"Cosmic Hamlet"  

Posted by Stan Harrington


"Where The Land Ends And The Sea Begins"

In the 1950's and 1960's, I spent my childhood and young adulthood years in Homer, Alaska. In the 1980's my children were raised and attended their school years in Homer, Alaska. My first grandchild was born in Homer, Alaska. Although, I prefer to live in Anchor Point, Alaska my "roots" grow deep in Homer. Upon retirement from the Navy, our family returned to live in Homer. After our return to Homer, we could not help but notice a change in the community and made the decision to move to Anchor Point. Over the past several years, I have continued to see this change of atmosphere in Homer transpire. Having been a local business person in the area with one business in Homer and two businesses in Anchor Point, I have always maintained the policy to "shop locally". From experience, I know how important it is to support the local small business person. They need all the support they can get to survive the economics of a small community.

During the past twenty four hours, I have encountered two situations that have made me reconsider my thought process. While working on my 2008 Federal income taxes, I called the Finance Office of the City of Homer to verify the current sales tax rate within the city limits. I posed my question to a very polite lady on the phone. She quickly answered my question that the current rate was 7.5%. This caught me by surprise as I thought it was a few cents less than that. I repeated her answer and she replied, "yes, we have really high taxes". I had to agree with her. The last year I was in business in Homer which was three years ago the rate structure was 5%.

Later in the evening, I was enjoying a social evening of a Texas
Hold'em Poker when a local but faithful spectator stopped by the pub to watch the poker tables. During a break, he informed me that the Homer City Council had just adopted a new ordinance. I could not believe what he had to tell me. Ordinance 90-01 "Green Fee For Disposable Shopping Bags", hence forth when shopping in Homer, Alaska if you have your purchases placed in a disposable bag, paper or plastic, you will be charged a "Green Fee" of .25 cents per bag. The Ordinance even applies if you take in your own plastic or paper bag, you are still charged the same amount. The "seller" or business person must record the charge on your sales receipt. Quarterly the business person must file with the Finance Department and remit the "Green Fee" minus 10% of the fees collected for their administrative cost in collecting the "Green Fee". Funds collected from this "Green Fee" will be split equally between two projects. I have no problem with 50% of the funds derived being given to the Homer Foundation to pay operating costs of nonprofit organizations in Homer. However, the remaining 50% will be used to finance projects to implement the City of Homer Climate Action Plan (huh?). So, if you plan on visiting Homer in the future, be prepared to pay a 7.5% Sales Tax plus a quarter for each bag that is used to hold those items that you purchased to support the economy of Homer.

I hate to abandon some good friends and business associates in Homer, but I have to take the actions of the City of Homer into consideration. The recent history of Homer is to fresh in my memory. The outcry of the community when the new harbor lights were installed in the Homer boat harbor to improve safety and security. The passage of the "Nuclear Free Zone" ordinance that was enacted by the city in the 1980's. The clamor and uproar of the community when McDonald's wanted to open a franchise. With time and concessions of the franchise, it was opened in the 1980's and has provided a steady employment benefit to the young people of Homer. We saw this uproar occur again in very recent years when Fred Meyers wanted to move to Homer and open a new store. Being faced with requirements that no other business had ever faced, they eventually gave up and took their jobs and services elsewhere. The list is endless of a variety of things that have occurred in Homer in recent years, none of them for the betterment of the community. It is a shame that the basic elements of a community has to change. The Homer that I knew is not the Homer of today and that is a shame.

I wish them well with their higher taxes and "Green Fees" to do a Climate Action Plan. Perhaps, part of Climate Action Plan can include a study of the Bridge Creek Drainage area. The increased usage of water which is being diverted to the City of Homer and the adverse affect it is having on the Anchor River.


Late Posting: 1/20/2009 10:45 a,m,) According to the City Clerks office, this ordinance had it's final reading and accepted by the council, however it will not be voted on for adoption until April. As best I can interpret, you are not charged for the bags that you bring in, however, you may still be charged a .25 cent green fee in addition to the sales price for each disposable shopping bag. We will wait to see what happens in April and the commencement of the "visitor" season.

Confusing Titles  

Posted by Stan Harrington

On occasion, just a word or two that I read while visiting other blog sites will stir my curiosity and even my wild imagination. On one particular visit, a brief comment not only stirred my curiosity but it was also a subject that I had no knowledge but thought about on occasion. The question being, when is a title used that can be perceived as something other than the title implies. For many years, I was commonly referred to as "Chief". Even today, when I visit a military base, if the gate guard is astute, after looking at my identification, he will say "Thank You Chief". However, to the best of my knowledge, I have no ancestors in my background that would lead me to believe that I was an American Indian. It is a common phrase used in the Navy when addressing a Chief Petty Officer.

The phrase that triggered
my thoughts this day was "Postmaster General" which also made me wonder about the title of "Surgeon General" . The term General would lead one to automatically think about the Marine Corp, Army or Air Force staff officers. But it really boggles the mind when the "Surgeon General" is seen wearing what appears to be the uniform of a Navy Vice Admiral. Why isn't this position known as "Surgeon Admiral"? The "Postmaster General" is always seen wearing civvies, mostly commonly suit and tie.

"POSTMASTER GENERAL"
The Postmaster General is not in the military services of our country. The current Postmaster has never served in the military services, however he has been a career postal employee. At one time, the Postmaster General was appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by Congress. For many years, the Postmaster General was a member of the President's Cabinet. During this time frame, the Postmaster General was in the line of succession of the Presidency. The first Postmaster General of the United States was none other than Benjamin Franklin who served in this position from 1775 - 1776. He established the first mail route from Maine to Florida and New York to Canada. Two President's have served as Postmaster's in their home town. Abraham Lincoln served as Postmaster in New Salem, Illinois from May 1833 to to May 1836. President Harry Truman served as Postmaster in Grandview, Missouri from December 1914 to June 1915.


