All of November was spent at the Elk Farm branch of ALO, but the big news of the month was a verdict out of Bethel. Philip Morris was sued in Bethel court for the wrongful death of a long time smoker. ALO was involved with the case from early on but did not take part in the trial except as a consultant. Consultation proved to be broadly defined, as it included trial strategy, jury research, food and lodging arrangements, and the list goes on. Philip Morris defends all of its cases vigorously, and ALO's involvement in this case revealed a whole new approach to litigation. The trial itself took about a month, which makes it the longest in Bethel history. The final result was a defense verdict for Philip Morris which surprised many people in Bethel who expected a large corporation would have a hard time winning against a local family. Much of the credit for the win has to go to the lead defense counsel, Stan Davis. Stan is a veteran trial lawyer from Kansas, who came to Bethel and kept his eyes and ears open for information that might help him win his case. He soaked up local information like a sponge, and some of it ended up in the case. Many folks commented on his ability to connect with people he encountered here. That trait works well with jurors, and the unanimous verdict he won shows that.
Alaska visitors to the Elk Farm are always a treat. Former Bethel folks Dan and Sharon Boyette make it down every couple of years, and this year it was for Thanksgiving. Dan of course is a GCI exec, and thus well known to people from Bethel who call him at all hours with cell phone woes. What is not widely known is that Dan also makes guest appearances at trade shows around the country, where people stand in line to have their picture taken with him. This young lady stood in line for 40 minutes for her chance to pose with Dan.
Two other visitors from Alaska showed up for deer hunting, Andy and his friend Lee Ryan, both taking a couple days off from Ryan Air where Lee is chief pilot. Neither got a deer, mainly because of the farm rule that limits hunters to bucks that are eight points or better, but both had a good time matching wits with the smartest game animal around. Lee is quite a photographer. Here are a few pictures of his trip to the farm. (Click through the gallery)
He was interested in the prairie grass, and got a few dandy shots of the grass on a frosty morning. About 75 acres of native grass grows on the farm, providing exceptional habitat for most of the critters that live on the farm.
The pace of life on the Elk Farm is fairly slow. Sometimes the highlight of the day is watching the bird feeder. One day a Piliated Woodpecker was the star.
Flying around the country with a Kindle caused some thought about the airline rule that all electronic devices must be powered down before take off. This article about flying and electronic devices talks about that rule. Here's a another rule: Anyone flying on 736XM (ALO's company plane) can use any electronic device they want.
Winter conditions prevailed in Bethel for much of November. This picture captures a rather chilly fall scene when teenager Rhett Hone got his first taste of -30 windchill on a dog sled.
Rett Hone on a cold and windy training run.
The picture was snapped by Steve Olive, who is doing a good job as the main handler Old Friendly Dog Farm . This series of photos taken by Steve illustrates the variety of sights a musher can see during a run around Bethel.
Not all outdoor outings in Alaska are as much fun. This Fairbanks area prospector had a rough time of it. His story is a variation on a theme that is repeated every year. Some survive, some don't.
Another former Bethel guy helped make November a good month by betting on Iowa in a college football game with Minnesota. The long suffering Gophers rarely beat anyone, but a $5 bet with a Iowa fan is worth it if only for the fun of not paying when Minnesota loses. This year they won and the boastful Iowa fan, Josh Fitzgerald, decided to pay the bet in cash. Despoiling US currency is a crime, but doing so with Iowa colors is sinful. The cash is headed for the cabin outhouse wall.
This is what happens when the Gophers win.
Katie Basile used to be Katie Baldwin when she lived down the street from ALO. She even worked there for a few weeks when we were short of staff. Now she is a New York photographer who comes back to Alaska from time to time to ply her trade. Check Katie Basile's website for some recent photos from Alaska, some of which were widely reprinted, including this one in the New York Time's article about a large fall storm.