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Unfailing technology…. that fails

August 6, 2018

….for a long time I used to think it was me when something I owned stopped working but I have since learned better. Case in point my mid 2007 iMac computer that has done yeoman’s work for me over the years but is now one temperamental hunk of aluminum and silicone capable of frustrating me at the drop of a hat.

I have for the past two weeks been editing, (trying to edit), a short video for the blog about the world ice art festival in Fairbanks, but it has been one step forward two backward during that time. The computer always gives me enough progress and hope just before it crashes, freezes or tells me to bug off. Now in the world of computers anyone that is still using a decade old computer it is only happening because of a miracle.

The computer manufactures do not build their machines to last…. they are built to have you continually invest more money in eventually unsupported programs or ‘better’ hardware upgrades. Think of it like your cell phone where you are constantly upgrading, (getting deeper into the hole), because you have been told the newer model is way better and your friends will think you are cheep if you don’t upgrade.

This is the era of built in obsolescence
gone is the way of the pay-phone
or even land-lines
and when was the last time you saw
an appliance repair shop
we have entered the age where
its cheaper
to replace than repair.

I guess we should watch out
next thing you know
our jobs will be gone/upgraded or shipped overseas
funny thing
we must have blinked
because that’s already happened.

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TV’s ice road truckers?…. no just Alaskan’s doing what has to be done!

July 29, 2018

….I just crested a small hill and through the mist saw hundreds of blinking red taillights snaking down the road ahead of me. I was running near the top of Pennsylvania on interstate 80 it was 29 degrees and the misty rain that had been falling for hours had now turned the interstate to pure ice. As I inched along never once touching the break peddle looking for a place to pull over and wait out the storm, I passed many cars off in the ditch and even a good number of tractor trailers sharing that same fate. I was in my last week as a trainee with Schneider National trucking company and beside me my instructor was gripping his seat like he was in an airplane about to crash.

In 1996 at 50 years old I went back to school to learn how to drive a tractor trailer. At the time I knew I was going to Alaska to live and was looking to learn things that would benefit me in my new home. I also took a first aid and CPR course though not as detailed as I would have liked it polished what I had been exposed to years before in the Army. Of course things change and when I finally moved to Alaska I ended up first working as an assistant hunting guide and though I used my big-rig driving skills a few times I ended up giving up my CDL license. However I never lost my admiration for the truck drivers in Alaska because I realized that my one night encounter that I had with the black ice in Pennsylvania, these Alaskan truckers do everyday for a large portion of the year.

 

Though as they sat around the dinner table at the Hilltop truck stop and laughed at how dangerous the TV show ‘Ice road truckers’ made there job appear…. danger was a reality for them on almost every 1,000 mile round trip between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay. In the warmer months they had to deal with animals on the road, rain that turned the dirt roadway to a consistency that they themselves say is slicker than snot and tourists that at times took up both lanes of the road or people insane enough to drive their two lane road with a bicycle. However it was in winter when a -30 degree temperature throughout the North slope was considered a warm day and twice each trip they would have to drive the gauntlet at Atigun Pass where avalanches were a common occurrence. Then for frosting on the cake the drive would have to be done on roads that were covered with ice over from late October to April the following year.

…a truck caught in an avalanche photographed minutes after it occurred

Yes… they sat in the restaurant and laughed
and never considered themselves special
they were just doing their job…

but behind them
two plaques on the wall
were a reminder
of the drivers
who have given their lives
on America’s road to the top of the world

More photographs…. the good, bad and ugly of my Alaskan home

July 24, 2018

In 2002 I moved into a home that I would occupy for 14 years.
Below are some photographs some not pretty
but all show the reality of my life
on the edge of nowhere.

Our welcome mat at the driveway entrance

 

My son and daughter visiting at the cabin

Entering the cabin on a ‘cool’ day

 

My ‘kitchen’ and

my kitchen in use

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My “living room”

The heater that kept me warm at 43 below

Food storage, work shop and electric power

A bed in the loft for me and any visitors

..also in the loft my ‘ham’ radio station and computer

…some people asked about how I get my water and what do I do about snow removal

 

 

 

 

 

 

…or what do I worry about the most

…but in the end I was blessed to live

in a land

touched by the hand of God

Whispers from the hereafter…. or learning a lesson too late in life

July 22, 2018

….I could picture the first time my father ever said it when we were sitting at the dinner table and my dad said, “ if you don’t have something important to say then you shouldn’t say anything.” Well my friends you may infer from my lack of postings that I indeed have nothing important to say even though this old earth hasn’t stopped spinning any more than Washington or the media has stopped acting without any common sense after all its not like there is nothing to write about…. I just have lost the will to write

Yes the desktop of my computer is papered with new postings folders, some half done but most merely a few thoughts and a direction I think it should head. Now I could blame the many consecutive days of mid 100 degree heat we are currently dealing with and yes it is a problem but that heat is more like ‘salt into a wound’ and I am having trouble putting my finger on the paramount reason for my lack of will. I can also cross of my current health issue because just this past week I received somewhat good news in that the blockage in my carotid has not progressed any further since my last echocardiogram in July 2017.

