I was twenty three years old, visiting San Fransisco, California for an Angels & Airwaves concert. Before handing my card to the Starbucks cashier, I knew it was coming. I clamped my teeth down hard, tensing up my facial muscles, the eye twitch slowly pulsating.
Then he asked.
A wild card of a question, the nail in the coffin, a real winner.
“Do you know Sarah Palin?” followed by “Can you actually see Russia from your house?”
Damn him. Damn her. I mean most of us don’t even like Sarah Palin but in her defense, for her statement to be taken literally, you must be an idiot. I mean I took at as “her house” meaning from some area of Alaska and she meant it as… like “welcome to MY HOUSE” or “this is my turf!”. Technically you can see Russia from Little Diomede Island, Alaska.
My response to him was yes, I know her, we party with her all the time in our igloos where we ice fish from our living room. I told him this concrete jungle was a major culture shock to me and that this was my first time in a Starbucks. If you didn’t know I was a smart ass troll, now you do.
…”Are there any trees in Alaska?”…
I woke up to another five inches of snow on top of the two feet we accumulated last week. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ready for summer, but I’m glad this years winter feels very much like an old school Alaskan winter. The last few winters have been terrible, brown, and warm. I mean I’m so excited to actually be able to smell dog shit this spring.
Days like today always make me nostalgic. Seeing the lawn with a fresh blanket of untouched snow while the tree branches hang heavy. The power lines bounding up and down and our vehicles looking like a snow cube with wheels. It was snowing hard this morning and the snowflakes were the size of half dollars. The wind was kicking up too, making visibility mildly poor. I love it.
I’m sure my outsider friends get sick of me always talking Alaska up but I just can’t help myself. Just about everyone has some kind of pride overload with their home town or state. But ours is just a litttttttttttle bit better and as I’ve said, you’re entitled to your wrong opinion but I assure you, ours IS better.
But what makes us truly better? What annoys the shit out of us? Why do some of us hold ourselves to a higher standard? There are probably a million reasons/answers and to be honest I don’t have enough time in my lifetime to explain each one, so I asked all of you, my friends on FB, those who have known me for most of my life and those who I’ve known for only a few years.
“Are you part of the United States?”
“The summers here in Alaska are perfect even though the sky is bright into the night. Fishing, camping, mudding and hunting is GREAT! Traveling in Alaska may take hours but the drive is so beautiful, it doesn’t matter.Winters are fun for some and not so much for the ones who don’t like the cold but you cannot deny that the snow doesn’t make everything look amazing. There is ice fishing, snowshoeing, ice skating, snowboarding, skiing and snow machining! Yes, we here in Alaska call it snow machining! So, if you want to “fit in” and not look like a tourist, remember to call it that.
“I went to visit family in Louisiana back in the summer of 2005. I was 15 and a girl who was 18 asked me if we had houses, roads, and cars but the winner of questions was when she asked me if we had cats in Alaska. I was sitting there surrounded by about 7 other teens who were just waiting for an answer”
-Danielle Darlyn Rheault
“Is it like….night time all the time there?”
“When I moved to FL someone asked me if we had different money in Alaska? I assume she was thinking about Canada, but still…..lol”
“Also the thing I miss most about Alaska is the down to earth attitude from people and people always willing to help you on the road. It just doesn’t happen here. People aren’t into the latest fashion trends or superficial shit like they are in the lower 48 for some reason, we’re truly our own little world”
“My tire blew out on a main road when I was (obviously) pregnant, it took 5 minutes for someone to pull over and help me, and the guy told me that I was lucky because “people around here don’t stop to help”. He wasn’t trying to be a dick about it, as he was happy to help me and tried to refuse my 10$ I gave him for stopping. When I got back to work (I was a delivery driver at the time) ALL my co workers were like “Oh wow, you’re lucky someone stopped!”
“My most memorable Alaska ditch moment was hitting a patch of black ice coming off the muldoon exit and the truck behind me immediately stopped, pulled me out, AND followed me to eagle river walmart, one of the girls even rode with me to make sure i got there safely!”
“Do you ever see penguins?”
“People would leave their cars unlocked in the Bush in case the car needed to be moved to make room for the snowplows and graters. People in the Lower 48 looked at me like I had three heads when I told them I wasn’t used to locking my car.”
“Is there anything to do in Alaska?”
