ALASKA’S greenest NEWSPAPER • APRIL 18 - APRIL 24, 2013 • VOL. 22, ED. 16 • FREE
News, page 7
Theater, page 28
Senator in UFO inquiry
Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical
A guide to going non-toxic without going nuts
Headlamp, page 18
Copper River is rafting gold.
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April 18 - April 24, 2013
April 18 - April 24, 2013 • Vol. 22, Ed. 16
Anchorage Press 540 East 5th Avenue Anchorage AK 99501 (907) 561-7737 Fax: (907) 561-7777
21 Picks of the Week
Opinion Missing the mark on gun control. By Ivan Moore
22 Music Soul searching in the studio with Kurt Riemann. By Jeri Kopet
News Are UFOs out there? A former Alaska senator wants to know. By Scott Christiansen
23 Music Getting personal with Mike Birbiglia. By Daniella Cortez
News The coldest summer. By Ned Rozell
26 Theater Betrayal lacks bite. By Paul Jones
Blotter Haiku edition!
28 Cabaret Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical is fun and surprisingly thought provoking. By Paul Jones
www.anchoragepress.com Publisher Steve Abeln firstname.lastname@example.org Publisher Emeritus Nick Coltman Editor Victoria Barber email@example.com Staff Writer Scott Christiansen firstname.lastname@example.org Entertainment Editor Daniella Cortez Alvarez email@example.com Art Director Diane Karalunas Circulation Manager Mike McCue firstname.lastname@example.org Contributors Rob Brezsny, Bob Grimm, Ted Rall, James ‘Dr. Fermento’ Roberts, Chuck Shepherd, Jamie Smith, Tom Tomorrow, Ivan Moore, Ash Adams, Jeri Kopet, Zack Fields, Paul Jones, Ned Rozell Advertising Account Executives Bridget Mackey email@example.com Karen Truitt Karen.Truitt@anchoragepress.com Pete Nolan firstname.lastname@example.org Sylvia Maiellaro email@example.com The Anchorage Press in an Anchorage-wide news, features, arts, entertainment, and recreation paper. Established in 1992, the Press is printed weekly on Thursdays and distributed at over 400 locations. Mail subscriptions are available for $42 per year. Copyright: the Anchorage Press is published by Wick Communications Co. With the exception of syndicated features and cartoons, the contents of the Anchorage Press are copyright 2012 by Anchorage Press. No portion may be reproduced in whole or in part by any means including electronic retrieval systems without the express written permission of the publisher.
11 Headlamp Waiting at the bottom of a crevasse. By Ronald Wielkopolski 12 Food The deal with detox diets. By Ash Adams 13 Brew Review Do as the Germans do, and have a little soda with that beer. By Dr. Fermento 18 Active Living Picture perfect views, unpredictable conditions on Copper River. By Zack Fields
30 Film Gosling and Cooper are great in The Place Beyond the Pines. By Bob Grimm 35 Puzzles
26 Spring greening
Cleaning supplies that are all natural (and won’t make everything smell like vinegar) By Ash Adams
36 News of the Weird By Chuck Shepherd 37 Free Will Astrology By Rob Brezsny
ON THE COVER Photograph by Ash Adams. (Our cover models are Ash and Elliott Adams.)
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April 18 - April 24, 2013
Pro-legal immigration, not anti-immigrant Regarding the article â€œBegich attacked by anti-immigration group,â€? published April 11: NumbersUSA is a non-partisan immigration-reduction organization of 1.8 million followers which has operated in the public arena for 17 years without a single example to justify the slurs and innuendo that filled reporter Scott Christiansenâ€™s story about us. In everything we have done, said or written, we have always stayed true to our founding principles of advocating for the immigration recommendations of the bi-partisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform chaired by the late Barbara Jordan. It called for immigration reductions to create a tighter labor market, higher wages, and less poverty and income disparity. The goals of those federal commissions and NumbersUSA are not â€œanti-immigrationâ€? simply for advocating lower numerical levels. Rather, the commissionsâ€™ vision â€“ and ours â€“ is that lower immigration would improve the economic situation for the most vulnerable of our society, which are disproportionately legal immigrants already here, Black and Hispanic Americans, the disabled, the less educated with no more than a high school degree, and especially combinations of those. That is the main reason we are mobilizing citizens against congressional efforts to reward 11 million unlawfully present foreign citizens with work permits, while increasing the milliona-year legal immigration stream. The biggest threat is to the 10 million less-educated Americans who want a full-time job but canâ€™t find one in construction, manufacturing, hospitality and other service occupations that will be further flooded by the millions of new work permits for the foreign-born. -Roy Beck, President of NumbersUSA
On walruses Walruses live in the sea, but thatâ€™s just one difference between them and you and me. Another is that they have tusks, and then thereâ€™s their bottomless hunger for mollusks. A fourth is their very thick skin; they surely donâ€™t mind if we make fun of them.
