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Showing posts from October, 2009
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So, happy Halloween. The orange stuff to the right of the moose was a pumpkin. The moose ate it and then promptly took a little nap. I think it is funny that in Alaska you have concerns that just don't exist anywhere else. Like moose eating your Jack o' lantern. Last night I had a run in with Sgt. Erickson. I got to call him a 'jackass' to his face. God I had forgotten how much I really dislike the cops. What a dick. I was wearing my 'Alaska Public Defender' sweatshirt and he decided to give me a hard time. I had to remind him about the 4th Amendment. I am about to take the kids out trick or treating...they are fairies (or something) this year. Hope everyone is safe out there.
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So, if people aren't looking information on life in Alaska or the Public Defender Agency, they want to know what the salary is for a Public Defender in Alaska. To be honest I'm not really sure. I think most people start somewhere above $50,000. If you are in the Bush it would be more. But the cost of living is a lot more there too. Salaries here are fairly good, as I hear stories of Public Defenders in other states starting at $32,000 or something absurd. When I started in Mendocino County, it was at $38,000. That was just dumb. I think most people in my office are making something in the range of $70,000 to $90,000 a year. People who work for the State in Alaska do not contribute to social security and it takes 5 years to fully vest in the retirement plan. Anyone who starts these days would be in Tier 4. The running joke among those of us in this tier, is that it is called "Tier Fucked". If I stay with the Agency I have to hope and pray that the market d…
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So, Snug Harbor road near Cooper Landing. I have tried twice before to get up it and have been turned around twice by the snow. Today I made it. Um, the end was only a few hundred yards past where I made it before. I did find a kick ass camping spot right on Kenai Lake though. It is just amazing up there. G and Ken will remember going up there to 4 wheel and shoot last November. The little clearing where we made a fire? It is now a parking lot! Up in the middle of nowhere there is now a parking lot in the place we camped and played around. What the hell? G is going to be here from November 7 to 15, so I am trying to plan a bunch of adventures. It just depends on the weather. We have had no snow yet this year and the weather is very, very mild. It is in the 40's during the day and we have only had a frost or two at night. If it stays that way maybe we will even go boat camping! G has never had a successful trip on the boat and it is time to break that curse. One la…
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So, I am absolutely fascinated lately by how people are finding this blog. Granted, searches for "Alaska Public Defender Agency" seem to be at the top. But nearly as many people want to know what life is like in Alaska. Do we get sick of the dark? The cold? What are the disadvantages to life in Alaska? The pros and cons to life in Alaska. I wish I had all the answers. This blog is about me. My friends and family. And I am an 'unusual' guy (waiting for the comments here). Not every one who lives here gets a kick out of road kill moose. Heating exclusively with wood (in my third winter in this house I am trying to figure out how to work a furnace...I have never used one in my life). Having a garden. Raising chickens, turkeys, hogs and rabbits. Hunting. Dipnetting. Fishing and exploring. Snowmachining and off-roading. Not everyone likes the cold of Kotzebue or the rains of Ketchikan. Not everyone believes that the right to own and possess guns is a right handed to us fr…
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So, I have a small problem. If you google "Alaska Public Defender Agency", this blog is now the first hit. So it is time to make clear, if it wasn't already, that this blog is personal. I am not trying to suggest what life would be like for every public defender in Alaska. Use your common sense folks. This blog is about my life. My views. I do know that many people who are interested in working for the Agency read it. To be honest if that is the case, please feel free to call me or write me. I am absolutely fascinated by how people find this blog and it seems that many people want to know if the Agency is hiring or how much it pays or what it is like to work for the Alaska Public Defender Agency. Well, I believe pretty strongly that you dance with the one that brought ya. True, I have had some issues in the past. But this Agency is a darn good place to work in many, many ways. Many of the complaints that I hear from fellow Public Defenders in other places simply don'…
