It was a semi-hot Saturday in Wasilla, Alaska. The sun came out long enough to dry my lawn and grace me with enough time to mow it. I had pre-work blues already since I had to head back up north on Tuesday. I was anticipating the LAN of the Brave event that was starting at 1pm and ending at 1am. I have never been to a mass LAN (Local Area Network) event before and needless to say I was geeking out. In my early gaming years as a teen, I hosted a few small LAN parties in the confines of my home with some of my closest friends. Mass amounts of Red Bull and junk food was our fuel of choice along with loud music and the occasional guitar, drums, bass jam session for our “rest time”. I had a typical windows set up with windows xp and dual monitors (I thought I was cool with it)…they weren’t the flat screen kind either. Dialed in for hours, the smell of machinery, warm red bull, body odor (it actually wasn’t terrible), cables going every which way, and with a room temperature of 91, you’d think it was a scene from the 1995 motion picture ‘Hackers’. I believe the most I’ve had crammed in my room (a few in the upstairs area) was probably about eight….or nine. I truly miss those days of endless gaming, downloading, uploading, streaming, MSN updates and Bob Marley incense. We didn’t have Myspace and to send a text was ten cents a text. Our own wonder years.
Nicole and I finally made it to the LAN around 5 pm. As I stepped out of the vehicle, I was mildly trembling with excitement. Yeah yeah cue the jokes. “It’s just a bunch of people playing video games you nerd!”. But to me it was much more than that. I’m sure Nicole was unsure of what she was expecting but I knew exactly what I was looking for. I heard music as I carefully carried JARVIS II (my PC). As I stepped inside, I could see the rows of tables lined with various brands of monitors and PC towers. Most of which made JARVIS II look out dated and obsolete but fear not, hes still a little ass kicker and please be kind, he has feelings. We scanned the room for a possible open spot and found one at the end of a row some what in the middle of the room. I set up my PC first then the gaming laptop for Nicole to use. Shes a fairly good Hearthstone player and fairly new to World Of Warcraft, game i.d. Kneecoal #1658. I typically play all #Blizzard games now days (game i.d. Younglondon#1694) and dabble a bit on #XboxOne (gamer tag Nebelwurfer182).
Instantly I could smell the familiar “massive amounts of electronics confined in one room” smell. The cluster of people “dialed” in to what ever game they wanted. Friendly competitive pvp (player versus player) and others helping each other out which tech questions and gaming advice. There were tables of various consoles set up and free for anyone to use. The internet seemed flawless (on my table at least) and the Red Bull was within my grasp at a moments notice. I loved the energy in the room. I don’t think it was #907Gamers biggest LAN party but it was the biggest (and first) LAN I have ever actually been to (that’s not counting my own LAN parties as a teen obviously). It brought back memories and I loved that fact that I was sharing it with Nicole. Not many know but gaming was and is a big part of my life. I offered to take photos with my #Nikon since I figured it was also a good way for my to practice taking photos of humans doing human things. Around 8pm, massive amounts of pizza was delivered and we stepped out into the burning light and ate real food. I took the following picture which consists about 1/3 (maybe half) of fellow gamers… Overall I had a blast and Nicole had fun. I met some new people and everyone was friendly and cool about me creeping on them with my camera. It meant a lot to me to attend this LAN because I have missed out on over a year and half worth of previous events due to my work schedule. I hope in the near future I can attend another and meet more people with one common interest; gaming. If you haven’t yet, check out the FB page of over 6,200 members and growing with various sub groups for some of the popular games out there today. Join the teamspeak server and have a chat with some local (or locally raised) gamers. It’s a great community filled with techies, nerds, geeks, trolls and most importantly…Alaskans. Listed below are a few links of importance. Thanks for reading and keep calm, game on. Lulz.
907Gamers Facebook Page:
My Extra-Life donor page:
What is Extra-Life?
