Saturday, March 31, 2007

Cross your fingers

The Governor of the State of Alaska is here in Nome today. They are putting on a Governor's Ball that is the talk of the town.

It is March 31 and it snowed today. The weather is warmer, 25-30 degrees. It still looks like a winter wonderland. Funny part is that the sun doesn't set until after 10:30 pm.

I have a really good job prospect I am working on in Illinois, with a district that has really impressed me for what it is accomplishing and how it holds school. So cross your fingers.

We are planning our trip to Illinois rabidly. We fly out May 31 to Seattle. We will spend a month visiting with relatives there, waiting on the barge to bring our car. Then it is off across the country, my fourth cross-country trip. Although this one is different: I am bringing my family home to Illinois.

We are going to stop at Silverwood theme park in C'oeur d'Alene, Idaho. That will be fun for the kiddies. We are going to stop and see Devil's Tower in Wyoming and Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. I want to stop at Wall Drug in South Dakota, too, this time. Then I am torn. The directions through those map-sites on the web tell me to drive east through Minnesota and Wisconsin and then south into Illinois as the quickest route to my folks' house in Somonauk, Illinois. Before, I went south, skirting Nebraska (never actually got into it) and then east through Iowa. You know, I've never been in Minnesota before so I may just do that this time, just to say I've done it.

Hopefully, I will have a job in Illinois before we leave. Cross your fingers.

A Nice Cup of Tea

While researching 1984 for my senior English class, I ran across this article. It is amazing how specific these directions are, right down to what type of pot the tea should be put in. English are finicky about their tea. The marvelous thing is that perhaps I ought to listen because having been in England multiple times, I cannot reproduce a pot of English tea at home. There actually is a difference that I specifically noted during my last British excursion back in 1998. (Has it been that long? Sigh.)

A Nice Cup of Tea
by George Orwell

Evening Standard, 12 January 1946

If you look up ‘tea’ in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several of the most important points.

This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes.

When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than 11 outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own 11 rules, every one of which I regard as golden:

First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays—it is economical, and one can drink it without milk—but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’ invariably means Indian tea.

Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities—that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.

Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.

Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes—a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.

Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.

Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.

Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.

Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup—that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one’s tea is always half cold—before one has well started on it.

Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.

Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.

Lastly, tea—unless one is drinking it in the Russian style—should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tea-lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.

Some people would answer that they don’t like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.

These are not the only controversial points to arise in connection with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one’s ration the 20 good, strong cups that two ounces, properly handled, ought to represent.

Superman's Impossible Powers

I found this story in an old copy of a Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen from the 60s (actually it is a reprint from a copy of 80-Page Special from '64 so I don't know how old the real story is).

Boy, they sure made Superman too powerful sometimes. It was like they didn't understand just how powerful they were making him. Here we see that Superman created a solar system.

Some star burned out, far from Earth, and caused the beings that lived on the planets that revolved around it to evacuate. Superman goes to help. "Speeding there, I gathered millions of meteors and fused them together, constructing artificial planets for these homeless people. Finally, finding a burned-out star, I rekindled it into a blazing new sun with an atomic match."

Later on in the comic, featuring Jimmy Olsen becoming the adopted son of Superman, we actually see Superman PUSHING another sun into the place of the one he created, which had gone dead.

He is pushing a sun. He is pushing a sun from someplace to someplace else for this solar system. He is creating a new solar system, not from scratch, but he is still making a new solar system.

Didn't the writers and editors see this as a problem? How do any villains, super-villain or otherwise, ever pose a threat to Superman anymore after an episode like this? Even cataclysms don't seem scary if we see him pushing celestial bodies around. This is why some people have always liked Batman better for being a real human. Superman at times has been just way too powerful.

Also, this brings up a new point with the movie Superman Returns. At the end, when Superman lifts up the new island, even if most of it is Kryptonite, depending on your knowledge of what Superman has accomplished before, lifting this island doesn't seem that drastic.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Onion and ignorance

I love THE ONION. I always have. It's funny, satiracally and sarcastically. Even this article, though completely ignorant, is downright funny.

