Friday, December 12, 2008
Yesterday's local newspaper reported a kind of sad travesty. It seems the ski slopes are not attracting the young people like they used to. Perhaps it's because we're in the electronic era, where computer games and Wii are providing enough entertainment and exercise to satisfy our youth. It's okay for a senior citizen to become more sedentary, but surely the adolescents need to get outdoors and enjoy winter. I can remember skiing in the zero temperatures and thinking, oh, it hurts so good. Those days are gone. Also, I note that the schools seem to pile on more homework these days. I don't know that 'more' means 'better' because the test score are not rising at a comparable rate. So this ends my lecture, on which I could continue, but let's just think of the happy days of Christmas break. . . and a Happy New Year's, too!
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
This morning, the local news shows the Governor deplaning in Anchorage, to return to her main job, raising her family in Wasilla, and her secondary job, running the big state and promoting our oil and gas reserves. This might be better served is she were closer to the capital (where???) which is a 2 hour plane ride away, but here I am giving opinions, and that's really not my intention.
So let's get back to your inspiration to visit Alaska. I really thought I had written a blog about our new convention center, called Dena'ina Center. My webpage would direct you to my other blog, where I know it's displayed, but this is to report that it's filled the month of November with many Christmas bazaars, art shows, events, and has turned out to be a real draw to go downtown. Locals have been avoiding going downtown for the past few years, during the total construction of all the roads and buildings, but as winter approaches, things are smoothed out and the heated sidewalks on F Street are a welcome addition. There is also a new parking garage on F Street, making things more reachable. Thank heavens -- we've needed this for a long time. We're just getting to be a big city, and kind of pretty, too!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The Foucault Pendulum is named for the French physicist Jean Foucault (pronounced "Foo-koh"), who first used it in 1851 to demonstrate the rotation of the earth. It was the first satisfactory demonstration of the earth's rotation using laboratory apparatus rather than astronomical observations. The direction along which the pendulum swings rotates with time because of Earth's daily rotation.
The beautiful new library at UAA (University of Alaska Anchorage) houses the pendulum in a large setting on the first floor, extending thru the second floor. The dedication ceremony was last night, and all of us who bought 'a degree' were there to toast this piece of art. This should be a real tourist attraction, but unfortunately, even most locals are unfamiliar with this.
The University continues to grow into a major force in our city, with continual building, and spreading out which now requires shuttles to operate for the students to reach classes. The Arts Building is at the East end, and almost butts into the smaller school, Alaska Pacific University. These centers of higher education are a source of pride for Anchorage.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
The deluge of theatrical productions has hit the fall season, and Anchorage was privileged to have a local production, with Bridget Sullivan rivaling Madonna's portrayal of "Evita". I may seem prejudiced, but the local paper/critics agreed with me on this one. You can click here to verify. You see, I've known Bridget over ten years. . . now in her mid-twenties, has turned into a beautiful, talented gal.
Outside of this, it's hard to write about events in Anchorage without going a little political, but suffice to say, we've thrown our hat in the ring by donating our governor, and hoping for the best. Hopefully, voters will look beyond the rhetoric, and remember that the best speakers are not always the best performers.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
There are a minimal number of farm animals at the fair, and the usual petting zoo. I like the loggers, and never tire of watching them roll on the logs. Add the usual rides, booths, and exhibits and you have an idea of 'how to spend a long day'. This is a pretty small report on a big event for Alaska, but you get the idea.
One of the special events at the fair is the introduction of the new Alaska Quarter, which took a while for the government to issue, but they will be giving some out and selling more at the fair. So many reasons to visit big, wild Alaska, but especially so because the rains have finally stops and the big yellow ball is in the sky. . .
Monday, August 18, 2008
If this is supposed to encourage you to visit Alaska, I guess I am not doing a great job, but then I'm just being honest.
