Monday, April 30, 2018

May Day - Really?

Labor Day, 1St May, Banner, Man  Years ago, when I was in school with celebrated the first of May with games, a may pole, and other fun activities.  It wasn't until later, I learned it also is a day to celebrate the workers of the world.

Apparently on May 1, 1886 35,000 people walked off their jobs to demand an 8 hour work day. Imagine having to protest to get the 8 hour workday we take for granted.   It was referred to as the Chicago Haymarket protests.

 This one protest set off a series of protests  the United Kingdom and parts of Europe causing governments to recognize this date officially as the International Workers day but the United States was reluctant to do this.  Over time, especially in many of the communist countries, this day evoked parades, speeches, and other activities to celebrate the worker.

One reason the United States refused to acknowledge this particular day, had to do with its association to the socialist and communist parties.  In 1958, Eisenhower signed a resolution making May first "Loyalty Day".  A day where Americans affirmed their loyalty to this country.  The resolution was a way of distancing the day from the communist celebration.  Remember, this is just after the communist scare with all those public trials, and in the middle of the cold war. A second reason was that the United States already had a day to celebrate the worker.  Every September, we celebrate labor day which was established in 1887. 

Long before the Chicago Haymarket protests, May first celebrated something entirely different.  Originally, people celebrated the start of summer with various celebrations including maypoles and flower crowns.  Celebrations like this could be found in many different civilizations but this is actually more of a northern hemisphere celebration because winter is starting in the southern hemisphere. 

Another tradition associated with May day began in the 19th century before continuing into the 20th century.  People picked flowers and placed in a basket with other goodies such as candies.  The basket was then placed on the doors of friends, lovers, and relatives.  This May Basket was sometimes used to express romantic interest while other times, it was simply a way of saying hi.

There is the story that two children placed a May basket on the door of the White House for Grace Coolidge to find. Later on, she had the children tracked down and she shared flowers she picked with them.  By the mid to late 1960's the tradition had pretty much faded away.

So now, I'm not sure who still celebrates this.  When I was a child, it was just a fun day out of the classroom.  We didn't know the history of it.  We just did it.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Why Dry Shampoo?

Child Girl Face Bath Wash Foam Wash Hair B  My sister was the one who always hauled dry shampoo around on camping trips because she cleaned her hair every day.  I'm the one who just pinned it up until I couldn't stand it any longer, trudge off to find water, and wash it maybe once a week.

I couldn't see how shaking powder on your hair could clean it as well as regular shampoo but my sister swore by it.  Basically it works by absorbing excess oil and debris from your scalp.  After a certain period of time, you brush it out and voila, clean hari.

Although there are indications dry shampoos have been around since the 1500's with a surge in the late 1700's when women used dry shampoos to color and deodorize their mile high wigs. This product did not really become widely known until the early 1900's when the American Journal of Pharmacy described it in 1918. 

It wasn't until 1940 that the first commercial dry shampoo, Minipoo, hit the market. Minipoo was originally marketed as the 10 minute shampoo that could be used when you were sick in bed or if you needed to spruce up your hair for a last minute invite to something.  It lasted into the 1960's.

From then to the 1970's the demand for dry shampoos grew because it provided busy homemakers a way to quickly clean their hair and stay fresh.  The first real ad didn't appear till the 1960's when model Twiggy appeared using it, thus increasing demand again.  By the 1960's other dry shampoos appeared on the market such as Mini-Mist and Pssssssst. Now dry shampoos can be found in powder, spray, foams, and paste forms.

Many of the early dry shampoos contained Fuller's earth which is a natural absorbing ingredient found in kitty litter.  Ingredients have changed over the years. However, there are reports that when this product is over used it can result in scalp problems or hair loss.

You can make your own dry shampoo from simple ingredients such as 1 tablespoon of baking soda added to one quarter cup of cornstarch. If you have dark hair you might want to add two tablespoons of cocoa powder to the mix.  You can use other ingredients such as oatmeal but all you need to do is to check on the internet for ideas.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Why a Summer Vacation in School????

Girl Female Fashion Style Model Woman Youn  Growing up, I moved around enough that summer holidays changed according to where I was and the needs of the area.  One place I lived summer holidays actually happened in November when the coffee crop was ready to pick because too many of the students earned money for the year that way.

When I lived in Australia, the school year was spread out with two weeks between terms and six weeks off in the summer.  I heard that places are offering year round school where you choose which quarters you attend and when you want off.

The summer holidays we have in Alaska run mid may to around the beginning of August because of the traditional fishing season.  Much of rural Alaska still relies on subsistence hunting for winter food and subsistence follows various seasons.  There is a lot of fish that can be gathered during the summer.  In addition, many students spend their summers earning money on fishing boats.

Through all this, I've wondered if the story that summer holidays happen because students were needed to work the farms is true.  After reading several articles which indicate this country's agrarian history had quite an impact on more than the length of the school year, I've found sources which dispute this claim. 

The claim is simply that students needed to be home from school early in the day so they could help around the farm with various chores, thus the tradition of letting students out by 3:30.  They needed the summer off to help with most of the growing and harvesting of crops but I found a could sources disputing this.

According to something provided by PBS, there was more to it than that.  At one point the schools of New York city were open 248 days a year but along the way, the school year decreased because buildings in the city could get extremely hot due to the lack of modern air conditioning.  Having summer holidays allowed those who could afford to escape to the country do so and enjoy a much cooler time.  By the late 19th century, urban and rural areas began using a standardized calendar which allowed all students have the same amount of time off.

So now, we see a move to make the school year longer in both hours and year length.  Will it succeed?  I don't know.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Currency! Where Did It Come From.

Golden, Loose Change, Euro CentIf you haven't noticed, society is slowly transforming into a cashless society but we are not as cashless as many European countries.  When I landed in Finland last summer, I was able to pay for my bus ride from the airport to the hotel with a credit card.  I did it when I boarded the bus.  I didn't have to purchase anything ahead of time.

Even the airlines require credit card payments for food, drink, or movies when on board.  Most, if not all, allow you to order certain things ahead of time if you pay by credit card. If things continue the way they are, we will have a cashless society at some point in the near future.  Have you ever wondered where coins and bills came from?

