Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The state of our fleet

Let's change the subject form bears for a minute.

The Presidential debates are over and it seems that, according to NPR radio, there were a lot of important subjects that were not discussed. Many were terribly simplified.

One repeated comment just didn't seem to correlate with what I had read about one to two months ago, in the Kodiak Daily Mirror. So I looked up the article, and it confirms my concern.


According to our President, his budget included everything the military requested. Yes, the Senate has recently approved the short-term budget to keep things running. But the state of our  USCG ships seems to have a poor future, according to the government's own General Accounting Office (GAO).

For example, the larger of the 2 ships we have in Kodiak, the High-endurance class  (like the Munro) are only fully mission operational 44%  of the time. The Medium-endurance class ship (like the Alex Haley): 72% of the time.. These are the 2 ships covering the entire North Pacific and the Bering Sea. That is not very reassuring, either for the safety of our fishing fleet nor for our national defense.

I don't suspect that the "down-time" on our ships is as high as the average of the fleet, but those nubers are concerning.

And the future is not looking any better. These type of ships were built in the 1960's and 70's. So, are we expecting replacements soon? No. The GAO says it'll be 21 years on the current production schedule. But, because of their service records, it predicts our fleet will only last 15 years !

I must admit, I have not yet personally discussed this with the local folks at the USCG.

And I am trying not to be political here. But, I just don't see it as Fine and Dandy as our President has described.


Friday, October 26, 2012

What to do if you shoot a bear

First of all, sorry about yesterday's post: the link to the newspaper did not work because it needed a  password.... And I am not willing to give you mine.

The picture won't upload from my I-phone without an app that I haven't downloaded

But maybe it was Divine Intervention which didn't want a picture of that bear. So, I will leave it out.

In answer to the question, "What happens after you shoot a bear on your property?" The short answer: lots of work for you!

Alaska law says that it is OK to shoot a bear to protect your life and property. But, it is YOUR job to skin the animals and then take the fur to the State's  Wildlife Department for them to forward it to Anchorage. Then at the time of the Fur Rondy ( in March) the State auctions off the furs and keeps the money!

If you are a betting man, you can buy a Road System Bear Hunting License for somewhere between $ 25 - 80 ( I haven't bought one ) and then, if you kill a bear within so many feet of the roads of Kodiak, you can keep the fur. But you have to shoot it either in the Spring or Fall bear hunting season.

I don't think anyone buys one with those plans because we don't go hunting bears close to town. Incidentally, I hear most bears stay within 5 miles of their home, most of the time. And, not many live close to town. For some reason , we've had an unusual number of "visits" this year.

But if one comes to you or your house and threatens, you just have to protect yourself... Whether you are getting to keep the fur or not. I think many homes keep a shotgun with 3 inch slugs, just in case. And in the Spring, the local shooter's association occasionally brings out to the shooting range a poster bear on wheels . As volunteers pull it as fast as they can (20 mph at the most) the shooter tries to shoot it as quickly as possible. I was surprised to see that the "bear" was on top of one shooter before he got the safety opened on his gun. Imagine if it had been a real bear charging at their 30-35 mph speed!

Real encounters don't happen often. In the past 5 years, this is only the second bear shot by a regular person at home. I think there have been at least 3 shot by officers of the law because they were problem bears that didn't seem to learn  to keep away from repeated close contact with humans. 

Incidentally, the bear shot at someone's home 4 -5 years ago, was actually refrigerated and skinned at the Kodiak State Fair, as part of an educational presentation. Took 2 hours, but much of that was explanation of what they were doing. I hear it takes closer to one hour or even less, if it is raining or getting close to dark. You do NOT want to let another bear smell the carcass as you work on it, or he might fight you for the meat.

Well, this might not have been a story you like, but at least you know the " rest of the story".


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Warning: this blog is not for the timid

If you are wondering how the bear on our recent blog got to be the Wal Mart greeter...... Well, it might have a story like the one in Tuesday's paper.


It seems we are having a lot of bears around our neighborhoods this year. They have seen one at the beach at Fort Abercrombie State Park , one of our favorite spots for a walk. And they have even had to warn the students at Kodiak College to be careful about a bear around campus.

When they repeatedly get too close, homeowners get worried and take action to prevent human casualty. The first step is to scare him away with noise or ask the State Troopers to encourage him to leave with the use of rubber bullets. If they keep coming back, lead is used.

A few years ago they had to shoot one when it went into the playground at the elementary school across from the College.

This, unfortunately is what happened earlier this week.

A beautiful 8 foot tall specimen was put down for getting too close to our neighbor's house. Trying to catch someone' chickens, to fatten up before hibernation,  cost this fellow his life.

Life in Kodiak is probably a little different from your place, I would assume. 


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The lost bear

We were a little disappointed when we didn't see the "greeter" bear at the entrance to Wal Mart.

But we found him .......

next to the fitting rooms.

Do you think they were having a problem with theft ?


Monday, October 22, 2012

As the rain falls.....

Recently we showed some close ups of rain drops after a strong Kodiak rain.
And we know you, in the lower 48, would certainly like a little rain.

So, today we thought we'd show some pictures, as you sit inside and look out our window.

You've seen this view many times on our blog.
Isn't it  relaxing to see the same scene through a rain-covered glass......kind-of-like a Renoir?

In the North Pacific, we don't let rain keep us form going outside and enjoying the view first hand . You just dress for it.

