Archive for November, 2007

Every spring and sometimes fall, on the fringes of the tourist season, the National Park Service opens the road into Denali Park as far as Teklanika Campground, some thirty miles into the park. During the tourist season one can only drive fifteen miles in, if you want to go further you have to make a reservation to ride one of the buses that cruise the road from late May to early September each summer. Each spring and fall you will find Alaskans populating the open section of road, sometimes bicycling, always watching for wildlife.

So last May when Jane was out of town for a weekend, the two girls and I opted to take advantage of a beautiful spring day to drive down to Denali Park, some 120 miles south-southwest of Fairbanks. Here in Fairbanks it was a sunny day, few clouds in the sky, warm and in the process of what Alaskans call green-up (the 3-4 day period when the birch trees go from brown to green).

We had just gotten on the Parks Highway, headed for Ester, when we arrived along a stretch of road that recently had a swath of trees hydro-axed along one side of the roads. For those unfamiliar with it, a hydro-axe is a huge grinder that attaches to the front of a tractor, and grinds, rather chews up, anything it comes in contact with including trees. It was clear from the width of the swath that the clearing was likely making way for a wider road and bike path- both things needed for this section of road.

Typically, I would accept this wanton destruction of our boreal forest as sad but necessary, but the recent development of Fanchorage on Fairbank’s east side has left me with little tolerance for this practice. This new development resulted in a section of the Steese Expressway, once pleasantly lined by spruce trees on both sides, naked and barren. Now, we have poorly designed vinyl sided (toxic by nature if not appearance) duplexes on the east, poorly designed or not designed at all office buildings and box stores to the west, and very few spruce trees. A consequence that could have been avoided with careful and considerate planning and construction practices.

All of which put me into a funk as we headed out of town. I’ve always enjoyed that section of the Parks Highway, immediately outside of town, that delineated the separation between Fairbanks and Ester. Ester has always felt like a wide spot in the road, a small outpost down the road, rural and inviting. I fear that it may start taking on a suburban feel, connected to Fairbanks by a major road with possibly, god forbid, future development along it. I fear you’ll have to drive for 15 minutes outside west Fairbanks before you feel like you’ve left town, that Ester will become like North Pole to Fairbanks east.

As we got closer to the park, hitting the customary frost heaves in the highway just north of Healy, the weather began to go from sunny to grey.  This isn’t uncommon; as the Alaska Range rises up from the Tanana Valley it quite often seems to conceal itself in the grey underbelly of the sky. This day was no different.

As we moved up into the mountains, the sky came down, until we were almost within reach of the lowered ceiling. The landscape took on a mystical quality, mists moving about the peaks and rocky crags, revealing them one second only to hide them an instant later. Not the best day to see wildlife, but priceless none the less.

Once we got into the park, Jolie almost immediately spotted a moose, one of several she would spot that day. At eight years old, she is developing her eyesight and skill at picking out wildlife, particularly moose. She is a joy to have along, keeping her head up and eyes open, hoping to see something before Dad. Ali still has trouble seeing, but given how she models herself after her big sister, will be out dueling me soon as well.

Ptarmigan were out on the road in mass, likely picking up gravel for their gizzards. They are a striking bird, with their white winter plumage and red headdress. And like all birds, they can be more than a little quirky. At one point, a rooster sat in the road by the front of the car and produced his mating call. He would run ahead a little ways, and then call again. We would follow, allowing Ali to get a good look out of the car window while trying to get by the rooster to continue on our drive.

Denali ptarmigan

All of a sudden, a SUV cruised by doing 40 to 50 mph. Fortunately, the rooster had moved in front of our car and avoided being road kill, so much for being protected in a national park. The funk with modern society I had been feeling earlier in the day briefly resurfaced, once again I drove it down with the beauty and freshness of the park, the optimism and joy of the girls.

Around that time it started to snow, great big wet clumps that quickly turned any exposed ground white, stuck to our windshield and hands when we hung them out the windows, that reasserted winter’s supremacy in these mountains.

We drove perhaps another 5 miles, and then turned around at Teklanika, 30 miles into the park and the end of the open road. By the time we returned to where we had watched the rooster, there were a couple inches of new snow on the ground.

Not much further down the road, we spotted a herd of caribou gathered upon the ice of the Teklanika River. We sat, parked along the edge of the road, watching the caribou circle around. It was hard to tell what they were up too, but it was pleasant watching them mill about. Our day in the park was rapidly coming to an end, the girls were tired and the snow was coming down at such a rate that I wanted to get going. Still, we sat, watching them through the falling snow, attempting to show Ali each one, catching a last breath of snow filtered air before dashing back to Fairbanks and the sun.

