Monthly Archives: March 2011

Militia 101 — Nikiski militia leaders address KPC class about religion, society

By Jenny Neyman

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Norm Olson, pastor and commander of the Alaska Citizens Militia, based in Nikiski, speaks to an anthropology of religion class at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus on Thursday.

Redoubt Reporter

Anthropology of religion might sound like a history class, examining how religion has influenced cultures, societies and political structures throughout the ages.

But on Thursday, the class at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus was very much a current event, with guest speakers who have been associated with those linked to some of the most gripping events in the nation’s, Alaska’s and the Kenai Peninsula’s recent past — the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the 2008 shooting at Central Peninsula Hospital, and the arrest of militia activists in Fairbanks earlier this month for allegedly plotting to kidnap and kill Alaska State Troopers, judges and others.

Norm Olson and Ray Southwell, founders and former leaders of the Michigan Militia, and current leaders of the Alaska Citizens Militia and their Freedom Church, based in Nikiski, spoke on the significant role religion plays in their lives and political views, and shared their assertion that much of what’s wrong with society and political structures today is that the guiding moral compass and strength of faith that religion provides no longer receives the adherence and priority that it should.

“This study of anthropology of religion has far-reaching implication as far as Americans in this country today,” Olson told the class.

Alan Boraas, anthropology professor at KPC, said he appreciated the opportunity to have his students meet face to face with national figures such as Olson and Southwell, who have been involved with issues of such importance.

“The students have learned a lot in the sense of how to deal with challenging ideas they don’t necessarily agree with. And that’s the purpose of education,” Boraas said.

Throughout human history religion has affected politics, Olson said, citing particularly the times of Roman Emperor Constantine, who is said to have seen a vision of a cross and “in hoc signo vinces” — in this sign conquer — above the battlefield in 312. Today, Olson said, other signs have become the banner to live, conquer and govern by — those of the dollar, the euro, the yen and the ruble.

“There is a massive shift in our thinking in America just in the last 50 years. We have gone away from our traditional beliefs,” Olson said.

Every Sunday in the multiethnic neighborhood he grew up in outside Detroit, Olson said that all the families piled into their cars and headed off to church, even if they were different denominations serving different faiths and diverse ethnicities.

“Today you don’t see that much anymore. You wonder, ‘Where are these people today? Where do they derive their strength? What do they look to for their sustenance and their leadership? Who now gives the laws today?’” Olson said. “We don’t look at the God of glory — the Jehovah, Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We look now to corporations and to government to give us all that we need, from cradle to grave.” Continue reading

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Dogs ‘lead’ to give alert — Animals notify owner of water contamination

By Joseph Robertia

Photo by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Jill Garnet, of Kasilof, relaxes with two of her dogs, Jumar, who is under her legs, and, Rabbit, sitting next to her. Garnet’s dogs became ill several months ago, and in attempting to learn the cause, she discovered her home water was contaminated with lead.

Redoubt Reporter

As the phrase goes, a “canary in the coal mine” was used as an early warning to alert miners to the presence of poisonous gasses. For a Kasilof sled dog owner, it was her canine companions that tipped her off to contaminants threatening her health.

“I didn’t want any of my dogs to be the canary, dying before I figured out what was wrong,” said Jill Garnet, of Kasilof.

Garnet is a sprint musher who has competed with the best of the best in her sport for several years, but late last year she began to notice a problem in some of the 14 dogs in her kennel.

“It was around mid-December when four out of my 14 started to refuse their meals, which consisted of either kibble and water, or meat and water,” she said. Continue reading

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‘Iron chefs’ serve up high marks in cook-off

By Jenny Neyman

Photos courtesy of Robert Love. Carla Anderson, right, of Soldotna, and her daughter-in-law, Allison Anderson, of Anchorage, work on a dish in the 2011 World Championship Dutch Oven Competition from March 17-19 in Utah. The Anderson team was Alaska’s only representatives in the cook-off.

Redoubt Reporter

The dishes presented in the final round of judging March 19 were fitting of a world-class cooking competition — prime rib with garlic bleu-cheese dressing and twice-baked potatoes artfully arrayed on a bed of crisp greens; lightly golden braided bread with flecks of dill and yielding hunks of softened-but-not-runny feta cheese nestled within; mocha mascarpone cake enshrouded in a shiny chocolate veneer studded with buxom, vibrant berries and frothy dollops of cream.

