Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Big shots — Eruption photographers find their work appearing far and wide

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Just like any good news photographer, David Wartinbee didn’t waste time celebrating the good luck that put him in the right place at the right time with a camera in his hand as a spectacular mushroom cloud bloomed over Mount Redoubt on Saturday afternoon. He lifted his camera to his eye and started shooting, and didn’t stop until the eruption subsided.

Then he went straight to his computer and filed his images. Later that evening they started showing up in media venues across the state, and soon, the nation and world.

All in a day’s work for an intrepid roving news photographer.

Except Wartinbee isn’t a news photographer. He doesn’t work for a media company or wire service; doesn’t have a press pass or journalism credentials. He’s a biology professor at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus with a recreational interest in photography whose front porch in Soldotna faces out across Cook Inlet, and who happened to be pulling into his driveway just when the mountain started to go off.

But through the power of digital cameras and the Internet, and a world that’s becoming insatiable for instantaneous imagery, Wartinbee and other central peninsula residents were deputized as newshounds that day, by virtue of having cameras, having something spectacular to point them at, and being willing to share.

Shots seen ’round the world
Until Saturday, Mount Redoubt hasn’t been terribly cooperative with photographers in this round of activity. Other than some visible steam plumes, most of the volcano’s many eruptions since March 22 happened at night or were shrouded behind clouds and haze. Redoubt hadn’t produced anything nearly as visually exciting as the iconic image that came from its last eruptive cycle in 1989-1990, when a massive, red-tinged mushroom cloud spread over the mountain April 21, 1990.

Saturday was different. Clouds lifted, the air was clear and the mountain was visible from the Kenai Peninsula around 2:30 p.m.

“Kathy (Wartinbee’s wife) and I came home from whatever we were doing — I think we did something exciting like go to the dump. When we came back and were driving down the road to our driveway, I could see that the mountain was visible, and we hadn’t seen it for days,” Wartinbee said.

He got out his camera to take a few shots, and showed Kathy the spot where he’d taken a photo of Redoubt venting at sunset on March 15.

“I started taking pictures from the deck and as I did I could see something was going on. I said, ‘Hey, there’s a bubble there, and it’s growing.’ And it was growing very fast and we just sat there and watched this thing blossom. We were absolutely dumbfounded by how fast it happened, how fast it went from a little bubble to bang, this thing is there. It wasn’t 15 minutes from the time it started to the time there was this huge, anvil-shaped cloud that was moving toward us,” he said.

Wartinbee’s first shots were dark as the ash cloud was low on the horizon. As it gained altitude it caught the sunlight. By the end of the event Wartinbee had to zoom out to get the spreading ash cloud in the frame.

He went to his computer and downloaded the images, then sent some to the Alaska Volcano Observatory, which posts volcano images on its Web site, www.avo.alaska.edu. The photos are free to download and use, and media sources can print or air them, but must include the photographer’s name. Wartinbee also sent a few to news sources in the state, thinking they might want some eruption shots.

KTUU TV aired one of his photos in its late newscast Saturday, and the Anchorage Daily News ran the same shot in its Sunday edition. From there it was picked up by The Associated Press, a content-sharing membership organization for media outlets worldwide. And that’s where it went — worldwide.

Wartinbee did an Internet search for the photo Sunday, and found it on Web sites for National Public Radio and several newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and papers in a Syracuse, N.Y., Buffalo, N.Y., Taiwan, South America and Finland. It’s also on the U.S. Army Alaska’s Web site and numerous blog sites — all with his name attached to it.

“I just thought, ‘I wonder how far this thing has gone? If they (the Daily News and KTUU) picked it up, I wonder if anybody else did?’ And it’s amazing how far it’s gone. It’s like, ‘Wow, how many people are interested in this little news item?’” Wartinbee said. “My 15 minutes of fame.”

Jaden Larson, of Nikiski, is enjoying her 15 minutes of fame, as well — one for every year she’s been alive.

The Nikiski Middle School eighth-grader was driving home from a movie in Kenai on Saturday with her sister when they noticed an oddly dark cloud creeping overhead as they were passing The Salvation Army thrift store on the Kenai Spur Highway.

“We just kind of thought it was an odd-looking cloud so I got some pictures because I didn’t know what it was,” she said.

Jaden and her sister continued driving north, but stopped around South Miller Loop to take more photos as the dark ash cloud spread overhead. When they got home, Jaden’s mother called the Alaska Volcano Observatory about the ash fall, and the woman they spoke to encouraged them to e-mail photos that AVO could post on its Web site. Jaden sent about 26 pictures, and eight or nine were posted on the Web site, she said. The photos spread from there.

“We saw one actually on National Geographic, their Web site. It was also on the Anchorage Daily News. We’ve been looking around. It’s pretty cool,” Jaden said. “It’s exciting. My mom was calling all our family to go look. Everyone at school was like, ‘Did you see your pictures online?’”

Jaden said she enjoys photography, and is starting to turn it into a moneymaking endeavor doing portraiture, especially maternity and newborns. She posts her work on her site, www.smilineyesphotography.weebly.com.

“I’ve always liked to take pictures and my parents bought me an expensive camera so I’ve been doing more of it,” she said.

Jaden said she likes portraiture, and hadn’t considered going into news photography in the future, which is still a long way off, considering she’s in middle school. But if she ever does, she’s already got a widely circulated breaking news shot to her name.

For Wartinbee, Saturday fulfilled a dream he’s long had — to see a volcanic eruption in person.

“I’ve seen pictures from years ago, and a friend from up here in Alaska sent me ash in ’89, and I’ve always wanted to see one,” he said.

Now he’s not only got the memories and photos to prompt them, he’s also got some notoriety to go with the experience.

“One of the blogs (that posted his photo) said, ‘Beautiful picture by David Wartinbee.’ Well, that’s cool. Thank you very much.”

Got it covered — Musicians chip in to help Veronica’s pay to play

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

When Diane Hooper and Kathy Miller bought Veronica’s in Kenai in November, they vowed to revive the quirky coffee shop’s tradition of live music performances in part as a service to customers, and as a way to support and promote local musicians.

Little did they know they’d be contributing to the likes of Paul McCartney, as well.

A new song
Music and Veronica’s go together like the sweet, golden cornbread that ubiquitously accompanies soup and sandwich orders. No matter the shape, size, consistency or flavor, the place wouldn’t be the same without it.

