Sunday, February 28, 2010

2010 Oceans Film Festival – Part 2

The second night of the film festival was just as good (if not better) than the first night. Once again, I went with my friend Robert and got to sit up in the balcony. Unfortunately, we were a tad bit late, so didn’t get to see the beginning of the first film – which was a bummer because it was my favorite out of all the films. It was called Rowing the Atlantic and told the amazing story of this woman from London who rowed 3,000 across the Atlantic Ocean all by herself. It was a fantastic film and an unbelievable accomplishment - she confronted storms that broke every one of her oars before she even reached the halfway point as well as claiming her camping stove, stereo, and cockpit navigation instruments; she battled grueling physical conditions, extreme isolation, and months of solitude – not even a bird or an insect to keep her company.

The next film was In Awe of the Shark which interviewed some of the world's leading marine biologists to hear their passionate plea to rethink the shark. There was, again, some amazing footage of all kinds of sharks: Hammerheads, Great Whites, Tiger Sharks, you name it – even some Whale Sharks, which are my favorites. Sharks in general have a bad reputation (thanks to my favorite movie of all time: JAWS) and are quickly becoming endangered.

The third film of the evening was another one that I just didn’t get. It was called The Comfort of Cold and told the story of a 75-year old man who routinely swims out to Alcatraz and back, twice a day. While it’s impressive that a 75-year old man is in such good shape, I do have to wonder about his mental conditions – I personally would think twice about swimming in those waters: they’re not only cold but are not the cleanest waters in the world, either.

After the 15-minute intermission, we got going on the fourth film of the evening: Acid Test: The Global Challenge of Ocean Acidification. This one was created by the Natural Resources Defense Council and was narrated by Sigourney Weaver – both of whom I like and support. It talked about the acidification of our oceans and what will happen if it continues.

A View from Below was the last film of the night, and I have to admit I just plain didn’t like it. Karl Stanley, an eccentric deep sea explorer, takes his homemade submarine to unprecedented ocean depths in search of creatures never seen before. He even rents it out to paying customers, and takes them down with him. The reason I didn’t like it is mostly because of him: he is a confrontational type of guy who enjoys arguing and getting in people’s faces. Not my kind of person at all – but I have to admit I’d love to go down there!

The films started much later this time than the previous day, so by the time they were over it was 10:00. On the way out of the parking lot we came across a man whose truck had died, so Robert stopped to help him – which meant I didn’t get home till around 11:00 and went straight to bed.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

2010 Oceans Film Festival

I went to the Bear’s Tooth Theatre last night and saw the first 5 films of the 2010 Oceans Film Festival with an old friend from back in my pipeline days. I hadn’t seen Robert in close to 20 years, so was a little nervous about meeting up with him again – but he was great, so after just a few moments we were chatting away like old friends (which, coincidentally, we are).

The films we saw last night were an odd mixture: some really good, a few not so good, and one that I just don’t see how it made the cut at all.

The first one was called White Shark Café about a bunch of scientists studying the Great White Shark. They had some pretty cool footage from underwater of the sharks which really made me wish I were a marine biologist. That just looked like the perfect way to spend your day at work!

The second one was called Surf Bus. This was the one that I just didn’t care for. The basic story line was good enough: an old, worn out surfer chick starts up a program to bring city kids out to the beach for the day to learn to surf. The program grew to the point where they bring up to 500 kids a day to have fun at the beach. But the film itself just wasn't up to par, I thought.

After that we watched one called Lost on a Reef about 6 marine archeologists searching for ship wrecks off the coast of Hawaii. Very cool underwater footage of fish, reefs, ships, and all sorts of things. It had a fair amount of history, too – which is always nice.

They paused for a brief intermission and then started up the remaining two films for the night. The first one was called Bicycle Trip which basically just followed this kid who was biking down from the mountains to the beach for a day of surfing. There was no dialog in the film at all, just scenery shots of him in all the different habitat he went thru to get there. Not my favorite film of the night, but it did have some really interesting shots.