- Ben Histand, Anchorage
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April 18 - April 24, 2013
AS AN ELEPHANTâ€™S EYE IN DIMOND
Anti-gun control arguments riddled with holes Alaska senatorsâ€™ political calculations are off target By Ivan Moore
wrote last week about how the experience of grief in my life helps me empathize with those who have suffered gun violence, like the parents of Newtown. As I wrote, I wondered to myself about those who donâ€™t. Empathize, that is. How does that work? How does someone turn a blind eye to that kind of thing when it happens? How does someone cling firmly to the belief that guns are a force for universal good? How is that cognitive dissonance maintained? When confronted with the horror of an event like Newtown, isnâ€™t it the rational approach to be willing to move oneâ€™s position toward compromise, in an effort to make sure it doesnâ€™t happen again? But instead, the pro-gun lobby clings fervently to their positions, citing a number of rationales.
â€˜Obamaâ€™s coming to get our guns!â€™ Whatever. I canâ€™t help you people. Youâ€™re all stone cold nuts.
1) The Constitution. Now donâ€™t get me wrong on this score. Numerous times in this column, particularly over the issue of free speech, I have cited and supported constitutional arguments. I get the importance of the document and how it helps maintain a check and balance between the government and the people. But restrictions like the ones being proposed have already been shown to be constitutional, like current background checks and ohâ€Ś bans on bazookas and rocket launchers for example. So I fail to see how constitutional arguments are valid in this case. In reality, to argue this issue based on the Bill of Rights is a sign of desperation, a fallback firewall when people canâ€™t think of something more substantive to say.
2) Then thereâ€™s the fallback for the crazy folks. â€œObamaâ€™s coming to get our guns! Heâ€™s gonna make himself king and start beheading people. We need our guns to fight the government.â€? Whatever. I canâ€™t help you people. Youâ€™re all stone cold nuts. 3) Guns make us safer. This is an interesting one, the idea that
the proliferation of guns and bullets make us collectively safer. Letâ€™s say I buy a gun to keep in my house for the purpose of protection. Iâ€™d concede Iâ€™ve reduced the probability of being killed by an armed intruder in doing so. But Iâ€™ve also dramatically increased the chances of me getting drunk and shooting myself, or shooting someone else in the household, or having someone else shoot me, or of one of my kids getting the gun and blowing a friendâ€™s face off by accident. The overall potential for mortality has gone way up, not down. So, armed guards in every school in America? You must be insane. 4) Itâ€™s the crazies who are the problem! This oneâ€™s also interesting, and notably the number one argument from our illustrious Senator Mark Begich. Yes, we can solve the problem by making crazy people not crazy. Again, itâ€™s a fallacious argument, because you know what? Crazy people are a lot less dangerous when they arenâ€™t brandishing a semi-automatic. The inescapable truth is that everyone who picks up a gun and starts indiscriminately shooting people is by definition unhinged. But this fact doesnâ€™t make mental illness the problem. A more comprehensive approach to identifying and treating mental illness will help, but again, itâ€™s used as a red herring by those who donâ€™t have the balls to tackle the real issue: guns.
peaking of our senators, last week a vote was held in the U.S. Senate on the gun issue. A comprehensive bill proposing many gun control measuresâ€”expanded background checks and banning large magazines and certain semi-automatics among themâ€”is moving forward. Certain conservative senators, no doubt busily promulgating the second argument above, threatened a filibuster of the bill. A vote on â€œclotureâ€? was then forced, to kill the filibuster threat. The cloture vote, which essentially asks the question, â€œShould the bill move forward to debate on the Senate floor?â€? passed 68-31. Alaskaâ€™s two senators, Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski, voted no. No debate for them. Nosirree. Lisa Murkowski made the following official statement about her vote: â€œToday we voted to proceed to consider a bill unacceptable to Alaskans based solely on the promise that it will be improved upon by proposals that havenâ€™t been fully introduced for public evaluation. Alaskans and Americans have seen what happens when Congress votes on things so we can find out whatâ€™s in them later, and they donâ€™t like it.â€? Who the hell wrote that mess? What duplicitous, overly verbose twaddle. â€œRight, I didnâ€™t vote yes on this cloture thing because that would be introducing a bill for public debate that hasnâ€™t been intro-
Saturday May 4, 2013 Park Strip (west end)
duced yet, and introducing it would spoil the only reason Iâ€™ve got for opposing it which is that it hasnâ€™t been introduced yet, so thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m not introducing it.â€? Brilliant. How do these people get to be senators? Oh waitâ€Ś forget I asked that. Lisa really voted no because she feels this burning need to return to her Murkowski-esque roots and suck up to the conservative right before 2016 gets here. That same gun-toting conservative right that briefly kicked her behind out of office in 2010. I wonder if she realizes how many votes sheâ€™s losing doing this. Begich, equally, should remember where his base is and dance with the one that brung him. Stop trying to be everything to all people just because itâ€™s a re-election year next year. Oftentimes, people who try to be all things to everybody end up being nothing much to anyone. Ivan Moore is a public opinion pollster who lives in Anchorage and works for a variety of clientsâ€”political, corporate, public sector, or just plain curiousâ€”around Alaska. His opinions are his own and we give him a long leash. He can be reached at ivan@ivanmooreresearch. com.