SURGEON GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES

The Surgeon General of the United States is the operational head of the Public Health Commissioned Corps. The Surgeon General is nominated by the President and confirmed by the majority vote of the Senate. Currently, Sanjay Gupta is awaiting confirmation following his nomination by President Obama. The Surgeon General is the highest ranked uniformed officer of the Public Health Service, holding the grade of a three star Vice Admiral when in office. However, the Surgeon General reports to the United States Assistant Secretary of Health, who himself may hold the rank of a four star admiral within the Public Health Service. As a commissioned officer in the Public Health Service by law they hold the rank of Vice Admiral. They are classified as non-combatant but can be subjected to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Convention when designated by the Commander In Chief (President) as a military force. Officer members wear uniforms that are similar to those worn by the U.S. Navy, except that the commissioning devices, buttons, and insignia are unique to the Public Health Service. Despite their appearance in uniform, they are not affiliated with the U.S. Navy. President S. Grant appointed the first Surgeon General, John Woodworth in March 1871.

Now it begs to ponder, why would someone with the title of General choose to hold the title and dress as an Admiral. Why didn't they choose to wear the uniform of the Army, Air Force, or Marine Corp where the title of General is appropriate?

Each time a flag ranked officer or an Officer in Command visits a naval vessel they are acknowledged when boarding. They are identified by their command, not by their name or rank. For instance, if the Secretary of the Navy were to visit a ship he would be announced by the Bos'n Mate of the Watch, as "Navy Arriving". A commanding officer of a ship would be announced by the name of his ship when visiting another ship or returning to his own command, for instance if the Commanding Officer of the carrier Ronald Reagan were going to board another vessel, the Bos'n of the Watch would announce, "Ronald Reagan Arriving". Now we encounter a problem of identification, if the Surgeon General were to visit a Navy ship, he would be announced as "Surgeon General Arriving" but then a Vice Admiral not a General shows up on the Quarterdeck. How do you log that into the deck log? "Surgeon General arrived onboard but not a real General but an Admiral, but not really an Admiral because he is not in Navy". Mind blogging thoughts.

Short Notes Of The Day  

Posted by Stan Harrington

Have made a large number of trips to the atrium windows today to see if there is any activity occurring on Mt. Redoubt. Although, the camera is not yet it place, it can be assembled on the tripod within seconds in the event of an eruption. Mt. Redoubt or Redoubt if you prefer is 10,197 feet in elevation. As of 2200 this evening, it is still being listed as Code Orange. One step below eruption or Code Red.
Speaking of color codes, do we still have the color codes in effect for the potential of having a terrorists attack?
Seismic activity continues at a much higher level than normal with earthquakes occurring every few minutes. At sunset this evening, there was no sign of smoke or steam escaping the mountain. At the last update, wind currents indicate that in the event of any eruption, any ash dispersed will spread over the Anchorage area.

It appears that I may have a little snow to play with and push around with the "ole" plow truck. Currently the prognosticators are giving those of us living on the lower Kenai Peninsula a 60% chance of snow over the next thirty six hours. If the forecast is accurate, we can expect 6 to 8 inches of new snow which would be our heaviest snowfall of this season. Current temperature in Anchor Point is 26 degrees and -4 degrees in Lincoln, Nebraska.

A couple of news items pertaining to the "825 Billion Dollar Stimulus Package" that our elected officials are trying to pass within the next thirty days. The Budget Office released the fact today, that if this package is passed at the current level, the total cost would be 1.1 Trillion Dollars. Why does that not surprise me? There is one item in the "Stimulus Package" that made me laugh. In the entire package, there is only one person mentioned by name in the entire bill. A small paragraph that reads in part; no funds will be disbursed to the State of Illinois unless one of two provisions are met prior to the disbursement of funds. (1) All funds for the State of Illinois must have state legislative approval prior to disbursement or (2) Rod Blagoevich (D) cannot be serving as the Governor. Now we know why the Illinois politicians are rushing to have him impeached.

In the economic news. I would suggest that all CEO's of the banking industries, automotive manufacturers, insurance companies, and anyone else that are asking out for "bailout out" money for the mistakes and sloppy management be required to attend a full course at "McDonald's University". Yes, there is such a school that middle and upper management personnel at McDonald's attend. The reason for this is because McDonald's released their financial statements today. The retail sales of McDonald's increased 80% this past year in comparison to 2007. Other good economic news, if you are not in the store front video rental business, Netflix increased their customer base to 9,000,000 customers this past year and recorded an increase in retail sales by 45% in 2008 in comparison to 2007. Now, if you want to get into the video rental or video to sale business, I just happen to have an excess of 20,000 DVD's and VHS videos that I will sell for a quarter (.25) per unit. They are boxed up in waterproof boxes ready for shipment, show me the cash, bring a good size truck, and they are yours. Yard sale them out at just a buck and your net profit would be $15,000!

In the "ugly fish" contest, this is my latest entry, although I do want to automatically disqualify on two merits. (1) I think this same picture appeared on a blog site of my primary competition in the contest several years ago so I do not want to be accused of plagiarism. (2) He is just to cute to be "ugly". His / Her eyes and downward smile looks so sad. I bet all of the other fish make fun of his ears.


