Tuesday, October 30, 2007

This Is Not A Drill

I went to a meeting in City Hall today, about promoting sustainable building practices here in our fair city. The speaker was the founder of a company called DIRTT, or Doing It Right This Time.

He gave a very interesting speech, full of just the right balance of dry, boring facts and light, witty humor. He had quite a crowd, too: I think there must have been close to 50 people in that room.

He only got about half-way through his speech, however, because right in the middle of it the fire alarm went off. A voice came over the loudspeakers saying, "This is not a drill! Please evacuate the building immediately!"

Trust me, you do not want to be in a government building when you hear those words. All sorts of alarming possibilities went through my mind as I wound my way down the exit stairwell. I was thinking anything from a bomb scare to anthrax to some psycho with a machine gun!

When we finally made it out to the street, we found five firetrucks with their crews busily unloading all their gear and hooking up their hoses. They even got the ladder truck up and running.

I never did find out what was going on. I had to leave right then anyway, to make it to my next appointment. By the time I got back, two and a half hours later, they were all gone and it was business as usual at City Hall.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


For over a year now, the local phone service company has been trying to convert my system over to their "new and improved version." At first, I went along with them: I set an appointment, took off work to meet them at the house, and four times IN A ROW nobody showed up.

Naturally, I was not pleased. So I decided to simply ignore them from then on. I didn't really need to switch over anyway: I was perfectly happy with my service as it was.

About 9 months pass and I get yet another message from them on my answering machine, this time offering 3 months free. So I figured: “What the heck - I'll try it again.”

I very politely called them back on the number they provided and explain my situation only to be told I should actually be calling a different number: a local one rather than an 800 number. So when I finally get thru to the person who is actually able to handle me, I tell them my story again about the four missed appointments, all the time off work, and the hassle and what not, and she is very sympathetic.

She gives me not only a new appointment (this time on a Saturday to ensure that I will not have to take time off work to be there) And the 3 months free as advertised in their phone call, but also credited my account $20.00 to try to make amends for all my pain & suffering.

Who can beat that?

So, you'll never guess what I did today. I totally forgot about the appointment and was gone when the repair man showed up!!!

Honestly, it was not on purpose! And of course now I'm either going to have to suck it up and live with the inferior phone service or call them back and explain that this time it was MY fault and may we please try a sixth time?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Interesting People

I met the coolest lady at the Bioneers Conference. We both had taken Mr. Oh My God's workshop titled "Reducing Your Home's Carbon Footprint" and got to walk over to the dining hall together afterwards.

She is the girlfriend of the guy who owns one of my favorite places to eat lunch - talk about a small world! Embarasingly I have no clue as to what her name is. I am so bad with names!

Anyway, I ran in to her again today while having lunch at my favorite place (I had hoped to run in to her: it's one reason I went there), and again we got to talking.

The building where the eatery is located is an older building with several apartments above. She and her boyfriend are in the process of fixing up, hense the workshop at the Bioneers Conference.

It's the coolest building! It started out life as a Tile company; they used it as their show room, so they put tile down on every surface in every patern imaginable. Over the years, and thru the many different owners, layer after layer of all different types of flooring and/or wall coverings have been piled on top of each other, and they have had to dig down to the first layer in order to restore it to its original state of being. It's been a lot of hard work, but it is so worth it!

I'm very impressed with this lady (I swear: I'm going to not only find out what her name is, I'm going to make the hurculean effort to actually REMEMBER her name - some day). She is doing most of the work herself: everything from plumbing & electrical to tile repair and paint stripping.

I'm hoping to take Mother there one day, to show her.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


For those of you keeping track: dinner last night was really good. He made the best meal! If you want the recipe, let me know and I'll post it.

Today has been quite busy. Work is going well enough: I had an internal review done on the project I'm working on, and it actually turned out better than I thought it would. I guess I'm not as lost as I feel. Just a little bit left to do, and it will be ready to turn in as the 95% Submittal.