And, when it rains so hard that it obstructs your view, just watch the glass and enjoy the rain drops.

Cool !  Don't you agree?

To make that point, here are some pictures of the view from our trip on the ferry:

on a clear day,

as the clouds arrive,

as the fog blurs the meeting of the land and the sea,

and then gives a mysterious haze,

Till finally the rain comes, visibility drops, and we go inside,

and find that the drops on the glass have their own appeal.

Don't you not agree?

Hope a little rain brightens your day.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Got to love the rain

You've heard that Country & Western song:
If you're going to live in Texas,
got to have a fiddle in the band.

Well, if you're going t live in Kodiak,
you're going to have to love the rain.

So while the wife was at the quilt show, I snuck out an took a few pics of what was outside St. Mary's.


So, just for discussion.
what does this look like to you?
 Butterflies ?

Hopefully, we can at least agree that this is just a bell.

But, don't you think........................

that Georgia O'keefe would have liked it here ?


these still look like butterflies to me!


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Kodiak's Fall Quilt Show

Every Fall they have a big quilt show at the High School.

This year it was held at St Mary's gym.
And we think it was even better
because you could go up and down the aisles to see and compare them all.

Lots of styles to see.

From the classical
to the modern,

to the natural

commemorating a patriotic holiday
or praising our Coast Guard


it is always fun to search for new ideas.....

that get you ready to stay home and start a long project,
now that the days are getting short.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

St. Mary's Fish Fry !

Don't get me wrong, we love eating our fish.
And, I'd dare say, that most families have more than one freezer to keep their catch till next summer.

But, here are times when you just don't want to cook.

And that is when you really appreciate this sign:

That's because in the Fall and the Spring, St Mary's school has several fish frys on Fridays.

Yes, perfectly cooked, unlimited amount of fish !

Halibut is the usual. It is great.

But, when they have our local cod, it is our favorite! So good that it is almost sweet!

.........Nothing like Momma used to make, back in the lower 48.
Did you get those small wooden boxes of frozen "cod" at the grocery store? Only 59 cents.
I remember: EVERY Thursday, the smell of thawing Atlantic cod. And every Friday: overcooked fish. Guess she thought it should have the texture of a meat steak!

Thank you, St Mary's, for a great night out of the kitchen!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

An Alaskan size steak!

What do you see here?

No, its not a buffalo steak form Burton's ranch at the southern end of the road system in Kodiak.

The astute Texan, of course, noticed the flag of the second largest state.
It's a pirated picture I took from the web site of the Big Texan Steakhouse.

You know that place; you've seen it advertised for miles and miles outside of Amarillo.....
where they give you that 72 ounce steak free, if you eat the whole thing (including the grissel, I've heard).

This is the steak we like locally:

A nice King salmon steak!

When we get one so nice and big, we don't eat it all ourselves.
We invite friends over and have enough for 4 people to be totally satisfied!

(Sometimes we eat our fish sashimi style.
But, for a steak like this: on the grill is the best ! )



Sunday, October 7, 2012

Don't let Fall fool you !

...or seeing snow on the hills.

There is still a lot of green in Kodiak.

And perhaps even a pot of gold under last weekend's rainbow!

Can you see it? To the left of the tall house?
Move your screen a little.

If not, just appreciate the gold in the trees.

Not the Alaska you expected ?
That's the wonder of living along the Japanese current.......
we have green grass almost till winter!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sprouting Fireweed

The paper says we had a freeze,
and it was a record for the date: 27 degrees.

All I noticed was a little frost on the grass....and that I was fully awake
after having that cool breeze on my face as I peddled to work.

Seems to me like the fireweed noticed it too.
Because, along the bike path,
over night, they seemed to have sprouted their cottony tops !

If you want to see more fireweed pictures, got to http://www.lifeinkodiak.blogspot.com/2011/11/alaskas-weed.html

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The longest Otter

Saturday's snow/rain melted and left a great Sunday with plenty of sunshine.

So, it was time to kayak out and see how the seals did out by the rocks on Mill May.

Unfortunately, the tide was coming in and the wind was a little brisk just outside the Spruce Cape. So I chickened out. There is a definite risk, that when the wave from the rising tide passes, you are likely to be balancing on top of a rock. You certainly don't want to topple over on all those those sharp edges.

So, I took a picture of the prior day's snow on the mountain behind the houses.

And off to the leeward side of the bay I went, expecting to see nothing exciting.
As is usual in Kodiak, though, that is when you see the most of nature.

Suddenly, I spotted a little motion and paddled in a little closer.
There was an otter.
It's not the same one we saw in the last few years.
It was the longest and skinniest otter!  It looked like a weasel!

Over and over it did the same thing. It would look  180 degrees around him,then dive into the water. But, never towards me. And it didn't always come up at the same spot. But it was not hard to know where he was. All you had to do was listen.

He'd come up, bang his clam on his chest for about 7 repetitive bangs, making  really loud sounds. Then he'd carry it to his mouth with his tiny hands, spinning it really, really fast, as he bit to crack it further.

Once successful, he'd look around to make sure all was safe, and dive for another clam.
Over and over he did the same thing.

Paddling very slowly and quietly every time he dove,
I was finally ready for my great picture.

Yes, you guessed it. I got inside his comfort  zone... and didn't get to see him again!

(Guess I should have known.....
he wasn't looking straight at me because he knew exactly where I was)