Historians believe that societies used the barter system long before actual currency was used which meant many societies established rules to allow fair trades.  In fact some societies began using tokens or coin like markers for the trades rather than hauling the actual item around with them.  Somewhere around  7000 BC, certain societies in Asia established a trade based on metals such as gold, copper, and silver.

By 3000 BC, Egypt and the Mesopotamia used gold bars as a monetary unit. Then come the 7th century in Lydia, a kingdom in ancient, the first coins made of a gold and silver mixture called eletrum.  The use of coins spread out from Lydia.  Along the way, china adopted the use of coins with Chinese characters but they were the first to adopt the use of paper money.  They used paper or deer skin to record long distance trade guarantees.

In addition, paper was so much lighter that the Chinese government recommended merchants who needed to carry large sums of money exchange coins for the paper to make transport much easier.  Paper currency did not make it to Europe until the 1200's and even then, it was not commonly used for another 300 years.  By the 1500's, it was common for merchants to receive promissory notes issued by banks upon receipt of coin deposits. 

In 1661, Switzerland became the first government to issue its own banknotes as legal tender and were issued to the bearer.  With the rise of state issued banknotes, counterfeiting also increased but it wasn't until 1826 that the first watermark was added to banknotes.  Paper notes came into use in the United States, when the Continental Congress printed its own bills or 'continentals' in 1775. 

The U.S printed its first dollars in 1786 and created the first mint in 1792 to make and distribute solid coins. The term dollar came from the Dutch.  It was the Civil War that caused the United States government to begin printing its own dollar bills for general circulation.

And the rest is history until today, we seem to operate with credit cards more than we use paper bills or coins.  Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Icing or Frosting or Both?

Cake Decorating Icing Frosting Piping Tips  When I was growing up, it was my grandmother who made the fancier foods.  It wasn't my mother.  Icings or frostings, depending on who you talked to could be one of two types.  The first was a boiled icing while the other consisted of Karo syrup that was beat with the mixer until it was light and fluffy. 

I didn't think I knew about boxed icing mixes until my mother brought home a German Chocolate cake mix with the coconut pecan mix you added butter and liquid to in order to get the topping for your cake and that was for birthdays.

I am used to the two terms being used interchangeably but others tell me they are two different things. According to one source, icing is used more often in the United Kingdom while frosting is more American in use.  In addition, some people will tell you that icing is a glazed finish while frosting is

The earliest record of icing per say appears in the late 1400's as a topping on Marchpanes, an almond and sugar desert but as a topping for cake, its been around since the 1600's when people mixed sugar with egg whites, placed it on the cake and baked it till it created a finish.  Once cooled, it looked like ice, thus the name.  Somewhere along the way, icing was used in France as a way of holding together multi-layer cakes.  Recipes for  frosting using milk, butter, and sugar began appearing in the early 1900's

Around 1840, Queen Victoria designed a huge wedding cake covered in white icing. At this time, white icing indicated wealth because of the cost of using so much sugar. By  the early 1800's, many cakes had a mixture poured over them before they were returned to the oven to produce a nice finish. In the early 1900's Hostess Bakery began mass producing cupcakes but they did not have frosting until the 1950's. It was about the same time Buttercream frosting made its appearance.

The 1950 also was the start of frosting mixes because cake sales hit a plateau and one man suggested that women needed to feel involved in the process.  In addition, magazines, companies, etc provided instructions to create extravagant cakes.   The icing covered the slight chemical taste of the cake mix.

I am unable to find out exactly when the canned frosting actually hit the markets but it seems to have by the 1970's although I found a reference to them appearing in the 1950's.  I just cannot find that information.  I prefer making a cream cheese based frosting because I prefer the flavor. 

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Woke up to a snow storm similar to ones we get in October.  Tried to work at home but no luck.  Have a great day.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Rats! Spring Fled

Snow, Water, Winter, Panoramic, Lake
It was well on the way to spring this past Friday.  The lake was thawing to the point people used their snow machines as jet ski's.  They'd rev the machines up and skip across the lake to the other side and then the cold wind and lower temperatures hit. 

All through the weekend, the icy wind howled bringing colder temperatures to the village.  Temperatures that froze the lake water again to the point ATV's could safely cross the ice.  Children could be seen crossing the lake form one side of the village to the other without worry about safety. 

The ice covered relay up on the mountain got no closer to thawing so  the restoration of our cell and internet service is pushed even further into the future.  If you wonder how I'm posting, I do it at school because they have a satellite dish so the computer based state testing can continue for my village and a couple others in the area.

This morning when I stepped out, all the ground which had been brown and bare yesterday, the whole landscape had turned white from freshly fallen snow.  Everything looked as it had several weeks ago before temperatures had risen.

In this part of Alaska, it is not unusual for everything to finally clear by the end of May, at least in the past.  Over the last few years, we have not had quite as much snow and overall the temperatures seem a bit warmer.  When I first came, when you cleared the porch of snow, you had to shovel crud upwards and over the snow bank. 

In fact, during one winter storm a teacher missed a turn and ended up slightly off course.  When he stopped to check his location, he discovered he'd gone up a snow bank and was standing on the roof of his apartment.  There have been years where people have had to dig down and create entrances to their outdoor sauna's.

Unfortunately, with the decrease in snow, there has been an increase in plumbing issues because there has not been enough snow falling the past couple of winters to provide insulation for the waste system.  I can see your confusion.  The waste pipes up here are built above ground and use suction to move the water, urine, and feces from the houses to the treatment place.  This means there are more problems because liquids are freezing and blocking the movement of fluid.

The only time in the past such problems occurred only when the piping holding the liquid to keep things warm broke, otherwise things worked well but with less snow we've had more problems. It has also meant that travel has been worse than normal. The higher temperatures has created more fog, more snow, and more wind.  Furthermore, there has been more ice which can make it hard for planes to land.

