Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lake Union Steamboat ride

My recent trip to Seattle was mostly a chance to pack up the house, but we did have time to play a little.  On Sunday morning we went with my Dad to the wooden boat center on Lake Union.  We were lucky enough to get signed up for a steamboat ride on the Puffin.

The Puffin, built in 1906, is a 19' boat with a small steam engine that generates 5HP.  With a total of six passengers including two to operate the boat we took a nice cruise around Lake Union taking turns piloting the boat and blowing the whistle.  This was a great way to see a little of Lake Union and learn about steam engines.

The Steam Engine and boiler

Dad and I waiting to board the Puffin

Checking out some Lake Union house boats

Monday, March 25, 2013

Packing for the Move

Over the last few days we've packed up most of our house! I'm not moving out until June, but Ryan's dad offered to drive down with his trailer this spring before work gets busy for him and while I have a few days off from school (although between grading finals, turning in grades for 226 students, getting my next class ready for next Monday, and preparing my talk for the Northwest Anthropological Association Meetings in Portland later this week, it doesn't really feel like I'm off anything except having to lecture in Kane Hall at 11:30 three days a week) and take some stuff back to Alaska for us.

Ryan and Steve both got here late last week and we (well mostly them, given all the above reasons) managed to load over 4000 lbs of our worldly belongings into the trailer. It was really nice of Steve to offer to drive our stuff to Alaska but it still makes me question why on Earth we own so much stuff. And we've even made several trips to Goodwill over the last few months thinning it out!

Here is a photo story of the packing adventures of the last few days:

On Thursday night we packed some of our dishes and fragile belongings into the dresser drawers.
I'm going for the minimalist vibe for the next three months.

On Friday morning Ryan and Steve started filling the trailer with furniture in our first snow of the season (on the first day of spring) 
After emptying most of the bedrooms, half the living room, and half of the kitchen, Ryan moved on to the garage on Saturday.

On Sunday they stuffed the last few boxes and odd items into those spaces - pretty much everything they could scrounge up that I'm not going to need before June.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Leif to Leif 5K

Erik, the race organizer, in his finest Norwegian sweater

Ryan at Leif Erikson statue at Shilshole Marina

Shilshole Marina

Amanda and Stephanie at the finish
Yesterday we did our first 5K in a very long time - the Leif to Leif race in Ballard run by the Sons of Norway Lodge. It goes from the bust of Leif Erikson outside the lodge in Ballard to the Leif Erikson statue at Shilshole Marina (just in case you hadn't already guessed, Ballard was the Scandinavian immigrant neighborhood of Seattle in the first half of the 20th century). Our friend Erik is the sports director at the Sons of Norway Lodge and he organized the race. It's my kind of race because it's small, it only costs $10, there is no t-shirt, and half the proceeds go to the Ballard senior center.

It was a cold day for spring, but when it's calm and not raining, it's hard to complain!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Skiing

It is spring here and the weather is crazy! In Seattle it's been unusually windy with quickly-moving weather bringing rain, hail, and sunshine. There was even some snow today at elevations of only a few hundred feet. Luckily this also means great snow in the mountains.

Ryan is here for part of my spring break and we headed up to Stevens Pass today.The weather was equally unpredictable up there with sun, wind, snow, and hail. They had gotten 8" of new snow over night so the conditions were pretty good. Some places were very wind-scoured, but there was still tons of good snow in protected areas.

I love skiing in the spring like this because the snow pack is so deep that a lot of places that are not skiable early in the season like boulder fields and ravines with creeks and now completely covered. I will miss Steven's ski area when we move, but I guess I'll just have to start back country snowboarding...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Northern Lights at the Cabin

Northern light were amazing Saturday night in Talkeetna.  Adam skied in with his digital SLR and captured these great photos.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunny overnight ski to the cabin

My friends Travis, Adam and Will joined me for an overnight ski trip to our cabin north of Talkeetna.  It was a beautifully sunny weekend with excellent snow conditions.  We got to Talkeetna Saturday morning with enough time to watch the start of the 50K Oosik cross-country ski race.  At the race, we ran into friends from Fairbanks and my old ski coach from high school.  After the race we headed up the tracks where we ran into more friends from Anchorage.  I'm continually reminded that Alaska is a lot smaller than Seattle terms of population.

At the cabin with ate heartily, relaxed and went out on the lake in the late evening to watch a good show of northern lights!  The morning temperature was a surprising minus six degrees Fahrenheit but warmed to twenty by the time we started skiing in the early afternoon.  The ski back to town was a quick two hours and twenty minuets, leaving plenty of time for a slice of pizza at Mountain High Pizza Pie.  What a great way to end an already excellent weekend.

Skiers getting warmed up for the start of the Oosik race on the Talkeetna River
Competitive skiers pushing hard to get in the lead at the start of the race

Travis and Will enjoying the view from the Talkeetna River bridge

Mt. Foraker, Mt. Hunter, and Denali

The Cross Cabin from the lake

A Typical Early Spring Sunday at my House

Wet freshly cut grass
Last night I checked the weather and Yahoo had the rain symbol for the next five days straight, so I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up and it was fairly nice. I knew I should use the opportunity to mow the lawn (our grass has needed to be cut since October). But I have a hard time motivating in the morning on the weekends. So I settled for sitting on the couch for a couple of hours doing class prep for the course I'm teaching next quarter.

