Kat went through to school last night to help out Wanita with family night, an event they run once a month to try and encourage parents to come into school on an evening and spend a couple of hours doing activities with their kids. Sounds like a good idea, as they often do crafts together, read books, play games. etc. I wasn’t all that keen on two hours with kids, but played nice and showed up for the last 20 minutes or so
Both Kat and Wanita had been disappointed with it, as although there were a lot of kids there, some were only 2/3 years old and the parents had sat in the library doing some needlework themselves, leaving Kat and Wanita to look after 30 or so kids. Seemed like it defeated the idea of a ‘family night’ if the kids are left with the teachers whilst the parents do their own thing. But, even back in England it seems like some parents treat school and teachers as free baby-sitters! The kids enjoyed it though, and they all got a drink, some snacks, a book to take home to read and a little toy if they hadn’t won one of the raffle prizes.
The idea behind family night sounded pretty cool, but even Kat said she felt as if the parents sometimes take teachers for granted and aren’t all that appreciative. That seems to go part + parcel with being a teacher though! I wouldn’t have the motivation or enthusiasm to go back into school for 2 hours on an evening to effectively spend another couple of hours teaching little kids, but guess that’s why I just break computers Isn’t always like that and they’ve had some really good family nights last year where there’s been a few less kids and everyone has worked together, so maybe I just catched things on an off-night.
No apologies for how long this page may end up taking to load with half a dozen videos! I’ve only got a 64k upload connection so I bet it took longer for me to upload them than for you to download them
We’d been pretty lazy today, so headed out with Rocky for a walk along the river in the afternoon. Seems like it’s always very quiet going for a walk along the river as there’s no kids round there, whereas walking through the village they’re everywhere! We headed over to the south bank of the river by the airport where Kat hadn’t been before and was pretty cool:
Looking back across the river, the runway is right on the bank and the in the distance, you can just about see the school building. It’s very visible when you’re actually there since it’s the biggest building in the village and happens to be painted bright blue! This is the opposite end of the runway from where the terminal building and the other photos and video were taken:
But, onto some videos! First up, with the ice forming in layers, on the banks it often breaks away so you can pick it up and throw. No particular reason why though!
After timing it right for an airplane taking off a few days ago, we then had one coming in to land right over us:
The cold effects people in weird ways. Not much else to say on this one really:
Figured I should get in on the act next. I dunno, might have just been something in the air, or Rocky’s natural behaviour finally rubbing off onto us!
We then got treated to another takeoff right over our heads. There weren’t any passengers in the plane and the pilot obviously saw us waving (though probably thought it was a couple of kids!), as they don’t usually bank and turn like this, honest!
After taking a rest by sitting around on the ice, Rocky realised that he was basically surrounded by chew toys. Not sure why he thinks chunks of ice are the best things in the world, but he does!
We had fun, and it wasn’t all that cold either so was nice to mess around for a bit. Coming back into the village past the airport, a little ice hole had been formed by people coming and chipping ice. Is a bit of weird spot, and only about 3 feet across, but this is basically what you do when chipping ice to got into the water tank – break off chips of ice from the frozen lakes:
Most of the locals head to a lake north of the village just off the trail up to Bethel, but guess someone hasn’t been wanting to head that far. Also around the area, along with numerous fox trails, were what looks to be hare tracks:
Made me of think of Jessy, though don’t think she’d be quite as happy in this kinda weather! Too many foxes and people out hunting too – often see spent shotgun cartidges along the river and through the tundra.
We didn’t make it to the basketball matches, but the girls team won again. Not sure about the junior teams who been at an invitational just outside of Bethel – some of Kat’s kids had gone, so sure we’ll find out all about it on Monday as it’s the first time most of them well have been away with a sports team since they were just 4th/5th graders!
I signed up for Gamefly yesterday to see what the service is like, as they have a couple of pretty cool introductory offers. Either go for a 10-days free trial, or first month half-price and includes 12-month subscription to either Offical Xbox Magazine or Playstation Magazine. I went with first month at $12.95 and Xbox magazine subscription as the way the mail works up here, could sit for a week into the 10-day free trial before getting any games through!