We thought it wouldn't be long till everything melted and we got cell and internet service back but now it looks like it will be a few more weeks before spring arrives.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Spring In The Village

Jet Ski, Sport, Speed, Water, Spray, Sea

We use snow machines as jet skies to cross the lake.  Get it going fast enough and you'll skim across the lake.  Too slow and you sink. 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Ice Covered Relay Tower

I do not own a picture for the ice covered relay tower or I would post it so instead, I have posted the link that will take you to the picture of the relay.  Please look at it.  It is so unreliable right now that I never know if my internet or phone will be up.  I've called people and just after the hello part, the signal goes down.  I type this at school because they have something to keep the school going during testing.  No one knows when it will be up again. 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Cake Mixes, When and Where?

Cake Piece Of Cake Recipe A Piece Of Confe  I grew up in a household where my mother made cakes from boxed mixes.  She did that because she never learned to cook growing up and according to my father, she did a wonderful job of burning water when they got married.  I honestly don't remember her making much from scratch when I was growing up.  I hit a point where I took over cooking so I could make food from scratch.

There is a story floating around that cake mixes made an appearance after World War II, when there was an excess of flour available and had to be used but there is information that indicates cake mixes were available since 1930.  In 1930, a Pittsburgh company applied for a patent for a gingerbread mix made with dried eggs so the housewife could simply add water to, mix, and bake. 

This mix came out of a desire to use up an over supply of molasses because people's eating habits were changing.  By drying molasses, it could then be added to a flour mix for gingerbread.  A mix such as this came with everything but water and could be counted on to provide a reliable end product  or at least that was the argument on the patent application.

Over the next several years, the company expanded its offerings to include nut bread, bran muffins, fruit cake and both devils food and spice cakes.  By the time, the patent was granted in 1933, the company had already developed a newer version that required the home baker to add fresh eggs because people preferred to add fresh eggs rather than using a mix with dried eggs. 

It wasn't until after World War II that cake mixes really took off across the country.  The major flour companies went from selling flour to selling convenience and by the end of the 1940's  over 200 companies  produced cake mixes but the majority were Betty Crocker or Pillsbury.  At this point in time Pillsbury still used powdered eggs in their mix but most of the others required the baker to add fresh eggs.  Research indicated that women felt more involved the cake making process when they had to add eggs.

In the 1950's sales of cake mixes plateaued and many of those 200 companies went out of business.  After careful scrutiny, companies discovered they needed to complete the cake by providing all sorts of instructions for frosting the cake so the homemaker could create their own wedding cakes and other elaborate cakes.  From then on, cake mixes continued to grow.

Over time, the term "baking from scratch" has come to mean baking a cake from a mix.  Another surprising development according to a survey is although most people say they prefer to buy mixes requiring the addition of eggs, they'd actually prefer to buy a mix with eggs already in it.

I still prefer making my cakes beginning with the butter and sugar on to the final cake because the ones from boxes tend to be too soft and fall apart.  I'd rather eat something much denser with fruit and spices.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Still A Popsicle!!!!!!

Antenna, Gsm, Mobile, Broadcast, Tower  I recently spoke with the guys from the internet provider.  One showed me a picture of the microwave tower up in the hills between here and Scammon Bay.  The sucker was covered in thick ice so both the cell phone and internet signals are compromised and is up and down according to luck.

This is the first time in the whole 12 years I've lived here that anything like this has happened.  The ice covering is due to the temperatures hovering around zero.  For anyone who lives in a warm climate, this means the snow tends to be rather wet so it clings to things much better.

Add into the mixture the fact that the snow often starts melting when temperatures rise during the day and then freeze turning to solid ice at night.  This ice can be hard and slick.  I've seen snow turn into such a slippery ice that ATV's couldn't stay on it.

Anyway, the ice built up layer after layer over time.  In addition, the wind thrust particles of snow and ice onto the layers already on there until finally, the signals were effected.  Since March 7, 2018, both cell and internet have had issues.  They've been  up and down and last we checked, the home internet was still mostly down.

The school installed a military grade satellite dish loaned to them by the internet company because its the time of the year the state is demanding we test students.  We'd tried the dish before but we had to put it up every morning and take it down every evening.  Unfortunately, it often took too long to get the signal right or they couldn't find the signal.

So, the other day, the provider sent out a couple of techs to put the dish on the back porch so it was secured and could not be run over or stolen.  So now the school has a signal.  Well, most of the time.  It means I have internet but it's not always swift and not always great.

As far as the cell phone, there is still a major issue in that the signal can suddenly disappear while people are in the middle of a conversation or it disappears for several hours only to reappear long enough to tease you before disappearing.

Yes, we call in on a regular basis but customer service is often not well acquainted with how things work because I've been told that only my cell service is being effect but my internet should be up and working or the ticket number doesn't apply to the situation or any number of other reasons.

The cell phone and internet provider finally sent out an email stating there is a problem but they have to wait until the ice melts. Based on the photo's it may be another 2 to 3 weeks before the ice is melted enough for the services to resume.  That is assuming, the tower did not get damaged as chunks of ice slid off.

If I miss a day or two, it is because of the lack of constant internet.  I am trying to stay ahead but its hard when I cannot do it at home.  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Beware the Bedbugs.

Animal Bedbug Bed Bug Infestation Insect P  As you know, I live in a small Alaskan village. Unfortunately, we have regular outbreaks of bedbugs where they are found just about everywhere including the school. 

They are brought into the school by visiting students who bring them in their bedding from home or they catch a ride on a sock from an infested house.  One teacher even found a couple walking on the carpet in her room.

The reason I mention bedbugs is that they can suddenly appear without anyone realizing they have arrived.  I know because one of the other teachers in the high school took a day off to totally clean out the infestation.

I looked the topic up because I have some grand cracks in my house that could allow bedbugs to invade or they could come home on my socks or pants after I visit someone.  I don't have them yet but that doesn't mean they will stay away. 

One of the first signs is when you find bites on your body because they tend to hid in the bed under the mattress pads or sheets but that is not the only place they could be.  They can be found in books, furniture, or just about anywhere in the house.

They are most likely to feed at night and they go for as much exposed skin as they can on the face, neck, arms, or hands.  Because bedbugs are parasitic, they feed on blood and prefer human blood.  The problem with bedbug bites is they are often mistaken as a rash, or other type of bite.  There might be a bit of itching but in general bedbug bites do not need treatment.