The coffee shop itself is musical, with the squeaks, creaks, sighs and whispers of a 90-year-old, added-on-to wooden building weathering the perpetual wind atop the Kenai River mouth bluff in Old Town Kenai. Add to that the percussion of a bustling kitchen, squealing espresso machine and furniture wobbling for balance against the worn-in floor and it’s a symphony in need of a melody.

That’s one of the reasons Hooper and Miller were drawn to buy it.

“It’s a magical place at night with the snow falling and the lights on and the music. And now I can be part of it every day,” Hooper said.

Previous owners Rebecca Lambourn and Stan Coleman had cut back on live music because of declining revenue. Music nights weren’t big moneymakers but Lambourn hired musicians anyway, if for no other reason than her own enjoyment and dedication to the local arts community. But as fewer and fewer customers came out to listen last fall, she was less and less inclined to continue the practice.

When Hooper and Miller took over, they kept open mic nights going, on Fridays, and reinstituted live music Saturdays. But with all the costs involved in taking over a business, Hooper said she and Miller didn’t have money to spare. They needed the music nights to pay for themselves in order to continue.

That prospect became more daunting with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers on the scene, sending letters and making phone calls insisting Veronica’s pay for a blanket performance license if they were to host live music nights, or even play CDs over the speakers.

To the tune of $300
ASCAP is a membership association of more than 320,000 U.S. composers, songwriters, lyricists and music publishers of all genres that collects and distributes royalties from the use of members’ copyrighted songs.

Think of it as the intellectual property police for music. Every time a copyrighted song is played for public consumption, whether it’s live, used in a commercial, or piped over the speakers at a hockey game, airplane or restaurant, whoever composed the song and wrote the lyrics is supposed to be compensated for it.

That’s where ASCAP and similar organizations, including Broadcast Music Inc., come in. In the case of radio or TV, where music is extensively tracked and logged, ASCAP collects a fee each time a song is played. Establishments like restaurants or bars that play recorded music or host live performances where copyrighted songs are played can pay for a blanket license every year that covers any of their songs that are covered.

“You have basically five exclusive rights that are yours, that’s how you raise money from intellectual property. One of those rights is the right for public performance. If someone wants to perform your song in public, they need your permission. They need to pay you something,” said Vincent Candilora, senior vice president of licensing with ASCAP, based in Nashville.

Candilora points out that ASCAP isn’t part of the big recording labels, and the money the organization collects doesn’t go to Britney Spears. It’s for the people who write the music, who aren’t always the ones making it big performing the songs, or the record companies that rake in cash from selling them.

“Most people think that if you write a hit song you’re on easy street, but that is not the case. You need to separate out the difference between recording artists and songwriters,” he said.

Take the hit country song, “The Gambler,” for instance. Who comes to mind?

“Kenny Rogers. But Kenny Rogers didn’t write that song. It was written by a guy named Don Schlitz,” Candilora said. “When Kenny Rogers’ bank account goes down, he can go on tour and sell tickets to concerts and T-shirts. A couple years ago he was selling roasted chicken. Don Schlitz can’t do that. I haven’t met anybody who wants to buy a Don Schlitz T-shirt. That’s the difference between a songwriter and an artist.”

An ASCAP license is a routine business expense, Candilora said, like a restaurant buying parsley that’s only used to spruce up a plate.

“You have to get permission to use someone else’s property. It’s not theirs, so there’s that fairness aspect to it,” he said. “The other aspect I like to think of is how do you put a value on music? … I think it makes a major contribution to our culture, and people who have been gifted with the ability to write this music should be able make a living from it. That shouldn’t be overlooked, either. It isn’t just parsley.”

ASCAP does put a value on music. A blanket license is a calculated based on how music’s used and how many people an establishment holds. If a restaurant just plays CDs, a license would cost 3.11 times the number of people allowed in a building based on its posted fire code occupancy, Candilora said. If it hosts live music three or less days a week, it’s 4.46 times occupancy. If it hosts music four to seven days a week, it’s 5.34 times occupancy. If there’s a cover charge, the rate goes up again.

Veronica’s was facing a bill of a little over $300, and ASCAP was not letting them forget it. Candilora said ASCAP has 40 teams of license managers around the country. Some drive around looking for places that use music. Once they find an establishment, get its occupancy and determine how they use music, they record the information and the establishment starts receiving letters explaining what ASCAP is, what copyright law dictates and what they owe for a license. If they don’t pay, ASCAP follows up with phone calls.

If they still don’t pay, ASCAP might send a regional license manager in to speak to the business owner, and from there might pursue a legal remedy.

“As a last resort what we have to do, ultimately, is we will file suit for copyright infringement if it continues. It’s not something we like to do and, as I said, it’s a last resort, but we are always in the process of filing suits. There’s always a small percentage who think that, ‘We’re just a small place and you have bigger fish to fry. You won’t sue us.’ Once you’re on our radar screen, it really won’t go away,” Candilora said.

The nearest ASCAP regional team is based Seattle, Candilora said, but license managers do make trips up to Alaska, which is probably how Veronica’s ended up on the radar screen.

“Whoever draws the longest straw, or shortest straw, gets to do a little stint in Alaska. I’ll be honest with you, they’re not there 52 weeks of the year. Maybe three months of the year. ... Some places may not see a license rep but maybe once a year or once every two years,” he said.

The beat goes on
Veronica’s was faced with the same set of choices as every business that ends up on the ASCAP mailing list — pay up; ignore the letters and calls and hope they don’t get sued; switch to a format of all-original music, which precludes a lot of background music and makes live sets extremely difficult; or stop the music altogether.

For Veronica’s, it came down to paying or not playing. Not playing wasn’t the preferred option.

“No one else is really doing music in this town. It’s the only place that does music anymore that isn’t smoky and an alcoholy bar. I couldn’t let it die,” said Katie Evans, a musician who works at Veronica’s.

With the blessing of Hooper and Miller, Evans organized a fundraiser March 20 to pay for the license. She invited local musicians to play three-song sets, and local artists and community members to donate items for a Chinese auction. There wasn’t a cover charge, but a jug was set out for donations, and all the tips from the night went into the donations pile, as well.

Evans said she wasn’t sure how the event would go, since she’d heard grumbling over having to pay for the license in the first place.

