Tuesday, March 20, 2012

More of the happenings in Kobuk

Things have been so busy that I haven't really gotten around to posting much, for that I apologize.  I must admit though that during our recent spring break (2 days long) I could have come to school and posted then, but I spent much of the time just relaxing.  It was so nice to just sit back and read and so forth.  I realized on Sunday afternoon that I had ready 7 books on my Kindle!
Today was the first day of spring.  Iw as talking to my parents this afternoon and it was 80 degrees there.  We had a high of 1 degree Fahrenheit here.  As cold as that my sound that is actually in some respects a warming.  We have had warmer weather just over spring break even.  On Thursday we reached about 14 degrees above and two teachers from Shungnak walked to Kobuk.  Katie and I walked about 1.5 miles or so back with one of them (the other got a ride back on a snow machine) and then turned around and walked that far back to Kobuk.  To give you an idea of how I have acclimated, I was plenty comfortable on our walk wearing only a sweatshirt and tennis shoes.  The walk was on the Kobuk river and by this point the snow is so hard packed that I could just walk on top of it and thus how I could wear tennis shoes.
Anyway, as to some of the happenings here in Kobuk.  Several weeks ago no I had the joy of traveling 15 miles outside of Kobuk to the camp of a copule that live literally out in the middle of nowhere all year.  It was quite a fun trip. I road in a basket sled that Erin pulled behind her snow machine on the way there and in Corrine's dog sled on the way back.  The couple who have the camp have a really interesting set up.  They have electricity via solar panels.  I asked Erin, but never had a chance to askt hem about how much electricity they are able to generate in the darkest parts of the winter (after all in December the sun never fully).   They also have a satellite dish for television and one for Internet.  They don't have any running water (they use a honey bucket in the bathroom), but they do have drains and stuff in the sink.  It was really quite an interesting set up.  Quite nice too.  During the trip we also so saw so many caribou.  It was awesome.
Another neat thing that has been going on is my middle school students created a video demonstrating a video they designed to be played in space.  It was very challenging figuring out a way to demonstrate, on Earth, a game that is truly designed to be played in space.  One of my students had the fantastic idea to string things up from the ceiling.  Still, it was hilarious watching the students try to pretend they were swimming through space.  The students loved the video so much that they wanted to keep watching and watching it.  The top three games will be played on the International Space Station.  I would be so amazed if we won!  The winning team is supposed to receive a school-wide NASA party.  I don't know what that would entail, but it would be really cool to win.  I do have to wonder though because the rules specifically say that only US-based teams can win the party.  we are, of course, in the US, but we are harder to get to than most countries!  After all it takes two planes just to get to Anchorage!
Right now, as a I write I am sitting in the school "gym" (we don't really have a gym) watching videos from the National Park Service.  We have a really neat opportunity this week, we have three rangers from the National Park Service visiting us.  There is one ranger based out of Kotzebue who regularly travels to the villages in our region doing special guest classes, but we got two more: Another out of Kotzebue and one out of Fairbanks.  My high schoolers started a lesson today on medical plants and will finish tomorrow.  They are making ointments out of local plants (picked back before freeze-up and dried).  Then on Thursday they will do a neat GPS lesson as well.  I have one GPS units for the kids to use, but she was able to bring enough for each of them.  The middle schoolers had a lesson on the gold rush today and are study the auroras tomorrow and caribou on Thursday.  Additionally, they brought some films from the collection that are usually shown in Kotzebue.  The neat thing though is that Darren, who organizes the films brought us 4 films, three of which have not yet been shown in Kotzebue.  The significance of that statement might be missed by many, but you have to remember we don't usually get things first here.
Finally, now that we have past the vernal equinox we now have more daylight than anyone south of us (which of couse is most people). Already the sun doesn't set until nearly 9.  Sunrise today was at 8:23 am and sunset will be at 8:43 pm.  Add to that the fact that we have an extended twilight and we are already quite light.  In April we will gain 3 hours and 45 minutes of daylight and in May over 5 hours!

I leave you with some more pictures from around here.  Enjoy!

Me on a snow go

In the dog sled.  That's actually Rob behind it, but when we left it was Corrine driving.

You can't really see me, but I'm in the sled.

On the way home.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The surprisingly warm February (but boy was it busy!)

