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Trail Etiquette: Alaska rules

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  1. When a crash of two bicycles is imminent, the faster biker should hit the wall, go over the cliff, or burst into flames. The slower biker is required to applaud or say something to the effect of “That was awesome!”
  2. When a bike rider attempts to pass a walker/runner/ space cadet wearing giant earphones/tiny ear buds they should announce their presence by screaming “Bear!!” , “On your left idiot” or spelling out a similar sentiment in American sign language as you pass them.
  3. When rollerblading down a hill at high speed with absolutely no control, it is acceptable to scream “Get out! Get out! I can’t control these m$therf*ckin’ things” even if the people in front of you are aged and speak a different language.
  4. If you notice families feeding  ducks/geese  trailside it is common courtesy to inform them that Alaskan wild fowl are gluten intolerant and also full of rabies and bird flu.geese
  5. When faced with a small toddler erratically hogging the path, bikers should bare their teeth, howl like a wolf and accelerate in order scare the living daylights out of them.
  6. If your leashed dog is confronted by an unleashed dog on the trail it is acceptable to pull out a dog treat and run away with both dogs while the former owners try to figure out what is going on.
  7. If you encounter a moose on or close to the trail it is important to remind approaching biker/ hikers that if they don’t secure the animal’s permission for a photograph then death or dismemberment may result.
  8. When you meet a friend on the trail it is always okay to stop in the absolute center of the path so everyone can observe how popular you are.
  9. Anyone wearing a spandex bike shirt, padded shorts or clip in pedals  shall be considered at fault for all accidents within a 5 mile radius.
  10. If you encounter an injured person on the trail, do not attempt to move them. Call for an ambulance then hide in the bushes just in case a bear gets there first.trail2Strangely deserted portion of The Chester Creek Trail in Anchorage

Do I live to make people laugh and is that sad?

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I just got back from vacation with a not to be named relative who fears their identity will be kidnapped and held for ransom baked in kitty litter. We were in Waikiki which is beautiful even if though it is full of human beings. Many of those humans were also on vacation which means they were having fun or supposed to be doing so.


Come in thin, leave Fluffier! That’s the Aloha spirit.

My not so distant relative was appalled at my habit of cavorting in the elevator. The hotel was about 80 percent full of visitors from Japan. They would innocently pile in on their way to or from the free breakfast not expecting a six foot tall lady in a pink hat to pretend to shrink in size as the floors went down or grow as they rose. They did not expect dancing or bird calls but these were included gratis. Some people chuckled or danced a bit if there was any room. Most people looked down. That just made me want to roll around on the floor. I kept thinking “Snakes on a Plane!”, “Clowns in an Elevator.” Clowning is a universal language best practiced when a language barrier is present.  It is important to communicate to people that they are in the elevator with a crazy person and should exit promptly.

Today, I’m back in Anchorage and  saw this gentleman out painting.


Which would you prefer? A clown in the elevator or a mime painting your business?

I was not really motivated to go on a bike ride but I’m glad I did. Riding against the wind, passing baby geese and tourists covered in similar fleece I was excited to see the meter which counts the bikes that pass Westchester Lagoon log my passage. I biked around the triangle turnaround to see if the number had increased and found two other folks trying to figure it out. They observed that kids on bikes had not triggered the counter although I had, so it was not emotional age which was a problem.  We finally decided that it was magic. Then something set off a flight of about 60 gulls and I cried “The Birds, The Birds!’ as I leapt on my bike and set off screaming.

I like having the power to create something out of nothing. I especially enjoy creating a moment,( some relatives might call it a scene), that will make a great future story.  My look alike relative is not always averse to this idea. For instance, they were not familiar with the idea of “Aloha Friday” where people in Hawaii wear their Aloha gear to work, a reminder of the laid back welcome of Island culture and the coming of the weekend.

We both jumped into and out of the above mentioned hotel elevator and onto  the streets of Waikiki yelling, “Happy Aloha Friday!” to everyone we saw.  This cleared quite a path in front of us. We are tall, loud and very white.  We sounded drunk. I don’t think anyone said a word back to us but we made ourselves laugh. Yelling “Aloha” is like screaming “I love you”, probably not the most common approach.

I have very few silly photos of Hawaii only because I don’t like taking pictures as much as I used to with my old brownie camera. Here is a photo of a mask from The Honolulu Museum of Art which I feel is a fine resemblance of me.


