Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The letter - why?, 4/28/08 comments

I am here in Alaska and I kind of was watching a situation which I felt was hurting the students of Emmonak. I wrote the letter to the editor to get information out which I feel should have been out a few years ago. I am leaving Emmonak but I want Emmonak to be a better place than what I came into. It took me a while to figure out where the road block was occurring. Once I felt I found the road block I wrote the letter to the editor.

The students are being short changed by the current situation and it needs to change. So I wrote the letter to the editor. I feel the good people of Emmonak can make the positive changes needed. I leave Emmonak hopeful.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Letter to the Editor in Anchorage.

Emmonak School, rife with issues, lacks the support to solve them

I am a teacher in Emmonak, and I am bothered by the lack of support by the Lower Yukon School District administrative office and Lower Yukon Regional School Board in the areas of discipline, maintenance and high staff turnover.

Discipline: Kids yell profanities, run around the room and even throw chairs at times. The district office makes light of it. I got hit with two chairs but kept a young child from getting hit.

High turnover of staff: Emmonak School has had seven principals in 10 years and next year will bring principal No. 8. An extremely high turnover of teaching staff is also occurring. I am amazed that they encourage the principal and staff to leave. A staff revolving-door policy hurts students! I see the LYSD almost intentionally encouraging this high turnover. Principals and teachers who stay give schools stability and grow the academic and behavioral programs. Stable quality staffing benefits all students.

Maintenance: Our Emmonak Regional School Board member should be the one making the case for Emmonak maintenance! There are some unsafe conditions at Emmonak. The district board member should represent the interests of Emmonak School and the community to the board.

-- Richard Brisco

Emmonak, comments, letters, 4/28/08

14 degrees out this AM, 50 degrees inside

I was talking to another staff member and he was telling me about taking a ferry from Alaska to Seattle. It is a 4 day trip. I have a plane ticket so I will take the plane this time. At some point, I think I would like to try the ferry. It costs about $400.00 for a one way trip with no car.

No heat last night! It was 65 degrees last night and the temp kept dropping. No heat.
We opened up the door between this apartment and the one next door so we could get a little of the neighbors heat. I tried out my 20 below sleeping bag and it worked well.
I slept well but it was hard to get out of bed this AM.

Monday, April 28, 2008

More Fishing boats, about 20 degrees

I walked over the ice to the other side of the Yukon River this evening and it was great. About 20 degrees, ice is frozen solid. I learned to stay off the straight ice - that stuff is slick. It warmed up to about 30 degrees today and the snow softened and some snow melted to make a little water, but it is freezing again.

Monday - wake up!

I have 14 more days with kids and then 1 more work day. I was walking on the River this weekend and realizing that I will miss Emmonak when I leave. I will miss the kids, the cold weather, the staff and people that I have come to know.

Waking up on a Monday morning though is not easy.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

1 PM and 20 degrees

Here is another fishing boat waiting to get to work.

I was at the store and saw a parent. They have the snowmobile and they are going ice fishing. They put a small net between two holes in the ice to get some fish to eat. People are running out of fish from last fall. Some of the fall fish is getting freezer burnt.

We have a Yu'Pik class at school and kids are being taught to make the nets. A boy showed me his net this past Friday. It is cold and beautiful outside.
Super Sunny Sunday!

The boats - waiting to start fishing

Story: I was at School yesterday and I saw a brand new snowmobile. I found the gal who had it and I told her that she was parked illegally. She apologized. I chuckled and told her it is impossible to park illegally in Emmonak. She laughed. She had come to Emo to take the Praxis test. She rode on the Yukon from Alukanuk.

On the Yukon River ice

I am in the middle of the Yukon River this morning. The ice was making snap, crackle and popping sounds, but only a little. It still feels solid. It has been below 20 degrees for 2 days so the water has frozen again. I only went to the middle for a short time. I then walked back to the edge and walked on the snowmobile trail to the dump.

I do not want to try out the 1 - 10 - 1 rule.

15 degrees this AM

This is the second day of sunny and less than 20 degree weather. I figured it would be a good a time to get back on the Yukon River. My river walking is coming to an end. The ice will break up soon.

