June 14, 2013

June 13

I gave Marley, the cat, $.24 (that’s twenty-four cents) worth of catnip two days ago. He loved it! He ate it all. I also gave her/him a tin of tuna fish and let him sleep in my bed last night (s/he wanted to go out after about two hours).

Today, for the first time since I’ve been here in Tok, I haven’t seen Marley at all. I think s/he got so mellowed out by the catnip and satisfied by the tuna and by my hospitality that today he/she is just sleeping. I think s/he’s had a tough winter; apparently, her/his owner(s) just left her/him here when they moved. S/he’s OK now.

(I found out Marley’s owner is back. That’s why SHE is not here.)

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I am trying out the Sherlock Holmes (BBC version) mantra: “Don’t care (so much).” It’s much more honest. I pretend to care about so many things I don’t give a damn about. Is this being “nice” (by “nice” I mean kind)? Or is it just lying? Basically, I think it’s lying to myself.

Sentiment, as Sherlock and Mycroft (his bro) know, is largely a waste of energy UNLESS it’s real and so authentic and basic to my Self that I can’t avoid it. Like True Love. I’m afraid I am a believer, and, while it’s insane, I will continue to believe because I enjoy the… whatever it is (fantasy, fiction, reality, etc.).

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I can happily spend all day online, with a few hours break to walk into town, and a few minutes here and there to smoke or eat or pee. When I do stay online all day, I feel like I am turning into an egg or a fetus.

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I wake up here everyday terrified. Miserable. I’m not sure why. This happens to me sometimes. Is it the place? The cold? My dreams? I don’t know.

Chip was back from Anchorage when I got up this morning. His friend, Paul, is visiting, and they’re talking about flying planes, moose, gardening, and vehicles (trucks that broke down, etc.).

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Here’s some more from Daniel Tammet’s book Embracing the Wide Sky.

Kinds of intelligence:

**Linguistic (writers, poets, lawyers, and speakers)

Logical-mathematical (scientists, engineers, mathematicians)

*Musical (musicians)

**Bodily-kinesthetic (athletes, actors, dancers)

Spatial (artists, architects, engineers)

Interpersonal (salespeople, politicians, therapists)

*Intrapersonal (philosophical, psychologists, theologians)

Naturalistic (farmers, gardeners, conservationists)

(I put stars beside my kinds of intelligence.)

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Hans Asperger (Austrian doctor who pioneered the study of autism in the 1940s): “It seems that for success in science and art a dash of autism is essential.” (p. 166)

“Yet,” writes Tammet, “the possibility that great creativity might be found in the autism spectrum appears to challenge the standard definitions for both. In the sweetest of ironies, the traditional scientific understanding of creativity is being transformed by the discovery of the innovativeness of the autistic mind.” (p. 167)

“Scientists once considered autistic thought to be the antithesis of creativity: learning-disabled, rigid, overly literal. Even the capacities of autistic savants were considered  to be little more than an acute form of mimicry or obsessiveness. Such notions have been upended in recent years by a range of studies showing that individuals with autism are capable of considerable creativity and enrich our understanding of what it means to be truly creative.” (p. 167)

In the section “Logic: The Science of Good Thinking” in the chapter Thinking By Numbers, Tammet writes:

“It is this delicate balance–between an openness to the beauty and wonder of novel ideas and ways of seeing and understanding our world, and a capacity to pause, to analyze, to question and, quite often, to doubt–that is at the heart of thinking well. Logic–often seen, mistakenly in my view, as cold and calculating–need not detach anyone from the mystery of love and faith, the ambiguities inherent in living a human life. Rather, careful reasoning and independent thought help to keep our feet on the ground–from where we have the best view of the stars above us.” (p. 252)

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Tok, Alaska (2000 + 2010 census figures; in Wikipedia)  –excerpts

Tok /ˈtk/ is a census-designated place (CDP) in Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, Alaska, United States. The population was 1,258 at the 2010 census.

