Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Joe Mama!

Alaska Dispatch:
At 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski ended her bid for the GOP nomination to the seat she has held since her father passed it on to her eight years ago.
“Can somebody tell me what the hell just happened?”

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

For My Liberal Friends

voting_freak.pngWhy do you even try?

Monday, August 30, 2010


This is August?

Leslie finally broke down about ten o'clock and turned on that old gas fired scorched air monster in the basement with the sheet metal dustwork going every which way. I smelled it before I heard it. But I can't really blame her. It was cold and drizzly outside, and even colder inside.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Szechuan Planked Salmon

At the campout last weekend I planked a few salmon and seasoned them with three different rubs. One mesquite, one Italian, and one I call Szechuan. It has a secret ingredient.

szechuan_peppercorns.jpgSzechuan peppercorns or huajiao are small, reddish brown peppercorns with a flowerlike husk. Dry roasted and ground, it has a pungent, aromatic flavor unlike anything you've ever tasted, and produces a numbing sensation on your tongue. Buy it in your local Asian food store; you won't find it any supermarket.
Szechuan Salmon Rub
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground Szechuan pepper

Saturday, August 28, 2010

As a Mother

Sarah Palin spoke to 300,000 people in Washington today.
Now, I've been asked to speak today, not as a politician. No, as something more — something much more. I've been asked to speak as the mother of a soldier, and I am proud of that distinction. You know, say what you want to say about me, but I raised a combat vet, and you can't take that away from me. I'm proud of that distinction, but it is not one that I had imagined because no woman gives birth thinking that she will hand over her child to her country, but that's what mothers have done from ancient days.
Her speech ran only 17 minutes. Text here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I Like Guns

Thanks to the Mind Numbed Robot.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Alaskan Tea Party

In tomorrow's Wall Street Journal. The money quote:
Though heavily outspent, Mr. Miller was helped by former Governor Sarah Palin's endorsement and especially by Ms. Murkowski's failure to understand the anti-Washington mood. When he asked Senator Murkowski in a debate which part of the Constitution permitted Roe v. Wade and bank bailouts, she responded that the nation might suffer if the government only funded things explicitly authorized by the Constitution. Bad answer.
It's too early to get my hopes up. Having lived through 1984, 1994, and 2004, I have no hopes left to get up. Still, I wait, in breathless silence.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kid Comm

Leslie stewed a savory pot of home made chili for dinner, with fresh chopped onion and grated cheese.

"Dinner!" she called up the stairs.

No answer.

She pressed the button on the intercom. "Dinner!"

No answer.

"Should I text them?"

Monday, August 23, 2010

72-Hour Expert

If you spend 72 hours in a place you've never been, talking to people whose language you don't speak about social, political, and economic complexities you don't understand, and you come back as the world's biggest know-it-all, you're a reporter... What do you want to know about Afghanistan, past, present, or future? Ask me anything.
P.J. O'Rourke.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Original Nine

original_nine_campout_2010_thumb.jpgAt the Eighteenth Annual Durand Family Campout.

The median age of the siblings this year reached the half-century mark, and of the three dozen shots I took this one was mercifully soft-focus, and nobody had a particularly goofy look, so this is the best I could do, standing in front of the camera.

Standing: Becky, Randy, Barb, Jim, Julie, Gordon, Nancy, Greg, and Susan; Sitting: Dad and Mom.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


alaskan_still_life_thumb.jpgI finally had to clear away the clutter on the coffee table and admit that our vacation was over and done. But first a still-life for my computer's desktop.

Now, if you bother to click the pic to view the full-size, you'll see prominently featured a bottle of Alaska Distillery Smoked Salmon Flavored Vodka. We discovered this at the Snow Goose Restaurant in Anchorage, where they make it into a delicious Bloody Mary.

By eight o'clock Saturday night this bottle, sadly, will be empty.

And we'll have to go to Anchorage to get another one.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

When you’re holding a hammer

Everything looks like a nail.
Now Congress is saving Wall Street
While they’re watching Main Street fall.
They got health care all figured out
But it don’t seem to care much at all.
As soon as they save this planet
They’ll put the fire out in hell.
When you’re holding a hammer
Everything looks like a nail.
Music here. Story here.

Via Lucianne.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hotter Than Heck Around Here

Every August I express the opinion that, if you do a great many evil things during your life, and die without benefit of clergy, not having made a full confession and received absolution, then you will almost certainly go straight to Medford.

Where you will burn for all eternity, until mid-September.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Old Fiddler’s Joke...

Q. What's the difference between a fiddle and a violin?
A. No one cares if you spill beer on a fiddle.

But what if it's a Stradivarius?
The latches on the black case were stuck. Museum volunteers were unable to free them, so the case, which had been in the museum's hands since shortly after its founding in 1969, remained shut.

Recently, Carl Metzler, a video producer for Creative Images in Roseburg, came across the case while working on a project and wanted to peer inside.

He freed the latches and slowly opened the soft cover while joking with museum volunteer Bob Matthews that the case might contain a Stradivarius....

Metzler pulled the violin out of its case and peered into the f-shaped bass sound hole to see the manufacturer's label. His jaw dropped when he saw "Antonius Stradivarius."
Hat tip to David Henry Handy, Roseburg's finest blogger.

