Monday, 31 August 2009

More kitchen shrapnel.

A while ago, I posted a short little ditty on how pyrex can rapidly fail when it's placed into a state of thermal shock. I'd mentioned that it'd happened to me before. Well, I try to keep this blog about things unrelated to me, but I thought it'd be a nice follow up to that story to mention that I had a pyrex dish explode on me. That's no big deal, I cleaned up the resultant mess, and was back about doing my kitchen chores. And then I took a step where I shouldn't have, driving a 3cm shard of pyrex into my foot. Ooooow. Guess I missed some shrapnel! Now I'm hobbling around like I've been shot.

I had moose stroganoff instead. Here's how to make it:

2 cans (min) Cream of Mushroom soup
1 cp of mushrooms (if you can get mushrooms that aren't awful - which means most of AK is out of luck)
1 cp onion (flakes work).
1 squirt ketchup.
Worcestershire sauce to taste.
2-3 lbs of moose stew meat or beef steak cubes.
1.5 cups (min!) of Sour Cream.

Add everything but the sour cream in the morning, put crockpot on low. Stir once before leaving it alone.
Wait 6-8 hours. At the end, add the sourcream and put the crockpot on warm. Serve over rice/bowtie noodles.

You can skip the sour cream if you want to keep a slim figure. Me? I need the fat. :)

Friday, 28 August 2009

Tips on catching a moose

Well, Moose Season is upon us, and it's about this time of year that Wildlife Biologists go from those jerks who don't know nothing about nothing to the Hunter's very-very bestest buddy in the world (hey let me buy you a beer) and informational goldmine. What's funny is those jerks who both think you know absolutely nothing about wildlife and wildlife management, but simultaneously want animal information from you. Either I'm a know-nothing-Nazi, or I'm a brilliant Animal guy, pick one people! ;)

Well, I'm not going to tell you where you can find that 60 inch bull, but I can give you some general pointers on things you can do to improve your chances of catching a moose.

Scout areas first. Talk to people who live around an area, if there are any. Do it before the season starts. If you're flying in, that's a little trickier, but you can still take regular stops on your raft trip/whatever and get on some big bluffs to scope the area out.

Not my quote, but it's prefect. Remember that Moose are like us, in that they prefer some habitat more than others. Where I might prefer tundra patches to alpine shale, a moose seem to like whitespruce, and are found in associate with water. There are some moose on hilly surfaces around here this time of year, but in general they prefer flats. In the Rocky Mountains, the trend is totally reverse.

  • GET OFF THE *****ing ROAD!
Studies have shown that the further you get from the road, the more you travel, the more likely you are to catch that moose. People who road hunt have a low level of success. People who walk in on foot have a higher level of success. People who take a boat or ATV have a higher level of success. People who take guided fly-in hunts have a very high level of success. In general, the deeper you're able to access, the greater your odds are.


The Fairbanks Management area has many legal bulls in various and sundry places. you can catch them, and they'll all but fall into your freezer. But there's a massive catch - you must catch them with Archery only. For this reason, many people are unwilling or unable to engage on these hunts. If you look at the regs, many of the Fairbanks Management area hunts are very liberalized (i.e., no antler requirement for bulls), but there's still difficulty in controlling in-town moose numbers. Many that aren't harvested here end up as road kill. That's good for no one.

Unit 20A is some of the most productive moose habitat in North America. To find something comparable, we have to go overseas in Fennoscandia, which is practically a moose factory. However, many people are unwilling or unable to hunt in 20A. Consider getting help using a boat, or renting one. As far as rifled hunts go, the hunt in 20A is one of the best.

Kamikaze hunting is where you go out and hunt really hard for a few days (usually a weekend) and then have a hard return-date. It's short, intense, and it inspires people to take stupid risks. Take your time. If you're not rushed, you won't practically walk over moose because you'll be able to stop and look around. In general, the more time you allocate to a hunt, the more likely that hunt is to be successful. In the Interior, here in Alaska, "I was out hunting moose" is often a legitimate work excuse.