Editorâ€™s Note: Cloture votes are not always indicative of how people feel about the issue itself. A stronger of indicator came Wednesday, April 17, the day both Begich and Murkowski voted against an amendment to expand background checks for gun buyers. Expanded background checks, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, were supported by nearly 90 percent of Americans. Half of all gun owners support expanded background checks, the pollsters found, but the U.S. Senate voted the amendment down. The amendment was hamstrung by a Senate rule that required a 60-vote supermajority. The final vote was 54 to 46, with both Alaska senators saying â€œnoâ€? to the amendment. Begich and Murkowski are part of a victorious minority, one that would have anyone who canâ€™t pass a background check at a reputable gun shop to just attend a gun show and buy their weapons there.
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April 18 - April 24, 2013
Pipeline-era politician joins UFO inquiry Former U.S. Senator to query ufologists
do its job, the people will.” Gravel told the Press he is a UFO skeptic, but an admitted “knowledge junkie” and said the more he learns about UFO sightings the more he is concerned the U.S. government is holding back secrets. He criticized the government for a culture of secrecy that stems from the By Scott Christiansen military industrial complex. He said mainstream media outlets haven’t done enough to investigate UFO sightings, which he believes are on the rise. “There are several other governments that have released hough he claims to be a UFO skeptic, former U.S. all of the information they have, and it has not caused a Senator for Alaska Mike Gravel is one of six former mem- panic,” Gravel said. “The volume of sightings, worldwide, bers of Congress scheduled to join a staged UFO investiga- is on the rise—The fact that we don’t know what it is, that tion in a Washington D.C. at the end of the month. The event is nothing to be afraid of.” purports to be an inquiry into a vast government cover-up. The Gravel predicts the other politicians joining the inpromoters have rented the ballroom at The National Press Club’s quiry are skeptical, too. “I think most of us, the former Washington D.C. headquarters for five days beginning April 29. members of Congress, are skeptical. We want something The group’s website says they will create a “hearing room” and concrete,” he said. bring in about 40 UFO investigators and witnesses to testify on a Also querying witnesses will be a trio of former contopic with “global implications”—whether the U.S. government gresswomen, Lynn Woolsey (Dem, CA), Carolyn Kilpatknows anything about extraterrestrials visiting earth. rick, (Dem, MI) and Darlene Hooley (Dem, OR) and a The half-dozen erstwhile (or just out-of-work) politicians will pair of former congressmen Roscoe Bartlett (Rep, MD) get to the bottom of things, presumably by asking tough ques- and Merrill Cook (Rep, UT). tions reminiscent of a congressional hearing. “As long as our One thing—other than the attempt to leverage credfiles are kept secret, everyone is wondering why they are being ibility from B-list politicians—the “Citizen Hearing” kept secret,” Gravel said Tuesday. “It creates a suspiciousness website makes clear is that the promoters have roundwith the public.” ed up a long list of witnesses who are frequent fliers in Gravel ran for president the UFO conspiracy culture. Many of them have books between 2006 and 2008, but to their credit (perhaps even for sale in the lobby) and was left out of several debates have spread their stories about sightings by appearing in among the field of candidates and consulting for cheap movies that generally surface vying for the Democratic on basic-cable television. A movie featuring the Citizen nomination. He then regis- Hearing is planned. It might be brilliant because it hopes tered as a Libertarian. For sev- to address the twin topics of visits by extra-terrestrials eral years he has been a prime and the vast multi-government conspiracy to cover those mover in a seemingly quixotic encounters up. (though constantly present on Think about it. The superpowers couldn’t keep North the Internet) movement to es- Korea from building rockets, yet everyone in the global tablish a national citizen ini- aerospace industry has conspired to help the government Some people are still looking for answers. tiative process by amending stay hush-hush about visitors from outer space. the U.S. Constitution. Robert Sheaffer, a leading skeptic of UFO research Gravel is now 83 years old called the cover-up theory a “talking point” often used Among the “witnesses” expected at the Citizen hearing event and living in Northern Cali- among UFO researchers. “It is propaganda that the UFO propo- are Steven Greer, who claims to have revealed a dead alien body fornia. He’s new