By the way, I haven't mentioned politics here, but then I dont want to start on that.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Downtown Anchorage has been a real disaster, as it seems the current mayor wants to totally re-do the streets at the same time. . . most residents, like myself, avoid going down this summer. They even had to change the routing of the Fourth of July parade to find a street that was open, and there were were very few participants . . . one float . .. one rag-tag band . . . a few military things. I won't even get into politics, because this isn't that kind of a blog, but rest assured, that would fit into the summer doldrums.
The golf tournaments have been played in the rain . . tennis tournaments cancelled, or moved indoors, baseball gets half a game played before it's called. I'm not kidding you. I've lived here 42 years, and this is the summer to forget.
Let's hope next summer gets us back on track. I'm ready.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Wyonna and Naomi Judd visited Anchorage yesterday. They did a show at Elmendorf AFB, drawing a crowd of over 10,000. It was also telecast locally, and it was well received. One of the highlights of the program was when they called some military families to the stage, and they had TV access with their loved ones who were on the screen in Iraq. It brought tears to your eyes, and to Wyonna's, too.
After the 2 1/2 hour show, they had a huge bonfire on the tarmack - how do you spell that? I know - go to spellcheck. Anyhow, it was a great send-off for the Military "Thunder" weekend. The Thunderbirds are putting on their airshow today, and tomorrow, too. This is all in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of statehood for Alaska. There's always a heap of activity this time of year, and the visitors are abundant on the downtown streets.
The baseball season continues, and the Bucs are near the top of the heap. So much for an inkling of reasons to visit Alaska!
Monday, June 16, 2008
When you visit Homer, you will find a different world down there. This is primarily a fishing village, but also a quality art community, too, as the Arts are thriving. There are two lovely galleries there, The Pratt Museum, and Bunnell Art Gallery, plus a multitude of shops ranging from the popular Wild Berry Products, to Cups, a restaurant which has broken pieces of cups lining the walls.
This is the statewide logo for Made In Alaska, and I think it's so clever the way they have nested the mama bear and baby bear.
Besides the hospitality of the locals, I was also privileged to attend a barbecue party at the home of a UAA Music Professor. She had a 3 piece jazz combo playing in her living room, and they were all professionals, but the real great was a visit for a former vocalist who can belt out a song like no other. So it was a memorable few days in Homer.
The flight from Anchorage to Homer is only a half hour, but it is also a beautiful drive. That take over four hours, and the road is very good, except if there's an accident. That could hold you up for hours. But the scenery is like no other. There are some interesting places along the way to visit, like Hope, Alaska, and Moose Pass. You would enjoy this side trip to the Kenai Peninsula.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
I've been listening to Sir Elton for over 30 years now, and he's been acceptable but no big deal. However, last night I saw this musician in action, as he did his first (of two) shows in Anchorage. The large arena where he played to a sold-out audience, is hardly noted for its acoustics, so I wasn't expecting much, when I accepted the invitation of friends to join them in the first row. Well, I was wrong . . . this was a great show as he played to the masses, and he really knew how to work the crowd of all ages. Some near us were decked out in boas, and funny eyeglasses, etc. to join the feel of this quirky guy, and he started off with "Your Song". He finished non-stop almost 3 hours later with "Crocodile Rock", the crowd of all ages (ahem!) were mesmerized. So now I've taken in by the ultimate international entertainer.
As a bonus, he did strut around the stage, wearing his "Music Magic" ornate coat, throwing kisses to the audience and waves, and at one point even signed autographs for several people who raced to the stage after what I thought was the end of the evening. It wasn't. He added "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" and "Benny and the Jets" and it seemed like he just couldn't stop playing. Kudos to the lighting techies, as the light show behind the stage, about 40 ft. high also added a lot to this one-man show.
I don't know about him, but today, I'm still exhausted as I felt I was working right along with him. If you get a chance, spend your life savings and go see him when he comes to your town.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Although this isn't one of my piano students, I thought I'd share this shot of a relative . . . ahem . . . my students did a non-recital at the Pioneer Home recently in conjunction with the Strawberry Festival, an annual event put on by the Women's Igloo of the Pioneers of Alaska. This relieves stress level.