They Were Soldiers  

Posted by Stan Harrington

On occasion, I find a worthwhile cause that I firmly believe in and feel justified to right a wrong. This is such a case so please be patient with my verboseness as this is a story that needs to be told and a wrong that needs to be righted.

Since the very earliest days of the establishment of the colonies in the "new world", the American Indian has played a vital role in our military services. Most often serving as advance scouts or working independently to collect information. Most often they were volunteers, not being recognized as "ordinary soldiers" nor receiving the credit they deserved for their services. The colonies and western exploration would not have been accomplished without their expertise and knowledge. In World War I, they were the advanced scouts and horse soldiers. In World War II, the Navajo Indian was used as "code talkers" in every major battle in the Pacific. They relayed messages from the field in their native tongue. Their unwritten language was a code that the military services of Imperial Japan could not break.

The majority of the Americans today have no concept that our sovereign territory was invaded and held by an organized military of a foreign government. Even I, as a child following World War II, this fact was never revealed to us in our history books. Each year, we properly recognize and memorialize the attack on Pearl Harbor. However, no mention is ever made of the Japanese forces that invaded and controlled the soils of Alaska during World War II.

The battle to regain control of our territory is known as the "Forgotten War". On June 3, 1942 Japanese bombers attacked Dutch Harbor on Unalaska Island. These war planes came from the Japanese carriers Junyo and Ryujo. The Japanese invasion of Kiska on June 6, 1942 and Attu on June 7, 1942 being met with little resistance. The reason for these invasions is argued on two points. Some historians believe that the invasion and occupation occurred in order to protect the Japanese northern flank. The popular historical belief is that the invasion was a diversionary tactic used by Admiral Yamamoto as it simultaneously occurred the same time as the Battle of Midway. Admiral Yamamoto was wanting to lure the carriers from Pearl Harbor to go north. Instead, our carrier forces were waiting for him at Midway.

U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Castner, an Army Intelligence Officer, created a unit that was fully functional with only minimal outfitting. Castner chose men skilled at living in tough conditions, the majority of this small unit were native Aleuts and Eskimos. Being a special unit, the typical military procedures were relaxed and in a short time the unit earned the nickname of the "Castner's Cutthroats". They were given a great deal of freedom to get the job done. An Army Lieutenant, Earl Acuff was stationed on a remote Aleutian Island to spy on the Japanese movement and their aircraft. Several months passed without hearing from him, "Castner Cutthroats" went ashore from a submarine to recover his body. However, they found him alive and well, having lived on King Crab and birds. Asked why he had not contacted anyone during the time, his reply was that he did not want to break radio silence. He would become a member of the Alaskan Scouts.

The story of "Castner's Cutthroats" and the Alaskan Scouts is long and makes a very interesting read. When the U.S. Army invaded the islands of Kiska and Attu, the Alaskan Scouts were the first to go ashore to scout out mine fields, and enemy strongholds. They trained our Army how to fight and survive in the harsh environments of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. The Alaskan Scouts were the first to go ashore on Adak Island, finding no Japanese occupation on the island they were dispatched to find a suitable place to build an airfield. Due to the terrain, the only site that was possible was a slough in Kuluk Bay. The Scouts, showed the engineers how to drain the slough and in time, the airfield was established and continues to to be used to this date.


On May 11, 1943 "Castner's Cutthroats" led the allied forces ashore on Attu Island. The Japanese chose not to confront the allied forces on the beaches, instead retreated into the mountians to hold up in caves and entrapment's. On May 29, the last of the Japanese forces suddenly attacked near Massacre Bay in one of the largest banzai charges of the Pacific Campaign. Following this charge which ended up in hand to hand combat, only 28 Japanese prisoners were taken and none of those were officers. Over two thousand Japanese soldiers were killed and many more believed to be killed but not recovered from the bombings of the allied forces.

On August 7, 1943 an invasion force of 34,000 Allied forces invaded Kiska Island led by the Alaskan Scouts, only to find the island had been evacuated by the Japanese. American territory was once again held by our military forces. In the "Forgotten War", there were a total of 3,929 U.S. casualties. In the years that followed, Commanders on site testified before Congress that the operation would have been more difficult and that the causalities would have been much higher, if it had not been for the Alaskan Scouts and their ability to adapt to the environment. Instead of the military pack and firearms, the Alaska Scouts equipped themselves with a Trapper Nelson pack, hunting knife, .22 caliber pistol and a sniper rifle.

On Thursday, January 22nd an article was published in the Anchorage Daily News which is available on line. The lead in story reads as follows: "The Army has decided to cut off retirement pay for veterans of a largely Native militia formed to guard the territory of Alaska from the threat of Japanese attack in World War II." Currently, there are 26 surviving members of the Alaskan Scouts. Most of these men are in their 80's and the petty amount of $557 retirement pay per month will end on February 1st. One of the men interviewed made a brief statement, "We did not get one cent being in the territorial guard" "And we worked hard"

Our Congressional delegation is going to pursue this according to the news article. However, like I have already done, I would encourage each of you to write or email our representatives in Washington D.C. to insure that they indeed follow through and get this decision reversed.

The men of "Castner's Cutthroats", Alaskan Scouts or Territorial Guard deserve much more than a meager government check. They deserve our respect and admiration as they were truly our "First Line of Defense".

Ugly Fish Contest  

Posted by Stan Harrington

It has been brought to my attention that an "ugly fish contest" is underway. The concept for this competition was originated by a guy that knows ugly fish, most of them on the small size. His entry is a blobfish and it is a fish that only it's mother could love. I am sure the father of this beauty most likely fled the scene as soon as he saw the off spring. However, I hold firm in my belief that my two entries are uglier than his single entry, therefore he has the third ugliest fish picture.


