Sunday, January 15, 2006

Moose, Volcanoes

Cyclist, friend and former client Scott McKinley has settled into his new ConocoPhillips assignment in Alaska. Here’s his most recent communiqué to the Lower 48.

Dorothy once said, “Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.” A quick look around is all it takes to get that Dorothy feeling:
  • Mountains and seawater everywhere you look
  • No traffic jams
  • Moose on the occasional street corner
  • Volcanoes erupting (see Augustine above, 171 miles from Scott’s home).

After all the hubbub of traveling, moving and unpacking, it’s nice to finally settle back into something routine. Routine? Yes, I work Monday-Friday, 8-5. Just about everything else, however, is requiring a fun and challenging learning curve.

  • The New Job…anybody know the best key performance indicator for measuring drilling rig efficiency?
  • The Drive…an 18-minute commute unfortunately limits the opportunities to learn how to best spin the car through icy corners.
  • Wintertime Hobbies…hiking in snow requires certain equipment that you just don’t realize you need until you’re on the trail (like a basket on a hiking pole).
  • House Maintenance…when the neighbor comes by to offer advice on how I might better snow-shovel my driveway.

Back to Dorothy’s comment. Had Dorothy stepped off a plane in Anchorage, picked up a local paper and read the headlines, she may have looked down at Toto saying, “Toto, I KNOW we're not in Kansas anymore.” Here’re a few headlines from December issues of the Anchorage Daily News: helpful indicators this is a unique locale.

“Workers Prepare Ponds for Ice Skating” (12/2/05)…Anchorage’s Park System actually smoothes the frozen surfaces on ponds and lakes for public ice skating.

“Two Men Found Frozen to Death in Valley” (12/1/05)…Getting “fall-down” drunk in Alaska can have fatal effects, as these two blokes never made it inside their home before passing out from alcohol consumption; the cold temperatures did the rest.

“Beached Baby Beluga Whale Dissected in Public School Parking Lot” (12/1/05)…I thought it was cool to be able to dissect a frog during 9th grade biology…but a whale?!?

“High School Skiing Is Off To The Races” (12/4/05)…Spending your afternoons on the slope practicing your skiing under the auspices of a school-sponsored sport. Nice.

“In Juneau, All That Glitters Really Is Gold” (12/7/05)…Construction workers moving earth at a project stumbled on a vein of gold recently, setting off a rash of lunchtime prospecting. Ever think about prospecting over your lunch hour?

“Sunrise – Sunset 10:14 a.m. - 3:41 p.m.” (12/8/05)…The paper publishes this on its front page. The days do become short in the wintertime.

“Volcano Camera Lets Anyone Eye Augustine” (1/11/06)…One of the many ‘local’ volcanoes erupted on Wednesday with an ash plume. See it live

Scott didn’t include it, but I know he’d want you to have your own set of instructions for collecting ash samples from the Augustine Volcano. So when you visit him, you’ll know just how to do it.

Image taken by Game McGimsey, USGS/AVO, January 12, 2006.

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