to the UFO nents use,” Sheaffer said, adding that in the case of the U.S. gov- in a movie called Sirius that was released over the internet this investigation scene, but an old ernment, it’s not likely true. “The U.S. has released all of Project month. Greer also promises free energy for mankind if we can hat when it comes to govern- Blue Book. It was released in the 1970s,” Sheaffer said. harness the alien technology, which is obviously being kept unment secrecy. He played a role Sheaffer is a retired software engineer with an interest in UFO der wraps by the Big Oil-friendly military industrial complex. in the early-1970s disclosure drama surrounding the leaking sightings who writes a column for Skeptical Inquirer. His work Another witness on the bill is Jim Penniston, a former U.S. Air of the Pentagon Papers. The papers were a report about three- has also appeared in Omni, Spaceflight and Scientific American. Force sergeant who claims to have been present at a UFO landdecades of war in Vietnam and were originally classified “Top He is a founding member of the UFO subcommittee of the non- ing that supposedly happened near a NATO base at Suffolk, EngSecret” and “Sensitive.” Daniel Ellsberg, a military analyst, cop- profit Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He also writes the blog land. Penniston has said he, and dozens more servicemen, enied the report and leaked it to the New York Times and about 40 Bad UFOs. He was also among the eager researchers who dove countered a “craft of unknown origin” in the 1980s. Penniston’s other newspapers. A series of Times stories illustrated a secret into the Project Blue Book files when they were made public in story became more elaborate after he “recovered” memories unhistory of the war that Americans found both embarrassing and 1976. der hypnosis in the 1990s. controversial. “I remember spending most of the day looking at Blue Book In 2010, Jim Penniston revealed even more. He said he had But the Pentagon Papers themselves were not widely pub- files and being really disappointed. There was not much in there received a “binary code” by telepathy from the spacecraft. “It is lished as a whole—at least not at first. Ellsberg, who was being that we didn’t already know,” Sheaffer said. (Project Blue Book a claim that wasn’t made before 2010, so it took him 30 years to prosecuted for espionage, sought out a member of Congress to is a compilation of UFO investigations conducted by the U.S. remember that,” Sheaffer said. “Penniston keeps this notebook make them public. Gravel, who was then a U.S. senator, entered Air Force. The project ended in 1969 after the Air Force said it that is like a cornucopia, each time he pulls something out of it, a 4,100-page version of the Pentagon Papers into the record of a found no threat to national security and no evidence of extra- there is something new.” Senate subcommittee that he chaired. The Nixon administration terrestrial vehicles.) The Citizen Hearing promotes itself as “historic” but Sheaffer went after Gravel. The senator and his staff had to be defended in When it comes to skepticism, Sheaffer is a protégé of the late is predicting “farcical” on his blog. The skeptic posted a fresh court under a clause of the U.S. Constitution that protects mem- aerospace journalist Philip Klass, who died in 2005. Klass un- update Tuesday, after the Press interviewed him for this story. bers of Congress from being prosecuted for speech or debate covered real government secrets and explained them in his re- “Every couple of years, something like this comes down the pike, while Congress is in session. (Reading secret war documents in porting. His 1971 book Secret Sentries in Space, was one of the and impresses nobody,” he wrote. a subcommittee on public buildings is debate, right?) first books to explain spy satellite technology. Klass was among Sheaffer reports the event sponsor is paying each former Fast forward to the UFO hearing. It’s a kangaroo court. The the first journalists to describe the CIA’s “Corona Project” satel- member of Congress $20,000 for their appearance, and that the promoters plan to provide a live stream of the proceedings on lite program and in the 1960s, debunked the 1964 UFO-landing entire event has a budget of about $600,000. the Internet and the inquiry will be recorded for an upcoming… story from Socorro, New Mexico as a hoax. (Guess which made ahem… documentary film. The promoters call the event “The him more famous.) —firstname.lastname@example.org Citizen Hearing on Disclosure (of an extraterrestrial presence “Phil Klass always claimed that if there was any truth to these engaging the human race)” with that last part in parentheses for government UFO file claims, then his network of sources would no apparent reason. They have a motto: “If the Congress won’t have known about it,” Sheaffer said.