I hope this helps. I won't be going out this year, since I have no freezer space after my last fishing trip. I actually prefer it that way - I can go do a winter hunt at my leisure, since I've got meat to last me a while. But I wish all of you the best as the various hunts open up.

Remember to sight in your rifle!

Tundra Talk Cama-i!

Overnight, my hits-per-day went through the roof. What happened? No, not hot pictures of Sarah Palin in Australia. I got added to an Alaskan Blogs Aggregation service. To all of you tuning in from Tundra Talk - Cama-i!

I vow to use my new found aggregation for awesome. To that end, here are some other Alaskan Blogs you might like:

Keeping it Real at 66N
- A lady. A kid. Two dogs. A hub. And a kick ass Camera.
From the Silicon to the Tanana Valley - A student at UAF who also takes a load of pictures, and who has incredibly photogenic dogs.
Firey Blazing Handbasket - This one comes in pulses, since the co-bloggers frequently find themselves far way from computers. Fun political rants.
Kodiak Konfidential - The first rule is that you don't talk about Kon Kon.
A Sense of Place - A photoblogger on Unalaska Island. A regular stream of pretty stuff to look at.
Finnskimo - A life long Kotzebeu-an (Kotzebeumiu :p) and her life on Almost-an-Island.

These are just some of the neat blogs out there!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


Beer Notes from Last Night

Prepared for an intellectual discussion of the play of flavours and smells? You're not getting it.
Alaskan White by Alaskan Brewing Co.
Their normally mediocre to good line is blemished by this inclusion. Yellow, headless, that stinks of ethanol and yeast. To add insult to injury, the beer tastes like wheat and soap. Honestly, it reminds me of when my father would wash my mouth out with a bar of cheap soap when I swore. Who wants to drink that? Uninspired, and just a tad unnerving. Send this one to the reject bin. D+, 2.5 out of 5.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Caugak ukuk?

Last week, we had this,

Which Flying Fish and Mr. Swift properly IDed as a Three Toed Woodpecker! Mr. Swift even got the Latin right, as it's Picoides tridactylus. Yugcetun, it's puugtuyuli, which is pretty much any woodpecker. Puugtuq- would be something like "divebombing" in English, and if you took a literal translation, puugtuyuli would be 'the one that's really good at divebombing!'

Here's two for this week!
Caugak ukuk?

Monday, 24 August 2009

One of the 57 Avatars of a crappy movie

Things went amazingly smoothly, and I'm back in SquareFranks already. I love it when the worst thing that happens is a pinched sock rubs your foot wrong.

So, I saw an ad for Avatar, which is an upcoming Sci-Fi movie, and I was interested. I looked it up on Wikipedia, and read over the plot synopsis. It seemed a heck of a lot like "Dances With Wolves" except set in space. So I googled `avatar film dances with wolves,` and what did I find as my first hit?

"James Cameron: Yes, 'Avatar' is 'Dances with Wolves' in space ..."

I apparently nailed it.

What really annoys me is that it isn't even a good remake of Dances With Wolves. You see, according to the plot synopsis, the human who joins the indigenous alien clan (we'll have to call the code breaking unit at the CIA to figure that one out) goes "alien" and integrates himself. And then he ends up leading the aliens against the humans their salvation.

So not only is it remaking a movie that really didn't need remaking, but in this version, Kevin Kostner knew way better than the Indians, and used his super awesome white-guy knowledge to kick white guy butt.

And the writers didn't see anything wrong about this? Normally I'd worry that I'm reading too much into it, except the Director said that his intention was to make it all about that. You'd think they'd realize that maybe a story about how people just need a white guy as leadership to succeed might not be in the best taste.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

In the bush

I'm out of town and into the bush. Back Tuesday (probably). Monday if things go well. Until then, here's something to contemplate:

The Yukon salmon situation revisited

I'm "mildly" furious, and I didn't even have my catch restricted. Remember the restrictions on subsistence catch on the Yukon, that got everyone so riled up? Well, it turns out that the restrictions were un-necessary, because the sonar counts were in error.