My doppelganger pointed out that my nose seems to be growing longer. I parried that my face was just receding, like the glaciers. My appetite for humor is still healthy and I find still find beauty in strange places. This is a great quality to build as age demands we let go of conventional understandings of life and love.  Here is one of my favorite photos of our trip. This is the look I am going for as I get older. I don’t think it’s a sad bicycle or a funny one but it’s different and it wants attention. That’s not so bad.

bike1 (2).png


In my culture – Tips for eating in the USA

In my culture, we reward the ingestion of nutrients with a non-nutritious dish

In my culture, only the ancient ones are allowed to consume non-nutritious dishes before the nutritious ones. If a nurse attempts to move the non-nutrition out of your reach it is within your rights to kick them.


In my culture, there is one meal which is so delicious that many restaurants serve it all day. This meal often includes a salty/sweet/greasy crunchy strip of meat as well as a batter which has been pressed into patterns that can hold a heavenly tree sauce.

In my culture, chocolate can be served in a solid, liquid, puddingish or cake like form. It is also available in an e-cigarette.

In my culture, a pizza can now contain Nutella.

In my culture, what goes in the spring roll, stays in the spring roll.


In my culture, you can kill someone with raw cookie dough

In my culture, almost everything is better with mix-ins.

In my culture, it is acceptable to sell Nyquil in several different flavors.

In my culture, Oreos lead the way in diversity

In my culture, eating more than your share of donuts may result in being shunned.

In my culture, it is possible to purchase a gourmet garbage meat tube in a roll or on a stick.

In my culture, “artisanal” usually means “rip-off.” It may also mean “Made by hipsters.”






Pokémon forecast for Anchorage, AK 7/14/2016

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Today on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail it was cloudy with a chance of Pikachu. The pilot of the above helicopter was charging extraordinary large sums to tourists obsessed with Pokémon Go.  This was troubling to every couple I almost mowed down on the trail because they were searching for invisible monsters while their dogs and children obliviously enjoyed the beautiful Anchorage weather. It was about 70 degrees, warm enough to bake me in the costume I’m considering renting tomorrow.  What could be more fun than running through a crowd of people looking down at their cell phones when you’re are professionally dressed as a Pikachu?

This is the gold standard which I will rent if available.


This is adorable but probably difficult to run in considering someone may try to tackle me.

This next guy  is actually labelled “Sexy Pikachu” in the costume listing.


His figure is very similar to mine so I am starting to feel a little sexy. But given that both of these are probably outside my budget I may have to resort to this next costume, which costs about $30 to buy. They wanted $28 dollars to ship it which is common for Alaska if  also stupid. I could run easily in it, wear it to bed, maybe even to work and possible carry candy to throw at people in case they chased me.


I read on Facebook, (I know, not a reliable source, but who needs reliability for these kinds of things), that there were  about 100 people milling around Town Square Park in downtown at 11 pm last night. They were playing Pokémon Go.  I thought we had posted extra police to contain that kind of thing?  Maybe they were police?

Who am I to question this fanaticism? I baked 7 pies this month just so I could have something to look forward to. It’s not like I’m any more mature than these folks. I threw a water balloon at my roommate yesterday and I’m 56 years old. He wasn’t even outdoors. He was sitting at the kitchen table!  I haven’t been blogging lately because I don’t have anything important to say but that doesn’t stop anyone else.

May your world be full of monsters that only you can capture. I was informed that there was a Pigeot or Pigiotto in my kitchen for a short time this morning. My roommate, who does not have a smart phone, was  able to capture it  even though he felt emasculated by having to watch a similar monster prance around across the street.

The sky may be grey tomorrow but wonderful monsters will fall from the sky and  people with funny brains will be out to meet them along with some nut dressed like a Pikachu.

Pokémon GO!

Unemployment – humbling but fun

How can unemployment be fun? I admit I have to make it entertaining but isn’t that what we do with work? It’s an excellent opportunity for creativity. If I do a good job looking for work I treat myself to a nice jar of Nutella and the task of learning how to draw a reindeer so I can paint it on the window

It’s unfortunate that so many people want to know what you do for work whether you’re looking for work or not.  If I tell them I’m unemployed then they want to know what I’m looking for and give me lots of suggestions. I try to beat them to the punch with “I’m just going to let the right job find me.”  They may respond, “Oh you must have lots of money!”  To which I say, “Doesn’t really matter.” At this point they hate me and walk away. I have had my fun.

Why doesn’t it matter? I live very low on the food chain. That could change any minute but that too is out of my control.  What I have to watch out for is my own anxiety which smells pretty bad.  Luckily, many first interviews are by phone now. I got a call about a catering position the other day. They asked when the last time I catered. I started babbling about how I ran a kitchen at the mental health center for over ten years and considered bragging that no one got food poisoning but “food poisoning” is not the phrase I wanted to be remembered for.  Instead I mentioned that food safety was very important. She liked that.

I have been on a career search since I finished a decade working at the community mental health center. I tried counseling at the military base. I worked in hospitality,  and at The Halloween Store.

