November 19th, 2008

Is Alaska Airlines putting lives at risk?

Monday night, 2008 November 17, at 2100h I left Seattle’s Sea-Tac airport aboard Alaska flight AS-119 bound for Anchorage, Alaska (depart at 2100h; scheduled to arrive at 2340h). About 2 hours after the plane took off from Seattle the pilot, thoughtfully and thankfully announced that he was making an unscheduled stop at Yakutak airport,northwest of Juneau, Alaska to take on fuel. The pilot, in announcements to the passengers from “the flight deck” repeatedly said that the plane was taking on fuel because of weather conditions (fog) in Anchorage. According to an April 2008 MSNBC article entitled, Pilots claim airliners forced to fly with low fuel; Cost-cutting measures create serious risk for fliers, flight crews complain,, at least some of the major carriers are flying aircraft with a fuel load below or precariously close to the FAA required minimum. It seems to me, based on my experience Monday night, that Alaska Airlines might be a guilty of flying with too little fuel. Quoting from the the MSNBC article:

“FAA regulations are precise: A plane must take off with enough primary fuel to reach its destination and then its most distant alternate airport based on conditions. It must carry a reserve of 45 minutes’ worth of fuel on top of that.”

I’d be curious to know, and will be investigating further, how many times Alaska Airlines flights en route to Anchorage have stopped in Yakutat to refuel in the recent past?

It seems to me that Alaska Airlines is being rather cavalier. After all, flying to and from Alaska is not an inexpensive proposition and now, in addition to the price of the fare, I have to worry if Alaska Air has loaded enough fuel onto the plane to get me home safely. Because Alaska Air may not have sufficiently fueled the plane I was on, I and a Boeing 737 full of passengers (there was not one empty seat on the aircraft), more than 250 souls, had to arrive at our final destination 2-hours late so that the Airline could provide us with the safe travel that we should have been guaranteed when the plane left the ground in Seattle. Seriously, the thought of a winter rescue operation, at night, somewhere between Anchorage and Fairbanks (the alternate airport) is beyond my comprehension – hmmmm. Hmmm indeed.

PS I wonder if the pilot got any flak from Alaska Airlines management for his decision to stop and take on fuel in Yakutak?

November 5th, 2008

I voted today – it’s warmer down south

Now if Don Young and Ted Stevens win – I may consider heading south; life is too short. Quoting from “Mudflats:”

The Alaskan Republican Party has just reaffirmed their endorsement of, and told you to vote for A CONVICTED FELON! You show ‘em Alaska Republicans! Hold your head high, walk in to the voting booth with the blessing of your political party, fill in that little oval, and vote with impunity for A CONVICTED FELON! Drive home with a satisfied smile, kiss your spouse, and say, “What did you do today, Honey? I voted for A CONVICTED FELON!“ Proudly call your friends and relatives out of state, and tell them how you, and all your buddies in the Republican party, puffed out your chests, and proudly hitched your wagon to the star of an 84-year old CONVICTED FELON! Maybe you should call your local party headquarters and suggest a fundraiser…you could do t-shirts, and hats that say, “I VOTED FOR A CONVICTED FELON!”

Amen brothers and sisters!

May 17th, 2008

Is WWR a thing of the past?

Whole Wheat Radio (WWR) was a common link for all of us. Operated out of Talkeetna, Alaska by Jim Kloss, the chat page at WWR Radio provided a venue for people from all over the world to discuss music, politics and to hook-up; that’s how all of the folks here at the Nest got together. Over time Jim, the guy that put WWR together has became increasingly paranoid and has driven fans and friends away from his site – it’s too bad because there was a lot of potential there. Instead of fighting “commercial web creep” Jim has chosen to become part and parcel. Now it seems that Jim has decided listeners are less important than his WIKI fantasy. Does he really believe that his programing can outdo WKCR, WBAI, WFMU or WDVX just to name a few that I listen to? I think Jim may be in for a rude surprise; too big for his britches I suspect – over and out from Anchorage.

April 22nd, 2008

The travel

Kiddo flew to Alaska and is having a ball @ great grey & co, for which I am unspeakably grateful. I bow to great grey.

