Holidaze


Know Carrion Lug Edge Four Ewe.

“‘Sup?” I mutter, complete with snap-back head move, just to let him know I’m serious, that this is an everyday occurrence for me.

The recipient of said ‘sup begins with a passive face, his eyes narrowing slightly to inspect my belongings, then widening in slight alarm. I get the overwhelming feeling I’m not fooling him.

I’m trundling numerous bags before me. Quite clearly, everyone can see a prodigious amount of women’s shoes, inexplicably carried in grocery bags.

We’re both on a plane. The plane is exceedingly narrow, a two engine affair, propellers not jets, and features a riveted aluminum construction that would appear to strike fear into canoe enthusiasts everywhere. Come to think of it, there’s little more room than a standard canoe on this particular plane. There are two rows of seats, and I’m in the aisle down the middle, couched low not only because of the plane’s cavelike structure, but also by my burdensome loads.

There is one seat left empty, and it’s in the back. Every other seat is taken by large, rough looking men in winter clothes. They work on the oil rigs, and appear unaccustomed to seeing someone wearing summer clothes in the dead of winter carrying sacks full of ladies footwear.

Hours before, I had been appropriately attired in summer clothes, despite it being December. I was in Hawaii, and had offered to take my girlfriend’s suitcase back with me to Alaska after spending two wonderful weeks with her in Maui.

Though she’s not flying with me, she brings the suitcase into the airport with me. It’s a red number, roughly the same dimensions of a small cottage. She’s been living and attending graduate school overseas, and the case is filled with the items she no longer requires, formal clothes and winter wear, as it’s the height of summer in the Southern Hemisphere, and school is no longer in session.

There is a weight limit for pieces of luggage, and my girlfriend wants to make sure there’s no extra excess baggage fee. It has to weigh less than 50 pounds to avoid the extra charges.

I wheel the case up to the scale. Thankfully, like a tiny SUV, this case has wheels. I attempt to lift the case onto the scale. I wonder how much the previous two weeks of lying on the beach and drinking mai-tais have negatively impacted my fitness, as the case to me feels like way more than 50 pounds. My girlfriend sees me struggling and assists, guiding it onto the scale as I catch my breath.

“52.6. Do you think that’s okay?” I hear her ask the airline employee.

“Should be okay.” She responds, and my girlfriend is happy as she lifts it down from the scale. It makes an audible thud in the crowded airport as it hits the ground.

We spend a few precious moments together before it’s time for me to go through customs and check the giant container.

Confident in its weight, I struggle to hoist it onto the checkin scale. The readout displays over 60 pounds.

There must be some mistake. It is nearly 10 pounds over the limit. I look closer and see that all four of the SUV wheels are indeed on the scale. In the interest of experimentalism, I slide two of the wheels onto the side of the scale. It reads 52.6 pounds. That must have been exactly how we weighed it initially. I ask what the excess baggage fee is. $30. I agree and pay it.

My flight is delayed, so I’m late getting into Alaska. I have to wait at the baggage claim to pick up the red beast.

My connecting flight is imminent, and features the canoe construction plane. I hoist the SUV onto the scale.

“This is way over the limit.” The airline agent says.

“Yeah, I know. What’s the charge?”

“$50.” Fifty dollars is half of the ticket cost. This is ridiculous.

“This is ridiculous.” I inform her.

“The plane leaves in 10 minutes.” She informs me.

I pull the bag from the scale and open it. It looks like a JCPenney exploded. I try to grab the densest items I can find, which happen to be shoes. All manner of heels are quickly shoved into plastic grocery bags which I had luckily kept.

I get it close to 50 pounds. She says it’s good enough, and that the plane leaves in 5 minutes.

I run down to the gate, wondering about how many carryons or “personal articles” I can get away with. I have on my backpack and am carrying three grocery bags. It doesn’t seem to be an issue as I’m rushed out to the plane.