So it is now March first!  I can't believe it is already March first.  After an incredibly long time with cold weather that was just hovering around -50 to -60 degrees Fahrenheit sometime in February we warmed up dramatically.  We had a temperature increase of almost 90 degrees in about 24 hours!  That of course was from -60 to +30.  I don't think there are too many places where the temperature can increase by 90 degrees and still be below freezing! The warm up was so dramatic that we were all expecting the temperature to drop spectacularly again at any moment, but it held for weeks!  It was amazing.  Unfortunately, I think it also unconditioned us a bit.  As it has gotten colder it feels colder than it did before.  As I left my house this evening to come back to school it was -12 and falling.  Since midnight we have gon from -39 to +18 and are working our way back down again.
On a related but somewhat different note, the sun is definitely back.  We're approaching the equinox, something I am looking forward to because after the equinox we will have MORE daylight than most everyone else (except the few people who in fact live further north) rather than less.
So now to give a brief synopsis of all that occurred in the brief (albeit one day longer than 3/4 of the months of February) month of February.  I traveled to Kiana with my middle school basketball team for four very long and tiring days.  We were scheduled to leave Kobuk at 12:20, but left around 1:50.  That meant a lot of waiting around.  Matter of fact it started with a rush because we were in my room and heard a plane land at the airport.  The kids went hurrying out only to learn that rather than being our charter flight, it was a cargo plane (not a big Everret's one, but a smaller one from Ryan Air - these are the two companies that fly cargo out to Kobuk).  We waited outside for a while, then left our stuff at the airport and went back into the school until I talked to the Bering Air Agent and learned our plane was 14 minutes out.  At that point we went out and stayed out until the plane arrived.  We got to Kiana and had to chill in the school library because there was still about an hour left to the school day.  After that we got our room assignments (for things like this you sleep in the classrooms, usually two schools in one room with the boys on one hall and the girls on another).  The nice thing in Kiana, was they had beds for the coaches and chaperones - either chairs that folded out into beds -what I had - or air mattresses).  I always take an air mat that actually fits into my sleeping bag, but the chair/bed was much better so I let one of my players use it instead.  That afternoon at 4 the games began.  We had our first game against Kiana at 6 and it was a slaughter!  These kids were bigger, faster and just totally out-gunned my students (it didn't help that we lost three of our players in the last week before the tournament for behavior issues).  We lost 67-8!  The kids were okay out it though.
The next day we had to wait around all day while the Kiana kids were in school.  I had brought math work and we also got permission to use their computer lab so the kids did math and keyboarding in the morning.  We challenged the Selawik team to a math competition and were crushing them (my students really were the better math students), but the last question was a wager question and my students got it wrong and Selawik managed to pull out a win.  It was so sad!  In the afternoon we went around town and having seen how outclassed we were I bought some ice cream at the store for my students for after the tournament ended to cheer them up.
In the afternoon we teamed up with the Selawik kids to play an exhibition game against the Kiana girls team (the was the co-ed league tournament and neither the Selawik coach nor I wanted our kids too worn out from an exhibition game).  We lost (somewhere in the neighborhood of 38-20), but the kids had a fantastic time and really loved teaming up.  It worked well too because both schools jerseys were blue and white so we just meshed them together.  Heather (the Selawik coach and also a friend from new teacher orientation) and I also worked well together.