May 30th, 2007

The water, the weather

I got this inspirational idea from a friend. How about projecting the area where I live in perspective on the US map, somewhere in the same coastal area. To avoid distortions I used google maps on exactly the same lattitude and zoom level, then fiddled a bit with opacity and color. The cut-off is entirely arbitrary. Sorry if I erased your city. Here’s the result.

Combined map

This tells us Paris-France is kinda like Vancouver-Canada, Oslo-Norway is like Anchorage-AK and Iceland is like Fairbank-AK. Things like day length are of course exactly the same, as the maps are on the same lattitude and scale. But there is a big difference. Europe is infuenced by the Gulf-stream, bringing relatively warm seawater from the Gulf of Mexico through a North-Eastern path to the European area. The North-Western part of America does not have this influence. So here are a few maximum/minimum figures.

Paris or Le Havre versus Vancouver

Note that Paris (24C/6C, 75F/43F) is a bit more inwards than Vancouver (17C/2C, 63F/36F), but other than that quite comparable. As you can see, Vancouver is colder. If we move from Paris to Le Havre, which is on roughly the same latitude but at the coast, it drops to (23C/3C, 73F/37F).

Oslo versus Anchorage

Oslo (16C/-7C, 61F/19F) and Anchorage (14C/-9C, 57F/16F) are very comparable. Both are near the sea but in a sheltered area. As you can see, again Anchorage is a tad colder.
Iceland or Hammerfest versus Fairbanks

This is not a fair comparision. Rekjavik, Iceland) (11C/-2C, 52F/28C) is surrounded by relatively warm seawater and is sitting on a very active geothermical spot. Fairbanks (17C/-23C, 63F/-9F) is surrounded by and endless landmass, that is frozen most of the time. And it shows!! If we exchange Rekjavik for Hammerfest in the top of Norway, we get (16C/-18C, 61F/0F). That’s more like it! Interestingly, Hammerfest is close to the sea.

Size

What is striking is how small (and thus crowded) the West-European area is. Compared to the US you are looking at more people and at a comparable sized economy.

January 8th, 2007

I smell something: Hollywood Vista, Marc Marlow and the Anchorage City Council

Well, well… the voters have spoken. It seems that most of us want a cleaner more honest form of government; at least as far as our elected representatives are concerned. But the Anchorage Daily News, despite frequent editorials that decry unethical behavior by elected officials, has once again waited until the last minute to report on an important local story. To my way of thinking this puts ADN in the same barrel with the scumbags who’ve taken bribes and lied to us in the past because it precludes our involvement in our government. I think that ADN’s delay is intentional and planned. Like so many other stories that ADN has reported on short notice or after the fact, the story, if acted on by the citizens of Anchorage, might have a real impact and disrupt what has already been planned. Well at least ADN reported this story before the fact (albeit only 2-”working days” before) rather than reporting the story 2 days after the deal is sealed as ADN has often done in the past.

This time it’s a possible land deal between “big deal” land developer Marc Marlow – and The Municipality of Anchorage (link to PDF of proposed Ordinance No. AO 2006-178). I get my news from the same places that everyone else does, so I was more than a bit surprised when the Anchorage Daily News (ADN) reported on Saturday, January 6, 2007 on page 1 (above the fold) a “POSH look planned for bluff housing;” the very first I’ve heard of it (and I even did a news search with Lexis). It seems that the City plans to sell developer Mark Marlow the 12.5 acres on Government Hill formerly known as “Hollywood Vista” apartments for, according to ADN $3.5 million. Sweet! In return, again according to ADN, Marlow will dedicate 10% of the 90 units he is reportedly planning on building (that’s 9 units folks) as affordable. N.B: for Marlow and The City ADN says $200,000 (almost 1/4 of a million dollars) is affordable.

This is just so much HORSE SHIT; again. Anchorage is in desperate need of affordable housing – but now the city is selling off a big chunk of prime city property to an already rich developer to build more luxury units?????? Did I miss something? Are all those unsold condos in the classified section a figment of my imagination? Is the crime rate in Anchorage also part of my imaginary landscape? Perhaps I’ve been misled to think there is a relationship between the real cost-of-living and crime;a curse on all those eggheads who’ve lead me astray. So I guess it’s business-as-usual here in Anchorage; screw me, screw you, screw any body who’s not a “mover and a shaker” in Anchorage (can you spell ELITES – perhaps read Robert Dahl if you need a definition of elite). Yet again we are going to get fleeced, and The City will tell us it’s for our own good. I can’t wait.

