Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

I'm headed out in a bit to play some games with some friends in Nikiski, may or may not log back in to wish everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

May 2012 be much better than the last!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking back, moving forward...

Overall 2011 has not been a great year. I'm not even sure it was a good year. Many highlights of the year, for me, were either breaks from reality (which also had their moments of ugh) or they didn't even happen with/for me (like different sports highlights).

2011 started off with my move back to the peninsula and starting a new job. The house I was renting was on the river -a dream location!- but was so expensive and frustrating that I spent most of my time loving my independence all the while hating my situation and stressing constantly about finances.

Then, the job wasn't working out. I had little time to myself -I know, that's part of being an adult- I was exhausted, and it was more trouble and less rewarding than anything I'd done previously. Coming home every night feeling like I was a failure and that I was dirt just by how I was treated didn't help. Hey, thanks, I know, I don't fit in. Keep rubbing it in.

Family drama hit a new high and it's continuing to get worse. I'm not living at home and there's NO WHERE to go. I can't hide from it as the walls are paper thin, or worse someone always seems to put me in the middle. Two weeks ago I lost it while trying to explain how I was feeling and that just made matters worse. This is why I don't talk to people and end up venting online. Everytime I say something it backfires.

There's still the finances issue, I have my photography business up and running, but it's not working to my benefit (which hey add that to my failures) so I am looking at trying for a part time job this coming year. Again. In a dead end town.

I've also never been more alone. All of my friends' lives have moved on when I've really just found myself in a rut. I feel now, more than ever, like I've gone back in time about 10 years. I'm still that girl in high school that couldn't speak up for herself, who had dreams she knew would never come true, and felt she couldn't trust anyone...

And, once again, I'm watching a best friend move on. Because, lets face it, like the hometown I'm in - I'm a dead end.

And 2012 doesn't look to improve my position. I have a trip in late summer planned to visit my family in california and go to disney. I have the Iditarod in March, and a Birthday at Beauty and the Beast in January. I hope to see my business improve, but other than that... I'm stuck...

and honestly this was not where I was going to go with this post. But I can't help but feel these things.

Hopefully after the first of the year my blog will look cheery again... or, at the very least, back to normal.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Movie Review: The Muppets

Jim Henson's Muppets are back in a star studded tribute to the original Muppet Gang. The group that starred in the Muppet show and classic films like The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper are back with a vengence in Jason Segal's new[ish] story that is basically a love letter to a group over fourty years old.

Everything that made the original films quirky and a little bit like a trip on whatever drug the muppeteers might have been on seems to have come together in the latest film. While Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island (and, okay, even Muppets from Space) had their moments of hilarity, they lacked the Henson-ness that seemed to have been lost with the death of creator Jim Henson.

But, with the script carefully created and supervised by Muppet fanatic Jason Segal, it was almost as if - for a moment - Henson himself was back.

There are flaws with the film. The most glaring are the incorrect voices of Miss Piggy (no longer voiced by Frank Oz, who did not sign off on this film) and Rowlf. Some of it was corny, even for the Muppets, and the story is not new. The idea that the Muppets have to save their theater has been a storyline for at least one of their TV specials in the last ten years or so.

Having been disappointed by the Muppet TV specials and their last feature film, I went into the idea of a new movie with a lot of hesitation. In fact, I was not planning of seeing the movie in theaters at all. But, then, the movie hit theaters and fans nationwide (as well as many of my friends) began pushing it as a MUST SEE. Even with that knowledge, going into the film my expectations were low.

The storyline is simple. Jason Segal is older brother to a muppet looking character. They grew up loving the Muppets and trek out (along with Segal's longtime girlfriend played by Amy Adams) to LA to visit the Muppet Studios only to find that the theater is condemned and the studios are broken down shells of what they once were. To make matters worse they find out that Oil has been found under the property and an evil tycoon is going to buy it out from under them and drill. They have one last chance, to collect 10 million dollars to keep their property. How better to do this than a Muppet Show Telethon. But first, Kermit has to get the gang back together.

Classic characters who were more or less background characters in the last three films are back in their starring roles that they relished in the 70s. Muppet Show favorites also make apperances. It's probably the best tribute the Muppets could ask for.