Nope not at all so you probably should just stay exactly where you’re at. Ok I’m kidding. There’s loads to do here but honestly 80% of it is outdoor stuff, so if that’s your thing, you’d be in heaven. I’m not even too outdoorsy but I can appreciate it enough to just enjoy being out side, even if it is mowing the lawn three times a day, or picking up sticks in the yard, or finding simple little things to do just to keep me outside. My friend Stephen Griffin use to say “sleeping in during the summer is a waste of a day” and I still believe that to this day. I still think that Alaska is one of the last places where imagination actually still comes into play when entertaining yourself. Yeah we have clubs, bars, theaters, malls, blah blah it’s all there with a small town feel that even makes THOSE different.
It’s really annoying when people don’t even have the slightest knowledge on Alaska. I mean the first few you run into are fine but eventually, it gets old. I remember in the first grade, we had to memorize all the states, write them in on a blank map, as well as the province codes (AK,AR,MN,FL, etc.). “Is Alaska part of the US?” yes, yes we are. There are 50 stars on that flag and who exactly do you think number 49 and 50 are? So if you ever hear the term AK49, now you know, Alaska, the 49th state mtherfcker represent whaaat.
When did we become a state? We became a state on Jan. 3rd, 1959. We have a population of 736,732 as of 2014. Our state bird is the Willow Ptarmigan and we are known as “the last frontier” and YES, we are the biggest state. Sorry Texas, you just don’t cut it. You’re cute being in second place and what not, but no….sit down….all the way down…yay good girl you did it! Now stay.
“Do you have electricity in Alaska?”
“I visited New York for a few weeks. It was terrible and everyone was out for themselves it seemed. I instantly missed the community we have. As soon as someone found out I was from Alaska they seemed to feel sorry for me, as if I had a tough life in such a rough place. But honestly I’m glad Alaska isn’t easy to live in. If i wanted to live in an easy mindless place, then I suppose I’d choose anywhere in the lower 48”
“Alaska is just a frozen wasteland”
That was actually said by some kid on the internet while I was playing World Of Warcraft. I made him feel real stupid shortly after, it was refreshing. It’s amazing the image folks have about our state, probably from all the stupid ass shows that have come out over the last ten or fifteen years. I use to want us noticed and on the map but now that I think of it, I prefer to be in the shadows of mystery. Hell I prefer people to still think we are located in the Gulf of Mexico. However google is an amazing tool, I mean we just got it a year ago here in Alaska and we’ve learned so much about flux capacitors and instant messaging and moving pictures, you should try to look up Alaska sometime! I promise we aren’t all like this. I’m just the voice that speaks what everyone probably thinks. It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it.
“I really want to pet a bear”
“Do you guys have cars to get around?”
“Is it ever green in Alaska?”
I suppose our “small town feel” is much like any other small town community, only ours feels state wide. I love the fact that you can be anywhere in the world and as soon as you run into another “Alaskan” you instantly form a bond. Kind of like a friendly neighbor vibe type thing.
As kids, we are taught that playing in subzero temps is okay and perfectly safe, snow days and school being cancelled rarely ever happens (three in my entire school career from kindergarten to my senior year). One of the best looks on an outsider’s face is after I’ve told them we don’t shut down for snow storms. In fact I don’t think I ever had a “snow day” due to actual snow because usually it’s when we get loads of freezing rain and everything turns into an ice rink. They would only keep us kids inside for recess if it was -30 or worse (now days its probably -20). We would bundle up and go have fun outside. Believe it or not, when you are cold, its best to actually move because movement creates heat and heat creates smiles and happy faces yay!! But when you don’t move, and you lock up, you will die. When you die while locked up, you’re found in the same way, frozen, pitiful and blue.
Most of us are educated with fire arms at a young age, hell my Uncle Steve bought me a .22 rifle at the age of five.
We use our imagination outside….a lot. Pretty sure as a kid, we taught ourselves a primitive version of shelter building and surviving in the wild. Not even kidding when I say I could construct you a nice little post zombie shanty that could sustain through winter. Try me.
“It’s just cold all the time there..”
“Where else but Alaska do you find this kind of beauty and make such wonderful memories with your children?”
“You’re bragging about Alaska all the time, chill out”
“I’ve never been to Alaska, but it’s not my cup of tea”
Toooootally fine and we understand and I promise you we will forget you even said that in like…. wait…what did you say? I forgot. I do encourage all to visit Alaska though. Really….I do. But you have to have an honest curiosity. If you don’t, and you expect it to be like where you live, then you’ll be let down. Then, like a disappointed customer, you’ll spread the negative review to an average 15-20 people. We already get a bad rep from stupid inaccurate t.v. shows and loud mouth politicians…. and people who can’t Google. It does get annoying when they have an idea of how life looks like in a third world country and compare this idea to what it might be like in Alaska, only with snow.