Why Cant We Have A Nice Igloo Like The Meekitjuks Next Door?

The Onion

Why Can't We Have A Nice Igloo Like The Meekitjuks Next Door?

This so-called "igloo" of ours, dear, is a complete embarrassment.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

New adage

The "The dog ate my homework" excuse for the 21st century:

"My printer ran out of ink."

Monday, March 26, 2007


I had never read any H.P. Lovecraft before. I have read many many references to it, especially in the world of comic books in which I live. I think the most striking factor recently that made me look up his stories was the reference to the Top Cow comic book The Unusual Suspects I wrote a review for a week ago. He mentioned the "elder gods" in the book and it just struck me. I really don't know that much about Lovecraft and am intensely curious. All these gods references interest me. I even have that "godchecker" code on the left margin here that presents a daily deity of the day that I find pretty neat.
Now I've read a good six or seven of his short stories and I love them. They are atmospheric and actually downright scary. They really feel like some sort of history, especially the way they intertwine with each other with references about the Necronomicon and the same made-up characters alongside real historical figures. Ingenious. I'm hooked. I even started looking up Lovecraft sources online. Darn it, I'm hooked on a new universe!
The Lovecraft book I found was on Australia's Gutenberg site, absolutely free. I didn't realize it was so long when I went to print it, but 2,100 pages later I have it all. Excellent.

Video Description Greetings puny mortals. It is I, the mightiest of the Old Gods, Cthulhu. I slumber now, lying eternally, until the stars are right, and I return for my ravening delight. Great will be the wailing and powerful the lamentations when . . .
Okay, look. Fact is, I can't sleep. It's nothing serious, I'll probably get back to sleep in a few years or so. But I didn't want to just lie there, counting the holes in the ceiling tiles, and watching reruns of "Mister Ed". So, I figured I'd get up and answer some letters.
So go ahead. If you've got questions for Cthulhu, hit me. I may just be bored enough to answer.

Alaska Natural History

The Alaska Natural History Association, the largest educational organization on Alaska public lands, is currently conducting a short survey to help find ways to better connect with the visitors who travel into and within Alaska. The Alaska Natural History Association is a bookstore, publisher, educator, and supporter of Alaska's parks, forests, and refuges for nearly 50 years.

By taking this short survey you will be entered to win 6 DVD's from Alaska Natural History Association's award winning film series.

Winter Patrol: Denali by Dog Sled

Crown of the Continent: Wrangell St. Elias National Park

Days of Adventure Dreams of Gold

Grand Glaciers of Alaska's Inside Passage

HeartBeats of Denali

Please visit the following link to take the survey today:

Nursing at NACTEC

New NACTEC session coming up. Look at all the perks and benefits with this one. I almost want to sign up!



Ugh, I found some more of my really bad high school poetry. I think several of these were assignments for school, especially the first one, but most were just side notations in a notebook I kept. Found them on one of my old disks.

You know, they may be bad, but at least I did them, at least I did something. I've always been proud of my struggles with words and language, sort of like my own marathon.

Back To School

Alarm clock rings.
Come on, sleepy,
Kick into gear.

Today's your first day.
Off you go now.

Shoes on,
Comb your hair.
Hey, dudes!
Off we go
Oh, yeah, school.
Love it.


There's nothing more I dread
Than to live without you.
No bays upon my head
Instead of you would do.
I would rather to die
Than be lost from your sight.
And with a cracked sigh
Something more, my heart might.

It is easy to dream,
My world consists of you.
To have thee not I now seem
As real as I can do.
You're like evasive wind
Never resting to stop.
Because without the kind,
Your love, from Earth I drop.


Who's in charge here?
I wonder.
From cheek falls a tear
In slumber.
If I'm your true love
Why condemn?
All the help above
Doesn't bend.
I'm not saying give in.
(Be strong.)
Be nice and. . . understand
The road's long.
Don't dominate
Give and take.
From the past you ache,
But see me,
Meek and yearning
To be free.


