Monday, October 31, 2005

54. My letter to the editor II

It looks as though having a baby can cause a strain in a couple's marriage, according to your article "Three's a crowd where parents' romance is concerned, survey shows" (Oct. 20). Among the findings: Over two-thirds of the fathers say that their wives don't pay as much attention to them as they used to, leaving many of the men jealous and resentful. Seventy-five percent of mothers feel too tired for sex while only 28 percent of fathers feel that way, and half of fathers feel sexually neglected.
I have a suggestion. This idea is extremely radical, which may be why this has not occurred to them. Perhaps the fathers could help their wives with the babies. (Having a baby takes a lot more time than most full-time jobs.) If the fathers helped more, the mothers might be able to get more rest, feel better, be more in the mood for sex and have more time to give their husbands some attention.
Isn't it worth a try?
(Printed in today's Anchorage Daily News)

53. Lightlets

We had the beginnings of northern lights this morning. Sort of light smudges in the sky.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

52. Halloween

OK, here is my question: Who exactly celebrates Halloween, and why? Whenever people ask me about Halloween and I refer to it as a Christian holiday, someone always takes offense and tells me it is not a Christian holiday, that it is devil worship, or something like that. OK, so who’s holiday is Halloween, anyway? And what exactly does it celebrate?

51. Something is going on at the airport

It is about 2:30 in the morning. The runway lights are lit at the airport - I can see them from my window. There is also some stronger light blinking higher up, which looks like it is from an airplane on the ground. I wonder what is going on. If I had an ATV I would probably go out to the airport now and see. I'm curious. (Actually, I could probably go outside and find someone's ATV and take that, ride it out to the airport, and then bring it back and leave it where I found it. Everyone leaves the keys in them. No, I am not going to. I wouldn't do it even if it was warmer than about 12 degrees F / -11 C outside with a windchill of 2 F.) I tried looking online for the phone number of the airport but I couldn't find it. I think I'll go back to sleep. Layla tov.

50. Personal message

To the person who mailed me a letter to “The Northernmost Jew / Deering AK 99736” : I received your letter. Through sheer talent, I have managed to lose it. I am sure I will find it, and then I will e-mail you. I just wand to let you now, so you are not left wondering whether or not I received it. Thanks for writing; I love to receive personal mail here. :-) :-)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

49. Sunset

1. Sunset over Kotzebue Sound, part of the Chukchi Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean (right infront of my house).

2. Sunset over Inmachuk river (right behind my house).

It's a thin town.

48. Nu?

So when are you all getting here for hakafot? The last plane before Simchat Torah will be here soon.

Monday, October 24, 2005

47. 4 4s

When I was in 8th grade my math teacher, Mr. Chernofsky, gave up a puzzle to find all the integers 0 to 100 using 4 4s. In 9th grade, my math teacher, Mr. Greenfield, gave us the same puzzle. I have been playing with it for years on and off. I have also been presenting it to classes of mine to play with.
Well, this year, the students try an approach that never occurred to me to try when I first saw this problem, back in 1976. They looked on line. Sure enough, we found a website that shows ways to get them all. Some of their methods are really quite nasty, though, including the gamma function. (Is gamma of 4 equal to 6 or to 120? I don’t remember which) She will add in new methods, though and give credit. Now we need to find new ways to get them.
I am NOT posting the URL.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

46. Happy Mole Day !!!

In honor of Mole Day, everyone should send me a mole of M&Ms.

For your Mole Day shopping pleasure:

History of Mole Day:

Nominate someone for Mole of the Year:

A dictionary of Mole terms and a collection of mole jokes:

National Mole Day Foundation Inc.:

Some other Mole Day page:

Mole song (have your speakers on):

Saturday, October 22, 2005

45. Anyone have a 10 foot toothbrush?

Here is a picture of Chip and Agnes and two of their children with a mammoth tusk they found while out hunting by the Kiwalik River