That's right. The subsitance catch got restricted over faulty data.

[...] it turns out a sonar station used to count salmon -- a key source of cash and food along the river -- wasn't working correctly. More fish were making it upriver than estimated, meaning some of the restrictions may not have been necessary.

"We took some unprecedented measures because we thought the run was looking (to be) one of the poorest we've ever had," said Russ Holder, Yukon River federal fisheries manager. "In hindsight, it doesn't look as poor as those numbers indicated to us."


In hindsight, some of the restrictions probably weren't necessary, said Holder, with the federal Fish and Wildlife Service.

"We would have been OK without as severe conservation actions as we took," he said.

I don't know how fisheries people work, but I know how it goes on the wildlife side - if you're going to do anything with subsistence regs, anything at all, you have to be sure. You have to be damn sure. You have to dot your i's, cross your t's, you have independent replication of your data, and you have people staring over your shoulders to make sure you don't screw up. On our deer work in South East, not only did we do everything in multiple replicates, but we also had people independently do deer IDs, to quantify our error rate.

I'll refrain from tearing into the people who did the counts at pilot station until I know more, but from what I heard described, that's inexcusably shoddy. And if it is true, it's going to take a lot of angry people, and make them furious. It's going to lower future compliance in an already compliance-poor area. It's going to reduce trust of future management goals.

I'm seriously upset. And I know other people are going to want someone's butt on a silver platter over this. If this story pans out, it's a minor nightmare. Everyone knows you don't screw with subsistence unless you're damn sure.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Cauga una?

Oops! I forgot last week! Sorry! "That person who usually lurks" Got it right - the thing to the left (left side of the screen) is a coyote (Canis latrans). The yup'ik, Kayu, is borrowed from the kassacetun. Or, if it's not from English, it's a huge coincidence!
The coyote isn't endemic to Alaska, and to me, it's low population is somewhat of a mystery. Typically, when you get invasive species, they proceed to explode, frequently drowning out endemic species that fill a similar niche in the enviroment. Curiously, that's not what we've seen. Which makes me wonder a few things. Was there a species filling the coyotes niche that we don't see anymore? Were coyotes around an exceptionally long time ago, and left the niche vacant? Is there some factor limiting coyote population growth?

These are all questions I can't answer - obviously, because I wouldn't be wondering them if I could!

Here's this weeks':

I apologize the first one isn't in better focus. I'm just not fast enough with the camera, I guess! But here's a small hint: It's in Alaska, and it's not a Yellow Shafted Flicker.

Monday, 17 August 2009

A little wonder for your monday morning.

This was on Ukraine's got Talent. I had no idea that people could do something like this. It's amazing.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

HDR failure

I tried to make an HDR picture using my bracketing feature on my camera and Photoshop. Sadly, it didn't come out. But one of the exposures looked pretty okay on its own.
I was told you have to pay money to ride the rides. Huh? What a rip-off! I knew there was a reason I didn't go to the fair...

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

I named my bunny "suupaq."

Apparently the ANCL here at UAF frequently gets requests for eskimo dog names, so they compiled a short list of suggested names. I bet there's a whole lot of people out there calling their dog "Are-luke" thinking they got an authentic eskimo dog name...

Anyhow, the list caught my eye because of one entry in the Yup'ik section: "Negiliq." For those who don't know, it's a parka ruff (Nacaq is the hood, or mostly a hat these days). That sounds nice, right up to the point you think parka ruffs are often made out of wolf. Yes, it's a lot like naming a horse "Glue." Someone was having a joke on people when they added that one. :)


Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Loosey-Goosey sci-oosey.