Everyone else is already on the plane, rather impatient and ready to depart. I take my seat after navigating the disparaging glance gauntlet, and finally relax as we take flight.

I glance over at the oil worker across from me, who is eyeing my bags of heels like it was filled with vipers.

I entertain the idea of asking him to hold it while I “go powder my nose,” but decide that I’ve cheated death enough for one voyage.

Besides, there’s no bathroom on this particular canoe.

Nalloweeh.

Wednesday was my second Halloween in Alaska. I’ve dressed up (not in spectacular fashion) both times. This Halloween, an interesting thing happened to me that came from my indecisions about foodstuffs.

Last year I bought candy to give to Trick or Treaters as they came through the office. I didn’t think much of it then, but I got to thinking about feeding kids candy in light of the rampant childhood obesity epidemic in this county. I wondered if this year I could go with a healthier alternative. I looked for options, but was entirely too parsimonious to purchase granola bars for every potential child. I thought about mitigating the sugar damage by getting something difficult to consume, like suckers or jawbreakers, but didn’t feel morally clean enough to do that. Left with a dwindling amount of alternatives, I ended up doing nothing, which I was rather disappointed with, but luckily some others in my department had treats so all was not lost.

Halloween night, I went running at Tsalteshi, and got back still bereft of candy. My plan was to cleverly cloak my whereabouts once home by leaving only one light (inconspicuous, out of view) on in the entire house, to thwart teeming hordes of children bent on obtaining candy that didn’t exist. I cooked myself a meal and was eating by this solitary light when I heard footsteps up the back steps. A knock at the door signaled the arrival of a Trick or Treater. I opened the door.

“Trick or Treat!” A girl’s voice said. It was still so dark I couldn’t even see her costume.

“I really don’t have anything. Umm, do you want a banana?” I managed, looking about the darkness.

“Sure!” She replied.

As I fetched said banana, I heard her yell down to a parental figure, still waiting at the bottom of the steps, “See? There WAS a light on!”

She gets lots of bonus points for being insanely tenacious.

I can only hope she ate that poor banana moments after receiving it, lest it be battered beyond recognition by being bounced about in her goody bag in the 18 degree temperatures.

I entertained no other guests that night, and imagine she told other would-be Treaters, “Don’t go to that house, all they give away is fruit.”

X-mess and Gnu’s Ears.

Wow, I haven’t written a post SINCE LAST YEAR. Apologies.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable time over the Holidaze. Following in my tradition of going someplace warm for the break, I did exactly the opposite and went to visit family up in Fairbanks. With temperatures soaring into the -20s, I enjoyed some cross country skiing on Fairbanks’ lovely ski trails, and even had the opportunity to experience minor frostbite on my ear lobes. All told, it was delightful.

After Fairbanks, I spent some time in Girdwood, where I brought the balmy Fairbanks weather with me, as one morning saw -14 on the slopes. Girdwood, too, has put significant resources into building great cross country ski trails, so it was quite nice to see some new scenery. As luck would have it, being in Fairbanks completely recalibrated my idea of cold, so I was more than happy to ski in Girdwood and back here at Tsalteshi despite the below zero temperatures.

Speaking of exercise, I’m scheduled to teach some fitness classes at the Nordic Training Center in Soldotna starting Monday of next week. These will be P90X workouts, and you can find a calendar in the upper right hand corner of this very blog. I’ll have more information soon. P90X is a very intense program that uses the concept of Muscle Confusion to maximize results. After the entire program, you will be in the best shape of your life. College athletes, MMA fighters, and pro athletes use P90X to become better all-around athletes. Try it. You’ll love it, but it’s not easy.

In website news, we’ve launched a new front page feature for 2012. The Essential Images: KPBSD Photo of the Day is a daily opportunity to reflect on the reason this District exists – the students. Take a look at the lower right corner of the KPBSD website, that’s why we’re here.

So, in all respects, good things are happening for 2012.

Stay tuned for a new post from me.

I’m sure it will happen first thing next year.