Scot Q. Merry, a local musician and music producer who moved up from Nashville, said he understands why people may be resistant to paying for a license, but it’s beneficial in the long run.

“I don’t like to see them struggle to pay more bills than they should, but by the same token, intellectual property is something that is just getting so abused, and it trickles down to us,” Merry said, listing illegal music downloads as an example. “… I certainly understand those people who think it’s too small, it’s too something. It shouldn’t be required. It’s that same attitude, ‘Oh, music should be free.’ While I appreciate that hippy approach, the quality improves when a community supports the artists. It’s always good for the community, good for the people, good for the artists — it’s an important part of our culture. It’s the United States. Everything costs.”

The hardest-to-swallow chunk of the ASCAP blanket license is the fact that the money goes to popular songwriters, not necessarily the ones whose songs are played, Merry said. Since individual songs aren’t tracked with a blanket license, ASCAP notes the genre of music played at an establishment, and divvies most the license fees up among the most popular songwriters in that genre, under the assumption that the popular music is played most often.

At Veronica’s, music tends toward folk or acoustic classic rock.

“I’ll guarantee the Beatles will get some of the money Veronica’s will pay,” Merry said. “They break it down among the most popular songwriters in whatever genra you’re talking about. We’re probably gonna help pay for the light bill on Paul McCartney’s castle this week.”

Still, Merry said it’s a worthy bill to pay.

“With Veronica’s being a place that supports songwriters, even though the songwriters they support may not see any of that money, it’s the right thing to do. For one, it shows they really are supporting the songwriters in some way,” he said.

And vice versa at Veronica’s. Singers, songwriters and musicians filled the coffee shop to standing room only March 20.

“Everything went phenomenally,” Hooper said. “We were able to raise money to pay for almost three years’ licenses. There was tremendous support and outpouring from the local community. It was packed. It was just wonderful.

“We definitely are going to keep Friday and Saturday nights going. It’s been absolutely great,” she said. “The music will continue.”

Pursed strings — Prospective recipients of stimulus say short-term funds do good in long term

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Immediately after Gov. Sarah Palin announced March 18 that she wouldn’t request nearly a third of the federal stimulus money slated for Alaska — about $288 million of $931 million — because there were strings attached, agencies and organizations that stood to receive funding started pulling strings of their own.

Palin later said the money was still on the table, and that she wanted the Legislature to review proposed stimulus spending to avoid leaving the state with extra costs from programs or jobs created with the two-year money. Lobbying began nearly as soon as Palin’s announcement was made to convince legislators that the money would be put to good use without creating bills that would come due when the federal dollars ran out.

On the Kenai Peninsula, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and Kenai Peninsula Food Bank say a short-term infusion of funding can be spent in a way that provides long-term benefits without recurring costs.

“We’re mostly interested in putting roots into the ground to help us be a stronger district, and not add things,” said Assistant Superintendent Steve Atwater, who will become superintendent at the end of June.

The district has a list of proposed uses for the $5 million it stands to receive in stimulus money. Only one proposal would create a new position — a stimulus funds coordinator who would track implementation of the funding and document compliance with federal regulations on the how the money is spent. But even that job would be advertised and hired as a two-year position that would end when the money does, said Melody Douglas, chief financial officer for the district.

The rest of it would be used for training, upgrading technology and in other ways meant to increase student achievement (see sidebar for list of proposed programs). Essentially, the district would be paying to make teachers better, not paying for new teachers.

“These are things we always talk about and want to do, especially educational assistive technology for preschoolers,” Atwater said.

“It’s not really a Christmas list, it was on our priority list anyway,” he said.
“We’ve been talking about this for a long time, what we really hope is for the infusion to be able to accelerate the plans,” Douglas said.

In the realm of professional development, for example, a one-time infusion of cash can provide lasting dividends because the district can use it to train its own people, who can then train colleagues in the future.

“We can grow our capacity so the trainers have the recourses within the district, so we don’t have to spend ten grand to get trainers in here,” Atwater said.

Douglas said that, in talking to legislators, the concern seems to be that money could be spent frivolously, without much consideration or comprehensive planning. The district supplied the peninsula’s legislative delegation with a specific list of what the money could go toward.

“They were extremely pleased with having received it,” Douglas said. “It was like, ‘OK, this is what we were waiting for.’”

The majority of the education portion of the stimulus money would be funneled through the federal entitlement programs that serve special-needs and low-income students, and there are already a host of rules and guidelines for how that money is used.

“The Department of Education requires us to submit plans to the feds for how we’re going to spend the money,” Atwater said. “… This is not just free cash we can play with as we see fit. We can’t just go buy hot tubs. We have limits on where the money can go.

“This will help our special-needs kids. Anything we can do to help these kids is great,” he said.

Part of the governor’s stated rationale for not requesting all the federal funding is it could balloon budgets and create an expectation that newly created services or programs would continue after the money is gone.

Douglas said that wouldn’t happen at KPBSD, in part because the stimulus money would be a special revenue fund and have nothing to do with the district’s general fund budget. It won’t save the district any money by footing any existing bills, and it won’t create growth within the existing budget.

“These funds can’t be used to supplant general fund money. It cannot be used for anything we already pay for in the general fund,” she said.

But that’s not to say new practices that could come out of the stimulus money would necessarily cease to exist. The district’s budget philosophy every year is to look at where the district is at and where it wants to be, and prioritize spending to do the most good in advancing the district toward its goals, Douglas said.
Projects receiving stimulus funding would be looked at in that same vein, and if they prove to be vital in impacting student achievement, the district may find a way to continue funding them within its own budget.

“There could be some things we could do differently or better with this infusion. Using the budget model we could be in a much better place after this,” Douglas said.

At the food bank, Director Linda Swarner said money would be used to boost the existing emergency food program.

“We would not institute new programs, we would use it for existing programs, just to enhance what we have,” she said. “All of the funds that we get here at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank stays on the peninsula and we help hungry residents from Homer to Moose Pass,” she said.

Money would be used to buy food for the food bank’s member agencies across the peninsula, including senior centers and other meal programs. It could also go to supplement the food boxes given out to residents at the food bank itself.

“It we got a significant amount it would go toward the clients that come in on a monthly basis. First and foremost would go to the 64 member agencies that have feeding programs. They’re all seeing an influx, and we’re seeing an influx in individuals and households coming to inquire about services,” Swarner said.
If the funding amounted to a large sum, it could be used to accomplish projects with one-time costs that the food bank couldn’t otherwise afford, like expanding or upgrading the food warehouse.

