Friday, July 31, 2009

Blueberries. My favorite berry.

Every summer I say I am going to make blueberry jam because it sounds like a fun Alaskan kind of thing to do. I finally got around to at least picking the berries yesterday. Berry picking is not as boring as I was expecting. In fact, it’s kind of addicting. Other than freaking myself out about being attacked by a bear, it was nice being out in the sun and doing something kind of mindless.

Then I started trying to clean the blueberries. Let me assure you, making jam is not going to become a hobby of mine. Pulling fruit worms out of blueberries one at a time is really, really boring. And kind of gross. Ok, really gross. I didn’t realize that wild blueberries had fruit worms. They are tiny little inch-worm looking things that you have to soak out of the berries. And some of them die before they get completely out so you have to go through the berries one at a time and pull worms out of probably a third of them. Yuck.

My goal was to make jam and knit something for everyone in my family this year for Christmas. Well, I have been slacking on my knitting and now I’m grossed out by making jam. Making your own gifts, I have decided, is way over rated. Thank God for gift cards.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Yo quiero my dog to live forever

The Taco Bell chihuahua died today. She was 15. Reading about her death made me unexpectedly sad. My awesome chihuahua/pug turned 15ish last Friday. She is a pound puppy, so I am not exactly sure how old she is but I think they might have overestimated her age. At least, I hope they did. She still gets around really well. I mean, I know she is old, but she doesn't act 15. Maybe it is just that I cannot fathom her dying any time soon. I have literally had dozens of nightmares about that since I got her. I am not ready for it. When I heard the news about Gidget (the Taco Bell dog), I had a little chat with Pint (my dog) and we've agreed that she is going to be just fine for at least another 2.5 years. So at least I don't have to worry about that for awhile yet...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Food, Inc.

Last night, I went and saw Food, Inc. and left depressed and convinced that I will never eat pork, beef, chicken, soy, wheat, or corn again. I am going to live off organically grown nuts and the chard in my garden. That’s it. Oh wait, nuts have to fly too far to get to Alaska, so scratch those. Can a person survive off chard, turnips, and chives? That’s all I was able to grow this year. Damn.

Ok, so obviously my plan won’t work. But it is truly sick how much power and control a few mega-corporations have over our entire food supply. Sick. I wanted to literally throw something at the screen when they started talking about Monsanto. According to their website, “Monsanto is an agricultural company. We apply innovation and technology to help farmers around the world produce more while conserving more.”

Help farmers, my ass. Moe Parr really appreciated all your ‘help’ when you sued his ass and forced him to retire after 50 years in the seed cleaning business because he couldn’t afford his legal fees anymore. I felt horrible for this man. That part of the movie made me cry. It is just.not.fair.

Monsanto genetically modifies soybeans – the seeds – so that they wouldn’t die from pesticides. And because they’re genetically modified, Monsanto can legally patent their seeds and sue any farmer that saves those seeds from one year to the next. Monsanto soybeans account for some astronomical percentage of all soybeans grown in the US. If you are drinking soymilk, tofu, yogurt, or edamame chances are you are eating their product.

So, maybe you are thinking, why don't they just buy non-patented seeds? Well, that is exactly what some farmers do. But you better hope your neighbors don’t have Monsanto seeds either. One farmer was also sued because Monsanto seeds blew into his field. Seriously. Farmers are so in debt producing heavily subsidized crops for monopolies that require certain farming ‘standards’ that their hands are tied. If the only corporation buying soybeans is Monsanto and you are a soybean farmer, what are you going to do? If you only make $18,000/year how are you going to fight a billion dollar company?

Food, Inc. also goes in to meat production, the evils of corn, and the industrialization of the food industry. It was absolutely appalling watching some of the egregious ethical violations some mega-companies don’t think twice about.

Thank God there are still people like Joel Salatin. I wonder if he has a 30-something son that I could marry? Food, Inc. made me realize how much miss doing environmental work. I’m not leaving Juneau anytime soon, but I think eventually that is going to be what gets me. I wish there was a way to do really meaningful national work from a really beautiful rural area. It sucks that you either have to give up nature or career. I love my job, but it’s not my passion.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Just Dance

This is my favorite new couple, the best new choreographer (and one of my favorite former dancers), and it was definitely the most well danced routine last night. Jeanine is my favorite female dancer and I’m really hoping people will see through Kayla’s way over-hyped dancing and keep Jeanine in the show. If you watch this clip and don’t want to be a dancer, then this show obviously isn’t for you. I absolutely adore it and every year I say I’m going to start taking dance lessons. I never do, but wouldn’t that be awesome?

Anyway, here’s what I am hoping happens:
Melissa, Jeanine, Janette – Top 3 Girls
Brandon, Ade, Jason – Top 3 Boys
That would be the best Top 6 ever!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Reason #247 why I need a better camera.

Just last week I was telling someone how humpbacks no longer impress me as much as they used to. I mean, it's still exciting to see one, it's just such a common occurrence up here that it is no longer this heart stopping 'Oh-my-God' moment.
Apparently, the humpbacks got wind of this comment and decided to remind me of why they are so frickin' awesome.
My crappy point-and-shoot just isn't cutting it anymore. It's really frustrating when you run into about 20 humpbacks bubblefeeding and some of them even jump completely out of the water and this is all that you can get on film.
They got so close to the boat that I was a bit nervous. Humpbacks are HUGE. HUGE! They can weigh up to 75,000 pounds! Normally, I'm far enough away that I don't grasp just how big they are, but when 20 of them are surfacing 25 yards away from the 1,000 pound little boat you're in - well, that is pretty gosh darn impressive.
Unfortunately, it's going to be awhile before I have enough money to buy a better camera. But it is definitely on my must-have-eventually list now.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

I Heart Books

I can’t hate Twilight. I can recognize the argument that Bella is not a good role model for young women, but anything that got me knitting can’t be all bad. Plus, the reason I now get to read advanced copies of library books is because I knew my way around a young adult novel, and that is in part due to Twilight.

However, I do have a problem recommending Twilight to younger girls. There are quite a few things that I absolutely hate about the story. Why, why can’t there be a good teen fantasy with a strong female role model?

Wait! Don’t fret my four readers - I think I found just such a book! I was rooting around in the back of the library and found some books that were a few months older than the rest that hadn’t been reviewed yet. On a whim, I decided to go for those books. And boy am I glad I grabbed them!

Graceling, by Kristin (and she even spells it correctly!) Cashore has received my highest recommendation to date. And I don’t say this lightly but I think this book is a stepping stone to authors like George R. R. Martin and Guy Gavriel Kay. The heroine, Katsa, is strong and self-sufficient and intelligent. And the main male character is completely fine with that! A man that respects and admires a strong woman? Gasp! Graceling should be required reading for any girl that reads Twilight!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Independence from Palin Weekend Extravaganza

With so much to celebrate this weekend, it was hard to know where to begin. The sailing club had a float in the 4th Parade. Here's Fletch helping out with the decorations:
Commodore Lieb mastering the art of the hula hoop, always a good time:
It was a sailing club float, so of course, I am on a boat:
I'm not really sure what hula hoops have to do with sailing, but I really can't imagine life without them.
It was also an amazing weekend to go fishing. We threw out some crab pots and didn't catch anything but this ginormous sea star. (Remember kids: Starfish are NOT fish!! They are SEA STARS.)
Even the whales came out to celebrate our liberation from the Palin administration!
Both humpbacks:
And orca:
All in all, I'd say it was a pretty spectacular weekend.