There really wasn't a lot to complain about in the film. Some of the jokes were beneath them (Fozzie's fart shoes as well as Jack Black's genetalia joke), and without Frank Oz, Miss Piggy just doesn't have the same sassiness. For those of us who grew up after Henson's death I guess the difference in Piggy's voice for me is the same feeling that folks had when Kermit was forced to have a different Muppeteer (granted Whitmire is amazing). Not sure I will ever get used to a new Piggy.

Overall this film is FANTASTIC. I loved it from beginning to end, and yes, I cried when they sang Rainbow Connection. The ending also gave me a lump in my throat. If it's still playing in your area, then go see it. It's well worth the cost of admission, and is a GREAT family memory to be made. It's time the Muppets are welcomed back.

T200 smaller in roster, bigger in heart

Zoya Denure, at the start of Iditarod 39, is one
of the top contenders for this year's T200.
Like many winter sports, dog mushing is struggling to find its place in the downward spiralling economy. Larger races like the Iditarod and Yukon Quest as well as the Fur Rondy World Championship Sprints have established sponsorship capable of supporting the expenses incurred by putting on a race.

The T200 has been dealing with the loss of funds all year, and this year are only working on the Junior T and the T200. The shorter T100 will not be held this year, with the hope that it will return next season. 
The race will take place January 28th, and is a race that is used as a rookie qualifier for races like the Iditarod. So far ten teams have signed up with Paul Gebhardt - a previous TChampion - and Zoya Denure as the "headliners." Gebhardt is a local musher, and DeNure is favored by mushing fans for her treatment of her dogs as well as her sled dog rescue work.

The race will be longer with a new stop in Homer planned. The purse is a substantial 10,000 that the Kasilof community voted to give the race from a state grant. This race is an institution, one worth saving. Volunteers are welcome to sign up to help see the race through.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's a Rookie Invasion?

With the deadline to register just a couple days away, the 2012 Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race looks to be a field of rookies. So far the official roster has thirty mushers, nineteen of which are rookies. With Hans Gatt retired, and Sebastian Schnuelle taking a year off, the two top named veterans are former Quest and Iditarod Champion Lance Mackey and fan favorite (as well as consistently strong competitor) Hugh Neff. Mackey is the only champion to win both the Quest and Iditarod in the same year (his first Iditarod winning year, 2007). Neff was poised to take the Quest title last year but the death of a dog and horrible weather conditions forced the musher to scratch.

Other notable Quest Veterans in this year's race are Allen Moore, Sonny Lindner and David Dalton.

The biggest news, however, to come out of the musher roster is a team of Eastern European kennels have joined together to travel and compete in the race. All rookies, it's bringing a new and exciting element to the second most popular race in Alaska - and the only sled dog race that travels across the border into Canada making it a one of a kind event in North America.

2011 Quest Champion, Dallas Seavey, is not currently on the roster. No word if he will compete in the Quest this season or not. Seavey is part of an Iditarod mushing dynasty (third generation) as well as the youngest to complete the Iditarod and win the Quest.

Ask me questions about anything/Iditarod/etc

Do you like shopping for clothes?

Not at all. Ugh. It's the worst chore EVER.

Ask me anything

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's Official, Swenson running Iditarod 40

Rick Swenson @ the Ceremonial Start
Anchorage, Alaska, 2007
As reported last week by Alaska Dispatch and the Anchorage Daily News, Rick Swenson is running in Iditarod 40. According to, the reason for the delay for Swenson's addition to the official roster was due to not having turned in all of his paperwork. Funny, you'd think he'd know how to do that, considering he's been in the race every decade it's been run, and is a board member. There are 69 names now on the list (Swenson is #68) and reported there were to be seventy names once all paperwork was received. Alaska Dispatch reported 69. Still some confusion, but what's an Iditarod without a little bit of that?!

Rick Swenson is the only five time champion in the race's history, and is one of six past champions running in the historic 40th race. Lance Mackey, Mitch Seavey, Jeff King (newly unretired), Martin Buser, and reigning champion John Baker will join Swenson on the quest for "one more." Swenson's wins came in the late 70s and the 80s, it's been two decades (and then some) since his team ran first under the burled arch.

Yes. Yes, I am Crazy...
I frequent several message boards. Figure Skating - I'm a mod at one of the larger ones, Disney Travel, and until the other day pugs were all on my list. All come with their share of headaches. As a moderator those headaches are daily. The Disney board I am a member of is the easiest one, though people get heated on there about what resort is best and so forth (it's actually teh most sane MB I've ever been a part of). The pug boards I've been on are probably the most... difficult.