Otherwise, stimulus money will be used to do what the food bank always does — feed people.

“I strongly support the Legislature to consider accepting the stimulus money for the food programs,” Swarner said.

Atwater has a similar message for education funding. He and Douglas say the message appears to be well-received.

“It had a life of its own. It was such a shocking thing that the governor would say no to money for education,” Atwater said. “It didn’t take a whole lot of effort to get people upset. We didn’t have to lobby really hard.”

On Friday, the House approved a resolution accepting any money that Gov. Palin does not request from the state’s estimated $930 million share of the federal stimulus package. As of Monday, a similar measure was waiting to be voted on in the Senate, and the House Finance Committee had begun debate on a spending bill that would direct parts of the funding to specific agencies.

Environmental concern over Drift River spill potential grows

By Naomi Klouda
Homer Tribune

A tank farm at the base of Mount Redoubt containing 6.2 million gallons of crude continued to raise concerns this week, while officials formed a unified command to react if volcanoic ash and melting glacial ice sent floods down the Drift River plain.

Fearing risk of an oil spill in Cook Inlet during this period of eruptions, Cook Inletkeeper Director Bob Shavelson went to the Coast Guard’s boss at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Shavelson’s letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano urged her to order Cook Inlet Pipeline Co., to remove the 6.2 million gallons of oil at the Drift River Terminal at the base of the erupting Mt. Redoubt volcano until conditions improve.

“We are writing to ask you to take swift action to protect Alaska fisheries and the countless people they support from the threat of a major oil spill in Cook Inlet, Alaska,” Shavelson wrote. He described the precarious situation of the terminal’s location at the base of Mount Redoubt with the volcano erupting, sending mud, water and debris flowing down the Drift River.

“This scenario did not unfold overnight. Similar events transpired during the 1989-90 eruption of Mt. Redoubt. In the current instance, the Mt. Redoubt volcano has been in a heightened state of seismic activity since late fall of 2008. Since that time the DFT operator — Cook Inlet Pipeline Company… has refused to release to the public information on the facility’s Volcano Readiness Plan and the volume of oil remaining in the facility’s tank farm, citing Homer Security Act exclusions,” he wrote.

The Coast Guard backed the company’s decision to not reveal how much crude was stored in the Drift River tanks, even though it’s now established policy for tankers in Prince William Sound to release their tank volume information.

The situation boils down to two questions, Shavelson said. “Why was Chevron hiding behind fa├žade of the Homeland Security Act? (And) why don’t our laws and rules accommodate a worse-case scenario in places where we know the risk is high?”

The Coast Guard has regulatory power over Cook Inlet Pipeline Co., said spokesperson Sara Frances. “We have the authority, if there is a significant threat to the environment, the Coast Guard can direct them to remove oil or suspend operations,” she said.

The Coast Guard did not ask the company to suspend operations or move the fuel. Instead, in a press conference Monday, Coast Guard officials joined with terminal owners and the Department of Environmental Conservation to form a combined command to pool spill resources and expertise.

“This is an ongoing operation, and granted it exists at the base of a volcano, but they have the containment in place, they have contingency plans, so at this time we don’t feel it’s necessary to make them remove the oil,” Francis had said last week. “In any case, it’s not safe to allow a vessel in to do the removal, or we don’t know if it’s safe because debris and mud slides have occurred, and the tanker could be damaged.”

This could also risk a spill, she said.

After Thursday and Friday blasts from Redoubt, the company released a statement saying the engineer who designed the dike had performed an aerial inspection of it.

“And (he) is confident the dike remains sound. He and a CIPL engineer are scheduled to fly out to Drift River Terminal to continue assessments as soon as ash clears and weather permits,” the statement read.

CIPL is developing plans to remove debris and clear the road to the safe haven and the heliport as the first step of action. Clean up of the outbuildings will follow.

“The initial goal is to prepare the facility to load a tanker as soon as is safely possible,” it read. By Monday, the company was holding firm on this decision, with DEC and Coast Guard collaboration.

The Coast Guard plans to perform tests at the loading platform and will advise CIPL of the results. These tests determine the level of debris and depth of the water and will decide when it is safe to allow a tanker to enter the area.

Not only is the terminal of concern, but also a 42-mile pipeline on the west side of Cook Inlet that carries the crude from oil drills to the terminal, Shavelson said.

“Certainly we are aware of the threat to the environment, but there’s also the issue of commerce and jobs, as well as products to Alaska residents that come from oil,” Francis said.

The terminal is made up of seven tanks, with a maximum capacity of 277,000 barrels, Francis said. The facility includes buildings for workers and a platform leading two miles from the terminal to the dock where crude is loaded onto tankers.

The facility was built in 1967-68 on land Chevron purchased from the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Environmental protections and processes were not yet developed to regulate the facility during the time of its construction. According to the EPA, it operates on two clean water discharge permits that require renewal every five years.

After Redoubt blew in 1989-90, the company installed a dike for flood protection. Francis said the engineering work on the dike won a design award.

So far, the dike has held, but buildings at the terminal experienced flooding after the Thursday morning blast unleashed lahars, landslides of wet volcanic debris running down the side of a volcano. Shavelson, who said he has been to the facility, said he is not reassured by the positioning of dikes. The power of nature has proven stronger than man-made innovations.

“And you can’t lose sight of the fact that the public was denied information before the situation got into crisis mode,” he said.

When viewing the terminal, Shavelson said it is surrounded by a broad flood plain.

“I also see the force of nature and I think we can look at Katrina and any number of instances where it is no match for nature’s force. A lahar can dig a new channel, moving directly at this terminal. The situation can change rapidly. We’ve been extremely lucky.”

Cook Inlet does not have the capacity to deal with a spill potentially 6 million gallons strong, he said.

Resurrecting history — Church in need of long-awaited repairs

By Clark Fair
Redoubt Reporter

When parishioner Dorothy Gray stands in the nave of Kenai’s Russian Orthodox Church and narrates for a group of tourists the story of the church, she usually keeps to a set chronology that begins with visiting missionaries in the late 1700s and progresses to the resident priest of the present day.

Gray highlights her narrative with tales of the sometimes “despicable” Russian fur traders, with the spiritual and practical benefits brought to the area by the priests, and with the costs of construction and many of the sacred icons inside the church. When she finishes with her story and answers questions, she hopes tourists will be inspired to drop off donations as they head out the door.