That evening we played Kivalina.  That was a shocking game.  Remember, this is middle school basketball.  They had girls on the team who had to be taller than me and at LEAST 50 pounds heavier than me, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it was more.  They crushed us.  The final score was 90-6.  One of my players got injured in the game and I had to put my sub into the game.  She was 10 and in fifth grade.  She also had started playing basketball on Wednesday (remember it is Friday).  She was trying so hard, but the player she was playing defense against could simply shoot straight over her outstretched arms like she wasn't even there!  I'm afraid that defeat hurt me more than the kids.
By this point it was obvious that the two worst teams at this event were Kobuk and Selawik.  The tournament was scheduled as a round-robin followed by the top 4 (of 5) teams playing in the championship round.  I knew that the next morning's game between Kobuk and Selawik would determine which team played and which team was out.  I went to Heather and suggested that we team up for that game.  Whichever team won the Kobuk-Selawik game that coach would get to coach, but we would play both sets of players.  She agreed.  We spoke to the head of the tournament and he spoke to the Kivalina coach (because they were clearly going to be in first and first would play 4th).  I hyped up the Selawik game because I knew this was the one game that even if we lost it would be a close game and I wanted the kids to be really into it (and I wanted to win).  It was a great game.  Much more along the lines of what I was expecting for middle school basketball.  We won 24-19 and the kids were so psyched.  The game had been at 9 am with breakfast not being served until after the game, so at breakfast we call our principal and put him on speaker phone.  He went tot he school and made an announcement on the radio.  The kids all called their parents.  It was great.
Around noon we played Deering and they were great.  My team was very much outclassed, but Deering let them play.  They lost, but they came out feeling good.
At 4 the championship round began.  Heather and I told the kids there was no way they would win (if they did Kivalina would have been mad, but we all new it was impossible) and to go out and have fun.  They tried there three-pointers and any moves they wanted.  We were crushed, but they had fun and that's what counts.  After it was all over we had our ice cream and I think the kids had a very positive experience.
Since getting back there have been many other things going on as well.   Last week when we still had some warmer weather and so on Monday I road in Corrine's dog sled and on Tuesday we played Muk Ball out on the lake.  It was so much fun!  Muk ball is kind of like soccer.  Everyone is supposed to wear mukluks, but a lot of people don't have them so many people (including myself) played in boots.  The problem with that is bruised shins.  There were goals set up on either end and everyone from young children to elders played.  The game starts (and after each goal) with one person from each team holding onto each other and picking the ball up and kicking off.  Then the teams run from near their goals and start trying to kick the ball into the other goal.  There are no out-of-bounds nor any fouls.  Pretty much anything goes.  People slip (the ice was covered in many feet of snow), especially where the snow is looser and fall.  They also kick each other.  I fell at one point near the end of the game and hit my head REALLY hard!  I ended up with a headache for about 36 hours and I think I had a mild concussion, but nonetheless after sitting out for a short while I got back into the game at the last point and kicked the winning goal!  It was so much fun.
Well. my battery is about dead.  I have many other stories including some that I can post the pictures of (you may remember I don't post any pictures that have student in them), and I will try to post again soon.