I always take a small trip between jobs just like some people do between marriages.  This time I went to Paris. This is where I figured out that what I do for a living is not that important as long as I have the flexibility to see my family. I love my family and we  laugh  sometimes harder than anyone else can make me laugh. Paris might not be the funniest city in the world but it can be a silly place despite the terrorism. Isn’t that the way of the world?

Here is some silliness from The Chateau of Chantilly which we went to for the cream and stayed for the horses.


There is a Museum of The Horse here and a giant race track. The museum has real horses in the stable and lots of statues and carousel pieces.

big bunny

Here is Beth trying to get a rise out of a giant carousel bunny.

There are extensive grounds at this chateau, and we found ourselves at the Hameau on which Marie Antoinette  based her little village.  At the edge of the village were these excellent things. I don’t know what you call them, but we had them all to ourselves!

beth earring

Beth as the lady with one pearl earring and her scary outerspace consorts whose heads are made of straw.

beautiful beth

Beth is a medievalist so she naturally looks better in period garb, as opposed to me.

me silliest

I look a bit out of sorts in this scheme. My expression would fit in better were I on a roller coaster.

Here are The Dauphin pictures, both are pretty good I think. Once again Beth just seems to wear it better.Although you can definitely tell we are related.




But enough of this silliness. I hope you don’t take offense given all the tragedies in the news but sometimes I have to just look for the bright side. If I look hard enough I will find a reason to keep on. Here are some more silly things we saw on our many walks.


Here is Beth greeting another bunny. It is too bad he is locked up in the Museum of Taxidermy.

Next is an international warning sign we saw on the windows of L’Hopital de St. Denis, the old leper hospital.



You can see the ancient decaying walls separating the hospital from the neighborhood but inside it seems pretty modern. The old building which had “Baths” for leprosy therapy  is now some kind of outpatient treatment building next to  the Musee de Moulange.

This is an example of Moulange.


It’s a French casting technique which was used to teach medical personnel about skin diseases and wounds. You can see why a leprosy hospital might have lots of these wax models on hand and turn them into a museum for freaky foreigners.

When we visited a cemetery to look for the graves of Dumas Pere, Njinsky and Collette, we were sorely disappointed.  Colette’s grave was fine, we couldn’t find Dumas Pere, and look at Njinsky’s grave!


I would sue if they put something like that on my grave. I know they are basing it on this particular role.


But could he not be remembered like this?



I don’t know how I will be remembered. Read the rest of this entry

Murder in the Cathedral

Notre Dame – photo taken Friday Nov. 13, 2015nd

If you’ve visited Paris, even virtually, you’ve seen the cathedrals. They buzz with tourists who aren’t aware that people still pray.   Cathedrals remind me of  War of The Worlds where both the priest and the church are destroyed by  aliens who possess greater technology and less sentimentality.  The message I got was, why pray? Who are you praying to?

France shook the spirits out of the church in 1789.   So these cathedrals are now more like monuments.  Filled with such monuments, the city of Paris has become one of the great cathedrals of Western culture. People from all parts visit to experience the heart of art, fashion, food, wine and architecture. Even more arrive in Paris seeking work, shelter or medical assistance, as they do in all the great capitals of the world. It is not a simple city. It has its gargoyles. Just look at any school building.  Note the plaque commemorating the number of Jewish children deported from this location.

In Murder in the Cathedral, the play about Saint Thomas Beckett, soldiers kill the brazen Beckett in a sacred space in order to bring down the church, only to have him made into a Saint. As in War of the Worlds, nothing is sacred, nothing ever was. Murder is a reminder of that. But we continue to be woken up to the sacred even through terror. With the recent terrorism in Paris this has become even more clear to me.

I was in Paris on the day of the murders. I don’t have much of a story to tell as I was safe inside. The only terror  I experienced happened the day after, at Charles De Gaulle airport.  I was foolish. They said my flight was operating so I showed up and was amazed at how ill  equipped we all were. Staff was minimal, army and police were busy elsewhere.  Yet all the idiots like myself reported to their planes. Not to beat myself up, it’s human nature to need time to adjust to tragedy.  It was my first experience in a mob which swept me off my feet. Someone made the error of forming several lines of over a thousand people who converged at one door. The man at the door was under pressure to admit very few people as there were a thousand more people waiting to be screened upstairs. There was shoving, people cutting in line, yelling, threatening the attendant. I’m glad you didn’t see this on the internet. It was embarrassing.  It did calm down as the day wore on.