“The fact that we don’t know what it is, that is nothing to be afraid of.” Senator Mike Gravel
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Haiku edition Among the revelers Alaska State Troopers encountered during the 2013 Arctic Man Ski & Sno-Go Classic: An 18-year-old Anchorage woman who was drinking in the beer tent with someone’s else’s ID and even tried to convince troopers it really was her (jailed in Glennallen, about 80 miles from the event); A 21-year-old Fairbanks man who kept returning to the beer tent after being 86’d; A 25-year-old Anchorage man who, when told to leave the beer tent, refused (and yet, troopers arrested him outside the tent, so someone helped him leave); A 36-yearold Wasilla woman who was 86’d from the beer tent after an altercation with a 21-year-old woman from Eagle River (both women were arrested after a rematch outside about 10 minutes later); A 20-year-old Anchorage man who managed to get inside the beer tent, which qualified him for two extra misdemeanors instead of just underage drinking (being drunk on a licensed premises and being underage in a licensed premises); A 22-year-old Fairbanks man arrested for domestic violence and damaging property at a camp site near Paxson (Troopers took him all the way to Glennallen); A 18-year-old Fairbanks woman caught drinking right out in the open (court summons is set for Glennallen—maybe she can arrange a plea over the phone); and, 17 minors consuming alcohol away from Arctic Man camp at campsite near Paxson including Blotter’s best friend’s nephew (who ought to be careful because he is now old enough for big boy jail). Blotter notes that this sort of activity is not limited to Arctic Man. Fairs and festivals all over the state (indeed, all over the world) always seem to attract some people who overdo it. Please party responsibly. Saturday, April 6—Troopers in Nome seized a suspicious package that contained 28 hydrocodone pills (also known as: hillbilly heroine, cotton, synthetic heroine, oxy or morph), which are a miracle for pain patients but incredibly addictive when abused. Wednesday, April 10—Troopers assisted a 24-year-old Soldotna woman who, troopers say, had been hallucinating after using meth. Troopers gave her a ride to a hospital and she voluntarily checked in. Thursday, April 11—Tesoro sponsors the ski and sno-go race, but the troopers have a dog named “Chevron” who can detect weed in your vehicle, even if it’s only a personal-use stash. A 19-year-old Delta Junction man promised the trooper he would report to court.
The year without a summer This cold spring hasn’t yet approached 1981 conditions, or 1922 By Ned Rozell
n April snowstorm whirling outside my window today seems to be announcing the postponement of spring. As I sit here watching the show, it makes me think back to the shortest summer ever. In 1992, it snowed more than nine inches on May 12. A string of 70-degree days that followed ate that up in a hurry, but the snow returned in early fall. By September 13, more than one foot of snow cushioned the ground, and leafed birch trees arced under the weight of ice crystals. Twenty-one years later, some trees still bow to that memory. I wondered if 1992 was the best example of a year without a summer. The perfect man to ask is Rick Thoman of the National Weather Service. Besides having an encyclopedic memory of Alaska weather events, after 20 years as lead forecaster in the Fairbanks office, Thoman just started a new job as the Weather Service’s Climate Science and Services Manager. As usual, he sharpened my memory. “Ninety-two was actually a warm summer, bracketed by heavy snows,” he said. A better example of a year without a summer was 1981, he said. Every month of the summer was cooler than normal in Anchorage, and 1981 was the only year in the last three decades during which Fairbanks had no June, July or August with an average temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. An even colder summer was in 1922. In an Alaska climatological record book is a report from the captain of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear, which, sailing southward along the coast, encountered sea ice as far south as Point Lay on August 24. Also in 1922, the official weather station at the experimental station on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus registered a belowfreezing temperature every single month of the year. “It’s the only year that ever happened,” Thoman said. Alaska can be a cold place in summer. The official low for
Anaktuvuk Pass on June 25, 1967, was minus 1 degree Fahrenheit. Barrow dropped to 4 degrees Fahrenheit on June 6, 1969. Alaska weather observers have never recorded an official temperature below zero in July or August, but summertime lows below freezing are common in Alaska’s upper Tanana Valley and Fortymile River country. “Which is why it’s hard to grow a garden in Tok,” Thoman said. Snow has fallen in Alaska at lower elevations in every month of summer. On a midsummer day 10 years ago (July 17, 2003), more than six inches fell on Cantwell.
In 1922, a weather station at UAF registered a below-freezing temperature every single month.
ow, on to warmer thoughts. Alaska has cooled a bit according to a recent study by climatologists, but they note that most of that colder weather happened in winter, with summer temperatures holding steady for the first decade of the century. Alaska’s all-time high temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (the same as Hawaii’s) happened on June 27, 1915 in Fort Yukon. And one of the hottest Alaska summers on record was 2004, which was the only year Anchorage has recorded a monthly average temperature warmer than 60 degrees Fahrenheit for June, July and August. That summer was also the warmest in the last 32 years in Juneau. But it was also a year when patches of Alaska equal in area to Vermont burned, smoking every living creature in the Interior like a salmon. Living in that brown haze altered some peoples’ desire for the warmest summer possible. “The only criteria I use is smoky bad, not smoky good,” Thoman said. - Ned Rozell is a science writer for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute.
