A Statement of Values

I wake up every day to gratefully enjoy God's gift of life lived to the fullest

I value a strong, healthy, and happy marriage relationship, vowing to love, honor, and cherish my spouse and be an equal partner with her in all of life's tasks, including raising our children, maintaining our household, managing our finances, and encouraging her in her life's mission, recognizing that what is important to her is important to me simply because she is important to me. 

I value a healthy and connected relationship with my children, spending time with them, teaching them, listening to them, and giving them the best opportunity for healthy adult living so that they might enjoy life to the fullest.

I value Alaska and the outdoors and experiencing both with my family through outdoor recreation and subsistence activities such as camping, hiking, dipnetting, hunting, biking, rafting, kayaking, and touring. 

I value community involvement, serving, and doing do my share, and even more than my share, for the good of my local and global community, without feeling the need to do it all, and seeking to leave every person, place, and situation better than I found them.

I value friendships and hospitality, hosting guests, making others feel comfortable and welcome in my home and in my presence, and seeking ever deepening relationships with friends old and new.

I value a vibrant spiritual life, abiding in God, and following Jesus through the Christian disciplines of worship, prayer, study, serving others, welcoming the stranger, and loving my neighbors.

I value financial health, using money as a tool to serve my other values, budgeting monthly, spending wisely, eschewing debt, and striving for financial equanimity and sacrificial generosity. 

I value quality and integrity in my work, doing my best, finding success in my profession, and using my knowledge, skills, and abilities to make the biggest contributions I can make in my field.

I value life long learning, continuous improvement, and the pursuit of an ever deepening education for myself and for others, continuing to learn and improve, working to help others do the same, teaching all subjects and all people, and working to promote the importance of education and the accessibility of education for all.

I value art, beauty, and creativity, expressing my creativity through both the appreciation and creation of art - particularly through reading, writing, and photography.

Posted on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 at 11:52AM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | CommentsPost a Comment

Cabin Camping at 35˚ Below

Last weekend, our family slipped away for a couple of days and nights of cabin camping on the Chena River. We've often enjoyed Alaska's public use cabins, and those cabins on Chena Hot Springs Road have become very familiar to our family.

In October, Stephanie had the good idea to reserve a public-use cabin one weekend each month throughout the winter until summer tent-camping season arrives again, so we've had last weekend reserved for more than a month. We could not have known when we made the reservation that the interior would be locked in this deep-freeze of twenty straight days of twenty to forty below. Had we known, we certainly would have postponed the trip to a warmer weekend. Despite the cold, we headed out.

You have to bring your own firewood when you rent these cabins, at least the ones accessible by road. I knew that and planned for it, bringing enough for our two-day stay and for an extra day, just in case. When we arrived, the temperature both inside and outside the cabin was a brisk thirty below, so the first thing I did was start a fire. It takes a lot of time and energy to warm a log cabin from thirty below to a habitable fifty or sixty above. As a result, it remained very cool inside late into that first night. And we found that the barrel stove was consuming the wood we'd brought far faster than we'd anticipated.

We read in the log book (always present in public use cabins) that previous users had noted the poor quality barrel stove and the rate at which it consumed wood. As we went to bed that night, I was already calculating rates, times, and contingency plans in the event we had to leave a day early or make some provision for more wood.

Compounding the issue was the fact that cars don't start readily at such temperatures without plugging in the car's engine block and oil pan heaters. I brought a borrowed gas generator so that I could plug in the car, but I wasn't entirely sure that setup would be enough to get it started. What I didn't want to happen was to run out of wood around bedtime, and then not be able to start the car by any means, just when traffic on the road trickled to non-existent. This is how I envision an easy family camping weekend turning into a perilous and life-threatening situation. 

With this in mind, on Saturday mid-morning, I started the generator running, and plugged in the car. I took the bow saw (also standard in such cabins) and walked into the woods looking for downed and dried firewood. After running the generator for two hours, we were able to start the car, and Stephanie drove down the road and purchased an additional few bundles of firewood. With that, and what I collected, we were better prepared for a much warmer second night.

Our plan for Sunday was to pack up casually and go to Chena Hot Spring to swim and soak in the warm water. Around eleven I started the generator, planning to give it two full hours to warm the car. But after two and a half, it was clear that the battery was cold, not fully charged, and not going anywhere. I walked to the road carrying jumper cables, and the first person by pulled over to help. We got it going, but the combination of the hard-to-heat cabin and the will-it-start car made it hard for me to relax.

Of course our children were mostly oblivious to all of this. They played hard and mostly together inside the cabin all weekend. They loved the trio of bunk beds and platforms, taking down the ladders to the upper bunks and using them to span the gaps between the beds. Throw in a couple of benches from the tables, and they erected elaborate obstacle courses that they crossed and re-crossed endlessly. Jacob came home with a black eye, though he says he can't remember how it happened.

We played Legos and board games, read books, and made gingerbread houses. We ventured outside for about twenty minutes on Saturday, but it was too cold for the kids to stay out long. We mostly played inside and enjoyed what might as well have been a wood-fired outpost on the moon. Hopefully January's outing will be warmer.

Posted on Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 12:44AM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | CommentsPost a Comment

Prepared

There was an article in the local paper recently about dry cabin living, that is, living in a small log cabin with no running water, and heated by burning wood in a wood stove. The article enumerated the perks and problems of the log cabin lifestyle that so many people around here love. One commenter to the article caught my attention and captured my thinking. He wrote that anyone who did not have at least a woodstove and enough wood to get through the winter was foolish and irresponsible. Other commenters expanded on this theme to dramatic depths of prepper extremism. But just that single thought of having a wood stove and wood to get through the winter has stuck with me.