Overly Stimulated  

Posted by Stan Harrington

(Ref: Webster) Stimulus ~ an action, influence, or agency, that produces a response in a living organism; anything that arouses to action or increased action.

Currently our new administration and Democrat controlled Congress is preparing to introduce a "new" stimulus package. Currently, this package is considered to be in the range of $825,000,000,000 ($825 Billion). However, most economists agree that by the time the final package is completed it will be in excess of one trillion dollars. Keep in mind, the political party in control wants to have this completed and approved within the next thirty days. This "stimulus package" is separate from the original package that was hurriedly passed and adopted within a few days during the campaign season. I have a problem of occurring this vast amount of debt on this short of a time schedule. Most of us have to consider and debate the pros and cons for a longer period than that when it comes to buying an appliance for our home. It is most interesting to consider where the funds from this $825 Billion dollars is going to be used to "stimulate" our economy. I have such a list of proposed "stimulus" expenditures in front of me.

Without being verbose, I will highlight just a few of the new proposals to put folks back to work and revitalize our economy.

$145 Billion in Tax Cuts for working individuals: You will receive $500 per person or $1,000 for a couple. Those making over $75,000 will not get this big bonus check. However, those not paying any taxes will also be eligible for this "tax cut" and receive a check!
$43 Billion for increased unemployment benefits. Though the stimulus package was designed to put people to work, not pay them not to work.
$39 Billion for expanded health care for the unemployed
$20 Billion to increase food stamps.
$41 Billion for school improvements
$15 Billion to increase Pell Grants by $500.00
$
79 billion to help states offset education costs.
$4 Billion for more preventative health care programs.
$1.5 Billion for improvement in community health centers.
$20 Billion to computerize health care records
$87 billion for states to help pay Medicare costs.
$3 Billion to expand congested airports.
$1.5 Billion for better land and sea ports

The list does not get any better, I can see a lot of expenditures be utilized for social programs which will have very little effect on stimulating the economy. Where are the jobs that this program should be providing? Instead we expend the funds to encourage individuals not to work. The philosophy
continues, "why should I work when I can make more money on welfare". The politicians talk about "volunteer service" and becoming involved within your community to make a difference. I have no problem with helping someone out when they need help, however my plan is simple. If you do not want to work and live off welfare, then you will work for your welfare check by doing community service projects at a fair wage scale. A days work for a days pay is a great philosophy to stimulate the economy.

Keep it in your thoughts that it was a campaign pledge by President Obama that he would "veto" any bill coming across his desk that has special "earmarks", commonly referred to as "pork". This "stimulus package" is littered with fat! For instance, $360 million dollars for planting grass in Washington D.C.. I assume in time this massive project would create jobs, someone has to cut all that grass.

This "stimulus package" is separate from the $700 billion stimulus package passed in October 2008 and of course is outside the perimeter of the Annual Budget that will be going before Congress within the next sixty days. A good number of projects, i.e. "smart power grid" being funded by this proposed stimulus package cannot be achieved within the next ten years.

I apologize to my grandchildren in advance, as the national debt service we are currently proposing will be your responsibility to retire.

Inauguration Highlight  

Posted by Stan Harrington

After a few hours of sleep, I have now successfully recovered from Inauguration Syndrome. Being a historical and political junkie, I was addicted to watching the transition of power from our 43rd President, George W. Bush to our 44th President Barrack H. Obama. Being handicapped by the time zone, my day began at 0200 Tuesday morning ending at 2200 the same day. I enjoyed it thoroughly and consider it time well spent.

President Barrack H. Obama: No doubt that this day was a historical event in the history of of our nation. The transition of power was completed in an orderly fashion with both parties showing professionalism and courtesy towards one another. The passage of time during the next four years will be the judge of the administration of President Obama's administration. In listening to his Inauguration speech it was filled with hope and promises for the future. We cannot expect all of the promises to be kept, as governing within the political process can be stalled by economic and world events. Although all candidates promise unity and bipartisan, it is very difficult to achieve in a power broker environment. Within the President's speech, there was one partial paragraph upon which I will remember and judge the administration of President Obama. He is quoted as saying, "We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you." This is basically the same policy established by past President George W. Bush.

Despite non-stop news coverage by every television network in the world, there was one moment in the day that was missed by all of them. Despite all the pomp and circumstance, I thought this particular moment was a highlight because it defined the individual and his values. President Bush is most likely the most popular Commander in Chief that we have seen in recent history. He was well respected by those in the military, as he stood by his word as a Commander despite the popularity polls. We cannot forget the times that he upset the news media by sneaking off in Air Force One to visit the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan on Christmas Day or the day he landed on the decks of an aircraft carrier returning from a eleven month deployment. One cannot forget the number of times that his eyes filled with tears when talking about those men and women under his command.

The moment in time that the news media failed to respond to occurred at Andrews Air Force Base. When President Clinton left office, he also flew out of Andrew's Air Force Base on Executive One (formerly Air Force One) but prior to doing so he held a reception in the hangar that was open to all. His reception lasted over two hours and distracted from the Inauguration of President Bush. It was widely covered by the news media.

Yesterday, landing at Andrews A.F.B. in a helicopter from the capital, President Bush was greeted by the entire staff of personnel that maintained the presidential fleet of aircraft. Departing the helicopter, he went directly to these men and women, shaking each of their hands and then posing for pictures. He also had a reception in the hangar, only this time it was a closed affair, restricted to his staff, close friends, and the air crews at Andrews A.F.B. The reception lasted less than a half hour, he and his family then boarded Executive One for the flight to Texas.

