ
Time to mow the docks in Metlakatla
Soudproofing at the NOAA facilities in Barrow …just a Chinese Conspiracy!
So, I was in Rapid City recently. I was there to attend a convention of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium. It’s a great conference and a great organization. So, I was enjoying myself a great deal, already, when a thought occurred to me. I wonder if there is any street art in Rapid City?
Surely, I thought, there must be a mural or two, maybe not even a great one, but I’ll bet there is something.
Turns out the answer is ‘yes’. There is definitely street art in Rapid City. In fact, the city has an entire alley devoted to it.
(Click to embiggen!)
This was on the wall of a non-participating business.