You see, there are dog owners and lovers that have very drastic differences in viewpoints on what their dog is and what dogs should be to all people. It's like the Michelle Kwan vs all of skating debates multiplied by a million in terms of hostility.

Rescue is the biggest deal.

Don't get me wrong not only do I support rescue, but all but one of the pugs in our family are rescues. Here in lies the problem. I do not have a dog I "rescued", I bought my dog. From a backyard breeder. Uneducated about such things.

I am to be shamed.

Or am I? I've learned a lot in the last 9 years, not only about the breed but about rescue and backyard breeders, puppy mills, etc. If and when I lose Yuka, I have no clue where I will go as the pug rescue here is rarely in need of adoptees, and I can't limit myself to a waiting list. Respectable breeders are expensive... but we'll cross that bridge when that comes. I'm hoping I still have many years with Yuka left.

But that brings me to the point that had me questioning my sanity. I've left a board in the last few days because I was just tired. I was tired of the bullying that is felt when my views on dogs weren't just questioned but were just "wrong" and therefore I am a horrible person.

Look, the fact of the matter is, I like to have a well trained dog. Yuka can do the basic sit, stay, etc, but what I really appreciate is that she goes outside to do her business 99% of the time. the 1% is only now that she's older and she doesn't always realize she's going (and thankfully someone is normally here most of the day so she can go out regularly). Pugs are trainable, but they're stubborn and set in their ways. Many of the posters that think I'm cruel have more lax of rules. They have areas in their house that they allow their dogs to mess in. This is completely unacceptable to me.

Which led to the reason that I have sworn off these boards from here on out. There was a "bash the selfish" type thread that suggested that those that want to rescue or have young dogs were crazy. I guess if I were to rescue a dog I would be in this crazy group. A younger dog is easier to retrain in the potty department. Considering that my first encounter with rescue was a four year old male pug that hadn't been potty trained and spent the next six years marking and pottying wherever he wanted in teh house. We did our best to keep it from happening but he did it. Sorry, again, I find it unacceptable. He was not a bad dog, he just was so used to not having to go outside that he didn't. He tried, he really did, but at the end of the day he found someplace discreet to go in.

I mentioned my reasons. Told I was wrong. And then got a PM from a member saying she pittied Yuka because when she got "old" I would consider her a throwaway dog and that the poor Anchorage rescue would get a sweet and loving old girl. I left, and I won't be back for this reason.

Yuka is MINE. She has been mine since the day I picked her up in Feb of 2003 when she was five weeks old. I freak if she's out of my sight, I have nightmares of losing her, and now that she's nearly nine years old it terrifies me to think she's become a senior pug and that means I only have a few years left. She's spunky, sassy, and a total brat, and I love her. There are tons of things in her training that if I'd known then what I know now I'd have done it differently. But, I wouldn't trade her for all the puppies in the world.

A dog is mine forever. It doesn't matter if I'm moving - a lot of decisions I made/make is based on if she can be with me or not. It doesn't matter if I were to get married and have kids - she's with me. She's not disposable.

What is disposable is the holier than thou attitude of uber rescues who bully their beliefs on others. I've seen them run off or even scare people from going that route (or even leaving their dogs in a rescue's care when there is no alternative for fear they will be lumped in with all the other irresponsibles... really, military families have enough crap to deal with, show some compassion).

So I'm done. I see that several folks from these boards have visited in the last few days, I'm normally not a fan of people airring their MB dirty laundry, but I don't want people to have the impression that my dog is disposable. Yuka is with me until the day one of us leaves this life for the next.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Religion vs. The Gospel

I found this on another blog. I don't know who the author is, but I like it.

RELIGION: I obey-therefore I’m accepted.
THE GOSPEL: I’m accepted-therefore I obey.

RELIGION: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity.
THE GOSPEL: Motivation is based on grateful joy.

RELIGION: I obey God in order to get things from God.
THE GOSPEL: I obey God to get to God-to delight and resemble Him.

RELIGION: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or my self, since I believe, like Job’s friends that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life.
THE GOSPEL: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while he may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.

RELIGION: When I am criticized I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a ‘good person’. Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.
THE GOSPEL: When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a ‘good person.’ My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ. I can take criticism.