The news media was present to video the launch of the former Air Force One, however, there was no commentary. Following the successful launch of the Executive One, the aircraft banked sharp and commenced a low level circular pattern over Washington D.C. and the White House. Coming back on course, it then started to descend as it approached Andrews Air Force Base glide pattern. The pilot made a perfect approach, although it could be classified as a "touch and go" it was actually a very low altitude fly over of the runway. The air crews on the ground were outside waving and saluting the aircraft as it went the length of the runway, gaining altitude, the pilot dipped his outboard wing twice, banked right, and headed to Texas. A typical military pilots salute to those on the deck. The Commander In Chief was going home. The balance of the story is that the pilot, a Colonel in the Air Force and the pilot of Air Force One each time the President flew was also going home. On his return flight to Andrews Air Force Base, he exchanged seats with his co-pilot as his flight to Texas was the last time that he would sit as Commander of the Aircraft, as he also was retiring after thirty years in the military. Very little emphasis was placed on this flight by the news media, but it spoke volumes of the character and the respect for the outgoing Commander in Chief.

Don't Have Anything To Write About  

Posted by Stan Harrington

A common occurrence that is posted on a good number of blog sites. I maintain that there is always something to say. As well, I personally presume that it is just important to be as verbose as possible in any posting. When that moment arrives that "writer's block" sets in or you have the feeling that you lead a very boring life. Just glance around you will quickly discover your next topic of discussion.

For instance, there is always the weather. A lot of bloggers write about the weather. That is always a good lead in. I just reviewed the weather forecast for the Kenai Peninsula. It appears that we can look forward to almost spring like weather for a few more days. There is a long range forecast for snow on Saturday. However, we know that the prognosticators get this wrong more often than not.

Of course, there is always current events to write about. A five minute version of the evening news or the first two pagers of the local fish wrapper will give you plenty to write about. However, it is best t look behind the news story to discover the real story. For instance, tomorrow we will once again watch the Inauguration of a new President. Some prefer to call it a Coronation, however it is steeped with American tradition therefore, I will once again watch the Inauguration as I have with each of the past Presidents. You do not have to like the choice, but you have to appreciate the orderliness of the transfer of power that we enjoy in our democracy.

However, even in our politics, you can always find interesting facts that most citizens have not considered. For instance, did you know that since President Gerald Ford (1974 - 1977) that there has only been two right handed Presidents? The two right handed Presidents were Jimmy Carter (39th) and the current President George Bush (43rd). Presidents Ford (38th), President Reagan (40th), President George H.W. Bush (41st) and President Clinton (42nd) were all left handed. In the event you are wondering, President Elect Obama is also left handed. If the election results had been reversed, we would have still had a left handed President as Senator McCain is also left handed.

When all else fails, you can always find an interesting topic to write about in regards to sex! The gestation period of the human is 266 days. In comparison, the gestation period of the Gorilla is 257 days and the same period for the Orangutan is 260 days. Some would believe that we have only evolved six days beyond that of the Orangutan. Mother Asian Elephants have a tough time, their gestation period is 645 days compared to just 640 days for the African Elephant. In our own backyard, the next time you see that grouchy Cow Moose, her gestation period is 245 days. The Wolf Pack can multiply in a hurry, like every 64 days! The cat family takes just a little longer, the Lynx has a 69 day gestation period. The baby Beaver takes a little longer to develop, 107 days and you have a new damm builder. The Buffalo is very similar to the domestic cow, a cow Buffie has a gestation period of 270 days while the Black Bear takes just 210 days to produce a fish eater.

Did you ever just sit and watch an American Bald Eagle fly or soar on the air currents. The Bald Eagle will achieve speeds of 40 - 50 mph, however in a dive to catch a fish I am assuming the speed increases considerably. Have you ever seen a baby eagle? I have seen thousands of Bald Eagles, but never an infant. Dad and mom take turns of incubating the eggs which will number from 1 to 3 in the nest. This incubation period is approximately 35 days. In a time span, of 10 - 11 weeks the nestlings take flight and are relatively similar in size to their parents.

I have now completed one verbose posting, yet have provided you with useful information that you perhaps did not know. Now you know this worthwhile information so my time was not wasted nor was the time it took you to read my words, even though I did not have anything to write about. That is blogging!

 

Posted by Stan Harrington

What a difference a new day makes. Twenty four hours following my last visit to the river, this is what I discovered yesterday. On Friday, I visited the "Picnic Hole" and sat on one of my favorite logs for awhile and watched the river. At that time the bank in which I sat was about five feet above the water edge. Although, broken ice was present, it was flowing uninhibited to the sea. On Saturday, the log upon which I sat, was not in sight. I surely do hope that it survives the ice and high water. Currently, the major ice jam runs from the bottom of the "Dudas Hole" to the top of "Gus's Run"

The Anchor River is now in flood stage with some minor flooding crossing the Anchor Point Beach Road in the vicinity of the Coho Campground.

"Picnic Hole"

Looking Upstream From the "Picnic Hole to Gus's Run"

Little Wet To Have A Picnic At The Steelhead Campground

Looking Downstream From "Ma Walli Park" to "Gus's Run"

Will Not Divulge This Location, But Keep An Eye On this Spot This Coming King Salmon Season
There Will Be A 30+ Pound King Salmon Taken From this Hole and Secret Run


The "Forks"

Looking Downstream From Bridge

Some Great Ice Bergs, Should Be Cutting It Up and Saving For This Next Summer

Although, some minor damages occur when the river floods, these big pieces of ice and high water is mother natures way of removing the excess silt that covers the spawning beds during low water periods. If mankind would just stay out of the way, nature will protect the river.

