Updated: Nov 18, 2020
The October news comes to you for the first time from the newly established urban branch of ALO, located near downtown Anchorage. A recent move to the city after 46 years of Bethel residence changes very little in the day-to-day operation of ALO, especially in the COVID-19 era when almost everything is done at home. Home is a rental house near the Park Strip on 11th Avenue, and the office is a corner of the living room facing downtown. Across the street is the Alaska Pioneer home where the almost daily arrival of at least one ambulance is a grim reminder of the deadly combination of COVID-19 and old age. At the time of this writing COVID-19 is on a rampage across America and these two posts by a now deceased Alaskan reveal part of the problem. You could say this guy, a well known Alaskan, went down with the ship.
Too many national leaders have chosen to ignore or downplay the virus and naturally a significant percentage of the population, like the person pictured above, have bought into that malarkey. The worst example is South Dakota where no governmental effort has been made to take precautions and now the state is among the world leaders in infections and death rate per capita. Vaccines appear to offer some hope, but meanwhile, lay low.
Much legal activity is still on hold because of COVID-19, but new cases do come in at a rapid pace. ALO has referred out most non-injury cases for quite some time, but the level of new injury cases has never been higher. Much of that is because of statewide attention to a few major cases from a few years ago which has brought referrals from lawyers in other areas of the state. There is no clear indication when jury trials in civil cases will resume, but at ALO, it is expected that won’t happen until late 2021.
Anchorage living is quite the change from Bethel but one aspect of daily living, the lengthy walk, has been a smooth transition. Anchorage is a city with lots of walking trails, even downtown, and the sidewalks and streets near the Park Strip are largely vacant most of the time. Jack the dog gets to run free quite often on walks, with little risk, and his partner is slowly learning the poop bag routine. On one walk there was a shortage of bags so a large snow ball was formed around the deposit, with some success. Some observers might have wondered why that elder was walking the trail carrying a snow ball, but no one laughed. This is what Anchorage looks like from the edge of town, posted by Sharon Winner.
COVID-19 was one of the reasons for the move, bringing two elders closer to medical care if needed. Alaska hospitals are quite full at the moment and cases have reached a level which could quickly overwhelm them. That is especially true if more medical providers test positive and staffing becomes even more problematic. Being closer to family members with child care issues is also a factor as it is with so many families across America.
One big change from COVID-19 has been the lack of travel to the Minnesota farm. That was especially true during deer season, when Andy usually comes to visit for a hunt. And wouldn’t you know, this big guy ran through the yard in broad daylight during the season and was apparently seen at several other places on the farm during the season as well. He appears to be preoccupied in this video. (Watch until the end, it's short)
Mandatory Moose & Other Critters
There are once again a number of critters to check out this month. Here is the mandatory moose, or actually several of them.
There are lots of bears,
including polar bears in this video from Sebastian Schnuelle, a retired Kuskokwim 300 and Iditarod musher.
This is how one grizzly bear feeds himself:
And finally, a beaver that should make your day.
There are several cartoons as well, from some of the usual sources:
And a newcomer, Patricia Alameda.
A Classic Story
This WWII story - involves an Iñupiat lady from northern Alaska. No bone spurs for this lady.
In the spring of 1942, the people of Barrow heard that the Japanese were coming to bomb the village.
"We hear seven Japanese planes are coming to bomb Barrow, but they freeze and have to turn back," Irene Itta* remembers. A total blackout was imposed upon the community. All windows had to be sealed off so that no light escaped outside. The famous Major "Muktuk" Marston came to town to help organize the Territorial Guard. A tower the height of a house was built from empty steel drums just outside of town. There, Guard members stood sentry, scanning the skies for Japanese planes.
Whaling season arrived. The men had no time to stand on a tower of barrels to watch for incoming Japanese airplanes.
They turned to the Barrow Mothers’ Club for help. Irene’s own husband, Miles, was stationed in Nome with the U.S. Army. Still, she did not hesitate when she was asked to volunteer for guard duty.
Irene had a tiny baby girl, Martina, who depended on her. Still, someone had to go watch for the Japanese, and that someone was Irene Itta. Early in the morning, she reported for duty. She wore her parka, and in it, tucked snugly onto her back, was baby Martina. A guardsman issued her a pistol, fully loaded and with extra bullets, and strapped it to her waist.
"He didn’t even show me how to use it," Itta muses.
At 8:00 AM, Itta took her post atop the barrels. She had been instructed to bang upon the barrels at the first sight of anything in the sky.
So she stood there, a baby on her back and a pistol on her hip, atop a tower of steel drums, for 12 hours straight, in the cold, scanning the sky for incoming Japanese airplanes. Fortunately, baby Martina slept a lot. When she would awake, Irene would breast-feed her, there on the tower.
At 8:00 PM, Itta was off duty. She had spotted no Japanese.
"Today, they wouldn’t do that," she states. "They’d probably want to get paid. I did it so the people can have a safe place to go. No one knows about it. It was never in the papers, not on the radio. I always tell my son, when I die, I want a special ceremony. I want a flag, I want a salute, with the guns, because I served my country in the territorial guard."
2020 Presidential Election
Of course the election is still the main news item of the day. There have been many close elections in American history but of course this one is the first where despite no evidence to support his position, the loser is claiming he actually won. And because America has reached a point where conspiracy theories are widely accepted, there are many who will continue to believe this election was rigged. One interesting question, never answered, is why would the corrupt folks who rigged the election for Biden did not rig it for a few Democratic Senators at the same time? It was entertaining that Trump and his supporters were calling for the vote counting to end in those states where he was ahead, but to continue counting in states where he was behind. Bethel’s City Attorney Libby Bakalar, who writes an entertaining blog called One Hot Mess AK and tends to speak her mind, posted this gem.
The international reaction to the election is revealing. American allies have rejoiced in the results, with no better evidence than this event which happened in Berlin when folks learned that Biden was the winner.
It has been a chaotic 4 years. Trump has done lots of things that will be permanently harmful to America, and his failure to accept defeat is one of them. Now he is hurrying to allow numerous assaults on the environment in his last few weeks which easily establishes him as the worst environmental President in history. His legacy will be judged harshly. Even some of his supporters will be surprised to learn that the mammoth tax cut he passed included a mandatory increase in taxes for modest incomes starting next year. In other words, he passed the tax cut and got immediate approval from many cause their tax bill went down but for those in the lower brackets, it was only temporary, but not so for the huge cuts to the high income folks. Why was that? To postpone the middle class tax increase until after the 2020 election to keep more folks happy. Meanwhile we have historical deficits cause the rich folks aren’t paying their fair share. We are in a serious mess, but at least he got in his golfing. He tallied over 140 trips at a taxpayer cost of about $1 million per trip, some of which went to his pocket because the trips were to his golf courses. Stay tuned to the state court proceedings in New York. No pardon will be forthcoming in that court unless it comes from Governor Cuomo (fat chance). The evidence is voluminous and damning, and the incentive to proceed is high. Trump is in for a rough couple of years.
The Return of Presidential Pets
And finally, we will have dogs back in the White House. It's not a coincidence they have been missing there for four years. Having a dog in the family is a welcome sign that usually reveals positive human traits in the family. Cousin Scott Angstman, who likes dogs, posted this old video of another guy who also does, and is well worth watching.