Monday, June 30, 2008

On the backside of the dam

The tourist season is in full bloom. That's fine with me, it's great for our economy. We sure need it. I also get to meet some interesting people. This year there seems to be a lot more people from outside of the US of A. With the devaluation of the dollar, it's become more affordable for non-Americans to visit our great state.

Sometimes places get a little crowded though. Crowds don't always bother me. Only when I don't want to be in one. Today things started off slow, so I figured now was a good time to get some pix's. I was working the downtown area, so Ship Creek is the place to go. I wasn't the only one that had that idea. So, while everyone was on the west side of the dam looking at the fish evading the fishermen, I went to the other side where things were more boring.

The day started off cloudy, so it was perfect for the reflections that I like. I still find them quite challenging, but maybe that's why it's fun to me. As far as wildlife, there was just a mew gull and a mallard, but the colors were exploding. There not much of a walkway on that side, just about 2 feet of roadside. It was OK until the big trucks rolled by. But if it didn't scare th birds off, it didn't scare me off either.

After a bit it was time to get back to work. It's a short week this week.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I don't like it, but

The Supreme Court on Wednesday slashed the $2.5 billion punitive damages award in the Exxon Valdez disaster to $500 million, a decision that could have broader implications for limiting how much courts can order businesses to pay.

The decision was hailed by the business community and decried by environmentalists and Alaskans.

The court ruled that the victims of the worst oil spill in U.S. history may collect punitive damages from Exxon Mobil Corp. that amount to an average of $15,000 for each person who filed a claim against the energy company.

Justice David Souter wrote for the court that punitive damages may not exceed what the company already paid to compensate victims for economic losses, $507.5 million, an amount equal to about four days worth of Exxon Mobil Corp.'s profits last quarter.

The Exxon Valdez case involves reckless action that was "profitless" for the company and that has already resulted in substantial recovery for substantial injury, Souter wrote. A penalty should be "reasonably predictable" in its severity, he added.

The case grew out of the 1989 disaster of the Exxon Valdez, a supertanker that dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound, fouling 1,200 miles of coastline.

A jury decided in 1994 that Exxon should pay $5 billion in punitive damages. In 2006, a federal appeals court cut that verdict in half.

Exxon asked the Supreme Court to reject the punitive damages judgment altogether, saying the company already has spent $3.4 billion to clean up the spill and compensate Native Alaskans, landowners and commercial fishermen.

Nearly 33,000 plaintiffs are in line to share in the award approved Wednesday, an average of about $15,000 a person. They would have collected an average of $75,000 each under the $2.5 billion judgment.

The Supreme Court was divided on its decision, 5-3. Justice Samuel Alito took no part in the case because he owns Exxon stock.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Exxon Valdez oil spill numbers

Exxon Valdez oil spill numbers

by Channel 2 News staff
Thursday, June 19, 2008

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- In anticipation of a ruling by the Supreme Court on the punitive damages settlement following the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, Channel 2 News has compiled a breakdown of some interesting numbers related to the case:

The amount of the Alaska coastline covered in oil from the Exxon Valdez spill equals California's entire coastline.

If the amount of oil spilled were placed in gallon-sized milk jugs, and they were placed side-by-side, they would stretch the entire length of the pipeline, with more than 100 miles left over. The jugs would also stretch from Anchorage to Homer and back -- twice.

Two -- the number of Egan Center main ballrooms the oil would fill, floor to ceiling.

Four -- number of hours it would take the Trans-Alaska Pipeline to pump the same number of barrels of oil that were spilled (at today's flow rate).

11,000 -- number of square miles that the oil spill covered

5,014,286 -- number of gallons of gasoline that could have been made from the spilled oil

$21,009,857 ($21 million) -- amount of money it would cost you at the pump (at today's prices) for that amount of gasoline

2,365,714 (2.4 million) -- number of gallons of heating fuel that could have been made from the spilled oil

1,027 -- number of years a typical Fairbanks home could be heated with that amount of heating fuel, or the number of Fairbanks homes that could be heated for one year

$9,899,657,997.20 ($10 billion) -- amount of interest the original $5 billion punitive damages awarded in 1994 would have earned at 5 percent, compounded annually

$2,756,250,000 ($2.8 billion) -- amount of interest the $2.5 billion punitive damages awarded in 2006 would have earned at 5 percent, compounded annually

$5.3 billion -- approximate amount Exxon would have to pay out if the Supreme Court awards full punitive damages

$1.06 billion -- approximate amount lawyers stand to make if the Supreme Court awards full punitive damages (20 percent)

22.5 -- number of days it takes Exxon to earn $2.5 billion in profit (based on first quarter 2008 earnings numbers)

26,000 -- number of gallons of oil estimated to still be on Alaska beaches

Animals killed by oil spilled:

250,000 to 500,000 seabirds
1,000 otters
300 harbor seals
250 bald eagles
22 orcas
billions of salmon and herring eggs

8,000 -- estimated number of original plaintiffs that have died since 1994

1,600 -- number of tons of steel removed and replaced during the repair of the Exxon Valdez tanker

$30 million -- amount spent to repair the Exxon Valdez

$3.15 billion -- approximate amount Exxon has spent thus far on cleanup and fines after the spill
$80,000 -- approximate amount Exxon paid for every dea otter captured, scrubbed and released

5 -- number of animal species known not to have recovered from the spill

6 -- number of animal species known to have fully recovered from the spill

8 -- number of animal species still recovering or "recovery unknown"

Friday, June 20, 2008

Big Red Neck, little Red Neck

Red-necked Grebe that is. It was busy at Potter Marsh today. All kinds of young birds all around.
Hope you had a good Summer Solstice!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What gets hit the most

I did a post last December that seems to drawl a lot of attention from around the world. It's titled "Sunrise, Raven and and old airplane". Though I like the pictures of the sunrise, I don't think that's what is drawing the attention. The Raven flying by isn't all that visable in those shots, so I figured it must be the old airplane that everyone is looking at.