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So, one of the programs I have installed allows me to see referrals to this blog. One of the people who looked at the blog Googled "are public defenders happy"? Well I can't answer that of course. But I think that generally we are. I think that generally we take a certain amount of pride in the words of Harper Lee. "I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. " (Chapter 11 To Kill a Mockingbird). I think we are generally smart, tough, funny people. Of course we choose work that can be tough. I don't care what any DA says: being a public defender is harder. I have proof positive. I could go back to Ukiah California where I started in 2000. I bet I would know 90% of the DA's there even 10 years later. But if I walked o…
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So, I want to write a brief post about basic immigration law. There seems to be this enduring myth among Americans that one can simply come to this country and become American. Ummm, no. In fact if I were not Canadian with the NAFTA treaty, I could not be in Alaska at all. In fact, it can be nearly impossible. So many Americans ask the question "why not just naturalize"? Like I can go down to the post office, get an application and PRESTO! The basic rule is this: you have to have a Green Card (aka be a Permanent resident) before you can become a citizen. How long you need to be in this status depends on how you got it. There are two basic ways to get a Green card. Be sponsored by family or your employer. If you don't have qualifying American family you have to get your employer to do it. There you have to show that there is no American "willing, able and qualified" to do your job. Of course you have to get past the first hurdle of a willing employer. The State …
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So, today is the day I hate being an 'Alaskan'. Of course I am not an 'Alaskan'. Not really. Neither apparently are my girls. Nor my wife who is raising them here. Today is the day I get to see people who arrived here after me get their PFD. People who I goddamned well know will leave before me. I own two houses here. Am going into my fourth winter. My second child was born here. Kadee has not left Alaska soil since arriving at six months old. I spend my life energy fighting for the rights of Alaskans to be free from the Government. On the smaller scale I fight for the freedom of individual Alaskans every single day. I pay the highest gas prices on the road system of anywhere in the United States. I pay property tax. Sales tax. Car registration fees. In every measurable way I am an 'Alaskan'. I put up with all the disadvantages of Alaska. But. I also love this place. I enjoy it and use it in ways that not even many of the people here do. I feel privileged every…
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So, I just had a moment I had to memorialize. Not for anyone in the world but me. I am cooking a leek and potato soup. Starting with my own bacon. My own leeks. My own potatoes, parsley and chicken stock. My girls were with me. J was cleaning in another room. "I melt with you" by Modern English came on. Yes, in my house, it is all 80's all the time. I was dancing with AJ. She was laughing hysterically as I threw her in the air. Kadee found a potato that looked like a baby. She found that funny, and so did I. For just a moment I realized that I was happy. My children were laughing. The fire was going. A good song was on. Great food was simmering. I disagree that is impossible to be happy. For I just was. Those who know me, and perhaps those who don't, know that I have been down lately. I can't swear it is over. But I can swear that, for the first time in a long time, I feel like I can see something on the horizon. Like a man who feels lost who suddenly…
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So, have you ever had one of those weekends? Where you are so sick? I slept from 10 p.m to 3 p.m on friday/saturday. Back in bed by 8 pm and slept until 1 pm today. I awoke during the night to wet sheets from sweat. Had strange dreams. Tossed and turned. "Thought" about life. Is it possible that one sick weekend could turn things around for me? I don't know. But I feel like I have turned a corner in my life. Very, very strange. Perhaps I am still delirious. I couldn't help but think that one day I may get sick like this and not get better.....I hope everyone out there is better than I am.
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So, I just got back from my fourth annual Public Defender's conference in Girdwood. It was a good conference, but not the same without G. This year it was only two days, instead of 3 so it just flew by. It was also harder to get drunk with one less night. I took 15 gallons of homebrew beer and we drank maybe 3. It is funny for me to be recognized now. Quite a few people "knew" me by this blog. Most people seem to appreciate it but it was strange to have strangers ask how the girls were or know about my life. The weather was stunning, as you can see by the photos. I had a few moments where I felt like my 'old self'. It is good to be home.