Listlessly letting a lethal lethargy
Overtake oneself, outliving the ostensible
Vigorous void of verily vibrancy,
Encompassing every emotional embodiment.


I think I know myself, at times.
Then things get out of hand
And all is not sublimed.
What am I? And
Why do I live?
The questions can't be answered
By no one except The One.
Why won't He answer?
I am wondering why!
I will have to wait
Till why becomes when,
Then all will be answered. . .
In the end.


I looked into the mirror
and saw me,
As I expected to.
But then I looked harder
Not wanting to believe,
Not believing!
I looked away and cried.
If I am to look again,
I will punch the mirror
And the man I see.
The faultless mirror is there,
Obvious to everyone but me.


I'm still trying to live right
With all of my might.
On the outside, me is not me,
Inside it's struggling to
Be free.
My front is set up,
As deadly as a crazy cub,
Deadly to me,
For, you see,
If my front is there
No one will care
And I will not be
Let down
And made to frown.


"Have you ever felt bad?"
I ask her, in the future,
As she looks upon my face sad.
"And were powerless to it?"
She looks at me without a smile,
Something I'll miss, more than a bit.
"I sit here thinking, wondering,
What did I do to scare you?"
As she looks without a word at my blundering,
Thoughts race, ideas flow, holding tears at bay.
Then I wonder aloud, before I can stop,
"For me, will it always be this way?"

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Near the Nome Airport

Just some images I want to save of the Nome Airport and the "Welcome to Nome" sign.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

68 days

68 days.

When you start a countdown, you're looking forward to something. And saying goodbye to what you had before.

It's official. The Butchers are moving back to Illinois this summer. On the night of May 31, we fly away from Nome. We'll spend a month visiting the family in the Seattle area and then drive across this great land of ours back to my home state of Illinois.

We like Nome. We really do. Morgan found some lifelong friends and some cultural experiences that will shape her years. Amy and I loved the small town feel. The folks who live here are great, truly great people. They are strong and hardy and full of character. Working in the school district here, I have seen plenty of the character that is Nome.

I love my job. I am the sophomore and senior English teacher. That's the absolute perfect position for my talents and skills. I was autonomous enough where I helped shape the curriculum that will be here after me. The kids are fantastic, actually stronger than any district that I have had before. There is personality here.

However, it is time for us to go back.

That's pretty much my answer as to why. It's time for us to go back. It's time to be near my family on my home field advantage. Before Nome, Alaska, I lived in the Seattle area since 1999. That's enough for now. It's time to go home. It is time to settle down.

We want to buy a home. I have an excellent prospect that I am looking forward to as I search for Illinois positions that I am really pulling for. The district sounds great and I really hope on Monday I get a call saying, "You're in." Then we'll buy a house and have the kids go to school and I'll teach and we'll all grow old and enjoy the rest of our lives.

I love Nome and I'll miss it. I really will. I will still follow the Iditarod every year. I will still be emailing some of these wonderful folks every chance I get.

Thanks, Nome.

Classic old comic book ad

1953 Space Commander walkie talkies. I ought to eBay for these. I am starting to like looking at the ads of the old comics more than the actual comic.

Friday, March 23, 2007

DVD sets

I was talking with a fellow teacher today. It was funny; we both mentioned that we watch movies about 15 minutes at a time because our home lives are busy and get interrupted. I said that's why I like those DVD sets of TV shows because those are nice and short, one episode at a time. He said that he has been getting into BATTLESTAR GALACTICA that way. I, of course, said that I love the new BATTLESTAR GALACTICA too.

The part that made me wonder something was that we both don't watch them on TV as they come out now. We both know the SCI-FI CHANNEL is on, what, Season Three now? We were guessing. We are both on Season 2 or 2.5 on DVD. But we don't watch the new ones on TV because we know that each season, even each episode, builds on the previous one. It's not like an episode of SEINFELD where you can watch any one of the 100+ episodes and not be lost. And we know that eventually Season Three will be on DVD. But by then Season 3.5 or 4 will be out. Now we are in a perpetual lagging.