Denali caribou

On our way out it was quiet. The kids were napping or resting quietly in their seats. The quiet has allowed the gloom to resurface, and I had finally succumbed to spending some time with it, unchallenged by the children in the back seat, when we came upon the section of the road with Denali Park that was paved, the first 15 miles near the entrance.

The road was in marginal condition, the winter had clearly taken a toll on the pavement. The edges were crumbling, beaten back by the tag team of frost and vegetation.  Next to crumbling mountains the blacktop was nothing, and would be gone in blink of an eye without the continual maintenance of the Park Service.

Suddenly, I was comforted by the power and timelessness of nature. We would kill, destroy habitat and life, but nature would persevere. We may not recognize it in today’s form when it returns, we may lose countless beautiful and meaningful species and places, but nature will remain. Nature doesn’t need mankind, despite our arrogance otherwise.

As we continued on towards Fairbanks, the frost heaves north of Healy took on new meaning, each bump clearing any vestige of funk that was left from earlier that day. Every pothole, willow bush, and crack in the pavement a document of our insignificance, a salve to my fears of consequences poorly planned and equally misunderstood.

As we emerged into the sun on our way north, I knew I was returning home with a better perception of my place in the world, of humanity’s, and more optimism about what the future might bring.

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I’m relatively new to the blog world (1 week as of this post) so have been browsing blogs to see what they look like, what buttons exist, and what other people are writing about.  I came across an unschooling button, which I had never heard of before, so I followed the link to see what it was about.  Unschooling Blogs

I then turned to Wikipedia for a definition.  It turns out, in brevity, that unschooling is the belief that children possess a natural curiosity for learning, and that by nurturing that curiosity and providing the child the resources to learn they will in turn prepare themselves for life as an adult and become life-long learners; all of which I agree with.

In fact, now that I know the term for it I would say that we, my wife and I, intuitively “unschool” our children when they are not at school.  Outside of the time we spend together at home, we also provide other opportunities for them, from science and environmental camps to creative movement and art courses; all of which take an inordinate amount of time and money to support.  But, they provide an opportunity for our children to learn about the world and pursue their interests and curiosity at a young age.

We hope it will make them grow up to become confident and happy adults.

However, it appears a strong component of unschooling is the education of children at home, exclusive of a public school setting.

And I take issue with this.

Some of our most involved, intelligent, creative and concerned parents are no longer involved in the public school systems.  They are busy teaching their children at home.  Looking at the blogs of some of these parents, they are talented people, putting the education and welfare of their children above their other concerns.

To our society at large, we no longer have the value of these resources involved in our school systems.  They are no longer meeting with teachers, setting up a PTA bake-sale, or organizing field trips.  And to all those children who come from disadvantaged families, or parents who just don’t care, they are no longer reaping the benefits of involved parents of their classmates and friends, or just having the presence of well-rounded children in the classrooms.

I understand fully why parents would choose to keep their children at home.  Every time I drop my daughter off at school, I wait and watch until she is inside the front door.  Jane, my wife, has been a fixture at the school ever since Jolie started.  She not only knows Jolie’s teacher, but the principal, janitors, and everyone else in the building.  And we feel safer knowing that.

It isn’t hard imagining a tragedy happening at the school, we hear of them everyday, fortunately always somewhere else.  For that reason it is easy to keep the child at home, you know they are safe from the random violence or substandard teaching that might take place.  As an involved parent at a school, I can’t prevent the violence if it should occur.  However, my involvement can ensure they are receiving the proper education.

Lack of parent involvement goes beyond the school, to local, state, and national political races.  If a parent home schools, why bother querying the candidates on the position on education.  Vote for the candidate that will lower taxes.  Let the schools fail, it is no skin off of the unschooled family’s nose.

But it is…..

Abandoning the system is paramount to abandoning society.

Believe me; I can sympathize with the idea of bailing out on society.  There is not a day that goes by that I don’t consider a small cabin, located at an unknown locale in the wilds of Alaska.  No more job, traffic, TVs, or politics; life at its simplest and most elemental.  (Side bonus- I’ll be able to set up booby-traps for any unwelcome suitors that are lucky enough to locate the cabin once our daughters get older.)

But it doesn’t work.  My future, and my children’s, is tied inextricably to society-at-large.  And so is everybody else’s.  Therein lays the hypocrisy of keeping your children at home to school.  While you provide peace of mind for yourself and safety for your child today, you imperil their future.