The level of flavors, preparation and presentation of food was already at a gold standard of culinary arts, for any kind of cooking competition. Then take into account that the dishes were prepared in nothing more than simple round, lidded pots with smoldering coals as the only heat source and it becomes an entirely different standard of cooking — the cast-iron standard.

“The caliber of competition was so high. We learned a real lot of stuff going and participating and seeing how people do things at the top level,” said Carla Anderson, of Soldotna. Continue reading

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Dyed delights — Native tufting craft turns hide hair into fancy, colorful affair

By Jenny Neyman

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Amy Rogde trims dyed caribou hair into a flower shape in a hair tufting workshop March 20 in Kenai. The craft involves hollow hair, such as from moose or caribou, pulled through knots stitched into hide, then trimmed into shapes.

Redoubt Reporter

Who knew moose could be so stylish? If the ungulates walked around with their hair dyed such vibrant hues of red, blue and pink and as artfully arranged as it becomes in the craft of hair tufting, they would no longer blend in as large brown lumps in the landscape.

Hair tufting in Alaska and Western Canada traces its roots as a Native craft back to the Yukon, where it was used as embellishment on all manner of hand-sewn skin garments, such as dresses, baby carriers and mittens.

“It originated over in the Yukon Territory about 100 years ago. We’re not sure what kind of scissors they used at that time,” said Emma Hildebrand, an artist and craftsperson in Anchorage.

The finished product results in soft, nubbly bundles of hair usually arranged into flower shapes, which creates a vivid textural juxtaposition to the small, delicate beadwork that usually accompanies the tufts.

“It’s just really unique and really cool,” Hildebrand said. “The beads and the tufting together, they make such a nice finished product. One without the other just doesn’t quite look right.” Continue reading

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‘Deadliest Catch’ meets motorcycle TV show mania

By Naomi Klouda

Photo courtesy of Discovery Channel. The cast of “American Chopper” pose with a custom motorcycle they built on the show.

Homer Tribune

Reality television takes on a new twist when the Discovery Channel’s “American Chopper” show meets in Homer to cross over with the “Deadliest Catch” crew on the Time Bandit.

Picture an episode about a custom-made chopper presented to Capts. Andy and Johnathan Hillstrand and crew. But first, building up to the segment, there’s a whole lot of adventure planned for filming in Homer the first week in April.

“We hope to explore all of Homer. We’ll take ideas,” said “American Chopper” producer Jody Bennett. “We want to ice climb, dog sled, go on glaciers, and the Homer Spit is obviously important; we would like to go on helicopter rides. We’re excited and want to do whatever we can do.”

American Chopper star, Paul Teutul Sr., will be in Homer for the filming, but won’t reveal the chopper he and his crew designed for the “Deadliest Catch” crew. That comes in Seattle on April 9 when stars of the series meet with fans at the Catch Com, a convention.
“Senior,” as Teutul is called to distinguish him from Paul Junior, keeps all the details about his design under wraps while the Homer filming takes place April 4-8.

“It’s a reality show, so whatever happens, happens. The crew hasn’t seen the bike yet,” Bennett said. Continue reading

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Almanac: No ‘mere’ homestead

Editor’s note: This is the first of a three-part story about the first settler on Longmere Lake. Part one examines the route taken by this settler to establish a presence on the lake. Next week, part two will focus on an important friendship begun at the lake and on the settler’s attempt to create a new home. Part three will look at his first years on Longmere with his growing family.

By Clark Fair

Photos courtesy of Don Culver. Don Culver, right, lived in Anchorage for a year before homesteading on the Kenai Peninsula in 1947. Here, he poses with his brother, Bill, in front of Matanuska Glacier in the same year he homesteaded.

Redoubt Reporter

Around Longmere Lake today, 102 individual parcels of land make contact with the waterline. The largest of these parcels is 27.06 acres. The smallest is a triangular sliver of only 0.07 acres.

In the spring of 1947, however, the lake contained only a single parcel of land — a 167.29-acre homestead along the northwest shoreline.

The lake today features an air taxi service, several bed-and-breakfast establishments and a lodge, in addition to the homes of dozens of families and individuals. As such, Longmere is a busy place, frenetic with activity. In the summer, as swimmers and canoeists ply the waters, the lake is abuzz with floatplanes and jet skis. In the winter, ice fishermen bore holes into the lake to jig for trout as snowmachines roar up and down its frozen length.

