Eight Degrees and Clear

It's eight degrees with a North wind that could turn your face into an ice sculpture in about three minutes. Which means the skating is pretty good up at Rutzebeck by the rock end and great at Chilkoot once you get past the rough front part and down toward the Glory Hole. Here's a rumor worth spreading- if it can be called one-- It concerns the warm upwellings at that end of Chilkoot that cause soft spots and small circles of open water that skaters have to be careful about. Steve at the Post Office says he lit the air above one and it burned. He said he tried a few and one burned for about a minute. He suspects it is methane gas. Speaking of curious minds, Tim Shields-- our own artist, puppeteer, DDF coach, volunteer morning radio host and of course the tortoise guy (he has spent years rescuing desert tortoises down in  Nevada from machinery related to roads and industry expansion, not to mention employing a fair amount of people who commute from here to there to work in the sunshine while doing good for the planet.) Anyway, Tim gave a terrific TED talk at Berkeley Saturday about art and tortoises and our stewardship of all living things-- to about 1800 wowed people. (I tried to watch it on the internet but my connection is too slow. When it's on YouTube I'll post the link.) John Schnabel celebrated his 94th birthday Saturday night by giving the shirt off his back to a lucky raffle winner.  I have a feeling he wants to be sure that his obituary writer really does say, "He'd give you the shirt off his back." Of course the other half of the Gold Rush rock star duo, Parker (who is now affectionately known as "Bleep-bleep") Helped his grandpa with the gift giving, which also included some weird things that may have come from Erma's former equally famous, locally anyway, basement. This is the thing about Haines and the Chilkat Valley: There are a lot of talented and interesting people living here. 

Here's what you may need to know for today:  There are storm warnings and wind chill advisories, and the dust clouds along the highway and the cyclones screaming past Mountain Market look like a PBS special on Oklahoma. If you have questions about signing up for Obamacare there will be a presentation on it 12-1 at the library and more help is available 5:30-6:30 across the street at the new CIA tribal center. School History Day presentations begin at 7:00 at the museum. Finally,  if you haven't filed for your PFD you better get on it, and be sure to Pick.Click.Give. a little-- 25 dollars, 50--or more if you can afford it-- to your favorite local non-profit, or two. It helps, a lot, and makes you feel rich as a Rockefeller.  I heard the late great Governor Jay Hammond, a founder of the Alaska Permanent Fund, speak about it once in Haines, and he explained that his reasoning for keeping the fund's interest in the hands of the people was that it's a much safer bet than giving it to politicians. This way residents could choose to use at least some of that oil money  for the greater good by donating it to things we care about, from libraries and arts organizations to food banks and animal rescue.  Pick.Click.Give. makes it easy-- but people have been doing it for years. When I was coaching the cross country team, we received a big check  every Fall from a man in Anchorage who I didn't even know, but said he gave his PFD away to youth activities he liked. It helped pay to get us to State each year.

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