In the late morning the sun came out so I finally went out and inspected the lawn, But the grass was still wet, so I went for a 5 mile run instead (it was so nice in the sun!). Then I showered and ate lunch. I really should have mowed the lawn then. But I was so tired (longest run in about three months)! I convinced myself a few house chores were just as worthy of my attention. I saw my neighbor outside mowing his lawn in a T-shirt. I stalled and did even more class work.

Finally, around 3 I decided to go for it; I pulled the mower out and and tried to start it - several times - no luck. Checked the gas. Tried again, finally started with a plume of nasty exhaust and ran for approximately 1 second, stalled. Several tries later, it started again. About one minute later it started to rain. And then pour. But I'd already started and the grass had been so overgrown that it would have looked really dumb if I had quit half-way through. Then the mower died again and I couldn't get it started. Being inept at anything to do with engines, I did the only thing I know how to do - put more gas in it. After several more tries it started again. Then stalled, then started, until I finally got the front yard completely mowed. The whole time I was just thinking I should have known better, this is Seattle, it can rain at any moment! (not the first time I've had to mow in the rain).

I'll just ignore the backyard now until next time the sun comes out on a weekend...

Fairbanks friends in Seattle

Dani and Hans at the Fremont Troll - a must-see for Seattle tourists
Yesterday I met up with Dani and Hans, friends of ours from college, in Fremont. They're here on a West coast vacation, checking out places they might want to live someday. At the moment they live in DC where Dani is a forensic chemist for the DEA and Hans is back in school contemplating a career switch from engineering to history.

It was fun to catch up with them. I haven't even seen these two since our wedding in 2007 when they were living in Anchorage. Shortly after that Dani started grad school in Missouri and then they moved to DC. It's amazing how quickly time flies!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Scenery and Family

Scenery and family are two of the best things about being back in Alaska.  Great views and sunsets are hard to avoid and now that I have a smart phone its easier to capture the moments.

Sunset over Cook Inlet from Mt. Baldy trail head in Eagle River
Sunset over Cook Inlet from the Captain Cook hotel in Anchorage
One of the many things that influenced our decision to return to Alaska was to be closer to family, especially my two nephews.  A couple week ago I went to the start of the Iditarod with the Rosier family.
Henry and Mark

Oliver and me at the start of the race.  It was also Fur Rondy!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

More baby shower photos

Brooke with some homemade gifts (this cleared up her confusion about the question posed to her a few days earlier about how she felt about mohawks)
Brooke getting some practice with baby Bella
This little guy was SO excited to get a chance to hold Brooke's wand (and wear her crown)

Brooke and Jenn

Brooke and some of the lovely ladies who organized the shower
At the end of the shower baby Graycen showed up and stole the show.
Graycen and her mommy
I'm convinced this kid is the happiest baby on Earth
She found a comfy place to rest her leg right away
I'll end with my personal favorite gift from the party. Apparently lots of parents own this book. =)

Baby Shower Cake

Today was my lovely friend Brooke's baby shower. She has a baby boy on the way, due in four short weeks! Some of her friends organized a great party. I made the cake (and cupcakes) and the flower arrangements. I made one of my regular cakes - the recipe that's on the back of the Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder container. And I went with minimal fondant for this cake. It's hard work to color fondant (unless you buy it colored), not to mention roll it out, but is totally manageable if you only need a ball of fondant that easily fits in your hand. Cake decorating is not the same without Ryan's help both rolling the fondant and cleaning up! Every single mixing bowl and rubber spatula in my kitchen is currently covered in frosting. Sigh.

It was also a beautiful spring day today and light was great for taking photos. I'll post a few more tomorrow after I get a chance to edit them.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Women in Science: We are not there yet!

The journal Nature has a special issue on women in science this week. Despite being relatively well-versed in the literature on modern gender discrimination, the salary gap, and unexamined bias, reading these articles is really, really discouraging.

It is discouraging because I know that there are thousands of women like me in first world nations around the world who are every bit as intelligent, hard-working, well-trained, and dedicated as men with the same qualifications, and yet we will not have the same opportunities as those men and when we do, we will not be compensated equally for our work.

The extensive compilations of studies related to gender in science in this week's Nature document gender discrimination in academia, in start-up companies, in board positions, and in invitations to conferences and to be keynote speakers. It also reports that the average female scientist or engineer working full-time in the US makes $60,000/yr while the average male scientist or engineer makes $80,000/yr.

The gender gap is real and it exists at every level of education from people without high school diplomas to PhD's. And it is not just a problem created by the old geezers who will retire any day; the salary gap is perpetuated by both men and women in hiring positions of all ages. As a woman in the sciences, accepting that in all likelihood I have and will be paid less than men in the same positions with the same qualifications is a hard pill to swallow. And I really hope I don't have to.

If you aren't familiar with this literature (or you think these gender issues are not real), read this Nature issue. There are things we can do, but rectifying these issues will take change from both the top and the bottom - both laws and policies and individual actions. One of the most compelling and important aspects of this issue is that we as a society are loosing some of the best talent and innovation that could be happening in the sciences and technology because women are not being encouraged, hired, and promoted in these field (even though plenty of them enter these fields).

I could go on of course, but I'll leave it here for now. Seriously though, check out the articles from Nature. If you are a human being who believes men and women should be treated equally for doing the same jobs, this matters to you! It isn't just a problem for women that has to be solved by women; it is all of our problem and we all have to solve it.