Friday, October 21, 2005

44. Making Photocopies – A Tale of Two Cities

Making photocopies in Deering –
..Go to the photocopy machine (sort of an outdated, not the best machine), put in the papers to copy, press the correct buttons, wait a minute while the machine makes the copies, take the copies, leave.
Making photocopies in Portland –
..See if the machine is working (an expensive state-of-the-art machine).
……If so, check out all the teachers ahead of you to use the machine, and ask who is last in line. Wait for all of those of them to finish, and hope that the machine will still be working by the time it is your turn. Also hope that the bell does not ring, forcing you to leave without getting anything done. Make small talk with the other teachers waiting. Reread the stuff posted on the walls and vow to find something new to put up. When your turn comes, put the papers to copy in the machine, push the correct buttons, and wait while the machine makes the copies. Pull out the originals that are misfed and try again. Read the instructions on the machine’s screen to remove the copies that are caught. Follow the instructions by opening door A, flipping lever B behind door A so you can remove rack C (careful, it’s hot!) take out the crumpled copies without getting ink on you, replace rack C, flip lever B back, pull out tray D and flip open lid E to remove the copies the machine insists are there even though they aren’t, close lid E, push back tray D, close door A, open section F by lifting top G and reordering the originals there. Wonder what will happen when there are more than 26 parts you need to deal with. Try again until you have enough copies.
……If the machine is not working, call the office to let them know, in case they do not yet know. Have the secretary tell you how many people have already called. Get her WAG as to when it will be fixed. Come back another time and start over.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

43. Weather Report II

We are having a heat wave today: 40° F, with little wind. It probably doesn't sound like it, but it is very nice out. In a moment I will take Max for a long walk on the beach, if I can stop coughing long enough. The day is 9 hours, 8 minutes long. Days are getting shorter by a bit over 7 minutes per day.
In case you are interested, Vostok (NOT to be confused with Vostok Island) is -70° F (-57°C). And it is SUMMER there. Their day today is 22 hours, 9 minutes long.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

42. and By the Way...

If is going to refuse to ship to my zip code, the least they could do is STOP SENDING ME SPAM!

41. My kvetching again

.....I am having problems getting my prescriptions filled. We don't have a doctor here, just a clinic. The clinic sends information to a doctor in Kotzebue who gets back to them within 2 hours. Last week I told them I needed a prescription filled. They said that it had to be ordered from Kotzebue and orders come n every Wednesday. I wasn’t thrilled about having to wait a week, but I figured it was my fault for waiting to get the prescription filled and for cutting it so close. So I went back today with a list of all my prescriptions. They faxed the list to the doctor’s office. The doctor’s office faxed back a note saying that they are not a retail drug store and they don’t fill orders from any other doctor. So now I have to miss a day of work and pay for round trip airfare to Kotzebue to see their doctor. Also, they don’t carry a lot of the medications I am taking. I am looking into mail order. Tomorrow morning I will call the office of the school district to ask what insurance I have to give to the mail order people once I find some. And if the people in the clinic here know their asses from their elbows, they could have told me this LAST week. I am on Aderall for ADD, and I don’t know how I can get that through mail order, since doctors can not write prescriptions with refills for that, and doctors can not just call in prescriptions.
…..BTW, in case you are wondering, in Kotzebue they always have a helicopter ready to take the doctor to a town if someone has a heart attack or something. Still, I would not live here if I was old.
…..And Portland Public Schools has decided not to pay me $1,700 they owe me, but that is another story.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

40. Recalling the Desert while Wrapped in Goose-Down

I figured that no one in Deering would ever have a sukkah, especially this year when Sukkot falls so late in the autumn. Well, I still don’t think there had ever been a sukkah in Deering, but some people come close.
An excerpt from the article from this week’s English version of The Forward:
In Fairbanks, Alaska, each year David Crawson and his wife, Jennifer Eskridge, build one of the few sukkot around. “Sukkot is not a highly observed holiday here because it is so cold,” Crawson said. “There’s almost always snow falling before Sukkot or during.” But give up Sukkot? They sooner would add layers of clothing, insulate the sukkah walls with colorful tapestries to break the wind or huddle in sleeping bags rated for 20-below weather. One “balmy” year when the temperatures were merely freezing, Eskridge and her daughter (then 6) did just that. More commonly, the family builds a fire pit in the sukkah. It sits on a metal stand. The colder the temperature, the smaller the fire hazard, they say. “We always eat in [the sukkah], that’s a hands down. We’re Alaskans; we just put on more clothes,” Eskridge said.

