Monday, June 27, 2016

Happy-making book review

This review of Circumnavigation of Shatterworld made me happy.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Remembering North Pole

Yesterday I was talking to the guy fixing my computer. (When I don't hate my computer, I love it.) He was trying to explain computer stuff to me, and I was talking about other stuff. He wanted to know about all the novels I have saved in the computer and in the course of conversation I mentioned that from time to rarely time I'll save the novels on a thumb drive and wrap the thing in aluminum foil in the case of an EMP pulse or a Carrington Event. He said that wasn't the best way to save them, but he didn't say what was as he talked about a Russian missile meant to use an EMP pulse to incapacitate some enemy in a war. Later I mentioned the house we are building will use metal studs instead of wood and a metal ceiling as we try to build a house our autistic daughter can't destroy. He thought I wouldn't need to worry about an EMP. That's right. We're going to be living in a giant Faraday cage.
And all that got me to thinking about North Pole and I'm remembering how much fun it was to live in North Pole, Alaska in a log house on a street named after a famous Husky sled dog, across the freeway from the forty-foot tall Santa Claus statue next to the Santa House where the Millers sold trinkets made in China to tourists from Germany.
We had to wrap all our electronics in aluminum foil or they would quit working in a few days to weeks because we also lived close to KJNP radio station. King Jesus North Pole. We would pick up the phone to call someone and we could hear what they were broadcasting. We had to talk over announcements like Jimmy Whitefish wants to meet Stan Happy at the confluence of the (Aluet name and Aluet name) Rivers in five days. And Everybody in (Yupik name of a village of 60 people) wish Grandma Jenn a happy birthday. During the day KJNP broadcast news and announcements to the Alaskan Bush. At night, they beamed sermons into Russia. Their broadcast was so strong they got fan mail from as far away as New Zealand.
I loved the missionaries who lived in tiny log cabins on the grounds of KJNP. The owner of the station was a millionaire who slept in the men's barracks and wore shirts that were older than I was. (Yes, this was some decades ago).
Maybe because Alaska was the Last Frontier, or Last Resort, or the last place you can go before you end up on an iceberg, eccentric people abounded and were tolerated. If you went to a play or concert, there would be a woman in slinky formal dress and high heels on one side of you, and on the other a wooly man in carhatt's and mukluks.
When it was -30 or below, the kids would tumble on the gym mats I laid on the floor of the basement and watch Princess Bride and UHF and memorize the dialogue. The autistic daughter only wanted to watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Twice a day, from beginning to end.
The public school system encouraged homeschoolers and handed out all the curricula a family could want. For them, the largest part of the education budget was running heated buses from isolated cabin to isolated cabin. Once the temperatures dipped below -30, no one but the teachers were required to go to school, but you could go if you were willing to risk your life.
One of the things I discovered and really liked about Alaska, was if you pull over to the side of the road (which I needed to do whenever my autistic daughter assaulted me) people will stop to check up on you.
I loved the moose ambling through the yard, the rabbits, the foxes. Not the mosquitoes. Instead of going for walks, my husband and I rode bikes together in an attempt to stay ahead of the clouds of mosquitoes.
Yeah, North Pole was fun.