Tag Archives: juneau
May 25, 2013


About six months ago I made a conscious decision to stop worrying about updating Postcard Valet.  This was after a few months spent worrying about why I wasn’t updating the site during our last few months in Australia.  Though I regret not explaining why I haven’t been updating, the rationalization for why was an easy one to make.  Once we got on the road again, at the end of the day I barely had the time and energy to back up our photos and keep up with my daily journaling… Writing for the blog – let alone video editing – would have completely exhausted me, as well as taken away valuable travel time.

Considering we just drove onto the Alaska Marine Highway and, in about six hours we will return to Juneau and our trip around the world will be at an end, I thought this would be a good time to finally write about what Oksana and I have been up to. (more…)

October 9, 2008

For Sale: 1989 Jeep Cherokee Pioneer

Pioneer logo

For Sale:
Jeep Cherokee Pioneer, 1989.  Automatic, 6-Cyl. 4-liter, 4×4, CD player, 135k miles.  Juneau body, but starts every time.  KBB at “fair” value $1200.  Asking $1000.  Comes with FULL DISCLOSURE.


So, yeah, I upgraded.  Jeep 2.0…04.  I don’t need to be paying insurance for two Jeeps when the old one is just sitting there, so I guess it’s time to sell it. 

Below you’ll find everything there is to know about my old Jeep.  Part disclosure, part memorial; this was written mostly for me.  This is how I’ll remember a car that treated me well for 10 years.

This isn’t a glamorous Jeep.  It’s a 20-year-old Jeep Cherokee Pioneer that didn’t have a ton of options to begin with.  I figure it’s in “poor” condition by Kelly Blue Book standards, but I’m not the kind of guy that’ll try to hide the problems to make some extra cash.  I think this Jeep is probably worth $1000.  If you agree, and you want to buy it for that, it’s yours.  Contact information is at the very end of this entry.


January 9, 2007


USGS Earthquake MapI had a fun wake up call this morning.  After falling asleep at about 4:45am — what can I say; I’m on vacation — Oksana ran in at 6:49am and said, “Arlo, wake up!  It’s an earthquake!”

“Holy crap!” I replied.  I bounced out of bed and stood in the doorway just as the trembling faded away.

Wait, that doesn’t do my reaction justice.

“Holy crap!” I said, not understanding what she said, but reacting only to her tone of voice.  I stumbled out of bed, clad only in my undies, and stood in the bedroom doorway desperately trying to keep my eyelids open.  I may have only imagined the last of the rumbling, or perhaps my conscious mind was pulling up memories of the sensation from the previous 10 seconds of being fully asleep.  Oksana left me there and went to the front door.  It was already over.

I suspect that after most earthquakes, people take a few seconds to wonder “Was that really an earthquake?  Might have been thunder, or maybe an explosion.”  We live in an apartment above the post office, so our first reaction was “Did the freight truck run into building?  Again?”

Oksana was sure it’d been an earthquake, though.  She was in the bathroom when everything on the shelves started rattling around.  Her first thought, of course, was the post office truck, but then our notoriously precarious entertainment center started to wobble in the living room.  She heard all the knickknacks on it rocking madly back and forth.  By the time she woke me up, it was pretty much over.  Fortunately, nothing in our house fell over, down, or off anything.

I wanted to check to see if it had been a earthquake, and the first thing I could think of was to get online.  I knew about the USGS earthquake site and I called it up.  Unfortunately, they update in “near real time” and an update 30 seconds after the shaking ended was an unreasonable expectation.  I thought that the Juneau Empire or Google News might eventually verify it for me, but not for awhile yet.

I was still struggling to keep my eyes open when Oksana went back to getting ready for work.  I began to feel nauseated.  All of a sudden my mouth started watering and I was on the verge of throwing up.  I laid down on the couch, pulled a blanket over me, and promptly fell back asleep.  I have no idea why I felt so sick.  Maybe it was the shaking, or more likely the extremely rapid onset of stress (“Holy crap!”)  Or maybe it was just, you know, morning sickness.

At a more reasonable hour, I got up off the couch and checked again online for some news.  Yep, all three sources confirmed it.  5.6 on the Richter scale, roughly 160 miles northwest of Juneau, and 5.9 miles underground (+ or – 5.5 miles, heh).  Bet Haines and Skagway were bumpy this morning.

I thought about calling Oksana to let her know, but then she listens to the radio at work and they were sure to have had that on the news.  Duh.  The radio.  And the TV.  That’s how I could have quickly confirmed it earlier.  No doubt the morning radio hosts would have been fielding calls right away.

Funny how I defaulted into thinking that the internet would be the best way to get information on an earthquake.