In the early summer of 1947, common loons were the most frequent breakers of the natural quiet, and a single white canvas tent was the only sign of civilization along the 1.5-mile stretch of fresh water that runs diagonally from northeast to southwest on a topographic map.

In 1947, the Alaska Road Commission had cleared a pioneer trail suitable for Caterpillars and other road-building equipment. This trail would one day be a permanent road — the Sterling Highway — from Cooper Landing to Kenai and Homer, with a junction near the mouth of Soldotna Creek, where homesteading land was just becoming available. The new road was slated to pass less than 500 feet from the lake’s northernmost tip.

The single man in the white canvas tent liked this situation. And even a nearly disastrous turn of events later that summer could not dissuade him. Continue reading

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Science of the Seasons: Little seeds, big impact

By Dr. David Wartinbee, for the Redoubt Reporter

Photos courtesy of Dr. David Wartinbee. Alder seeds as seen under a microscope. The individual seeds are only about one-eighth of an inch wide. Their small size and lateral wings help them get carried long distances from the parent tree.

There is still plenty of snow in my yard but the blanket is steadily shrinking, and looks like it could use a good laundering.

As our snow slowly melts from the top down, debris from the surrounding trees is clearly visible. There are assorted branches and twigs lying everywhere from the various windstorms during the winter. There are also little snippets of feathery lichens and any number of spruce cones scattered about the yard. When I look closer, there are small spruce seeds embedded in the snow that look like miniature maple seeds. Once these seeds are released from the cones high up in the branches, wind carries them long distances from the parent tree. Continue reading

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Old Duck Hunter: Spring heating up for ice fishing

By Steve Meyer, for the Redoubt Reporter

Isn’t it somewhat hilarious that each year along about the end of March we are astonished by the sudden appearance of gravel on roads that were still covered in ice the day before? Sort of like we have this built-in hedge against the possibility that winter is ever really going to end.

It seems like we have managed to survive another one, and once again the long days are upon us and new life is springing up in the countryside. But, of course, we still have at least a month of basically winter weather remaining. Read that — ice fishing.

The first two weeks of April are arguably the very best time to be ice fishing. This winter, in particular, we have had extended periods of relatively cold weather. The freeze-thaw cycle so common to the peninsula has been absent for most of this winter and with it, the lakes have probably become more oxygen-depleted than usual. This causes dormancy in fish that makes fishing much more trying and sometimes downright frustrating. But with the appearance of gravel on the roads comes the feeding frenzy in fish that is matched only in the late fall just prior to freeze-up.

There is the concern that maybe the ice is also melting and isn’t safe. The cold snaps, along with few periods of warm weather, have left a thick ice layer on peninsula lakes this year that probably won’t be really breaking up until at least the first week in May. Of course, you always want to exercise caution, but this year it appears that the ice will be good and solid well into April.

Anytime you’re on the ice, it’s prudent to be cautious, but for a person on foot it isn’t likely to be an issue, especially if you are returning to spots you or someone else has already been. If exploring new lakes or spots, you want to take your time and test spots along the way. Drilling an extra hole here and there on your way out will tell you if there is a need for concern. Continue reading

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Plugged In: Short takes, updates, archives, good deals

By Joe Kashi, for the Redoubt Reporter

It’s probably time to take a break and catch up on some odds and ends.

Archiving, again

Scanning paper documents is one of the best ways to preserve that data over the long haul, IF you use an archival file format. Normal versions of Adobe PDF change too often to have assured long-term usability. However, the professional version of Adobe Acrobat gives you another option, PDF/X, a format intended for archiving documents.

Be sure to run the Optical Character Recognition function so you can search documents later.

Canon MG8120

Canon’s MG8120 multifunction device would be an excellent choice for a small business or family that wants to archive photographs. As a printer, its six-color ink set can produce very good letter-size photo prints, but that’s not exactly earth-shaking news.

The MG8120’s scanning features are more interesting. It includes a built-in, LED-illuminated scanning head for 35-mm slides and prints. That’s something you’ll not find on any other scanner-printer combination in its price range. Retailing for about $200, the MG8120 is quite useful and an excellent buy for a home office or someone who plans to digitize and preserve older photographs, slides and negatives. The MG8120 can scan flat documents and photographs up to letter size. Continue reading

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Radio silence? Proposed cuts, restrictions on public broadcasting funding would affect peninsula radio stations

By Jenny Neyman

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Ben Stanton’s news reporter position at KDLL public radio on the central Kenai Peninsula is funded through Corporation of Public Broadcasting community service grants, which may see cuts if bills passed by the House of Representatives go into effect.

