With snow in some places still measured in feet, water running freely down the drive and mud grabbing your every step it is indeed a diverse view out my cabin window. The milder overnight temperatures not demanding the warmth of a burning stove, however one wakes to a chill that evokes memories of a fall hunt camp. The daytime temperatures rising to the 50’s and more now arousing the slumbering mosquitoes waiting to be reborn. Though not without the chance to still experience additional snowfall, here on the edge of nowhere spring has finally arrived.
Like this hodgepodge of warmth and cold, wet and dry my mind is filled with ambiguities both personal and inconsequential. While attending to some chores during the day my mind alights on a subject for a new blog but when the work is done so too that supremely important posting….gone like the mist rising from a stream. At other times sitting at my work table listening to some commentator drone on about how my representatives in Juneau can not find the necessary cuts in our states budget, I wonder how hard they are truly endeavoring to make those cuts while not offending their financial supporters.
Yesterday evening as I sat and worked to support my addiction to tobacco, by making my own cigarettes and a truly weird train of thought passed through my consciousness. Many of you know I have no television reception out here but I do spend a couple hours almost every night watching DVD’s. I lean toward television crime series and thoroughly enjoy a good show where you never know who committed the crime till the last minute.
At the time I was pondering why so many good crime shows loose their viewers and are canceled. It was then I realized that just maybe there are many more people out there who appreciate things the way I do. I say this because almost every show canceled was because the writers or producers lost their focus on what made them interesting in the first place.
I have found that when one finds a show that is well written with believable actors you will invest your time and continue to watch it. However for some reason when a show is renewed for a few years, the powers that be, think they must ‘make it better’. They start to go off in tangents about the characters ‘back-story’, or introduce new characters that they believe would make the show more ‘edgy’ and even start to span a particular crime over a large number of episodes. I have to ask ‘why’ are they messing with a good thing. If they have a growing audience with consistent good numbers in viewership why change what is obviously what the viewers like and want?
Maybe one of the benefits of me living alone out here in the woods
without the stress of civilization is that it
allows me to ponder maters from life and death to the mundane.
…and like the arrival of spring this blog will
like the pendulum of life swing from one subject to the other.
The only sound heard in the classroom was the lingering crack of the ruler as it hit my knuckles. My teacher continued to stand over me, arms folded across her chest with the ruler poised to to strike again. For me just another day in our fifth grade penmanship class. An entire year of making ovals, jagged lines and letters to match those printed at the top of the page with any intentional deviations dealt with swiftly and at times painfully.
Sitting here almost 60 years later I wonder what are schools are now doing to teach our children how to write legibly. I am hearing more and more that computers are being introduced in schools to our children even in the first grade, and I wonder if learning to write legibly is even emphasized anymore. I mean when was the last time we had our children or grandchildren write a letter to their grandparents? For that matter when was the last time ( you ) wrote a letter?
Communications in the year 2015 is now all about email or texting, with even the casual phone call now being supplanted with the, more impersonal, text message. I think our current methods of staying in contact with friends has suffered with the loss of that personal contact. We are being forced more and more to hurry our encounters and thus never truly developing any close personal bond.
Yes I am an old curmudgeon that longs for the days of the ‘Bakelite’ eight pound house phone and the millions of pay phones scattered throughout our daily lives. I believe this is because back then because we invested more time in making that phone call but we had more empathy for people when we did speak with. Today we do not have to wait to find a pay phone to call someone, so today more often than not treat phone calls as distractions from something we consider more important.
Investing the time and effort of finding and using pay phones
and that old home phone land line made our conversations seem more important.
Today that text and cell phone, for the most part, make any call just another distraction,
and consider this…we never heard about a pay phone killing anyone like today
when drivers read or write text messages while driving.
I was late and knew the other ‘guys’ would be mad, but mom had me help her wash the dinner dishes and the result was the game probably would be started by the time I got there. We played our games at a playground that was almost a mile from my home, I usually walked there but today I rode my bike in hopes of making it there before that first pitch. As I crossed the last street, across from the playground, I could just make out the guys taking there places on the field and knew I wouldn’t have to endure two hours of ragging about having to do the dishes.
I heard the term, ‘free range kids’, on the radio yesterday, and it made me stop and pay attention to the news item that followed. It appears that some parents, ( Danielle and Alexander Meitiv ), were suing the Child Protective Services and Montgomery County police in the state of Maryland. The suit was filed because their two children were detained in a police car for almost three hours, later kept from their parents for over six hours without access to food, and “not returned to the parents until almost midnight on the night before school.”
The Meitivs’ children were picked up by police as they walked home from Ellsworth Park at 5 p.m. Sunday. Their parents had expected them home by 6 p.m. and Danielle Meitiv said they frantically searched for Rafi, 10, and Dvora, 6, before being notified at 8 p.m. that CPS had the children. All this was initiated by a 911 call by a man walking a dog who saw the children walking by themselves.
I can attest to the fact that not only myself but those in my grade and high school were ingrained, by our parents and teachers, with the responsibility of taking care of ourselves. We were allowed and even encouraged to broaden our horizons with respect to our friends, our travels and our activities. Of course back then our parents did not have to even think about going to jail for allowing us to try new things on our own.
