Daily Archives: October 22, 2014

In a word: Revival — Language class speaks to effort to revitalize Dena’ina

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Jolene Sutherland, left, laughs with Dena’ina elder Helen Dick, of Lime Village, during a session of a Dena’ina language class offered this semester at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus. Dick, one of the few Dena’ina language speakers around who learned the language as a child, visited the class to help with pronunciations and support the effort to not only preserve the language that was in danger of dying out, but to help it thrive.

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Jolene Sutherland, left, laughs with Dena’ina elder Helen Dick, of Lime Village, during a session of a Dena’ina language class offered this semester at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus. Dick, one of the few Dena’ina language speakers around who learned the language as a child, visited the class to help with pronunciations and support the effort to not only preserve the language that was in danger of dying out, but to help it thrive.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Shizhi Besi qilan. Shugu shqiya qilanda Kahtnu. Shugu yeshdu da.

When translated, the students in a Dena’ina language class at Kenai Peninsula College weren’t saying much. Just practicing simple greetings in the Cook Inlet dialect of Dena’ina, the language spoken by the Athabascan Natives indigenous to the Kenai Peninsula region.

Literally: My name Besi it is. Thus it is my village Kenai it is. Thus it is where do you sit?

More familiarly in English: My name is Besi (Dena’ina for “owl.”) I live in Kenai. Where do you live?

But for a language that, not long ago, was in very real danger of dying out, speaking at all communicates much more than just, “Hi, where’re you from?”

Contorting the mouth to make sounds that don’t exist in English says, “I value this heritage.”

Coaxing the words from memory, rather than peeking at written notes, demonstrates integration with Dena’ina culture and traditions.

The mere fact that 15 students — many of whom are young adults — are taking the semesterlong language class at KPC communicates that the effort to not only rescue, but revitalize the language is gaining momentum.

“This is the language of this community,” said class instructor Sondra Shaginoff-Stuart. “It’s the validation of who you are. I think what’s important is a lot of our families heal from (the disconnection of) not being able to speak their language. I think so much has been lost, and the thought of having identity to a place where there was a language there — your family’s language — and to bring that to the surface, I think is really important to bring about healing for a community. For individuals that are of the language, I think it’s a sign of identity, that they can speak their language that couldn’t be spoken before. And just bringing that language to the forefront, it’s an important language for our community, for everybody.”

Almost gone, but not forgotten Continue reading

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Alcohol a tricky issue for area youth — Teen drinking subject of town hall discussion

By Joseph Robertia

Redoubt Reporter

The news of an incident is shocking — a teen assaulted at an underage drinking party. The assaults may range from embarrassing, such as a victim having their head or eyebrows shaved, to the devastating, such as with cases of sexual assaults. At least in the lesser events, adults might chalk it up to teens being teens. Some might read resulting headlines with a disapproving tsk-tsk and go on about their business, not to think of the issue again.

One local entity wants to do more.

“We have reasons to be alarmed, but there are things we can do in this community, as a community, to make positive changes,” said Stan Steadman, a member of People Promoting Wellness though Community Action.

The group held a town hall meeting Friday to discuss underage drinking, facilitated by the Roundtable Center for Mediation and Community Dialogue. The goal was to create a community dialogue to share information about how underage drinking affects local youth and the community as a whole, and to gather community input on what can be done to address this issue.

Steadman shared statistics compiled by the state’s Division of Behavioral Health. Kids who drank prior to age 13 had a 47 percent chance of becoming addicted to alcohol at some point in their lives.

While these numbers were shocking to those in attendance, Steve Atwater, superintendent for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, shared even more grim statistics that focused specifically on local numbers.

“I see a lot of data about our kids, and our kids are drinking more than the rest of Alaska, and that’s concerning. There are few incidents of alcohol in schools or kids drunk at school, but it is prevalent on weekends,” he said.

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A vote for satire — Triumvirate’s election-year “Lame Ducks and Dark Horses” set to spoof

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. The cast of “Lame Ducks and Dark Horses” performs a parody song of “West Side Story,” where Republicans and Democrats are the rivals.

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. The cast of “Lame Ducks and Dark Horses” performs a parody song of “West Side Story,” where Republicans and Democrats are the rivals.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

It’s down-to-the-wire time as Nov. 4 approaches. Campaign signs dominate the landscape. Election rhetoric is omnipresent. Speeches are being perfected. Images are being tweaked. Digs and jabs at opponents are being sharpened. Song-and-dance routines are being polished. All the last-minute stops are being pulled out to catch attention.

That’s not only the case for candidates. The performers of Triumvirate Theatre’s “Lame Ducks and Dark Horses” political satire show are rehearsing their lines for Friday’s opening night as frantically as a candidate in the homestretch of the election.

Chris Jenness serenades the crowd as borough mayor candidate Tom Bearup.

Chris Jenness serenades the crowd as borough mayor candidate Tom Bearup.