You can go to see the entire article at:

Friday, October 14, 2005

39. Labradoodle pictures

Someone asked for pictures of Jack, the principal's labradoodle. Here they are. These pictures do not do him justice; it is just impossible to show how cute he is in pictures. This is a huge 95 pound dog.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

38. Miscellania...I

Apparently, people misunderstood post #35. There was just a temporary problem with the phone system. It has been fixed, and now we can use debit cards at the store and make long distance calls. Sorry for any confusion.
After not getting any packages, I just got a whole bunch at once. Three big boxes of stuff from Portland that my parents sent, the answering machine I ordered from WalMart, my glasses I ordered from an optometrist, and a game I ordered from ebay. One of my students was in the post office and she went and got her ATV and drove my stuff to my house in a couple of trips. So now I have lots of stuff.
The store also got a shipment, and we can now get apples (but only red delicious, the one type I don’t like), pink grapefruits, oranges, carrots, lettuce, and pears.
Fred Meyer (for those who don’t know, that is a hypermarket) in Anchorage will ship. Someone has to shop, but after paying for the groceries you can tell them that is a “bush order” and for 10% of the price they will package and ship it. Stephen (my ex) went through Fred Meyer while on the cell phone with me and I told him what to buy. For those who don’t know anyone in Anchorage, there are services that will shop for you if you fax them a list. They charge 17.4%.
30° F with no wind is actually quite pleasant. I took Max for a long walk.
The oil truck is gone. Across the road from me and down a bit is a house. Apparently that house was at one time an oil station. There was an old oil truck behind it (or gas, I’m not sure which) that had been there for years. How it got there, I have no idea. Well, they moved it to somewhere else, but I don’t know where. Good. I was not wild about being near an old truck with an unknown quantity of highly explosive liquid in a big tank.
We only get one radio station out of Kotzebue. It plays country music, which fortunately, I like. I woke up the first day to “All my exes live in Texas”. Today I woke up to some Johnny Cash song bout a guy who worked on a Cadillac assembly line and snuck out a piece a day in his lunchbox for years until he was able to assemble his own Cadillac at home. They also make personal announcements like “Garage sale at whatever address this weekend” and “Mary, Susan wants you to call her tonight between six and eight”.
I woke up about four in the morning. I thought I heard a knock at the door. It could have been someone coming to visit (a possibility) or I could have dreamed it (also a possibility). Max didn’t hear it, so I probably dreamed it. I had no idea who could be coming by at that time of the morning and was not in the mood to go check. I stayed in bed, but then it occurred to me that it could have been someone coming around to warn us that a tsunami was coming and we needed to evacuate. I lay there for a while, debating whether or not to get out of bed and check. I decided that if a tsunami was coming, they would be warning people on the radio by my bed. They were talking about something else, so I went back to sleep.
My clock radio is losing about 6 minutes a day. I wonder if the electricity here is weak or something.
It is impossible to keep my floor clean. I keep getting in a layer of sand. (Remember the episode of Friends when they went to Montauk to find Phoebe’s whatever and the house was filled with sand? Well, OK, its not that bad.) Some people here have everyone take off their shoes by the door. I could try that, but I don’t want to walk around the sandy floor barefoot. Besides, I think Max is the biggest offender, if for no other reason that he has twice as many feet.
A number of people here make ivory carvings. Most of the ivory comes from walruses (walri?). Some comes from mammoth tusks.
It is 17° F with windchill of 7° at 10:30 pm. Today’s day was 9 hours, 50 minutes long. Days are getting shorter by 7 minutes a day.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