RELIGION: My prayer life consists largely of petition and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment.
THE GOSPEL: My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with Him.

RELIGION: My self-view swings between two poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel insecure and inadequate. I’m not confident. I feel like a failure.
THE GOSPEL: My self-view is not based on a view of my self as a moral achiever. In Christ I am “simul iustus et peccator”—simultaneously sinful and yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad he had to die for me and I am so loved he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deeper and deeper humility and confidence at the same time. Neither swaggering nor sniveling.

RELIGION: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work. Or how moral I am, and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. I disdain and feel superior to ‘the other.’
THE GOSPEL: My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for His enemies, who was excluded from the city for me. I am saved by sheer grace. So I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace I am what I am. I’ve no inner need to win arguments.

RELIGION: Since I look to my own pedigree or performance for my spiritual acceptability, my heart manufactures idols. It may be my talents, my moral record, my personal discipline, my social status, etc. I absolutely have to have them so they serve as my main hope, meaning, happiness, security, and significance, whatever I may say I believe about God.
THE GOSPEL: I have many good things in my life—family, work, spiritual disciplines, etc. But none of these good things are ultimate things to me. None of them are things I absolutely have to have, so there is a limit to how much anxiety, bitterness, and despondency they can inflict on me when they are threatened and lost.
Sometimes I'm more Religious than Christian... this really spoke to me tonight.

Many familiar faces in line for Iditarod 40.

November 30th marked the deadline to complete and file paperwork to sign up for Iditarod 40. Many of last year's race's key players are back, such as Lance Mackey, Dallas Seavey, and - of course- current Champion John Baker. There are also a few suprises on the list that has the mushing fan community buzzing. If anything, Iditarod 40 will be one to remember.
Mitch Seavey returns after being forced to withdraw due to injury. Martin Buser started last year's race off very well but fell far back in the standings by the finish, he has also thrown his hat in the ring again this year. Perrenial favorites Paul Gebhardt and DeeDee Jonrowe will also be racing. Missing from the list of who's who of the Iditarod is Rick Swenson who - as of December 5 - is not listed on the Official Roster. Sebastian Schnuelle and Hans Gatt are also off the list, the latter having announced his retirement. Schnuelle is reportedly taking a break to spend sometime outside with family and friends.

The surprise of the summer was the return of Jeff King. Jeff made his intentions known when he appeared at the Volunteer picnic at the Wasilla Headquarters and signed up for the race. King did not race in the previous year's race, having stated he was retired. Jeff is running a smaller kennel and group of dogs, according to his comments in the press and online, but he cannot be counted out. This four time champion knows what it takes, and he's had a year to get a fresh perspective.

The other big surprise is the addition of Dan Seavey to the list. Dan ran in the very first Iditarod - and is credited as one of the mushers that helped make it a reality -  Dan is now 74 years old. His best finish was third in that first race. No doubt this is mainly a nod to the race itself. Dan is the only alum of that first race to be coming back. Dan is the father of 2004 Iditarod Champion Mitch Seavey and Grandfather to Yukon Quest Champion and Iditarod Veteran Dallas Seavey. Dan is the patriarch of one of the Iditarod dynasties. It will be exciting to see what he will bring to Iditarod 40.

Entries are still trickling in by mail. As long as the packets are postmarked by November 30. There are 67 names on the official roster. Alaska Dispatch has the list at 69, and they have Rick Swenson among the entrants. Do they know something doesn't?

Well, so much for that...

It's not that I've been busy, I just haven't felt like blogging. Mainly because, I think, I'm frustrated with everything here and so I just have a little less care than normal. I've just been in a funk lately. I've had some good ideas for a blog that just ended up not going anywhere because of it.

Anyway, it's Christmas time and my family has gone all out here in Kenai. It's insane how much Christmas stuff we have out. I don't remember mom ever decking the halls as much as she has this year! I love it! It feels very much like Christmas (which I was worried about since I was spoiled living with Aunt Judy for the last few years and santa really does throw up all over her house!)

I'm doing a bit of photography (not nearly as much as I would like) but other than that I'm just bumming it here at home. Erin comes in two weeks for Christmas and I cannot wait! I definitely need a besties vacation! :)

so there's a mini update. As I said nothing exciting going on.