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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Last Day of The Season, First Day of My Spring

When planning the move back to the Bush I thought long and hard about the sacrifices I would make and the struggles I could be facing. Little did I know how many struggles and how many sacrifices I would make. More importantly, though, I had no idea of the blessing I would find in the Lower Yukon.
My Sunday, the 4th day of Spring, started off pretty well: I slept in, had a big breakfast, headed to church, and returned home for chores, Facebook, and homework. I got a call, just when I was getting in the groove, from a new friend and local of Mountain Village interrupting my lazy sunny day.

A group of friends wanted to go manaqing (ice fishing for pike) and wanted me to join. I wanted to, but had a ton of chores and little projects to do though, so I said "no thanks." I went back to my tinkering around the house and soon enough, my heart got the best of me. I forgot the number one rule of living in the Bush: never say no when invited out with a local. 

I was a little tired, you see, because Saturday was spent moose hunting and I felt a bit deflated. This day was the final day of moose season and I hadn't yet caught anything... Against my responsible, better judgment, I grabbed a gun, gear, and bottle of water and raced out the door to go play in the wilderness I call my back yard. Filling up the snogo and punching it for the edge of town I caught up to the group and joined them on what would be an 80 mile journey through God's Country to Mt. Kuselvak. 

Somewhere along the way I must have lost my inhibitions about the cost of gas, dropped the thoughts of homework out of an open pocket, and thrown my cares off to the side of that trail because I had a blast! The ride was amazing and the company was fantastic. 

Arriving at the fishing hole, I didn't even get a hook wet before being asked to join a wolf hunt. As if there was a choice, I quickly asked around for gas, if needed, and set out with a new friend and his brother. We rode several miles East and around the mountain spotting wolf, fox, hare, and lynx tracks, but saw no game. Finally I spotted a fox and my companions a hare or two. Focusing on wolves we rode on and on to no avail... We did spot a moose though...

After shooting it, I made quick work of it's tender young body (less than 30 minutes) with my new friend's help, and sent for a sled to pull it home with. Leaving our cleaned meat in the snow on this perfect Spring day we set out to play. 

We climbed the lower peaks of the mountain and cruised through the shadowed valleys below. It was breathtaking, adrenaline pumping, and humbling all at once. What a beautiful way to start my spring, what a beautiful way to end my first winter in Mountain Village.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

When coworkers are friends...

I love to visit the other sites in the Lower Yukon for various reasons, and each has its own special significance. I understand now how many wonderful people LYSD has been fortunate enough to hire over the years now. 
I am currently staying on the couch of a Russian Mission staff member and reflecting on the wonderful day I have had. After arriving last night I was treated to Mongolian BBQ and great conversation, not to mention the company of a certain wily second grader. Today was a fantastic day of teaching and learning as I joined an elementary class and two high school classes for all sorts of fun. To see a school function so smoothly and a staff to be so supportive and friendly with one another is so very refreshing. 
As the day wound down I ran a distance delivered class for teachers around the district and then joined in teacher conferences upstairs. I forget how great it feels to talk to parents and share struggles and victories with team members and the community. Feeling invigorated by the day I brainstormed new ways to get back in the classroom and work more closely with young people... 

Working up quite the appetite I was treated to three homemade pizzas by the Master of the Russian Pie. Jealous? You should be! This guy knows his stuff. Whether you are talking about hunting, fishing, camping, or pizza, you found the expert right here. 

I can honestly say that the people I work with are friends. They are wonderful individuals with so many great qualities and rich personalities. I love them all and proudly brag about how fortunate I am to call them friends.  Life is good when coworkers are friends. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Back in the Saddle

I heard the funniest story the other day... A friend told me about a southern gentlemen's toast that he would never share among ladies. It involved his two favorite things, women and horses, and something about reincarnating as a...

In any case, I am back in the saddle. Meaning I am back to work and traveling around the district again. Tonight I am in Marshall. Tomorrow Pilot Station. I love what I do so very much, and I treasure every moment with new friends and colleagues around the Lower Yukon School District. As relationships are built and trust grows I can really begin to be of assistance to these wonderful educators. 

My gifts are with technology, creativity, and problem solving. I thrive on the conditions that make the Bush the Bush. The crumby internet connections, the finicky hardware, and the ever-annoying weather patterns that wreak havoc on well deserved breaks to name a few. Don't get me wrong, I snap every now and again. Just this last weekend we lost water on Friday for about 4 hours. I nearly lost my cool. A few ill chosen vulgarities later, I was sane and relatively content with my surroundings.

The truth of the matter is I am addicted to challenge. I am addicted to the changes I find myself facing more often than I would like sometimes. I am who I am because of those events, though. The man, the myth, the legend. ;-)  Thanks for reading and I hope you know I love to kid around... I think it's time for this cowboy to ride his bedroll off into the sunset. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

ASTE 2012

I have been struggling to find something interesting to talk about for the last two weeks... and I am sorry to say that I really don't have any news. I did attend ASTE recently. The Alaska Society for Technology in Education is the preeminent education conference for the state of Alaska. It is a time when Bush, urban, road system and coastal communities send their best and brightest to learn from each other.

This year is the first in 6 years, I think, that I have not presented. I cut my teeth in front of peers in the Captain Cook Hotel... I learned that I had something special. I learned that I had insights others would appreciate hearing. I learned that I was valuable.

This year at ASTE I was back in the public world. For two years I was the suit-and-tie-ace-consultant-Sam.  Now that I am back in public education I can work shoulder to shoulder with friends and colleagues to accomplish larger goals and achieve greater gains across this great state. I love my job. I love the men and women who do what I do in other districts.

It takes a special type of person to do what we do. We are personal computer experts, network infrastructure gurus, and wizards from the magical kingdom of "InternetLand." I manipulate video teleconferences, edit permissions, and reset passwords with ease. And I do all this without running water for a few days a month. I am in a strange universe where I have thousands of dollars worth of high-end gizmos and gadgets transported across frozen tundra as I sometimes drive a snow machine to work. I have more computers and better access to educational software than 90% of the world's population while the villages I serve lack stable power for weeks on end at times.

ASTE is where men and women like me meld minds and find creative solutions to the unique situations Alaska faces. I enjoy the time spent in workshops refining my craft and collaborating with peers, but my favorite part is still ASTE after 4pm...

Those stories don't go on my blog, though.... See you on Facebook.