37. Endangered species may get a boost from Viagra - (headline in Anchorage Daily News)

.....Asian men who traditionally tried to treat their impotence with sliced reindeer antlers as well as bits of exotic and threatened animals may be switching to Viagra, according to a study. The report found that a group of Hong Kong men gave up traditional Chinese remedies like seal penises, sea horses and green turtle eggs as a cure for erectile dysfunction in favor of more dramatic and verifiable results produced by the little blue pills.
......A possible Alaska consequence is the recent plunge in the price of reindeer antlers, a legal animal product once in high demand as one traditional treatment for male sexual problems. The value of Alaska reindeer byproducts, including antlers, dropped from about $692,000 in 1997 to $195,000 in 1998, the year Viagra was introduced. Prices have been half of the $40 to $45 per pound that antlers used to bring.
......Viagra won't have an impact on a different Alaska trade -- the illegal trafficking in bear gall bladders. Bear parts are thought to increase sexual vigor by some Asian men but aren't considered a traditional remedy specifically for erectile dysfunction.
.....But most of the men continued to prefer traditional Chinese cures for arthritis, indigestion and gout -- and used western medicine at a much lower rate. That makes sense, because many Chinese men remain deeply suspicious of western medicine and wouldn't make the cross-cultural switch unless they had a very good reason. And that would be penile dysfunction.
.............(exerpts from the paper)

36. My letter to the editor I

So Timothy Treadwell seeks fame by hanging out with bears and then gets mauled to death by a bear ("Grizzly Man," Oct. 5). How can I nominate him for a Darwin Award?
(Today's Anchorage Daily News)

35. There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza …

There is a problem with the phone system here; we cannot make long distance phone calls (although we can receive them). That means the store cannot accept credit or debit cards because that gizmo uses the phone lines. So in order to buy anything at the store you must use cash or a check. Well, I am out of cash because I didn’t worry about having cash since the only place you pay for anything is at the store and I’ve just been using my debit card. The only way to get cash here is to get cash back when using your debit card at the store. I am out of checks and need to order more from the bank. The first time you order checks from the bank with a new address you can’t just order off the internet, you need to actually talk to a person. Since there is no bank here, I need to do it by phone. But I can’t call the bank because there is a problem with the phone system.
OK, Imma, I’m sorry, you taught me to always have cash. I’ll be more careful in the future. Promise.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

34. Announcement to the world

I realize that Yom Kippur is coming, and I am supposed to speak to everyone I have wronged in the past year and ask forgiveness. The phone system here, however, is having problems and we cannot make long distance calls. So this is my announcement to everyone: If I have hurt you in the past year, please forgive me. If you don’t forgive me, call me and let me know; we can receive calls, we just can’t call. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll assume all is forgiven.
חתימה טובה

Monday, October 10, 2005

33. Weather report I

It is snowing again. (The first snow was October 1st.) The river behind my house is frozen. The sea in front of my house isn't freezing at all yet. (It is a thin town.)
I have a bad cold. I remembered to bring Exedrin and Maalox, but I did not remember Comtrex. Kvetch kvetch kvetch.

32. Stuffed germs!!!

This has nothing to do with Deering, but is too amusing to not share.

I got a catalogue for science teachers. Included is stuffed germs / bugs / viri / whatever. .
They would make great stocking stuffers for Christmas. Give someone a stuffed plague! Give your kids mono! Send your ex an HIV!

Throw the rhinovirus at someone and say "Catch a cold!"

The bedbug is the cutest. The ulcer, syphillis, ebola, and the louse are also sort of cute.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

31. Ting and Becky

Here are two of the vilage girls who come to visit.

L - R: Becky, Ting

30. To my daughter I

Go help PSU build their sukkah!
Building the Sukkah, Monday, Oct. 17th, 4 - 7pm: Come build PSU's FIRST EVER Sukkah on the Park Blocks in front of Portland State University Branford P. Millar Library, 1875 SW Park. If you are a Sukkah building veteran or have never even seen one before, come join us for SNACKS and to help us build and decorate. After it is up, we will light the holiday candles. Bring a friend, it's FREE!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

29. My first name

Amy :-)