December 29, 2006

Independence Day

Independence Day

Purchase a Print

Six months ago, I took my fancy-schmacy 8 MegaPixel digital SLR out to take pictures of the Independence Day fireworks show.  Except for leaving my cable release at home, I was completely prepared.  The weather was clear, I had a tripod, and thanks to a friend, we established ourselves in the perfect vantage point: The top floor balcony of the Juneau Public Library.  We had an unhindered view of the channel and I had more than enough time before the show to test out different exposure settings. The above picture is not from that night.  The half-assed snapshots I took in 2004 came out far better. After looking at them, I think it’s because I was exposing for what I saw that night rather than exposing for an aesthetically pleasing fireworks photograph.  It never gets truly dark during the summer in Alaska, so the sky was still bright when the fireworks started at midnight.  I thought the cold blue of the sky was great and exposed my pictures to keep it intact.  Unfortunately, the fireworks were brighter and when the blue of the background sky was kept, the fireworks themselves couldn’t avoid being overexposed. The photo above was taken with a 3-MegaPixel point-and-shoot.  Of course, I didn’t just point and shoot with it; I know how to use the PowerShot s30’s manual controls.  But the shooting conditions were less than ideal, that night.  It was a drizzly and my “tripod” was a staircase railing up on the hillside.  My pivot head was a quarter.  And yet… so many of the pictures turned out that it was difficult to choose a favorite from a directory full of 4th of July photos. Because of the rain, it was dark enough that night that I didn’t even notice the tree on the left until after the first picture was displayed on the LCD screen.  Even choosing my focus point was difficult — I had to wait for the light from the next explosion before my camera could auto-focus again.   Despite all that I got good pictures!  The sky is nice and dark (but still with a tinge of blue), which accentuates the colors of the fireworks.  The silhouette of the tree definitely adds to the composition.  Even the smoke trails seem to align within the rule of thirds.  Lucky, I guess. Canon Powershot s30 Date: 4 July 2002 Focal Length: 12.3mm Shutter: 6 seconds Aperture: F/3.5 Photoshop: Cropped from 4:3 to 3:2, Minor color correction

July 14, 2005


Three views of my knee

Outside it’s a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon, and because I’m physically and emotionally exhausted, I’d much rather take a nap than start a new ‘blog entry. But someone told me that it’s not such a good idea to go to sleep when there’s the possibility you may have a concussion…

I can remember the first time I ever played ultimate. A couple friends and I were hanging out at the local comic book store in Ketchikan when one of the co-owners started reminiscing with his visiting college buddy about the game. Having spent many summers on the beach in Nags Head, North Carolina, I was somewhat familiar with the aerodynamics of a common Frisbee, but this was the first I’d heard of sport utilizing one.

Six of us decided to go out that afternoon and play the game. I remember only a few things: The amazement I felt at learning that there was more than one way to throw a disc; kicking up dust clouds on a dry, dirt field in the heat of summer; the fountaining explosion of my only chance at refreshment – a can of Diet Coke that had inadvertently been left out in the sun; and a single, breathless quote from a fellow inexperienced player, delivered after maybe half an hour of play, “Are we seriously considering more of this?”

After that (arguably) enjoyable outing, a small group of us began to take up ultimate as a sort of pastime. We had no formal understanding of the rules, were lucky if we could gather 6 or 8 people to play at a time, and always struggled to find a decent spot to play in grassless Ketchikan. It was fun.

September 14, 2004

Jury Duty

Juneau’s Courtroom BA long time back, years ago, I read somewhere that one of Alaska’s requirements to serve jury duty was that a person had to be a Responsible Citizen. Just like that, too: Capital R, Capital C. The trick to being a Responsible Citizen was that, among other things, you had to be a registered voter.

Since discovering that lovely little loophole, I’ve used it as an excuse not to vote. Not that it always works – invariably someone always tells me that the Alaska courts obtain the eligible jury list from the Permanent Fund. Yes, I always say, that’s the “among other things” part. Then I’d go on to state what little proof I had: I’ve never been called for jury duty.

The most recent time I’ve had this conversation was with my mom just this summer. She was so convinced that the Permanent Fund is the only source that she was ready to fire up the internet to prove it. I was ready to do the same. We both got online and tried to prove our respective cases… and turned up a whole lot of nothing.

At any rate, it’s time to eat some crow. I was wrong. In mid-August I got my first jury summons. Oh, well. It’s time to admit that even us Irresponsible Citizens have to do their civic duty.

But wait! The night before my first day of service (servitude?), I jumped on the internet to make sure I knew exactly where to go. Lo and behold, what do I find, but the exact regulation I was looking for before! What’s the deal? According to this FAQ, I shouldn’t have been called!

Unfortunately, I don’t think I could site that web site as grounds for why I should be able to skip jury duty. Especially since all the local media is abuzz about how one of the judges is exasperated with the low jury turnout and has issued Trooper-delivered subpoenas to 83 people. Those irresponsible Responsible Citizens now have court dates where they must give damn good reasons why they shouldn’t be held in contempt. If they don’t show, arrest warrants follow.

Great. Now if I forget my nightly call to the duty hotline, I could actually go to jail. Wonderful way to start off my first month ever of jury duty!

August 16, 2004

Subway Fire

Deserted Streets of JuneauLast night, as Oksana and I were finishing up dinner, we received a call from her niece. She was staying the night with her friend and was just calling to spread some gossip. “Did you hear? The downtown Subway has been burning since 2:30pm!”

When Oksana relayed this news to me, my first thought was, “Wait a minute… Juneau doesn’t have a subway system!” Oh, but yeah… They do have a sandwich shop franchise down there. Well, at least that explained the hazy smoke we’d been seeing all day.

When Oksana hung up the phone, it was still only about 8:30pm and she wanted to go check it out. I thought it might be interesting to see the damage before the results of the inevitable cleanup. I know firsthand how tragic a fire can be, but there’s no denying that there’s a certain allure to observing the scene of an accident.

We grabbed her camera and headed in to town.