Trip to the Doctor and the Practically Desperate Attempts to Prevent Freeze-up at 60 Below

NOTE: This was written Saturday January 29th even though I'm just getting it posted on March 1st.

This winter has been much colder than any winter in a long time.  I was in the school office the other morning getting things ready for class and I was listening to the VHF radio there (the communities communicate within in the communities and to a degree between communities via VHF radio.  In Kobuk we can talk with Shungnak and Shungnak can talk to both Kobuk and Ambler).  While I was listening to the radio, the friends pastor in Shungnak was doing his morning talk and prayer and he was mentioning how it was cold like it used to be in the old days, but hadn’t been so cold in a long time.  This cold has made it tough. In addition to that, everyone is so on top of each other in the winter that illnesses just spread like wildfire and so many people have been sick.  And thus, we get to the stories I’m going to tell in today’s blog.
About 3 weeks ago, I got quite sick.  I took a day off and then I felt a little better and came back to school.  I really shouldn’t have.  That afternoon, I left school early to get to the clinic before they stopped seeing patients.  Unfortunately, there was such a back-up that I didn’t get seen until 5 pm.  My ears were full of fluid, the throat was inflamed and my lungs were congested.  I was supposed to go to Shungnak that weekend, but didn’t because I was too sick.  The next week, I felt better, but my breathing became worse and worse.  Early in the week, I tried to play with my students while I was coaching them in basketball and after about 30 seconds I was having an asthma attack and my students were wondering if they needed to call the clinic.  Later in the week, I was having a meeting with the principal, a student and a parent and I couldn’t breathe.  Rob sent me to the clinic (which was bad timing because Katie was out sick and we couldn’t find a sub so I was teaching all the students 6-12.  When Rob sent me to the clinic he had to take on all of my students and was then teaching grades 3-12!).  At the clinic the health aide said my lungs hadn’t improved at all.  They sounded just like they had 5 days earlier.  She wanted to get me breathing meds, but the nurse practitioner in Kotzebue (who has never actually seen me) simply prescribed the same antibiotic that I had just finished taking that day.  The next day, Rob and I had a conversation where we had both thought, separately, that I should fly to Anchorage to see a doctor.  I began making arrangements. 
Unfortunately, with it being Thursday morning it wasn’t very practical for me to make it all the way to Anchorage in time to see a doctor before the weekend.  So I left Kobuk Friday afternoon, spent the night with friends in Kotz and flew to Anchorage Saturday morning.  The weather was bad in Nome so the plane didn’t land in Nome, but if it had, it would have taken me 6 take-offs and landings to get to Anchorage.  My bush flight flew to Shungnak then came to Kobuk to pick me and another man up.  Next, we went to Ambler.  From Ambler to Kiana, Kiana to Norvik, Norvik to Kotzebue.  The jet was supposed to go from Kotzebue to Nome, Nome to Anchorage.  We circled east of Kotzebue until we were out of fuel for that purpose, but the weather in Nome didn’t clear and so the passengers who were flying to Nome ended up back in Anchorage and were put on the next flight (which was boarding when we landed) to try getting to Nome again.
Before, I made it to Anchorage though I had two more breathing episodes.  Thursday afternoon while I was teaching I had another.  One of my students asked me a math question and when I went to answer I suddenly couldn’t breathe.  I sat down and put my head between my knees.  One of my students got really worried and tried calling the office.  He tried and tried, but couldn’t get through.  When he couldn’t get an answer he decided he was running to the main building to get the principal (who also teaches).  A few minutes later, I heard Rob come pounding up the stairs.  I was okay by that point and talking again.  Rob came in and said that the student had run in and said, “Cannon’s on the floor dying.” I had already decided to make the trip to Anchorage, but that was confirmation to both Rob and myself that it was warranted.  The second, episode occurred while I was in Kotz at my friends’ house.  They worried that maybe they should take me to the emergency room, but I really didn’t want to go and recovered okay,
At the doctor’s office several things were discovered including that despite taking vitamin D I was vitamin deficient.  Also, my asthma had apparently been far worse than I realized for months.  My blood tests showed that I haven’t been getting enough oxygen for over 2 months.  My guess is since I was diagnosed in the fall with bronchitis.  I was diagnosed with having both a virus, which was made worse by several vitamin deficiencies and bronchitis.  I’m doing better, but my breathing still has a long way to go (I was, however, able to run and play with my students at practice this afternoon).
