Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cam o' the Month

This month we feature Nome Alaska. Our company has done some business up here:

Wouldn't it be great to have a truck like this one? You can visit the Nome webcam at:http://www.nomealaska.org/vc/cam-page.htm This photo from this morning shows the visitors center, temperature 35 degrees below zero, frozen Bering sea in background.
Here are some interesting facts about Nome:
CLIMATE: Really really cold and dark, except for very brief summer when the sun does not depart at all.

POPULATION Within City Limits: 2000 – 3,505· 58% Alaska Native · 42%

ECONOMIC BASE Nome is the transportation and commerce center for Northwest Alaska. The immediate area is rich in gold and mineral potential. A major oil and gas lease sale was held in 1983 for Norton Sound oil exploration and development. Tourism has increased in importance in recent years. Carved ivory and other Eskimo crafts are also a significant part of the trade as well.

INDUSTRY The Alaska Gold Company is the major gold mining agency still in operation today. The immediate area is also rich in other mineral deposits. Alaska's reindeer industry is centered in the Nome vicinity.

TOURISM Approximately 20-23,000 visitors come to Nome each year, the majority during the summer season. Contact the Nome Convention and Visitors Bureau for more information.

GENERAL 12 churches, 2 libraries, 1 museum, 1 bank, 1 credit union, convention center, indoor swimming pool, 1 veterinarian hospital.

TRANSPORTATION Highways: No road system connects Nome to any major city. (This could account for the pickup truck with tracks instead of wheels.

COMMUNICATION Radio: KNOM AM/FM 78, KICY AM 85, and KICY FM 100, Public Radio channel. Television: Cable system with 49 channels. One public television channel. Three local video rental businesses. Newspaper: Weekly newspaper: The Nome Nugget. Anchorage daily papers arrive by plane with a half-day delay.

RECREATION Sled-dog racing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hunting, fishing, swimming, civic groups, softball, basketball, racquetball, Eskimo dancing, bowling, fraternal groups.

THE IDITAROD SLED DOG RACE Nome is the finish line for the annual Iditarod Race. Known as "The Last Great Race on Earth", mushers and dogs travel 1,049 miles from Anchorage to Nome each March. End of the Trail activities are held in Nome during the entire month. For more information, contact the Nome Convention & Visitors Bureau or the Iditarod Trail Committee, P.O. Box 870800, Wasilla, Alaska, 99687.

ELECTRICITY Supplier: Nome Joint Utilities Average Cost per kwh: $.15 for all

GARBAGE Supplier: Andersen Services, Rate: $17.25 per month

TELEPHONE Supplier: TelAlaska's Mukluk Telephone Contact: (907) 443-5466 Rates: Business$26.00, Residential$20.00

HOUSING Residential housing is available for sale and rent the Nome area. Rental units are limited during the summer season. 1 bedroom apartment: $500-$850 per month 3 bedroom apartment: $1000-$1500 per month 3 bedroom house: $62,000 - $180,000 Hotels / Bed & Breakfasts: 180 available units

Your recommendations for next month's Cam O' the Month will be greatly appreciated

Sunday, February 8, 2009


A few months back I purchased a hunting vest at the Cabela's store in Post Falls Idaho. I am not a hunter, but the vest with its many pockets and sturdy construction has proved excellent for loading with measuring devices, notebooks, camera etc. for my work.

Last week I received an official looking piece of mail from the NRA applauding me for my patriotism and support of unlimited weapon ownership. The letter included an official looking membership card and a survey to be completed with my membership form and submission of $35.00 annual dues.

The letter named enemies of gun ownership including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Charles Schumer and Diane Feinstein. It then went on to tout the NRA's non-partisan position.

Let's be very clear here. I am completely opposed to everything that the NRA stands for. I have no intention of joining their miserable throng or in any way supporting the continued growth of gun violence in the USA.

Nevertheless one can't help but be tempted by the many benefits touted in their letter:
"By joining NRA you will also receive hundreds of dollars worth of benefits":
1. Your subscription to your choice of NRA Magazines: (cool titles come to mind: Blowing Shit up for Fun!, Survival in Post Apocalyptic America, Protect Yourself from Your Own Family, etc.)
2. Your personalized membership card (see above) and member decal (I could put the decal on the tailgate of my Ford 150 next to my American Flag and Harley decals!)
3. $1000 worth of insurance coverage for your firearms (will this cover me if my Saturday night special explodes removing my face?)
4. $5000 worth of insurance coverage for You ( will this cover me if I blow off a family member's face?)
5. Up to 60% off on Starkey hearing products (Is this because of my age or use of guns without ear protection?)
6. Free admission to NRA gun shows etc. (Oh boy!)
7. Lastly, and this almost did it for me - an Official Heavy Duty NRA tote bag! The author goes on to state "I know you'll use it with pride -- as a symbol of your history-making commitment to FREEDOM that few Americans can match." (I couldn't make this stuff up!)

Watch This Video!

I watched this video clip with friends at work - 4 times! Watch it yourself and while admitting to a certain sphincter tightening slap of fear, tell me that down deep you really wouldn't like to try this.


Bus Your Table!

Last week my lovely wife Jenny and I stopped in at a new hip post industrial style coffee shop in the Clinton Street neighborhood of SE Portland. The coffee was good, no excellent. The pastry was satisfactory. The employees in keeping with SE Portland hip culture, were poorly groomed, nose ringed, and seemed to have a slightly arrogant edge. Outside of handing the coffee and pastry to you across the counter there was no service.

Upon departing Jenny pointed out a sign asking all patrons to bus their own tables. Call me "old school" if you like, but if I wanted to bus my own table I would simply dine at home. I am puzzled by the fact that while the staff provides zero service, they still had a tip jar on the counter. For what effort do they deserve a tip?

Perhaps my negative reaction to this ever more common standard of customer service is exacerbated by the years I spent in Japan where even in the most humble of coffee shops, the customer is an "honored guest" and is treated as such. The shop in question in this post "little t american baker" is no better or worse than the flood of such cafes popping up around town. Nevertheless I can't help but lament the utter loss of customer service that seems to typify this generation.

Having achieved the advanced age of 60 I have made the following decision: I will herefor cease and desist bussing of all tables except when my wife requests me to (at home only). I will tip generously for service, not at all for the lack thereof.

Citzens! Stand up for your rights! Enjoy your meal and depart leaving your dishes on the table!