Friday, October 07, 2005

28. On the positive side

Some people in Deering felt that my blog is unnecessarily negative. I asked some people that can be objective, since they neither live in Deering, nor are me. (Yes, I know that I live in Deering, so I do not need to add the second category, since I am included in the first.) The results:
……….33% did not answer
……….33% said yes
“Well you sound kind of blue, but things will get better once you get to know more people”
“I should also note that a blog is not a private diary -- it's posted in a public forum, and its contents are available to anyone who stumbles on it.”
……….17% said no
“No not at all .. it is a mixture .. clearly you are excited about being there .. but also kind of lonely.” (ellipses are his)
…………17% said no and then changed it to maybe
“We in the lower 48 want to know how everything is going, and want you to tell everything. But there are some things that if someone in Deering read, it might hurt their feelings. It’s a tough line to draw.”
(Totals may not total 100% due to rounding, but actually here they do.)
I do suppose people (and possible me) have a tendency to kvetch when things do not go well, and when things do go well, we just go along our merry way. It’s like the fact that newspapers do not print the names of banks that did NOT get robbed.
Also, sometimes when I just say something as a matter of fact, some people feel that I am complaining. For example, I mentioned on the phone to someone that I was awakened from my nap by a student who came by to find out that the homework was. He said “Well, you’re just going to have to get used to that.” But I had not been complaining, I just mentioned it because it was so different. (He did not come by at an inappropriate time – meaning late at night or during Desperate Housewives) In Portland, a student would never come by or call a teacher at home to get the homework. I would, however, get visits from people raising money to save the hefelumps or whatever, people who feel the need to warn me that I will go to hell unless I follow their way, or students who are selling magazines but won’t come right out and say they are selling magazines but first go into their shpiel about how they have to learn how to approach people and are being graded on our feedback how do I feel he is doing. A student asking about the homework is fine with me. The others make me want to call the cops (which there aren’t any of here, so it all works out.)
So, let me dwell on the positive.
Teaching here is so much more pleasant than teaching was in Portland!!! It is partly the class size. I can give more personal attention to the students who need it. I think it is also partly the students; since I was the new teacher in the school in Portland, I was given the hard to teach groups. I spend most of my time here being a teacher, not a disciplinarian. My students here generally do their homework! During a class I might think about how much better it is, and I feel my blood pressure drop. (And don’t tell me that it is not possible to feel that, because I do!) Also, in a school this size, we don’t have a lot of the political misuggaas that you find in larger schools. And since teaching is a pretty big part of my day, this is a pretty big lifestyle improvement.
The other biggie is how friendly everyone here is. When I walk down the street, people wave or say hi. I received a large package in the mail, too large for me to carry home, the other guy in the post office drove it to my house on the back of his ATV. If I look confused, people ask what is wrong, and can they help. As I mentioned before, a couple of people brought me chucks of meat from their hunting kills. One couple let me have their VCR, and then brought me a bunch of tapes or me to watch. People smile at each other when they pass on the road.

With all my comments, I don’t really mind most of the problems. (I admit that I would mind the sewer being out if I couldn’t get into the school which has a back-up sewer.) It is all part of the experience. And my house may be a dump, but if you add some books and a subway map and groceries and a schnauzer, it is a welcoming dump. (Anyplace is welcoming with a schnuzer doing a happy-you're-home dance)

Actually, the only thing that gets to me is the lack of a Jewish community, but I knew going in that there wasn’t any (or I would have named this blog something different.) I think it might just be getting to me because of the Yamim Noraiim and the fact that Sukkos and Simchas Torah are coming. (BTW, if you are in Portland, Portland State University is putting up a sukkah this year.) No one would build a sukkah in Deering, anyway. Well, maybe Chabad.

A local Mensa chapter here would be nice too!


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

27. Oh Joy...

The sewer system is not working. This means:
1. The bathrooms do not work
2. The town smells like shit (literally!)
Sometimes it takes 15 minutes to fix. Sometimes it takes months.

Monday, October 03, 2005

26. לשנה טובה

If I'm here next year, I must get down to Anchorage for Chabbad.
Happy 5766
May you all be inscribed in the book of life - especially those of you who write to me!