Redoubt Reporter

Critics of National Public Radio have been outspoken recently as the House of Representatives has voted to strip funding for the nonprofit organization. If such a measure were to go into effect, it could mean the silencing of popular programs for public radio listeners on the Kenai Peninsula — including “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered,” “This American Life,” “A Prairie Home Companion,” “Car Talk” and “World Café.”

“It depends on how it all shakes down. If we get cut entirely, we will be losing a lot of programming. We might lose some staff,” said Dave Anderson, general manager for KBBI public radio in Homer and KDLL in Kenai.

The House has passed two bills on NPR funding. One would cut federal dollars for Corporation for Public Broadcasting community service grants, from which NPR and local public radio stations draw some funding. Another measure, passed Thursday, would restrict local stations from using CPB community service grants to pay NPR dues and purchase programming.

KBBI gets about $120,000 a year in CPB grants, and KDLL gets about $65,000, Anderson said. About 23 percent of that grant funding is required to be used to purchase programming. The rest is unrestricted and is used for general operating expenses, such as maintenance, equipment purchases and salaries — including a central peninsula news reporter position at KDLL.

If the amount of those grants is cut, Anderson said he isn’t yet sure how the stations would deal with the decrease in funding.

“That’s a very good question,” he said. “For KDLL, that news position is a very high priority, so before we lost any positions at KDLL we’ll cut programming and anything else in the budget that can go before we touch that.” Continue reading

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Noisy critics — Opponents say moose-noise study is gunning for restricting snowmachines on the refuge

Editor’s note: The is part two of a story on a study looking into a link between noise and moose stress on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Please see last week’s story for more information on the study.

By Joseph Robertia

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. A cow moose crunches through the snow this winter. A two-year study is investigating whether noise on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is causing stress in moose. Critics of the study charge that it is an attempt to create a reason to restrict snowmachine use on the refuge.

Redoubt Reporter

Tim Mullet, a doctoral candidate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is currently involved in a two-year study of the relationship between sound and moose on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. In addition to recording and mapping sounds, Mullet is collecting moose poop and having it analyzed for levels of glucocorticoids — hormones that are indicators of animal stress — in an attempt to determine whether exposure to human-made noise causes such stress in local moose.

Mullet has been giving presentations about his study at various venues in an attempt to inform the public, and to involve local snowmachine clubs and users, since snowmachine noise is one of the major sounds being evaluated in the study. Many who have heard about the study are not enthusiastic about it.

“I’ve heard his presentation twice and I hate to be critical, because I know he’s working hard and trying to do a good job to get his Ph.D., but I think he’s got a bad project. This moose dropping thing is, well, it’s a load of poop,” said Ted Spraker, who retired in 2002 after 28 years of state service with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Spraker said he fears that when Mullet’s study is complete, it will merely reveal information that is already known about sound given off by snowmachines.

“When everything is said and done, he’ll learn that snowmachines make noise, and on a clear day you can hear them a mile away. It’s not new ground that is being turned,” he said. Continue reading

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Old Duck Hunter: Let the dogs hunt — March into the field for practice with birds

By Steve Meyer, for the Redoubt Reporter

Photo courtesy of Steve Meyer. Setters make great bird dogs but do require training. March is a good time to put them through their paces.

March is a great month in Alaska. It’s in the running for my favorite month, along with September and October. Unlike the rest of the northern part of the country, where March is the end of winter and not quite the beginning of spring, March here is unmistakably winter, but the very best part of it. Days are long, the sun is high in the horizon and holds genuine warmth that is visibly soothing against the white blanket that still covers the landscape. More than any other month, being outside in the high country is absolutely gorgeous.

This year, March is shaping up to be maybe the best one ever. But more than the bright sunshine, this year I have the best reason of all to be out in the mountains, shotgun in hand. My English setter pup is almost 1 year old, and thus must get out in the field to ply his trade — the finding of birds. Thanks to the small amount of pressure ptarmigan receive, we are blessed with long seasons that make it possible to work a bird dog in the spring and keep him in game for better results in the fall. Continue reading

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