Friday, October 3, 2014

My First Permanent Fund Dividend

One unusual perk to living here is that each year, every eligible Alaskan (regardless of age), receives a dividend check from the Alaska Permanent Fund's profits. The amount of the dividend varies from year to year, and this year it is $1,884. The only requirements are that you have to be a resident for a full calendar year, physically present in Alaska for the vast majority of that year, not a convicted felon, and you've successfully completed the application during the application period at the beginning of the year. You also have to sign a statement that you intend to remain a resident of Alaska. Then POOF! You get a big ass check from the State of Alaska in October!

I arrived in Juneau in October 2012 and was a resident for all of 2013 so this was the first year I could apply. Here I am with my check on the way to the bank!




I've come to know quite a great deal about the Permanent Fund because I work for the organization that manages the $51 billion sovereign wealth fund. The Fund was created in the 1970s when Alaska was selling oil leases on the North Slope. The legislators at the time had the good sense to save this money plus stipulate that 25% of the oil revenue go into the Permanent Fund each year so help ensure the economic future of Alaska. The Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation was formed to manage and invest the fund. Today the fund is invested in a variety of fixed income, equities, real estate, infrastructure and special opportunities. Most Alaskans have no idea about all of that, though. They just hold out their hands for their free money. I've got a little chip on my shoulder about that. It also doesn't help when Alaska and PFD are misrepresented like in this clip from The Simpsons movie but I digress. My dividend is going towards my credit card, a couple of outstanding bills, and a new pair of XtraTufs for the winter!



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Winter is Coming

We had quite the day of weather yesterday. We would get black clouds and torrential downpours for 30 minutes, then 30 minutes of sunlight - back and forth like that all day. It resulted in many rainbows. Here is one of them as seen from my office.



The temperature also dropped into the 30s, and we saw the first snow at the 3,000 - 3,500ft elevation range yesterday. Winter is coming!


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fall is in the air!

I've just returned from my first trip back east since I moved to Juneau two years ago! My time was spent with family and friends, and I enjoyed catching a nice Indian summer- the weather was beautiful and hot! While I was sad to leave my family, I wasn't so sad to leave Boston. As I stepped out of the airport in Juneau, I was immediately struck by the wonderful clean air smell of Alaska. Fall is definitely in the air here. The first order of business was to take advantage of the dry weather here and head out to one of my favorite spots around Juneau. 

Butters at Eagle Beach


Family portrait on Cape Cod
My folks on their deck

REAL tomatoes!

One of many fantastic meals while on my trip. I miss shabu shabu the most.

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Super Weekend, and a Hike Up Thunder Mountain

I hiked Thunder Mountain last year, and I had been dying to get back up there this summer. I hiked it with a friend yesterday, and it was glorious! It's roughly 7-8 miles round trip with 2,700 feet of elevation change so it can take a while. It's my favorite hike in Juneau (so far) because of the incredible range of view it allows. Also, lots of wildlife! We saw porcupine, marmot and several mountain goats, and a few up close like these two:


Here are a few more pictures. The glacier is Mendenhall Glacier (the biggest one in Juneau). 





My friend, Ben (this is looking south towards downtown Juneau)


Monday, June 23, 2014

How did I get here?

Wow, so I've heard a few reports of people asking why I haven't posted in a long time. My apologies, loyal readers!! The short answer is this:  I'm busier than I've been in my whole life! No joke. I would have never guessed that Juneau would offer more to me in terms of activity than Boston would, but it's true. So much has happened since my last post, I can't possibly catch up properly so I'll try to hit some highlights, okay?

It's summertime, and the living ain't slow! Summer solstice was on Saturday, and the sun rises at 3:50am and sets at 10:15pm. I was wide awake at sunrise that day. I usually wake up at such an hour this time of year. I don't subscribe to blackout curtains.

Sunrise Summer Solstice 2014

That's the view from my new condo. That I own! Well, I guess the bank kinda owns it, and I received a generous gifts from my parents, but still... it's technically mine! Also technically speaking, I live on a small island in the Pacific. It's true. I have a great view of Mount Roberts and the passing cruise ships. I haven't seen whales from my deck, but I'm sure I will sometime soon.


So there's the new condo, and also SCHOOL. I'm in the Masters of Public Administration program at University of Alaska Southeast (Juneau), and I'm having a great time in classes although I have a big academic commitment this summer. Despite not having a world class level program, I'm getting a ton out of my experience so far with this MPA classes. I'm currently enrolled in stats and econ classes and also a wonderful class on Political Leadership and Civility. Thanks to the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation for bankrolling this for me! 

Of course, I'm now a puppy mama and this is at least 75% of the reason I'm not posting so frequently anymore. Butters is doing great. She has her flaws, but we're having a wonderful time. 




That's all I can update for now. There's more to come. There's much more to tell!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Spring!

Like the trees and their pollen on Douglas Island today, I will be releasing new posts soon! Happy Spring!


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Most Wonderful Life

I'm a little delayed in getting some posts out lately so let's see if I can cover a lot in one here. I'll work backwards.

We are currently in the midst of a board of trustees meeting here in Juneau for the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (my employer). I've been wanting to meet one of our investment advisors for a while who lives in Wayland, Massachusetts, but I didn't have the chance until today. All I did was introduce myself and tell him that I grew up in the town next to Wayland. It's always fun to make connections like that so far away. We had a wonderful but brief conversation. He asked me what I thought of my decision to move here from Boston. Without hesitation, I said it was the best decision of my life. I love Juneau and couldn't be happier.

That's the truth.