The final film for the evening was really an interesting one called Paddle to Seattle. It documented the adventures of two guys who build their own kayaks (out of wood) and then paddle them from Skagway to Seattle; a three month journey down the inside passage. I once though I’d like to learn how to kayak, but after seeing what they went thru I’m not so sure I could do that! Particularly the part where they get visited by a pod of Humpbacks out in the open ocean = OMG what a fantastic experience!

Robert and I had such a good time chatting with each other we went ahead and had dinner after the films, and even decided that we’d go to the next day’s films together. I’m looking forward to it tonight.

Brrrr - It’s Cold Out There!

It actually took me a couple days to realize it was cold in here, too. Come to find out, my furnace hasn’t been working right for quite some time. I should have just asked Thing and Junie = THEY knew it was too cold in here. They tried everything they could think of to convince me they needed to be inside my sweaters with me.

Finally, though, I called the repair man. If ever you need furnace work done, I highly recommend Mountain Mechanical. I called them at 9:30, they were here by 10:00, and they finished up and left by 10:30!

And it only cost me $550.00 – seems they had to replace the control panel. I wasn’t even aware that furnaces had control panels.

My task for today is to go get some filters for the thing.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I had a fun weekend.

I met my friend Lorna out in Palmer at Vagabond’s Café for a bowl of soup on Saturday. I wanted her to see the place because they show artwork on their walls and I want her to get on their list for a showing. She is a painter as well as a photographer, so she could do either type of show. I also just love their soup – they always have great hunks of home-made bread to go with it.

Right next door to the café is a bookstore that was having a book signing by one of Alaska’s own authors, Dana Stabenow. Her books are set in the Alaskan Bush and will soon be made into a television series, I think. We both wanted to meet her, and who could turn down a trip to the bookstore? Funny thing: once we saw what she looked like we realized that we’d just sat next to her over at Vagabonds for lunch! We also just happened to sit next to the Mayor of Palmer, who also happened to be having lunch there.

And since Palmer is a small town and you can’t go anywhere without running in to somebody you know, I did manage to run in to an old flame of mine. We had gone out 15-20 years ago - but it didn’t end well, so we both avoided eye contact and pretended we didn’t see each other. Which is a shame.

Once we got our books signed, we headed over to my niece’s house to meet up with the family for a game of cards. Have you ever played Apples to Apples? It’s a fun game –  I recommend it. We had my Mother, my sister Kelly, her daughter Laurel, my sister-in-law Heather, myself, and my friend Lorna playing. We also had food, of course – can’t have a family gathering without lots of food. Laurel’s son Corbin was there, too – but since he’s barely two years old, he really didn’t play much. In fact, he went down for a nap soon after I arrived.

3 hours later, Lorna went back home while Mother and I headed over to my brother’s house to inspect his new fridge. I also got the tour of his new plumbing and plans for the new on-demand hot water heater and generator. And I managed to hit my head really bad on the way back up the crawl space. Not a good thing to do when you’re prone to migraines!

Back at the farm Stan, Mother, and I ended up playing the board game called Sequence – very similar to Gin Rummy, but on a board instead of in the hand. We played for an hour or so, then settled in on the couch to watch the Olympics till bedtime.

Sunday morning was pancakes and home-grown eggs = a very good way to start off your day! Especially when your mother cooks them for you. I don’t do eggs all that often, but once in a while they’re pretty darned good. I headed off to Heather’s house while mother went off to church.

I had my card-making supplies with me, so sat and made a card or two while Heather graded papers (she’s a 4th grade teacher) until it was time for Family Movie Night. Food prep started around 1:00 so that we could all have our food ready to eat by 2:00 for the start of the movie. We’re watching the BBC program “Blue Planet” and got to learn all about the Open Ocean and The Deep (see below).

Disc 2: Open Ocean
Venture into the largest section of open ocean in the world, where endless blue stretches in every direction. This blue wilderness can seem like an empty desert, but here the ocean's fiercest, fastest and most ruthless predators stalk their prey over immense distances.

