Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Alaska (in name only) Film Awards Shrinking List Of Winners

The 2014 'winners' are now listed for this 'Awards' scheme.  I've written about this ripoff of the name Alaska film event at length and been threatened by their attorney.

Their only link to Alaska was a "suite" at a commercial mail forwarding company in Anchorage, some of the photos on their website (and I'm not sure of their Alaska authenticity), and the names of some of their awards.

There is no festival (they did change their name to 'awards') and no showing of films.  They do tell film makers there is no festival, but the Alaska name is highly misleading and confuses people who think they are sending films to the legitimate Anchorage International Film Festival.  (To be completely transparent, I'll mention that I cover the AIFF on the blog here, the festival links to my blog, and they give me a pass to the festival.)

Below is a list of the Film Awards winners.  Note:  there is a total of eleven winners in the film competition and four in the screenplay competition.  This is a sharp decline from their 47 film awards and 15 screenplay awards in 2010.

I'd like to think this reflects more awareness among filmmakers that this is really a vanity film festival where people can pay for awards.  But it's hard to tell, since there is no list of films that were submitted.  We don't know if every film submitted got an award or not.


Film Competition

Grand Jury Award: A Frenchman in Barrow directed by Paul Peterson
Special Jury Award: Parallel Maze directed by Ya Hua
Kodiak Award: Slushamed directed by Marisa McInnes-Taylor and Mara De La Rosa
Denali Award: Reestablishment directed by Shi Qin
Best Narrative Feature: Let's Play Ghost directed by Damien Dematra
Best Documentary Feature: God Has Arrived directed by John Urich-Sass
Best Director: Deep Water directed by Daniel Zagaevsky
Best Narrative Short: Roulette directed by Christine Kelly
Best Student Film: Shtax'heen Kwaan: A Rededication directed by Kristin Galla
Best Music Video: Fade Away directed by Jethro Rothe-Kushel
Best of Alaska Award: The Meaning of Wild directed by Ben Hamilton

Screenplay Competition

1st Place Screenplay - "Grace" written by Lynda Lemberg and Jeffrey Allen Russel
2nd Place Screenplay - "Taco Day in Heaven" written by Paul Peterson
3rd Place Screenplay - "Polar Bear" written by Alexander Norton
4th Place Screenplay - "Zoo" written by Annemarie Lawless
I've contacted some of the winners listed here and they've confirmed that, again, this year, in order to get their prizes they have to pay for them - not a practice of legitimate film festivals.  One of the directors listed said he didn't even know his film had been submitted, let alone that it won, though he allowed that someone else involved may have submitted it.

My hope is, as I mentioned above, that the declining number of winners means film makers are more aware of scam film events and aren't submitting to them.  If you look at the film that won the Grand Jury prize, you'll see that the quality of films isn't great.  (It's apparently a student film from Barrow and as such is fine, but it's hardly a Grand Jury prize winner.  And one might ask the Alaska International Film Awards folks who exactly makes us their Grand Jury?  And even if there is a Grand Jury?  Or is that just some fancy name with no actual Grand Jury?

Some of the other winners do seem to be serious films that have won prizes at legitimate festivals and would have been accepted in the serious Anchorage International Film Festival.  A number of these films have Alaskan themes and were purposely submitted to what they thought was an Alaska based film festival.  Deep Water was filmed in Alaska as were a couple of others.    These are films that would have been submitted to the Anchorage International Film Festival where people in Anchorage would actually have been able to see them.

I should note that there are also some other, smaller, legitimate Alaska film festivals such as the Indigenous World Film Festival.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Back Into Anchorage

We flew in a little after midnight.  It's nearly the end of July, over a month past the solstice,  but it was still early twilight.  The bump on the horizon in the middle is Denali.  Anchorage is the foreground - most of Anchorage is actually to the right of the actual picture.  The 'lights' in the Matanuska Valley across the inlet from Anchorage, in the background,  are small bodies of water reflecting the sky.

A little earlier, we were over Prince William Sound and Denali and Foraker (to the left) were more visible. 

My better camera was in the overhead, so I had to make do with my Canon Powershot. It's a little grainy, but you get a sense of the magical view I had.

I'm starting to feel like my life is one continuous departure, but it was good to see my mom and, on the way home, my daughter and granddaughter and the rest of their family.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Blogging Payoffs - Getting Help On Details Of Anchorage Ice Sculpture For French Book On Carl Nesjar

I've learned that blogs can get bits of information out into the world where others can find them.  I don't have to write a book, I can just post tidbits that others sometimes find useful.