25. photos

I am having trouble getting the captions to stay with the pictures. These are (figure out which is which):

The Deering airport
The view from my front window

24. Well, here I am

Wednesday, September 28
…..The Anchorage Airport is sort of eerie in the middle of the night because it feels so deserted. It feels oppressively silent, in spite of the noise, a combination of muzak, CNN coming from monitors all over the place, plane noises from outside, and snores from people sleeping stretched out across several seats with their heads on their carry-on luggage (whether to use as a pillow or to make it harder to steal, I’m not sure).
…..The plane from Anchorage to Kotzabue seats 27 passengers. I looked out the window as we were flying. It looked like a typical Alaskan scene: very dark with the sun low on the horizon. Then I realized that it was dark out because it was 7 a.m., and that light was not the sun out on the horizon, it was the light on the end of the plane wing.
…..(In case you need to know, if you need to ship moose antlers, an airplane will only take small ones that are packaged in an antler box. For shipping larger ones, contact Antlers Express.)
…..The airport in Kotzebue had two terminals, each the size of a living room. One is the gate for Alaska Airlines, one for Bering Airlines. Alaska airlines unloaded my stuff, and I had to get everything across the parking lot to Bering Airlines. Not too difficult if you can use a large cart, but Alaska A. does not have any carts. Bering A. does, but I can not leave my stuff at the first terminal to get a cart. I wasn’t really worried about anything being stolen (although I would bring my laptop with me) but it is against airport security. (OK guys, I’ve lived in Israel, I understand the need for security – although I think that neither Hamas nor al-Qieda are interested in Kotzabue Airport – but then at least have carts at both terminals) So I have to take my stuff with me while I go get the cart I need to take my stuff with me. Well, some nice guy went and got me a big cart and helped me load my stuff.
…..In the Bering Airlines terminal they let me have Max with me, so I sat with him as he sort of sniffed around. (Did I mention that I decided to leave the cats in Portland with my daughter?) Some man I had never seen before came up to me and stated, “You must be going to Deering.” I paused for a moment before answering “Yes.” He held out his hand. “I’m N7---.” I shook his hand and introduced myself, “I’m KB2---.” “A 2,’ he said. “You are a far way from home.” (A HAM radio call sign that begins with N7 is from Alaska. If the number in it is 2, it is from NY or NJ.) It turns out that he had been talking to Stephen (my ex-husband) in Anchorage and Stephen’s brother in Portland the previous night and they told him I was catching this flight.
…..The plane from Kotzebue to Buckland and Deering was the smallest commercial plane I have ever seen. (Anyone watch “Wings”?) There was a very thin aisle down the middle. On one side were five folding seats lined up one behind the other, which were all the seats that would fit the length of the plane. On the other side was Max’s cage strapped down, and a lot of crates of Pepsi. There was one other passenger. We flew over a lot of empty barren nothingness land and landed in Buckland. He unloaded the crates of Pepsi (If you live in Buckland and want Pepsi, I think your store now has a lot.) and the other passenger deplaned. Then the pilot was told that eight people were getting on for Kotzebue. So the pilot got more folding seats out of the back storage and snapped them in place where the Pepsi had been. “What is the in flight movie?” I asked. “Alaska scenery,” the pilot answered. Good answer.
…..When we landed in Deering a woman\greeted me, introducing herself as the school secretary. She loaded my packages in a large wagon behind an ATV (which is kind of like a 4 wheel motorcycle). I got on the ATV behind her and off we went to town. The ATV is kind of cool; the get the thrill of a motorcycle but it is a lot safer. She took me to my house.
…..Oy!!!!! The house gives “dump” a bad name. The floor is those beigish tiles you see in classrooms. They are cracked and broken and FILTHY!!!!! There are some rectangular carpet remnants here and there. The kitchen cabinet doors are broken or missing. There are no shades or blinds on the windows. The bed is not queen sized, like I had been told. When I moved the nightstand next to the bed it fell apart and I noticed it had been scotch taped together. There is a shower rod and shower curtain lying in the bathtub; maybe I can get it put together. (I am supposed to pay a $500 deposit in case my dog makes this place worse? If he makes it worse he deserves a medal for creativity.) The principal said that they had been fixing this place up – I can’t imagine what it must have looked like before. (Oh, well, all part of the adventure, right?)
…..The water is from a water tank in my living room. Fortunately he warned me in advance, so I brought a Brita water filter with me.
…..I met the principal. He is a pretty nice guy. He has worked in a lot of little Alaskan villages. We talked about the students, he showed me around the school a little, and he took me to the post office to get a PO box. (There is no home delivery.) I went to his house for dinner. His house looks dumpy from the outside, but is quite nice inside. It is quite small, but he was made very efficient use of the space.