It works very much in the same way Netflix, or Screenselect back in the UK, works whereby you add a load of games you’d like into a queue, and they send out the first two available on your list (number of games out varies depending on your subscription plan). You play them as long as you want, send them back when you’re done, and the next available game is sent out. Works nicely since there’s no late fees so if you really like a game, can keep it for a couple of weeks, yet if a game isn’t too hot, can return it the next day and you haven’t blwon $60 on buying it brand new. Plus, as they’re meant to send out all the manuals and stuff with it, should you like a game there’s an option to keep it for about $45 on average, which is about what you’d put for 2nd games from Gamestop.
First two games coming out are the ones I had at the top of my queue but were on ‘Short wait’ last night, so guess they must have come into the warehouse this morning. Should be playing Lost Planet: Extreme Condition and Rainbox Six Vegas in a few days, both two games that look very cool and have wanted to play for a while, but didn’t really want to cough up $120 for the pair of them
Was hovering around -20C, but we headed out for a walk with Marie + Rocky Has just been so pretty the last few days it seems a shame to waste it, so on with all the winter gear and out we went! About half way round the river, up comes a snowmobile sliding sideways. Nick had been out hunting and saw us walking by so came to say hi, then rode off into the sunset:
Coming up on the airport, we saw the drilling and earth moving machines that had been laying all the foundations for the new water purifying station a few weeks back. There’s been a couple of guys wandering over and looking at plans, but no more actual work going on. These machines will get floated back up to the Bethel on barges once the ice breaks:
We’d seen a Yute Air aircraft flying in earlier on, and as we got the airport we saw it taxiing ready for takeoff:
I’d been waiting weeks to end up at the airport as there was an airplane taking off, and finally timed it right. Standing in the middle of the river at the end of the runway, all I could do was hope the pilot got it into the air!
There’s a sign along the river bank at the end of the runway warning barges not to dock there for loading or unloading. Fairly obvious, but back in October/November last year an aircraft was trying to land and ended up crashing into the bank right around here. The plane was overloaded with groceries for the local store, and the pilot got out safely – luckily Nick was there working on the airport building and dragged him to safety.
A couple of basketball teams are due to fly into the village to play some games against our school tomorrow evening and Saturday morning which should be fun. The girls high school team are already 5-0 or something and heading to Bethel for a district tournament soon thanks to their results. Might go see some of the matches over the weekend depending on how many kids start climbing all over me. Some of them still think I’m Spanish ‘cos I talk funny…
Kat’s mom, Cris, sent through a package 5/6 weeks ago which had all sorts of goodies in, including a couple of “flower bulb in a pot” kinda things. One of them had already started growing in the mail so didn’t really bloom though adds a nice bit of greenery to the house, and the second bulb has just kept growing + growing without actually flowering. Yesterday it did:
They really are an intense a red, with two of the buds flowered and another couple of buds ready to open up within the next day or two. Kat’s also got a few bell pepper plants dotted around which flower well with little white petals and grow little baby bell peppers, but not much else seems to grow that well or last more than a year!
I’ve also just pulled a tray of cookies out the oven I’ll cut into little squares once cooled a bit:
Might even let Kat eat a couple, depends on how generous I’m feeling! I know I’m feeling too much like a housewife though…
Another night, another walk. Was a littler earlier than last night, and got a really nice pose from Kat with the sunset behind her:
Spend too long in the cold and you end up humming the tune to an ancient computer game that was on the BBC Micro which had some kind of organ grinder playing music (any ideas what it was, dad?). Definately know yer brain is shutting down from the cold when you’re walking through the middle of the tundra humming stuff like that! And in case you’re wondering, this is what happens when you spend an hour walking around at 8p.m when it’s -25C:
That ain’t snow, it’s all frost. Was making my eye lashes freeze shut briefly when blinking! How long is it until we get to California in the summer…?
Although the temperature was hovering around 0F (-18C), and with the windchill closer to -18F (-28C), we still decided to get out of the house tonight right around sunset With the proper winter gear on, it’s quite comfortable. This time we went the opposite direction to Saturday’s walk, going east round the river towards the airport. This was right as the sun was disappearing below the horizon:
Just to the lower right of the crescent moon is what I think is Venus. It was due to be only 2 degrees away from the moon tonight and was so bright to the naked eye we’re pretty sure that it was Venus. Further round the river and up to the airport, a slightly blurred scene of a lone Cessna 172:
But, considering the minimum operating temperature for the Fuji F450 is meant to be 32F, it’s holding up pretty well in these conditions! It’s also incredibly difficult trying to take photos with such long exposure due to the lack of light when you’re wearing winter minterns with 200g of down in them! Not like there’s a handy park bench or fence post to rest the camera on up here either.
