Friday, November 14, 2008

Giant raven? Small dog? Whatever the case, odd.

This photo is one of those times where you don't really notice how odd a scene looks as it happens - it's only later, when you look at the photo, that you realize that, hey, that bird looks as big as that dog!

I took this photo in September 2004 in the village of Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories, Canada. After covering the Klondike Road Relay race from Skagway, Alaska, to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, for my paper (an awesome event that I'll have to do another post about), I took about 10 days off to drive north on the Dempster Highway.

The Dempster Highway is a gravel road from Dawson, Yukon Territory, to Inuvik, Northwest Territories. It traverses beautiful country and is one of only two roads in North America to cross the Arctic Circle.

Aside from a lodge at the midway point, Fort McPherson is the first town you reach on the highway - 340 miles from the starting point. In Canadian terminology, it is a First Nations village, where the modern world mixes with a subsistence lifestyle. There is a factory there - Fort McPherson Tent and Canvas - that makes tents and bags; I bought a duffel bag.

On the north side of town, I noticed some sled dogs out in a yard, with a hungry raven hanging around, waiting for scraps. I took a few photos - including the one above - and watched as the raven waited until the dog was done, and then chowed down on whatever was left in the bowl. Then I went on my way. 

Only later did I notice how huge that bird looks next to the dog. It is standing behind the dog, so it isn't just a perspective issue. The dog must have been a puppy, and the raven must have been a big raven, and the photo above was the result.

The rest of the trip went fine - a couple flat tires, a couple cold nights sleeping in the back of my Saturn sedan, some unexpected snow. Just what I was hoping for when I set out. (No, really, that all made for a great trip in my book.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Unsolved Mysteries

When I was growing up, I liked the show "Unsolved Mysteries." It was a scary-but-not-too-scary show for a kid, sometimes had cool stuff on things like the Loch Ness Monster, etc. Plus, the baby brother of a kid I knew was used in a cheesy reenactment for a segment on a demonic haunted house in Horicon, Wis. - not for from my hometown.

A few years ago, mostly unedited reruns started airing on Lifetime. I always wondered if there was still someone staffing the phone line, or picking up mailed-in tips, for these crimes that were 10 or 15 years old. Every so often I'd flip through channels and catch part of an episode, which, of course, was heavily interspersed with promo ads proclaiming: "Lifetime, television for women." Ugh.

Now I see that reruns of Unsolved Mysteries, with a new host, and new graphics and music that are ... would the term be?... "amped up," are airing on Spike - the cable channel aimed at men ages 18-35. I caught a bit of an episode, and it still had the same cheesy reenactments. But now there are promo ads for ultimate fighting events. Here is the link to the new-look show's Web site.

I guess I can feel better about watching it now.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Things that get eaten out of my compost pile, Vol. 2

I've been on an eat-it-or-get-rid-of-it tear through my freezer. Contributed to the compost pile yesterday:

- ice-encased frozen pizza
- frozen fish sticks well past expiration comfort zone, even in a freezer

This morning, the fish was gone, as was most of the pizza. Some cheese and pieces of crust were left.

Things found, Vol. 1

Found this morning: New black fleece hat

Location: Under a coat on a chair in the downstairs bedroom

Things missing, Vol. 1

My old black hat, pressed back into service upon the disappearance of my new black hat.


My can opener (I have looked at the cans of Spaghetti-Os at lunchtime for a week now, with no way to open them)

My new black fleece hat


I'm about ready to give up on the can opener and buy a new one. I had the old one since college; it has opened cans of Spaghetti-Os in three dorm rooms, eight apartments in three states, and now my house. I find it hard to give up on something that's been around so long, even if it is a can opener. I guess that's why I'm a packrat.

I've reverted back to my old black fleece hat. It's OK - I've had it for years - but it has lost its fleeciness. I finally replaced it a month ago with its identical (but new) twin, and enjoyed its fleecy comfort for a few weeks before it went missing over the weekend.

My old black hat and I have been through a lot, so we'll be fine. I bought it at a sports store in Tacoma, Wash., in 2003 or 2004. It - like the new one - is a plain black Columbia hat. One winter in Juneau, I lost it. I thought I had maybe dropped it in the parking lot at work, but I wasn't sure. I mourned for it. Then, a few months later, I was walking out to my car after work, past the massive mound of melting snow that had been plowed over the winter, and I saw it - encased in gray snow and ice, bedraggled, wet and forlorn. Apparently it had been picked up by the snowplow. I washed it a few times, and - though never quite as soft as before - it was put back into service.

Then, a few weeks ago, I happened to be back in Washington state on vacation. I was driving from Seattle to Portland, Ore., and as I was going through Tacoma I recognized the sports store where I bought my old hat. It was a different chain now. I was ready for a new hat, so I pulled off the highway, went in and found a rack with new Columbia hats, identical to my old one. I bought one. I kind of like the coincidence. It's also a souvenir of sorts - a useful souvenir.

Now, if only I could find it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dreaming, Vol. 1

I don't often have memorable dreams, but on the rare occasions I do, I remember them in great detail. I had one of those last night. Here's how it went:

I woke up to a noise - inside or outside, I'm not sure. I got up and looked outside, and it was dusk, and there was a old pickup truck in my driveway but no one around. I walked out into my yard, and suddenly a man on an ATV zoomed by me, did a lap around the edge of my yard, and headed back toward me.

-- break in recollection --

Then I found myself back on my front porch, and noticed that the old pickup truck was resting on a newly paved driveway. For some reason, I hadn't noticed earlier that my gravel driveway had been paved over. Then I looked out toward the road, and saw that the pavers had done multiple, elaborate turnarounds (to sum up, a huge part of my front yard was asphalt). But they had not finished - the area in front of my garage had been excavated to prepare for a new paved surface, but it wasn't done, and I worried about how I was going to get my car out.

Then I looked out toward the road again, and noticed it seemed farther away. And then I saw that huge amounts of earth-moving had been done, and my house was now perched high above the road, with a big, tiered embankment.

Suddenly, I looked back toward the garage and noticed, posted on a wall, some kind of work order that indicated that the previous owners of my house had arranged to have all this work done in 2003. Then a man appeared - the owner of the company that had done all the paving and earth-moving; I think the same guy who had been on the ATV - and I told him I hadn't asked for any of that work to be done. He said his company had been really busy, so it took them a while to get around to doing the work, and that he didn't care WHO had ordered it - I was responsible for paying. I said I couldn't afford it. Then he asked for my checking account number so he could verify that I couldn't afford it.

I told him no, and then he said he would call my bank - at which point I worried because my checking account is unusually flush with money right now, thanks to an insurance check to cover my car-deer collision repairs. I ran into the house.

-- break in recollection --

I found myself in my living/dining room, at a table that I don't presently own, looking for a pen and paper to write something down. Then my siblings were there, helping me look for a pen and paper. Then I woke up.

End of dream.

What does it all mean? I had argued with my cell phone company about a charge on my bill the previous day - that could factor in. Home repairs are pretty much always on my mind. I had thought in the past couple of days about some questions I wanted to ask my siblings, and was planning to give them all a call.

Now, I can wait a few months for the next memorable dream.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Things that get eaten out of my compost pile, Part 1

Added to the list of items tossed on my compost pile that the local wildlife finds delectable:

- overcooked hot dogs
- frost-encrusted, expired Eggo waffles

On the list of stuff that doesn't get eaten:

- old oranges