Although the church sits in Old Town Kenai and is one of the city’s primary tourist attractions, it still functions as an active place of worship, and the money is crucial to keeping it going and in good shape. Donations alone, however, are not going to be enough for the work that is now necessary to keep the church intact.

The building has serious structural problems that will require $255,000 to repair, a figure that dwarfs any of the previous price tags attached to its history: the original cost of the church, the purchase of its icons, the construction of the nearby chapel and rectory, the addition of the bell tower, and the many repairs along the way.

The history of the Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church in Kenai dates back more than a century.

In April 1894, when word arrived that their petition had been approved, the Russian Orthodox parishioners in Kenai were pleased. The Holy Ruling Synod in Russia had agreed to allow them to build the new church for which they had been hoping, replacing the deteriorating original church that the revered Father Igumen Nicholai had established in the 1840s.

And to help fund the project, the Alaskan Ecclesiastical Administration had sent along $400.

In their petition, the parishioners had detailed their expected expenses and the materials they would need to complete the project, so they wasted little time celebrating and got right to work.

Under the guidance of Father Alexander Yaroshevich, the work began on a site just south of the rectory on property that once had housed Nikolaevskii Redoubt, or Fort St. Nicholas, the first area Russian fur-trading outpost, established in 1795 by the Lebedev-Lastochin Company.

Each church family was required to donate five hand-hewn logs to the process. The plan called for 6-by-6-inch logs, bladed flat on each side (to form smooth walls and allow for easier stacking), and for dovetails where the logs met to form perpendicular adjoining walls.

Construction supervisor Alexander Demidov’s inventory of expenses included $49.50 for 16,500 shingles, $57 for several kegs of nails, $8 for two wide-headed axes and a new hand-drill, and $50 for paint. Also included in the budget was $420 for four months of labor at $3.50 a day.

The grand total was expected to be $916.31 — more than $21,000 in today’s money.

The project proceeded as planned, and, in an October 1895 letter, Father Yaroshevich announced that the church was complete. In the spring of 1896, under the guidance of a new priest, Father Ionn Bortnovsky, Kenai’s shiny new church was consecrated to God.

In 1900, at a cost of another $300, the church was expanded westward and a belfry was erected over the new addition. At the same time, a white picket fence was constructed around the perimeter of the church grounds. After those renovations, the Kenai church remained virtually unchanged —except for repairs, repainting and the installation of a concrete-block foundation — for the next century.

In 1970, however, one crucial change did occur: The church was named a National Historic Landmark, one of only two in the Kenai Peninsula Borough — the other is the Yukon Island Main Site in Kachemak Bay — and of only 48 across the entire state. The National Park Service, which oversees the maintenance and protection of national landmarks, termed it “the principal and most enduring representative of Russian culture in southcentral Alaska.”

In addition to bringing Christianity to the Kenai Peninsula, Russian Orthodox priests had also brought medical supplies, taught agriculture and new home-building skills to the Natives, acted as law enforcement when the “piratelike” fur traders got out of hand, and provided the area’s first school.

In fact, for the first 40 years after Alaska was purchased in 1867 by the United States, it was the Russian government, through the church, that provided the only education on the Kenai. The funding was halted only when the communists began their takeover and secularization of Russia.Now this important symbol of Kenai’s past requires new attention. The problem lies in the heart of the structure, in the middle (and largest) section of the church — the nave, the high-domed room in which services are held each Sunday.

Parishioners who enter the nave via the west-facing front door of the church can easily see that the north and south walls are seriously out of plumb. The top of each wall leans outward, as the weight of the overhead dome and its one-ton brass chandelier push the walls sideways under the constant influence of gravity.
There is, however, more to the story: Many of the original wall logs — enclosed now between exterior lap siding and interior Sheetrock — are deteriorating.

When builders created the bell tower addition, they cut away the original west wall; although they set load-bearing columns in place of the wall, the adjoining walls to the north and south were suddenly without the interlocking piece that gave them integrity. As the wall logs deteriorated, then, the walls themselves became seriously compromised.

An effort is under way between the NPS and a nonprofit historical-preservation group called ROSSIA (Russian Orthodox Sacred Sites in Alaska) to see that the church gets what it needs — and the funding to pay for it.

Just a few months ago, ROSSIA was informed that it had received from the Save America’s Treasures coalition a $125,000 matching-funds grant to help with the restoration, and it was in the process of securing another $110,000 from the Rasmuson Foundation when the national economic crisis hit. The foundation has suspended the issuance of its larger grants, and now the church finds itself in need of more creative financing.

Consequently, a group of concerned experts congregated last week at the church to examine its structure and to discuss options and funding. On hand were ROSSIA treasurer Grant Crosby of the NPS; ROSSIA board member and Anchorage architect, Carroll Stockard; Doug Gasek of the State Historic Preservation Office; BBFM structural engineer, Troy Feller; ROSSIA secretary and lifelong member of the Russian Orthodox Church, Gray; and ROSSIA chair Sheri Buretta, who is also the chairman of the board of the Chugach Alaska Corporation. Later, they met up with Kenai city planner Marilyn Kebschull to further discuss funding.

After she unlocked the church and invited the group inside, Gray, whose Orthodox grandparents emigrated from Czechoslovakia, performed her church-history narration and answered questions. Then Crosby coordinated an examination of the premises, while Gasek, Stockard and Feller took measurements and offered suggestions and observations. Buretta and Kebschull proposed a wide variety of funding possibilities and listened to the suggestions for keeping the church together.

The restoration solution at the top of the list will involve temporarily closing and at least partially emptying the church during the repairs. The northern and southern interior and exterior walls will be stripped down to the wall logs, and deteriorating logs will be replaced. Two thick steel plates will then be bolted into the logs to “tie” them together and get them to work in unison against the roof thrust. Finally, a steel cable with a turnbuckle will be passed through the attic and attached to each wall, reconnecting the two walls and allowing them to better resist the outward force.

Also on the repair list is replacing the entire foundation. The concrete blocks now beneath the church have been settling at different rates and causing the church floors to slope slightly. Because the space beneath the church is narrow, much of the excavation for this portion of the project will have to be done by hand.