I had to leave work early in order to make it to the physical therapist's office on time. Turns out I injured myself in Mongolia: I have microfractures in my left knee which only hurts when I try to kneel on it. She has told me to stop going to the gym till it heals - which is a bummer, because I just signed on at the gym, and want to develop a habit of going as often as I can!

I also seem to have dislocated my jaw! Now, that one surprises me greatly. How the heck did I dislocate my jaw = and not know it! I only knew that it hurt and that I couldn't really open it that wide: barely wide enough to eat. She's been able to get it back in place - now we're just working on getting it to stay in place, since it spent at least 3 weeks OUT of place.

Directly after the PT session, I went over to the AHFC (Alaska Housing Finance Corporation) for the first lecture in their 8-part series, titled Weatherization, designed to help you make your home more energy efficient. Who wouldn't want that?

As an added bonus: Mr.Oh My God is the presenter!

This particular workshop was actually a longer version of the one I took at the Bioneers Convention, so most of it was just review of what I'd already learned. But - one can never reveiw something too often! I did learn a few new things, and will learn even more at the rest of the workshops.

Future workshops will be: Lighting, Heating Systems, Ice Dams, Indoor Air Quality, Peak Oil, New Construction, and Crawl Space & Attic Ventilation

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


The first snow of the year has definitely arrived!

It seems odd, though - like I didn't exptect it to be here already, even though it is the end of October. I guess my 3-week vacation really messed with my head.

And me without my winter tires on yet! I don't know when I'll have time to get them on, either. I have a dinner tonight with a friend (a male friend, but sadly just a friend). I have a work-related seminar tomorrow after work. I have a Project Wild workshop Friday & Saturday. I have my creek monitoring duties on Sunday - and of course I'll have to go to my favorite cafe and write letters ahead of that, and then go work out at the gym afterwards.

Maybe Monday - no, wait. I'm meeting up with a contractor on Monday to see about doing some odd repairs around my house. I've already accidentally missed one appointment with him - certainly don't want to miss another one.

Then on Tuesday is a meeting at the zoo for the volunteers. That leaves Wednesday... As far as I can recall, Wednesday just might actually be free.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Lecture at the Museum

I had a very pleasant evening tonight. Mother met me for dinner at our favorite resaurant afterwhich we walked over to the museum for a lecture. The lecture was presented by a trio from Sweden; an architect/product designer firm called Claesson Koivisto Rune.

The three men each took turns describing a product or design they had worked on, highlighting everything from floor plans to furniture to cookery!

My favorite residential project of theirs was located in Spain and set up on a hill. The house itself wasn't that big, perhaps 2000 to 2400 square feet, but it was stretched out long to take advantage of the topographical aspects of the site, and was situated to have the best view.

My favorite commercial building of theirs was set in Japan; a 5-story tall building with a skin of titanium panels, each of which had been punched with holes to form a patern of leaves which allowed the sun to make shadows on the interior during the day, or for the interior lighting to shine thru during the evenings. It was very unique looking.

I have to admit that I did not care much for their furniture designs, except for one of the chairs they made for the building in Japan. They continued the punched patern onto stainless steel and created what they named the "Origami Chair" each one costing about $2000.00 each!

As for their pots and pans, they were interesting and required a lot of planning, but were rather unremarkable, in my opinion. I'm sure they cost a pretty penny too, however.

All in all, Mother and I had a very nice

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Last Day

The last day of the conference went well enough. I wasn't feeling too good, so didn't stay for the whole thing. But I did manage to attend the workshop I'd been looking forward to: Reducing Your Home’s Carbon Footprint, as taught by none other than Mr. Oh My God.

Honestly, I attended the workshop for the content, not the scenery. Really I did. Of course it didn't help matters that he wore a tight fitting t-shirt showing off each and every one of his chest muscles. Not that I noticed, of course.

