Feb 23 2012

#299 Awareness (23)

From Damien in Phoenix, Arizona

Today’s Link: Alaska Wildlife Alliance

Founded in 1978, the Alaska Wildlife Alliance is a non-profit organization committed to the conservation and protection of Alaska’s wildlife. We promote the integrity, beauty, and stability of Alaska’s ecosystems, support true subsistence hunting, and recognize the intrinsic value of wildlife. The AWA works to achieve and maintain balanced ecosystems in Alaska managed with the use of sound science to preserve wildlife for present and future generations. AWA was founded by Alaskans and depends on the grassroots support and activism of its members.

Nov 20 2011

#204 “I Guess He’d Rather be in Arizona”

From a stranger in Phoenix, Arizona or somewhere in Alaska

The whole notion of politics has always been a bit foreign to me. What I don’t know about policies, laws, legislatures, etc. could fill a book. Well, in fact, it could probably fill several books. I have no idea what the Alaska State Legislature would have done on March 15, 2011 or why there was no session that day. I also have no idea who the artist behind this intriguing piece is or where he/she is from. Obviously, most would think that the artist is from Alaksa and that he/she is employed somewhere in the political realm there. This was my guess at first, too, but when I studied the postmarks on the envelope, I saw that this package was shipped out of Phoenix, Arizona, and not from Alaska. The whole incident is truly mysterious.

I have spent quite a bit of time wracking my brain over this enigmatic situation, and overall I have come to realize that I will probably never know for certain who is behind this simple illustration. But this ok. This doesn’t concern me greatly because in my pondering, I dreamt up a scenario that is probably more pleasing than the truth, and that is just fine by me. The details of the story are a bit hazy in my mind, but I can clearly see a young dreamer who had grown up in priveleged America until he simply decided he could take no more structure and decided to pack his bags and move to Alaska. He wanted to take his life into his own hands. He wanted to breathe fresh air and leave the smog and commercialism of the big cities behind. He said goodbye to his friends and family. He promised to write, and then in a very exciting but much tamer style than Christopher McCandless, this young and free-spirited idealist moved to Alaska. Once there he quickly found work at an outfitters shop or something similar, and for several years he was content to walk upon the state’s unbeaten paths and gaze upon the fine scenery that Alaska had to offer. All in all he was satisfied with the simple life that he had established for himself. He was truly living his dream…

Then slowly but surely, like a blemish rising to the surface of his skin, a subtle but unmistakable doubt began to creep into his mind. He couldn’t quite place its origins. He certainly didn’t want to return to the cities of his youth, but a voice whispered fiendishly in his ear that he was wasting his life, that he was cut out for something greater, something more than just floating along aimlessly from day to day. The young man began to become involved in his local community; he took on projects and became a bit of an activist. He was happy again for a time with his new ventures, and he accomplished much. But then one thing led to another: a hobby became a job, a job became a career, and then a career became a cage. The man looked around him one day to find that he had aged ten years and that the silk tie around his neck really did feel like a noose, no matter how cliche it sounded. The second time it took much more effort than the first, but ultimately he found the strength within himself to start afresh for the second time in his life. He traded the cold winds of Alaska for the still, dry heat of Arizona. He hoped that this time he would find lasting peace. And who knows? Perhaps he will… Perhaps he did…

But once again this is all romanticized conjecture. Pure fantasy. In the end, I’m not even sure why I came up with all of this, but I think that it may lead back to a special affinity that I had in my youth for John Denver (which was instilled in me by my father) and his focus on the seemingly inherent need within all of us to seek refuge and rejuvenation in nature. One song in particular seems to fit well with this whole story. It’s called “I Guess He’d Rather be in Colorado.” Take a listen and see what you think…

Aug 16 2011

#108 “Name Game”

From Grace in Anchorage, Alaska

The idea of names has always been intriguing to me. I understand why objects have names, of course; everything needs a label with which it may be identified. More specifically, I have always taken an active interest in the meaning of names and whether or not objects or people truly reflect the meaning (or even the feeling) of the name that they possess.

One of my favorite mental pastimes to engage in whenever I read a new book or watch a piece of cinema is to examine the implications of characters’ names. Over the years, a couple of my favorite “tricky” names include Truman from the movie “The Truman Show” (he certainly is the only “true man”) and Willy Loman from “Death of a Salesman” (Willy definitely is about as “low” of a man as you can get).

Whether we will admit to it or not, we all come to preemptive conclusions about people before we even meet them, and we often do this based solely on the person’s name. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself these questions: As a man, would you rather go on a blind date with Gretchin or Candy? As a woman, would you rather go on a blind date with Milhouse or Jacob?

All of this leads me to the wonderful piece of artwork that is on display today. My first thought when I looked at this illustration was how physically and temperamentally different all of these wolves seemed. I began to speculate which wolves were friendly and which were mean, which were reclusive and which were social, which were refined and which were crude, and so on and so forth. You can see how this logically led me to create names for each one of them, and that is exactly what I did. These names are listed below. But the real question is, can you guess which name I assigned to which wolf?

Take your best shot. Here are the names:

Lo Lo







Oh yes, I almost forgot! No discussion of names would be complete without a brief mentioning of the name of this wonderful contributor. Grace, your name certainly serves you well, and I thank you tremendously for your “gracious” contribution to WBS.