…..His dog is so unbelievably cute, I just don’t know how to express how adorable he is. Jack is a “labradoodle”, part yellow Labrador and part standard poodle. He is big – 95 pounds – and has sort of wild hair that flops in his face. Sorry, I just can’t describe what a great dog he is. The principal drove out with me on his ATV and Jack ran alongside.
…..The town itself is kind of dumpy, although some houses are nice. It’s the dumpiness of the majority of houses that give the town the feel. There are no roads. Everything is pretty much in one row with a wide dirt path on one side, although some places there are buildings on both sides of the path and some places there are some buildings in back of others. The whole town is maybe half a mile long and two buildings wide. My house faces the path, and since there is nothing on the other side of the path, it faces the Bering Sea. Nice view from my front window.
…..Many people drive ATVs. There are a few cars in the town, maybe 5.
…..I found the store. They have some stuff, very little. You can tell by looking through the store that people are getting food from elsewhere. For example, they have chicken coatings and those packaged dinners to which you just add chicken, but they don’t sell any chicken. The principal said that they order food from Costco or Fred Meyer and have it shipped from Anchorage. I bought a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and a jar of jelly for $13.
…..I have not found any salmon. I figured there would be a lot of it. A number of people are having moose at the moment; someone shot one.
…..This town is very windy. It is because it is on a very thin peninsula and the water blows in from the sea.
…..I think this town is able to exist because of government subsidies. The principal is concerned about the rising cost of fuel and what it will do to this town. It makes it more expensive for people who have to fly to other towns, and it raises the cost of shipping in goods. (Before I came here, when I was filling up my car, I thought that at least I won’t have to worry about the cost of gasoline. But then I realized that it affects the price of everything here.)
…..I bought a TV from the woman who picked me up at the airport.
…..Well, good night for now. Layla tov.
Thursday, September 29
…..I got to the school early. Some one told me that the most economical way for a teacher to live is to fill up on the school’s breakfasts and lunches. Breakfast was blueberry pancakes (with real blueberries in them, not those packaged things with a few little blue dots of blueberry flavoring and artificial color).
…..The school had an assembly to introduce me, so I was told to get up and say a few things about myself. The kids seemed shocked at the idea of growing up in a city of eight million people and that I went to a high school of three thousand students in a building with six floors (including the basement.) The principal introduce me as someone from New York City, so I speak differently. The students asked how New Yorkers talk. I didn’t know what to say, so I said that I say “Yo” when I call someone over.
…..He told me about bout the school. For elementary school, they have “levels” instead of grades. Students stay out on the first level (when they start what would be first grade) and instead of just going up a grade a year, they have to pass a test to get to the next level, whenever they are ready, not necessarily at the end of a school year. (This sounds terribly politically incorrect to me. If kids move up individually, rather than as a group, then some students are “left behind”. Just the fact that it is politically incorrect would probably make me like it, even if I didn’t like the idea, which I do.)
…..A number of people have asked me where I was on 9-11. (I was living in Oregon at the time.)
…..I need to get my telephone hooked up and DSL. Apparently the cable TV only has 3 channels. Satellite TV is pretty good, but you have to buy your own wire and dish and the initial cost is about $500. I went to the town office to look into getting telephone service and DSL, but that office had closed early today so the woman could go berry picking.
…..The electricity went out for a few minutes. Apparently the generator for the town stops every now and then and has to be restarted. I realized a bit later that my house was chilly. A girl who had dropped by showed me how to restart the heater. When the electricity goes out, the heater has to be restarted. One concern of mine is my clock radio – if the electricity goes out during the night, it won’t wake me in the morning. (Didn’t that happen in one of those “Home Alone” movies?)
….. I would be going nuts with loneliness if it wasn’t for Max. He is devoted, and does this cute little happy dance whenever I get home. As my ex says, “Schnauzers are cool people.”
Friday, September 30, 2005