The healthy April snowpack in Interior Alaska. Photo by Ned Rozell
Thursday, April 11—Troopers in Fairbanks hope to find witnesses to a car crash on Goldstream Road that sent a 50-year-old man to the hospital. Troopers say the man was driving his Ford Ranger when a black, late model, Toyota SUV passed the Ranger and braked, forcing the 50-year-old to drive his Ranger into the ditch. The victim was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. The crash happened 11:37 a.m., Thursday, April 11, on Goldstream Road near Ballaine Road. Anyone who thinks they know something about the black Toyota SUV can call troopers at 907-451-5100. Disorderly, Arctic Man, 4/14/13 Drunk at Arctic Man Beer tent is a safe party If you leave when asked Unauthorized burning, Knik River, 3/30/13 Piano on fire Riverbed ritual or just noxious litter? Wooded Island (Kodiak) pot bust, 4/2/13 Suspicious odor It was skunky not fishy aboard the man’s skiff —email@example.com
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Hiker filmed his 1972 fall into a glacier crevasse Down a dark hole, a long wait for rescue By Ronald Wielkopolski
hings you can do while waiting to be rescued from inside a crevasse:
1) Toss snowballs and stuff from your backpack into the abyss because there’s no need to worry about hitting folks below; 2) Debate with yourself about which pack item is least important to survival—tent or radio—and could be thrown into the void to lighten the load; 3) Yell at your brother that you are seconds away from losing forever the tent, radio, entire remaining supply of Wilson freezedried burger patties and special celebration can of potted meat food product, along with his chances of survival, if you don’t start seeing rope moving upward; 4) Yell you are sorry for the thing you just said, and also for shooting him with a BB gun when you were 10 and he was seven. Besides, you shot yourself in the hand afterward to prove he had nothing to cry about; 5) Make a movie looking up through the hole, in part to capture your own idiocy for even thinking of filming how your potential demise looks.
I never saw the snow collapse when I stepped into free fall.
August 9, 1972 began like any other day on the Donjek Glacier in the Yukon’s St. Elias mountains near the Alaska border, except this one dawned sunny. After eight straight days of snowstorms and whiteout conditions, my brother Dave and I needed to bust out. Hours later, I would plummet through the roof of a hidden crevasse. We would try and fail to climb many mountains, but none as high as the 16,644-foot Mount Steele. Intending to set up camp on its southeast ridge at about 13,000 feet and summit on the next good weather day, we traipsed up the glacier toward the ridge on five-foot-long wood and leather snowshoes. We enjoyed 40 degree temperatures after the morning’s single digits. It was 5:30 p.m. As I rounded the top of the ridge, Mount Logan filled the southern sky. That morning we looped butterfly knots from the rope to some D-shaped steel rings on our chest harnesses that were designed to evenly distribute weight after a fall. We carried 70-pound backpacks, and maybe 10 pounds of ice pitons, screws, and other anchors to protect against falling, including girderlike three-foot aluminum pickets and angled steel plates with attached cables (flukes). We attached cords the length of our legs with loops where our boots would be to our waist harnesses, and we stuffed them in our pockets. A climber can alleviate weight on a harness by standing in loops after falling. These would save my life. Tethered to me 40 feet behind, Dave described what he saw next: “At its crest, the views were nothing short of spectacular. I felt we were experiencing a very special place and time. We had just started to move when Ron suddenly vanished. Like a ghost, he was gone.” (Mount Harrison, Walsh, Steele Expedition 1972, by David Wilken)
The view of the crevasse from inside, after Ronald Wielkopolski fell down it in 1972. video courtesy of Ronald Wielkopolski
I did not see the crevasse because the snow was smooth without any hint of a telltale depression. Still, I probed for air underneath the surface by sinking the length of my three-foot long ice axe in the snow. Perhaps I forgot to probe at the wrong time, and the unseen snow bridge could not support my weight. Awed by scenery, we may have let our guard down. I never saw the snow collapse when I stepped into free fall. Snow-reflected glare turned instantly into gray semi-darkness. The heavy granular snow previously covering the crevasse enveloped my head, striking it on all sides with rice like grains, as I outraced them downward. The rustling snow sounded deafening. Most terrifying, I felt the snow burying and suffocating me. The free fall that seemed like an eternity lasted but seconds. My snowshoes struck a ledge about the time the rope stretched taut. Climbing rope is designed to stretch to lessen the shock of a fall. A 150-pound weight falling 20 feet can create a half ton of impact force on a rope; my gear and I weighed 250. I hung horizontally, chest up over a dark chasm, snowshoes and boots on the ledge. Pulled by gravity, my pack weight severely constricted my chest. I could barely breathe. As I struggled to remain conscious, I remembered my boot loops, but I would have to remove my snowshoes first. I saw Dave looking down at me from above, but I could not hear him. I yelled I would have to drop my pack into the crevasse because I could not breathe. “NO,” I heard him for the first time. “You have the tent and radio.” It was cold. I fell into a freezer wearing the same corduroy cotton pants and vintage military camouflage cotton shirt (worn by my older brother Ted in Vietnam) that I wore in the sun outside the crevasse.