Although you might see hints you have bedbugs, the only way to know for sure is to observe an actual bedbug.  They love temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees when they undergo rapid growth into adulthood and under such circumstances, they can produce 3 generations a year.

Furthermore, you can have a perfectly clean house and still have bedbugs although they are more likely to spread in crowded houses.  They can be difficult to get rid of bedbugs. It is recommended you have pest control come in and spray for it.  Just know they can survive up to one year without eating.  It is possible to use sprays, dust, or aerosols designed to kill bedbugs but they must be applied to every place they might hide.

Now I know what they mean by "Don't let the bedbugs bite!"  Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear if you've had experience with bedbugs and how you get rid of them. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Fermented Foods Revival

Sauerkraut, Caraway Seed Fermented foods seem to be undergoing a revival and making the news as foods to eat to maintain health.  Foods include Kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, keifer, Kombucha, vinegar etc. At the same time, there is some confusion over fermented versus pickled foods because some fermented foods are pickled and some pickled foods are fermented.

Lets start with the difference.  For instance most pickles sold in the store and most that I've made are pickled because they are preserved using an acidic liquid usually known as vinegar or in a brine made with salt and water.  To be fermented, the pickles have to have some sort of starter used to create the acid liquid which can be reused.  It means fermented foods are preserved by a good bacteria such as the lactic acid bacteria. 

The reality is that fermented foods have been around for a very long time because fermentation is one method used to preserve foods.  Some foods we really don't think as fermented are such as yogurt.  Many of these foods are being promoted as ones which can help our health but is this true?  To some extent it is.

If you regularly consume some of these foods, you are adding friendly bacteria to your gut to help keep it healthy.  Scientist know that you need the bacteria in your gut but its effects are not fully understood.  They know it can influence metabolism and help the immune system.  They also know if you have a healthy gut where you have more good bacteria than bad, your less likely to develop certain cancers.

The fermentation process actually breaks down natural sugars to make the food easier to digest and absorb its nutrients.  The process can also boost certain nutrients in a food such as B vitamins that were not there before fermentation. 

Each type of fermented food may help an aspect of your health for instance Yogurt can help prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes and relieve irritable bowel syndrome while Kimchi can help reduce the possibility of diabetes and obesity.  Unfortunately, solid research is still lagging behind the growing interest in fermented foods.

Several scientists say if you are healthy and eat a good diet, you are unlikely to see any benefits from eating fermented foods but if you decide to eat them, add them in slowly to see how your system reacts.  Sometimes there is bloating, gas, or changes to your bowel habits as you change your diet.  I know from personal experience the changes in bowel habits can occur because they did when I ate the Scandinavian yogurt in Finland during my visit last summer.

If you incorporate it into your diet, how much should you use. The recommendation ranges from one to three servings each day but please remember when you add these foods, you are adding calories to your diet.  Some such as Kombucha have more sugar than other fermented foods because it is based on a sweetened tea.

For the best versions of fermented foods, it is recommended you make them yourself however, if you do not have the time, they can be purchased in the supermarket but you need to look for those advertising live organisms. in the refrigerated section.  Do not buy anything that is canned because it has been heated and may have killed most or all of the good bacteria.

I regularly make and eat Kombucha,  the Scandinavian yogurt, and Kimchee because I enjoy them but I think I will quit making Kombucha because there is only one of me and its hard to go through a gallon every two weeks.  I will probably start it again when I leave the village in another year.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Friday the 13th, Really?

Friday The 13Th Wordpress Typography Word Most days several of us get together to eat lunch in one of the classrooms.  We talk about anything and everything from the latest to whose child is expecting a baby.  We have developed a community.  Last Friday, the conversation turned to a discussion of how Friday the 13th became unlucky.  One woman said she'd heard that the belief came about because a woman had 12 children and her 13th was a demon.

Yes, I know, I know it probably isn't correct but there is such a strong belief in this day being bad that I know of a teacher who took a personal day because of her belief.  So where did that belief come from.  I also wondered where the no 13th floor in hotels came from.  It seems the number 13 in general is considered unlucky.

Apparently there are between 17 and 21 million people in the United States dread the date enough to be officially labeled as having a phobia.  Both Friday and 13 have long been thought of as unlucky but no one is sure when this particular superstition began.  However, references to this particular date being unlucky begin appearing in the late 19th century. 

Friday itself is thought to be unlucky because it is believed that Eve gave Adam the apple which lead to their downfall on that day.  In addition, the Temple of Solomon was also destroyed on Friday and Jesus was crucified on a Friday.  Some of the events associated with Friday, may not have happened on that day of the week because Friday didn't exist at the time.  By the way, Good Friday is the exception to Friday's being unlucky.

Others think that this particular belief has been around since the Viking times when they believed Friday, named after the goddess Frigg who was the goddess of many things including death.  The Norse would not marry on Friday due to the connotations of what Frigg stood for.  No matter what, references to Friday being unlucky did not really take hold for the masses until the 17th century.  The idea continued spreading until it was a popular belief in the 19th century. 

As for the number 13, it is considered unlucky for several reasons.  I remember someone telling me that 13 was the number of witches in a coven while others have maintained that 13 is unlucky because there were 13 people at the Last Supper with Jesus and the 13th person, Judas, was the one who turned him in for the 30 pieces of gold.  In addition, many societies held executions on Fridays including the Romans.

Other groups such as the Hindi believe you should never have 13 people in any groups while the Norse have their own story of the 12 gods and goddesses who ate dinner and then Loki, the god of mischief showed up to cause trouble.Furthermore, the Egyptians believed in the 13 stages of life where the 13th stage represented leaving this life and moving into the afterlife.  

No one is sure when the two ideas combined to create the belief Friday the 13th is lucky actually began.  Some think it has to do with the refusal of King Harold II to surrender to William the conqueror on Friday October 13, 1066.  What is known is that the belief had spread across much of the world by the 19th century. 

Apparently, William Fowler created "The 13 club" to prove this belief wrong.  The club had members who met in groups of 13 to eat out and the first event occurred on Friday, January 13, 1881.  In addition, they would walk under ladders, make sure there was spilled salt all over the tables and eat in room 13.  Everything they could do to invoke bad luck.