This year I am participating in the Extra Life event. The 907Gamers group will be gaming for 24 hours, on November 7th, to help raise money for the kids here in Anchorage, If you want to read more about it, look at the link below. I’d appreciate any donations you can give. Last year over $11,000 was raised just by the 907Gamers group alone. So please, support me in this awesome way to help kids! #907Gamers #Extralife #Alaska.
March 14th, 2011.
A New Hope
I stepped off the plane not knowing where the hell I was. This is it, the North Slope. I’m finally one of them! As a kid you hear of your friends parents being slope workers. Most of them had rotational schedules of two weeks on two weeks off. You become familiar with the stories of extreme subzero temperatures and no sun light for weeks on end. I was never one with pieces of paper in academics which proved I was useful to society other than being a laborer. I spent my early adult life in retail and I’ll never go back, so help me God. But I remember saying to myself “I’m a fuckin sloper now!”. Now most people don’t know what the hell we do up here and most of us wonder ‘what the hell are we doing here?’ There ain’t shit to look at and all we do is eat, sleep, work, repeat. It’s twelve hour shifts, seven days a week, two to three weeks at a time. Keep in mind, we do get 2 weeks off (depending on your rotation, some people are two on two off, some are three on three off). Essentially we only work six months out of the year and we get six months home yet we make a years salary in those six months. Money is good. Very good. Hell half the people I know getting out of college with four year degrees don’t even make what we can make. I wanted in for the long haul.
March 14th, 2012
Fear Through The Eyes of Madness
I am seasoned. I am part of the brotherhood. I made it through the hurdles of being the FNG (fuckin new guy). I made it through my first brutal slope winter. By this time in my slope career, I’ve traveled to Germany, Switzerland, France, & Austria and was in the slow process of finding a house. I was still loving the job. Digging six to eight foot holes on a daily basis. Building scaffold for insulators and lifting pipe lines for corrosion inspection via x-ray. Shit was cool. I felt good about myself. I was going places and saving money as if an i.v. needle was hooked up to my savings account. Also around this point I was on a three week on three week off rotation. Figured it was a good idea for more traveling. I could go somewhere for three weeks then take a week off and just relax at home. Home becomes a little more sweet with a rotational schedule. You realize you take the simple things for granted. I love my couch. I love my lawn, my stuff, the dust under my furniture, the small problems that are bound to happen. All of it (despite how much I bitch about it too). We had a new batch of guys come in, little did I know a few of them would become best friends of mine. I now had opportunity to mentor. I never thought of myself as leader and I’m probably a really shitty one, but I enjoy doing it. I enjoy imagining myself heading into battle with a small elite squad of soldiers, taking out bad guys and getting out all in one piece. I am the first to set on the battlefield, and the last to step off. Sometimes lol.
Cuts Marked In The March of Men
It’s routine now. Well they insist nothing is routine here but holy shit it is. At this time I’ve seen many brothers come and go. Some quit, some fired, some onto better things on the North Slope. Good for them. We form a certain bond, doing what we do. I’ve watched brothers get married, divorced, and have kids. I’ve also watched those kids grow over the years. You don’t find much brotherhood sitting behind a desk. It isn’t quite exciting coming by to work by now. It’s become a part of us now. In our DNA and bones. Each day being a countdown with hours to minutes, minutes to seconds. Not many understand the feeling of coming up to work. Don’t get me wring, it’s not like its twelve months in Iraq, kudos to all those men and women though. But rotation work does have it’s toll. Each time we go up to work, there is two wars going on. Two fronts if you will. The war of being here and the war at home. It’ s always hard on our loved ones when we are gone. Shit always seems to break and there is nothing you can do to fix it from here. When shit happens at home, its amplified for us by a thousand. From battling shit-ass reception, crappy internet, and failed texts, it can get frustrating. The common tools we take for granted are never one hundred percent optimal. Obstacles. One more thing to develop leather skin.