It’s hard to say which is funnier at this point — the sketches as written, lampooning some of the biggest quirks, quips and personalities of this year’s election season — or the sidebar comments made while preparing them.

“Am I supposed to be screaming because I’m getting attacked by a bear, or because someone wants me to go on Sound Off?” said Chris Pepper, seeking clarification during a sketch where he plays Thom Walker, the one-time Libertarian nominee for U.S. Senate, trying to survive in the literal wilds of Alaska as well as the political wilds as a third-party candidate.

“Wait, are you going to talk like you’re on helium the whole time?” director Joe Rizzo asked Dan Pascucci, playing, at that moment, an agitated Matt Wilson, KSRM’s general manager, berating news director Catie Quinn for not being able to drop her Australian accent in pronouncing the radio station’s call letters. A “My Fair Lady,” “Wouldn’t it be loverly” riff ensues.

“Yes,” Pascucci replied. “I’ll probably pass out, but it will be hilarious.”

Triumvirate has been doing “Lame Ducks” every other year since 2006, creating each show from scratch to parody whatever is making news, raising eyebrows and rolling eyeballs that election year. The actors onstage poke fun at people on the local, statewide and national stage, and the donations of humor are doled out evenly between the parties.

Delana Duncan does a “My Fair Lady” takeoff of KSRM news director Catie Quinn’s Australian accent.

Delana Duncan does a “My Fair Lady” takeoff of KSRM news director Catie Quinn’s Australian accent.

“Humor is the highest value, not the politics,” Rizzo said.

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New vote count approves animal control

By Naomi Klouda

Homer Tribune

After 1,800 absentee ballots were tallied, Kenai Peninsula voters spoke in favor of animal control by a 3,388 to 3,383 count. Proposition A would have been defeated if not for the absentee and early ballots. 
Since it was an advisory vote, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly is given the voters’ go-ahead to launch a boroughwide animal control department to respond in areas outside of cities.
The second question on funding the new program, however, did not meet with voter approval, by a big margin — 4,306 no to 2,451 yes. That question proposed to pay through an additional service area tax that amounted to about $3 a year per property owner.
The new borough ballot count put a further spread between incumbent Mayor Mike Navarre, who won re-election at the head of the Kenai Peninsula Borough with 5,895 to Tom Bearup’s 3,894 and Carroll Martin’s 1,000 votes. Navarre took 54 percent of the vote to Tom Bearup’s 35.9 and Carrol Martin’s 9.2 percent. That is up from the preliminary count of Navarre’s 4,794 votes to Bearup’s 3,270 and Martin’s 846 votes.

Status quo from voters

Voters most notably went for the status quo in the Oct. 7 elections. Mayor Mike Navarre agreed that voters on the borough level were satisfied with the current administration, or he would not have won re-election. Continue reading

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Plugged In: Good cameras come in portable packages

By Joe Kashi, for the Redoubt Reporter

Canon’s new G7X and other 1-inch sensor cameras are not the only models packing big camera image quality into a highly portable package. With a bit of thought, you can fit Micro Four-Thirds image quality into a jacket pocket.

As readers may recall from last week’s article, it’s the depth of the projecting lens that primarily reduces a camera’s portability, not the width and height of an otherwise thin object. Thin depth is why large screen smartphones remain easily portable.

Interchangeable-lens cameras give you a different option. You can detach the lens, which is often fairly thin, and carry the camera and lens detached. When that’s done, many rangefinder-styled M 4/3 cameras become quite portable while providing image quality and versatility that’s a large step up from 1-inch sensor cameras. Even better, the Olympus interchangeable-lens models mentioned this week, including their standard kit zoom lens, are less expensive than new Canon and Sony fixed-lens models using smaller 1-inch sensors.

Illustration 1. From left, Canon G7X, Olympus E-PL7, Olympus E-PL5 and  Panasonic GM5.

Illustration 1. From left, Canon G7X, Olympus E-PL7, Olympus E-PL5 and Panasonic GM5.

Today’s Illustration 1 shows several potentially suitable compact camera bodies. On the left is Canon’s G7X, a 1-inch sensor camera shown here with its fixed lens retracted into the camera body. Next is Olympus’ new E-PL7, a sturdy, fully featured, interchangeable-lens M 4/3 camera body. Olympus’ E-PL5 is third from the right and, at the moment, is priced competitively for a large-sensor, M 4/3 body. It’s about $200 less than the newer E-PL7 but may soon be discontinued. On the right is Panasonic’s new GM5, one of the smallest M 4/3 cameras and the most camera in this comparison. Of these, only the Panasonic GM5 includes an eye-level electronic viewfinder, a nice feature that may justify much of the GM5’s higher price.

I recently tested the portability of an Olympus E-P3, a significantly larger, heavier M 4/3 camera, in a variety of cool-weather jackets. With a very small optional Olympus 14- to 42-mm EZ electric zoom lens detached and separately carried in my jacket’s other pocket, that larger E-P3 was scarcely noticeable, although it would be too bulky when carried with any lens attached. The smaller, lighter M 4/3 Pen Lite and GM series cameras shown in Illustration 1 would be less burdensome than the E-P3.