So the bottom line is simply no one is really sure why or how the idea of Friday the 13th being unlucky came about.  I'd love to hear what you think.  Please let me know.

Friday, April 13, 2018


High School Dancers
  Winterfest is the village's spring dance celebration usually held in March or early April.  It is usually held in conjunction with the school's cultural heritage week where student spend three days making basket, Eskimo dolls, or masks in the afternoon or listening to elders and others speak of cultural beliefs on family, beliefs, or  food.  It is a way of reminding students of where they came from.

Usually the students dance on the two nights before Winterfest begins.  They usually dance on Wednesday night for their parents with their teachers in the back while the parents join in with the students on Thursday night.  I've sometimes been the parental unit for students whose parents were not there.

Unfortunately, the Superintendent decided to move Cultural Heritage week so the students did not get the chance to perform for visitors before Winterfest began on the last day of the week.

Winterfest Dancers in the School Gym
When the city decides on the date, they send out invitations to over villages, inviting them to come visit, partake of food, attend church, and share their dances through performance with everyone. 

On the day, people begin arriving by airplane or snow machines.  The villages closest just pop over while a few villages if they are farther away will fly over.  This means, that both dancers and drummers travel together.

The hall usually opens around 6:30 with the first group slated to begin at 7:00 but in reality, it doesn't actually happen until 7:30. The dancing often goes to midnight or two in the morning depending on the number of villages. Since this is three day festival, there is a set order to each night.  Our local village begins the dance the first night. The second night, they perform in the middle and the final evening, they are last, just as other dance groups rotate too.

If you came to one, you would notice that only men drum and sing.  It is not something women do.  Furthermore in this village, if they perform at the town hall, the drummers and singers are located in a small alcove with the dancers in front of them.  Men usually dance kneeling on some mats while women stand behind to dance.  Both dance with dance fans but the men's usually have a few bird feathers placed in the fans while the women's is made of woven grass with some sort of fur or hair.  I have a set with caribou hair on it. They were made by the mother of one of my coworkers' wife.

If someone does not have dance fans, they wear gloves to cover their hands.  Both males and females where Kusp'ks which is a local outfit.  The men's is short to maybe hip or upper thigh while the females wear one with a skirt that goes down to their knees.

The above photo gives you a better chance to see what the Kusp'ks look like.  The drummers and singers have their backs to the audience here.

The dancers are not professional, they just have a love of dancing and sharing.  Some are related to people here, sometimes not.  I went over Saturday night and joined in when the group from my village performed.  No one minded that I had not made any practices, they always made sure I could see someone who knew the dance so I could follow. 

One of the ministers from the next village over came to visit and attend. He brought a school teacher over to share the experience.  He summed up why its good to get up and dance "Its good to be part of the village isn't it?"  Many of the new teachers are afraid to get up, not understanding that everyone appreciates their attempts to dance.  No one is expected to be perfect but everyone is expected to have a good time.

The festival ended this past Sunday evening.  Due to only three villages visiting this time, each group got 6 dances and each group took about an hour to complete the set.  It's funny because the drummers and singers play once through the song while the dancers wander out from the audience.  I try to get in the back row but it doesn't always work out that way.  They begin singing the song and people dance and the dance the same song several times through before the dancers think its time to quit but the drummers and singers call out "Pumyo" or one more time so the dancers return to the floor and repeat it again.  At some point both parties decide they are done.

It is fun and a unique experience.  I love the dancing and the fun I have visiting with people during the festival.  I hope you enjoyed the snap shot of someone unique to here.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Iced Tea and Sun Tea.

Teacup, Cup Of Tea, Tee, Drink, Hot  Did you know that most tea companies do not recommend you brew your tea in the sun?  Did you know that 85 percent of the tea served is served in the form of iced tea? 

Although many people make their tea using the sun and no one has died from it being prepared that way, most tea companies do not recommend that method.  The sun heats the water to between 102 and 130 degrees which is just enough to start the process of forcing solids out of the tea leaves but not enough to purify the water itself or kill the bacteria that begins to form.  It can actually cause bacteria to form and grow.

Many people have switched from making their tea in the sun to making it in the refrigerator.  To make cold tea, fill a quart mason jar with water, put in four tea bags, put a lid on and place in the fridge for 6 to 12 hours depending on how dark you want it.  In other words its a ratio of one tea bag or one teaspoon tea per cup of water.  The only drawbacks with this method is that you have to plan ahead and its going to be cold.  I prefer my tea hot.

In regard to iced tea, the records indicate a version of iced green tea existed prior to 1900 but it was often served sweetened with alcohol as a punch but the version of iced tea we are most familiar with took off at the worlds fair in 1904 when tea growers from India were trying to introduce black tea.  Unfortunately, it was rather hot and it was difficult to persuade people to try hot tea.  So, one of them got the bright idea to pour the hot tea over ice and that appealed to passerby's.  It wasn't long before iced black tea became the rage all over the country.

By 1992, people were drinking between 1.5 and 2 billion gallons of tea world wide.  By 2017, people consumed over 3.8 billion gallons of tea.  Of that 86 percent is black tea while 14 percent is green tea and 85 percent of the 3.8 gallons of tea was served cold. 

There is one more category of iced tea, other than what you make yourself and it is referred to as ready to drink or RTD that is sold in bottles for easy consumption.  The original brands such as Snapple and Arizona tea hit the scene nationally in 1993 and the offerings expanded from a few flavors to the variety we see today.  Currently, the RTD portions is  the fastest growing segment of tea.  It grew from less than half a billion to over three billion dollars within a 15 year period.

Many brands have worked on finding a way to bottle tea brewed from real tea leaves so the flavor remains rather than relying on a tea concentrate.  I am one of those people who hate bottled tea because it either isn't strong enough or its flavored or its too sugared.  I prefer to brew my own tea and drink that.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Swimming and Summer

Sea, Ocean, Blue, Water, Waves, Nature  The other day, I watched a Murdock rerun in which the wife wore a black bathing suit resembling a dress with black stockings rather than what we are accustomed to seeing today.