Away We Go
Imagine going to a job with the thought of it possibly not being there for you the next day. Now imagine that each and every day. While most of you celebrate low gas prices, we cringe over them. This last February, I watched seventy or so slope workers get laid off. Seventeen of which were brothers from our own craft. They were gathered in a meeting room and let go within four minutes. They packed their bags and stepped onto a plane to Anchorage. It can happen just like that. The i.v. to the savings account violently ripped out without warning. I couldn’t even imagine the feeling. To be honest I don’t think I could find work that paid just as well in Anchorage. Life would be at a halt for me. The sheer fact that in a blink of an eye ones job can be stripped from them pisses me off. We were always told that this could happen and has before. Up to this day, we could all be gone at the same blink of an eye. It never made sense to me to cut the actual workers who work while desk dudes sit comfortable in a six hundred dollar ergonomically correct office chair but hey what do I know. Careful, opinions equal a bad attitude. Most of them have found other jobs on the slope which I am very happy to say. But my point is, its more slope work. Its like a drug. That time off is pretty sick and it’s hard to give up. Some day I’ll have to take that road but as of now I am nowhere near ready to. At this point there is no way I could afford to live comfortably without this job and that’s just the reality of it.
The End Complete
I’m not even sure the point of this whole thing. We do this job for our families, our soon to be families, our hobbies, homes, loved ones, our own amusement (lulz), all the crap we like to buy, etc. Most of us don’t know any thing better and will be lifers. Some of us take other paths and learn other crafts. I myself joined the fire dept. here and plan on learning as much as I can before going for a full time position at any fire dept. back home. It’s no vacation here. We are all here for the money. Good money. It’s never easy and it’s never fun. I hope some day I can put the slope behind me and do something else. Shit, I get way to antsy sitting in one spot anyway! This job will continue to supply my dreams of traveling with my lady. It’s bed time now, for I work night shift. Enjoy your desk.
She’s our home. Our roots. Our foundation.
You’ll have to excuse me for my writing skills, for they are quite unsuitable for nothing more than the blog of a C student.
To most, Alaska is unknown and hardly looked at as a place one would want to live. Most people I’ve run into that have never been to Alaska think it’s located in the Gulf of Mexico (I’m kidding). But what makes those who have lived here for some time so unique? What are the first few words that come to mind when you think of yourself as ‘Alaskan’?
The first few words that come to my mind is “tough as nails”. Because in all reality, we truly are. We are a special kind of breed that separates us from the norm. Anyone who has an Alaskan friend would easily say they were “different”. We are different. We are taught to adapt, evolve, and overcome most situations in our every day Alaskan life. You have to, or you wont make it. I’ve traveled to many places and have experienced complete polar opposites of Alaska. 98% of everyone I have met outside of Alaska usually is fascinated with where I am from. This fascination usually comes after a shocked, slightly nauseated, yet curious look on their face. Yes I am from Alaska, the 49th (out of 50…Hey some folks don’t know that!) and largest state in the United States of America. With a population of 736,732, Alaska is 663,300 square miles of complete awesomeness.
Every Alaska can agree that we are bombarded with the same kind of questions every time we meet a new person in the lower 48. Some of the usual questions are; “is it always cold there?”, “have you seen a penguin?”, “is it night time all the time?”, “do you live in an igloo?”, “do you have power?”, “do you have internet?”, “do you use cars?”. The list can go on and some of those aren’t even the bad ones. Most of us have gotten use to the onslaught of bad questions and we normally are happy to answer each one with smiles and laughter.
Now most people would think that due to our smaller towns and cities, we are quite a small world. But from all my travels and cities I’ve been to, it really seems the opposite. Being Alaskan, we have to travel what city folk would call “a long way” to get to places. I live in Wasilla. Which means If I wanted to go to the mall, it would be a good 45 minute to an hour drive. We do it so often and so many things are 1-3 hours away that it becomes normal for us. A simple three or four hour drive is nothing. Hell you can drive for seven to fourteen hours straight and still be in Alaska. A small world I think not.