I did not react well. I didn’t scream or hurt anyone.  I did use my upper class privilege to find a way out of the chaos. I would not listen to my sister who encouraged me to go home with her to Belleville and try again another day. I could not bear being defeated nor imagine coming back to this living hell.  I  had missed my flight because of the mess, so I got on my phone and booked another one for a few hours later.  I flew out through Istanbul, which my family thought outrageous, but if there’s any place that’s prepared for terror it’s the Middle East.  You don’t enter the airport without a screening, nor do you enter a hotel.  It doesn’t matter what you look like or where you come from.

I abandoned Paris and my sister with it. I’m ashamed, but I understand that I am imperfect being who is unlikely to be the last person left in the path of a hurricane or a pogram.   Parisians and the rest of us  will be making similar choices.  One of the important questions is how much terror can you take?  We often don’t figure out until we are tested. What if my reaction had been instead to remain and purchase flowers to give to each person in line or those I met along the street?

I apologize and I have reorganized my psyche. Most everyone who was not intimately involved with the killings will do so and even those who have lost the most may change in ways that we may not anticipate. Murder closes a door and opens several others. Which open door will we choose? Or will we sit by our grief for a bit longer and contemplate?

One can subdue a culture but I don’t think Paris will be subdued for long. They are a self-confident even brazen city, like New York  but with a longer history of both beauty and terror. They will find a way. But will the rest of us? I  worry about the young people, and the migrants, some of whom have been deprived of sanctuary and others of their lives. It isn’t healthy to have no where to turn.  Nowhere is safe where people feel unsafe. I make stupid choices when I am impatient and lack perspective. This fuels further persecution of the Syrian refugees.  Both the guillotine and The Nazi Occupation must inform our decisions. Terror manages to convince us to trade our neighbors in to save our own skin.  Terror also engenders martyrdom. As Dickens said, “It is a far, far better thing I do….” Is it really?

I notice that fanatical groups, who encourage martyrdom for their own glory, create martyrs for “our side” as well.   Is this a primitive form of communication? Be like us. Feel our loss. Fight like we do. You are us.  Resistance is futile because resistance is what we want? Even more terrible, they want our children.  The Hitler Youth like conscription of naive teenagers and the criminally inclined to a powerful cause is an old ploy.  New fighters are  seduced by marketing, by the feeding of delusions of power and fame which professional creators of chaos target. I think of our own army recruiters and wonder about the nature of coercion.

Rats  are collapsing their bones to enter our homes. We become them and crank out even more soldiers, learn more dangerous ways to extract information. This should not surprise me as my country, the United States, is the world’s vender of security on an increasing anxious planet .

We have a new plague but we can no longer believe it is caused by witches. It is caused by that human infirmity we share with our enemy, the idea that we are, without question, Read the rest of this entry

Anchorage after Obama

Obama's flowers are still in bloom!

Obama’s flowers are still in bloom!

Yes these are Obama’s flowers! It’s no secret that Obama stayed at the hotel I work at. Well maybe it was a little bit of a secret until the barriers went up and the dogs moved in. And bomb sniffing dogs have to pee, sometimes before it’s break time.

We got the flowers at our desk because Mr. Hickel was walking by with them, coming from “The Suite” and we gals were ooohing and ahhhing. so after walking by he brought them back to our desk.  I don’t know if Obama touched them. He definitely smelled them because they are very fragrant to the point that I sneeze frequently when nearby.

It was a very exciting week. Lots of secret service people and police everywhere. We had a metal detector installed and many tourists who dealt with it whether they voted for him or not. The Captain Cook is a classy place but it looked a little like a riot zone. Not only were there concrete barriers and cop cars but big snow trucks and army guys blocking access. We have lots of buses  who pull up each day full of tourists but they had to walk a block or two which is good for them since they have to sit down for hours on the buses to get to where Obama got in his speedy jets.

Would you be worried or feel safe here?

Would you be worried or feel safe here?

Here is the Big Top! This is where Obama supposedly exited the building so that is why there is a crowd gathered to watch.  Yes it was a bit of a circus but the show went on and what a show it was. I did not see the president except through the window of his limo and then I forgot to wear my glasses.

He's coming, He's coming, now he's gone.

He’s coming, He’s coming, now he’s gone.

After Obama bought all those cinnamon rolls at Snow City Cafe, there was quite a run on them.  The next day I brought some mini cinnabuns in for my co-workers with a little forged note from POTUS thanking them for their hard work.  I don’t think anyone read the note. They were eaten very quickly.

I will not lie. It got a little bleak here after Obama left. It rained. The flags are still up but the party’s over.

Time to say goodbye!

Time to say goodbye!

It’s time to say goodbye to summer, to my job and back to the future. Don’t know exactly know what’s next for me. I’ve got a part in a show. I’ve got some applications for work. I might take a trip. I took some rotting bananas and made some banana chocolate chip bread for my co-workers. Maybe I’ll tell them it’s from Michelle this time.