Yesterday I got an email from Dr. Thierry Kozak in Paris.  He said he is writing a catalog of Carl Nesjar - who is now 94 - ice fountains and he found my pictures and brief description of the Anchorage ice sculpture and asked for help getting more documentation.

Nesjar Fountain Anchorage - Winter

So, I'm posting this in hopes that others who know about the sculpture and its origins and history might email me to make contact with Dr. Kozak.

The book will have two parts:
Part 1:  An overview of all of the 20 Nesjar fountains in the world.  (Four are in the United States.)

Part 2:  A history of each individual fountain.  (This will be the bulk of the book.)

For Anchorage, he only has, so far, my 2009 blog post.  Below I've paraphrased some of the things he'd like to know from us about the Anchorage sculpture:

If there are:
  • drawings
  • preparatory studies
  • maquettes (Carl often made little models of his fountains)
  • the name of the owner of the fountain [I think the Municipality owns it]
  • the name of the agency who commissioned the work
  • the sizes of the fountain
  • the dates (commission, completion, inauguration, restoration of the monument...)
  • official letters between Nesjar and the organization
  • list of the authors who have written about the work
In my original post, artist Catherine Senungetuk mentioned in a comment that she met Carl Nesjar when he was in Anchorage working on the sculpture because her friend Robert Pfitzenmeier helped Nesjar build the fountain.  Unfortunately, Catherine is no longer with us, but I'm trying to contact Pfitzenmeier.
Nesjar Fountain Anchorage - Summer

I'm sure there are people in Anchorage - at Loussac Library, the Municipality, the 1% for the Arts program, the museum, other artists, the group that raised funds to restore the fountain - who can offer bits and pieces of information that would be helpful to Kozak.

Here's a bit of video with Carl Nesjar, some of his fountains, and there's even a bit with Dr. Kozak. Don't worry about it being in French. They don't say much. It's got lots of


I'm hoping people reading this will alert them about this so they can respond.  This is good for Nesjar, for awareness of northern art, and for Anchorage too.  People travel for many different reasons - to see famous sights, to see birds, to climb mountains, etc.  I imagine that there will be people who come to Anchorage to see the Nesjar sculpture when the read about it in Kozak's book.  At least it will be one of the reasons they come here instead of somewhere else.

It's always rewarding to learn that someone, somewhere finds the scraps I'm posting to be useful. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Insect Art

About the artists:
Adult leaf miners can be moths, beetles, or flies, and the tunnelling patterns of their larvae vary depending on the nature of the insect. For example, an aspen serpentine leaf miner creates winding or meandering tunnels whereas a birch leaf miner creates large blotches. Serpentine miners are also known to attack herbaceous perennials such as columbine. For most deciduous ornamentals, leaf mining has a negative effect on appearance rather than on plant health. However, leaf miners also attack an array of vegetable crops and can have a detrimental effect on yield due to defoliation. They are particularly damaging to vegetable crops in which the leaves are consumed such as beet, spinach and Swiss chard.
A little more about the artists - they work in British Columbia.  These pieces are from summer 2014.   (There's some photoshopping of the background, but not the miner's mazes.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Untangling The Oil Tax Wars - Wednesday July 23, 2013 7:30pm Loussac

One side would have you believe that the oil companies are great corporate citizens who love Alaska, generously provide lots of jobs and funding to local organizations and would reluctantly have to leave the state if the old tax regime were to continue.

The other side would have it that the oil companies are just to profit, could care less if it comes from Alaska or Nigeria, will grab the oil at the least possible cost, protect the environment only to the extent they're forced to,  and will do whatever it takes to buy politicians to pass legislation that helps their bottom line.

As I see it, the pro-oil company faction does its best to hide that discussion by focusing the debate on whether ACES or SB 21 will more likely produce oil and revenue for Alaska.

You can hear some of the most knowledgeable speakers from each side in a debate next Wednesday, July 21 at Loussac Libray.  It's an ISER (Institute for Social and Economic Research) event.  Here's from an email I got the other day.

Invite someone who disagree with you on Prop 1 for dinner first, then the debate.