I am also doing this now with the HBO miniseries on ROME. My wife and I watch the DVDs but not the new episodes because too much has happened.

All of this would sort of be like reading the first 10 chapters of a book, fast forwarding to chapter 20, then going back to chapter 11.

I wonder how many people are in this cycle now for their TV shows?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I introduced my senior class to this classic Macintosh ad from the 1984 Superbowl.

Choose one specific example from the commercial and
explain what you believe to be the overall comment or
criticism about society that the “1984” Macintosh
commercial makes using that example.

It is a very vivid example of the book and choice. It is terrific in retrospect, looking back at the history of the Mac vs the PC. I remember when Mac almost went belly up, when Microsoft gave a bit of financial help to Apple, solely for the excuse as then they couldn't be considered a monopoly. That's the way I remember it, anyway.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Where do the dogs go?

The dogs after the Iditarod hang out about a few hundred yards from the finish line, right by the Mini-Convention Center and next to the coastline. They have constant attention and supervision. The last picture is of Morgan with the sun over her walking near the dog kennels on our way to the Mini-Convention Center for autographs.

Nice recommendation

(The administrator CC'd me this recommendation. Ain't it sweet?)

From: Adminsitrator
Date: March 19, 2007 1:31:51 PM AKDT
Subject: Matt Butcher

I have known Matt for the two years he has taught here at Nome Beltz High School.

Matt understands how students learn and develop and he applies this knowledge in his practice. He incorporates projects and implements differentiated instruction. Matt teaches students with respect for their individual and cultural characteristics. He has gotten to know each of his students personally and maintains a positive relationship with each. Matt has, several times this year and several times last year, e-mailed me his concern about a student's personal and/or academic welfare and we have worked together to help each student.

Matt has high expectations of each student and teaches each to take responsibility for achieving goals. He works with families to support the students.

Matt takes on extra duties such as coaching volleyball and he is a positive role model in our community.

I would highly recommend Matt for any position he applies for. His leaving will definitely be our loss.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Meet the Mushers

Pictures from the jam-packed Mini-Convention Center where most of the mushers greet race fans and sign autographs. Can you spot Jeff King, last year's winner?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Defender manual part 2

The actual "story" behind the Defender video game is quite interesting, worthy of a sci-fi story.

Atari manual for Defender

I remember playing this one...Defender. This is another one of those games that just made you into a hero. There was a whole universe of possiblities, and you were in charge. I still like playing it on my Atari 2600. I am so glad Amy got that for me for Christmas last year.

Defender manual, only for Atari

Meet the mushers

Morgan and I got to go to the 2007 Iditarod Meet and Greet for the mushers. We got a ton of autographs, of current and past mushers. We shook hands with several past winners, Jeff King, Martin Buser, Libby Reynolds, Dick Mackey, Mitch Seavey...Then we got to meet our favorite, the one we've been rooting for since last year, lucky bib #13 this year (because his dad won it in '78 wearing that bib and his brother won it in '83 wearing that bib), Lance Mackey.

These are some of his autographs. He even signed the picture of his lead dog Larry.
He got a kick out of showing him the 2006 picture below and the 2007 one I "re-created." I captured him two years in a row going up the hill next to the Subway restaurant and onto Front Street for the last stretch to the finish line. He said he was much more enthusiastic this year!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The musk ox hunter

Someone near us bagged a musk ox. Keeping it outside is better than refrigeration!

Images from around Nome during Iditarod

Jack Daniels sponsors the Iditarod and has many banners hanging around town.
The polar bear carving on the outside of the Sitnasuak Corporation building.
Two of the dogs rest in the specially cordoned-off area for them. They love the cold.
Morgan stands in front of the burled arch finish line waiting for Ramy Brooks to come in.