The class itself was very interesting, and since I am in the process of attending to a few matters in my own home, it was also quite pertenent. Here's what the website had to say about the workshop:

The issue of your home’s impact on the planet can get pretty confusing: greenhouse gas emissions, efficiency, healthy / green materials, renewable energy, etc. How do you gain perspective? Where do you begin to make changes? In this session Mr.Smith (the name has been changed in order to protect the innocent) will share tools and information participants need for a focused, prioritized approach that can make a real difference in reducing their home’s carbon footprint. Recommendations for existing homes and techniques for new homes will be addressed.

After the workshop, as I left the building, I overheard several people say that it had been the best workshop of the whole conference. I agree that it was certainly the most applicable one.

a link to my travelog

with thanks to my brother, who's website it is put on!


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Two Down - One to Go

My second day at the Bioneers Conference went well. It's so invigorating to attend these conferences. To know that there are other people in the world who are just as concerned as I am and yet who are actually doing something about it is a great relief. I must admit, there are times where I am actually ashamed to be human.

Here's a quote from their program book that I found very interesting:

“The annual Bioneers conference is a hub of practical solutions for restoring the Earth and people. It’s a thriving network of visionary innovators who are working with nature to heal nature. Bioneers draw from more than four billion years of evolutionary intelligence and apply nature’s operating instructions in practical ways to serve human ends harmlessly. We herald a dawning age of interdependence founded in natural principles of diversity, kinship, community, cooperation and reciprocity. The good news is that for the most part the solutions to our problems are already present. The models percolate up from the deep wisdom of the natural world. Extraordinary human creativity focused on problem solving is exploding the mythology of despair. Bioneers focus equally on the creative social strategies that can help us realize these solutions by restoring community, justice and democracy. Over and over, it’s the story of how one individual can make a difference.”

For today’s plenary speakers, I heard Paul Anastas talk about Green Chemistry, I heard Majora Carter talk about Greening the Ghetto, and I heard Evon Peter give an Indigenous Perspective on How to Survive the Next 100 Years. After a wonderful lunch of local organic food I attended two workshops: the first one titled “Managing and Describing Natural Resource Development and Possibilities by Means of Systems Approaches” by Henry Cole, and the second one titled “Electrical Efficiency: How and How Much Money” by Ian Sharrock.

And for those of you paying attention: no, I did not run in to Mr. Oh My God today. This is a good thing, since I really did want to concentrate on the message (and not the scenery). I did, however, meet up with a Biologist from Seattle who was on his way to Dutch Harbor to be a Crab Watcher. He was very interesting, and if anybody knows anything about the crab fisheries off the Aleutian Islands, you’ll know he’s in for the ride of his life.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Ultimate Distraction

I am in the middle of the first day of a 3-day conference: the 4th Annual Bioneers Conference in Anchorage Alaska. It is, actually, a sattelite presentation of the 18th Annual Bioneers Conference in San Rafael California.

The official website states: Bioneers are biological pioneers who are working with nature to heal nature and ourselves. They have peered deep into the heart of living systems to devise strategies for restoration based on nature's own operating instructions. They come from many cultures and perspectives, and all walks of life.

So far, in Anchorage, we have listened to some of the plenary speakers and had some interaction with the Bioneer community there at the conference. We have not yet broken out into the many available workshops: that's my favorite part.

The next few days will see us learning all about things like: Socially Responsible Investments, Building Sustainable Relationships, Reducing your Carbon Footprint, Adapting to Cascading Global Change, Raising & Harvesting your own Meat, Solar thermal systems in Alaska, Biodiesel and Beyond, and Teaching Values the Athabascan Way.

The "ultimate distraction" spoken of in the title of this posting comes from the fact that I could barely concentrate on the speakers this morning due to the fact that probably THE most gorgeous man I have seen in many years was sitting next to me. It's very hard to concentrate on the big screen TV in front of you when Mr. Oh My God is sitting not a quarter of an inch away from you. And it doesn't really help matters that I know him and have worked with him in the past on various workshops and task forces throughout the town, because now I know that he not only is really good looking but also a very nice man. And he’s married.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Biology Humor

A proton, a neutron, and an electron went out to dinner one night.