Dave never felt a jolt, because my body and rope-to-snow friction absorbed almost all the falling force weight when I struck the ledge. In fact, he felt my weight only when my horizontal attitude rendered the rope tight. I removed my snowshoes, stepped into the cord loops, and laid the snowshoes down on the ledge now at my waist. Once I stopped gasping for air, I noticed numerous blood spatters on the icy wall. I had cut my hand badly on the ice axe pick when I hit the ledge. I would never be so elated as when the rope started lifting me. Dave anchored the rope with his ice axe and a back-up picket. “There was a hole in the snow about the size of two snowshoes and it was too quiet,” Dave wrote. “Ron was maybe 15 feet down in a blue cavern and under duress hanging sideways. Much of what he said was unintelligible due to labored breathing. Clearly he wanted me to move quickly.” Dave stuck a snowshoe under the rope at the lip of the crevasse to reduce friction and keep the rope from cutting deeper into the snow. He knew that lifting 250 pounds of dead weight would be less difficult using mechanical advantage principles based on levers and hoists; and so, using carabiners, Prusik knots and small pulleys, Dave extricated me (he says) in 40 minutes. I am sure it took hours. In 1975, I moved to Alaska from New Jersey. Dave and I rarely talked to each other in ensuing years, until recently when we started re-living this experience in conversation. Now we cannot stop emailing and talking. There can be no stronger bond than that forged by a brother who saves your life.
related classes will be available 5:30 p.m. until 6:20 p.m. Arrive early as these classes are limited and fill quickly. All persons attending will be eligible for a number of paddle safety related door prizes to be given away in drawings held at the close of the meeting. For more information, visit KCK on the web at kck.org. Event begins at 6:30 p.m., on Thursday, April 18, in the Z.J. Loussac Library. (3600 Denali St.)
members. Event begins at 8:15 p.m., on Friday, April 19, at Alaska Club West. (1400 W Northern Lights Ave.)
free event every Thursday at 1 p.m. at the AWRP Gathering Place for Women. (505 W. Northern Lights Blvd. Suite 102)
Family Fun Shoot — Enjoy a fifty target shoot (2 rounds of 5-stand) with food, fun, and prizes. $50 entry fee includes ammo and lunch. There will be a free raffle for all participants. Squad times will be available, or just show up and shoot. All funds raised will go to the RCSP Youth Shotgun League. To sign-up or for more information contact William 748-3358. Event begins 10 a.m., on Sunday, April 21, at Rabbit Creek Shooting Park. (15222 New Seward Hwy.)
Little Lotus Yoga — In this ongoing yoga class little ones ages 3-6 will learn to breathe and move in a fun, playful and interactive environment, improving concentration, self-esteem and encouraging cooperation with others. Class is every Wednesday, from 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. at Laughing Lotus Yoga. Visit laughinglotusanchorage.com to register. (630 W. 57th Pl.)