Memorial Day was lovely as we had a ceremony at the downtown cemetery at the Pioneer Tract, followed by a mug-up at the Pioneer Hall. In case you wonder what all I'm talking about, the Pioneers of Alaska have been 'one hundred years on the trai' which started in Nome, and there are chapters, called Igloos, all over the state. .. this year, I'm the chaplain of our Igloo, so that's how come I did the prayers. Somehow, I also ended up as the moderator of the Presbyterian Woman, who chose to have their 3 day Synod meeting in Anchorage at the same time. So you can see that I'm glad this weekend is over.
Somehow, two of my blogs were not posted, and I'm searching to find out just why. You'd think I'd have this thing licked by now.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Her big day would look just like Anchorage residents Mechelle Sharp and Shawn Boquist's wedding April 26 at Chena Hot Springs Resort.
"I'm the girl playing with Barbie all her life," said Mechelle, who still has 300 of them tucked away in a trunk.
"I'm just really grateful that there is an ice castle in Alaska."
Outside of all that, this was a weekend to focus on the 'kids'. My piano students played some neat music for the residents of the Pioneer Home on Saturday for the Strawberry Festival, an annual event sponsored by the Pioneers of Alaska. . . Women's Igloo #4 . . . and the Children's School of Dance gave a great performance of the "Wizard of Oz" at West High school, with over a hundred kiddies on stage together, and no one ran into each other. I am amazed over the number of 4 - 7 yr olds. who participated, wearing great costumes, and of course, there are always a few who don't 'join the group' and wander off, but they were ably grabbed by some teen age girls who herded them back to the 'chorus line'. It was such fun to watch, and brought a tear to my eye as I was laughing at the same time. Kudos to the teachers/director.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
One of the highlights of my trip outside was my stopover in Tacoma to visit a longtime friend. We went to the great daffodil parade, but I don't have any images of that. However, this image is taken from the Glass Museum, which is a Dale Chuhuly project. Dale started teaching glass blowing and glass art at Pilchuck, a small place north of Mt. Vernon, and has some impressive work, plus the work of his students. This is taken from the brochure. Enjoy.
Monday, March 31, 2008
I love this map, as it really shows how vast Alaska is. A trip anywhere in the state in always exciting, and this year, I've had meetings to attend in Fairbanks, Nome, and Sitka so far. I usually get to Juneau and Ketchkan, and they're all a long way. I don't have a favorite spot, but I like my home in Anchorage as I'm only 3 miles from the big International Airport, and 2 miles to downtown, so everything is reachable in a few minutes time.
However, I am leaving the state for a few weeks to attend some meetings in California. No, it's not to play poker, altho' as a magician, I frequent all the magic stores and clubs along the way. So I'm putting this card on the blog as a reminder of my magic hobby. I'll try to post sometime on the way.
Downtown is so full of building, annexing, remodeling that driving is not pleasant, and it's getting harder to park on the street anymore. That used to be one of the pleasures of Anchorage as you could just drive downtown, put a quarter in the meter and get 20 minutes of parking. Now, if you're lucky enough to find a meter in the few parking spaces left, it'll be a quarter for 12 minutes. Fewer and fewer people drive downtown unless they really need to for the Performing Arts Center programs, and Nordstroms and Penneys, who have ignored the many shopping malls in every corner in mid-town and beyond. The weather is really turning into sunny springtime, but the temp is still not quite shirtsleeve weather. But check back, and start planning your trip to Alaska, as this summer should be a great tourist season.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Here I am at my favorite blogspot and I find that yesterday's blog is floating somewhere in cyberspace . .. no matter, I just had two images on it you might enjoy -- the bagpiper from St. Patrick's day . . . yes, I know he's Scottish . . . and a polar bear which is no longer on the endangered species list. . . I'll be back . ..