Popular Mechanics has an article on Criminal Forensics as a science. They are not kind:
But criminal forensics has a deeper problem of basic validity. Bite marks, blood-splatter patterns, ballistics, and hair, fiber and handwriting analysis sound compelling in the courtroom, but much of the “science” behind forensic science rests on surprisingly shaky foundations. Many well-established forms of evidence are the product of highly subjective analysis by people with minimal credentials—according to the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, no advanced degree is required for a career in forensics. And even the most experienced and respected professionals can come to inaccurate conclusions, because the body of research behind the majority of the forensic sciences is incomplete, and the established methodologies are often inexact. “There is no scientific foundation for it,” says Arizona State University law professor Michael Saks. “As you begin to unpack it you find it’s a lot of loosey-goosey stuff.”
It's actually a fascinating read. You can see it over here. One of the biggest surprises of the DNA age in the courtroom was how incredibly fallible even human memory is. The certainty gets ratcheted up as witnesses go from identification to the courtroom.

But I still think Bones is a funny show.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Hadn't we been on this ride before?

This comic panel from the ever-funny XKCD. Click for the whole strip...
The sad thing is, I know people like that. I'm boring by proxy!

Today I'm distracted from blogging by letter writing. Yet again, predator control is in the news for someone wanting to shut it down. Yet again, the whole thing is ignoring the science, and all about people's emotions. Management needs to be based on sound scientific principles, and not our whim of the day. Both the sides that think wolves should be protected because they're lovable and squeezable and the side that thinks wolves are awful and should all die are enemies of proper, rational, sound scientific based management which we claim is the goal. Cooler heads need to prevail; science frequently requires people to be dispassionately critical, something many people aren't used to being.

I really should have saved the last batch of letters, because I'm just going to say the same thing. Predator control works, but only some times. There appears to be instances where we've mis-applied it. Predator control is temporary, in an area, even if it might seem permanent as a program. The theoretical basis for predator control is strong, but only in some situations. Predator control is not the same wolf hunting the states engaged in during the 19th century. Predator control is incredibly expensive. Predator control is not about the predators, but about the game species. Predators in Alaska are not threatened like they are in the states.

If it sounds like I've been through this before, yes, I have. Endlessly. In fact, the first thing people ask me is often "Do you shoot wolves from a plane?" or some variation of that. Most of the time, by the end of the conversation, they're reading whatever answer they want to hear from my reply. People are too used to treating this as a visceral topic, and not used to treating it like a matter of science. I'd say that has to change, but honestly, I don't see it changing.

Saturday, 8 August 2009


I heard this on the radio while doing chores.

Mooses Come Walking
by Arlo Guthrie

Mooses come walking over the hill
Mooses come walking, they rarely stand still
When mooses come walking they go where they will
When mooses come walking over the hill

Mooses look into your window at night
They look to the left and they look to the right
The mooses are smiling, they think it's a zoo
And that's why the mooses like looking at you

So, if you see mooses while lying in bed
It's best to just stay there pretending you're dead
The mooses will leave and you'll get the thrill
Of seeing the mooses go over the hill

Thursday, 6 August 2009


I don't remember the last time I've seen people this happy to see rain. Last night, some rain clouds rolled in and put down about a quarter of an inch of the wet stuff onto our badly dried home. Given in the last month, we had rain that was measured in the hundredths of inches, this is a significant amount. Hopefully, it'll allow the firefighters to make headway at our billion and a half fires (well, it seems like there's that many), or at least work on the Hardluck Creek fire.

And it wasn't a moment too soon. Yesterday night was, bar none, the worst smoke of any night. Visibility was as low as 25 yards in places, and became just unbearable. The air quality in places was Hazardous, or 6 on a 6 point scale. From the borourgh's website, Hazardous air quality is "Heath warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be effected. Everyone should avoid any outdoor exertion; people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should remain indoors."

Now I've breathed air worse than Mexico city's air (which is really, really bad; it's known internationally for being some of the worst air anywhere), and I'm convinced, up down left and right, that yesterday evening topped even that.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009


Beer Notes from Tuesday

Sometimes you go out on a limb, and sometimes the branch breaks underneath you. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't worth the money for a six pack...

