Out There

African riches

Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on May 27, 2008

I’ve been getting spam about fabulous wealth in an African bank that is somehow mine and all I have to do to claim it is __________ for years.  But I get one or more every day lately, in my inbox, not my spam folder, which I don’t even check because it has thousands of messages in it.  What I can’t believe is that these apparently work!  People apparently fall for these type of things?  Here’s the latest example, which I haven’t even read except for the first few lines and I knew right away it was garbage:



I am Mr Dada Smith,the manager of Foreign Account Department of the UNION BANK oF NIGERIA PLC. I am writing you this letter to ask for your support and co-operation to carry out this transaction.

We discovered an abandoned Sum of US$20Million (Twenty Million U.S Dollars) in an account that belongs to one of our foreign customer who died along side his entire family in November 2002 in a plane crash in Lagos.Since this development,we have advertised for his next kin or any close relation to come forward to claim this money, but nobody came to apply for the claim.

To this effect,I and two other officials in my department have decided to look for a trusted foreign partner who can stand in as the next of kin to the
deceased and claim this money. We need a foreign partner to apply for the claim because of the fact that the customer was a foreigner. And we don’t want this money to go into the banks treasure as unclaimed fund.Every document to affect this process will emanate from table and I will perfect every document to be in accordance with the banking law and guidelines so you have nothing to worry about.All we require from you is to provide a bank account in your name or your company name where the money will be transfered to and deposited.

We have agreed that 30% of the money will be for you,10% for expenses incurred on the both side while 60% will be for my colleagues and I. If you are going to assist in this, indicate by replying this letter and putting in your contact address, private telephone and fax numbers.

I await your immediate reply to enable us start this transaction in earnest.Once I receive your reply, I will send you the modalities for immediate application of claim.

Thanks for your anticipated assistance.

Dada Smith
Manager:Foreign Account Department
Plot 17,Sakajojo Street,
Victoria Island,Lagos-Nigeria


Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on May 27, 2008

Check this out!  From the Fairbanks News-Miner newspaper:

Alaska is already home to the world’s longest sled dog (Iditarod), snowmachine (Iron Dog) and riverboat (Yukon 800) races, so it only makes sense it should serve as the finish line for the world’s longest canoe and kayak race.

It won’t happen until next summer, but plans for a 1,000-mile race on the Yukon River from Whitehorse, Yukon, to the Dalton Highway bridge are in the works and a starting date of July 20, 2009, has been set. Approximately half the race will be in the Yukon and half will be in Alaska.

Fun fun fun.  I’d LOVE to do this, although I’d actually like to do it from Dawson or Whitehorse all the way to the lower Yukon, much more than 1,000 miles.  In a kayak, good grief I’d be scared to do it by canoe, I’m terrible in a canoe.  If I was in a canoe I’d need these!  I wouldn’t want to do it as a race.  I’m not that great a paddler, I just enjoy it a lot.  Come to think of it, that describes me in a lot of sports.  : – )  Now if I can just talk my bear-wary esposa into this idea…  Don’t worry, if I really do something like this I’ll start smaller and do some long distance stuff closer to home as training.  Floating the lakes and rivers of the Wood-Tikchik state park would be incredible, although you have to see it on a map (click on it to zoom in) to see why.  You put in at Lake Kulik or even one of the lakes above that (get there via float plane), and then float and fish your way all the way down to Aleknagik or maybe Dillingham (??).  You can pay $4,000 minimum per person to do this with a guide, or you can freelance it.  That area is remote, to say the least, and loaded with fish, bear, and more.

Sweatin’ to the Oldies

Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on May 25, 2008

So last night I was doing dishes while Claire slept and Tammy worked at school (until 1:30 am!  And this is our summer, school is already out.  Yeah, those teachers are all overpaid.  Actually, she’s at school right now too, been there for about 4 hours cleaning out storage rooms, dusting, organizing etc.  Sorry, tangent.), and I didn’t want to wake Claire but I wanted music while I did dishes.  I got my old walkman out and put in a tape and had a GREAT ol’ time rocking out to this albumHilarious!!  The rest of the tape (holy cow I’m old!  Remember TAPESAnd mix tapes?  I used to crank those out, what a lot of work that was!) was similarly dated.  Some stuff I can’t really say anything kind about (well-intentioned?  Skillfully played?  Woeful writing) by DeGarmo & Key, and “Thunder Beach” by Crumbacher (Hey!  Time for the “fast skate!”) was a little better.  Gives me a huge grin just remembering the shoebox on the seat of my car with all of those tapes in it, singing at the top of my lungs with Ian or whoever, somebody drumming on the dash.