During the summer tourist season, the church pulls in about $6,000 in donations, but Gray said that ROSSIA must look to additional sources to raise the necessary funds. The Rasmuson money is still a possibility next year, she said, but even if it comes through eventually, it will not be enough to fully meet the requirements of matching funding.

This time, Gray knows, it will take more than a check from the church’s home office to do the job.

Art Seen: Drinking in changing landscapes

Alaskans love to take pictures. We are surrounded by such awe-striking visuals we just about can’t help ourselves. And if responses to photo albums on Facebook are any indication, folks who don’t live here are especially wowed by the images, even if they are not National Geographic material or art pieces in their own right.

It’s wonderful that a place like Kaladi Brothers is available for the many who’d like to share their collections with the community, and it’s a boon for their business, as well, bringing in additional customers and ensuring art on the walls. Photography exhibits grace the walls of both the old and the new stores this month, and although it is mostly traditional fare, there are a few pieces that strike my fancy as being on the more unusual side.

Genevieve Klebba has been shooting photography for many years now and is thrilled to be in the digital age. She was dubious, at first, but now thoroughly enjoys the quick results and ability to edit and print the images herself. The exhibit in the Kobuk shop is titled, “This Season That We Call Winter,” and her most interesting piece is one of the wintriest.

It takes a moment to realize what one is looking at while viewing “Sunset on Ice,” which is one of the appealing facets for me. The darkened craggy ice and snow in the foreground contrasts sharply with the warm sunset behind Mount Redoubt in the background, and it feels like an image that might be captured on another planet somehow. There are apparently others who agree that it is a special image. It won the landscape category in the statewide “Alaska Wild” photography exhibition in 2007.

It is also nice to see the hanging system in effect in the separate room. Works display well in the space.

Jeremy Reeve was born and raised here and has his work in the Sterling Highway shop. He’s placed inspirational quotes below each of his pieces and has numbered, rather than titled, them. Sometimes I feel the quote has a connection with the image, and other times it’s a stretch. Reading the quotes caused me to linger longer at each image, but I fear it may have prevented me from spending more time actually engaged with the photography.

The couple that go beyond standard fare are No. 7, “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does change the future;” and No. 16, “Love and Time: The only two things in all of life and the entire world that cannot be bought, but spent.”

“Forgiveness” presents a butterfly, contrasting with crumbling blacktop and fading paint. The areas of color/texture become almost abstract design elements, and I am able to imagine the art as being about forgiveness, both in its painfulness and its beauty.

“Love and Time” is possibly of the bottom of a glass or bottle, and the liquid might be frozen or it might not. And I might or might not agree with the quotation, actually. I can think of many things to insert into a sentence like that. But it could be argued that any I might choose could, in an archetypal way, come under the umbrella of one or the other supernouns. Love and time might actually be considered as being bought, depending on the context of a situation, as well.

It’s probably a moot point, and I’m not sure Jeremy is asking us to ponder very heavily much of this, but rather sigh pleasantly, as we enjoy the beauty of this great state. He would someday like to be a freelance photographer and fund his travels through the sale of his work. A noble cause, and I wish him well.

Zirrus VanDevere is a local mixed-media artist and owns Art Works gallery in Soldotna. She has bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and education.

Arts and Entertainment week of April 1

  • Artists Without Borders in the 4D Building in Soldotna has “Unhinged,” works done on a door or window, in conjunction with a group show by local artists, through April.
  • Art Works in Soldotna has egg tempera paintings by Andy Hehnlin on display.
  • The Funky Monkey in Kenai has photography by Tony Lewis on display through April.
  • Kaladi Brothers on Kobuk Street in Soldotna has “This Season That We Call Winter,” a photography exhibition by Genevieve Klebba, on display.
  • Kaladi Brothers on the Sterling Highway in Soldotna has artwork by Melody Lee Gleichman on display through April.
  • The Kenai Fine Arts Center in Old Town Kenai has the a Kenai Peninsula School District visual arts celebration with work by ninth- through 12th-graders on display through April.
  • The Soldotna Senior Center is looking for artists to display their work in the center's lobby. Shows are one month long. Artwork must hang on the walls. Call Mary Lane at 262-8839.

First Thursday
  • First Thursday events today include an artist reception for Melody Lee Gleichman from 5 to 7 p.m. at Kaladi Brothers on the Sterling Highway, artists reception at Artists Without Borders for an “Unhinged” and group show from 5 to 7 p.m. in the 4D Building in Soldotna, a reception for the Kenai Peninsula School District visual arts celebration from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Kenai Fine Arts Center in Kenai, and a bluegrass jam from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Christ Lutheran Church in Soldotna.
  • The Kenai Writers Group will meet at 6:30 p.m. in the conference room at Kenai Community Library. Everyone is welcome. Bring extra copies of your work to share.
  • The Soldotna High School drama department presents a comedy, “The Panic Broadcast of 1938, “ at 7 p.m. at SoHi. Admission is $5. In the play, the drama and dilemmas of two wide-eyed young women, Margie and June, is set against a backdrop of their small community panicking after hearing Orson Welles’ radio production of “War of the Worlds.” They meet Tom and Hank, from a circus train making a water stop in town. Margie’s dad, the sheriff, throws the boys in jail for robbery about the time pandemonium erupts from a supposed Martian invasion sighting at the train station. As the town gathers to plan their evacuation they come face to face with an “alien” and discover the Martian invasion might not be what it seems. Cast members include: Jessiah Steffy, Delana Duncan, Holly Jenkins, Nick Tesch, Dillon Ball, Jeff Melvin, Kevin Oelrich, Keegan Eshleman, Brian Folley, Autumn Ball, Britt Wilson, Cati Smith, Josh Rutten, Chris Closson, Lizzie McDermid, Chrissy Smith and Amanda Norris.