Winter Break Up  

Posted by Stan Harrington

Within a few days, we will once experience the onslaught of winter, but until then it is pretty nice to sit on the deck and enjoy a cup of coffee. The Anchor River is once again flowing a full head of water with an expected increase over the next 24 hours. However, it is not nearly the magnitude that we have experienced in the past.

According to the Hydrological Prediction Service in Anchorage the height of the "action stage" for Anchor River is set at 13.5 feet. Flood stage, which we are currently nearing is set at 15.5 feet. The "Moderate Flood Stage" is established at 17 feet with the "Major Flood Stage" set at the 18 foot level.

The "Major Flood Stage" on the Anchor River has been reached on only two occasions, both of which I had the privilege of witnessing. On January 20, 1961 the Anchor River peaked out at a major flood level of 18.5 feet. On, October 24, 2002 was the date that the largest flood ever occurred on the Anchor River with the flood level set at 19.15 feet.

I spent a little time looking at the river this past day. Witnessed some great "ice berg" action in the current of the river as I sat on my favorite log at the Picnic Hole. Memories also flooded my thoughts. The most vivid was the morning that I caught a 16.5 Silver Salmon in this particular hole this past August. Did I ever tell you about that fish? However, the fish was not as important as the other memories that filtered through my thoughts of that particular day. The memories of those that I fished with that date outweighed the fish that was caught. In the solitude of the river, I found peace.

Shop Locally  

Posted by Stan Harrington

Each of us are trying to figure out the economy and what is occurring as we are faced with the reality of the increased cost of living. Although, it appears that Alaska is not affected as much as some our our lower forty eight neighbors, with some exceptions. Gasoline prices in Alaska continue to exceed the national average, yet the product is produced in our state. No doubt, you have noticed a "sharp" increase in your utility costs, especially in the electrical utilities.

Today, the numbers came out for retail sales during for the past year. Retail sales were down 0.1 percent which does not appear to be that drastic. However, it is a sharp upward increase after a 4.1 per cent gain in 2007. According to the Department of Commerce, business sales fell by a record of 5.1% in November 2008.

However, being an optimist, I think when our economists develop these figures, they should also be taking into consideration other factors, primarily E-Commerce. I have always been a proponent that in our electronic era, our communities and especially the "small business" community will be adversely affected by E-Commerce.

While retail sales continue to decline nationwide, we have seen an increase in retail sales via E-Commerce. The Department of Commerce reports that E-Commerce retail sales in in the 3rd Quarter 2008 was 34.4 billion dollars. This amount indicates an increase of 1.3% in comparison to the 2
nd Quarter of 2008. Reviewing this trend over the span of the past year, 3rd Quarter 2007 to 3rd Quarter 2008 there was an increase of 5.7% in E-Commerce retail sales.

The chart below indicates the continuously rise of E-Commerce retail sales from the 3rd Quarter of 2000 to the 3rd Quarter of 2008.

Although, the Internet is a great way to shop and you can save a few dollars online you should also consider the impact that it is having on your local community. The cost of doing business via the Internet is much less than maintaining a "store front" business. The property tax and retail sales tax burden is eliminated for E-Commerce sales. Consequently, when this occurs, a tax deficit occurs for the community and state. To make up this deficit and maintain services to the community, your personal property and sales tax increases. The local economy also suffers from E-Commerce, the small business owner in your community is forced to either increase prices and put themselves above the average recommended retail price or decrease their cost of doing business by a forced lay off of employees. Each of us have contributed to a variety of charitable organizations. The small business person is contacted daily for contributions for these worthwhile projects. Unfortunately, as the cost of doing business increases, these charitable contributions decrease proportionately.

With the continued increase in the popularity of E-Commerce and the expansion of super stores being developed in our communities, with time the small businesses will disappear from the scene very similar to what we have seen in our "family farms" and independent commercial fisheries. That will be a shame as our country, state, and community was built on the spirit of the entrepreneur. These small business owners are our neighbors, friends, and family and deserve our support.

Shooting the Moon  

Posted by Stan Harrington

During the past few days, we have experienced the "largest" full moon for the remainder of this New Year. For the past two mornings, from 5:30 a.m. top 10:21 a.m, I have been making an attempt to get some decent moon shots. I have discovered that this particular object is very difficult to shoot, especially when hindered by power lines, telephone lines, sub zero weather, and this morning, cloud cover. However, it was a fun project and well worth the time and effort. I figured I have many full moons in the future, eventually I will get the "shot" that I want. I apologize for cutting short a very beautiful classical piece of music to make it fit within the time frame of the clip. It was either that or you would have to set through almost five minutes of "moon shots" to hear the entire piece of music.

For my immediate family, there is a "family trivia" question embedded within the short clip, can you solve the mystery?


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Going To Be A Good Navy Day  

Posted by Stan Harrington

Although, you may not have the opportunity to witness the celebration on the major electronic news media, today is going to be a great day for the Navy. However, if you watch Fox News, they are preempting the normal news broadcast to dedicate this time to the Commission Ceremony of the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush (CVN-77). If you have never witnessed this time honored tradition, it is a very moving and patriotic moment in time. The men and women boarding their ship for the first time, the raising of the Commission Pennant above our National Flag as a new ship of the line joins the fleet of the U.S. Navy. To the best of my knowledge, this will be the first time in our history that a living past President will be present at a Commissioning Ceremony for a ship named after him.