(Oooh... Almos' fainted with the damn praise!)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Five Best: Mortality and Angst

Jon Krakauer on books about mortality and existential angst.
  1. Nothing to Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes
  2. The Hours by Michael Cunningham
  3. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
  4. Darkness Visible by William Styron
  5. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Krakauer, of course, knows a little about staring into the void. On Greg's recommendation I read Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster. So I'll take note of this list as books I ought to check out; maybe not now, but later, someday.

life_among_the_savages.jpgRight now I'm reading Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson.

Yeah, yeah, go ahead. Tease me about it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

On the Road to Seward

on_the_road_to_seward_thumb.jpgThe green was so intense I had to turn the car around and go back for a second look.

I'm still sorting through my photos from Alaska looking for the occasional nugget. If and when I find one, I'll post it here.

Tonight I'm camping out on the lawn with my camera on a tripod to try to catch a Perseid or two. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Beaver Not Otter

beaver_panel_thumb.jpgIt was only the luck of the draw that prevents me showing you the last thing Ted Stevens ever saw.

That morning at Talkeetna Air Taxi we boarded the DeHavilland Beaver and not the Turbine Otter. They have three Beavers and two Otters, and a couple Cessna 185s. All excellent planes in top condition, even if they are fifty years old.

Airplanes are not maintained in the same manner as cars. Imagine that you took your car to an expert certified mechanic every 6000 miles, gave him a blank check, and told him to inspect and fix everything — everything — down to the map lights. And if everything wasn't fixed, right then and there, you weren't getting the keys back. That's the way planes are maintained.

So don't worry about flying in old planes. Worry about flying with young pilots.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Anchorage at Sunset

(Click pic for full size.)
On Wednesday evening after changing into dry clothes we drove to Chugach State Park just outside Anchorage. There we watched a sunset — at 10:30 PM — and took in the panoramic view below us.

My camera doesn't have one of those fancy-pants pano settings so I stitched this together in Paint. Pretty darn primitive, I know, but when I was a kid... by golly, when I was a kid cut and paste still meant scissors and a pot of LePage's.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Kenai River Green

kenai_river_thumb.jpgOn Thursday we headed south for the third time in three days but this time we took a right at Moose Pass. The weather was showery and we decided to drive when it rained and stop when it didn't. Along about Cooper Landing it stopped, and we did too.

kingfisher_roadhouse_thumb.jpgOur friends from Bird Point had recommended the Kingfisher so we gave it a try. We had bean soup and rockfish sandwiches and a gorgeous view. I believe that my view was better than Leslie's — but she has her own opinions on that.
After lunch we went for a short hike along the Resurrection Pass trail. We saw lots of mushrooms and plenty of bear scat but no bears.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

PDX 7:12 PM

Almost home.

The kids are home. The cat's fine. The fish are OK. We'll be there soon.

All out of gin. Gotta pay airport prices now.

I think our plane just arrived.

More later...

Tired, tired, tired.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mermaids in Homer

the_mermaid_cafe.jpgLast night we had a fine meal at The Mermaid Cafe in Homer, AK. Music was live fiddle, guitar, and mandolin playing Irish reels.

The rest of Homer is over-rated if you ask me, unless you're here just for the halibut.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Southward to Seward

seward_harbor_thumb.jpgWe rented a car today (which is a story all its own; more later) and drove to Seward. The weather alternated partly sunny to overcast and drizzly, mostly the latter. Seward harbor was beautiful anyway, and the Alaska Sealife Center better than the guidebooks allowed. Spendy, true, but then it seems that almost everything is. If you want a cheap aquarium go to Crescent City.

We stopped at Bird Point on the Turnagain Arm to catch the bore tide (which didn't show) and caught instead some great recommendations for fine dining from a couple of guys who had just returned from the peninsula: Try the Mermaid in Homer, the Kingfisher in Cooper's Landing, and the Smoke Shack in Seward. Especially, they said, the Smoke Shack. Great food, great prices, decor — eh... not so much. Definitely the wrong side of the tracks. A bunch of old rail cars pulled into a circle. But the pulled pork BBQ sandwich — wow!

We tried it. Actually, I had the Western Burger with Carolina sauce and Leslie a chicken sandwich but it was — definitely — fantastic. You could justify the price of a cruise to Seward just to dine at the Smoke Shack. It's that good. I wish I could take it home.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Glacier Landing

glacier_landing_thumb.jpgLeslie and I boarded the Denali Star this morning and rode to Talkeetna, where we we had reservations on the Talkeetna Air Taxi for a little flightseeing around Mt. McKinley. On arriving we learned that they had upgraded us, at no extra charge, to a glacier landing. So here we are at the top of Ruth Glacier, standing in front of the lovely DeHavilland Beaver N144Q.

I got to ride in front and pretend to be co-pilot, but I noticed they didn't give me any rudder pedals.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sky Kelsey, Fiddler

sky_kelsey_thumb.jpgWe went to the Anchorage Market & Festival to shop the touristy booths and buy knick knacks and such. I got all shopped out in an hour or so, and then I heard the music. Irish fiddle, and very well played. Very, very well played.

After a half hour or so he took a break and I went over to chat.

What's your name?

Sky Kelsey.

You're very good.

Oh, thanks. This is the first I've played in three weeks.

You play very, very well. Have you heard of Martin Hayes?

Oh, yes! I love Martin Hayes.

Well, you sound a lot like him.

Wow. Thank you.