A parallel, if you will…

Parents who choose not to immunize their children, not due to some religious belief or medical concern, but because they don’t want to risk their child’s health or cause the child discomfort.  (I held both my babies for their shots, and it isn’t a pleasant experience.  Not to mention I go faint when looking at needles.)

These parents, though they may not realize it, rely on the rest of us to immunize our children.  They expect us to take the risk, on their behalf.  Due to our action the epidemics that were once commonplace are now rare.  But if everyone let their children go without vaccinations we’d still see polio victims in our midst.  Parents who don’t vaccinate their children for no legitimate religious or medical reason are, in short, cowards who rely on the rest of us to risk our loved ones to protect theirs.

Now, I don’t hold unschoolers in the same disregard so the comparison may not be entirely fair.  Still, unschoolers (and homeschoolers) rely on the rest of us to keep the public school system operational.  Without us, our schools fall further down the priority list and the population en masse becomes less educated, less competitive with other economies and countries, and more socially stratified.  In time, we become less sustainable economically and politically.

And that, even in our electronic stay-at-home age, is a danger to us all…….

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A week ago we had an unexpected but welcome guest arrive at our house. It was late evening, we had gotten the kids into bed, though neither one had yet given into sleep. Jane and I were both reading, when we slowly became aware of a strange sound coming from outside.

Initially we thought the sound was coming from a neighborhood dog, howling somewhere in the distance. Our big dog was at the foot of the bed sleeping, our little yapping terrier had already been put to bed, and our cat’s distinct yowl comes from directly below the window, never above and to the left (our room is on the second floor).

As the calls made their way through book induced fog and into the small portions of our brain still conscious to reality, we simultaneously came to the conclusion that we had something else outside our window.

The sounds were very distinct, and so perfect in repetition that I thought for a while it may have been a neighborhood child with a new toy. The calls were: hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo; then a pause and repeat. The first two low calls were identical, the third a bit lower and then the last higher than the prior three.

Wide awake now, with our minds returning first to Alaska and then our home, we quickly recognized this as an owl. (I know, it should have been obvious to begin with.) We called Jolie and Ali into our room and turned out the lights, listening to the owl call for another 5 minutes before it went quiet.

In the meantime, I rounded up our bird books to see what owls made a similar call. Neither book had much information on calls, but my grandmother’s old bird book described the call of the Great Horned Owl as 4 to 7 low hoots, not too far off what we had heard. Jolie and Ali recreated the call as follows (Jane refused to give a hoot):

Ali hoot

Jolie hoot

Eventually we got the kids settled down and back in bed. We resumed reading and eventually went to sleep. Both Jane and I woke up later in the night, hearing the call from a greater distance and elevation. Until then, I had retained some doubt that it might have been a child or jokester, but hearing the call at three confirmed it was unlikely. If it was either, I take consolation in that it was a cold evening and I’ll have the opportunity to write their obituary when they are pulled from a snow bank in the spring breakup.

Getting back to civility, the following day I started researching owl calls on the internet. I came across this recording, which is very, very close to what we heard and we think confirms our unknown hooter as a Great Horned Owl. Great Horned Owl Call This is a great website on owls; there are some nice photos and additional information on owls. www.owlpages.com One site states that the Great Horned Owl can take prey as large as a cat or small dog. If I had known that the night we had our visiting owl, I may have even had time to put Lucy, the terrier, out before Jane had figured out what I was up to.

While researching owls, I came across the book title “I Heard the Owl Call my Name” by Margaret Craven. Apparently it was a NY Times Bestseller, back when I was learning to run and talk in 1973. It is based upon the British Columbian Kwakiutl Tribe’s belief that before you die you hear an owl call your name. It is a wonderful thought, and I can’t think of a better way to receive the news of my impending death than from the mysterious and seemingly omniscient owl. And without trying I’ve now added another book to my book list, which seems to be growing exponentially.

I will confess, however, that I am glad I couldn’t make out my name in the owl’s call the other night. I assume I wouldn’t hear it if it called someone else’s name. Can you imagine getting the news from someone other than the owl; “Hey dude, I heard this owl call your name, man. You are soooo dead.”

Fortunately, nobody else in the house has confessed to hearing the owl call their name, nor are they acting particularly nervous. Except maybe Lucy.

“Here Luce, come on Lucy, let’s go outdoors. I think there’s an owl calling your name…….”

