Delayed delivery speeds irritation — ACS customers experiencing email difficulty

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

As some ACS email customers are experiencing lately, there’s a 21st-century update of the old saw, “The check is in the mail,” and that is, “The email is in the spam filter.”

The situation has some email users about ready to consider carrier pigeons, or at least another service carrier — anything to get their messages delivered.

“I’m incredibly frustrated. I can’t wait it out much longer, it’s affecting my business,” said Kelly Johnson, owner of Floral Design Studio, who uses an ACS account for her business email. “I strive to provide the highest customer service I can, and not being able to communicate with them through email — which is very convenient for most people in this day and age. You know, you don’t really pick up phones a whole lot anymore, it’s all done through email — they expect prompt communication and I’m not able to give that to them.”

Johnson said that about three weeks ago she started getting error messages to emails she’d sent, saying delivery of the email was delayed.

“I had never seen this type of message before. It says, ‘Unfortunately, some messages aren’t sent, please try again.’ And then it says, ‘We have limits for how many messages can be sent per hour, per day.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t even know what that means,’” Johnson said.

Right around that time her husband had downloaded an app on her Android smartphone, on which she checks her email, which coordinates with her email account. She figured the app was causing the problem so she had him take it off her phone, but the problem persisted.

There seemed no consistency to it. She’d click send and all seemed well, and sometimes it was. Other times she’d hear from intended recipients that they were not receiving her emails. Maddening in any circumstance, having a breakdown in communication in April is particularly challenging for Johnson’s business.

“I’m smack dab in the very heat of the moment for wedding season. It’s horrible,” she said. “I strive to provide very high customer service and quality and I — unfortunately, for the last several weeks — have really fallen short. No fault of my own, but still have fallen short. It’s become very, very frustrating,” she said.

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H’owl — Small dog survives being stolen by owl, hit by truck

Photo courtesy of the Crocker family. Emma the Chihuahua is recovering from puncture wounds sustained when a great horned owl snatched her from her home near Homer.

Photo courtesy of the Crocker family. Emma the Chihuahua is recovering from puncture wounds sustained when a great horned owl snatched her from her home near Homer.

By Hannah Heimbuch

Homer Tribune

Daylight was just beginning to break when Robin Crocker let her dogs out April 4. It was a crisp Friday morning outside their Greer Road home, east of Homer.

The family’s Chihuahuas, Penny and Ella, were well into their usual outdoor rounds when a strange sound made Crocker turn back toward the porch.

“I heard this thud,” she said. “And I started hearing my dog screeching.”

She ran for the door, instinctively yelling “No!” toward the blur of feathers that had dropped down just outside. Crocker didn’t know what kind of large bird had swooped onto her deck, just that 3-year-old Ella was in trouble.

She ran up behind the bird — which she could now see was an owl — and picked it up, trying to give her dog a chance to scramble out of the way. But she didn’t want to risk hurting the owl, either.

“I thought that Ella got away, so I let it go,” she said.

She watched it swoop low across the yard and then out of sight. But just a few moments later, her heart sank. The owl was still carrying her dog.

Crocker’s daughter, Aurora, 10, saw the entire confrontation. She was devastated.

“We thought Ella was gone forever,” Crocker said.

The family began to process the sad reality that they wouldn’t see their pet again.

Meanwhile, on East End Road …

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Kung fu for you? Area’s martial arts community sees substantial growth

Photo by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. During a sparring session at Redemption MMA in Soldotna, Morgan Nelson tries to get Stephanie Sanez to submit to a jujutsu hold.

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. During a sparring session at Redemption MMA in Soldotna, Morgan Nelson tries to get Stephanie Sanez to submit to a jujutsu hold.

By Joseph Robertia

Redoubt Reporter

Pop culture references to martial arts — such as cheesy Kung Fu movies and the resultant “Everybody was Kung Fu fighting” song — might elicit a raised eyebrow of exasperation from those who honor its long tradition and practice it seriously, but these days on the central Kenai Peninsula, martial arts certainly is growing in popularity and seeping further into the culture.