Although there are records of sailors learning to swim naked in the 1200's because its considered a good skill to have and other records like that, swimming itself did not become popular till the 19th century.

Competitive swimming took hold in England in the 1830's  where they used man-made pools for their competitions.  The two most popular strokes were the side stroke and breast stroke.  In about 1873, the free style stroke was first developed but it didn't take off until another person emigrated to Australia to teach swimming there.

Public interest in swimming was ignited in 1875, when Matthew Webb spent 21 hours swimming across the English Channel using only the breast stroke.  His record held for another 31 years before it was broken.  At the first modern Olympic meet in 1896, male competitors swam in four events held in the Mediterranean Sea because there were no swimming pools.

In 1900 at the second Olympics, the events in Paris were held in the Seine River since they didn't have an ocean or sea. Up until 1902, the only stroke used by recreational or competitive swimmers was the breast stroke.  In 1902, an Australian swimmer introduced the "Australian Crawl" known as the freestyle stroke most people use or see today.

Johnny Weissmuller, later known as one of the early Tarzans, broke a record in 1912 while using the Australian Crawl.  1912 sticks out for another reason in that it was the first time women competed in swimming at the Olympics. As people worked to improve strokes, two Americans in the 1930's introduced their version of the breast stroke called the butterfly stroke which was allowed till the 1950's when it was declared a separate stroke.

As far as recreational swimming, it become more popular when railroads made it possible to travel to public beaches in the late 1800's.  Although swimming pools were popular in England, they were not in use until 1887 when the first American city in Mass. built its first pool for the use of its citizens.  Over the years, more cities and rich homeowners build their own swimming pools so that it became possible to enjoy swimming without traveling to the ocean to do so.

In addition, at about the same time as swimming pools became popular, women's swimsuits evolved from dress like to something resembling what we wear today.  Due to Hollywood portraying swimsuits as sexy, the suit itself became smaller and more popular. In the 1920's the first one piece made its appearance.  Unfortunately, it was made of wool which sagged when wet.

It wasn't until the fabric shortages in World War II that bathing suits became two piece and made their appearance in public.  From then on, swimsuits could be found in one and two piece versions.  Over the years, recreational swimming in pools and the ocean have become more popular. It does get warm enough to swim in many of the rivers in Alaska but you are more likely to see children in t-shirts and shorts.

Let me know what you think , I'd love to hear.  Have a great day and enjoy the warming days.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Come On Already and Melt!!!!!!!!

Sky, Tower, Technology, Antenna  As you know, I live out in the bush area of Alaska where there are no roads, few cars, and way more boats, ATV's, and snow machines.  Everything is more expensive, even the cell phone and internet. 

The internet is provided via a relay tower out on one of the mountain whose name I cannot pronounce, let alone spell.  The relay provides service for at least two villages, possibly three. 

Unfortunately, due to its location, the relay is out in all sorts of weather which this year has proven to be an issue.  Since the beginning of March, internet service has been up and down.

Some days it's more up and others its totally down.  We are trying to do state testing using computers but that has been problematic with the unreliability of the internet.

It got so bad, that service totally went out for a while and the internet provider sent out a military grade portable satellite dish complete with generator to use for testing.  Due to the portability of the unit, it had to be set up every morning and taken down every evening to keep anyone from running into it with their snow machine or ATV or have someone run off with it at night. 

It took a bit but they got it up and working and we had internet for a few days but then it developed issues so a second one was sent out to replace the first one.  They got it up and working for one day but by Monday, it was out again.  At this point, the school decided to go with the original internet in the hopes, it would be up enough to support the computerized testing.

About the same time, I called in to the provider on my landline to complain about the lack of cell service and internet service.  It was at this point, I discovered they knew about the relay being covered in thick ice and snow and that they couldn't do anything to fix it until the icy covering has melted.

The representative I spoke to gave me the number of the open ticket so once the relay is up and fully running I can call in and demand they refund me money since I did not have service the whole time.  I have service but its still up and down with no rhyme nor reason.  I'll be writing and its up, then I try to post something and it goes down.

Other people have called in only to be told there was not problem or outage.  The representatives told them, the whole outage thing was a figment of their imagination.  Now that I have a number, I'm sharing it with everyone at work so they can demand refunds once the relay is up.

Just in case you are curious, you have to ride a snow machine across the snow covered land to get to the relay tower in order to fix it, or you have to go out by helicopter.  Our technology person found out when they sent the first satellite out, someone had been out to the tower but it was covered with so much ice and snow, they could not fix it or get through enough ice to find the problem.

Living out in the bush of Alaska, means we have a few more issues than most everyone else and its harder to get things fixed out here.  Yes, I sometimes miss living where there are real airports, stores, and book stores but right now, this is where I am.

Have a good day, and let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Flannel and Fleece?

People, Man, Checkered, Flannel, Sad  Today's entry is due to the old Myth Busters show.  I was showing an episode on flannel shirts and fleece where they are exploring the plausibility of a flannel shirt catching fire when a taser hits the shirt after it was sprayed with pepper spray.

In the episode, one of them stated that flannel cloth used to be made of wool but can now be made of any material but it is a plaid.

It is true, the original flannels were made of wool and used for tartans in Scotland used in kilts. Flannel is defined more for the way it was woven than anything else.  The weave was much looser than say twill so there were more air pockets making it warmer and more insulated.

In addition, if the flannel is brushed, the fabric edges are frayed and the material is softer.  The brushing can be on one side (single) or on both sides (double).  It does not have to be a plaid because flannel refers to the material, not the pattern.

In today's world, flannel may be made of cotton, wool, synthetic, or even pine needles.  If it does not have the soft fuzzy nap, it is not flannel, it is just a regular shirt.  Unfortunately over time, especially due to the fashion industry, flannel has become synonymous with plaid and are considered the same thing.

In the same episode, they commented on fleece being made out of recycled plastics.  I'll be honest, for some people in the world, fleece refers to the wool grown from sheep but in this case it refers to a material called fleece.  Fleece is made from plastic, sometimes has recycled plastic in it and may have some natural fabric in it.