1 -10 -1 rule continued: 1- breathe slowly and deeply, get your wits.
10- minutes to get out of the water **if you are not able to get out? Get your arms wet and then put the wet arms on the ice so they freeze to the ice. When you go unconscious, you will then hope someone finds you. You could go under the ice and disappear if you do can't get out so freeze to the top. (Best of bad choices)
1 Hour to get warm after getting out of the ice.

Yukon River frozen but talking, 15 degrees

I went for a walk on the Yukon River this morning and it is still frozen. I walked to the middle and it was talking to me. It was making cracking and even moaning type noises. I went back to my side of the Yukon and walked to the dump. Saw a fox too.

1 - 10 - 1 rule If you fall through ice: 1- Take one minute to slow your breathing and get your wits about you, go cool and calm 10- take up to 10 minutes to get out of the water. (Go to the point where you fell in, it held your weight before it got too thin.) 1- Start walking to get the blood circulating - YOU HAVE ONE HOUR TO GET WARM or you will go unconscious. (Fire, blanket, sleeping bag)

No fishing for King Salmon this year

Not even subsistance fishermen can fish for King Salmon this year is what I am hearing. The people here rely heavily on King Salmon for money and to eat all year long. The fishing for Kings has been halted in California, Oregon. I think that Kings cannot be caught in Wsshington or BC either. Word has come down that no Kings can be caught in Alaska this year. The King numbers are down and they want the Kings to come back in higher numbers, so they have suspended fishing for Kings.
Heating oil prices are now $6.00 gal here in Emo. Here the Yu'Pik people rely heavily on the Kings to help pay the bills. Not fishing for Kings will hurt a lot here!

The picture is the walkway on the side of my apartment

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sunny today

I just read that Emmonak is about 480 miles from Anchorage. A few days ago, kids got all of the school's shovels to shovel off the basketball court. The outdoor basketball court is one of the few things for kids to do around here. They play basketball until midnight here. they were playing in the snow and ice.

I was walking around town and saw 3 cars and 1 pickup driving in a short stretch of road - real traffic! I drove the pickup truck the other day and got laughed at for putting on a seat belt.

20 degrees - water icing up

SUPER SUNNY DAY TODAY! It has been colder than 25 degrees for two days so most of the puddles froze over. I was down at the river and even the new water is freezing up. Everyone is getting on their snow mobiles and heading out. It will not be long that the snowmobiles must be put away. Here in Emo now, we have the dirt road for vehicles. There then is the snow on the side of the road, which is a road for snowmobiles and those who walk must keep an eye out for which type of vehicle to dodge.

I have taken many pictures of this boat. This is the latest.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Water on the Yukon River 20 degrees today

The water on te Yukon River is getting deeper. The Ice still seems solid. There are still a few snowmobiles riding on the ice.

It was about 20 degrees all day long.

Emmonak Earthquake

Earthquate - not really. The apartment was shaking and rattling and it kept it up for 90 seconds. That is a long time for an earthquake. Then I saw a super sized scoop rolling down the road on tracks. It was breaking holes in the snow bank to let the water roll to the Yukon River. Once the machine passed, earthquake was over.

Weather: 32 degrees and sunny yesterday. I was walking on some snow yesterday and the snow collapsed. I had my school shoes on and I fell into about 9 inches of water. My school shoes were soaked and my pants were wet. The puddles of water are smaller because they were ice.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

26 degrees Thursday AM/ snowing too

This is the road in front of my apartment on Monday. It now has a puddle in the middle today. This is the road of choice for the snowmobile group. A few people still travel on the Yukon River but getting on and off the yukon is hard because of the pools of water on the edge of the river. I walked on the river yesterday and all of the snow is slushy. I was sinking down about a foot into the snow

It is 7:30 AM and snowing off and on

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

32 degrees Wed afternoon RAIN/SNOW mix

Playing in the mud! There was one mud puddle with 6 kids in it.

it was around 32 most of the day so we did not have a lot of melting and that is good.
It started raining/snowing lightly. If it cools down tonight, we might get more snow.
I saw the Emmonak mud and it is super mud. It is a silt type mud. Snow is so much better - the mud stuff is just regular. It will be funny if we have new snow tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

more slush - 32 degrees Wed AM

This is the Alaska State Troopers (left) and the Post Office (right.) Lots of mud! Just after this picture, I saw a snow mobile driving on the snow to the left. The snow mobile traffic is slowing a lot. Now, the Quads are the big means of travel. Quads are a lot slower than snow mobiles.