A city, to me, is a small world. Uncomfortably small. Everything you need is within five to ten minutes away, which to me, makes your bubble even smaller. Granted this has its perks and by no means am I bashing these perks. But I do believe things like that diminish our natural human need to explore and expand. Your whole world is packed for you in twenty blocks of concrete buildings, quarter acre lawns, billboards and traffic. It’s definitely a different kind of world. Exciting, but different.
So how would an Alaskan handle being away from the mother land? How do you transition from fresh air to just….air? Or mild traffic to…fast pace chaos. How do you go from mamma moose and her twin calves or mamma bear and her twin cubs to alley cats and and the occasional suburban dog? If any of my friends who have managed to stay out of Alaska for over a year, please comment with answers. I’m not oppose to moving out of Alaska, for I love exploring and risk taking. But I was born here and I’ll die here.
What would you miss the most?
I’d miss everything. I’d miss those winters of going snowboarding in untouched snow. That soreness you get from a full blue bird day of shredding down the side of an Alaskan mountain. I’d miss spending a good afternoon mowing the grass and weed whacking, then having a beer shortly after and admiring your fresh groomed lawn. I’d miss local mom and pop restaurants and businesses. I’d miss the community that we have which is full of kindness (for the most part) as well as that unique Alaskan, independent mentality that we all have. I’d miss the natural season change indicators. The termination dust on the mountain, which means winter is coming. The rotting leaves dog shit smell in the April, which means spring is here. The fireweed as it begins its journey from green, to purple bloom, to the funky cotton stage, and then finally orange and red. That crisp smell in the air just before and after a fresh snow fall. I’d miss the “do it yourself” attitude because in Alaska, sometimes there isn’t a business you can just call to fix a certain thing. You have to just do it. I love that.
Could I live anywhere else?
Why not? Adapt, evolve, and overcome…right? Seems like everywhere could use a little dash of Alaskan. In a few years who knows what the world will offer me and my soon to be bride. I just hope, where ever we live for a bit, they have good salmon….and real crab. They gotta have real crab…
Adapt. Evolve. Overcome.
I was born in Alaska. I will die in Alaska.
Dear Friends and Family,
I’m on a mission to save kids and I need your help. My local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital treats thousands of children each year, regardless of their family’s ability to pay. These kids are facing scary stuff like cancer, cystic fibrosis, and injuries from accidents to name just a few.
I’ll be participating in this huge worldwide celebration of the social impact of gamers of all kinds from video games to board games and tabletop RPG’s! Since 2010, Extra Life has raised more than $14 million to help children’s hospitals provide critical treatments and healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment, research and charitable care. It’s my sincere hope that you’ll find it in your heart to support my efforts with a monthly pledge or one-time gift that will go directly to my hospital.
Your donation is tax-deductible and ALL PROCEEDS go to help kids.
I need your help to reach my goal For The Kids. Please make a safe, easy donation online today. Click the “Support This Participant” button on this page to get started. Thank you so much for supporting my efforts!
Check out my page:
Things to do before I’m forty. A good friend approached me with this one the other week and challenged myself and Nicole to think of a few things. I figured I’d make it into a blog and try to get some fun participation from my readers. The list can be endless with me but I’ll try to keep it simple yet fun. If you would like to throw your list in via comments or pm please do so! Here goes nothing.
1. Travel To Italy
I mean who the hell doesn’t want to visit Italy? This is probably one of my all time must do and must do freaking quick! I’ve always been fascinated with Italy and everything it has to offer, which to my knowledge is food, history, beautiful sites, and food. Yes I know that’s not all but I suppose I’ll just have to find out huh? Selfies with the coliseum, naked statues, white sand beaches, endless Italian food. The list could go on….and on…..and on. Just give me four weeks and a lonely planet book.
2. Sky Dive
Now I had no interest in doing this until I met Adam Chapman. He was the first person I’ve met who didn’t just sky dive once, but made it into a hobby. Hearing his experiences and stories of the adrenaline rush one gets before and after jumping out of a perfectly good airplane was enough to persuade me to do it. I’m a fairly homey kind of guy, but once I get my adventure ball rolling, it’s on.
