Tag Archives: oksana
May 9, 2010

Bryce Canyon Natural Bridge

Bryce Canyon, Natural Bridge

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In 2008, Oksana and I purchased one-way tickets to Florida in the hope of buying a new car.  Fortunately, we found the perfect Jeep the very first day we were there and all we had to do was drive it back home to Alaska.

Even though the most prominent memories we have of the trip are of driving, Oksana constantly doing her MBA homework, driving, Oksana fielding calls from work and driving, we… where was I?  Oh, yeah.  Driving.  We actually did find time to explore a couple places.

I don’t remember how we picked out Bryce Canyon, but it turned out to be a great idea.  I don’t even know if it’s as great as our memories make it seem or if we were just thrilled to have one day on the trip that didn’t involve driving from point A to B.  At any rate, I sure wouldn’t mind going back again.

Once we got there, we scheduled a half-day, afternoon horseback ride; that left the morning for exploring the park.  We asked at the entrance what we could see and do in only four hours and soon after learned just how well it’s laid out.


June 3, 2009

Around the World in 365 Days

Arlo and Oksana on their first solo trip together, Costa Rica, 2003

This is an announcement I’ve been looking forward to making for a long time:

Oksana and I just quit our jobs!

Okay, not really. I just wanted to get your attention.

But actually, really! It’s just that our last day of work isn’t going to come around until next summer.  That’s right; we’ve put in our one year’s notice!  Next June, all our crap goes into storage and we set off on a long-planned, round-the-world trip.

This is something we’ve been talking about since before we married.  Before we could commit to such a bold move, we had to make sure we were in a position of security – with our finances, our education, our work experience, etc.

(Funny thing we learned about financial security: Once you’ve got it, it’s surprisingly hard to let go.)

This is why we haven’t settled down.  It’s why we were so anxious to stay out of debt, why we haven’t bought a house, and most definitely one of the reasons why we haven’t yet entertained the idea of having kids.

So, as excited as we are to shoulder a backpack and set off for the ends of the earth, we’re also a little bit freaked out.  Will our jobs be waiting for us when we get back? (Magic 8-Ball says: Outlook Good.)  Will the economy implode while we’re gone?  Do any of the big security questions even matter if we’re off having the experience of a lifetime?


Where are we going?  No idea.  We don’t have (and probably won’t ever have) an itinerary.

Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.
Wanderer, there is no path; the path is made by walking.


May 4, 2009

Borsch How-to Video

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After an 8-hour work day, I have little energy left over for creative endeavors.  Awhile back, when I first renegotiated a 10-month contract with the university, I had all sorts of ideas for the two months I’d have off.  Whenever I wasn’t traveling, I wanted to be working on some sort of creative project.

In December of 2007, I watched a short, clever cooking video online.  I thought that I might want to create something like that during my upcoming time off.  I approached Oksana about making a “how to” cooking video centered around her borsch recipe.  She liked the idea; we went shopping for the ingredients.

We learned very quickly that cooking videos are not easy to make.  The cooking process itself doesn’t lend itself to multiple takes, pesky steam keeps fogging your lens, and cooking food doesn’t take time out for you to switch to a different angle.  We had grand plans for an explanatory voiceover, but gave it up when we realized it would add hours to the process.  Oksana cooked, I shot, we tried not to argue.  That was the best we could do.

Fast forward a month and I’ve got all the video on my hard drive.  I’m starting in on editing and realizing that making a cooking video engaging isn’t easy, either.  I played around with it for awhile, but bogged down on the timing.  I wanted to make a short video (who’s going to watch a ½ hour recipe on Youtube?) set to some sort of music.  Ozma did a great cover of the suitably Russian Korobeiniki, but their version was even shorter than I needed.  After individually adjusting the speed of maybe a sixth of the clips I wanted to use, I gave up.  Too tedious.

Still, it was a project I always hoped to return to and I passed it from backup hard drive to backup hard drive for two years.  Last week, I dug it up and went back to speed-adjusting clips.  As I was nearing the end of the first rough edit, I decided on a subtitle style.  One sixth of the way through those, I reflected on my penchant for tedium.

I stuck with it, though, and finished the video up this week.  I played the rough cut for Oksana and she approves.  I think there’s enough visual information in the video that an enterprising and ambitious cook could recreate her family’s recipe, but if not, I’m including the actual recipe after the jump.

If you make a batch, let us know how it turns out.  (Also, pro tip from Oksana: It’s actually better after sitting in the fridge overnight!)


May 22, 2008

Oksana Midgett, MBA

Oksana and her diploma

On May 4th, the University of Alaska Southeast held its commencement ceremony.  After almost two years of hard work, Oksana finally received her fake Masters of Business Administration diploma.  Fake?  Yes, well, see… the document they handed out on stage was actually a placeholder.  She still has a couple more electives one capstone and one elective to go and won’t officially qualify for an MBA until the end of August…

Still, I’m mighty proud of her.  When she started the program back in 2006, it seemed like a great idea.  She had her day job pretty much under control and we could get free tuition through my university benefits.  A quick two years of evening homework assignments and she’d have three new letters to put after her name as well as a head start on the educational requirements for a CPA.  Unfortunately, we soon realized that the “free tuition” didn’t cover the inexplicable $400 “super tuition” fee that was appended to every class, and when her job’s workload doubled last year, she had far fewer hours in the week to tackle homework.

