Updated: Mar 17
February ALO News is delayed a bit by events of early March, which in Alaska revolve around the Iditarod Race. It is difficult to explain the level of attention given to this event by Alaskans to people who live elsewhere. Traditional media coverage is gradually giving way to online and social media, including the extremely popular GPS tracking devices that are carried by each sled in the race. There is some commercial coverage of the event, but the emergence of non-commercial coverage makes for an entertaining few days in the winter. One such non-commercial commentator is Colin McDonald who provides twice daily updates billed as the Iditarod Outsider (many people pay to become Iditarod Insiders on the race webpage) about "The Greatest Show on Snow." Here is a link to Colin’s Iditarod Outsider reports. ALO contributes an occasional thought to the Outsider, as well as other blurbs on Facebook, all for free of course. Some still consider those contributions overpriced.
The Outsider specializes in nicknames for the racers such as Richie "The Ani-mani-ak" Diehl and "That Son of a Mitch" Dallas Seavey, and also posts creative memes about the race.
This year’s race was won by Brent Sass, his first win. Sass is a fellow Minnesota product from Excelsior who has raced the K300 in the past, and has a considerable fan base in the Bethel area (note his hat in the first photo).
It was mainly a two team race for the last half of the race and it was easy to pull for Sass over his main competition who has won the race five times. That sentiment is widely shared in Alaska. His fan base includes a bunch of little old ladies around the US who follow him online. It’s hard to estimate how many pictures have been posted with Brent standing between a couple of elderly women. Brent admitted once in Bethel that many of those photos result in donations to his race effort. They must be attracted to the fact that he looks like no one is taking care of him with long tangled hair, rarely shaven, and ragged clothes. He lives a frontier life far from town in northern Alaska, off the power grid at the end of a seldom used dirt road. It’s a far cry from his hometown in the suburbs of Minneapolis. What really counts is that he is a good guy, and has certainly paid his dues as a racer in Alaska.
For the last couple of years, ALO readers have been told that litigation was stalled by Covid, but that log jam is breaking. Jury trials are underway again, and with that, the fear of opponents losing big at trial is driving settlements. Several have happened for ALO clients recently. One involved an exploding boiler in a Homer residence. A homeowner was out of town and asked a friend to check his house, and the friend found the house was frozen up. After a brief inspection, the friend pushed the reset button on the boiler, which ran for a while and then exploded killing him. Later inspection revealed the boiler was entirely frozen, and when the reset button was pushed, a small area of ice thawed quickly but had nowhere to go with frozen lines. The pressure build up in the boiler was immense, and the resulting explosion killed the friend who was standing nearby. Family members of the victim contacted ALO, and a claim was brought against the manufacturer, noting a lack of warning about the danger of pushing the reset button, and failure to equip the boiler with a lockout feature to prevent it from starting when frozen.
Another settlement involved a videotaped accident in the Kenai Peninsula. A building contractor wanted to remove some large trees from around his house, and collected on a favor to have a friend do the job. One of the trees looked like it might fall into the house, so it was decided to take the top portion of the tree off before dropping the rest of the tree. The entire operation was done without compensation, but there was some booze provided to give the lumberjack “courage” before the climb. This video is best watched in slow motion.
The cutter first put a notch at the bottom of the tree, and then climbed the extremely long ladder and crawled an additional distance above that with the use of ropes. The tree was 90 to 100 feet high. The contractor who supervised the project took the video and you can hear his voice in the background. At the very end you can see the victim jump away from the tree which perhaps saved his life. He was seriously injured and will never work in construction again. The insurance company paid policy limits.
There were also three settlements involving traffic accidents. Two involved children, one who was dragged behind a car after the child was sitting on the back bumper while the car was parked, and another child who was injured when her school bus was rear ended by another vehicle, causing a serious head injury.
Mandatory Moose & Downward Dogs
Connor's Bog is a large dog park near the airport in Anchorage. It is nearly 200 acres of trees and a lake ideal for dogs. Most people stick close to the parking lot, so the rest of the park is lightly used. Here is the view from an open area of the park.
Photo by: Paul Malin
And it’s not just for dogs as this month's Mandatory Moose reveals. The moose video was taken from about 30 feet after watching several dogs and people walk by without any reaction from the moose. Jack has learned to avoid moose after being slightly chased a couple of times in the park.
Speaking of dogs, check out this video of a neighbor's dog, taken out of the window. The street is lightly traveled and the dog owner was just ahead of the tough little mutt.
In unrelated dog news, yoga fans will recognize that grandson Jack does a pretty good downward dog at age 1.
Here are three cartoons that make the cut. LaMont Albertson provides the first cartoon.
The second one is in honor of ALO’s favorite veterinarian Jessica Klejka.
The third from 50 years ago shows that history does repeat itself.
That last cartoon points to one of the most troubling legal issues facing America today. The January 6th Commission is seeking evidence from a host of people with knowledge of the Capitol riot, and the process is slowed by an unwillingness of participants to cooperate. It is interesting that many associated with Trump, including his family, have invoked the fifth amendment to avoid answering questions. Please don’t forget that Trump himself has stated that only the mob takes the fifth. It is clear that the commission has uncovered a bunch of evidence linking important folks to the events of Jan. 6th. Those that refuse to cooperate can properly be considered suspect and may end up being charged with crimes. Dozens of participants have been convicted and more convictions are coming. It’s just a matter of time until all the sordid details are fully revealed. The events of that day were an attempted coup that would have prevented the transfer of power after an election. Many very conservative folks agree with that, the most prominent being Liz Cheney, and many party members consider her disloyal for that position. (Please refer back to the Nixon cartoon above.) Democracy was under attack on Jan 6th, and those who oppose any effort to learn the full extent of that attack are complicit. This article in The Atlantic, "A Party, and Nation in Crisis" is worth reading on this subject. That's from a very respected centrist publication.
And one last political thought for this month: How can people attend rallies and cheer for a guy who thinks Putin is real savvy and a genius for invading Ukraine?
Nice Shots & Final Thoughts
Faithful ALO News reader Jane Bender Hanson took this video during a recent trip through Nebraska. Turn up the sound to enjoy the crane symphony.
Eric Whitney took this video of sunrise over Brown Slough in Bethel.
Here is a nice shot of the Bogus Creek 150 start on the river in front of Bethel.
This last photo includes two Angstman sisters, Velma and Harriet and cousin Russell at the Oak Grove School that still stands near the Elk Farm in Princeton, Minnesota.
Really Good Lasagna
Finally a story from long ago in Bethel. In the Angstman’s early years in Bethel, construction people were in short supply. One good man for a project was Buck Bukowski, a dog racer from Chevak who spent a fair amount of time in Bethel working. He preferred working jobs where an evening meal was part of his payment. He often partook of meals at the Angstman house, where he thoroughly enjoyed Sue’s lasagna. He worked on a similar basis at other homes, and one time was doing work for Susan Martin where he also got dinner. The menu that night was lasagna. Buck dug into the meal and took a short break from eating to honor the chef. “That’s really good lasagna, but have you ever tasted Sue Angstman’s?” When he told the story later, Buck said he realized before he finished talking that it wasn’t coming out right. Susan Martin, to her credit, laughed it off and put him at ease. After all it was an attempt at a compliment. Buck still lives in Bethel, and is famous for having a new joke every day, and if it gets a laugh, he tells another.