U.S.S. GEORGE H.W. BUSH (CVN-77)

The U.S.S. George H.W. Bush is the tenth and final ship of the Nimtz Class aircraft carrier. The ninth carrier in this class is the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan which is fully operational at this time and serving in the fleet. A new classification of aircraft carriers is being developed, the first one of these will be named after President Gerald Ford. The U.S.S. Bush is powered by two nuclear reactors with an operational speed of +30 knots. The U.S.S. Bush has four bronze propellers measuring 21 feet across and weighing thirty tons. She will not need to refuel for twenty years and has a life expectancy of fifty years. Fully operational, she will carry a crew of 6,000 men and women with a compliment of +90 aircraft of a variety of models and mission capabilities. Her total length is 1,092 feet with her flight deck measuring 4.5 acres. She is fully self contained with the ability to make 400,000 gallons of fresh water per day from seawater.

Historically, U.S. Navy ships of the line are named based on the type of ship. With a few exceptions, the aircraft carrier is named after famous naval battles (U.S.S. Midway, U.S.S. Coral Sea), Naval Commanders (U.S.S.Nimtz, Commander In Chief, Pacific during world War II), or Presidents of the United States.

Before someone gets the concept that the names are chosen based on politics or favoritism, this is not the case. The names are chosen by the U.S. Navy. The name of the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush was chosen when this ship was still on the drawing board and was not chosen by his son, our current President. The naming of this great ship is appropriate when you consider the man, George H.W. Bush. At age 18 he enlisted into the Navy as a seaman and following his recruit training was selected into the aviation program. Graduating from flight school, still at the age 18 he was commissioned as an officer and became a naval aviator, the youngest person to ever obtain this goal. During World War II, from August 1942 to September 1945, he flew torpedo bombers off the deck of the aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Jacinto. On September 2, 1944 he was shot down and was later rescued by the submarine, U.S.S. Finback. He returned to flight status and by the end of the war was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air Medals.


If you think that the United States has lost the ability as a superpower in our industrial might and our ability to develop modern technology. A visit to this website would be well worth a few minutes of your time. This site has some great pictures of the construction process however there is also some great video footage. The U.S.S. George H.W. Bush was built in sections, then connected using cranes. There are several videos showing the lifting of these sections and putting them into place. Below is a still shot of the "bridge" being raised to install it in place on the flight deck.



Although, I wish I could be there in person to witness the Commissioning Ceremonies, my morning will be devoted to watching it on television.

To The Crew And To This Great Ship, I Wish You
"FAIR WINDS, FOLLOWING SEAS AND GOD SPEED"

Local Photo Journey  

Posted by Stan Harrington

Although the temperatures were still hovering slightly below zero, the sense of "cabin fever" setting in was the determining force for us to take a little photo journey around the area.

Cook Inlet Beach ~ Anchor Point, Alaska


Ice Flows Of Cook Inlet ~ Anchor Point



Homer Boat Harbor ~ Homer, Alaska
Sign In Foreground "No Wake Zone ~ 2 MPH" Strictly Being Enforced


Deep Water Dock ~ Homer, Alaska
Flow Ice Extends From Mud Bay Easterly To Miller's Landing


Entrance to Homer Boat Harbor ~ Homer, Alaska

U.S. Coast Guard Buoy Tender "Hickory" Returning To Port through The Waters Of "Smokey Bay"















The "Hickory" Off The Tip Of the Homer Spit, Making Her Approach To Her Berth.














Turning In Open Water, Commenced Backing Into Her Berth. Breaking Ice With Her Stern And The Use Of Her Side Thrusters It Was A Slow Process















After 57 Minutes, The first Line Was Secured To The Dock.














Although, the "Feeding Program" For The Eagles Has Commenced, There Were Only A Handful Of Eagles On The End Of The Homer Spit.














These Two Guys Were Very Cooperative And Posed For Me In A Variety Of Positions. Look Right, Show Me the Back Of Your Head














Look Right, Look Straight Ah
ead.














Look Left, Look Right














In all, it was a pleasurable trip. My greatest discovery was at the the top of Baycrest Hill In Homer. The gasoline station at the top of the hill has a huge banner hanging from the side of the
building. "Now Featuring Soft Serve Ice Cream, 24 Flavors". Over a period of time, I intend to "taste test" each of the twenty four flavors. A single "click" on each picture will give you a larger and detail look.

"Reality Checks"  

Posted by Stan Harrington

With colder than normal temperatures, hovering from a high of minus -3 to a low of -27 in our fair village, I decided to seek a little warmer climate today. Although, I had other reasons for making this trip, the warmer climate would be a welcome change. I decided to visit Homer, Alaska. Departing my driveway at noon, I could not help but notice my thermometer registered our daily high of minus two degrees. As I passed through the Anchor River Valley, a quarter of a mile from my home the temperature dropped another eight degrees, to a low of minus ten.

Heading south into the sun, as I passed my children's favorite espresso stand at Black Water Bend the temperature had continued to drop to -17 degrees. Crossing the Anchor River the thermometer slowly started to raise. Pulling into the bank in Homer, my thermometer registered the same as the flashing temperature sign, a positive 5 degrees. I had found my sun! Completing my loan processing, I was now prepared to achieve the original objective of my trip. Visiting the Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles in Homer is a great way to remind you how slow government agencies can complete a simple task. The reason for my visit this day was to renew my pick-up truck registration. Now, I do have to admit, that I often overlooked this deadline every two years and have been known to get in at least a extra year before I have to appear at the door of the DMV. However, today, I was only two months late so I was feeling real good about myself.

