Daily Archives: October 1, 2014

Motivate to donate — Soldotna woman takes turns helping others after turning her life around

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Heidi Hanson walks in the rain along Kalifornsky Beach Road last month. Rain, snow, sleet, dark or any other conditions don’t stop her from biking or walking daily.

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Heidi Hanson walks in the rain along Kalifornsky Beach Road last month. Rain, snow, sleet, dark or any other conditions don’t stop her from biking or walking daily.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

You might not think you know Heidi Hanson but you probably do, if not by name then by sight, or reputation, or as a source of inspiration. If you somehow don’t, you should.

If you’ve been on the Kenai-Soldotna stretch of Kalifornsky Beach Road between about 4 and 5 p.m. — any day, any season, any weather — you’ve likely seen the Soldotna resident trucking along the Unity Trail. She’s the neon-accessorized streak on bike or foot, bulky Beats headphones clamped around her head, knee-length basketball shorts flapping in her pace-created breeze, only slowing down if she’s got a garbage bag in hand and is picking up trash strewn alongside of the road.

If you’ve watched women’s hockey at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex, you couldn’t help but notice Hanson, her 5-foot-9 frame in signature neon-orange gloves screaming around the ice with tanklike invulnerability, but with speed and agility armored vehicles could never hope to attain.

Photo courtesy of Heidi Hanson. Hanson has her two mottos tattooed on her arms —”Believe to Achieve” and “Desire to Aspire.” Both have motivated her weight loss journey, and her efforts to help inspire others along a similar path.

Photo courtesy of Heidi Hanson. Hanson has her two mottos tattooed on her arms —”Believe to Achieve” and “Desire to Aspire.” Both have motivated her weight loss journey, and her efforts to help inspire others along a similar path.

If you’ve played bingo or pull tabs in the area in the last 20 years, Hanson probably sold you your card. You’d remember it. Her exuberant laugh and unabashed, dimple-framed grin are contagious, all the more striking coming from a tattooed weightlifter who, at first glance, you might not expect to be so genuinely, gregariously friendly.

If you’re a central Kenai Peninsula resident with a Facebook account, Hanson’s photos from her frequent bear-viewing drives to the Cooper Landing area — a hobby she pursues with as much determination as her healthy lifestyle — have likely flickered through your feed. Perhaps you’re one of the 1,346-and-counting followers of her Believe to Achieve page, where she chronicles her path to lose weight, gain health and find continued motivation to keep on keeping on.

Or maybe you’re someone needing inspiration along a similar path. If so, you just might meet Hanson face to face, as 15 peninsula residents since May already have, when she shows up to give you a brand-new bike and a firsthand example of how believing in yourself can lead to achieving dreams.

And what is Hanson’s dream? Merely the simplest, yet hardest benchmark of all — living life on her terms, which means being healthy, happy and true to herself. Nowadays, at 45, she makes that look easy, like she does a slapshot, or keeping a blistering pace while biking into a wall of wind and rain, or being in the right place at the right time to see a sow and cubs meander out of the woods. She’s all grins and shrinking pants sizes, striking celebratory poses in her collection of superhero T-shirts.

But it’s been a long road to get there, laden with steeper trials, both emotional and physical, than any of the mountain trails she hikes all summer long. And all overcome without the benefit of what she now provides to others — an outside source of encouragement, motivation and demonstration that things can change.

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Filed under community, fundraiser, health, outdoors

Night Lights: Eclipsing views — Astronomical opportunities arise in October skies

