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March 1, 2015

  • Black-billed Magpie, southwest of Delta Junction

    Bird of the Week – Black-billed Magpie

    WC is staying with corvids – birds of the crow family – a little longer, this time we’ll have a look at the Black-billed Magpie. A bird of myth and legend, like the Common Raven, the species is expanding its range, breeding in the Fairbanks area in recent years. The species readily habituates to people, in fact, when Lewis and Clark first encountered magpies in 1804 in South Dakota, these birds were bold, entering tents to steal meat and taking food from the hand. Magpies sometimes seem to WC to model themselves, showing off their flashy feathers for a photographer. How…

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    The Weekend Off – News You Missed

    Alaska ADN – Alaska cannabis prohibition ends Tuesday; if you’re celebrating, do so responsibly Ballot Measure 2 will become effective on Tuesday, and many Alaskans are wondering what will change on that date. The simple answer is: Everything, and not much at all. Fairbanks News Miner – Alaska State Troopers working out details for marijuana enforcement Marijuana becomes legal in two days, but where it will be allowed to be used remains a bit hazy. Public consumption of pot remains prohibited, but local leaders continue to debate the definition of public place. The Atlantic – Cold, Dark, and Happy: Alaska Is the New Leader…

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    The Economic Freedom to be Poor

    New kids at my high school were rare. Most of us had been together since what felt like the beginning of time — and that wasn’t always a good thing. Remember the time Eric barfed in the lunch room? Yeah. Remember when the elastic in Kim’s sweatpants surrendered during fourth-grade dodgeball? She froze like a statue. New kids were suspect curiosities. It took a while to figure out if they were going to be one of “us.” I remember one in particular. He complained constantly about how lame Homer was. He was in town to live with his relatives for…

  • Common Raven, Fairbanks, Alaska

    Bird of the Week – Common Raven

    You knew it would happen eventually. The Common Raven, Corvus corax, is found essentially everywhere in Alaska, all year around. A lot of folks, WC included, think that the Common Raven should be the state bird. Smart, tough, adaptable and clever. The subject of myth and legend. This is the quintessential Alaska bird. Camera geek stuff: f5.7, 1/250, ISO 125 For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.  

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    The Weekend Off – News You Missed

    Alaska NewsMiner.com – Legendary Alaska sprint musher George Attla dies George Attla Jr., unmatched sprint racing champion and one of Alaska’s most decorated mushers, died Sunday at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage at the age of 81. Washington Post – In EPA’s expected ‘veto’ of Pebble Mine in Alaska, foes see a vein of overreach Just north of Iliamna Lake in southwestern Alaska is an empty expanse of marsh and shrub that conceals one of the world’s great buried fortunes: A mile-thick layer of virgin ore said to contain at least 6.7 million pounds — or $120 billion worth —…

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Semipalmated Plover, Fairbanks, Alaska

Bird of the Week – Semipalmated Plover

Feb 7, 2015

Alaska’s most numerous small plover, the Semi-palmated Plover comes to Alaska to breed. The “semiplamated” refers to the bird’s feet, which have webbing extending about halfway down the toes. A beautifully marked bird, the nest is simply a scratched bit of gravel, often on a gravel airport runway or a little-used road, but most often on a river bar. The male works hard to lead you away from the nest. Camera geek stuff: f5.7, 1/250, ISO 200 For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.  

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Alcohol is Taxing Anchorage Resources

Feb 3, 2015

On Wednesday, February 4th , I will be celebrating 30 years of continuous sobriety/clean time. I know too well the toll that abusing alcohol and drugs takes on body, mind, employment, relationships…basically the addict’s entire life as well as the lives of family and friends. I am also what is called a dually-diagnosed addict so I understand from personal experience that mental illness is a terrible combination with addiction. During my teenage years, substances probably kept me from killing myself but, as is the nature of addiction, my substance abuse gradually turned on me until I was mentally, physically, emotionally…

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Court Sees Value in Protecting Bristol Bay

