Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kenai Lake Fishing Trip

So, we took the boat out on Kenai Lake today and survived. The original plan was to go to Kachemak Bay to fish for halibut, but the waters were too rough for fishing comfortably, so we decided to head up a little ways to Kenai Lake for a little pike/rainbow trout fishing. The fishing of course was the last priority on the list, behind shooting, drinking beer, building fires, cooking food, and drinking beer. The lake itself was beautiful, with a blue hue to the water that only comes from a pure glacial stream. We also hiked a ways up a hill to a cool looking waterfall, which proved to be much more difficult than I anticipated. My new hip waders came in very handy for all the boat launching and docking, not to mention the fact that they make me look like a sexual tyrannosaurus. Scott's hip waders would've been a lot better if he hadn't fell in the lake and rendered them completely irrelevant. What an idiot. It was a great way to spend a day and I'm glad to have had yet another Alaskan adventure and lived to tell about it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Death on the High Seas

Well, not yet anyway. We took the boat out on the Kenai River and a little bit of Cook Inlet this evening after work, and we're still alive. We wanted to make sure it's going to run ok for our fishing trip this weekend. The plan is to take it down to Homer to fish for halibut in Kachemak Bay, which is where I went camping 2 weekends ago. The trip this afternoon itself was pretty nice. Drinking beer, sailing across the waters as the tide rolled in, watching two bald eagles fighting near the shore, planning fishing trips and future excursions. I hope to report a successful trip for the weekend, but even if it doesn't go as well as we expect, it will certainly be another interesting Alaskan adventure.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Update on Prop 8: Maybe it's not completely hopeless

So I saw in the news today that the lawyers who represented President Bush and Al Gore in the 2000 Bush v. Gore Supreme Court debacle have teamed up together to fight the constitutionality of Proposition 8 in federal court. This is huge for a few reasons. First, it's another blow to the ideological bigots who want to deny people of a right based on nothing more than outdated prejudices and preconceived notions about what a "family" should be. As if denying two people the legal right to commit to one another will somehow strengthen families.. whatever. Second, it's two major players in the legal realm who would not normally team up. Ted Olson is a hardline conservative and David Boies is a godless pinko commie liberal. The fact that they were able to come together for a common purpose says a lot about the importance of this issue, as well as the fact that I would prefer it be litigated by these legal powerhouses than by some jackass solo practicioner who's in over his head. Third, they're attacking it in federal court on Equal Protection grounds, meaning it has the possibility to make it all the way to the Supreme Court. While I'd like a few more states to legalize gay marriage before it makes it to the Supreme Court, I think the logic is sound, and the complain quotes some heavy SCOTUS precedent like Loving v. Virginia and Brown v. Board of Education. Overall I think it's great to see people standing up for the rights of others. I think Patrick from Popehat said it perfectly:

A court finds that the California constitution has always contained a right that very few thought to exist ten years ago, and a mob of yahoos remove the right based on religious and social prejudice just by putting their thumbprints on a ballot.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

California, Television, and Guns

So all in all today was a pretty crappy day for news. First, California's Supreme Court made a terrible decision by upholding the Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage. I'm sure they had a reason for doing so that fits within the narrow confines of the Constitutional question, but frankly it's embarrassing that we as a nation still deny equal rights to a portion of the population based on nothing more than fear, bigotry, and outdated religious ideals (which of course should have nothing to do with the laws we pass, unless you clear it with every single religion before passing it). Another thing that bothers me is that I always hear people giving the justification that homosexuality is ok to discriminate against because "it's a lifestyle choice." What difference does it make if it is a choice? You can't discriminate against someone because of their religion, which is a choice; why should choice of sexuality be any different? It's an argument that can't withstand a logical attack, but of course logic has nothing to do with this kind of bigotry so that point will probably never be argued by those making the decisions. It upsets me to see that this kind of discrimination still exists, and I look forward to the day when we can look back on this as a blight on our history rather than something that's still up for debate.

Second, I kept seeing news stories about some show on TLC (The Learning Channel) called "Jon & Kate Plus 8." Apparently it's a show about two terrible parents who felt that the best way to raise their 8 children was by pimping their everyday lives out on national television for all the world to scrutinize. I guess people tuned in because apparently there are rumors that these people are cheating on each other, which I guess our screwed up country finds entertaining. I don't know what's more embarrassing, the fact that people actually watch this show or the fact that the network that broadcasts this tabloid crap still has the balls to call itself The Learning Channel. This quote from the father was especially mind-blowing:

"I did not sign up for a public scrutiny of everything," said Jon.

Yeah, because that's not what they do on a reality show at all. What an asshole. His kids should be put in foster care for that kind of negligence.

The one piece of positive news I saw today was that some people here on the Kenai Peninsula were celebrating Open Carry Day. In Alaska, you can openly carry a firearm in public (with some limitations), and a group was organizing an event to raise awareness of this privilege and to safely exercise the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It's nice to see a piece of news about guns that doesn't involve controversy or abuse or accidents. Go USA!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Moose Poop and So Forth

So, I've survived the weekend so far, so I thought I'd update while I have the chance since tomorrow is my first day at work and I have no idea what I'm in for after that.