But back to newsboys, that was a great live concert they put on.  Definitely the first show I went to with the musicians doing backflips and leaping (repeatedly) into the crowd while playing their instruments.  I remember once there weren’t enough of us to catch the extremely hyper lead guitarist so we all just scattered and he hit the floor.  No wonder he had knee pads on!  Silly stuff.  Then there was the drum kit that elevated and then revolved 360 degrees, pausing upside down for an extended (red-faced) solo by Peter Furler.  I can’t recall if they did that in the first show I saw though.  That was in October of ’92, I’d just started college, and Dennis got a bunch of us to go to see this band we’d never heard of.  We bought some advance copies of “Not Ashamed” and did a lot of jumping up and down.  (The only dancing I was ever any good at : – )  Their personnel kept changing after that for a while.  They had a terminator look-alike on bass who came and went, and the nuts guitar dude, that was the only time I saw him.  The keyboard guy went solo and the lead singer left.  Anyway, good memories with some great friends, and I’m glad I let Dennis talk me into going.  And it sure made all those dishes fly by last night.

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If you write a blog and noone reads it…does it exist?

Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on May 25, 2008

I’ve kind of been thinking about who my “audience” is as I write on this thing.  I think I’m realizing I don’t really want to write for an audience.  I do too much people-pleasing in my face-to-face world, I don’t need to enter into it here.  I just want to write.  Fluently and expressively.  Not necessarily well, or convincingly.  But maybe therapeutically.  I’m a writer.  Not like someone who does it for $$ and everyone wants to read their stuff.  More like a person who, when stressed/freaking out, is helped by putting his thoughts down into words through writing.  So, probably this means my writing won’t really make tons of sense or follow any theme, and it might be boring or offensive or whatever.  Probably it means this won’t be a very “good” blog, which is fine with me.  I’ve kept it undercover for the most part and plan to keep it that way.  If you want to read it, cool, I’m honored.  And if the imaginary counter stays in single digits forever, that’s just fine with me.  So what’s the purpose of this?  How is it different from a diary?  Hmm…well, I won’t be putting stuff in here that I put in occasional journal entries (not online).  Too intensely personal.  My specific struggles with God, or in relationships or stuff at work, that’s not ok for this forum and would only make trouble.  This is more like ideas or things that bounce around in my head and I’m sort of an extrovert and this is a place for me to process them and get rid of them.

So basically, if you thought my writing was stinky up to now, its about to get even worse less polished.

truth (Truth?) and consequences

Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on May 23, 2008

These days I keep running into situations where people are arguing about truth.  What floors me is the extent to which people see Truth (capitalized intentionally) as whatever protects their security, their position, their past, or whatever.  There are a few controversial mines being planned in Alaska, most prominently Pebble (probably the largest find in the world in terms of size and the value of the resource) and more relevant to the Kuskokwim, Donlin Creek.  The environmentalists (and lodge owners) have mobilized and forged alliances with villagers who are rightly concerned about future fish runs.  Mining and resource extraction advocates have lined up on the other side.  Both sides claim Truth on their side, that the waters WILL be poisoned, the fish WILL be devastated, the people’s way of life WILL be irrevocably altered for the worse.  Or that the mine will do NO HARM and will only pour economic benefits into the area.  Isn’t this a little silly?  I’m a fairly young man but these arguments seem paper thin and childish to me.  Isn’t the truth likely somewhere in the middle?  I’m not into relativism, I do believe in Truth, but it is not to be found on either side of these type of debates.

How about the state of Alaska filing suit to challenge the listing of the polar bear as a threatened species (see story here)?  Come on.  Everyone freely admits its not about the bear but about the potential impacts to oil and gas revenue for the state.   Given the projections by the vast majority of the scientific community, even the Bush administration, which delayed the ruling for…ev…er had no choice but to say it’s threatened, even as they tried to water down what that meant as much as possible.  Can we be honest and change the argument to “We think our economy is more important than the bears who seem to be doing ok for now?”  To quote the piano man:  “Honesty…is such a lonely word…”  That argument might not fly legally, but it would have much more appeal and would really get to the heart of the issue instead of clinging to some BS underpinnings.  I’m not addressing that argument, by the way one way or the other.  I just get so disgusted with how people use truth so conveniently for whatever position enriches themselves.

