Sunday, June 28, 2015

Television Eyes

When I was an undergrad, my roommate made a comment one day as I was showing him some pictures from childhood. He looked at photos of one of my relatives from about the age of five to fifteen. When he saw the adolescent images of her he remarked:

"She has television eyes."

I compared the photos of the innocent, wide-eyed gaze of her girlhood to the teenage pictures, and it seemed that she had indeed developed a vacant stare, as if under hypnosis. Television Eyes.

These days, it seems everyone is guilty. If television was a powerfully corruptive force in the sixties, today's constant stream of real-time internet updates creates the same sort of hypnosis. Everywhere you go, you see people staring down at their hands, at their laps. Since I joined Facebook, I have been doing pretty much the same thing. I wonder what's happening to my brain, to my health, to my natural self? In a few short days I'll be marching across the tundra, needing my more ancient systems fully intact for the physical and mental challenges of weather and data sampling in the field.

Will you be up for it, Television Eyes??


did somebody just say something????

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Forget Drill, Baby, Drill (at least for now)

more like Burn, Baby, Burn.
What strange planet have I landed on??

NOT mushrooms in our local soccer field--but firefighters' tents. Many people have come up from the L48 to help (Thank you guys!!)
from AK Forestry on Twitter
...another great website of current fire distribution from UAFSMOKE:

There are about 300 individual wildfires burning in Alaska right now. Most of them started in the last few days, because we've had little rain and our main forest tree, besides birch, is spruce, aka the Christmas Tree.  We have literally millions of Christmas Trees in our forests, and if you've ever shoved a dried up old spruce into your fireplace after the holidays and watched it explode into flames, you understand what a vulnerable situation we're in right now.

Since about Sunday, the sun has been blood red, and casts no shadow, the air smells like campfire smoke and is really really---REALLY--hard to breathe. It gives you headaches, and not only that---some research suggests that inhaling air polluted by particulate matter in high concentrations can lead to chronic inflammation in the brain, and (shudder!) to dementia

Since I've moved to Alaska, I've never experienced such intensely unbreathable air. If this becomes the "new normal"--hot, dry summers and a long fire season until autumn rains clear the air--I don't know how much more of this I'll be able to take.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Big Dreams on Laundry Day

Today is a lovely warm Saturday--perfect for doing the laundry. My neighbor stopped by on her way to do her own laundry and told me she had a dream about having her very own water.

Unlike me, she lives in a real dry cabin: she has to buy and haul all her water from The Fill in town.

I'm much luckier. My old belowground tank still has a few hundred gallons of tea-colored water for my weekly "Better Than Nothing" shower and daily washing of dishes. If it wasn't so old and full of sediment I wouldn't have to buy drinking water, but that's minor compared to true dry cabin living.

I told her that her dream is not a First World Dream, but a dream for the whole world. And then I went back to my laundry.

my laundry room

my washing machine (with motor partially exposed)