Oh look, it’s groundhog day, looks like we have six weeks of winter left. Well…No shit.
Sorry I was distracted.
“How do you stay warm inside?”
We use ancient alien technology from the planet Argus that harnesses the power of the sun and stores it in our own fusion cells which we then use to channel through flux capacitor copper lines known as “baseboard heating”. Some people are fancy and can afford to upgrade to a forced air type heat, which feeds off the same system. Crazy huh?
Yeah this blog is all over the place but that’s how I want it.
“Alaska > everywhere else because I have too much debt to move lol”
I’ll leave the rest of this rant open ended for those who message me their stories and annoyances, so I can add it as I go and it can be forever logged in the never ending, living, breathing, void of the internet.
And FYI, there are no freaking penguins in Alaska.
I’ll keep this one short and sweet, since I prefer my blog to be about travels and toilet humor, mostly.
Spring of 2016 I was placed into the long process of becoming a volunteer fire fighter for Central Mat-su. From minor application errors, to a physical ability test, an interview, tracking down medical records, a wild land test, 3 weeks of training Tuesday-Sunday, a written test and a practical test, I finally made it on. It’s been a busy month. In order to do all this, I needed to take off a whole hitch which means I was off for six weeks. This required me to go on a leave of absence (LOA). On the Saturday of my written test, just after I found out I passed, I received a phone call from my general foreman that they needed to let me go due to “lack of work” around the field. For a moment I worried but then shortly after I realized this was one door closing and another opening. I’ve been wanting off slope for awhile now so after the short worry, I was relieved. I’m thankful for my wife for taking on the brunt of the bills while I search for a side job that allows me to continue the fire service. Lord knows I hate asking her for money, and it wont be the last time but hopefully I get more income rolling in soon.
On a side note, I do believe I was actually the only one laid off from my job, even though I was told that “I wasn’t the first and I wont be the last”. At least no one I know was laid off so I’ve determined that it was on a personal level with management as to why I was let go. Since it already seemed like a pain in their ass that I was trying to better myself rather than spend 30 years on an oil field. I mean God forbid someone trying to leave the oil field right? As far as I’m concerned, they can keep their oil field and their politics. As for all my friends up there, I’ll see you at our annual BBQ’s!
It’s been awhile and I’d like to start off by apologizing for my lack of blogging lately. I’d also like to thank the steady stream of readers I get on a daily basis, you’re awesome for liking my craziness. Within the next few days I plan on updating all of you with what’s been going on and what’s to come. Hopefully I haven’t lost my toilet reading humor. I love you all.
Today I charged up my iphone 4 for the first time in over a year, maybe two. This out dated device contains song material from four or five years ago that I didn’t do anything with. For awhile I was writing two to three song ideas a night. I opened the notes section and had two different tabs. The first was mostly complete songs and 98% of them had titles. The second was just a long long long long page of random lyrics that didn’t have a home, usually consisting of just a few clever lines. I write my lyrics in kind of a funky way I like to think. I usually think of a cool title first and use it as my foundation and or theme. Then I construct a story around it, usually relating to me or someone I know. A lot of the times the stories are real and some have a sort of extreme inspiration (events in the song may or may not have gone the way they actually did, in movies you see it as “Inspired by true events”)
I figured I’d share some of the song titles, a few of which I plan on getting the blood flowing through again.
Hollywood Dreams and Crime Scenes
Everyone’s Filing Lawsuits and I’m Just Here Drinking
Curtain Call (Keep Your Head On, Kid)
Is It Winter Time Yet?
Life’s A Hurricane
Half A Life
Weaving Wires Through Finger Tips
This One Time, In Eagle River…
Sounds Of An Empty Vessel II
This Is How I Drink My Bourbon
Hey Mom, I Can Write A Rap Song Too
The War Zone (Instrumental)
Welcome To Insomniac Theater
Songs I completed and recorded (I don’t share much because like every artist, I’m my own worst critic but If you want to hear some I’ll gladly send them. Warning, I was more of a noob then than I am now). Most of the songs I recorded where fairly slow due to lack of recording skill, instruments, and oh… a full band. Plus it was difficult to try and deliver the listener a fast pace song without me trying to critique the hell out of it. Here’s a few:
Where Did This Come From?
The 4th Avenue Scene
Fire By The City
Slowly Moving Backwards
Sounds Of An Empty Vessel – Instrumental
Sunrise (…I’m Alive)
I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America. And to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under surveillance, always divided, for liberty and justice for all.