3. Cage Dive With A Great White Shark
I’m scared of them. Well maybe not scared of them but I’m sure as hell scared of being eaten alive. How much would that suck huh? At the same time, one must conquer their fears by facing them. So I want to face a great white shark. I want to face them right in their face with a GoPro. Then I’m gonna take a photo of me facing their face and Facebook it via Wifi as I’m in the shark cage being a fear facing facer guy. Yeah.
4. Travel To The Philippines
I’ve always wanted to trace back some roots on that particular side of the family. This one is a long shot but it really doesn’t have to be. I want to spend several weeks traveling around with a small bag, my lady, my camera, and one hell of an appetite. Part of me loves the grime and grit of traveling deep into a city and really absorbing the culture and all it has to offer. I want to go to place not many of the people I know would ever be able to go and maybe bring back a little to share with them.
5. Have A Kid…Or Two
Babies! More Amidons! You know you all want more Amidons in your life. I hope some day to have a kid on the way (whenever the Mrs. is ready of course). Being the greatest creation my parents have ever….created (this includes my sisters Caiti and Alex. Love you punks) , why not give them a creation created by the greatest creation of creations?
6. Visit Europe for A Second Time
I LOVE Europe and I certainly didn’t get enough of it. Not even the tip of the iceberg if you ask me. I will always be a history freak, especially World War 1&2. I’d like to take another four solid weeks and just backpack around with the lady and camera. France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium (waffles bro!). This one is also a not soon but freakin soon pleasekthxbye.
7. Get Married
Most of the people I know want to get married or already are and as far as some of you may know, I’ve jumped on the band wagon already! Yes that’s right. I found the winner of the ol’ ball n chain contest and shes the best ever. I’m thankful that she puts up with my nonsense and rebellious habits. We will be getting married in the Florida Keys on December 19th, 2015. You can check that box!
8. Meet A Navy Seal
Considered one of the worlds most lethal war fighter. I admire these guys and their skills in combat. I could only dream of being one and I would love to listen to one of their stories, assuming I met one that was okay with telling one of course. Next lifetime I’ll join up :P.
It’s Been A Long Battle……But it’s all about to come to and end.
As I sat with my crew, burying my face in chicken strips, mahi mahi and flank steak, we discussed the recent events that have gone on these past two days. The Dalton highway from Fairbanks to Prudoe Bay was shut down due to flooding and foul weather. Over 700 loads were backed up as well as dozens of semi trucks carrying fuel, supplies, ect. This in return caused our whole camp to shut down and only allow critical work in order to ration what fuel we had left. It was rumored to be about 3-5 days of waiting but it looks like we will be heading out tonight.
>><< Now back to the point of this blog. >><< AT&T. You bastards. We love you and we hate you. But right now we love you. In my 4 years of employment in Kuparuk, I’ve had AT&T. The sad thing is AT&T doesn’t have 4g and barely even has service. Countless hours of “can you hear me now?”, texts never sending, receiving random messages from strangers, skimming by for weeks on end with a half bar. And lets not forget my favorite “Off Network” message displayed about 98% of the time, kindly reminding you that AT&T is absolute shit up here. “Off Network”……..oh Off Network….I’ll give you “Off Network”. OH! and lets certainly not forget….”E”………..fucking “E”! >><< E stands for Edge (It’s where the 4G icon usually is but it’s absolute doodoo) >><<
Edge……….A perfect name for it, except it might as well mean the EDGE of the solar system, because that’s where “Edge” should be found. Not here. Not an hour and ten minute plane ride from civilization. Among other icons and letters, I’ve seen it all. Everything from O to its little buddy o and even “G”. What the hell is all of that anyway? Do they use the whole damn alphabet? Clearly you can sense my anger towards this problem because not more than 45 minutes away is Prudoe Bay and they have been bathing in AT&T 4g for awhile now. It cuts right off as if we were behind some microwave iron curtain, keeping Kuparuk in some late 90s primitive communication block. I am a child of the late 80s and I do know how to live without cellphones and crap but come on! This is the age of social media and being up here is already extremely secluded and cut off from your average civilization.