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Last Valentine’s Day I was asked to give brief description on love and fatherhood. Below is my attempt to summarize such a complex relationship, as it occurred to me in that moment of time.

This is a story about love

A father’s love,

And betrayal,

The betrayal of time.

From the time of my daughter’s births,

I have sheltered them

Swatting away the worlds concerns,

Like mosquitoes on an Alaskan evening.

But a curious thing happened along the way,

The little girls learned to crawl,

Then to walk,

And finally to run.

And the concerns of the world

No longer held back by my embrace

Sneak in

And begin the maturation of my little girls.

And a father,

Left with empty arms,

Struggles to maintain his course,

His purpose.

Like my father before me,

Time, the betrayer

Sets up a stoic indifference

A wall between loved ones.

Unlike my father before me

I see that wall

Feel it in my soul,

Ache under its growing weight.

And resolve to tear it down,

And expose myself to the pleasure and heartache of watching them grow

Of them experiencing success and failure, elation and pain

Experiencing life.

I’m powerless to stop it,

The betrayer is beyond my grasp

But I will keep my embrace open,

I will shelter them when I can.

Provide them respite from a world

And time indifferent.

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my Alaska

A year ago I was asked to give a brief talk at our church on what living in Alaska, and being an Alaskan, meant to me. A number of us spoke, ranging from people born and raised in Alaska to people just arrived. It was a unique and enlightening perspective on what it means to live in the last American frontier.


Like many in Alaska, Jane and I arrived here both because we were running from and to something. We were running from meaningless careers and population centers, well-intentioned but overbearing parents or in-laws, heat and humidity. We were running to….; well, to be honest, we had no idea at the time. We moved to Alaska and Fairbanks sight unseen.


Today, it has been just about exactly 9 years since we made the decision to move here. Yet it was only a year ago, as I sat in the Fairbanks Airport waiting for a flight, observing the visitors excitedly reminiscing on their Alaska tour or taking in the last glimpses of Alaska before they return ‘outside’ that I noticed a significant paradigm shift in my viewpoint of Alaska.


Prior to this point I had often had an empathy with visitors, sharing their viewpoint and excitability about all things Alaska. While my enthusiasm for Alaska remained, I noted my viewpoint changed. I had gone from looking at Alaska as one does a photograph, an interested but disparate observer, to looking at it as a mirror- an integral and effectual part of the image, one whose action and inaction can change the picture of things to come. I was no longer looking at Alaska as an outsider; I was looking at it as an Alaskan.


As I put together my thoughts to share this morning, there were two tracks I could put my experience into. The first is the story track. I’ve found Alaskans, me included, love to share stories of our experiences here. The second direction is more spiritual and has to do with why I choose to remain in Alaska, and continue expanding my experiences here.


One of the drawbacks of living here is how rarely we see our extended families. At the beginning of an annual or biannual visit from the parents, we mourn the age showing on the faces we love but so rarely see, and curse the distances that keep us apart. They marvel in the advances of their grandchildren. At the end of the visit, after weeks of parental oversight, advice, and judgment, we celebrate every one of the miles that keep us sane and temper the ideological differences between generations.


All in all though, we miss our families terribly.


So what keeps me here, despite love for family and other beautiful places?


I have witnessed the sublime, the divine, in Alaska. It keeps my spirit renewed despite the burden of the turmoil in my own life and the world at large.


In the late fall tendrils of mist and fog move across the peaks and ridge tops of the White Mountains, caressing the surface of the land like a parents fingers on a child’s face, God’s hands, putting the land to sleep for the long night of winter.


In the fjords of Tracy Arm, the glacier sculpted stone, rising from the ocean’s surface to the edge of the sky above, far out scales the best architecture I’d ever hope to achieve. Timeless and permanent, tactile and alive; inspiration abounds and thrives in my Alaska.


On a day spent exploring a western shore of Admiralty Island with dear friends, after several hours exploring tide pools, we scrambled through the salmon berry bushes and cow’s parsnip into the rainforest beyond. Ancient trees rise around us, moss and ferns cover the forest floor. Spirits scramble for cover, laughing at us, ungainly in our physical forms, as they move deeper into their forest home. The air is alive under the trees, here you can taste life itself, and breathe it into your soul. I’ve only known one other place with such ghosts, such a spiritual presence, and I’ll keep it as my secret.


Like knowledge, where everything I learn expands exponentially my comprehension of what I don’t know, each of my experiences in Alaska expands my Alaska desires at a rate I can never hope to catch up with in my lifetime. Perhaps my experiences can extend past my death.