My return on Wednesday almost stalled.  It was +5F in Anchorage.  We got to Kotzebue where it was -18F, but while I was waiting in Kotz for my flight the pilot came out to talk to the Kobuk bound passengers.  At that point Kobuk was only a few degrees above the minimums for the plane to land (the problem being that if it is too cold the plane’s engines won’t re-start after landing).  She warned us that that morning the plane had had to abort landing in Kobuk and that if we chose to go we may very well end up back in Kotzebue. The other Kobuk passenger was a young lady who lives in Kobuk and we both wanted to try it (after all, we could either try going to Kobuk and risk getting stuck in Kotz or not try and for sure end up stuck in Kotz).  About 30 minutes later, we were ready to depart.  For Bush flights the pilot comes out to the terminal announces which villages he/she is flying to and the passengers get up and follow the pilot out to the plane.  There is no security check.  When our flight was announced we got up (along with passengers bound for Shungnak and Ambler), and walked over near the door to gather.  The pilot asked the other Kobuk bound and me if someone was meeting us at the airport.  We were like “no, we can walk.”  It quickly became apparent that she didn’t know we lived in Kobuk.  We reassured her that we would be fine.  She had told us at -40 she had had a couple of passengers who got to a village and no one was there to pick them up and they didn’t know where they were going (Kobuk is fortunate.  The airstrip is right adjacent to town, but in many villages the airport can be as far as 2-3 miles outside of town).  She explained how she couldn’t just leave them (when the weather is warm I think they in fact do just leave passengers even if there is no one there to meet them).  She didn’t explain what happened in the end though and I wish now that I had asked.
Thursday was warm enough that the planes came, but yesterday and today there have been no flights because it has been too cold.  Additionally, there is a thermometer, set up by a hydrologist, at the greenhouse that we built that broadcast the temperature to the Internet (http://www.cosmoshydro.org/stations/Greenhouse/current.shtml), but we have learned this week that it won’t broadcast when the temperature drops below -59 F. It will still record the temperature and when it returns to -59 F or above it puts up all the data.  We have been below that threshold for large portions of the last few days. 
It is at these temperatures that my heat went out.  Friday I came home for lunch to find my heat out and the temperature had already dropped significantly.  We found the school maintenance man and he got it working again.  However, about 12 hours later (around 1 am) it went out again.  I woke up to an alarm and a rapidly cooling house.  I couldn’t get it re-started and so I plugged in some electric space heaters (which won’t do much, but was the best I had) and left for the school.  We have what we call the VIP room, which is a small bedroom like bed with a nice bed in it.  It is right off of the school office where the staff bathroom is, which has a shower, and the staff kitchen.  We usually use this room for people visiting (counselors, mentors, district office people etc.), but it comes in handy for teachers who suddenly find themselves without any heat.
In the morning I called Rob who called the maintenance man and the head of maintenance at the district.  By this point our school maintenance man had already cleaned the ignition (he did that a couple of weeks ago when my heat went out) and changed the filter (yesterday) and of course checked the flue.  He may have also done some other things, but those are the ones I know of. When Rob called the head of maintenance he was not happy to learn that it was only 44 degrees in my house because he said inside the walls are usually a good 10 degrees colder and that was too close to the freezing point for comfort.  At this point, we had the water running in both sinks and the tub and the space heaters in the kitchen and the bathroom.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t much the district could do because there are no planes flying because its too cold (great time to have the heat go out, isn’t it?)!  Rob and our school maintenance man then went to my house to talk with the district plumber, who knows the set-up in Kobuk better than anyone else, to try to get things working.  I actually have two oil monitors.  The first one went out a while ago and the district sent a new one, but then Katie’s heat went out and since her place only has one (mine is the only one with two) it was installed in her place instead.  They managed to jimmy-rig both oil monitors and get them working for the time being.  In the last few hours, the one in the bedroom has gone out a few times, but is currently still restarting.  The other one is still running and I pray it continues through tonight (I will post this tomorrow.  I am typing from home and I don’t have Internet at home) and until the planes start flying again (the district has sent one to Bering Air and it’ll come out as soon as the planes can fly again).  For now though, thanks to an incredible effort by several people, I have heat and my water is frozen.
Not freezing the pipes is a really critical issue and why the district is so concerned with the heat in my house not working.  I of course am fine staying in the school.  It is quite comfortable and a nice fall-back (my own home is of course preferred, but still it’s good to have a comfortable fall-back option), but if my pipes freeze up too badly then there is no unfreezing them until spring (think May).  Also, Rob and I both live in the old clinic which was converted into essentially a duplex.  The water and sewer both enter and exit from my side.  If I lose water and Sewer, so does Rob.  During today’s fun my tub drain did freeze-up.  This however, is not a big freeze-up and by opening up the venting under the tub (it’s built on platform) and blowing one of the electric heaters right into we were able to thaw it out (especially important because it was full of water because the water had been running to try to prevent it from freezing – up).
I’m attaching some photos taken at the Alaska Airlines Terminal in Kotzebue on my most recent trip to Anchorage.  They are scarily relevant to today’s blog post.  Enjoy!
 This photo was the Alaska Terminal in Kotzebue on my way to Anchorage on Saturday January 21st.
This was on the way back the following Wednesday.  They had gotten the lines defrosted and running again...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cold, Cold weather