Forum On the Oil-Tax Referendum: Hear Both Sides
Sponsored by Alaska Common Ground
Co-Sponsors: Institute of Social and Economic Research, UAA 
League of Women Voters of Anchorage • League of Women Voters of Alaska
Anchorage Public Library • Alaska Integrated Media
Last year the Alaska Legislature made a controversial change in the oil production tax, which is the >state’s largest source of revenue. In the primary election scheduled for August 19, Alaskans will vote  on whether to keep or repeal the new tax system—commonly known as Senate Bill (SB) 21. Alaska Common Ground and several co-sponsors (including ISER) are holding a forum on the oil-tax referendum on Wednesday, July 23, in the Wilda Marston Theatre of Anchorage’s Loussac Library, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The forum is free and open to the public. Speaking in favor of repealing the new tax—a “yes” vote to repeal—will be Bill Wielechowski, a state senator from Anchorage, and Gregg Erickson, a long-time Alaska economist. On the opposing side, supporting the new system—a “no” vote to keep the new tax—will be Brad Keithley, an oil and gas policy consultant, and Roger Marks, a veteran petroleum economist. Gunnar Knapp, the director of ISER, will moderate the forum.

This event will differ from a number of others that have been held on this issue, because it will focus on getting each side to answer the other side's questions. Please join us to hear what both sides have to say.

When: Wednesday, July 23, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Wilda Marston Theatre, Loussac Library
3600 Denali Street, Anchorage

Alaska Common Ground is a non-profit organization that works to engage Alaskans in conversations about major public policy issues facing the state.
For more information, go to www.akcommonground.org or call (907) 952-3353.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Men Were Already "Becoming Less Masculine" In Britain 100 Years Ago

There's been a lot written in recent years about men becoming less masculine. Various reasons are cited (and most of these links below cite and discuss other studies).

For example:
So as I was reading Erik Larson's Thunderstruck, I found his brief discussion of this topic - in Britain just before World War I - an interesting perspective.  It begins with a mention of a best selling book in 1903 - Erskine Childers novel, The Riddle of the Sands, which looks ahead to a German invasion of Britain.  It ends:
 "'is it not becoming patent that the time has come for training all Englishmen systematically either for the sea or for the rifle?'

"But this question raised a corollary:  Were the men of England up to the challenge?  Ever since the turn of the century, concern had risen that forces at work in England had caused a decline in masculinity and the fitness of men for war.  this fear intensified when a general revealed the shocking fact that 60 percent of England's men could not meet the physical requirements of miliatry service.  As it happened, the genral was wrong, but the figure 60 per cent became branded onto the British psyche. [emphasis added]
Blame fell upon the usual suspects.  A royal commission found that from 1881 to 1901 the number of foreigners in Britain had risen from 135,000 to 286,000.  The influx had not merely diminished the population;  it had caused, according to Scotland Yard, an upsurge in crime.  Most blame was attributed to the fact that Britain's population had increasingly forsaken the countryside for the city.  The government investigated the crisis and found that the percentage of people living in citizens had indeed risen markedly from the mid-nineteenth century but had not caused the decay of British manhood, though this happy conclusion tended to be overlooked, for many people never got past the chilling name of the investigative body that produced it, the Inter-Departmental Committee on Physical Deterioration.  A month later the government launched another investigation with an equally disheartening name, the Royal Commission on Care and Control of the Feeble-Minded, and discovered that between 1891 and 1901 the number of mentally defective Britons had increased by 21.44 percent.  There was no escaping it:  Insane, weak and impoverished, the British Empire was in decline, and the Germans knew it, and any day now they would attempt to seize England for their own."

This is probably a perennial topic among human beings.  And a lot of it hinges on how a culture defines 'masculinity.'  Methinks the less that we measure masculinity against the roles played by John Wayne, the better off we'll all be. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

My Love/Hate Relationship With Sitemeter

The Love Part

Sitemeter has a visit detail page that looks like this:

[This is an image so the links don't work]

Google Analytics gives me charts which aggregate information in different categories, so I can see, for example, a list of each place people came from and how often, or a list of pages people looked at and how often.  But I haven't been able to see, with those reports, the correlation between where people are, how they link to the site, and what page they look at.

But Sitemeter also gives me an individual, detailed report (above) about each individual visitor.  This can show me how an individual (and I almost never know who the individual is) behaves.  For instance, I have been able to see that someone from the Department of Justice or FBI was using google (or an email link) to look at what I'd written about a trial DOJ was involved in.  Or that the Congressional Information office was looking at my post on the number of black Congress Members.   I don't know how I could get that sort of information from google or other stat counters.  That doesn't mean they don't offer it, I just don't know how to see it.  

For instance, in the one above, I can tell that someone in San Bernadino, California linked from facebook to my post  "Tina Delgado is Alive, Alive." The time spent is misleading though.  If they only looked at one page, the time is always "0 seconds."  They calculate the time between links used by the visitor.  But if the visitor doesn't use a link, they don't catch the time.  So the time on last page viewed isn't captured.  