If the power were to go out at 40˚ below zero, what could we do? Our oil-fired boiler wouldn't run without electricity, and at that temperature we'd have a couple of hours before the house began to cool. In four hours, the water pipes that spider web across the garage and feed our baseboard heaters would start to freeze, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage. In eight hours, we'd have to leave. These concerns are compounded by the responsibility of having young children at home.

I'm not predicting the fall of civilization and the end of the world as we know it, but it isn't difficult to imagine a 8+ earthquake that knocks out our local coal-fired power plant for upwards of two weeks (we had a 6.2 in 1995, a 7.9 in 2002, and each year is littered with twos, threes, and fours). And in the depth of winter, it seems like a wood stove would be a minimum survival requirement.

Of course, if the power were out for two weeks, where would our water come from? So it makes some sense to have some water available. A gallon per person per day is recommended, and for a family of six to last for two weeks is over eighty gallons of water. And food? We live at the end of a long supply distribution line. Everything sold in the local grocery store comes to us via cargo ships from the port of Seattle to Anchorage and is then trucked up the rest of the way (as is our gasoline, diesel, and heating oil). Our stores have a two or three day supply without restocking, and that's it. And first aid? And propane or white gas to cook with? And gasoline for the car or generator? Suddenly, some very sane and rational steps taken to ensure the immediate safety of your family descends into wacky prepper paranoia.

So where do you draw the line? If failing to have at least a wood stove is foolish and irresponsible, and building a bunker to stock with enough supplies and munitions to live off the grid for ten years is insanity, then where is the middle ground? How much preparation is enough? 

Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 01:39PM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | CommentsPost a Comment

It's what's for dinner

My friend, Nathan, is on the Alaska State Troopers road kill list. Whenever a moose gets hit by a car on the road, rather than leave the moose carcass to rot on the shoulder of the road, the troopers call the next person or agency on the list to come and harvest the animal in order to recover as much useable meat and not let it go to waste.

I guess there have been some problems coming out to recover a moose on the side of the road and creating a new road hazard, because the troopers have modified the program slightly. Instead of calling you out to the sight of the accident, they lift the animal up onto a flatbed truck and deliver it to your driveway, which (if you're prepared for it) is a pretty convenient deal.

Nathan called me on Thursday afternoon and told me he'd just got the call: the troopers were on their way to his house with a downed moose. He offered to split it with me if I could come help deal with it. And I was glad to.

But the moose we got was not exactly what we expected. For one, it was a calf, probably a year old. Still it was probably 500 pounds and not the monster animal we'd hoped for. For another thing, this particular moose hadn't been hit by a car; it had been shot. Poorly.

Apparently (so the story was told to us), this moose was lingering too near an elementary school on the local army base and displaying aggressive behavior. So the decision was made to solve the problem by shooting the moose. Since it was on base, it wasn't the state troopers, or wildlife troopers, or even Fairbanks police. I am imagining that this was some twenty-year-old MP that was likely not from Alaska, not long in Alaska, and not long for Alaska, with an opportunity to actually shoot and kill something in the line of duty. So he pulled his sidearm and shot this moose twice, broadside, tearing into the gut sack and spilling all manner of vile liquid and semi liquid into the torso cavity.

When we pulled the hide off, there was even intestine and poo hanging out the side of the animal, and much of the muscle surrounding the ribs was bruised and damaged. We took off all four legs, head and neck, and the rest was pretty much unfit for consumption.

Still, some moose is better than no moose, and we have two legs hanging in the shed, waiting to be dealt with more fully this weekend, and a roast in a pan ready for dinner. It'll hold us over until we (hopefully) get a moose of our own this fall.

Posted on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at 04:38PM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | Comments2 Comments

Jacob Rides, Micah Falls

Last Sunday, we all rode our bikes to church. It’s been beautiful out the past couple weeks, and we’ve been riding around town quite a lot. And when I say “we” I really mean Stephanie, Jacob, and myself. Sarah rides in a jump seat on the back of Steph’s bike, and Toby and Micah ride in a bike trailer that I usually pull behind my bike.

So we rode to church on Sunday. It was five miles exactly, and it was a very pleasant ride for all of us. When we got there, I unhitched the bike trailer from my bike, and we rolled all of the bikes and the trailer into the entry way.

After church was over, it was time to reassemble our caravan and ride home. Stephanie set Micah in his seat in the bike trailer, but then became distracted by Sarah and Toby fighting over a snack and turned to break them up. Then she was distracted by seeing someone with whom she needed to talk and wandered away for just a moment.

Well, Micah never got buckled in to his seat. And because the trailer was not hooked to my bike, it was canted forward. So all it took was the slightest lean, and Micah fell forward. Head first. And caught the metal pedal of Stephanie’s bike with the sharp bear-claw spikes, and cut his forehead open. It was a clean cut, and fairly deep.

We’re usually pretty relaxed parents, so when Steph and I both said, “Okay, let’s go to the ER,” everyone around us jumped into motion. We were on our bikes, of course, so Stephanie got a ride with a friend of ours, and they were off to the local First Care where Micah got three stitches across his forehead, just above his left eyebrow. The doctor said it wasn’t serious, but that it was big enough to leave a scar. Hmm. Sometimes people have compelling or interesting scars that have a macho, attractive look to them. Maybe he’ll get one of those.

Jacob, Toby, Sarah, and I all rode home. And Jacob logged over ten full miles by bike. I am so pleased by his enthusiasm for riding and his ability to ride long ways. A couple of weeks ago, we all rode with him across town. It was probably seven miles one way. And we’ve ridden quite a bit since them. He’s a riding pro.

Posted on Saturday, June 4, 2011 at 10:09PM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | CommentsPost a Comment
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