My
first "reality check" occurred as I approached the front doors of the DMV. A large sign was posted on the window. "OPEN 8 A.M. TO 6:30 P.M.". Wow, before it was whenever they opened their front doors until they went to lunch which would vary from day to day. In the past, forget going to DMV on Tuesday, Wednesday, sometimes Thursday because that was the day they did the "driver's tests. My second "reality check"occurred when I stepped through the door, there was only one customer at the counter and two clerks were on duty, ready to serve the public. In the past, you normally wanted to take a thermos of coffee and picnic lunch because you were going to be there awhile. On typical days in the past, the waiting area which was "behind the red line" extended out into the hallway. Forget a number process, if you had to fall out of line for any reason, you lost your spot unless you knew the clerk. Having this privilege always gave you "head of the line" privileges. Now, the "red line" has even been removed.

Third "reality check", the lady at the counter was very friendly and greeted me with a big smile and "how are you doing Mr. Harrington"? This caused me a moment to reflect on if I was indeed in the right office. Within five minutes and without scolding me for being "late again" my paperwork was precessed and I exchanged my bank loan for the little slip of paper and plastic decal. As I turned to depart, she once again acknowledged that I was a human by simply stating, "have a good day Mr. Harrington and stay warm". Now, I do not know who is to blame for changing the DMV Office in Homer, Alaska but you have my personal gratitude for a job "Well Done" as it was an pleasurable experience and I almost look forward to my next trip.

Fourth "reality check" came to me as I settled down behind the steering wheel of my truck, still basking from the warm reception that I had just encountered at the DMV. It was only then that I looked down at the little slip of paper in my hand, my legal Registration Form giving my vehicle and presumably myself the right to drive on our highways. Realizing that I was late by two months for registering my "ole truck", my Registration Form indicated that my new Plastic Tag needs to be affixed to the rear license plate would expire the last day of October 2010. A very quick, but accurate calculation of simple math revealed to me that in October 2010, I am going to be 65 years of age. In the event you do not keep up with "Senior Citizen Privileges", at the age of 65 you are entitled to one personal vehicle that can be registered FREE! Unless, I get real stupid in the next one year and ten months, I will never have to register a vehicle again or even visit the Department of Motor Vehicles. At least on my last visit, it was a pleasant experience.

However, not to get stuck on details, I may have to return to the same office, the way that I have it computed, I turn 65 in May 2010. I calculate that I should get a refund on my registration from my birthday in 2010 through October 2010 when my registration is up for renewal of my "free" registration . The way, I have it figured out, I was overcharged by $38.65

A River Of Memories  

Posted by Stan Harrington

Although the Anchor River is currently encrusted in ice. In a few short months, the river will flow once again and the salmon will return to the river of their origin. Once again, when the Anchor River opens to King Salmon fishing, the Harrington family will also return to the river.

The Anchor River and adjoining marine fisheries of Cook Inlet have played a major role in our family and our lives. It is just not the fishing that attracts us to the Anchor River, it is a River of Memories of our Youth, Weddings, Memorial Services, and our Lives. I grew up on the Anchor River as did my children and now their children.

The Spring of 2009 will mark the 57th Year that we have walked the banks of the Anchor River. Each "fishing hole" will bring back special memories of years past, even those that are now barren of water due to the river always changing course, much like our own lives. We have our special places that we like to sit and watch the river, for no apparent reason other than to reflect on our lives, both present and past. In the realm of time, fifty seven years is just a speck, but in our lives it represents five generations of Harrington's on the Anchor River.

My father, Vern Harrington and my brother, Tad Harrington discovered the Anchor River in 1952 on their first visit to Alaska. The Anchor River was the primary reason that they chose to move to this area from Colorado. They have since passed, but my father would be pleased to know that his Great, Great Granddaughters spend time on the Anchor River. Life continues and with each passing season, memories of this special river will continue to flow into our lives.



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Pause To Reflect  

Posted by Stan Harrington

Today, the first day of the year, I pause to reflect on the two true loves of my life, my family and my country. Within a few days, we will have a change of the leadership of a great country, our America. This change was not brought about by cannon fire but by an orderly electoral process as envisioned by the founders of our great nation.

I thank, President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush for their past eight years of dedicated service to our country. President Bush and Mrs. Bush restored the "peoples house", not in fancy furnishings and remodeling, but in prestige, respect, and honor. President Bush faced the greatest crisis our nation has seen on our home soil, through his leadership and dedication many attacks similar to 9/11 have been diverted. History will be much kinder to President Bush than the news media and some Congressional leaders have been in the past. Their daughters are also to be commended. They have chosen to stay our of the spot light and lead semi normal lives. When their daughter, Jenna chose to be married, she could have chosen a lavish wedding at the White House but instead chose to be wedded at their home in Texas. The leadership of both President Bush and his father, Past President Bush, are to be respected in their roles as Commander In Chief.

Within a few days, a new President, will take the Oath of Office, it is my hope that he will use President Bush as a role model and stand by his principles regardless of the political consequences of his actions, as he represents each one of us.

Although, I was in the "movie business" at the basement level of the industry for many years,
on this first day of the year, I am posting my "first video". Perhaps, it will give you a few moments of "Pause to Reflect".


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Disclaimer: No American Bald Eagles were injured or disturbed in the taking of these pictures, each of them were photographed within a few miles of our Alaskan home.