I can imagine that when I die, my spirit will return to that cove on the western shores of Admiralty Island. It will join those spirits in the southeastern Alaskan rainforest, running from tree to tree, playing tag, spying on visitors. Circumstances willing, my physical remains will follow. On the forest floor, my flesh and bone will slowly be absorbed by the living ground, rising up in the hemlock and spruce, the cedar and ferns. My spirit will run by, curiously kicking my bones and scattering them amongst the growth. Slowly I’ll become part of the forest, ageless and enduring.


Today I do worry my spirit won’t find an ancient forest to retire to. Instead, it will find no trees, just the eroded plane of clear cuts and washouts. The spirits will have long since abandoned the site, and perhaps the earth altogether. Global warming, ill conceived programs like the Governor’s Roads to Ruin- oops; I mean Roads to Resources program, mean a continuous pressure on this country to become just like everywhere else. Developed, scarred by man’s arrogance.


Alaska remains today, for the most part, what the continent of North America was a short two hundred years ago. We Alaskans have a priceless wealth in this overdeveloped world, we have wild places for people to visit and restore their spirits.


Where will my children go to renew their spirits, if not Alaska?


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I presented this at our church a summer or two ago, as part of a presentation on wisdom. Several congregation members got up and spoke, each giving their own views on wisdom. This was my take, and hasn’t changed much to this date, a little over two years later.

First off, I’d like to begin by saying I’m not presenting this material today due to any abundance of wisdom on my part. In fact, I missed my opportunity to exhibit a real piece of wisdom when I agreed to speak this morning. Now the opportunity for a peaceful Sunday morning has been exchanged for a stomach full of butterflies.

When today’s topic first came up and Janie asked if I would introduce the topic and then follow up with my own thoughts on wisdom, I thought, “OK, this will be easy. Pull a few definitions of wisdom up, read them, introduction done.”

So I went to the contemporary source of knowledge and wisdom, the internet, and typed “wisdom” into Google. 187,000,000 links came up. Perhaps I needed to schedule a little more time for research.

Alright, time for a refined search. So I tried Wikipedia- where the internet itself goes for knowledge and wisdom. Once again, multiple definitions, each which could be considered wise in its own right.

Ultimately, I found that definitions of wisdom are very much like religion, where you can choose your own flavor. Or perhaps try them all, mix them, match them. In keeping with our UU principles, it appears wisdom flows from many sources and can be found in the “inherent worth and dignity of every person.”

With that, everything from this point can be considered my own view of wisdom. As I researched definitions it became clear to me there is no way for me to present an overview of wisdom without making it my own, as the very act of choosing what merited presentation would violate my objectiveness.

Wisdom, I would argue, comes in many shapes and sizes. Can a 5 year old be wise? Can an 80 year old be anything but? I believe I’ve witnessed wisdom in my 3 and 7 year olds. I’ve looked for it in my dad’s mother, and been sadly disappointed in never seeing any, due to my blindness or her lack of wisdom I’ll leave for others to determine.

Wisdom is of fluid construct, constantly changing to the influx of experience and conditions of circumstance. As I wrote this on Saturday I’ve defined wisdom as “the ability to make to take the correct course of action relative to the time, place, and persons involved.” What may be a wise decision for me, today, may not be tomorrow. Likewise, it may not ever be for you. By the time I read my definition of wisdom to you this Sunday I may no longer find it valid.

I hope to pursue wisdom, in all its many forms, for the remainder of my life. For now, the immediate wisdom I seek is about making decisions and choosing the correct course of action. At 34, I now stand at a crossroads in my life, where many paths appear before me. Some are worn, guaranteeing comfortable travel for the foreseeable future. Others are less traveled, with more immediate uncertainty. And there is always the option to ignore the paths, and pursue my own route cross country.

Which route I choose will ultimately have an impact on my happiness and well being, as well as that of the girls (including Janie in the girls). I spend my days and nights seeking the wisdom to make the right choice, to define success on my terms but in a manner that will continue to provide for my family. I’m devouring books, entering conversations with people I know and respect, all in an effort not to find an answer but to gain the wisdom to create one.

I think of the wisest person I have known, my grandmother on my mother’s side, Aline. Our youngest daughter, Ali, is her namesake. A woman with a typical grandmotherly appearance, long white hair tightly wrapped in a bun, spectacles, and a flowered dress she was, in my memory, the epitome of a wise, old grandmother. Yet, as I turn to her in my mind I can remember no wise proverbs or flashing insights coming from her. No quotes to hang on the wall, no profound acts of guidance.