“We have students from 3 to over 65 years old training at our dojo and feel it is never too soon or late to start. As enrollment seems to come in trends, more recently we have been experiencing quite a surge of much younger students, and I am often contacted by folks wanting to know if 2 is old enough,” said Mike Hancock, sensei at Peninsula Martial Arts, which has been operating at the “Y” in Soldotna for more than 16 years.

It would take a pretty impressive 2-year-old to be able to participate in the group atmosphere, Hancock said, but added that he has evaluated quite a few 3-year-olds to determine if they might be ready to benefit from classes.

“I have found it best to meter the enrollment of these very young students to just a few at a time to allow the others to move along, but if this interest continues I may be convinced to create a class specifically for the little guys. This is an exciting development, since it would give me quite a few more years to work with them before they go off to college or careers. Fifteen years of karate practice would be a great start,” he said.

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Summer vendor bets on green, ice cream

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Ken Laing will be making the rounds of summer fairs and festivals with his new, green, ice cream machine.

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Ken Laing will be making the rounds of summer fairs and festivals with his new, green, ice cream machine.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Soldotna’s Ken Laing is hoping for some sweet success this summer, from something that tastes better than it sounds — green ice cream.

Well, the ice cream isn’t green. The hues are what would be expected of chocolate and vanilla. But the contraption used to make it is what catches the eye — a John Deere-green trailer equipped with motorized belts and gears that turn an old-school ice cream churner. Laing saw one in Talkeetna last summer and the combination of John Deere plus ice cream struck him as an idea that would appeal to Alaskans on the spring, summer and fall festival circuit.

“I thought, ‘That will work on the Kenai, too,’” Laing said. “It’s old-fashioned ice cream, it’s made just like the old hand crank. (But the John Deere part), I think that’s what’s going to sell the ice cream, too. That’s what intrigued me when I saw it.”

Laing is already fairly familiar with the fair food circuit. Under KL Enterprises he runs corn-roaster carts, also John Deere green and yellow, and a concession trailer hawking funnel cakes, reindeer sausage, chili and corn chowder. He started in 2003 after retiring from a 16-year career as a millwright at Unocal.

“It gets boring sitting around doing nothing. There’s no reason to get out of bed if you don’t have something to do,” Laing said.

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Plugged In: Mastering photography from the masters

By Joe Kashi, for the Redoubt Reporter

Making visually appealing photographs is always a challenge, whether you’re taking family snapshots with a cellphone or using expensive, prograde cameras on a major fine-art project.

It’s not really the gear you use that makes the difference, but your ability to see images that capture the essence of a person, place or whatever else might attract your attention. That’s a skill that most of us must develop through experience.

However, learning solely from our personal successes and failures isn’t enough. That’s like each person trying to invent algebra on their own, without any help from textbooks and math teachers. Just as with high school students learning math, it’s a lot easier to develop good photo skills when guided by someone with more extensive knowledge.

With that in mind, here’s a partial list of some notable masters of photography who shaped modern photography and from whom we can all learn.

  • Ansel Adams: Although known primarily as the premier landscape photographer of the American West, Adams pioneered careful, scientific photographic technique as well the concept of mentally visualizing your desired final result before you make the exposure, then adjusting your camera to achieve that result in the final print.
  • Robert Adams: Another landscape photographer of the American West, Robert Adams tends to depict man’s doleful interaction with, and effect upon, the land, especially the urban landscapes of the West. A former English professor, he has written a number of highly regarded books that consider the philosophical aspects of photography.

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‘Among wolves’ offers window to wild — New book profiles enigmatic biologist and his long-term career of field study

Redoubt Reporter file photo by Joseph Robertia. A wolf in Denali National Park and Preserve carries a meal from a caribou kill. Wolf sightings have become far less frequent over recent years in the park, from about 44 percent of visitors in 2010 seeing wolves to 4 percent in 2013.