I think they should be able to capture that.  If I look at the "Who's On?" option, it shows me the current time and the time the visitor began.  I can't believe that some smart techie couldn't figure out how to use that information to figure out the real time for each visitor.  

The Hate Part

Sitemeter is so frustratingly slow at times.  Often, I can click on a link on Sitemeter and I get the next page immediately, but far too often it takes 20 seconds, even minutes.  Today was so frustrating that I checked Is It Down Right Now?  a site that lets you know if a website is down for everyone or just you.  Here are some of their charts:

 Actually, Sitemeter was available for me, but it was taking minutes to download a page, which I guess counts as unavailable.

This chart gives a sense of how long the wait times are.  

And this last chart shows me some other similar websites - in this case other stat counters - that I can check out to see if I can find an alternative that does what I like at Sitemeter, but doesn't do what I don't like. 

Sitemeter, when I first started using it, I got emails back from "webmaster@sitemeter.com" and they were signed by David Smith addressing my question quickly.

But he sold the company and the new owners don't care about it the way he did.

Now I get unresponsive emails from smsupport@sitemeter.com like this:

Your request has been received and a member of our support staff will
review it and reply as soon as possible. Listed below are details of this
request. Please make sure the Ticket ID remains in the subject at all

        Ticket ID: ZMU-187705
        Category: Technical Issue
        Priority: Normal
        Status: Open

Please let us know if we can assist you any further,

Site Meter Support
And I've stopped asking for help because there never is any follow up.   I found this comment on "Is It Down Right Now?" that says Sitemeter was bought by My Space.

Ellen Meister · 5 August 2013 - 05:46

United States · Optimum Online
Doesn't matter if you send a hundred report to Sitemeter. No one reads them. No one is minding the store. They don't even monitor the site to see if it's working. FYI, Sitemeter owned by MySpace, so if you want to reach an actual person, file a report there.That's the only way to even let them know the site is down. It's quite unbelievable.
I'd note that I eventually decided to pay the annual fee for Sitemeter which gives me a lot more data and apparently saves me from other problems that other people report - like horrible pop-up ads.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Hush Lake Rest Stop Flowers

There was an abundance of wildflowers at the Hush Lake rest area not far south of Prince George.  Here are some we saw.  Probably the most showy was the Columbia or Tiger Lily. 

Hawkweed are those dandelion-like flowers that grow in small clusters on long stems, like the orange hawkweed below.

Linda Wilson  at the British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range, Forest Practices Branch,  Invasive Alien Plant Program has written an extensive report with detailed pictures and drawings of various hawkweeds.  She writes:
The eight known invasive species in subgenus Pilosella include meadow hawkweed, orange hawkweed, mouse-ear hawkweed, whiplash hawkweed, kingdevil hawkweed, queendevil hawkweed, and tall hawkweed (Table 2)  [emphasis added]

The Pond (Indian) Lily from Steve Michael at Oregon - Like No Other
"This native aquatic plant gives off alcohol instead of carbon dioxide as it takes in oxygen. Native Americans ground the seeds for flower and also roasted them as popcorn. It was also used medically for numerous illnesses, including colds, tuberculosis, internal pains, ulcers, rheumatism, chest pains, asthma, heart conditions, and cancer."

From Intangible Northwest:
"The Paintbrush evoked the Native American legend of a young brave who tried to paint the sunset with his warpaints. Frustrated that he could not match the brilliance of nature, he ask for guidance from the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit gave him paintbrushes laden with the colors he so desired. With these, he painted his masterpiece and left the spent brushes in fields across the landscape. These brushes sprouted the flowers we now so wonderfully love!"

I'm not sure what these two clusters of little white flowers are.  (I thought I knew the lower one when I took the picture, but it escapes me now.)

A wild rose.

Wild blackberries I believe, but they could be some other type of berry.

I believe this is a type of wild grass.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lightning Fires In Oregon

5:15pm PDT July 17, 2013

I need a little help here identifying where this is.  I think it's Mt. Hood, but I'm not sure.  We were flying on Alaska Airlines from Seattle to LA.  The plane seemed to be flying a more western route than normal.  I'm putting the times on the photos and maybe Oregon readers can confirm the locations.

5:10 pm

5:11 pm

5:12 pm

5:18 pm

I'm guessing the picture above is the Three Sisters.

5:25 pm

And I have no idea about this peak.

Crater Lake (east side) 5:27pm

For more information on fires in Oregon, go to this link.