Our weather has been perfect lately. It snowed last week but then it cleared up with a dramatic temperature drop into the 0-20s. I-DEAL. The Mendenhall Ice Cave has been the place to be in the last year, and the current conditions mean that instead of a grueling and treacherous hike, you can access the cave via a leisurely stroll across Mendenhall Lake. It's still a 3-hour trip and 5+ miles, but it's still very easy. I saw someone in a foam neck brace in the cave the other day. Even Butters the Puppy made it no problem.

Here are a few pictures:







Simba/Rafiki Moment


The other day, we woke to 6 inches of fresh snow and sunshine. Everything in Juneau looked amazing. Even though I worked most of the day, I could not believe how beautiful Juneau looked that day. Around sunset, I thought that Juneau could not have a more perfect day.

Then the northern lights came out.



I will likely have another post soon about my crazy schedule lately. I'm just squeezing this one as it is though. I'm anticipating no life until April given my upcoming schedule.



Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Escape from AK!

I haven't left Juneau since I rolled off the ferry in October 2012- more than 15 months ago! If you wanted to nit-pick, I suppose you could count the ferry trip I took to Haines (60 miles away) to visit a friend for the weekend. That's not exactly what we would call getting out around here. In all honesty, I haven't much desired to leave our little temperate rainforest paradise since I got here. I'm absolutely IN LOVE with Juneau. I simply haven't felt like I needed to get out. That's not to say, however, that I don't miss plenty of things from Down South. Juneau is lacking in a lot of areas. I'm also not saying that I'm not looking forward to this trip because I definitely am.

My dear grandma Helen is 91 and lives in Sun City, California (in Riverside County, SoCal). We've had a family tradition of visiting her in January or February every year since I was a little kid. My parents brilliantly decided to fly me down for this years' winter visit - though lately it has just my folks that make the cross-country trip from Massachusetts and not my sisters.

Grandma, my sisters and I in California, 2010


Yes, I too was a baby once. Here I am with Grandma Helen
So yes, I am very excited to be going to see my parents, grandma, some aunts and uncles, and also to enjoy some warm sunny weather in Southern California - although we're having one hell of a warm, un-snowy winter. Someone switched our weather with the rest of the country this year apparently. 

After such a long stretch in Juneau, I'm curious to see how I react to things in California. I have some predictions, but I'm sure after the trip, I'll have a revelation or two. Some things I think I will be shocked by are traffic, crowds, weather, options and noise. I have a laundry list of shopping stops I must make. We're seriously lacking clothes shopping here so I have saved a bunch of money for Target, REI and a haul of fresh produce. I signed up for Alaska Airline's Club 49 - available to Alaska residents. One of them main perks of Club 49 is that if you're flying in/out of Alaska, you get TWO FREE CHECKED BAGS. TWO. So my plan is to pack a duffle bag into another bag on the way down, and to fill it with a haul of clothes and produce to bring back to Juneau. We can't get tomatoes worth a damn here. I hope to bring back lots of tomatoes and citrus. I told a friend about this and they replied, "Hahaha, you are a real Alaskan now... planning to drag back produce and clothes." 

We've also got a list of foodie stops... In n Out, Shabu Shabu, Mexican... We like food in my family for sure. We'll be spending some time in San Diego and Los Angeles, but we'll also be doing a lot to help Grandma. Of course, I'm quite excited to see my parents. They came to Juneau in June for a week so it hasn't been too too long, but still. I miss them terribly. 

I'll be sure to check back in with my revelations, if there are any. I'm pretty sure I'll have some culture shock. I can't wait to see what, in fact, surprises me. 



Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Puppy Mama at Last

So sorry for the lack of posts in the last month. I've been... pretty busy.

On December 13th, Butters the Border Collie puppy arrives in Juneau via Alaska Airlines Flight 62. I'll keep the text portion of this post short because the pictures will mostly speak for themselves. She's an amazing puppy, and I feel very lucky to have her. She is definitely challenging at times - mostly when she doesn't want to be asleep in her kennel late at night. We had a dog when I was kid, but my dad was the one who really did the training and hard work with him. Being responsible for Butters is a new experience.

While I'm lucky to have her as a puppy, I like to think that she's lucky to have me as a mom and also to be here in Juneau. She gets a nice run on Sandy Beach every day on my lunch break, and I get to take her to even more adventures on my off days. She turns 3 months old tomorrow. Hopefully we can celebrate with wins by the Seattle Seahawks AND New England Patriots!! That will be a subject for a whole other post, I'm sure.

Meanwhile, meet Butters. She came from Midnight Border Collies in Washington.

Our first selfie - 10 minutes after being introduced

First day home - toys: acceptable


Riding a Musk Ox






Paying our respects to Romeo the Wolf

Kameko is *okay*


Wiped out

At the coffee Drive-thru

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ice Caves and the Joys of Winter

Winter is definitely here. Snow has covered Juneau and will remain until April. There's lot of annoying aspects of winter here, but today I discovered one of the advantages. I joined a group of people from the Juneau Photo Group for a trek out to the ice cave at Mendenhall Glacier- a place I've been three times before this year but in the summer. Today was different because instead of a long hike along the lake and over the glacier, we could cross the lake itself since it has long since frozen! Instead of a few hours, we walked the ~2 miles across the lake in about 45 minutes. Then it was an easy climb up and over the glacier to the cave. Inside the cave, there was still some flowing water, but it was mostly frozen up and much drier because it wasn't melting so much. Roundtrip, including lots of photo op stops and a good chunk of time in the cave itself, it was only a three hour event. In the summer it took at least twice as long. I have designs to go back there again soon... but with props and other fun things. Stay posted!

There was an article on Huffington Post the other day about this ice cave. I scrolled down through the pictures and came upon the video that they included. Huh. I wonder who's video? I clicked on it... Katy Giorgio. HA! I'm now Huffington Post famous. Moving up in the world!