  • Curtain Call Consignment Boutique is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Kenai Performers’ Old Town Playhouse in Kenai. Organizers are taking consignments of new or gently used namebrand and designer clothing, handbags, shoes, jewelry and accessories. Contact Mary Krull at 398-2931.
  • The Soldotna High School drama department presents a comedy, “The Panic Broadcast of 1938," at 7 p.m. at SoHi. Admission is $5. See Thursday listing.
  • The Kenai Central High School drama club presents “The Curious Savage,” by John Patrick, at 7 p.m. at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium at KCHS. In the play, a wealthy woman is committed to an institution by her stepchildren to keep her from spending the family fortune to make people’s foolish wishes come true. The cast includes Alex Kiel, Catherine Hoisington, Michael Slone, Norrick McGee, Garrett Eady, Maya Johnson, Jen Kohler, Dylan Lawrence, Jesse Pedginski, Ella Stephens, Lynn Ziehmer and Kaleidoscope student Jacob Nabholz. Admission is $5 at the door.
  • “8 Stars of Comedy Gold,” a comedic play about Alaska history, will be performed by Sidecar, an improvisational acting troupe from New York City, at 7 p.m. at Triumvirate Theatre in the Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna. Tickets are $7 for adults, $3 for kids, available at the Triumvirate Bookstore and at the door. For more information, visit www.triumviratetheatre.org.

  • Curtain Call Consignment Boutique is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Kenai Performers’ Old Town Playhouse in Kenai. See Friday listing.
  • The Soldotna High School drama department presents a comedy, “The Panic Broadcast of 1938, “ at 7 p.m. at SoHi. Admission is $5. See Thursday listing.
  • The Kenai Central High School drama club presents “The Curious Savage,” by John Patrick, at 7 p.m. at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium at KCHS. See Friday listing.
  • “8 Stars of Comedy Gold” will be performed at 7 p.m. at Triumvirate Theatre in Soldotna. See Friday listing.

  • The Friends of the Kenai Community Library will hold a high tea from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Merit Inn in Kenai to raise money for the library. Catering will be by Charlotte’s. Tickets are $25, available at the library and from board members.
  • The Kenai Central High School drama club presents “The Curious Savage,” by John Patrick, at 3 p.m. at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium at KCHS. See Friday listing.

Coming up
  • “8 Stars of Comedy Gold” will be performed at 7 p.m. April 10 and 11 at Triumvirate Theatre in Soldotna. See Friday listing. There will be a dinner theater showing at 7 p.m. April 9 at the Funky Monkey coffee shop in Kenai. Tickets for dinner and the show are $25.

  • Friday and Saturday nights at The Riverside.

Live music
  • Hooligan’s Saloon in Soldotna has a jam night Thursday and Tuff-e-Nuff on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • The Maverick in Soldotna has the Free Beer Band on Sundays.
  • Moosequito’s in Sterling has Lulu Small on Friday night.
  • The Place in Nikiski has bluegrass by Them Other Shuckers on Friday nights around 7:30 p.m.
  • The Rainbow Bar in Kenai has live music by The Mabrey Brothers at 10 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Veronica’s in Kenai has open mic night Friday and Diggin’ Roots with Robb Justice and Dan Spencer, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday.

  • 9 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at the Duck Inn on Kalifornsky Beach Road.
  • 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at the .406 in Kenai.
  • 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays at Hooligan’s in Soldotna.
  • 9 p.m. Fridays at J-Bar-B outside Soldotna.
  • 9:30 p.m. Mondays at the Maverick in Soldotna.

  • Hooligan's in Soldotna has Texas Hold ’Em poker at 5 and 8 p.m. Tuesdays.
  • The Maverick in Soldotna has a pool tournament at 8 p.m. Fridays.
  • Moosequito’s in Sterling has Twister night Saturday, X Box boxing night on Sunday and darts Tuesday night.

Editorial: Stumbling start to the right path

For someone as image-savvy as Gov. Sarah Palin, it was surprising to see her stuff her foot in her mouth as unnecessarily as she did over federal stimulus spending.

Her announcement March 18 that she would not request a third of the federal stimulus money Alaska was eligible for, about $288 million of $931 million, caused an immediate and vehement response from prospective recipients, most notably, schools and social services agencies.

The announcement created controversy where there ordinarily is none by the governor saying “no thanks” to money that would feed the poor and help educate special-needs and financially disadvantaged kids.

She might as well have kicked a puppy while she was at it.

Out of the fervor that erupted, a new plan emerged —the Legislature would consider spending plans and decide what funding to accept and what to deny. Such oversight is critical to making sure this financial windfall does not turn into an obligation in two years when the money runs out.

In her initial announcement, Gov. Palin’s rationale for turning down the money was that it had strings attached. It would require new regulations and could balloon government and the organizations receiving money by creating new jobs and programs that don’t have a source of funding other than this one-time infusion of federal cash.

Speculation about Gov. Palin’s possible national political motives aside, those are valid points and important pitfalls to guard against. It is entirely appropriate and crucial, in fact, that there be scrutiny on this funding and accountability on how it’s spent, to ensure it is used as intended to boost the economy and help those most in need, not as a one-time, free-for-all of frivolous spending.

Had Gov. Palin communicated her concerns with expectant recipients beforehand, she would have been told at the outset what she’s heard in public outcry since — the money will be put to good use. In education, especially, the extra funding would be in channeled through existing federal programs, which brings with it more rules and regulations regarding its use than the state or Legislature would have need or desire to create for itself. Other agencies are also more than willing to conform to the governor’s wish that the money not create costs down the road.

The state is on the right path in scrutinizing the stimulus money and safeguarding that the boon doesn’t become a burden.

But Palin would have done herself and her administration a huge favor by treading lightly down this path, instead of kicking up the dust storm that’s obscured this issue.

Pressing need — Printers offer free service to help local job seekers

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Shane and Melanie Noblin are offering a new service at their business that they expect to be popular, although they hope no one needs to use it.

The Noblins, who own Peninsula Printing, are offering what they call a career assist package, where they provide 100 business cards, 50 resumes, 50 pieces of blank stationary and 50 blank envelopes for free.

The service is meant to help the unemployed search for a job, Melanie Noblin said. With the national downturn in the economy, she anticipates more people being out of work and needing to apply for employment.

“We have been seeing more businesses kind of tighten up and close down,” she said. We’re on the tail end of the economy and recession, so we’re just now going to start seeing a slowdown, if we see one.”

The Noblins saw a notice in a trade magazine they subscribe to about a print shop in Illinois that was offering free resume and business card printing to help local job seekers. The shop challenged other printers to do the same.

The Noblins decided to try it. On one hand, they’d be doing what they could to help local residents in tough times, and on the other, if no one used the service, then they could be happy that the job market is going strong, Noblin said.

“We figured we’re going to give it a shot,” she said. “We don’t have too much to lose in offering it. If it’s successful, great. If not, it’s probably even better that they didn’t need it.”