In the original fleece, the polyester was woven into fabric and then brushed to create the soft fuzzy surface, just like flannel and originated in the 1970's.  Malden Mills wanted to make a recreate a material that had the same insulating characteristics as wool and fur but without the issues of having live animals. Although it is totally synthetic, it is different from others in that the material is breathable.  Due to its warmth, it makes wonderful outerwear clothing.

The fibers are made using a chemical reaction between petroleum and petroleum derivatives to form a thick syrup which is allowed to harden before being spun into threads and woven into fleece.  It is brushed on both sides so its fuzzy on both sides, making it warmer.  Since the material is warmer, it is used for so many things from underwear for astronauts to ear warmers for calves.  The material is lighter, softer, and warmer than wool without the itchy reaction people normally have to wool. 

Its interesting to find out that flannel refers to the way a fabric is made while fleece refers to a type of fabric made out of plastic.  Let me know what you think,  I'd love to hear.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Elephant Toothpaste, Not for Elephants.

Toothbrush Toothpaste Dental Care Clean De  I will be the first to admit that I am a geek. I adore learning about things and I love playing with new ideas.  When I was a teenager, most people thought geeks were like Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory but recently, its been cool to be a geek such as Abby on NCIS.  Well the other day, while watching MacGyver, I learned about something new, non toxic and a lot of fun.

If you watch the show, it came out of the first season where he wants to capture the attention of some middle school students and show them science can be fun.  He created something called Elephant Toothpaste.  I checked out the internet and Elephant toothpaste exists. 

To make this, you need:
1.  An empty one liter soda bottle.
2.  4 ounces of 20 or 40 volume Hydrogen Peroxide.
3.  A squirt of dish soap
4. Food Coloring
5. 1 small package yeast
6. 4 tablespoons of warm water.

Step 1.  Use a funnel to pour the four ounces of 40 volume hydrogen peroxide into the soda bottle.
Step 2. Add the squirt of dish soap and food coloring.
Step 3.  Mix the yeast in 4 tablespoons of warm water and let set a minute or two.
Step 4.  Pour the yeast mixture into the soda bottle and stand back.

It might take a few minutes for the reaction to occur but when it happens, the mixture will react and spew directly upwards in a rather thick mixture.  What is nice is that it is safe, can be done at home and the remains of the experiment can be safely tossed in the trash for easy disposal.

Just in case you wonder why it works, its because the yeast causes the oxygen to be released from the hydrogen peroxide so you are left with water and the oxygen bubbles make up the foam and push it out of the bottle.  In addition, the bottle gets a bit warm because its an endothermic reaction.

I want to try this some day but I did tell the science teacher about it at work and she's interested in it.  Its safe enough to use with younger children.  I tell you what, it was quite impressive when I observed it on the show and looked at pictures on the internet.

Also, I've read that at 20 volume or six percent is easy to find at beauty supply stores.

I'd love to hear if you've done this particular experiment before.  I think it looks fun.  Let me know what you think.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Champagne - Place or Drink?

Drink, Wine, Glass, Alcohol, Party  For many people, celebrations such as New Year's eve, a birthday, anniversary, or promotion require them to break out the Champagne also referred to as "Bubbly". 

I wondered about it because all the varieties I'm aware of come from France.  Champagne has an interesting history beginning with Dom Perignon, a benedictine monk, in the 17th century. 

There was a belief at this time that if wine had bubbles in it, the wine was considered bad but in reality it simply meant that the wine continued fermenting after it was bottled.  Although a few vineyards produced a sparking wine in the 15th century, it did not become associated with the Champagne region of France until the 16th century when it was produced in the region.

One major reason, champagne produced a fizzy wine had to do with the early frosts in the area. The early frosts caused an incomplete fermentation during the manufacturing process so in the spring when the temperatures warmed up. the wine continued fermenting producing a sparkling wine.  This particular type of fizzy wine from Champagne became quite popular with the courts in England and later in France.

In fact barrels of champagne were shipped over to England and bottled there and it was in England, in the early 1600's that their coal fired stoves used to make glass produced a stronger bottle than those produced by wood burning stoves. By 1740, someone invented a technique which produced identical bottles that could take the same sized corks. 

The interesting thing about champagne is that the dead yeast remains in the bottled liquid making it rather cloudy so early bottles were made a mottled color so the cloudiness wouldn't show or someone could spill the champagne and get rid of it but then a lot of the product was lost.  So in 1815, someone invented the Widow Cliquot which turned bottles up side down so the sediment settled in the neck area before being plunged into an icy bath to freeze the dead yeast.  At this point the matter could be removed and the bottle recorked. 

Champagne has been a luxury item since 1660 when it was first introduced to London society.  It has been a part of society for over four centuries.  Many of the well known houses that produce champagne such as Moet, or Runart, emerged during the reign of Louis XV.  With the advent of ads and media, people began to christen ships with it, or welcomed the new year. By 1900, production reached 30 million bottles. 

Unfortunately, a few years later, World War I broke out with fighting taking place in the Champagne region of France where many of the vines were destroyed and production decreased because people took refuge in the caves used to age the drink.  Shortly after in 1919, the government established boarders for the area where the liquid produced could be labeled champagne.  Anything else could not be considered champagne. 

Unfortunately, the rules only apply in France which is why you will run across sparkling wines produced elsewhere including the United States which are labeled as Champagne.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

April Fool's Day.

April, First, April Fool'S Joke I am aware that April first was Easter Sunday this year and this entry is being written for publication a couple days after the fact but I figure that is fine because its still close to the actual date.

I have bad memories of April first so I do not like to celebrate it but have you wondered how it got the reputation for being a day of tricks?  I did.

No one knows for certain when the tradition of playing tricks on people or fooling them came into our culture but here is a reference in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales to a foolish hero whose story takes place on March 32nd which could be April 1st.  The pranks are thought to have started back in 1582, when the French changed their calendar from the Julian to the Gregorian one.

The Julian calendar celebrated the new year at the end of March so the new year began in April.  The Gregorian calendar changed the new year to the beginning of January.  It is believed that many people did not get word of the change, so they continued celebrating according to the older calendar and were thought to be gullible so they had tricks played on them but no one is sure.