By Andy Veh, for the Redoubt Reporter
Compared to September, the sky in October shifts somewhat toward the east, with Bootes setting in the northeast. Its brightest star, Arcturus, can be seen in the early evening on the northeastern horizon. Prominent constellations and stars are the Big Dipper low and the Little Dipper (part of Ursa Major) high in the north, Cygnus with Deneb, Lyra with Vega and Aquila with Altair still high in the west.
These three stars form the summer triangle. It’s perhaps comforting that, in Alaska, we can see this summer triangle all winter along, albeit on the horizon. Cassiopeia appears overhead, near the zenith, with Pegasus’ square/diamond high in the south. Late in the evening Orion rises with Betelgeuse and Rigel in the east, following Taurus with Aldebaran and the Pleiades star cluster.
Neither Mercury, Venus, Saturn nor Mars are visible because they are rising and setting at about the same time as the sun, so this seems to be a terrible month for trying to view planets.
Jupiter rises at 3 a.m. Due to its glaring brightness, you can’t miss it in the predawn sky, looking southeast. It appears somewhat halfway between the bright stars Regulus in Leo and Castor and Pollux in Gemini. The third-quarter moon joins the giant planet Oct. 17.
Best situated this month are Uranus and Neptune. The best way of finding them is using a finder chart (e.g., at skypub.com/urnep. Among the many interactive sky charts that can be viewed online, try http://astronomy.com/observing/stardome, which belongs to Astronomy magazine), then to star hop with stable binoculars (I recommend propping your elbows on a car’s roof).

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Drinking on the Last Frontier: Brewing up capacity — Brewmaster expanding into own facility

Photo courtesy of Elaine Howell. Anchorage Brewing Co.’s new facility is under construction in Anchorage.

Photo courtesy of Elaine Howell. Anchorage Brewing Co.’s new facility is under construction in Anchorage.

By Bill Howell, for the Redoubt Reporter
People sometimes ask me, “Since you love beer so much, why don’t you start a craft brewery of your own?” To which I reply, “Because I know just how much hard work being a brewer entails. Drinking beer and writing about it is much easier!”
Fortunately, not everyone is as work-averse as I am, so there are plenty of folks out there willing to take a chance and open a craft brewery. In 2010, Gabe Fletcher, who had been the head brewer at Midnight Sun Brewing Co. for over a decade, came to the conclusion that he was ready to make a leap of faith and open his own brewery, the Anchorage Brewing Co.
When he decided to strike out on his own, Fletcher made two unusual (and, in hindsight, very smart) choices. First, rather than just focus on the local beer market in Anchorage or even Alaska, he negotiated with Shelton Brothers Distributors to purchase three-quarters of his production and distribute it across the country and even internationally. Fletcher’s reputation in the beer world after his stint at Midnight Sun was such that they were happy to agree, even before he’d brewed his first batch.
Second, rather than purchase his own brewhouse, Fletcher rented time on the existing brewhouse at the Sleeping Lady Brewing Co., as well as space in its basement for his fermenters, barrels and bottling line. To be clear, this was not contract brewing, as Fletcher did all the brewing himself. He simply bought time on Sleeping Lady’s equipment.
These two decisions allowed Fletcher to focus his startup capital on what would make his beers unique — huge wooden vats called foudres for his primary fermentation, a forest of used wine and spirits barrels for secondary fermentation and a state-of-art Italian bottling line to fill his 750-ml corked and caged bottles.
His success over the last four years is testament to the farsightedness of these two decisions. Anchorage Brewing Co. beers have won numerous awards and are known and sought after around the world, as beer aficionados everywhere are eager to experience Fletcher’s singular vision of what a craft beer can be.

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Plugged In: Photo processing takes computer capacity

By Joe Kashi, for the Redoubt Reporter

Although most currently produced cameras and computers are adequate for casual use, any limitations become quickly and painfully evident when using computationally demanding photo programs.

We’ll finish our look at photographic computing, begun last week, by evaluating which computer components have the most impact on photo-processing performance and which provide the best balance between solid reliability, speed and price. Because every program places different demands on a computer, these results won’t necessarily hold true for other business computing needs. Serious post-processing of high-resolution photo files requires serious computing power. Wimpy notebook computers and smartphones need not apply.

My timed performance tests included in this week’s article used various Windows 7 Professional computers running DXO Optics Pro 9.5.2 with maximum sharpness and noise-reduction settings, and then exporting the processed Olympus RAW files into Adobe Lightroom 5.6. Your mileage may vary.

When buying or building computers for computationally demanding business needs, I’ve always found it wise to get the best affordable components. It’s false economy to “save” $50 or $100 by buying too-slow or potentially less-reliable computer systems and upgrade parts.

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Filed under photography, Plugged in