–a total area of 132.3 square miles

As of the census of 2000,there were 1,393 people, 534 households, and 372 families residing in the census designated place (CDP). The population density was 10.5 people per square mile (6.1/km²). There were 748 housing units at an average density of 5.7 per square mile (2.2/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 78.03% White, 0.14% Black or African American, 12.85% Native American, 0.43% Asian, 0.93% from other races, and 7.61% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.08% of the population.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $37,941, and the median income for a family was $49,219. Males had a median income of $45,375 versus $30,268 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $18,521. About 9.5% of families and 10.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.4% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 65 or over.

There have been Athabascan Indian settlements in the region of what is now Tok for many centuries.

The town at the present location of Tok began in 1942 as an Alaska Road Commission camp used for construction and maintenance of the Alaska Highway. So much money was spent in the camp’s construction and maintenance that it earned the nickname “Million Dollar Camp” from those working on the highway. In 1947 the first school opened, and in 1958 a larger school was built to accommodate the many newcomers. In 1995 a new school was opened to provide for the larger community. A U.S. Customs Office was located in Tok between 1947 and 1971, when it was moved to the Canadian border.

–On January 10, 2009, Tok made headlines with an unconfirmed temperature reading of -80°F.

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Walked into town singing with my iPod again. Also, shaking my little egg-shaped shaker thingie (bought in Whitehorse). Fun. Spent only a little today, on an apple, a can of Nalley’s hot chili (Nalley’s, Cherry Hill, N.J.). A store worker pointed the brand out to me when I was looking for refried beans (they had major US [or at least California] brand of these: Rosarita).

Considering the Tok statistics (above), it’s small wonder that the folks here are surprised and perhaps disturbed by my unrestrained singing. Restraint is undoubtedly one of their main virtues up here.  They seem to be quite conservative. I would have thought the Native population was much larger, going by the population I see in town every time I go.

I like it here. I  went behind Three Bears market, and I found a wide, dirt road leading to the airport. I crossed the airstrip and walked back to Chip’s on the gravel road alongside the airstrip. I see that I could easily, between mid-June and August sometime (?), camp out in these deep woods when passing through Tok.

Five, big helicopters just landed at the airport, going right by our yard. Chip says they are the National Guard out of Fairbanks or Anchorage or something.

I guess everyone here is putting gardens in now. It’s finally warm enough. Promises of high 80s F. this weekend! I am ready! Ha ha.

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June 14

My values and norms and beliefs and so forth are not society’s norms, etc. I am an individual. I never forget this. Well, I TRY to never forget. The force of social (and familial) coercion can be very strong and compelling.

Best way to live: follow the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would like others to do unto you).

Doing what I want to do is so different from living a  life according to what others want you to do.

Millions of daily distractions. Not a good thing. Focus.

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Learned a lot in town today from the two young gals working in the Beaver Fever Cafe. (I go there almost everyday to have coffee.) Here’s some stuff from them:

~~No, it’s not unusual that in Fort Nelson, B.C., on his way up here from Vancouver, that Chip ran into Pauline (a friend of his) whom I had met at the Father Poullet shelter (she volunteers there). Fort Nelson is about a twenty-hour drive from Tok, but so few people live up here in the Far North that people tend to know everyone.

~~The high school teams here may go a full-day’s trip away to play a game (like driving down to Haines, then taking the ferry over to Cordova).  Their closest game is two hours away.

~~December is the coldest month here in Tok. Lowest temp. on record: -83 degrees F.

~~Many Tok-ites are paranoid. They are reclusive by necessity (too cold to go out) in winter, and then, when the summer tourists pour in, they mistrust us.

~~Both gals have lived in the lower-48. One of them is a real US traveller, covering many towns in a week when she and her hubby travel.

~~Tok folks laugh when people call snow machines “snow mobiles.”

~~A bus goes from Tok three days a week to Fairbanks, and one also goes to Anchorage.

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Everything is growing like crazy here now. It’s a great summer spot because it’s FULL ON SUMMER.

The Alaska Highway in spring is very hard on RVs. The road buckles when the winter frost melts. Tok makes a bundle off fixing these great, moving homes.

Chip and Paul yesterday were talking about a friend of their who never became  a professional-level pilot. “He wouldn’t fly when it was cloudy,” said Chip.

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I talk to more and more people in town. Today I met the three-woman crew in the trailer: “Adriana’s A Taste of Mexico.”

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