I asked in the post if anyone could identify it and it took 6 1/2 months before I got a response from Tahrqa from Romania. He identified it as a Antonov AH-2 with AEROFLOT (Аэрофлот) colors and the type of the plane AN-2 (Ан-2) in Russian characters under the left window. This link will tell you a little about the ID of the plane.

I figured I put some more pix's up for people to see. She looks like she could use som tlc. The left front tire is flat and there's an oil catch bucket under the engine.

For more of a history on the AH-2, visit Warbird Alley.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Litte Break

I took some time off from the blogs this weekend to spend time with family and some of the other things we enjoy. I hope all of the Dads had a great Fathers Day and I hope everyone else just had a fine weekend!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Someones watching me

Ever get that feeling that something is watching you? I went to Taku Campbell Lake this morning. It must be a Tuesday thing because I was here last week. Anyhow, I was walking along the side of the lake watching the Loon diving and stuff when I got that feeling. I looked up and this is what I saw.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Nap time at the Zoo

I stopped by the AK Zoo for a few minutes on Wednesday. Lots of baby animals this year. This baby Musk Ox was crashed out hard and mom was keeping a watchful eye out.

I need to go back and get some more pix's.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ed, you made a difference

Cancer claims automotive expert

Note: The following information was supplied in a University of Alaska Anchorage press release.

Ed Peace, an instructor in the University of Alaska Anchorage's automotive technology program and one of Alaska's greatest experts regarding cars and driving, died Sunday at his home in Anchorage surrounded by his family. He was 68.

Peace had suffered from lung cancer for at least two years but maintained a full schedule, teaching and donating his time to sundry causes, nearly until his last days.

Peace was born in Philadelphia and spent 21 years in the U.S. Air Force, according to his son, Torey Peace. He made several journeys to Alaska beginning in 1958 and moved here permanently in 1969, his son said. He retired as a tech sergeant in 1978.

Peace loved automobiles and worked in the auto-repair industry, running shops for others over the course of several decades, said Kelly Smith, director of the Transportation and Power Division of UAA's Community and Technical College.

"He was always an ambassador for the industry, modeling professionalism and customer service," Smith said. "He was especially interested and excited about new and emerging technology. He brought these attributes with him when he came to work at the University of Alaska Anchorage (in the late 1990s)."

Peace was generous with his time. Among organizations for which he volunteered in some automotive or other capacity were the Alaska Women's Show, Alaska Family Court, the ARC of Anchorage, the Alaska Military Youth Academy, where he served as a youth mentor, Skills USA and others. He and other Transportation and Power Division faculty shared their expertise and advice with Anchorage School District students and industry technicians. Together with his UAA automotive students, he performed free checks on engine-block heaters for Anchorage residents, answering questions about the proper operation and maintenance of vehicles during the winter months.

Last year, Mayor Mark Begich appointed Peace, who was an expert on vehicle emission control systems, to the I/M Task Force. The group's mission was to evaluate the Anchorage Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Program and recommend whether it should be continued as it was, changed or scrapped altogether.

Peace concluded the program had accomplished much of its mission -- cleaning up the city's air -- but should not be discontinued. He felt that if nothing else the I/M program offered regular measurements of carbon dioxide, which he said was an increasing concern due to its effects on climate.

Peace championed new forms of power generation, especially in Alaska where traditional fossil fuels are becoming cost-prohibitive.

"It doesn't matter what you believe about global warming," he told The Northern Light, the UAA student newspaper, in June 2007. "Gasoline is expensive now, and someday it's going away. We need to overcome these things."

He urged motorists to recognize that gas mileage is almost as much a matter of good vehicle and tire maintenance as it is of engine size and body weight. Keep your oil clean and changed regularly, he advised. Air filter too. Be sure the carburetor is finely adjusted and the engine-block heater works well. Keep tires at their proper pressure.

"It's minor maintenance, it's nickel-and-dime things," he told Channel 2 News just a year ago when gasoline was hitting $3 a gallon. "Proper air pressure in all tires could make the difference between 17 and 25 percent fuel economy."

"His dedication is evidenced by his many awards, including the NAPA/ASE 2000 Alaskan Technician of the year," Smith said. Another of his honors was a UAA Chancellor's Award in 2005 for Exemplary Achievement in Support of Diversity.

Peace is survived by his wife, Rosemary Peace; sons, Torey and Richard Peace; daughters, Fay Peace, Cheryl Fischer and Kathleen Trobough; and four grandchildren.

The family plans a private ceremony to mark his life and passing, Torey Peace said.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Taku Campbell Lake

I stopped by Taku Campbell Lake during my lunch break today. The temperatures have been in the mid to upper 50's, but it's been cloudy the last couple of days. Cloudy is sometimes good for a number of things and one of them is taking pictures.

There was a lone Common Loon enjoying the solitude right in the middle of the lake. Fish were jumping all around it and it just didn't care. ADF&G stocks this lake with Rainbow Trout and Land Locked Salmon. At one time it had a Northern Pike invasion, but I think that's old news now. Any which ways, the loon didn't care.

It's also a lake where people come to walk their dogs. Some of the dogs listen and some don't. Some attract people just because they are cute. There's a paved trail around 1/2 the lake and a dirt path around the rest. The city has been doing upgrades to the park area for the last couple of years.

The lighting was perfect for some good reflection shots. Cloudy days are great for that. I was there for about 45 minutes and saw lots of people and dogs. The whole time Mr. Loon (or Mrs.) just took it easy.