Saturday, March 15, 2008
1. Having the name of the Daily News arts blog change their name from "Artsnob"
2. Having the Municipality plunk some money into replacing the long time astroturf greens at our 9 hole Russian Jack golf course, so we can be accredited by USGA, and record scores for handicapping.
3. Voting for the least bad candiate for all levels.
4. Getting a group together for a wine cruise out of state.
5. Chairing the "Pioneers of Alaska" social night, called "Rockin' to the Fifties".
6. Getting some students ready for their piano recital.
There's more, but I'm afraid if I go on, you'll just stop reading. . . with several good parties for St. Patrick's Day coming up, and the big Easter kids party at the Petroleum Club, and American Legion, this promises to be a good week for us locals, in spite of the ground cover.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
The 'real' take-off is from a small town about 60 miles north of here, called Willow. They moved the 'real' start further north to assure there would be enough snow after a few minimal years. You can follow the 1024-mile race online at their official website.
Signaling the end of Fur Rendezvous, last night was the Miners and Trappers Ball, and I hope to get some images to post so you can see some of the great costumes. I hope you've been inspired to visit Alaska by now, and you don't have to wait for summer.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
This is a great day for lovers. . . that goes beyond people, too . . . literally, you can't love an inamimate object, so this would include trees, flowers, and computers. Let's say, I have a love/hate relationship with the latter. But you can love your dog, and he can love you back. I guess I'm resolved to that. Seeing the darling Beagle Uno, that just won the Westchester Kennel Show, you can easily see how you can love that little guy. Imagine beating out all the big showdogs and specialty breeds. Good for him.
Well, this isn't too exciting a blog today because I just set up a blog for our magic circle so my clever stuff needs to go there to get some subscribers. In the meantime, hang in there with me until I get goin' again . ..
Sunday, February 10, 2008
There's nothing more beautiful than a drive down the Alyeska Highway, and this picture of Bird Point en route to Alyeska and beyond is the best capture I can find, stolen from the railroad, but highly recommended. The continuing route to Seward takes you some distance from the highway, thru a pristine area of mountains, lakes, and beauty. Happy touring.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Believe it! 35 below, so what can we do to take our mind off of this chill?
The Public Library started a great program called "Booklovers Gone Wild", and today the National Endowment for the Arts funded The Big Read. This was a reading of the courtroom scene from "To Kill a Mockingbird" featuring local celebrities. The theatre was full-up, and everyone enjoyed this diversion.
Today is also the presidential caucuses. . . now I hope someone will comment on this misspelling ... isn't the plural "cauci" if I remember my Latin. . . and for me, the Pioneers of Alaska Igloos meet, but that's a story for another day.
Monday, February 4, 2008
I've been reading a blog written up in today's paper... Shake Your Beauty which is pretty classy. However, beauty tips are secondary here to searching for ways to survive in our minus degree weather. It's the middle of the day for me, and still in the single digits. Yesterday was no different, and Anchorage hosted the Ski For Women Benefit, which didn't deter most of the entrants. This is the largest women's cross country ski race in the country I understand, and benefits women's shelters in Anchorage. I'm posting a picture of one of the groups, honoring our Anchorage Symphony and Conductor. Each year the costumes get more elaborate. Remember this is in a typical sunny zero degree weather day.
Confession: I opted to go to a Super Bowl Party at the Petroleum Club (indoors).
Thursday, January 31, 2008
The big Super Bowl weekend is coming up, and stay tuned for the Anchorage Alternative. I'll be reporting on the Women's Cross Country Ski Races on Sunday. The costumes are always great, and they raise a heap for charities.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
The new feature this year has also been borrowed from the "Running of the Bulls" in Pampalona. The Alaska version, is the Running of the Reindeer down Fourth Avenue.