Please consider testifying this Tuesday at the Assembly Meeting and request that The City wait until the residents of Anchorage have had time to study the details of this land deal. ADN reported last Saturday that public testimony will be taken at this Tuesday’s Assembly meeting. At a minimum we should request (demand ??) that the City and Mark Marlow make the “relevant particulars” of their plans public – VERY PUBLIC so that we can study the details before we advise our elected representatives and thereby The Anchorage Assembly how we think our land should be used.

August 20th, 2006

VOTE “YES” on ballot measure 2 – tell out of State folks they are wrong!

This is something I wrote over a month ago. Lately, my S.O. has noticed that whenever she visits Yahoo she gets a banner headline advising her to vote “no” on prop 2 (who’s paying for this – give me a break). Ballot Measure 2 will protect Alaska, Alaskans and the water we all depend on. If it fails, we get screwed – simple as that. Tell the foriegn cruise lines (and the ad agencies in Seattle) to go fly a kite; they should respect us, not exploit us.

The foreign cruise lines that use Alaska waters to make “big bucks” have pulled out the stops and are spending huge sums of money (from “Outside”) to try to convince us Alaskans that the $50/head tax that Ballot Measure 2 would impose on cruise line pasengers visiting our state would hurt us. Ballot Measure 2 is on the ballot because a bunch of Alaskans thought it was important to let the citizens of Alaska decide if monitoring the impact of cruise ships on our State’s waters and the impact that the cruise lines have on local business should be put to a vote. I got a very slick brochure, paid for by out-of-state concerns, urging me to vote “NO” just the other day. In a word the cruise lines, and their outside supporters are full of B.S. The cruise lines don’t give 2 hoots about the impact of the tax on their clients (how much are they charging their customers now for a ride?) What the foreign cruise ship operators are worried about is what Alaska will do with the tax money collected. Specifically a portion of the funds collected, if Measure 2 is approved by the citizens of Alaska, would be used to enforce existing laws regarding the Cruise ship industries impact on our environment. What the Cruise ship operators are worried about is that if law enforcement is funded they might get fined for dumping raw sewage, diesel fuel and who knows what else into the pristine waters of Alaska (more than a few have been caught already). Not surprisingly The Anchorage Daily News (ADN) has chosen to throw its’ lot with the cruise ship owners. I think it’s ironic that ADN would argue that outside groups might be responsible for getting the measure on the ballot considering that ADN is run by a bunch of folks in California and owned by outsiders. The “tax,” a good “tax,” imposed by Ballot Measure 2 will help keep our waters clean for future tourists and thus, increase the desirability of a vacation in Alaska – not diminish the desire as the cruise lines have claimed – that’s a good thing.. VOTE YES on #2.

Addendum: The Alaska based “poster businesses” lending their names to the “vote no on Prop 2 advertising” are all, without exception, the “big operators” who fear that disclosing the monies they pay to the cruise lines will hurt their businesses, regardless of the impact that their “kick-backs” have on other small businesses who do not kick-back procedes to the cruise lines (if the majority of voters vote yes on Prop 2 the “big operators” will have to disclose what they’ve kicked-back to the cruise operators.)

July 22nd, 2006

Sorry for “slowdown” – it’s summer in Alaska

I can’t speak for my co-conspirators but I’m sorry that it’s been slow here at “The Nest” for the past few days. But heh, it’s summer in Alaska. I’ve been helping a friend put a new spruce deck on his duck cabin out on the Susitna Mud Flats (just west of the “Little Sue”) and I think that Great Grey is off flying around somewhere (isn’t that what Owls do?). I’ve been working on a bunch of things, like “how to read the Anchorage Daily News,” a few interesting tidbits about Don Young and ADN’s coverage of the Nabor’s Industries story and a description of my recent bike ride along the Turnagain Arm, from “Bird to Gird;” all of which will, hopefully, see the “light of day” in the near future. I hope your summer (or winter) is going well; summer always seems much too short.