Daily Archives: October 1, 2015

Long rein — Saddling up for endurance horse ride

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Jayne Hempstead, of Cantwell, and Katie King, of Nikiski, ride together during the inaugural Midnight Sun Challenge endurance ride, an equine distance event which took place in Nikiski on Saturday.

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Jayne Hempstead, of Cantwell, and Katie King, of Nikiski, ride together during the inaugural Midnight Sun Challenge endurance ride, an equine distance event which took place in Nikiski on Saturday.

By Joseph Robertia

Redoubt Reporter

“Endurance sport” plus “animals” in Alaska usually means dog mushing. And that’s true for Iditarod veteran Jane Adkins. But for the past five years, it’s also meant horse riding.

While there is no shortage of rodeo events for horse enthusiasts around the state, Adkins has instead spent her mushing “offseason” participating in endurance-themed equestrian challenges that hold a similar appeal as covering 1,000 miles by dog team.

“I’m drawn to endurance, I think, because I’m not fast. I’m slow, but I can complete things,” she said.

But she’s not a huge fan of having to travel long distances to participate in long-distance races. So she organized the Midnight Sun Challenge endurance ride in Nikiski on Saturday.

Seeing others participate in competitive trail-riding events around the state, such as the Challenge of the North in Fairbanks and the Bald Mountain Butt Buster in the Wasilla area, Adkins decided to provide an opportunity to saddle up on the Kenai Peninsula.

The Midnight Sun Challenge covered 30 miles in a series of loops through the woods off of the Escape Route Road, and there was a 12-mile event for those not quite trained up to the full distance. There was a maximum time limit of six hours to finish, which Adkins said should be more than enough time for teams trotting at an average speed of 5 miles per hour.

“The horses had to be in good condition, but this being our first year, we wanted to keep things small, simple and low key so we could evaluate everything along the way. We tried to make it easy on the riders and horses, so it’s mostly flat trail and we’ve done what we could to avoid mud,” she said.

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Snow slow to go? State warns of winter road maintenance cutbacks

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is cautioning motorists to be prepared for winter driving conditions — especially this year, as maintenance will be reduced on state roads.

ADOT announced at the end of last week that it would be cutting back on winter maintenance in response to budget cuts.

Shannon McCarthy, ADOT spokesperson for the Central Region, said that the department took about a $35 million hit to its budget this year.

“For the most part we’re federally funded, with the exception of our maintenance and operations. That is all state funded,” McCarthy said.

The department oversees 249 airports, 11 ferries serving 35 communities, 5,619 miles of highway and 720 public facilities throughout the state of Alaska. To help absorb the budget hit, state road maintenance will reduce the response frequency on its routes based on its priority system. Roads will still be maintained, just not as often or as quickly as drivers might expect.

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Filed under driving, winter

Night Lights: Planets align for pleasing night views

Graphic courtesy of Andy Veh

Graphic courtesy of Andy Veh

By Andy Veh, for the Redoubt Reporter

Compared to September, the constellations in the October night sky have shifted toward the east. Bootes sets in the northeast, with its brightest star, Arcturus, seen in the early evening on the northeastern horizon.

Prominent constellations and stars this month are the Big Dipper (part of Ursa Major) low in the north, and the Little Dipper (part of Ursa Minor) high in the north. Cygnus with Deneb, Lyra with Vega and Aquila with Altair are 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, even if only on the horizon.

Cassiopeia appears overhead, near the zenith, and Pegasus’ square/diamond is high in the south. Very late in the evening, Orion rises with Betelgeuse and Rigel in the east, following Taurus with Aldebaran and the Pleiades star cluster.

It still seems that the planets are hiding from our view. At least in the evening, no bright planets appear. Still, try to observe Neptune and Uranus, which appear relatively high in the south, in Aquarius and Pisces (both are below Pegasus). A good finder chart is needed, though. Try http://www.skyandtelescope.com/wp-content/uploads/WEB_UrNep_Finders.pdf.

The almost-full moon joins Neptune on Oct 22, and the full moon joins Uranus on Oct, 25. The moon may make it easier to locate them, but it also makes the sky brighter and diminishes the contrast.

While Saturn is a fair distance from our sun, it is also in the constellation of Scorpius, which is very low on the horizon in Alaska, so it can’t be observed this month.

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Plugged In: Networks that work for small business budgets

By Joe Kashi, for the Redoubt Reporter

After a spate of computer network annoyances, I rebuilt my law office’s Windows computer network a few months ago before mere annoyances became serious problems. That’s common sense for any information-dependent business, whether a law practice, hospital or newspaper.

The first step to any successful computer network upgrade is to identify the most appropriate network operating system. Most small businesses only require a simple, secure and affordable network system that provides shared file, printer and Internet access services, not a complex system that includes secondary services and requires a host of acolytes to keep the network running without digital tantrums.

That realization greatly simplified my decision. In the Windows-based networking world, only a few products meet those small business-friendly criteria. The most cost-effective is Windows Server 2012 Essentials R2. It’s a basic version of the more elaborate and well-regarded Windows Server 2012 network operating system, without the secondary features I was unlikely to use.

Essentials R2 is inexpensive — under $400 for 25 users, a real bargain compared to its full-featured cousin, which costs several times more per user. It’s relatively easy for an experienced end-user to install on new hardware if you’re reasonably familiar with computer networks. First, read the manual carefully, and then use automatic installation of the software as the first server on a new network.

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Filed under photography, Plugged in