Just sign up, tie a red scarf around your neck, and show up to run, run. Some of the gals in the Women's Golf Assn. have already done this and practicing for the big event.
Other Events include:
a. The Rondy World Championship Dog Weight Pull – This puppy power pull began in 1967. Canine athletes compete by hauling weighted sleds to the finish line.
b. The Rondy World Championship Sled Dog Races – The World Championship Sled Dog Race debuted in 1946. The 25-mile sprint race rushes through Anchorage and can be viewed at multiple locations throughout the city and local neighborhoods.
c. Rondy SnoCross – Intense snowmobiling action revs over double moguls and jumps in this extreme winter sports event.
d. Multi Tribal Gathering – This inter-tribal gathering features dance, music and songs of Alaska Native, Native American, Pacific Island and other indigenous cultures of the Western Hemisphere.
e. Alaska Sound Celebration Melodrama –Follow the hero and heroine as they try to foil a dastardly villain. With a new theme each year, this wild and wacky show is a truly Alaskan way to have fun (and practice popcorn throwing skills!)
f. Jim Beam Jam – Rock out with live bands, practice your line dancing, gobble up munchies, and grab a drink with friends at the official Rondy celebration.
g. Frostbite Footrace & Costume Fun Run – Don an outrageous costume and run through downtown Anchorage in this family oriented event. The footrace is two laps on a course around downtown. Little runners might chose to participate in the one-lap fun run with mom or dad.
Friday, January 18, 2008
The weather in Anchorage has finally toned down . . . seems almost balmy in the 20's. So, there are many outdoor activities to finally take advantage of. The ice sculptures in Town Square top the list, and a stroll thru the square is a great idea, especially after dark, which is most of the time.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau held a great Chef's Competition at the Convention Center, in conjunction with a marketing workshop. They had five chefs from some of the top restaurants in town, creating dishes on stage. Then they served samples to the audience, composed mostly of members, but also open to the public. However, it was hard to eat anything at all after the large buffet and mixed drinks, all hosted, earlier. I hope this turns into an annual event.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Downtown Anchorage has the ice-carving contest going on, and I simply must take a digital shot when I go downtown again. It's so cold, they can't use hot water on the ice for sculpting, or the ice will crack. The results are beautiful, so far. Last night, my girlfriend picked me up in her 'already warmed' car, and we drove by them on the way to a hostel meeting. I wrote this up on my travel blog which I started to promote and give tips and advice on Alaska Travel. The real trick is to get visitors to Alaska year-round, but I hardly blame them for avoiding this zero degree weather. Oh, we do get to a plus 8 during the day, I guess. This is the reason they started a winter event called Fur Rendezvous many years ago. I'll be writing about this on my travel blog pretty soon now.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
The Arizona Inn has to be at the top of the list. An old, beautiful hotel, untouched by time, with a great restaurant, bar, grounds, etc. The piano player named Bob, or "B-o-o-b" as he preferred to call himself, has been there since 1981, and seen the likes of such celebrities as Frank Sinatra, etc. He invited me to play on the beautiful Steinway Grand, too!
Next on my list would be Williams Magic Shop. This couple have had this shop for many years, and accumulated so many good tricks, and friends, which are important - in reverse order. To spend an afternoon there, visiting, buying, coffee-ing, searching, is a delight.
Third best was visiting friends in Green Valley (south) and Dove Mountain (north) who told me of several Alaskans who have bought there and retired, or still snow-birding.
The unique landscape should be the first priority for the visit, and it is beautiful, but it is being nipped away as in most cities, with 'a shopping center on every corner' . . . let's hope they never wipe out the cacti and tumbleweed. It'll take a long time. To post this in a timely manner, there are no images, so close your eyes and picture the scene of the old Southwest.
Addendum: My friend is blogging a different style from mine, but she's a real pro, so if you want to read her recent blog, click here!
Thursday, January 3, 2008
I'll write a much better travelogue later, but right now I have to absorb more sunshine!