W'09 Belgian Style Ale by Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
I'm immediately struck by the moulded glass, with a compass rose and a W inlaid in the glass itself. A ring around the bottom says "Widmer Brothers Brewing Company," as if the red and beige label would leave any doubt as to who produced this. The label is a bit much, and makes the beer seem like it's trying too hard. The beer itself pours quickly, with little carbonation. It's a transparent, pale copper, perhaps a few hues from the colour of honey.

Immediately, the odour is sweet, with a heavy citrus hand. The beer isn't particularly odiferous, even in the most encouraging of stem-ware. Despite the low carbonation, the beer has a crisp feel in the mouth. The flavour principally dominated by wheat and yeast, definitely disappointing. Before leaving the mouth dry, there seems to be a few final notes of sweetness from the W'09. It's moderately heavy at 6.5% ABV, and would be easy enough to mindlessly drink. An unengaging beer. C+: 3.05/5

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Begich's maiden bills

This is what Senator Begich proposed:
  • An increase in the number of Ice Breakers and Coast Guard facilities.
  • Research on oil spill recovery in the high arctic.
  • Offshore Royalties for Alaskan Oil.
  • Health research on Diabetes, HBP, and Alcoholism.
  • Ratifying the Convention on the Law of the Sea.
  • Ratify the Treaty on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
Now, can anyone point to a single thing on that list that Begich is for, but Stevens was against?
What, exactly, on that list makes Begich more Socialist than Stevens?

I recently got to know someone who grew up in East Germany, and I'm really beginning to feel that these people throwing around the word "Socialism" don't really know what the word means. I imagine a scene from that movie, The Princess Bride:
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
I don't think Begich will see much action on any of his bills, and they'll mostly sit around until the term expires. That, alas, is the fate for most bills

Cauga una?

Two weeks ago I left you with this.
I had to do my homework, because it's one of those LBBs*. I think after my investigation, that it's a 1st year Yellow Warbler Dendroica petchia. But I'm not sure, since I never was really good at LBBs.

This week, I'm back to mammals in Alaska. I just want to know about the skull to the left...

* LBBs=Little Brown Birds in ornithology speak. Basically Passeriformes.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Sounds Familiar!

Via The Customer is Not Always Right:
Tour Guide | Norway

(I had a job on a boat, taking tourists out to sea so they could take really nice pictures of the midnight sun. One day, one of the tourists came up to me.)

Me: “What do you think of the midnight sun?”

Tourist: “Yeah, it’s really nice, but tell me one thing. On the map of our solar system, where is the midnight sun located?”

Me: “Er…the sun?”

Tourist: “No! I know where the sun is, but where is the midnight sun?”

Me: “The midnight sun and the sun are exactly the same, but when you are as far north as you are now, and since it’s summer, the sun never sets.”

Tourist: “WHAT THE F***?! I’m gonna sue your sorry a** for false advertisement! I didn’t come all the way from the US to watch the sun I have back home! *storms away
Sounds about like some of the tourists I've met over here... :}

Back again

From the perspective of avoiding smoke for 5 days, my trip south to hang around at a fish camp was a glowing success. From what I can figure out from talking to people, the weather up here only got worse until the cool air moved in. I usually don't "take sides," since fire makes good moose habitat, but I want to see a fleet of flying tankers douse the fires at this point...

From the perspective of trying to fish, the trip was much more mixed. The Copper river was very high, and the fish weren't going anywhere. Things were so rough that some metal equipment got bent by the currents. Oops! I saw a lot of guys motoring around on their 16 foot alumiwelds, and they seemed to have no problem going down stream. When they tried to go upstream, they'd barely be moving, despite their engines roaring. We eventually made up the trip in fish, and after giving a good chunk of it to a couple I was with (they need the fish for feeding their family at their upcoming wedding), I still have a respectable amount.

Now if only I didn't have to eat it in the middle of now three wildfires...
I miss the winter.

Click for Fairbanks, Alaska Forecast