It is 32 degrees Wed AM which is good because that will slow the melting a little.

more Emo slush

More slush. They are telling me that a grizzly bear is hanging around outside of Emo.
We also had a military helicopter flying around town and landing. Kids were very excited.

One student said he heard that the Military Helicopter darted the bear and hauled it off. He said there was no bagged bear under the helicopter so they must have put the bear inside the chopper.

The slush - yuk

The snow is melting fast and we have roads of water and dirt. This is a picture of the road going into the school. Yesterday, I was driving the school's pickup truck and had to have it in 4 wheel drive to get it down this road.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Stories, 34 degrees Tuesday morning

Yukon River still frozen: You have to go through 8 inches of water on the edge to get to the main ice though. Snowmobiles are still using the Yukon. the roads are mud and water so not good for snow machines now.

I was talking to some of my students and they told me about the tundra which is just beyond Emmonak. They are afraid to spend much time there because of bear, wolves, wolverines and foxes. Kids said they need guns to spend extended periods of time in the tundra. When I was a boy, mom would growl like a bear to get us in when it was late. That scared the crap out of me and I lived in the outskirts of Tacoma, WA. They have reason to be scared here.

I was talking to a Yupik gal who is almost a certified teacher. She was telling me about college in Fairbanks. They got a lot of snow in Fairbanks and they piled it up around the parking lots. The students made igloos out of the piles of snow. The Eskimo girls set up a couple of Igloos that they could see from their dorms. People would see the Igloos and walk in to check them out. She and her friends would yell at the people to get out of their houses. The people really felt that they had walked into someones house and left fast. It was really quite funny the way she told it.

By the way, my kids and I have made 2 igloos over the years. They can be warmed with a small fire and they are super quiet. If you want total quiet, make an igloo. It is too warm here for an igloo now, it would melt fast.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

37 degrees & super slush, Sunday

Sunday: It is 37 degrees, warming up. The streets in town are slushy - a first this spring. There is still 10 inches of snow on the frozen Yukon, soft snow. It is super slush as the day progresses!

Saturday: Weird: I just walked to the post office and it is snowing steadily. In two months I will be in 110 degree heat. I walked across the yukon river ice and checked out the water puddle. It is now about 100 yards long. It has about 2 inches of slush on top.
There are about 2 inches of new snow and it is still snowing. 11:40 AM. (This is an old picture - the boat you see is totally covered now, you can only see the engine)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Reindeer Run

This picture is from the Anchorage Reindeer Run. People run a course and some reindeer also are on the course. By the way, did you know that reindeer is a meat to be eaten, it really is. Reindeer meat is sold in the stores here in Emmonak. It is 30 degrees this Friday morning. Yesterday, we started off with 25 degrees but it cooled down to 10 degrees when I went outside.

SATURDAY: 40 degree high temp and it is 30 degrees in the morning. It is supposed to warm up all week long. Still snow and ice but it will probably melt this week.

Catholic Church in Emmonak

I resigned from Emmonak yesterday. I will finish out the year and then I will be heading back to OR and then drive to CA.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

11:00 PM hike on the Frozen Yukon

I just hiked on the Yukon at 11:00 PM. It is still light outside. It was about zero but super peaceful and just a great hike. I am testing my knee. It is still a bit gimpy but it is holding up with steady walking. It does ache now that I am sitting down. I am curious how it will feel in the morning. Hiking in zero degrees late at night is a great experience. The puddle on the far side of the river is getting larger. I think the river is running more and more under the ice.

BEAR SEEN: Bear have been seen at the Emmonak dump. I have heard that 3 or 4 black bear have been seen finding a quick meal. Before my knee got hurt, I walked to the dump weekly. I think I will borrow the school vehicle and go check it out.

Snowing today!

We got about 4 inches of new snow so far this morning.