  • I got a bicycle to be able to get myself around until the other guys get here, and possibly after that. While it can be a little intimidating sharing the road with giant cars and wayward moose (I saw 4 of them yesterday alone), I've found it's nice to be out and about on a bicycle, something I haven't done since my days at UNT.
  • I found out that Alaska's constitution has a privacy clause in it which the State Supreme Court has interpreted as giving Alaskans the right to use marijuana in the privacy of their own homes. Ravin v. State, 537 P.2d 494 (Alaska 1975). Interestingly enough, the voters even tried to overrule this by voting to recriminalize it in 1990, and the Supreme Court struck that down as unconstitutional. Looks like Alaskans are keeping their pot for the foreseeable future.
  • The sun seriously never sets here. I stayed up until 10:40 last night hoping to see it get dark, and it was still light out when I gave up and went to bed. Wtf?
  • I am continuing to update my picture gallery, so if you want to see the latest pictures, you can check out the album here.
  • There is a ton of moose poop in the woods right behind our apartment. I am curious to see whether a moose ever shows up.
Well, that's all I can think of for now. I'll update more after work tomorrow, and more regularly once I get internet access at the apartment.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Great Alaskan Adventure, Day Two

Alright, sorry for the cliffhangers. I meant to update again yesterday, but ended up not getting around to it. So here is the latest news in my quest to conquer, er, I mean experience, Alaska:

- Apparently the sun doesn't go down here. I tried to go to bed at like 9pm last night (keep in mind my body was still on central time), and it was like trying to sleep in the middle of the afternoon. Also, I forgot to turn on the heat last night, so I woke up freezing this morning since apparently it got down to about 28 last night. But, my windows are now tinfoiled, so hopefully I'll get some sleep tonight.

- Fred Meyer, the local equivalent of Walmart, is pretty much the most confusing store ever. Imagine a mall. Now, remove all the individual store walls in the mall, and put a giant checkout center at the front of it. That's pretty much what it's like.

- The public defender's office seems pretty cool. I went by and introduced myself today, and everyone seems nice and there should be a lot of interesting work to do once I start on Monday. Of course I'll expound more on that in the future.

- It's cold up here. Right now it's around 48, but it got up to about 60 this afternoon. That's a far cry from the mid-80s I left behind in Texas (and a welcome change).

- The mountains from across the bay look amazing. I've posted some pictures at the end of this thing and will continue to take more as the days pass.

- I should have internet at my apartment by next week, so hopefully I'll be able to update more often when I don't have to go to a coffee shop.

That's all for now. Here are some pictures that I've taken; I'll try to take some more soon. You can click on the "Alaska 2009" to see them in their proper sizes.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Great Alaskan Adventure Begins!

Chapter one- Plane Shenanigans
Alright, so my plane left Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport at 7:30am this morning. The first leg is a 4-hour jaunt to Seattle, where I change planes and then take another 3 hour flight to Anchorage. From there, I’ll take a 30 minute plane ride to Kenai, where I’ll pick up my rental car and head to my apartment, hopefully with all my luggage in tow. We’ll see. As I sit here on the first leg of the flight though, I’ve noticed a few things that I thought were worth mentioning:
- Flying over the effluvial plains and the snow-capped Rocky Mountains is pretty cool. I can’t help but think of that documentary about the young wilderness adventurer who had to go on a quest to return something to someone. I can’t remember what it’s called, but I think the guy’s name was Frodo.
- The grasslands of New Mexico and Colorado are covered with circular irrigation systems, which from 37,000 feet look like hundreds of pie charts spanning the land. Some of them are half , some are full, divided in odd places by roads.
- I decided to rent one of those digital in-flight entertainment systems. It was only 6 bucks, and the payoff has been pretty nice so far, since it contains both The Simpsons and Arrested Development. It also has a few movies, as evidenced by the guy sitting nearest to me, who got pretty embarrassed and flustered when the movie he was watching got to a sex scene right as the flight attendant came by to ask about meals and stuff. Speaking of which,
- I decided to purchase a meal. I left the hotel too early to take advantage of the continental breakfast, and a 4 hour flight is pretty long with no breakfast. I went with the “Anytime Picnic Pack,” which had crackers, cheese, applesauce, some salami that I gave to Captain Porno next to me, and various other accoutrements such as almond butter and jelly and a piece of chocolate. It wasn’t bad, and was better than risking not eating until I get to Anchorage.
- I got lucky enough to be sitting in a row that has a seat empty between me and the guy on the other side. I don’t think I’ve ever flown on a plane that wasn’t booked solid, so it’s a welcome change and it’s nice to have some room.
- They told us before we left that they had to remove all blankets and pillows from the plane due to concerns about the swine flu. That annoys me to no end.
Alright, I’m going to watch a movie or something. Maybe I’ll see how far into “Bride Wars” I can get before I try to take the whole thing into a nose dive into the Rockies.

Updates to follow.