Me?  Thanks for asking.  I’ve been playing a lot of World of Warcraft.  Sometimes, if she manages to keep all the plates spinning, I get to see her on Sunday evenings.

I wish I could say that we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I’ll let you in on a little secret:  I’m only going to give her a small break at the end of August before pushing her to study for the CPA exam.  If she doesn’t do it now, while her study habits and time management skills are sharply honed, I think it will be much more difficult in the future.

February 22, 2007



Oksana gets all the credit for this one.

I take a lot of outdoor pictures.  If I’m browsing through a directory of my digital photos, the best way to tell if Oksana was with me the day I took them is to look for flower pictures.  When she asks to hold the camera, it’s almost always so that she can crouch down and take a macro shot of a particularly colorful blossom.

On this memorably sunny summer day, we decided to take a walk through the university.  The camera’s lens spent most of the walk shuttered, but we did uncap it long enough to take some pictures of the lake (me) and the landscaped flowers (her).  This particular daisy wasn’t even a part of the campus flowerbeds — it was down in the ditch along the bike path to housing.

I spent some time in Photoshop working the image over.  I cropped it to remove some excess head room (and to try to balance in the stray dandelion in the background.)  Most of the work was in cleaning up the white petals.  I cloned away some black and yellow specks, removed a few strands of spider web, but stopped short of removing the pinkish hemlock needle on the right.  Sounds like a lot of work, but really it’s not so different from the original image.

I think the contrast between the white petals and the black background is what makes this photo.  I also love the detail in the full-res image.  The tiny, not-quite-open-yet star-shapes in the yellow florets, the single grain of pollen(?) in the middle, and the dark and blurry depth of the background.

Canon Digital Rebel XT
Date: 13 June 2005
Focal Length: 55mm
Shutter: 1/320 second
Aperture: F/5.6
ISO: 200
Photoshop: Cropped, cloning to remove specks on petals

Continue on to see a closeup of the florets… (more…)

November 11, 2005

Green Card

Oksana\'s Green Card PhotoA continuation of this journal.

You’d think that, 38 months after our wedding, we would be all through with the expenses. Not true, when you marry an alien.

Oksana has been keeping an eye on the calendar and, back in February, it was time for her to submit another INS form. Her temporary green card (i.e., her permission to work in the U.S.) was about to expire and she needed to apply for the permanent extension. We fired up the internet, sussed out the appropriate I-551 form, and started to compile the appropriate paperwork. We wrote a check for the form submission fee ($200!) and packaged it up in an envelope with 20 pages of supporting documents. It was mailed off to Anchorage on February 3rd ($4.30).

A couple months later, we received notification that our paperwork was in process – that was a good thing, because Oksana’s temporary green card would have expired in May.

In late August we received another letter from the Anchorage INS office informing us that her petition for a permanent green card (for the INS, permanent apparently means “ten years”) had been approved and that she only need to do a couple things to make it official.

Step One: Provide three passport-sized photos.
Step Two: Submit the photos. In person… at the Anchorage office.

August 25, 2004

Cotton Anniversary

We had our cake and ate it, too! (25k image)I’ve been working at UAS (in my present role as Digital Media Specialist) for almost four years now. For the last three, I’ve managed to schedule my annual leave in mid-August… just in time to miss Convocation. I wasn’t actively trying to skip out on the returning faculty members and the ensuing ITS meetings that surround them. It was just a coincidence. Swear.

So here it is, my fourth year, and it looks like I’m finally going to be in town for Convocation. I figure my boss is going to be happy – he’s been ribbing me all this time because I (and my position) still haven’t been formally introduced to the faculty at large.

Oh, but of course there was a snag! Two years ago, the big reason to take some vacation time was for my wedding and subsequent honeymoon. It never occurred to me that getting married in August would be a problem down the road. I now realize that if I want to take a day off to celebrate with my wife, I would more than likely have to find a way out of three days of meetings.

Fortunately, that didn’t turn out to be much of a problem. I approached my boss last week and asked him if he had a Convocation schedule. He did, and the whole department was allotted just 45 minutes to talk about the new technologies and procedures that we’d be bringing to campus this fall. Obviously he didn’t need me to hop up there on the podium with him, so I quickly followed up with, “Great! Can I have half of Tuesday off?”

Oksana was going to be pretty busy at work, too, since a coworker was going to be on vacation. She didn’t think she could justify taking a whole day off, so we talked about a half-day instead. Besides, who were we kidding? If we took the whole day off, we’d just end up sleeping ‘til noon, anyway!

With our bosses’ approval gained, we were ready to make the best of our second anniversary on August 17th.