I guess it is no surprise that we are now living in a country where the government is telling us how to raise our children, when you consider that it is that same government that took the parents responsibility for teaching their children about sex and is now requiring sex education in middle school. It is of course that same government that has told our children that if we use corporal punishment that the child should now call 911.
Some people can not understand why the youth of today have become so disrespectful
of their parents, teachers and authority in general,
could it not be because we have taken away their sense of responsibility and respect?
‘Free range parenting’
in my day it was called common sense!
Long, long ago in another universe a young man and his friends were scouring vacant lots and dumpsters behind different businesses looking for soda bottles. What could possess these young men in their late teens to ‘dumpster dive’ for soda bottles… well of course it was Friday night and every Friday they got together to ‘cruse’ the local burger joint and impress, (hopefully) the girls that hung out there. Soda bottles were redeemable at 5 cents each and gasoline for their cars was 25 cents a gallon so for about 15 soda bottles they could ‘curse’ all evening. Of course long gone are the days of 25 cents a gallon gas, lately here in Alaska it runs about $3.90 a gallon even though the ‘market’ price per barrel has dropped to one half that of what its value was only months ago.
Alaska’s government has currently produced a working budget that is now cut by billions of dollars based on this loss of income, but as usual expenditures do not match what it will receive in income from the oil companies. And as if the government in Juneau is taking lessons from our representatives in Washington they just can not accept the reality of not spending more than they take in.
I must admit that I was impressed by some of the effort displayed in cutting the state budget. Many departments budgets were cut by an across the board percentage, the exact cuts left to the discretion of the individual department. Also the Governor unilaterally stopped work on some of Alaska’s major construction projects that were not deemed essential. Another area of cuts that surprised and impressed me was in state wide school support including the University of Alaska.
But even with all of this it is still not enough to match the shortfall. Of course one thing that keeps the legislature in Juneau from making the really painful cuts is the reserve fund. There is much discussion of “borrowing” from this multi-billion dollar fund to offset the difference in income. Now we all know how well “borrowing” worked for Washington when for years they “borrowed” from the social security trust fund. I am quite sure we will never again see any money taken from this ‘peoples’ fund again.
I am wondering why
our educated, knowledgeable representatives in Juneau
can not act like those teens from the long ago past
and only spend what money they take in on Alaska’s future.
Its noon on a quiet Saturday as I sit in the cabin’s loft loft writing this posting. For a couple weeks now, here at the cabin, the temperatures have been in the mid to upper 40’s and bare patches of earth have have begun to reveal themselves as Spring settles in. But like most things in life nothing, not even the change in seasons, is guaranteed. For when I awoke this morning all evidence of those bare patches had been eradicated by the serenely falling snow.
My mood of late, like the weather out here, has been one of changes and swings from one extreme to the other. And other than the local news about the Dalton Highway shut down it has been almost a week since my last posting of national consequence. This is of course is not because of a loss of subject matter available for me to grumble over and pontificate on, but rather a personal mental quandary that has been bubbling to the surface more and more of late.
Those of you who are true accomplished writers understand that sometimes personal dilemmas can interfere with their writing, and for a non-writer like myself it has literally stopped any creative process in its tracks. I find it hard to ‘don’ the persona of a curmudgeon living in solitary self imposed exile in the Alaskan wilderness. At the same time espousing observations of a political or social nature, while pondering the extinction of my current lifestyle.
However I am hopeful
that like many other twists and detours down my ‘life’s road’
there is a solution to this current conundrum.
In all of America there is but one last truly untamed frontier road and it is called the Dalton Highway. The word highway is quite overstated here because the 414 miles of the Dalton traverses some of the most rugged, majestic vistas this nation has to offer while having, for the most part only one stop on those 414 miles for food, fuel and emergencies. It is a road borne out of necessity when they built the Trans-Alaskan pipeline and only opened to public use in 1995. But those fortunate few visitors who have traveled it have been granted a glimpse of the handiwork of God and leave Alaska with memories that will last a lifetime.
Today that road is a lifeline for the hundreds of men and woman working in the oil fields at Prudhoe Bay, and that lifeline has been closed for over a week with many hundreds of tractor trailers stuck on there for days. Noting the importance of that lone roadway to the top of the world in Alaska, the governor has declared a state of emergency.
What started more than a week ago with overnight road closures morphed into a temporary one lane highway has now for many days shut down the delivery of critical supplies to the financial heart of Alaska, Prudhoe Bay. While stranding hundreds of tractor trailers with loads ranging from drilling supplies to the very food that keeps Prudhoe Bay alive, down in Fairbanks more than 700 loads are waiting to move to the farthest town North American.
Now one may ask why I think a road closure should warrant a blog posting, I realize that unless you have traveled this frontier road you will never truly understand. Personally I have for years driven the 1,000 mile round trip from Fairbanks to Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay a couple times each year just to rekindle the sense of adventure this road offers, and I am concerned for those hundreds of people stranded on Americas road to the top of the world.
**New article about the Dalton Highway
**A short video clip of some of what the Dalton has to offer.