…..My first day of teaching. So far, so good. I have five classes – High school geometry, middle school math, high school earth science, middle school earth science, and math skills. The largest class is 13 students. The students in my classes overlap a lot, so I have a total of 27 students (with a total of 10 last names – there are a lot of siblings and cousins here.) I think I am really going to like teaching here. The small classes are a bit more informal than I am used to, and the students are pretty well behaved. (By contrast, the school where I taught last year is averaging 37 students in a math class, with classes going up to 45 students. The classrooms have room for about 35 desk.) It is just so much easier to give the students the attention they need in classes of 13 students!!!
…..The people in this town are very friendly. Most people say hello when you pass them. If you have a question you can stop pretty much anyone and ask them. Actually, if you just look like you have a question, someone will probably come up to you and ask if they can help.
…..I went back to the office for cable and DSL, but the office was closed so they could go hunting. Someone in one of the other offices told me that she thinks I did get phone service, but she doesn’t know where my phone jack is and no one there knows what my number is. So I head into the weekend with no internet, telephone, or TV, and feeling extremely depressed. On the other hand, at least I did manage to get water. (I have a big water tank in the house, and when I run low I get someone to come fill it up.) So I handle it the only logical way and buy a huge bag of potato chips.
….There are five little girls, ages approximately four to twelve, that seem to like hanging out in my place. Cute kids, but I am just in no mood for them today. Besides, they keep playing some sad song on my computer that I didn’t know I had and never heard before, but some parts kind of hit home.
…..One of the girls brought me a VCR she said her family doesn’t use any more.
.…I finally decided to go to the school. They were having a basketball game where students signed up to be on teams of three. I wasn’t that interested, but it is certainly less fattening.
Saturday, October 1, 2005
…..Well, I figured out what that huge freezer in my kitchen is for. Someone came by last night to give me a chunk of moose he shot. What am I supposed to do? I took it and put it in the big freezer. Someone came by later with a huge chunk of caribou, still with fur on it. I put that in the freezer too. I really appreciate the gestures, but what am I supposed to do with them? I’m a Jewish girl who grew up in New York City – meat comes cut up in pieces on styrofoam trays with plastic wrap over them.
….I found the library and took out the book. OK, just kidding. It is in a very small room, and does not have much, and most of what it does have is for kids, but I found a few books by Leon Uris, and some by Mary Higgins Clark. So I checked out a copy of Mila 18 and a CD by Reba McEntire. The librarian said that if I bring her the title and author of a book I need, she can probably get it through inter-library loans. That’s good – I need books to finish my master’s thesis for Portland State University.
…..It snowed today. At first it was just flurries, but then it started sticking. The sea is not frozen at all though. It does not seem to bother Max at all.
Sunday, October 2, 2005
…..I found the phone jack. And yes, I do have phone service. I tried to call Stephen, but I don’t have long distance service. I figured I could call Stephen from the school phone, and have him pass my number on to everyone else. When I called the operator (in Kotzabue, I think), however, she refused to tell me my number. Said it is against policy.
…..Someone left a big bag of VHS movies by my front door. I don’t know who. It is a pretty varied assortment. (Thank you to whoever!!)
…..I have a bad sore throat. When I get sick I get cravings for hot Tang. I did look for it at the store last week, but they didn’t have it, and today the store is closed. Tomorrow I will see if hot cherry Kool-Ade works as well. (I doubt it!!)
…..Today I’ve been feeling lonely and depressed. I know everything will pick up once I have TV, internet, and a telephone I can use. Desperate Housewives is on and I am missing it. (My mother is taping it for me, however, and will mail me the tape.) The school was getting rid of some books, and said I could take what I wanted, so I took a bunch and have been reading about one a day. They help.
…..Then a couple came by to say hello. It was so nice to have adult company!! They introduced themselves as Chip and Agnes. Agnes had her newborn baby strapped to her chest. It turned out that their daughter was the one who brought me the VCR, and they had dropped off the movies. They decided to do away with TV, so they have no use for the VCR. He said they have a lot more tapes when I am done with these. She is Inuit, he obviously is not. I forget where he was from, Montana, I think. He told me he is from “Area 51” which is how he refers to his house since he is in house number 51. (I asked him how many people here get the reference, and he said very few.) They have seven children, one of whom is one of the girls who has been here. Chip is really into hunting, which he began doing as a child with his stepfather. I am really glad they came by; it made me feel a lot better!!

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