It is 11:30 Emo time and it is 30 degrees outside. It feels quite warm. The snow is softening so I could even make a snowball. It is usually powder. I walked to the other side of the river and there is water coming to the surface where there is a crack. So, I think the water level under the river is rising and coming to the top.
My roomie, had a toothache and the dentist just flew into town today. She called and Tom went to get his tooth extracted. He is a diabetic and he went into a diabetic coma They have spent 4 hours trying to stabilize him. They plut 2 pints of saline in him. They decided they will take the tooth tomorrow. The teacher that took him in got his teeth cleaned though. She was ready to work so she cleaned his teeth.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The whole town had electricity off today

Today the electricity was off from 9AM to Noon. I was expecting a fax from Portland so I had to call and tell them to fax it at 8:30. I got the fax and returned the fax just before the electricity was out. The whole town was without power. I am back to walking on the frozen Yukon to test out my knee. It wears out and gets tired but so far so good.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Frozen Yukon River

Today it was -11 degrees and it warmed up to 5 degrees above zero today. Super sunny though. It is still super white and lots of snow on the ground. I like the white. I am not looking forward to the dirt and dust which is normal around here.

smokehouse and housing

smoke house

Another picture of a smoke house.

smoke house

I just found out that they use these old houses as smoke houses to smoke the salmon.

Emo Main Road

This road has the Post Office to the right and the VPO (Village Police Office) to the left. The State Troopers are also to the left. Straight ahead is the Village Clinic and Dental Office. We do have a few vehicles but they must be barged in in the summer or fall. The fuel for cars, boats and even homes must also be barged in.

Typical Emo Housing

Here is typical Emmonak housing in April 2008. Last year at this time, there was no snow, just dirt on the roads.

Monday, April 7, 2008

More snow than past few years

I was talking to someone from Emmonak and they were telling me that we have much more snow than the past few years. The ice on the Yukon is 4 feet thick, which is normal. Last year though, it was above freezing much more and the snow was gone. We are still getting snow and a warm day is 25 degrees, which feels warm. They said the ice breaking will be later this year because of the colder temperatures. Last year, the ice broke about May 20. they said the ice may not break until June because of the colder temps. They also said that we may have flooding in the town. They also mentioned that the ice breakups were much worse 10 or so years ago. Back then, where I live was the major river. Now, much of the ice is going down another finger of the river, so Emo is getting less ice.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

fish net storage

This is right on the Yukon River. I walked to it on the frozen ice. These are all over the place here. Lots of fishing boats too. Nets and fishing gear is inside.

airplane picture

This shows the scrub brush in this area. This brush is the reason Moose is in the area. It gives moose food and a place to hide away. Fox also hide in the bush. Moose hunting is often done by snowmobile after the river freezes over. There is a designated moose season.
Notice the River meandering and also notice the airstrip and houses close to the river.
The Yukon River is over 1500 miles long. Melting upriver will cause flooding in our downriver area.

airplane picture

I am using old photos. I just learned that global warming is partly because we have less ice and snow on earth. Snow and ice reflects sunlight back into space. Land and water absorbs the sun's rays thus causing the earth to heat up.

It was +10 degrees yssterday and probably today too. The wind was blowing to make it minus zero feeling. I did not leave the apartment because I am trying to heal my knee.
I am ready for spring though - getting ready for warm weather. We got another few inches of snow. Everyone says this year the town is going to flood. Up the yukon river by Canada, it was 45 degrees yesterday. That will cause the snow upriver to melt which will get the water flowing. The ice on the river breaking up is a big deal here.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

30+ degrees and new snow

We have had 3 days of 30+ degrees. We also have new snow. In the afternoon the snow melts and than it freezes again in the evening. Spring is coming in Alaska. Kids are out playing at 11 PM, because it is warmer now. The river has snow on it and it is still frozen. I have not been walking on the river because I am trying to rest my knee.

KNEE UPDATE: We had a blizzard last night! Snow is piled up. I am staying home today, I bumped my knee last night and pain shot throughout my left knee. I started walking with my knee this morning and it hurt, so I decided to stay home and let it heal.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Mastadon tusk and tooth?

I had a local tell me about a 4 foot long tusk that is really old that she and her family found at a lake 45 minutes from here. It sounds like they found it some summer past. They also found a tooth about as big as a shoe box in this lake. In talking, it sounds like a mastadon tusk and tooth. She has it at her house. I told her that I want to get a picture of it before I go back to Portland. I hope to get a picture of them up but may not because I don't want to invade her privacy. I might just send it to those interested in an email. (Also, my device to download pictures broke! I need a new one.)