Countdown to Closing on


Let’s clear one bit of confusion — I asked y’all a few weeks ago to help me name my new house and I suggested I was going to put it to a vote.  But there is enough nonsense about democratic votes on facebook these days, we don’t need people to blow up anymore.  Besides — this ain’t a Democracy, this is a BEARocracy.  So read this whole thing and see what decided upon.

It is that time, thought.  I officially close on the new house on Monday at 4PM AST.  The last of the bureaucratic nonsense cleared today and all that is left is to sign paperwork over and over and over again.

In the meantime, I can’t wait to get into that house.  70 days in an apartment has reminded me why I lived in a house for 11 years.  Living here is noisy, between one neighbor with a 2 year old and another who likes to be loud when hanging out late.  I can’t be loud either, folks get upset when I take a 6am call from the lower 48, or want to do the laundry after 8pm.  I can’t do much in the kitchen except cook eggs, the couch is impossible to sit in, and there is no DVR on the television.  Even sitting here working on this blog, I am on an uncomfortable bar stool straddling a dishwasher.

It’s more than that, its the things that I want to do.

I can’t wait until I can paint a room again.  Or arrange furniture.  Or buy a plant.

Well, there’s lots of things I want to buy again.  I need to get me a new TV, a big one, a MAN’s TV.  I talked to a guy about Dolby 5.1 Surround, with wires going through the crawl space.  I want to get the Brad Barnes Suite set up, complete with Throwdown recovery zone.  I want to see if I can talk myself into brewing beer again (I mean, I hauled half that crap 4000 miles, why not?).   I want to grill, with a gas grill and get halibut to come out with those perfect grill marks.

I mean, I can’t go wild — come Monday I will officially have three residences (the apartment until the end of the month, the house in Kansas that had a showing but no offer, and the new place).    But most importantly, come Monday, I will have my new home!

That’s when I will first lay claim on …. wait for it …


The Bear Den!


A Break in the Clouds


Here’s how awesome I am.  A couple days ago I said “enough with the rain already” and today the clouds broke.  Not immediately of course, and it won’t last of course, but they broke and broke hard today.

The day started with fog, low to the ground and filling everything up.  But that was a sign of something different.  The rains of the last couple of weeks came from clouds about three or four thousand feet up.  Fog meant that it wasn’t humid enough to rain. and that gave the weather a chance.  By about 10am we started noticing the fog break, first moving past the Fred Meyer across the street, then out past Merril Field, then we could see the Air Force Base, and by lunch time … we could see Denali.  Later in the afternoon, we started running around from cubical to cubical to see what we could see.

I should mention, I’m in a pretty cool office to be able to see the world outside the windows.  I work in the BP Tower, a 13 story highrise in Midtown of Anchorage.  Where the tower is at, there isn’t much to block the view for a mile.  They did good with the tower putting windows everywhere from floor to ceiling.  My team sits on the northern point of the tower on the 8th floor, and while the boss has the window seat there is enough room there that whenever I want I can walk to the window and just stare.   Of course, on days like today we bounce from wall to wall to look out at different views, trying to guess what we are looking at.

Had the urge to go for a wander, but I lost the sense of how long the sun is up … that and I needed to get some gym time in.  But the sun was great to see it while it was there.


The Move, The Test


If you were a subscriber to the bear feed for longer than a week, one of two things will be in your inbox this morning:

1) You will get this post (and maybe the other more recent ones from this same website)
2) You will get this post and another post from the old website saying that you won’t see this in the morning.

I never really was happy with my old blog site, it was nice and all  – and it got the job done – but I couldn’t really play with it.  What kept me there was because I thought moving it would be a pain.

Turns out it wasn’t.

Changing the subscriber list was just putting a new web address into a box.  Moving the posts was downloading an export file, then importing the file.  While I made it sound at work that the whole of dealing with the blog took the whole weekend, I maybe spent 30 minutes on it (and most of that was multitasking during uploads and downloads).

I will get to play with this site more too — web galleries, cool logos, cooler looking bunny counts, archives, links, referrals.  I have plans for all that, and a FAQ (more of a ‘what the heck is he talking about’ section), and random stupid polls (Salmon & Chips – wrong or right?) , and I dream of a box with a squirrel you get to tell what to do and it has to listen to you (oh such a great fantasy).

If you do have an e-mail subscription, you should be unaffected – meaning you don’t have to do jack squat and keep the bear feed coming.  But I would highly recommend you get a free subscription to the Word Press and follow me.  Word Press is full of great blogs and other things.  Plus the email will just be posts and not the other cool stuff.  They are pretty spam free, and I did mention it is free free.

Anyway, that’s all I have for tonight.

That and Jeremy Phillips showed his true womanhood by answering correctly last night’s question … yes the reference was to Gilmore Girls.