So whatever the reason for my absence from these pages I thought I might try something that I have found on other WordPress blogs and use just a simple photograph and a thought. Now whether this sees the light of day or ends like my previous attempt to have video blogs only time will tell. Though used over the years hopefully the photographs presented will provide a brief respite and hopefully an interesting moment in your otherwise busy day.

‘A Ray of hope’ Photography by TriciaLynn

Texas in July is just like….

July 13, 2018

OK Peter
you have done some good during your life
so I will give you a choice
of where
to spend eternity

 

 

Collage…. merely tangible memories?

July 10, 2018

….in Philadelphia and my cabin in Alaska I have had an eye for personal art and in particular the collage that adorned those walls. Looking up the definition of collage one finds it ‘officially’ is the collection of various things to make a new piece of art. To me it is mostly a collection over the years of photographs representing important things in my life…..basically my life at a glance.

Few of us have a collage on the walls where we live but I think I can say that everyone is walking around with a collage of sorts in their pocket, their cell phone. Even I who shunned the use of a smart phone and its camera now have some pictures stored on it. I am sure most of you have a good number of ‘important’ pictures, but important to who?

I have been on a minimalist bent since moving to Texas so a few days ago I looked around the apartment with an eye to eliminate some more unnecessary “stuff”. It was then I realized that I have just about reached the point of not having any junk laying around, and that all the unnecessary stuff I have left was now personal ‘memorabilia’. We all have stuff like that from the bride and groom off the top of our wedding cake to a flag from the casket of a deceased loved one

Now those important things we keep don’t have to be as monumental in our lives as a wedding or death but simply as mundane as a coffee cup from some exotic country we visited or a nice rock that caught our eye as we were on a new hike in the woods. Plus hundreds if not thousands of actual photographs taken before the digital camera was invented.

So what happens to all this ‘stuff’ when we too join the ranks of our long deceased relatives? I think we can get an idea of what happens by looking around ourselves and our family for memories passed down from generation to generation. Some people hold memories in high esteem and either carefully store them or reverently display them, whereas others put them in a box to be once again handed down until someone will open the box and not know why anyone bothered to save them.

A
collage
or a picture
is a frozen moment of our lives
for us to revel in
when we need
the touch
of
past happiness

Definitely not just another Alaskan winter storm

July 6, 2018

This actually happened…well most of it anyway

….it was one of those rare Alaskan winter nights when the storm howling outside my cabin window seemed, after two days, like it was never going to end. I had to shovel a path to the generator shed and outhouse every few hours or else it would be above the knees and way to deep for my old bones to dig out. Now raging snow storms tend to happen here more often than not but this one took place during an extended cold snap and tonight could end up being the coldest I have ever experienced since I arrived in Alaska.

I had just finished eating dinner by the oil stove because when the wind is blowing and it is this cold it is one of the warmest places in the cabin. I tried using my Coleman camp stove to warm my fingers, after I washed my dish off, but the temperature must now be in the -50 degree range because that’s when propane in outside tanks turn to liquid and will no longer light. However since my generator was still running I threw a blanket on the floor under my chair and as I sat down to watch some DVD’s I wrapped my upper body in my old sleeping bag, I figured I’d might as well entertain myself while trying to stay warm.

Though my generator was a tried and true Honda which has never failed me I decided to cut my TV time short and head up to bed. The loft has always been the warmest place in the cabin as long as the wind is not blowing, but when it does it finds its way in the few cracks that missed our building inspection. In fact there is one crack near the head of my bed that when the wind is really strong my hair will blow around while I lay in bed! Getting in bed was in itself an experience because even under all those blankets both the top and bottom sheets were like layers of ice. In any event wrapped in almost every blanket I had and topped off with a quilt and sleeping bag I laid down and tried to fall asleep.

Sleep of course was hard to come by with the constant howl of the wind and the cold that had settled in my bones that even all of these blankets could not erase, but sleep did come in fitful snatches punctuated by dreams best forgotten.

Why write about this now…
Well since the rest of this nation
and for that matter the rest of the world
struggles to deal with the heat
I thought it would be a nice break
to go back in time
and remember fondly
that which at the time
was quite miserable weather
and just maybe
take some comfort
in it not being
-50