Cry no more.
Because as I am typing this, a little man by the name of 4G man, good guy, is standing on a ladder, patching in beautiful blue cables that will connect us to home. The brand new, smooth, sturdy cables that serve as an internet highway for messages, videos, email, everything, is finally being installed. The man installing them…well to him it’s just an average day doing what he does. He has NO IDEA that he is a Kuparuk hero. You sir, will never be forgotten. Rumor has it by end of spring, the whole field should have 4g. It’s still a ways to go……but its happening. It’s really happening.
Pre-hitch blues. That’s what I like to call my attitude for the last 48 hours of R&R. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for still having a job considering what has happened in the last few weeks. Due to price of oil, or so they say, in order for the company to stay competitive in the market, they had to do a massive lay off and out of 75 or so people, 16 of which were friends, brothers, co workers, from my crew. I’m not sure what I would do If I was one of those who ended up getting cut. There’s so much needed to be done and paid for in my life at the moment. I put myself in their shoes and I imagine it would be a lost at sea feeling. Stuck in a little boat in the middle of the night with only a small flare to signal help but no one can see and a big ass storm is approaching. It’s always tough leaving home and always thinking about the things that still need to be done. That feeling usually lasts about two or three days and then I’m in the game.
>><< Some reason my itunes duplicated some of my music, wtf >><<
One thing I look forward to is fire training. I’ll be heading down to Kenai for blue hat training. Pretty excited because I’d like to take advantage as much as possibly and hopefully volunteer locally when I’m home. Long term I’d like to be full time fire fighter here in Wasilla. Always good to have a back up plan and right now I don’t. I probably should have a back up plan for the back up plan but ef you because some of us can’t think that far ahead.
>><< I’m thinking about switching back to iphone instead of Samsung but I’m not really sure yet >><<
Praying this hitch goes by quick. They usually do but the first week always seems slow. The constant thought of “are we going to be here next week?” “are we next for a cut?” “I cant spend any freaking money because I dont know if Ill have a job in 4 months. BUY SMALL THINGS. ONLY SMALL THINGS” I wonder if the company considers the psychological effects on each individual employee and the possible chemical imbalance it might have over time. Hmm something to look into. Can I hire an undercover psychologist?
>><< Taking Back Sunday just came on, yay for singing old high school memory music while ranting. >><<
There is a routine every slope worker goes through. We like to push getting ready for work until the last minute. I still have clothes to wash from last hitch *screw you it doesnt smell because I dont sweat all gross like and no it’s not because I dont work as hard as someone else I’m just gifted ok?*
>><< P.S. Im done trying to make all my grammar correct. >><<
My routine is quite simple. I pack all my clothes and pick a good book to read. Four pairs of socks, four shirts, plenty of underwear, vitamins, bathroom junk, emergenC, a pillow case that smells like home because home is better than work, a half a billion chargers, cords, and all the crap that keeps us connected to the outside world because if it wasn’t for that I’m sure we’d all go insane *don’t give me that bullshit lecture on how shit was ran back in the day because we aren’t back in the day and yes society has fallen to technology so get over it bro*
>><< What really irritates me is the fact that my kinect on my xbox at shit the other day, now I have to turn it off the old fashion way by holding down a button. Third world country stuff >><<
Laptop is up to date, I cleaned the house as much as possible and I’m ready to get to work so I can get home. It will be nice seeing the boys (whats left of them). Always a good time when things are going smooth and we can crack a few hundred laughs. Until, pray for a phase day. I enjoy blogging to no one on a phase day.
>><< Go listen to Voxtrot – Raised By Wolves and what the hell is Tracy Chapman doing on my itunes >><<
Seeking tips from anyone familiar with Lightroom 5 Photo editing software. My usual method of buying things and learning as I go hasn’t failed me but I am always open to a pro. Seeing as I am simultaneously playing World of Warcraft, photo editing, and blogging, my attention span is spread thin.