However, she was at peace. Without prescribing to any specific religious doctrine, she knew wrong from right and moved through life above the petty worries many of us struggle with. She and my grandfather lived on the brink of poverty, yet I can never remember a concern or complaint regarding their position. I find wisdom in those memories, and it helps turn the difficult decisions ahead into positive choices waiting to be made.

It is ironic that wisdom, in the form of wise people or wise actions, is not judged so until placed against a backdrop of history. Whatever choices I make, they won’t be judged as wisdom or folly for years to come. Yet today we have the opportunity to glean some glimpses of wisdom, as expressed by members of our congregation. Listen well; wisdom is rarely so easily gained as when offered freely by someone who gained it the hard way.

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Fairbanks has a crack epidemic…..

 It used to be that crack was hard to find. It would usually show up unexpectedly, around a construction site, demolition site, or perhaps under a sink or around your hot water heater. Now, it is everywhere.

 If you haven’t come across it, you needn’t look far to find some. A quick drop-in at any one of the many drive through coffee huts in town, and you are guaranteed some crack with your morning espresso and bagel.

 One could imagine that an honest exchange at one of these huts could go like this:

Coffee girl: “Good morning.”

Customer: “Good morning”

Cg: “What can I get for you today?”

Cust: “Uh, how about an Americano, room for cream.”

Cg: “Certainly and how would you like your crack today?”

Cust: “Well, what are my choices?

Cg: “Well, we have Cindy- the petite brunette with the tattoo, Lisa- the Britney Spears look-alike, and Darla, the curvy blond.”

Cust: “How about the petite brunette with the tattoo on her lower back…. oh, hold on just a second, on second thought lets have the curvy blond. She seems to have more on display today.”

Cg: “Certainly, she’ll have your Americano for you in one moment. That’ll be a dollar-fifty, and, as always, the crack is on us.”

Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the crack we all have, but most of us don’t choose to share. It has become an epidemic. No longer is a low-neckline enough to attract the attention of would be suitors, we now have butt cleavage. And it is reaching epidemic proportions, literally. And it isn’t limited to the coffee stands.

Just the other day, my family and I were in the grocery store; harmlessly picking our way through the store to the milk, when- out of nowhere, along it came. That’s right, crack, hanging out of a pair of low-riding hip hugging jeans on a young woman, fresh out of the maternity ward. Now, what was she thinking? There are just certain things I don’t want to know about people in the grocery store, what kind of underwear they wear, whether they washed their hands the last time they used the bathroom, and whether or not they have a hairy ass.

Now, I will confess to living in Fairbanks, Alaska. Skin here is usually not exposed, and when it is, it usually has an iridescent glow akin to a dead corpse; a dead, rotting corpse that has more than likely been submerged for more than a week. (Thanks to the coffee girls for their fake tans- your efforts don’t go unnoticed; I appreciate not having to get out my sunglasses every time I want a cup of coffee.) And, having been outside (what Alaskan’s call the lower 48 states), I will admit that skin does exist and is shown more frequently elsewhere. Fairbanks may just be catching up on the fashion curve. Frankly, I don’t know how anything gets done down there with so much skin to distract you, but that is another story. My modesty, I admit, may be a reflection of where I live.

Still, I can’t help reacting to the exposure. I haven’t discussed it with any other men, but I suspect I’m not alone in wishing I had a spit wad, or pea shooter, or maybe even some spare change to toss into the depths of the unknown, perhaps even following it up with a wish. It is likely that such boyhood mischievousness would come to bodily harm, my own, either by my wife or the offending crack’s owner. Still, it is the thought of any deposited, unhygienic change reentering the hands of the unsuspecting public that holds me back.

The Crack Off

I have a solution to the Fairbanks crack epidemic. It is time to get the pros: the contractors, plumbers, and electricians who have proudly carried the crack banner for decades- maybe even centuries, and have them face off the coffee girls in the world’s first Crack Off. Winners retain the right to expose themselves for the next year. Losers have to cover it up.

We’ll get the hairy, beer bellied, unwashed men in their Carharts and tighty-whitey’s lined up against the coffee girls and whatever they wear, or don’t.

Contestants will be judged on their ability to maintain a consistent level of exposure. Too much- disqualified. Too little- you are sent back to high school, or to your union apprenticeship.

The judges will get sunglasses, pea shooters, and change.

Judges will need to be impartial. And probably single. Possibly blind. Have an aversion to coffee. Have working plumbing……

Maybe this won’t work after all.


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