Redoubt Reporter file photo by Joseph Robertia. A wolf in Denali National Park and Preserve carries a meal from a caribou kill. Wolf sightings have become far less frequent over recent years in the park, from about 44 percent of visitors in 2010 seeing wolves to 4 percent in 2013.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

To Marybeth Holleman, author of “Among Wolves,” the question she most wanted to answer in writing her book about Alaska wolf biologist Dr. Gordon Haber wasn’t what sparked his 43-year, single-minded, life-consuming career studying wolves in the wilds of Alaska. That part was obvious from a mere glance at his field notes, which offer a captivating window into the behaviors, adaptations and interactions of these fascinating and controversial creatures.

Haber explains his interest himself in one of the passages of the book, which is a combination of Haber’s research notes, reports and writings compiled and edited by Holleman, and Holleman’s own interviews and research about her subject.

Wolves enhance, “The ability of our surroundings to evoke the sense of wonder that helps us not just to live, but to be alive,” Haber once wrote.

“I was struck not just by his knowledge of wolves but also by his passion for wolves. He had been studying them for so long but he never lost that initial sense of wonder and that passion for his research, and that really struck me,” Holleman said during a presentation about her book at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus on April 2.

That drive struck early. In high school Haber wrote an essay on his life goals, saying, “‘I have decided on one factor, this being that I intend to live a major portion of my life either in or near the outdoors,’” Holleman said. “And that he did.”

Haber began his wolf research in Alaska in 1966 and continued it until his death when his research plane crashed in Denali in 2009. Summer and winter found Haber backpacking into Denali National Park and Preserve, via skis, snowshoes or hiking boots, spending thousands of hours observing his subjects. Once radio collaring began, Haber contracted a pilot and conducted much farther-reaching surveys from above, observing up to 18 wolf groups in the 6-million-acre park and preserve, as well as the Yukon–Charley Rivers National Preserve, Fortymile region and other areas where the state conducted predator control programs.

All the while he remained an independent scientist with private backers funding his research — such as the Friends of Animals — but eschewing any limitations or directions placed on his work, Holleman said.

“All that time gives him unassailable, experiential authority to tell us something about wolves,” she said.

Colleagues thought him meticulous, with a depth of knowledge to match his wealth of experience — and also enigmatic, being somewhat of a lone wolf himself. When he came to Alaska from Michigan in the 1960s, Haber met with pioneer wolf researcher Adolph Murie, who had turned his studies into the landmark book, “The Wolves of Mount McKinley.” Haber took up observation of the same wolves, the Toklats, that Murie had been studying since the 1920s, creating 70 years of continuous research. That makes the Toklats, along with Jane Goodall’s chimpanzees, the oldest known, longest-studied, large-animal social group in the world, Holleman said.

“Which is, as you can imagine, of inestimable scientific value,” she said.

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Kenai wolves pack ups, downs — Population sees extinction to re-establishment, protection to predator control

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Between poisoning, hunting and trapping pressure and disease, the Kenai Peninsula has not proven a very hospitable home to wolves over the years.

As a companion to Marybeth Holleman’s presentation on her new book, “Among Wolves: Gordon Haber’s Insights Into Alaska’s Most Misunderstood Animal,” at KPC on April 2, retired Kenai National Wildlife Refuge biologist Ted Bailey gave an overview of the history of wolves on the peninsula.

They’ve had their ups and downs since the late 1800s, with pressure from humans being one through line in their history. When the gold rush hit the Kenai Peninsula in 1885-86, the thousands of prospectors hoping to strike it rich brought a hefty distrust of wolves. Apparently they feared a rabies outbreak like they had seen in the Klondike, Bailey said, so they used poison to reduce the wolf population. Poison also was a method of choice for those wanting to harvest fur-bearers to sell the pelts for money during the winter. By 1915, Bailey said, the wolves of the Kenai Peninsula were gone.

By around 1965 they were returning, thought to have emigrated from the mainland after wolves started receiving protection by the fledgling state government.

“The roles were kind of switched compared to today,” Bailey said. “Back then it was the federal government that was poisoning wolves, and the state of Alaska, at statehood, they changed the outlook on wolves. They made the wolf a big game species and they protected it and developed seasons. Today it is kind of the opposite.”

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