What is known is that English pranksters began playing tricks on each other back in 1700 but anything prior to that is just a guess.   After 1700, the pranks on April first began to spread across England, to Scotland where it became a two day celebration.  On the first day, people were sent on fools errands while on the second day, tricks were played on their rears such as pinning a "kick me" sign.
Over the years it has taken root and has expanded to the point that sometimes the media gets involved and produced hoaxes over the years such as in 1957 when the BBC produced an article on the bumper crop of spaghetti produced by Swiss farmers complete with video.  Many people called the BBC looking for information on where to get these "Noodle" trees so they could plant their own.  Or in 1986 when Taco Bell announced it had purchased the Liberty Bell and planned to rename it "The Taco Liberty Bell."

Other cultures have celebrations at around the same time such as the Hindi holiday Holi and the Jewish Purim, only Europe and North America seem to celebrate the prank centered day.  I mentioned earlier that I do not celebrate April Fools day.  When I was in middle school I had a friend die on March 31st in a diving accident. She got caught under a ledge, couldn't get out, and ran out of air.  She broke the number one rule by diving alone.  We heard on April first so everyone thought it was a joke but eventually we realized it was not.

I hope everyone had a great April first.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Enigma Machine

Enigma Encryption Cryptologic Army Museum  If you've ever watched Bletchley Circle on PBS or seen any other World War II type dramas, they often refer to the Enigma Machine the Germans used to produce a code that was hard to break.  I was investigating cryptography and matrices for a math class and discovered there was more than one Enigma Machine.

As a matter of fact, a German engineer began manufacturing them in the early 1920's when he formed a company in Berlin to build a machine based on a Dutch patent he'd purchased the year before.  The first model resembled a typewriter and typed messages on paper so it's name in English meant "Writing Enigma".   Unfortunately, it was not the most efficient machine due to problems with its print wheel so within a year, a new version came out.

Both of these machines were extremely expensive to produce so its customer base would be quite small.  So the second model was replaced by a third model that looked much like the Enigma machine most people are familiar with but the keys were alphabetical rather than using the standard QWERTY arrangement but it only cost one eighth the amount of previous machines.

Over the next 8 years, the company kept improving on the machine until they created the military version in 1932 after creating a variety of commercial versions. This one had advanced wheel turnover mechanisms driven by cogwheels rather than the older levers and pawls.  From this point on, all commercial and international sales had to be approved by the German Army.

Then they began selling machines to the Hungarian Army, the Dutch, and the Swiss but the Germans began preparing for war so they increased the number of machines they had but in 1933, three brilliant Polish mathematicians managed to figure out the internal workings of the Enigma machine.  At about the same time, a German in need of money sold information on machine's operating procedures to the French who forwarded the information to the Polish who were able to reconstruct the machine. 

The Germans used the basic settings up until 1938, when two more wheels were added to the machine to make encryption harder to break but the Poles managed to obtain the information needed to update their machine.  At this point, aware they needed to get the machine out to others, so they met with the French and the British in 1939 where they gave each group a reproduction of their machine.  The Poles then destroyed all their records and equipment before scattering.  The code breakers headed to France. 

A couple months later, the British created Bletchley Park where their code breakers used the Polish machine to help them break German messages.  Due to the capture of code books from a U-boat, they were able to crack Naval code and translate all naval messages. But throughout the war, the Germans made changes by adding additional wheels so the Americans and British had to adjust.  The Germans even made a special machine they could communicate with the Japanese.

In fact there were cipher machines other than enigma used but the Enigma is the one that most people know about.  However, the information did not become available until many years after the end of World War II.  If you'd like to know more about these machines, check out the Cryptomuseum in the Netherlands.

I hope you found the information as fascinating as I did.  Let me know what you think. I'd love to hear.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Easter Eggs and Easter is Over, Now What?

Easter, Easter Eggs, Colored, Colorful  It is the day after Easter and your kids have eaten all the chocolate rabbits, marshmallow chicks, and candy but you are left with all those dyed eggs to use.  There are so many times people are willing to eat regular hard boiled eggs with salt.  So what do you do?

1.  You can use the eggs to make egg salad sandwiches.  Mash the eggs, add a bit of mayo (I prefer Miracle Whip because its a bit spicier), mustard, relish, salt, and pepper.  You might want to try a bit of curry to make it a curried egg salad sandwich, or mixed herbs, or perhaps chopped onion and celery.

2. Add to your green salad by slicing or chopping the egg.  Throw in a bit of chopped ham, cheese, or croutons to add flavor and body.  You could also add the chopped or sliced egg with a grain salad or a pasta salad for added protein.

3. Of course there is always the classic deviled eggs, someone always brings to potluck dinners.  Some folks add a bit of chili pepper so it has a bite, otherwise most people use a bit of mayo and mustard to the yokes, topped with a bit of salt and pepper and stuff the egg whites again.

4. How about chopping the hard boiled eggs up, adding a bit of spicing and place in your breakfast burrito with beans, rice, cheese, veggies, bacon, ham, or sausage all wrapped in a lovely flour or corn tortilla.  For a bit of excitement, finish with a roasted tomato salsa.

5.  My mother's favorite was to whip up a white sauce with a bit of garlic, salt and pepper, add chopped hard boiled eggs to the mix, serve over a buttered toast with a sprinkle of cheese on top.  My mother called it "Creamed eggs on toast."

6. Make some Pad Thai, or some sort of fried rice and finish it off with chopped eggs instead.  You get the same basic dish without frying or scrambling the eggs.

7. Make scotch eggs out of the peeled hard boiled egg surrounded by sausage and covered with bread crumbs or panko crumbs and then either deep fried or baked to save calories.  These are great in your bag lunch.

8. Don't forget to make potato salad for dinner with cooked potatoes, chopped eggs, maybe some bacon or tuna, topped with your favorite potato salad dressing. 

9. You could always make toast, top it with avocado, and sliced eggs for a quick breakfast.  If you want to add a bit of saltiness, throw in some thinly sliced ham.

10.  Toast a crumpet or English muffin, cover with a slice of ham, slice eggs on top of that and cover with a hollandaise sauce for a different breakfast treat.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear and if there are any traditional ways you use hard boiled eggs up after Easter, please share.