Feb 2, 2015

Before the Bristol Bay Forever Initiative was ever printed on statewide ballots, it had to defend a legal challenge from an individual named Richard Hughes, the Alaska Miners Association, and the Council of Alaska Producers. The Alaska Supreme Court issued an oral decision allowing that initiative to go to the ballot. Today, the Court issued a written order justifying its decision, Hughes v. Treadwell, Slip Op. No. 6981 (Alaska Supreme Court, Jan. 30, 2015). In order for a citizen ballot initiative to be valid in Alaska, it must avoid certain prohibited topics.  Under Article XI, section 7, it may not engage in an appropriation…

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The Weekend Off – News You Missed

Feb 2, 2015

Alaska ADN – Begich unveils consulting firm, will work in aviation and health care Former Alaska U.S. Sen. Mark Begich said Saturday that he’d founded a consulting firm and would work for a health care trade organization and an Alaska airline, Grant Aviation.Begich, a one-term Democrat who last year lost his re-election bid to Republican Dan Sullivan, said in a press release that he’d been hired by the airline and by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice. Juneau Empire – Female AKNG boss is one of few in country When Gov. Bill Walker announced Friday that retired U.S. Army…

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, St. Paul Islands, Pribilof Islands, Alaska

Bird of the Week – Gray-crowned Rosy Finch

Jan 31, 2015

There are distinct populations of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches; this is the largest, most colorful, the Bering Sea variety. The St. Paul variety is distinctly larger than the mainland variety, nearly Robin-sized. They are fairly common on St. Paul. And a treat to see under any circumstances. Camera geek stuff: f8, 1/160, ISO 1000 For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.    

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Click Bishop Takes a Page from Palin – Reads Dr. Seuss

Jan 30, 2015

Republican Senator Click Bishop, whose district covers land from Fairbanks to Valdez took a page from Sarah Palin and read a story by Dr. Seuss to the Alaska State Senate. Well, it wasn’t quite a Dr. Seuss original – more of a revision of Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham seen through the filter of government overreach. Unlike Half-Term Palin’s teleprompter read at CPAC last year (when she held the book as a prop), Click seems to have actually written the words down in a copy of Green Eggs and Ham. I’m hoping that he bought a new copy and didn’t ruin one of from his grandkids….

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In the Heart of NYC – At the Rodeo

Jan 29, 2015

There’s a few things that I’ve always wanted to photograph – among them are, a Presidential Inaugural (check), a revolution (check), the aurora (check), and a rodeo (finally, check). There are others – like the Westminster Dog show and an actual active war zone that hopefully I’ll be covering in the years to come. The rodeo that I got to photograph was actually in NYC, part of the PBR tour. No – that’s not some hipster rodeo – but actually the Professional Bull Riders. It was an odd spectacle that took place at Madison Square Garden, you know… the place where the Knicks…

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American Sniper – What We Criticize

Jan 26, 2015

I quickly grew tired of reading passionate reviews about American Sniper that contained a sentence midpoint which read, “I haven’t seen the movie.” And so it was that I decided to go see the movie myself. I’ll start by saying that the most common complaint I’ve heard – that “it glorifies war” – falls flat. The theater was full, and as several hundred people sat through the credits in silence, and got up in silence, and walked out of the theater in silence, I’m pretty sure they weren’t all fired up to get out there and go to war. My…

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The Weekend Off – News You Missed

Jan 26, 2015

  Alaska The Daily Beast – The Keystone Bill’s Most Hilarious Amendment: Protecting Chicken, Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan’s (R-Alaska) first amendment as a lawmaker sent a clear message to the federal government: Nobody messes with Chicken, Alaska. Nobody. Sullivan’s amendment to the Keystone XL Pipeline bill—expected to be voted as soon as Monday— bars officials from Environmental Protection Agency from carrying guns, a direct result of a “raid” conducted in a tiny gold mining town in 2013. A town called Chicken. ADN – Alaska health department investigates possible measles case The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services is investigating a possible…

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Palin for President? Oh please, oh please, oh please…

Jan 24, 2015

Like a bear being wakened from a long winter’s nap, so have I been roused from another project to return to these pages. Was it the warm southern breezes and the promise of a new spring that brought me out of my cave and into the sunlight? No, it was not. It was more like the sound of screeching aluminum right before it succumbs to metal fatigue… kind of a high-pitched squeal that hits you right where the base of the skull connects with the spine. I refer, of course, to Sarah Palin making an announcement. According to The Washington…