Well, life has been pretty crazy.  Since I last wrote, I did make it to Anchorage.  My flight got into Anchorage around 1:30 on Friday afternoon and I left at 11 am on Sunday morning so it ended up being an abbreviated trip.  Then I got back to Kobuk for a crazy busy few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  In that time my middle schoolers asked me (more than once) to be their basketball coach and I agreed, we had a school event called Santa's workshop where I baked gingerbread houses (in advance) until I thought I was going crazy (but that seemed to be a big hit) and of course we had all the end of semester hubbaloo. School ended on the 16th and on the morning of the 17th I flew first to Kotzebue and then on to Anchorage.  I had scheduled my flight out of Anchorage for the 19th (t 11:15 pm) to give me 3 days to get there so I wouldn't miss my flight.  Seeing as how Christmas can be a really hard time to get re-routed.
I had no problems getting to Anchorage though.  We even had some fun.  One of my co-workers and I were on the same flight to Kotz.  We then called a friend from Shungnak to meet up for lunch because he had flown to Kotzebue the day before.  We ran into a district maintenance guy that my co-worker recognized and asked for a ride to the Bayside Inn (where we were meeting our friend).  He agreed and we followed him out.  Another co-worker of his drove the truck up to the loading doors at the Era Terminal and the first guy told us to hop in (I'm intentionally leaving out the names and I hope this doesn't get to confusing).  So we get in and the 2 guys load the truck.  Apparently the first guy doesn't tell the 2nd guy he's told us he'll give us a ride because guy 2 opens the door and goes "Hey, there are people in our truck."  We explain and then make a joke about hi-jacking the truck.  They drive us to the Inn where we find out that 4 of the guys on staff in Shungnak are all there.  So we hang out.  We go to the AC store (AC stands for Alaska Commercial and is a chain in Bush Alaska).  At the AC store we meet a man who offers to drive us all in the back of his pick-up to the museum (which is across the street from the airport).  We take him up on it and go to the museum until it was time for our flight.   When we got back to the airport we found even more people we knew.  A very large portion of the passengers were teachers.  One of our friends from AKT2 was also on the flight (she teachers for Bering Straight School District and had gotten on in Nome).  I counted at least 10 people I knew on the flight.  Which considering it was a combi plane (cargo and passengers) and therefore only had 72 seats was a really high percentage.
Anchorage seems to average about 40-50 degrees warmer than Kobuk and it was definitely felt warm.  It was so great going to church the next morning.  I love my little church in Kobuk and it is a great place to have, but there's just something about getting a couple hundred people (more than are even in Kobuk) together singing praises and Christmas songs.  Sunday night was the encore presentation of the church Christmas program and I was stoked to get to go to that too.
Monday night I boarded a flight to Denver (and from there to Dulles and then Greensboro). Unfortunately, the flight was late getting in because of a strong headwind.  They assured us that the headwind that had slowed the plane down from Denver to Anchorage would make up the time as a tailwind while we were flying from Anchorage to Denver.  Unfortunately we had other problems too.  We boarded the plane and then they were de-icing.  But as they were de-icing whoever was working the de-icer sprayed the fluid into the engine intake.  It knocked out all the systems on the plane.  When they rebooted the engines wouldn't start up because it had gotten into the oxygen systems and they had to get some sort of oxygen cart and stuff.  We ended up taking off from Anchorage 2 hours late.
I got to Denver where I had had a 2 hour and 8 minute layover and there was an agent at the gate with connecting information.  She told me my gate and didn't tell me, but I saw the words run on her paper next to my flight.  I didn't run, but I did hurry.  I didn't even stop to go to the bathroom (something I really wanted to do).  I got to the flight while it was at the last of the boarding calls and made my flight to Dulles.  I had another layover there and that flight was about an hour and fifteen minutes late departing, but I made it to North Carolina safe and sound.
While I was in North Carolina, the temperature in Kobuk dropped.  On Christmas day the temperature went down to -47F.  The day after Christmas I was at a gas station in North Carolina and the man across the pump from me said, "You need a coat." (It was about 50 degrees and I had a short sleeve shirt on)  I told him that I lived in Northern Alaska and it had been 47 below (I got the number a little wrong) the day before and no, this was warm for me.  he replied, "wow, that was not the answer I was expecting.  Negative 47!" I don't know what he was expecting for an answer, but I'm not surprised to hear that my answer wasn't it.
I got back to Anchorage without any problems and had another couple of days before I had to leave for Kotzebue.  I spent Monday night January 2nd in the new hotel in Kotz.  It was pretty nice.  The district put me up (without the district discount the rate is somewhere around $300 a night.  Even with the dstrict discount it is expensive) because the next day I had an in-service for a new drafting class I was teaching. Tuesday was my in-service (I was the only female, which didn't bother me, but the man in charge kept saying things like guys to everyone and then getting all embarrassed since I wasn't a guy.  I told him there was no need to worry and I use the term guys to mean people all the time - I think that made him feel better).  Tuesday night we stayed at the ATC (Alaska Technical Center - owned by my school district) dorms.  The dorms weren't open yet so it was only the 6th of us plus to instructors from the ATC (also male).  I was put on the second floor all by myself, which felt a little odd, but it was okay.
Wednesday morning I flew back to Kobuk.  I got a real warm greeting that made me feel good, but everyone was telling me about how cold it had been.  It had just warmed up that day (we hit -32 F that Wednesday).
The following Friday night the temperature plummeted back to the -50s and on Sunday morning (last weekend) we bottomed out at -59F.  The crazy thing is that by Tuesday we had warmed up to +6F!  A 65 degree temperature swing in 48 hours.  We then dropped back to -30 on Wednesday, -40s on Thursday and -50 on Friday.  This morning (Saturday) the low was -55.  I think most everyone who reads this lives in a warmer climate.  When you feel cold just think of me and you won't feel so cold.
The good news is our daylight has increased tremendously.  On the solstice we only had 1 hour and 4 minutes of daylight with the sun not fully breaking the horizon.  Now the sun fully breaks the horizon and I believe our daylight count today is up to 3 hours and 56 minutes.  Yesterday was the last day that the sun set before school got out (yesterday's sunset was 3:28 I think and school gets out at 3:30).  The increasing light I think is already making people feel better (although with all the cold a lot of us have been sick.  Myself included).