Saturday, April 26, 2008

Break-up! Sort of...

If anyone is wondering why I haven't been posting for a while.....well that's because nothing terribly interesting has happened. Until now...

So "break-up", the fabled breaking of the river ice from winter's deathly grip, happened during the past week. The ocean is still frozen solid, but the Tagoominick River behind Shaktoolik showed some major flowing yesterday. It was actually below freezing, but the sun has finally got enough power to melt through the ice anyways. I felt inspired to take a video, and yes, it's usually this windy:

Cyrus, a student out walking with me, is taking a video too!

Flowing water is a beautiful sound. Cyrus and I were so elated that we even took a trip down to the dump! And check it out-seagulls! They only show up when spring is truly around the corner.

We both found old foam hockey sticks in the discarded waste, and after a few jousts among the filthy garbage I was quick to declare Cyrus the winner and "Lord of the Dump," a title of which he is very proud.

I had to stop and think for a second, "Wait, I am really having a foam hockey-stick duel with an eskimo student at the dump in the Alaskan tundra?" Then I realized that just a few days before, I had been sprinting down main street in 15 degree weather, a mayo jar in one hand and tortilla shells in the other (we were making crab-herb fajitas) of this same remote village. Everything seems really normal until you try and explain it to somebody else...

Oh well, I'm just glad to see the road! It turns out there was earth underneath all of that snow and ice!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Crazy UAF Permafrost guys

Kenji came to visit a few weeks ago and talk about permafrost and global warming. He is an environmental scientist from the University of Fairbanks. Apparently, this global warming thing is a big deal. Check out his youtube video:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Elim Ski Meet

The elementary cross country ski team took their trip to Elim this weekend, another site in the district. Coach Kelly asked me to come along as a male chaperone, and I was happy to oblige. I've wanted to see Elim because I've heard they have it all--trees, a beach, and a new school! In the arctic sunlight the school sure looks new and shiny:

The skiers had a lot of fun! There were relay races and races by grade. You can see everyone getting ready here, with the old Elim high school in the background. The old high school was built in 1980 as a provision of an act that required the state to provide an alternative to boarding school for high school students. 25 years in the arctic have done a lot of damage to the building:

I even had some time to myself during the meet to take an hour-long walk. The trees never looked so beautiful! We have trees in Shaktoolik too, but I have to walk about 3 miles to get to them, so it sure felt convenient to have the trees right there!

I had to crawl through the woods on my hands and knees for a while, I never did invest in any snowshoes. I started sliding on my belly through some of the downhills, but then I saw the trees mysteriously end...

WOAHAHAHOAH! That's a 200 foot cliff right there! I clutched onto the last tree above the cliff and looked down, thankful that I decided to stop sliding around. If only it was a little less sheer, I'm sure it'd be a lot of fun to slide down. I headed back to the school where there were some shallower cliffs for sliding. It was a blast! It's hard to believe that there is a massive cliff overlooking the ocean right in front of the school, but for now, it's just a fun slide:

The next day, it was time to get back on the "bus" and head home. It is insanely bright out there:

Goodbye Elim!

Best of luck to Nick and all of the staff returning next year. In fact, all of them are returning! Have a great summer and a good year! You live in a truly beautiful village.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Thai noodle night

A nicely shoveled walk:

In a stark contrast to the lower 48, students here in bush Alaska love to come visit teachers at their house. I just wanted to mention one of the most useful tools I've been using as a bush teacher: the green/red dot. It's stuck on the window of my house, available for all of my students to see. A red dot indicates to students, "I am busy, please visit later." While a green dot clearly states, "Come on in! (maximum 4)" I had to put a maximum on it or I'd have students crawling all over the place. After Christmas break I started using the green/red dot, and I think it made both me and my students appreciate visiting hours a little more. I snapped a quick photo of the dot while shoveling my walk yesterday.

And what was I shoveling the walk for? For Thai food night, of course! Another quality of bush teaching is hanging out with your fellow teachers, A LOT. Because I am often at other teachers' houses for dinner, I decided to have a nice dinner at my place for everyone. Here I am woking up the pad thai:

Heavy usage of seasoning packets for the Thai food aside, everything turned out great; Except for the Wii Bowling! I had accidentally sucked up the Wii sensor bar cord while vacuuming, snapping it in half. How was the Wii going to work without the sensor bar...? After a little research on the internet, I discovered that the Wii sensor bar is just little device that outputs two sources of infared light, so....

Candles to the rescue! It's fitting that in bush Alaska we had to use regular old candles to make the Wii work. You can see the smile on Gary's face when the Wii remotes worked fine. Two candles as sources of infared light, crazy!

The weather out here is starting to turn to Spring (finally). I heard raindrops onthe roof the other day, but now it's re-frozen and back to 15 degrees or so. It was pretty slushy for a few days:

I bought my plane tickets today though...I'll be home in a short 44 days! There's so much left to do before then, gotta go!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Shaktoolik School Blog up and Running

We've finally got the blog for the school up, but I am not a Wordpress fanatic so things are going at a slug's pace. I've become so familiar with the blogspot form of blogging, I really like it! I don't know if Wordpress is going to do it for me. Well, have a look and anybody who's got some pointers for me, please comment!