Monday, February 28, 2011

More Driving Challenges

Two weekends ago, Fairbanks got dumped on snow wise. Some reports say up to 18 inches. All I know is that my car looked like this one morning, and this was after I had cleared it off the night before.

My advice: don't drop your keys in the snow -- they are almost impossible to find. And should you lock your keys in the trunk of your car...well, that's a story for another post.


Where to even begin. I've had so many embarrassing moments it's hard to know where to start. Let's start with last Thursday, February 24thWhat I don't have of that day is a picture of me embarrassing myself at the ID check point at Eielson. Every morning I have to drive through the main gate and show my civilian ID. It takes five seconds, I get my uber polite, "you have a nice day now ma'am" from the cute base boy, and I'm happy.


Fairbanks doesn't have a city-wide recycling program. Apparently garbage pick up is free here so there's not a lot of incentive for people to cut back on trash. I looked into taking my recycling to one of the local recycling centers but no one place accepts everything. One place takes glass and aluminum (but not tin cans); and another place accepts mixed paper only. I would have ended up driving to at least two, if not three places in order to reduce and reuse. What's a California girl to do?

A Day in Pictures

Here is last Thursday (Feb 24) in pictures:

Arriving at work. Sunrise (blurry because I took the picture while driving).
Looking down the airfield on base. 

Settling In

I found myself talking like a true Fairbanksian this past weekend. There was a store I wanted to go to but when I looked up the address on my iPhone, and saw the shocking distance between it and my enviable address,  I cried out, "I'm not going there -- it's on the other side of town!" As soon as the words passed my lips I knew I was done for. In four short weeks what had happened to me?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Before getting to Fairbanks I anticipated going through driving withdrawals. I like to drive. Period. I know it's not the environmentally correct position to hold, but I do. If I have to drive 30-40 minutes to my job, sign me up! Road trip for 8+ hours? I'm there. Driving is my thing. It's not just the cliche of "feeling free" that I like. I actually like the act of driving. I like feeling the car respond to the pressure I apply to the gas peddle. I like the discordance of watching the scenery speed by while everything in the bubble of the car moves in slow motion, comparatively.

SLP Corner: Alaska SPED law and IEPs

This is part-two of of being a speech therapist in Alaska. See the last post for details about my caseload.

The IEP process here is a bit different. They use a software program called Goal View. It's okay but I prefer SEIS. Most schools have a "data clerk". This person handles all the IEP paperwork! If I need an assessment plan signed by parents, I tell my clerk. If I need to discharge a kid, I tell my clerk and she calls the parents, tells them what we need, sends the paperwork out and voila! Before an IEP the clerk brings me a file of all the IEP papers for the meeting -- I don't even have to print anything out! When the meeting is over I enter my notes online, give the signature page to the clerk and she finalizes the IEP online and then sends hard copy to the district office. It's a dream come true.

SLP Corner: My caseload

This will be a two-parter post. The first, details about my caseload. The second, about Alaska SPED law and IEPs. Otherwise, be forewarned that these posts are heavy on the SLP talk, full of acronyms and abbreviations with no explanations. If you've been traumatized by speech therapy stories, jokes or plain just aren't interested, I recommend you skip these two! All others, read on.

How Cold Is It?

This was the temperature when I arrived at work this morning:

Up until I started experiencing -40 degree temps I was holding my own with the cold. Telling people, "As long as you're dressed for it -22 doesn't feel that bad. It's a dry cold -- I've felt colder in San Francisco on a damp, windy, foggy day!" 

What a bunch of malarkey! That's like saying when it's 107 degrees, "oh it's a dry heat --so much better than a humid heat."  No. Sorry people, at that point it's just hot. And so when the thermometer drops to -40, it's just cold. Windchill or not, dampness or not, it is cold. There's really nothing else to say about it. But I will.

Monday, February 14, 2011

An Enviable Address

 This, people, is where I live.  The sign says it all. Luxurious. Enviable.

The irony is almost too much to bear. I like that it wasn't enough to describe it as luxurious. They just had to add enviable. As if you were undecided, not sure if you wanted to live somewhere luxurious. But enviable? Why yes! Of course! 

Well let me set you straight. Jillian Square may have been luxury living 20 years ago. In fact, I'm sure the textured wallpaper was all the rage in 1986. Time and smoke damage though have taken it's toll so that now, poor Jillian is just dingy. Like a lady who has seen better days but has been beaten down by hard livin': too much dope, drink and smoke. The ol' stove. Put a fork in her, she's done!

Churches, Bars, and Coffee Drive-Thrus

For the most part, Fairbanks has everything you need in terms of stores. Sure, a Trader Joe's and Bev Mo would be nice but all in all, they got what ya need. And some things, they have more of than you could ever want. I am fascinated by the copious bars, churches and drive-thru coffee stops found literally on every corner. The bars are across the street from the church and the coffee drive-thru kitty corner to the bar. You could grab a coffee on your way into church and then head to the bar afterwards! Or maybe a drink before church!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ivory Jacks

A bit of backtracking for this post. I realized I never wrote about my first night out on the town. Before any more time slips away, let me get to it! So that first weekend I was here, Jeff took me to Ivory Jacks. I had requested we go somewhere I could see some local color and Ivory Jack's fit the bill. Every Saturday night is "open mic" night at Jacks and Jeff had said we might even see local legend, Hobo Jim. Just hearing the name, not knowing anything else about Jim, made me laugh so hard I snorted the beer I was drinking out through my nose. I couldn't wait. Second night in town and I was going to see someone named Hobo Jim? I couldn't ask for more.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Weekend Recap

-- Took photo documentation of Denali only to find out it isn't Denali. Curses!
Neither of these peaks is Denali.

-- Checked out walking trails at UAF campus only to discover that I have no idea how to dress for hiking in -1 weather. My ass was frozen.

View from UAF

-- Was told the Northern Lights were out so I dashed outside in my long underwear, boots and jacket faster than you can say "Maker's Mark" where I stood for 10 minutes, waiting. Oh, the ecstasy of sweet anticipation! Only to then hear that, right, can't see them in Fairbanks tonight due to the fog. You could only see them from the town of North Pole. It was -10.

Friday, February 4, 2011

One Week

It's been one week since I arrived in Fairbanks. It feels much longer than that -- like dog years. But in the best of ways. I couldn't be happier to be here. Perhaps it's the novelty of a new place and meeting new people, but I like it here. I haven't been homesick in the least. I'm sure that'll change at some point, but honestly between email, phone, text and facebook, to a large degree interactions with my friends isn't vastly different from when I'm in California. I can easily go for months between seeing certain friends and family. Seeing people in the Bay Area can actually be hard! Heck, for some people, despite living only 20 miles away, I'm on a once every 6 months schedule! Four months between visits will be an anomaly.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


It snowed today -- the first time since I've been here (while I've been awake). I had been working in my speech room and happened to look out the window. I saw the tiniest flakes drifting down. I ran outside to try and get a picture (which didn't come out at all). The flakes were so tiny I barely felt their light sting on my skin. It was exhilarating. I'm not sure anyone else understood my excitement. And I can get it. I mean, it is February in Fairbanks, after all. It's not like they haven't seen snow before. But I loved it. To this California girl (who still crosses her fingers every year that this will be the year we have a white Christmas), falling snow is hard to beat. I wonder if I'll feel the same wonderment about snow four months from now? I hope so.