From Southern spring to Alaskan winter

I’m still struggling to adjust to the very, very different weather and climate conditions up here. I left Louisiana on a warm spring day, with temperatures forecast to be in the high 70’s (Fahrenheit, of course): and landed in Alaska in bright sunshine, but with drifting clouds of volcanic ash threatening the city, and with the temperature at a moderate (or so everyone tells me) 28°! It’s been pretty steady at that level since Saturday evening. I woke up this morning to find that a further 3″ of snow had fallen overnight. Very pretty, but to my delicate Southern sensibilities,

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Light posting tonight

Hello, all. It’s been a fairly pleasant day here in Anchorage, at least by late-March Alaska standards – three inches or so of snowfall overnight, and today’ s high was in the upper 30’s! I’m shivering at the moment, because I’ve just come in from outside: but everyone here is well bundled up against the cold (while ignoring the snow-clouds above – it’s Alaska, after all!). Having traveled light, I’m not bundled up so warmly: but I think I’ll cope for my short time here. I’m going to be making more posts, but as I write these words, the Internet

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Safely in the frozen North

I made it in to Anchorage about fifteen minutes ahead of the ash cloud from the latest eruption of Mount Redoubt, about 100 miles South-West of the city. After connecting flights to Houston and Seattle, our flight to Anchorage was delayed for a couple of hours while the weather prophets and others tried to figure out whether we could get in safely (and, just as important for the airline, get out again!). My host tells me that volcanic ash is like powdered obsidian – fragments of glass, not stone, and very, very scratchy. Apparently, if it gets into an aircraft

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The unintended consequences of ‘green’ laws

I’m cynically amused by a report from Washington State in the Houston Chronicle. Spokane County became the launch pad last July for the nation’s strictest ban on dishwasher detergent made with phosphates, a measure aimed at reducing water pollution. The ban will be expanded statewide in July 2010, the same time similar laws take effect in several other states. But it’s not easy to get sparkling dishes when you go green. Many people were shocked to find that products like Seventh Generation, Ecover and Trader Joe’s left their dishes encrusted with food, smeared with grease and too gross to use

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Flushed with (marital) success?

The Times of England reports on a novel incentive in India to install indoor plumbing. Courtship can be an intricate business in India, but the mothers of the northern state of Haryana have a simple message for men who call on their daughters: “No toilet, no bride.” The slogan – often lengthened in Hindi to “If you don’t have a proper lavatory in your house, don’t even think about marrying my daughter” – has been plastered across villages in the region as part of a drive to boost the number of pukka facilities. In a country where more households have

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For California readers – eat hearty!

I’ve just learned of Oakdale, CA’s annual ‘Testicle Festival’. According to Yahoo! News: The fundraising idea may seem a little nuts, but Oakdale’s annual Testicle Festival is always a big hit. On Monday, volunteers with the town’s Rotary Club plan to fry up 400 pounds of the private parts of bulls and serve them to diners who pay $50 apiece for the sit-down meal. The event, whose proceeds also benefit the Oakland Cowboy Museum, has drawn an average of 450 people and last year raised $28,000. It’s common practice on cattle ranches for young male bovines to be castrated into

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When you ‘take it to the limit’, sometimes the limit bites back . . .

I’ve posted about base jumping before, notably a video of wing-suit base jumpers leaping off Norwegian mountains, and a nasty accident involving parachute base-jumpers leaping from a bridge. One of the leading lights of ‘extreme sports’ was Shane McConkey. He won many competitions, and was renowned among his peers. He combined mountain skiing with base-jumping, and was well-known for pushing the limits of both sports. This video shows him in action. Sadly, we learn that Mr. McConkey died in Italy last week. According to The Inquisitr: McConkey experienced problems in the air after launching off a cliff with the expectation

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New world speed record

Talk about hi-tech! A British engineer has just broken the world speed record for a wind-powered vehicle. The BBC reports: Richard Jenkins reached 126.1mph (202.9km/h) in his Greenbird car on the dry plains of Ivanpah Lake in Nevada. Mr Jenkins told the BBC that it had taken him 10 years of “hard work” to break the record and that, on the day, “things couldn’t have been better”. American Bob Schumacher set the previous record of 116 mph in 1999, driving his Iron Duck vehicle. “It’s great, it’s one of those things that you spend so long trying to do and

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On the road

Friends, I’ll be leaving in the small hours of the morning to journey a long way North – to Alaska, in fact. There’s a volcano erupting there at the moment, which may make air travel a bit hit-and-miss, but I’ll just have to take my chances. I’ll be gone for about ten days. I’ll be blogging ‘on the road’, but at times posting may be light, depending on what I’m doing. Watch this space for photographs and interesting tales. Say a prayer for safe travels for me, and you stay safe, too. Peter

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