Much of the balmy month of January was devoted to the annual Kuskokwim 300 festivities but one case did get completed. A Bethel woman settled her claim with a resort in Hawaii, after she suffered a head injury when her plastic chair broke and she crashed to the concrete floor of the outdoor lounge where she was seated, watching a dance show. Because ALO has no license to practice law in Hawaii, the case was shared with a lawyer from there.
Typically icy trails greeted racers in the Kuskowkim 300 and related races. Once again Bethel's Pete Kaiser emerged the winner after a serious challenge from Yukon Quest champion Brent Sass. The race featured a virtual who's who of distance racing, which by now is the norm for the 300. For the second year running, rule violations marred the end of the race. The discussions surrounding those violations got fairly nasty, especially in the comments section of various publications. The all-volunteer Kuskokwim 300 race board took some of the heat, and never flinched. Instead, a week later the board announced a purse increase for next year. The entire event is remarkable. Next year the various races will pay somewhere around $250,000 in purses, in 7 races throughout the winter. It takes hundreds of volunteers to stage these events, and they attract racers and fans from great distances. It all started in a meeting held in the Angstman living room (now office) in the spring of 1979, when a huge purse of $10,000 was contemplated. The first race was an obvious success, and it grew steadily from there. The claim that no small town in America puts on a bigger event has so far gone unchallenged.
This week marks the start of the primary process in what promises to be a rousing Presidential race. The misinformation present in the campaign to date has been astounding. False statements are challenged, and the person making the false statement says it again, only louder, and no one seems to care. The two most unlikely folks to be among the top contenders are Trump and Sanders. Both have been mentioned in this forum a bunch, but one issue has never been discussed here. Bernie Sanders promotes a plan for democratic socialism that subjects him to immediate scorn by some in the USA who think socialism has no place in America. For clarity it might be good to focus on what socialism actually involves. Here is a partial list of socialist functions of our current form of government. For those who are opposed to socialism, which would you eliminate if you were President? Social Security, Medicare, schools, roads, police, courts, parks, refuges, jails, military, fire departments, airports-- (really the list is enormous and the monthly news is supposed to be brief). What most people mean when they say they are opposed to socialism, is that they are opposed to socialism that benefits some other guy. Sanders has a view of going forward that would take some money from our richest people and expand the use of socialism to advance society. We certainly have the ultra-rich people who can afford it, and we certainly have a society that needs improvement. Instead we will likely build new and better bombs and try to shape the world with them.
With the John Beargrease dog race in progress in Minnesota, its time to recall the 1987 race. The Dog Farm had a good handling crew assembled to try to fend off Joe Garnie who was the main competition. Early in the race he broke his sled crossing a bridge, and stopped at an early checkpoint to take some mandatory layover time while he fixed it, putting him at the back of the pack. That early rest made his team lively as it left the checkpoint to catch up with the main group taking their rest at the next checkpoint. A young snow machine driver pulled into that checkpoint a while later and breathlessly announced "There's some Indian driving 18 dogs back there, going about 20 miles an hour, and he's in last place" Garnie, part Inupiat Eskimo and part Italian, got quite a chuckle out of that when he arrived.
The Dog Farm handler crew included several people who followed the race as spectators. One was asked to purchase a couple jugs of juice which was the favored drink at checkpoints in those days. He returned with a couple gallons which were stored for later use. About halfway through the race, at night, the first jug was opened and partially consumed in a rush upon leaving the checkpoint. A few hours later, there was some urgency to reach the next checkpoint, where a trip to the woods was needed before anything else was done. More juice was consumed and after a few hours rest, the woods again beckoned urgently. It was now time to investigate the problem. Turns out the handler had purchased prune juice, thinking it would be helpful for the rigors of the trail. Of course different juice was secured and the problem was solved in time to beat Garnie by about 20 minutes. This handy device would have helped, if it could have been attached to a dogsled.
Finally this clip from Johnny Carson of an impromptu guest from the audience is worth watching.