It’s five o’clock in the morning. My alarm fades in slowly with the song “Waking Up” by Explosions In The Sky. I usually wake up this early to take my wife to work so it’s nothing out of the ordinary. She’s a hard worker. I admire that.
The morning is quiet. I like it.
It’s always quiet this early. It’s quiet because our little world hasn’t started up yet. The rest of the world has, but not ours. I like to absorb the quiet after dropping my wife off. The cats usually sleep in and the dogs tend to hop right back on the bed and pass out. I start my morning by making myself a spam omelette and a coffee with three sugars. I don’t add much creamer now days, I guess I’ve out grown it.
After my meal, I take my coffee and sit down at my desk. I call it the command center. It’s the central processor of my stronghold. My “Jarvis”.
“Good morning sir”
I say to myself out loud in a British “Jarvis” voice as my desktop comes to life. By now the faint blue daylight begins to filter over the mountain view that greets me every morning. I open my web browser and log into my usual social medias. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, & WordPress.
I am plugged in.
A Storm Is Coming
The news feed. A constantly evolving digital wave of opinions, ideas, beliefs, products, pictures, and sometimes pointless nonsense. The list goes on. It’s where our lives are written out and recorded in real time. It’s brilliant and truly wonderful.
It’s also a war zone.
A battlefield with multiple factions shelling the living shit out of each other day and night.
The quiet is over.
#Trump2016, #feelthebern, #blacklivesmatter, #hillary2016, #GOPdebate. Hashtags thrown around like hand grenades. Alliances are formed and relationships destroyed as easy as “unfriend”. You’re in the trenches and you’re as powerful as ever because you’re behind a keyboard. You no longer have to share an opinion face to face. You’re safe and secure because you’re in the matrix. Memes are like propaganda bombs filled with false or exaggerated facts about opposing parties but good job bro, really stuck it to em with that one!
We’re all guilty of it really. It’s all part of it. But I find it hard to take a side in all this. I mean I have my beliefs and I have my reasons for who I will vote for but I can’t seem to label it. You can’t claim to be a Republican anymore without being labeled a racist or bigot. You can’t claim to be a Democrat without being labeled a lazy liberal. You can’t fly a Tea Party flag without being called a tea bagger.
When did we lose ourselves? When did we go from a melting pot to a pot of water with individual groups of oil floating around? There’s so many groups and labels that we’ve started to suffocate in it all. We’ve lost sight of who the true enemy is and we are too busy climbing on top of one another as we grasp for air and try to soak up the lime light even if it’s for a quick second. It’s exhausting and like I said before….we’ve looked away from the true enemy and they are reaping all the benefits from it.
He was born on June 21st, 1983 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. He is a former CIA employee as well as a former employee for Booz Allen Hamilton which is a company contracted by the NSA. He’s widely known for the **“theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and willful communication of classified intelligence to an unauthorized person”.
** source via wikipedia
Recently I read Glenn Greenwalds book “No Place Left To Hide” which covers what happened when Snowden contacted Greenwald about the documents he had obtained.
“…Opposition to government invasion of privacy was a major factor in the establishment of the United States itself, as American colonists protested laws that let British officials ransack at will any home they wished…”
The Fourth Amendment:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person’s or things to be seized.”
As Greenwald said,
“It was intended, above all, to abolish forever in America the power of the government to subject its citizens to generalized, suspicionless surveillance.”
I also read that in the mid-nineteenth century, British government began opening its citizens mail, due to the development of rail ways and rapid delivery, which caused a major scandal in the UK. By the mid 1970s, Frank Church investigated the FBI and found that they had labeled a half a million US citizens as potential “subversives” and had spied on people based on their political affiliations.
Snowden handed documents over to Greenwald providing information about the US government partnering with providers, allowing them to sift through emails, messages, video chats, phone calls, voicemails and other means of communication. The data collected is then stored for access whenever they wanted. These major providers include; Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Paltalk, Youtube, Skype, AOL, and Apple. This was a project called PRISM, which allows NSA to collect data directly from servers.
Do you feel comfortable with that? If you are, you’ve already lost.
Some other things Snowden discovered was the governments ability to activate your phone’s microphone and camera capabilities even if it was connected to the internet or not. Greenwald met Snowden in Hong Kong along with two other reporters. They composed articles and stories for their publisher to release to the world. The story caught like a wild fire. The government has never denied the accusations.