Oy, With the Puddles Already


Before moving up here, all people wanted to warn me about back in Kansas was cold.  “You know it gets cold up there” is something I heard so many times that I just wanted to yell “Holy Crap!!!!  You’re right, I didn’t think about that, I better stay here where a coolest here in August is 107°.”  I knew about the snow.  I knew about the cold.  I was ready for all of it, and still am when it gets here.

I wasn’t ready for the rain.

It rains here, like, all the time … almost.  I don’t think I have seen in my 70 days up here when the skies were completely blue.  There always seems to have been a cloud at one time or another, which is alright if those clouds kept to themselves.  It seems like the rain has been coming and coming and coming and coming.

This is the rainy season here, and this rainy season is a little more rain then normal.  On average, half of the days of August & September see measurable rainfall.  That’s real science telling me that folks, according to the average days in the Month of August , September, and October seeing 0.01″ of rain or more is 14, 14, and 12 respectfully.  But in actuality its worse than that this year, with 14 days in August, 21 days of rain in September, and we already have had 4 of the 8 days of October.  Typically in that time frame, Anchorage gets about 5 inches of rain; we’ve had 9 inches.  That’s 30% more rain than Wichita got in that same timeframe, and if you remove that crazy day in late August, Kansas saw only a third of the rain Anchorage has in the last 70 days.

I’m griping about this today because, it was actually quite nice out today — from about 9am until 4pm — or more directly from an hour before I went to work until an hour after I left work.  It’s supposed to stay nice through Thursday, then the rains will return just in time for the weekend.  It shouldn’t be so bad though – but when I go into the woods its like everything I touch turns my clothes into a wet rag.  Takes a bit of the fun out of hiking.

But I guess I shouldn’t complain.  I am just a week away from closing on my new house, a couple weeks away from visiting family in Lake Geneva, and just a month away from full fledged winter.


Side bar time:

  1. You can call this the official test post.  I believe I moved all subscribers over to the new site, so I am not posting on the old one just to see if this goes through on the subscription.  But I recommend y’all start up an account on Word Press, and all you have to do is punch the “Follow This” button at the top.  There are alot of cool blogs on this site worth following.
  2. I will give extra cookies for the people who get the reference in the title of this post.  One word was changed, but is a critical line from a show I hate to admit that I really liked.

PFDs, Baby!!!


I’ve been a little under the weather over the weekend, not to mention the workout I had Friday was killer, and it hasn’t stopped raining (or feels like it hasn’t stopped raining) for forever.  But a subject came up in a funny way that I thought maybe good to clear up.  That’s the PFD, or better known as the dividends the state pays Alaskan Residents just to live in Alaska.  It’s topical because checks arrived in the mail this week (so i heard) and I am getting a kick out of the reaction.

PFD stands for Permanent Fund Dividend.  Officially, it is a cash dividend disbursement based on 5-year income earned by the Alaskan Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC).  APFC is actually a private company, but is wholly state owned.  It takes funds gained from a percentage of state income (not completely, but dang near almost, from the licensing and taxing of oil fields), invests them like any other financial holding company would do, then writes a check annually to the citizens of Alaska.

Alaska first tried to do this on its own in the 1970s when Prudhoe Bay (the big oil fields that pay my paychecks) but struggled with separating politics from business.  The whole purpose of the fund is tied back to that “P” word … Permanent.  From day one, politicians realized that the oil is going to run out – not right away, but someday.  They didn’t want to tap the land of its resources and leave generations in the future unsupported.  So the fund was created to establish a means to continue to pay back to the citizens of Alaska as long as there is an Alaska.  Proof of this as well is in the “D” … its a Dividend, not a random paycheck.  Citizens are paid an amount that is based on how much income the fund made, so as long as the fund makes money people get money … but the fund has to make money.  I guess the other proof in this is that the fund currently sits at 42 Trillion dollars too.

As it turns out, I didn’t get a check, and I won’t next year either.  You have to be a resident for a full calendar year.  By that rule, I won’t have lived here for a year until January 1st, 2014.  Sucks a little, but the rule is the rule.  The actual payout isn’t that bad either; its based on an accumulated income over the last 5 years, so with the booms of 08 and 09 dropping off, the dividend is as long as its been in a long while — just over $800 — and it has been as high as over $2000 not too long ago.  They don’t post the amount until just prior to writing the checks, but folks can pretty much depend on a good number on or around the beginning of October.

Because let’s face it, you don’t have to be from Alaska to know what happens when everyone has a whole bunch of money in their pocket all of a sudden.  That’s right … they spend it!

For one thing, I am probably going to take advantage of the “PFD sales”.  Many electronic stores are quoting lower prices, and I am likely to find a good deal on tires.  Car Dealerships are flooding the commercials (though I am happy with the RAV4 for now), and people are pushing PFDs for Christmas layaways.