This came to a head with me on a more personal level when I was part of a Regulatory Commission of Alaska workgroup on net metering and whether the RCA should mandate some adoption of net metering policies by Alaska utilities.  It was another issue of opposite sides claiming different facts and waving the banner of Truth on their side, and it was frankly just a little depressing and annoying, and after I reflected for a while it seems a little scandalous.  I kept trying to get in the middle, and noone would join me.  I sent studies which supported a particular position, and the opposing side would argue against the conclusions of the studies in a way that only revealed they hadn’t read them (which they later admitted to me in writing).  Is integrity dead?  Is honest dialogue, and a willingness to examine another’s perspective and even (gasp!) admit you’re wrong, is that dead?  In Alaska politics, if it isn’t dead it’s on life support.

I haven’t even mentioned the political parties.  If you read a story in the Anchorage paper, and read the reader comments that follow, comment after comment foolishly blasts the political party they don’t belong to and blame them for a host of problems.  I won’t go into the national stuff, which is just more of the same.  I’m starting to lose focus and wander here so I’ll stop.

In conclusion, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, and my reaction only exposes my youth and naivety.  In my world view, the problem is sin, and people living for themselves and not for Christ and their neighbors.  But seeing the product of sin on such a global and official scale still kind of knocks my socks off.  In some silly way I think I assume that people making decisions affecting thousands and millions of people would somehow be less self-serving than myself and the ‘normal’ people I’m around all the time.  But the older I get the more examples I see of those in power abusing their position (yeah, that’s me – LOL).  It’s sad.

I hope to add a specific post about the net metering thing later, and maybe one about a former principal here sabotaging his own school (how’s that for a tease?), if I ever have the time.  I’m such a busy kassaq these days–yuck.

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Posted in grim stuff by Pete on May 9, 2008

Quoting from our local paper on 4-15-08, the Delta Discovery says:

Of all the adults in western Alaska, 52% use spit tobacco, or iqmik. That is more than half the population of the region. 42% smoke. Compare that to the statewide average of 6% for spit tobacco and 27% for smoking.
“This area has the highest number of smokeless tobacco users than the rest of Alaska and the rest of the country. They are both high. Over half of our population are users,” said Carrie Enoch, the Coordinator/Nicotine Dependence Counselor for the Yukon Health Kuskokwim Corporation.
Iqmik is a mixture of tobacco leaves, willow ash, or punk ash fungus, known as araq. The araq acts as a conductor to channel the nicotine from the tobacco leaves straight into the body at a pulsing rate of 99-100%. Even the user rate among pregnant women in western Alaska is high – 57%. Effects of tobacco use while pregnant include a higher risk of respiratory infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia, coughing, wheezing, and excess phlegm. Other effects include smaller rates of lung function and an increased risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.”

While she compares Western AK tobacco usage with the rest of the state, a comparison to the nation is even more appalling. What’s more, I’d be interested in stats looking only at natives. Bethel has a significant (majority?) non-native population that I’m sure chews at rates closer to the national average, pulling our regional figure down. I know that here in Kasigluk it seems like virtually all adults use it. I don’t write this to blame someone in particular, or to ask for a handout. Just to call for change. I’ve got a similar post on alcohol, something I wrote a long time ago, that I’ll put up one of these days.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on May 1, 2008

Today is May 1, and my mom’s birthday. We sent her an e-card, and later Claire and Tammy and I will give her a call to let her know how special she is to us. We love you mom!

Yesterday was Claire’s 2nd birthday! She managed to wait ALL day without opening presents, and then had a blast opening boxes and boxes of stuff, mostly from her super generous grandparents (thanks you guys!). There was also a veggie tales movie (which we watched right away) from the Wolcotts, and several cards from Cousins and others. Her friend Karla even gave her some cool rubber boots! All in all a great day for her, I think. : – ) She even fielded Happy Birthday wishes on the VHF, answering “Thank You” in her soft voice over the airwaves. We opened so many presents that Tam and I never gave her OUR gift, a “Dora the Explorer” toddler bed, with matching furniture and toy-organizer shelves. That will be a weekend project for dad to put together, AFTER I take my very very very last final due Saturday morning at 9 am.

Lastly, with this being May 1, I just have to point out that in 2004, our first May in KUK, we were KAYAKING on this day. There was a lot of ice in the river and the lakes were almost entirely covered, but there was plenty of room to paddle. This was the day that Tammy famously fell in too, but I won’t go into that here. Anyway, May 1, 2008 is not so paddle-friendly. At 6 this morning it was 19 degrees out with 25 mph winds for a wind chill of -12. Boooo!!! Come spring, come!!! We’ll be driving, not boating, on the river for a while longer I guess.

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