A Song of Our Fathers
To say this story is mere conspiracy theory is only, to me, words used by those in denial. Civil liberties groups, Wikipedia, and many more have filed lawsuits against the NSA. That list can be found here. Edward Snowden found something terribly wrong with our government and felt that it was time the people finally had proof that they are watched, spied on, recorded and documented. Our government states that it’s for the greater good of the country. To help catch those who plot and plan to destroy our way of life. So once again I ask you, are you comfortable with this? If you have nothing to hide, them you have nothing to fear right? You have already lost.
“Governments around the world have made vigorous attempts to train citizens to disdain their own privacy. A litany of now-familiar platitudes has convinced people to tolerate sever encroachments into their private realm; so successful are these justifications that many people applaud as the authorities collect vast amounts of data about what they say, read, buy and do-and with whom”
If you are okay with it, then accept and admit that you are submissive. Submission, to me, is an act of something as low, if not lower than that of something on a microbial level. Yes it is true that there is nothing we can do about it, verbally anyway. This very article will be flagged and possibly looked at given the very contents contained in it, even though it is not even scratching the surface. I did that so you could research yourself and learn a bit.
While we squabble about, lobbing verbal abuses towards opposing parties on the constant stream of our news feeds that’s ever flowing. I hope one day the rest of us come to light that we divide ourselves because we let them. We are doing exactly what they want us to do and that is to remain as separate little twigs. A single twig is weak, but a bundle of twigs is strong. We are not a bundle. I fear we are broken and will be for some time. We vote for celebrities, not politicians. We form opinions off of trending topics without actually doing research and when some do research, they read one side of the story. We read media headlines that dice up, alter, and change what’s said to what they want you to read because they know you’ll only read the headline anyway. We watch as candidates dig up dirt on one another and bash each other in their debates. It’s a shame we’ve lost our ability to recognize when something isn’t right. That we now think rebellion on a violent level is an act of terrorism. That we are growing comfortable of the thought of being unarmed. That it’s okay for them to search our lives without reason. We scare too easily. We have weakened. I won’t give up on the country, but to be honest I feel that electing someone,no matter who it is, wont change anything on the grand scale that needs to happen.
Sources I used for this mini article were:
Wikipedia, Google, and the book “No Place Left To Hide” by Glenn Greenwald
Also check out the preview for Oliver Stones ‘Snowden’
The Year of Travel
For the past few weeks, let’s face it, facebook has been owned by our big wedding. Hundreds of photos have been uploaded and more photos here and there have been uploaded almost daily. We still can’t believe how well everything went and it all still feels like it was a dream because it happened so fast. Since the day I proposed to Nicole, it seemed like the wedding day was never going to arrive and now that it has, I wish the vacation wasn’t over.
Which brings me to introduce our next adventure!
“…Make record of your journey…”
A few months after the proposal, I started brain storming a plan. I didn’t want our honeymoon to be a cliche one trip kinda thing. I always try and do things different so why not this. I thought of a three to four phase honeymoon involving three or four trips spread through out the year of 2016. I’ve done quite a bit of traveling but Nicole hasn’t been to too many places so I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to get the travel bug going for her! So instead of getting on a plane right after our wedding and going somewhere exotic, we have decided to visit Hawaii, California and Japan.
Phase One: Pure Aloha
Our first trip will be my other motherland. Nicole has yet to meet my family in Maui so we decided it is time for her to get some aloha! I know Maui fairly well my memory so I want to show her the island and all of it’s beauty. We want to spend maybe a week there and then head of to Oahu for three days or so. This trip will be in April.
Phase Two: California Dreaming
I’m not too fond of California really but we thought it would be a cool idea to hit up Disneyland and all that jazz for Nicoles birthday. My sister Alex may tag along and I’m not sure if Caiti can but that would be cool. I’ve been to San Fransisco and it wasn’t too bad of a city but I’m willing to give elsewhere a shot. We figured four days would be adequate enough. This trip will be in May.
Phase Three: Tora! Tora! Tora!
Last but not least, Japan. My good buddy Wayne approached me last year with this idea. He wanted the three of us to go to Japan and I was immediately on board. I have never been to Japan but it’s always been a place I’ve wanted to visit. It got Nicoles attention once she realized there was a Disney in Japan as well lol. The night Wayne drummed up the idea, I ordered a lonely planet book on Japan. When it came in, I read nearly the whole thing and researched things I found interesting. I tabbed things of interest in three different categories; “must do” , “would be rad”, and “if we are near with time to kill”. I started north and mapped my way down through out the islands. It seems like a solid route and hits everyone’s places of interests as well as some bonus spots I didn’t even know existed. This trip will be in September.
We are super excited and I especially because I get to shove all this in your faces and hopefully inspire some of you to travel as well, maybe even with us.
To be continued….