Noblin said she’s been hanging up posters advertising the service around town, including the Alaska Employment Service in Kenai.

“They were really excited and were happy to see that this was a service that was offered,” Noblin said. “You can print resumes from the job service, but what I’ve heard is it’s very limited and not extremely great quality for going out and looking for a job. It’s just a little service that they provide, but some people want something more professional.”

Noblin said she’s gotten some skepticism that there must be fees attached somewhere. She said Peninsula Printing buys paper in bulk to the point where giving away 50 resumes or 100 business cards is a negligible cost, and with computer programs making text layout so easy these days, it doesn’t take much effort.

“It really doesn’t take much time for me — 10 or 20 minutes out of my day to help someone out,” she said.

Anyone interested in the service can upload pre-typed business cards and resumes or submit unformatted text files online at www.peninsulaprinting.net. Or call Noblin for more information at 262-5267. Turnaround is one to two weeks. Orders can be picked up at the shop on K-B drive behind Save-U-More on Kalifornsky Beach Road, or shipped for $10.

The Noblins have owned Peninsula Printing since 2004, and have lived in the area for much longer. The career assist program is a business service for them. They also see it as community service.

“It only requires a little effort on our part, but could mean the world to someone without the resources they need to help secure a job. Really, in a community this small, every little bit helps, and it all circulates back to sustaining the local economy. It’s just good karma,” Noblin said.

Plugged In: Don’t let Redoubt’s ash be downfall of electronics

Before concluding our series about cost-effective computer upgrades, here’s a brief word about dealing with the byproducts of our namesake across Cook Inlet, whose unpredictable geological mutterings are likewise kicking up some dust on the central Kenai Peninsula.

Volcanic emissions are potentially damaging to almost any mechanical or electrical device. Damage can occur in several ways. Although light traces of ash are not a problem, it’s wise to remember that local volcanic ash is an industrial-grade abrasive, which, in sufficient quantities, can abrade and mechanically damage engines, bearings, fans or any other rotating or mechanically actuated devices.

This can quickly cause major computer failures. For example, if the bearings on your CPU’s cooling fan fail, either your computer will shut down almost immediately or your CPU will basically suffer catastrophic heat stroke within a few seconds. Modern processors really do put out enough heat to cook themselves unless constantly and efficiently cooled. In addition to general abrasion of moving parts, other electronic devices like printers, scanners and photocopiers are highly vulnerable to mechanical scratching of interior parts and can become quickly and permanently unusable unless covered and cleaned with compressed air. Don’t try to wipe the dust off such parts and surfaces — blow it off.

Volcanic ash can also damage electronics because it’s electrically conductive, which can cause short circuits. It’s also chemically corrosive due to sulfur oxides which, when combined with atmospheric water, hydrolyze into sulfuric acid, among other noxious chemicals. That’s the same process that results in long-term toxic acid drainage from open-pit mines and mine tailings exposed to oxygen.

Even if abrasion, corrosion or short circuits don’t get you, and even if the ash doesn’t clog your computer’s cooling fans, accumulated ash and other dust is a good heat insulator, causing electronic devices to retain heat, sometimes to the point that the device fails.

I have lost high-end Western Digital Raptor hard disks because I forgot to take a computer outside every few months and thoroughly blow out any and all dust, including dust hiding on the bottom of exposed hard disk circuit boards. The older, 36-gigabyte Raptor hard disk ran pretty warm even when everything was being cooled properly. That disk didn’t have a chance when its circuit board had a nice warm insulating layer of dust. Redoubt’s ash falls will greatly increase the need for regular internal cleaning.

What to do? Appropriate precautions are quite straightforward. Monitor the Alaska Volcano Observatory’s Web site, www.avo.alaska.edu, throughout the day and evening so you’re informed about any explosive ash events and the probable trajectory for any ash that might be ejected over the next 24 hours. You can’t predict whether there will be ash at any given time but you can predict where any emissions will travel on the winds over the next 18 to 24 hours.

When there’s any chance of an ash fall coming down over your area, shut down all of your electronic equipment immediately. Also shut down any uninterruptible power supplies or other battery-operated devices to avoid possible short circuits due to conductive ash. Unplug them from the wall if you don’t have high-grade surge protectors installed. If there’s a power loss, then there’s also the possibility of damaging voltage surges when electrical power is restored. Homer Electric Association’s state-approved tariffs provide that you, the end consumer, are responsible for preventing surge damage and that HEA is not liable.

If possible, keep dust from infiltrating into your premises. Seal leaky windows with wide masking tape. Prevent ash from being tracked into your house and workplace. Put extra filters on any air intakes. For example, I put some regular furnace filters in front of the normal dust filters in my office’s air-handling system. This should provide an easily replaced second line of defense against ash being sucked into my building and being uniformly distributed by the heating system. Also consider shutting down your air-handling systems if you’re present during the day, or setting them so low at night that they’ll not activate very much, if at all, throughout the night.

Covering all electronic and sensitive mechanical equipment is obvious. For more expensive or sensitive devices, I have been fully covering the top and sides of each individual device with a 33-gallon trash bag and then covering the entire area with large, heavy-duty plastic drop cloths bought at Trustworthy Hardware. That gives me a second layer of protection. Ash slides easily, so I have been turning up the edges of the drop clothes to prevent ash from sliding off them on to whatever I am trying to protect.

You’ll need to internally clean any ash or dust regularly. Even if you’re not in the path of an obvious ash event, there’s enough circulating ash that your computer will build up a damaging layer of heat-insulating internal dust more quickly than usual. The best way to clean this dust is to buy several cans of compressed nitrogen or dried air. These are available locally at Three Bears, Save-U-More and other stores.

Unplug your computer or printer, first noting and marking where each cable attaches so that you’ll be able to reassemble the computer without any configuration problems. Then, take the entire system outside, remove each of the sliding side panels and thoroughly blow out any and all dust. In addition to obvious general dust, take particular care to clean the system board, the underside of any hard disks, all fan blades and fan housings, all power supply openings, and the air spaces between the fins on the coolers on the CPU, the video card and any smaller fans on the system board. Repeat regularly while Redoubt’s dust is floating about.

Local attorney Joe Kashi received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from MIT and his law degree from Georgetown University. He has published many articles about computer technology, law practice and digital photography in national media since 1990. Many of his technology and photography articles can be accessed through his Web site, www.kashilaw.com.