Monthly Archives: September 2012

Starvation Gulch

The annual bonfire on UAF’s campus took place last night. The tradition started in 1923 and students have been scrounging for used pallets & lumber ever since.

Nanook Hockey had their first ever “Fan Fest” with both the Women’s & Men’s team taking part. It seemed appropriate with the snow in the air. The Blue-Gold game was our first chance to see this year’s team on the ice, and it was all followed by a free BBQ and the “Skate with the Nooks.” Those boys really can shoot. Very impressive. Maybe they will hit the back of the net this year.
As usual, the bonfires were elaborate, although university officials seem to get more tentative every year with the distance between fires & firebugs.

Termination Dust

What Anchorage received last night was more like a Termination Dumping, with seven inches reported on the Hillside. I think they’ve been looking at snow up on the peaks since early August anyway, and after last year’s record snowfall they should be comfortable with snow.

Fairbanks has not received any of the White Devil Spawn, which is certainly appreciated, although we have been down to the low to mid twenties in the morning. Where Thursday was a beautiful day to be building along the river, Friday was cold with a bitter wind and far less enjoyable. Snow is in our forecast for tomorrow, but it looks to be only a teaser with temps back up into the fifties next week.

I’d really like to escape September without snow; it’s a mental victory, if nothing else.

Tonight at the UAF Campus: Starvation Gulch

Photo courtesy of Golden Gopher Football

Important Safety Tip

Calling a woman, who is anywhere near your own age, “ma’am” is apparently no longer considered polite in today’s society.
It brings about the question, “How old do you think I am, anyway?!” Which is a trick question, with no way out, and should be avoided at all cost.
It also means an afternoon of pop tunes over the radio instead of mind blowing Blues.
I just want my quiet, solitary jobsite back.
What’s a guy to do?

Blues Along The River

It was a beautiful day to be outside, building a deck, with the waters of the Chena flowing by. Even the sound of joyriders buzzing up & down the river on their airboats didn’t dampen the good mood. I had the iPod plugged into the job radio shuffling along, when the cabin owner showed up to, “Clean up around the place”.
I assumed that it was her attempt to simply help out, but all she really did was slow me down with endless questions and constant attempts at chit-chat. As it stands, most of what she cleaned up, I’ll have to go over anyway, before we spray the insulation.
Recently, she has started to make several visits to the jobsite, shared her thoughts on still being single, and often mentioning “going out to dinner”, while being vague about who she expects to join her. I’m starting to sense that she has ulterior motives to showing up at my jobsite. However, I’m quite content to remain in the role of Contractor to the Broken Hearted. The pay is better.

With the iPod on shuffle, I suppose it was only a matter of time before a song played that would get a reaction. I heard the familar guitar chords and thought, “Oh oh”. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched for a reaction from the new deck.

“I have a hard time missing you baby, with my pistol in your mouth
Mmm have a hard time missing you baby, with my pistol in your mouth…”

I saw her head flip up as she tried to gauge what she heard.

“You may be thinking ’bout going north, but your brains are staying south…”

Then, from inside the cabin I hear, “What the hell are you listening to?”
Without even looking up from my tape measure I replied, “That’s why they call it The Blues, ma’am.”

From the Skagway News:

Heard on the Wind Column:
‘From the category of never-asked-before questions: “I’m from Minnesota and I was wondering whether you use concrete vaults in your cemetery?”‘

“A river guide pointed out the rounded river rocks on the shoreline. He was then asked, “Who brought them in and put them there?”


Remembering Binkymania

A headline today caught my eye: A New York man was hospitalized after he was mauled by a tiger. Even Alaska doesn’t get Tiger Maulings, so I had to investigate. It seems that a 25 year old from Mahopac, jumped off the Wild Asia Monorail ride at the Bronx Zoo, then leapt over an electric fence and into the tiger den. Rumor has it, the young man was doing a research paper on whether cats really do play with their food. Turns out that they do.

The story brought back fond memories of Binky. Binky was an orphaned polar bear cub rescued off Cape Beaufort and then sent to live at The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage. He immediately became the zoo’s most popular attraction.

Cue the tourists:

Back in 1994, when I was still a young Cheechako, a 19 year old Binky made headline news. A tourist from Australia climbed over two protective fences to get right up to the bars of Binky’s enclosure to get a prime photograph of the bear. Instead, Binky quickly grabbed himself some prime photographer. The mauling was caught on tape, and I believe it is still available on youtube. The woman was eventually pulled away from the polar bear, although Binky was able to grab her shoe off her foot. He kept it for three days

Less than two months later, two teenagers (allegedly) went into the zoo after hours and decided to end a night of partying with a swim in the bears’ pool. They were stripping off their clothes near the bears’ enclosure, when one of the boys was grabbed by one of the bears. The second boy was able to pull his friend away from the bars, but not before he suffered severe lacerations to his legs. Although zoo officials said that they couldn’t be sure if it was Binky or Nuka, his mate, that mauled the 19 year old, Binky was the only bear with blood on its face.

Binky, already well regarded in Alaska, instantly became a Cult Hero. T-shirts, mugs and bumper stickers popped up everywhere, usually with the image of the bear & his trophy tennis shoe and the words: “Send more tourists— This one got away”. The entire state came out in defense of the Ornery Bear. There was sympathy towards the wounded, of course, but if you’re going to do something that stupid around a polar bear — well, you kind of got off lucky. The Fairbanks Firefighters Association, whose logo was a polar bear, even changed their logo to a polar bear holding a bloody shoe in its mouth, in order to show solidarity with the bear in Anchorage. They sold t-shirts with the new & improved logo for ten bucks.

Damn, I really wish I still had my Binky t-shirt.

Photo by Rob Layman

Comic courtesy of Tundra

Alaska Crime Files

Theft — “Taxi driver reported a man who habitually fails to pay his fare in her and other’s taxis had once again absconded without paying. Officers found the man sleeping in another man’s house, and walked with him through the neighborhood until he was able to beg enough money from friends to pay the taxi driver.”