Reattaching the zoom lens to the camera takes about 20 seconds. The standard Olympus and Panasonic 14- to 42-mm kit zooms sold with many models in the U.S. are larger but still reasonably portable.

There are a few obvious cautions. Any separated camera and lens must both be fully capped, using all body and lens caps so that there are no exposed camera body openings or glass elements. It’s also wise to find small, thin cases that closely fit the camera and lens to minimize any bumps and cosmetic damage while being carried. I also put a clear plastic screen protector on the rear LCD to reduce permanent scratching.

The best portability and image quality won’t be found with standard kit zoom lenses. Instead, so-called “pancake” lenses here provide both more compact storage and better images. Olympus’ new 14- to 42-mm EZ electrically zoomed lens, sold separately, is both the smallest and the sharpest pancake zoom lens I’ve tested so far. Used with care, it’s capable of very good images. This lens relies on the in-body image-stabilization built into Olympus M 4/3 cameras, so it’s not stabilized when used with otherwise excellent Panasonic M 4/3 camera bodies.

Panasonic’s 12- to 32-mm zoom is almost as thin as the Olympus lens, but doesn’t include any manual focus ability. In my limited tests, Panasonic’s pancake zoom lens seemed slightly very less sharp but still quite good for such a small lens. It includes built-in optical image stabilization and is sold separately or included with the GM1 and GM5 cameras. Both the Olympus and Panasonic pancake zoom lenses are very compact, less than 1 inch thick and about 2 inches in diameter. Two excellent Panasonic single-magnification pancake prime lenses, their 1-4mm f/2.5 wide-angle and 20-mm f/1.7 standard lenses, are very sharp and similarly compact.

Illustration-2. Domke f-5xb compact-system bag.

Illustration-2. Domke f-5xb compact-system bag.

If you’re willing to pack a bit more weight or able to stow a compact camera kit in your car, then several other M 4/3 options become attractive and practical, particularly when you find just the right camera system bag that’s neither too large nor too restricted. Today’s Illustration 2 shows the size of a small Domke F-5XB camera bag compared to a standard hardbound book. After several false starts with other brands, I purchased Domke’s “Ruggedwear” version that’s made of the same heavy oiled canvas used for Carhartt work clothing. I now finally understand why pro photographers have favored Domke bags for the past three decades. They’re fast and convenient in use and just feel right.

Illustration 3 shows the complete M 4/3 compact camera system that fit inside that small F-5XB Domke bag. This is a complete, high-quality yet affordable go-anywhere system weighing a mere 5 pounds, half the weight, or less, of a comparable APS-C digital SLR camera system. My go-anywhere system is built around an Olympus OM-D E-M5 weather-sealed body that I bought used from http://www.lensrentals.com, and a similarly weather-sealed Olympus 12- to 50-mm kit zoom lens with usable video and macro capabilities.

Illustration 3. Olympus OM-D EM5 kit that fits inside a Domke bag.

Illustration 3. Olympus OM-D EM5 kit that fits inside a Domke bag.

Supplementing that 12- to 50-mm Olympus zoom are an Olympus 40- to 150-mm consumer-grade telephoto zoom lens and three sharper Sigma prime lenses for M 4/3 cameras. The Sigma 19-mm wide-angle, 30-mm standard and 60-mm “short telephoto Art” series optics each have a relatively bright f/2.8 maximum lens aperture and cost between $170 and $210 new. They’re the best deal on the market for sharp, well-constructed optics. Sigma’s 60-mm DN “Art” series lens is particularly sharp, with image quality of the 30-mm model trailing only slightly. The Sigma 19-mm wide-angle is decently sharp in the center of the image. If you’re feeling affluent, then Panasonic’s 14-mm f/2.5 and 20-mm f/1.7 pancake lenses would be noticeably sharper than the 19-mm Sigma, yet still fit in the same space.

Rounding out that compact traveling system are spare batteries and memory cards, good quality Pentax soft lens pouches for each lens, inexpensive, screw-in vented metal lens shades from Amazon, an Olympus 15-mm “body-cap” lens for fun effects, and Olympus’ small clip-on flash unit included with the OM-D E-M5 camera body. That’s a complete, and generally affordable, camera system capable of very high-quality images yet weighing only 5 pounds and fitting into a camera bag scarcely larger than a hardbound book.

The ultimate determinant of good photos is, of course, not your gear but your “shot discipline,” where personal skill and knowledge are central. That’s the subject of next week’s article.

Local attorney Joe Kashi received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from MIT and his law degree from Georgetown University. He has published many articles about computer technology, law practice and digital photography in national media since 1990. Many of his technology and photography articles can be accessed through his website, http://www.kashilaw.com.

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