Still haven’t got to see the northern lights yet – conditions were pretty good tonight with it being so cold, clear and calm, but no joy! Ah well, maybe tomorrow night…
Was very cool being able to get the internet from home this morning, and to be able to chat over Skype without having to go to school. Isn’t too happy using a webcam with Skype as the connection speed won’t break any records, but can live with that!
But, after chatting with dad about how Travis, one of the special ed teachers, is in Bethel this weekend looking at getting a boat for the summer and how frozen the rivers are right through until the end of May, Kat + I picked up Rocky and headed out for a walk along one of the smaller rivers off the Kuskowim that winds it way through the village.
Out on the river itself, pretty calm where the snowmobiles haven’t already been:
Kat being a big kid, couldn’t resist making a snow angel in the fresh snow:
Dotted along the river, along with various sized boats docked up ready for the summer, are little fishing camps. Just a couple of little wooden huts usually, though this one had a tent. Not quite sure what they’re for as it’s not that far out of the village, though guess it’s just so they don’t have to haul their equipment back + forth:
Once we were far enough out of the village, we let Rocky off this leash. Is easier than trying to hold him back all the time! He certainly enjoyed getting to run free and follow all the other animal tracks (mainly fox) aross the river and onto the river banks:
Not quite sure where these guys were heading off to, as they were a long way out of the village, but they’d obviously had a busy day of logging. Quite a few houses use wooden fires and stoves, and these guys were hauling their logs home in sleds on the back of a snowmobile:
Was a really nice day to be out for walk, as although the temperature was down to about -15C or so, wasn’t that bad with so much sunshine. Coming back into the village was a bit colder with the wind into our faces, but it’s afternoons like this that make it worthwhile living up here. Rocky is also getting a lot better when going out for a walk, paying much more attention when you call him back:
Marie + Kat had ordered in some food from one of the grocery stores in Bethel yesterday afternoon and most of it has arrived okay today. Easy to get fresh food in like that, and also means you get in things like aerosol-based deodorants which you can’t order in on-line Also found out this morning that one of the guppies I figured was female definately was given the fact there was a little baby guppy swimming around the tank! So hard to see unless they’re up near the surface, so not sure if it’s survived, and can’t see any other babies. There’s a couple of fish tanks at the school in classrooms without fish in though, so if we end up with a lot of babies surviving, may well donate them to the school (i.e. palm them off on someone else!).
I went round to Jason’s tonight since his wife, Kimberly, headed into Bethel after school to meet her sister – we watched some boxing, playing a few games on the Playstation 2, and laughed at Koda wanting attention all the time. Was a good few hours. Came back home to see a nice pretty box from United Utilities, our phone company. The engineer in the village had obviously been told we’d signed up for DSL at home, and so had called Kat before disconnecting the phone to upgrade the line at the exchange, then dropped the DSL modem round. Very nice surprise
Couldn’t get it going on the Mac at first which was a bit annoying, especially when it worked first time under Windows XP. Figured it was because the Mac was being smarter Sure enough, it was. Double-checked the settings under OS X and there’s an option for ‘PPPoE Service Name’ under the network connections for connecting via PPPoE. This isn’t an identifier like the ‘Service Provider’ option, so after leaving it blank, the connection immeadiately came straight up. If you’re having problems configuring a PPPoE DSL connection on a Mac, I couldn’t find anything in the FAQ’s or knowledgebase on that one – just remove the service name and try connecting again.
And, just to completely reassure me that the Mac works much better, it repeatedly disconnected under Windows every couple of minutes (prompting me to fear the phone lines simply couldn’t handle a DSL connection…), yet under OS X I’ve been sat online for 20 minutes without even a little hiccup. Happy days
Seems our telephone provider is now offering DSL internet connections in the village Very excited, as the only other option for an internet service involved about $400 on equipment + connection charges on a satellite link through GCI, then $100 a month for the service with a 3Gb/month limit. Although the Unicom Alaska connection will still only be 256k/64k, it’s $50 a month, has no bandwidth or usage restrictions, and includes free setup + connection via the engineer in the village (was easier to let them do it than explain what I used to do in England…). Works with the Mac too. Hopefully the equipment will be through within the next week or two and I won’t have to pack everything up and hike to school to use the internet anymore!
Iain Foulds, 29 years old. Originally from England, now living in St Louis after 4 years in Alaska. I currently work as a technology support specialist at St Louis University High. Very passionate about photography. More...