After a luxurious meal, the waiter brought the check to the proton and the electron.

The neutron was perplexed as to why the waiter didn't bring him his check.

So, he summoned the waiter to the table and asked him about it.

The waiter explained to the neutron, "For you, there's no charge!"

Two atoms are walking down the sidewalk one day, each coming at each other from opposite directions.

The first atom accidentally bumps in to the second atom and knocks him to the ground.

“Oh, my gosh!” cries the first atom, “Are you alright?”

“No,” replies the second atom, “I think I’ve lost a proton!”

“Are you sure?” asks the first atom.

… and the second atom replies, “I’m positive!”

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

50% Savings!

In January of this year I changed out all the light bulbs in my house to the more energy efficient ones, and immediately saw a substantial difference in my electricity usage.

I am on a level payment plan, however, so it wasn’t till the end of their “cycle” that the electric company adjusted the amount I pay each month.

I’m happy to say that as of July, I no longer pay $79.00 a month for my electricity = I now pay only $35.00 a month! That’s less than HALF of what I used to pay, and all for just changing a light bulb.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Serendipity in the exploration of biodiversity

“After all, is it not now obvious that the world hunger problem cannot be solved by growing more food, but only by growing fewer people, and that more food will always result in still more people, who in turn will devastate ever more nature, inevitably exterminate ever more plant and animal species, and in the long run, make life for themselves and their children ever more difficult?”
“For this reason, among others, I have no patience with the phony requests of developers, economists, and humanitarians who want us biologists to “prove” with hard evidence, right here and now, the “value” of biodiversity and the “harm” of tropical deforestation. Rather, it should be for them, the sponsors of reckless destruction, to prove to the world that a plant or animal species, or an exotic ecosystem, is not useful and not ecologically significant before being permitted by society to destroy it. And such proof, of course, neither they nor anybody else can offer!”
“The Moon and the planets will be there forever, but the Earth’s biological diversity is being exterminated now. It is therefore imperative that we study and carefully preserve nature on this planet now, for this will be our last chance to ensure that biodiversity will survive for future generations. Protection of biodiversity needs to receive top priority in national and international planning. But if nature preservation is to be effective and long-lasting, it must become codified into law and incorporated into ethics and organized religion. Not only biologists and agriculturists, but every thinking citizen, every responsible politician and religious leader, has here an indispensable role.”
by: Hugh H. Iltis, Director of Wisconsin Herbarium, Madison, Wisconsin
these quotes are from the book "Biodiversity" in the chapter named above in the title. It is a very good book, but this chapter in particular is a good one.

I recommend it highly!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Liberal –vs- Conservative

On the train in Mongolia, heading out to the base camp where I was to spend the next 3 weeks, I shared a compartment with three other ladies who got to talking politics.

Now politics really isn’t my thing, so I just sat there listening and watching the scenery go by. They got onto the subject of Liberal –vs- Conservative and what type of person would be most likely to join in on an Earthwatch expedition.

At that point, Mary (a retired nurse from Homer, Alaska) noticed that I was not participating in the conversation, so turned to me and said, “What do you think? Would a liberal person be more likely to join Earthwatch, or would a Conservative person be more likely?”

I replied, “Define Liberal.”

And they all immediately started saying things like, “Oh, she’s so right!” and “Exactly!” Or “That is so deep.” and again got lost in their conversations.

Meanwhile I’m sitting in my little corner thinking to myself, “Damn. I still don’t know what Liberal means…”

A Brand New Day

Okay. Let's try this again.

I have every intention of posting random thoughts on this blog. Nothing earth-shattering or note-worthy. Just whatever pops into my head at the time.

I hope that you will enjoy and participate in the discussions!