But for this outsider trying to find a way to overcome the wet weather blues, I have to admit it was the reaction in the bar on Friday.  The place was packed and folks were having a great time.  As I was nudging a fairly cute girl who was three sheets to the wind (plus a few more for safekeeping) what the occasion was, her response in a whooping, drink spilling, high tone screech was a simple “F*ing PFDs, Baby!!! I LOVE THIS STATE.”

Everyone Sing Along, On Keys!!


Unless you are from the west coast, Alaska, or Hawaii, by the time you read this it will be my Dad’s birthday.  If you know him, feel free to spam him with loads of Happy Birthdays.  He is quite legendary in the Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin (53821) area for his Birthdays … typically sung on keys (literally) … though he is less likely to be confused as a good singer than if Roseanne Barr sang the national anthem again.

To celebrate, I am going to set up my internet, home phone, find a kick-ass deal for a home theater, and price winter tires — of course, its all for me, but so not the point.  I sent him a card, which is usually the least I can do … no  … really … it is absolutely the LEAST I can do … but that of course will arrive late because it takes a while for the dog sleds to get mail to the lower 48 (at least that is the excuse I tell bill collectors).   I you think I should do more for him, then my response would be “Didn’t you see me ask y’all to spam him a Happy Birthday above?  Jeesh!!!”

Anyway, Happy Birthday Dad.  Spend it doing, whatever a retired Tech Ed teacher does in October in Wisconsin.

Crestway Listed


Today, another big page got turned in this great transition.  My house at 529 N Crestway Street (Wichita, Kansas … 67208) officially was listed as “for sale”.

The day I accepted the position to move to Alaska, one of the first bits of panic in my head was “how the heck am I going to get the house ready for sale.”  Over the five weeks from when I accepted the offer until I got on the plane for Anchorage, I busted my tail doing whatever I could.  Nearly every room got a new coat of paint, I de-forested the backyard, I gutted the basement, and I panicked, panicked, panicked.

Truth is, the house was not in good shape.  It’s an old house (84 years old to be exact) and it fought alot of the old house problems Wichita   fights.  The basement was cracked, the garage was less of a garage and more of a shed, and modern technology was an after thought (modern technology like … electricity).  I didn’t take great care of it either, as proven by the nearly 10 cubic feet of trash, drywall, furniture I got hauled off.

When I finally left town, there was still loads to do — Basement guys were still weeks away and had some exterior work coming from a different contractor.  Not to mention there was a two page list of little things to be done as well as carpets and floors to be transformed.  Little things … if you didn’t live 3500 miles away.

Enter Pam Peterson … realtor Pam Peterson.

Pam and her husband sold me the house back in 2001.  During the early days of the relocation in July, she just happened to be brought in for a sales estimate for the relocation firm.  The relocation firm made the decision to leave me to sell the house on my own – I asked Pam to sell the house.  Pam (a realtor for Coldwell Banker) took over helping me manage the repairs from the day I left town.  She brought in a handyman, refereed me to good basement people, and took care of the little things that happen that needed to be taken care of.  I basically made her work for every penny of commission she will get out of this sale.

So if you are looking to sell a house in Kansas, contact Pam … she’s a good’un.

If you are looking to buy a house in Kansas, contact Pam … then buy mine, damn it.

**Special Blog Announcement — The Blog will be moving in the coming days.  I already have the site and just need to get it set up before I give up on this one.  But check out the bare bones blog to be already at:

And if you have a Word Press account, you can start following it immediately.

October Bunny Count


Still proud to steal Bunny Counts from Amy Fletcher.   Data is specific to October, and “Total” means since moving to Alaska.

Bunnies: 1
Moose: 6 (9 total)
Bears: 0 … grrrr  (3 total)
Surprisingly Brave Squirrels: 2 (3 total … 4 if you include the one in German in June)
Butt Sniffing Dogs: More than worth counting

Miles Hiked: 58.72
“Top Trails Near Anchorage” Hiked Complete: 2 (Dew Pond Creek & Flattop)
Times Ass Got Kicked by Trainer: 3

Days in Alaska: 24
Days in Texas: 4
Days in Louisiana: 2
CSJA Judges Met in Person in the French Quarter: 5
Cell phones lost in French Quarter: 1
Number of Shots wished not to have drunk, that can be remembered: 5

Number of times at Irish Pub: 3
Number of times called a regular at Irish Pub: 2

Geocaches found: 73
Alaska’s Rank in ‘Geocache Finds per State’: 6th
Places moved up since last bunny count: 1 (in your face, Texas)
Places moved up since moving to Alaska: 14
Alaska Caches needed to pass Kansas: 2352

Times killed by Bears, Moose, Flattops, Trainer, French Quarter Locals, Irish Pub Bouncers, or Texas:  0