Disc 2: The Deep
Two-thirds of the earth is covered in water, but we've only explored about one percent of the ocean floor. With the help of space-age submersibles, take a spectacular journey to previously unreachable depths.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Feeding My Addiction

There’s a name for a person who gets somebody addicted to a substance, and then feeds it just enough to keep it going and preventing the person from recovering. I can’t quite put my tongue on it, but I know there is a word for it.

Whatever the word is – that’s what my niece is!

She’s got me addicted to watching several TV series on DVD and periodically feeds me the next season – thereby ensuring that I will be hooked forever.

She is an evil, evil person. Evil, I say!

She started out by loaning me season one of Dexter, a show that apparently airs on HBO. If you’re familiar with Dexter, you’ll know that it’s a bit unsettling – but I quickly got hooked. Then, when I was ready for season two, she also loaned me season one of Criminal Minds. Again, I got hooked.

So today she loans me the following:
     Seasons two and three of Criminal Minds
     Season one of all three CSI shows (CSI, CSI Miami, and CSI New York)
     Season one of Burn Notice
     Season one of Quantum Leap
     Seasons one and two of Eureka

And on top of all of that she went and bought me 6 movies the other day (I paid her back, though – she just got really good deals). I now am the proud owner of:
     Galaxy Quest
     Practical Magic
     Prince Caspian
     Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
     District 9

Added to which I have a friend who got me hooked on the series Supernatural, so I’ve been watching those too… I may never need to watch regular television again!

Monday, February 08, 2010

A Whole Lot of Nothing

As you probably noticed, I haven’t been writing very much lately. That’s mostly because nothing is happening – it’s all pretty much the same old stuff, just over and over again. But, I will give you a bit of an update here, just in case you’ve been wondering.

Job Status: I’m still unemployed. There are no real possibilities on the horizon, either. I’ve had a few job interviews here and there, some of which I was quite hopeful for, but nothing has panned out yet. I still apply for jobs left and right, and am not really even paying any attention to which company or what position any more. I have, however, come to the realization that I can no longer consider myself a Drafter. It’s painfully obvious that I am not one, so should just give it up and move on. The problem is that I really don’t know what I am if I am not that. I just need to figure that little detail out, and then perhaps I can find THE job.

Living Conditions: I have a roommate again. Her name is Elizabeth and she just moved up from Kansas. She is working out quite well as she is a very likeable person. It’s hard to have somebody in the house with me, though – I really do not like that part of it. But I think I can get used to it easily enough. It helps that she is always cheerful and easy to get along with.

Computer: I got hit with a rather nasty virus a few weeks ago. It was extremely irritating; to the point where I just hauled the whole thing out to my brother’s house and let him deal with it. He worked on it for a few days and got it all cleaned off for me = thank God for older brothers! It was amazingly stressful to be out of touch with everything for those few days: no email, no internet, no schedule, no BRAIN basically. Everything I do is in here…

My Website: I finally got all five of my travelogues finished, and Stewart did a fabulous job with the layout and design work. You should check them out on my website, and then sign my guestbook letting me know what you thought! My next task is to go around town and get pictures of all the buildings I’ve worked on so they can be added to my portfolio page. I’m thinking that might need to be a summer project, though. Most buildings look best in the summer time.

Zoo Volunteering: I haven’t really done that much with the zoo since I came back from vacation. Not only is wintertime the slow time for me, but I’ve just needed a break I think. I did help out with their Polar Bear Birthday Party, and have been to a few of the monthly meetings. In fact, I did a presentation of my Africa trip at the last meeting!

Earthwatch: I’ve had a few presentations these past few months, one at the Eagle River Nature Center, one for the Alaska Prospector’s Society, and one for The Alaska Zoo. I have a few more coming up in the next few months as well – one for the USGBC and another one for the Prospector’s group. I’ve been having fun creating all these power point presentations, too – it’s a cool program that lets you do some really fantastic stuff.