SPORTS&RECLISTING>> Electric Fences in Bear Country — Learn how electric fences work to deter bears and how to set up one at your home or camp. Be bear aware. Event begins at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23, in the Anchorage R.E.I store. (1200 Northern Lights Blvd.) Lost-Proofing Your Child — Chugach State Park ranger Tom Crockett wants to help parents “lost-proof” their children. Children can learn not to get lost, as well as learn how to stay safe and get found if they do get lost. Indoor and outdoor presentation, including a role-playing exercise of hiding a child/parent and having the audience do a search. Free program; $5 parking for non-members. Please note that the Nature Center will be closing at 3:30 pm today to get ready for the Spring Auction. Event begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 20, at the Eagle River Nature Center. (32750 Eagle River Rd., Eagle River) Living and Recreating in Bear Country —Elizabeth
April 18 - April 24, 2013
Manning and Tony Carnahan from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will discuss how to stay safe and what you can do to keep from attracting bears while raising livestock, including a how-to lesson in electric fences. Free program; $5 parking for non-members. Event begins at 2 p.m., Sunday, April 21, at the Eagle River Nature Center. (32750 Eagle River Rd., Eagle River) Knik Canoers & Kayakers Annual Paddling Safety Meeting —This event is free of charge and open to the public. It will consist of presentations on personal equipment, river hazards and dynamics, sea kayak safety, and trip planning as well as other information pertaining to paddle sports. This shared insight provides a great introduction to paddle sport safety for beginners as well as a reminder for experienced paddlers to always make safety a part their plans. Sign-ups for KCK’s rafting, sea kayaking, pack-rafting or canoeing classes, as well as a variety of commercial paddling and safety
Bike Community Open House and Silent Dessert Auction — Off the Chain is hosting a bike community open house and silent dessert auction. Find out what they are all about, bid on delicious tasty treats, chat with bicyclists and learn how to get involved. For more information, visit Off the Chain on the web at offthechainak.org. Event begins at 6 p.m., on Friday, April 19th, at the BP Energy Center. (900 E. Benson Blvd.) Sustainable Trails 101 — Alaska Trails will be teaching its introductory course on sustainable
trail building in Alaska. Come learn what it takes to make the great trails that you have been using all these years. This class will emphasize sustainable design elements, trail planning, and management concepts for all trail enthusiasts. Also learn the importance of using a clinometer in a short outdoor exercise. A light dinner will be served. The course fee is $50. To register for the course, schedule a training course or to obtain more information, please contact Alaska Trails at 907-334-8049. Event begins at 4 p.m., on Friday, April 19, at the BP Energy Center. (900 E. Benson Blvd.) Friday Salsa Class and Dance — Start the weekend with a taste of Latin flavor. The night begins with an Intro Salsa class and quickly moves beyond the basics. Practice what you learn with an open dance immediately following the class. The dance music is a mixture of salsa and bachata songs. A partner is not required and you don’t have to be an Alaska Club member, cost is $8 to the public, and $7 for Club
ONGOING For a complete list of events visit anchoragepress.com/calendar Mommy and Young Children Play group — Connect with other moms and share parenting joys and challenges. Interact, play and build supportive relationships. Children ages infant to 5 years. This is a
Argentinge Tango Lesson & Milonga — Discover your inner artist through the creative movement of Argentine Tango. Dance with fantastic people in a pressurefree atmosphere. New dancers are welcome to the class from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., with social dancing afterwards in the “milonga” from 8:30 p.m. to closing. $10 dance lesson. Inner Dance Yoga Studio. (2610 Spenard Road, Suite A)
Detox diets: healthy ritual or nutty nonsense? Testimonials abound, but research says some detox practices harm health By Ash Adams
t’s time for a detox. After this long winter, you may be one of those thinking it’s time to lighten, brighten and cleanse. Time to green up your home or get your summer body back. But what exactly is a detox diet, and which is the best one to follow? And do they work? The phrase “detox diet” definitely means different things to different people. Detoxing is based on the concept that we’re constantly exposed to toxins—through the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe—and that following a detox regimen or fast eliminates toxins that have built up in our tissues. For some, detox means a month-long fast of nothing but water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. To others, it means going raw for a week. The general idea behind detox diets is the same: stop eating any junk you would normally eat for some amount of time, drink tons of water, and you might feel better, at least for a little while. It’s hard to argue that. But I question whether pausing from excess only to return to it im- Some experts recommend lemons as a way to gently detoxify. mediately afterward could help Photo by ash adams anyone. Following a strict detox diet after a season of indulgence with the intention of div- of statements and papers by doctors either for or against these safe to “use on a regular basis to get a gentle detox daily.” These ing back into the poor nutrition practices; some studies on the dangers of colon cleansing; and include beets, sea vegetables, dandelions, broccoli sprouts, flaxthat required detoxifying in countless personal testimonials. seed, lemons, garlic, artichoke, turmeric, and apples. the first place seems misguided A 2006 article in the Los Angeles Times addresses this conunEating detoxifying foods regularly doesn’t really qualify as a and driven by a Western urge drum of conflicting information and marketing, quoting ex- detox regimen in our society, though. We want to change our to binge and purge. perts who warn against detoxing. One of these is Roger Clemens, bodies the way we change the oil—all at once, right now. We’ll No one can really argue with a nutritional biochemist at University of Southern California even pay someone to do it for us. But there’s still no clear scienthis either, unless there’s mon- School of Pharmacy. tific answer that these detox programs work at all. ey to be made from such an ar“The idea that foods are poisonous, or that we need detoxificaSome people say they feel transformed at the end of a cleanse gument. And there is. tion, or a cleansing regimen to improve our health is without sci- or detox. Every person I know who has done a detox, cleanse or From detox products like entific merit,” Clemens said. “We have wonderful organs, great fast has reported they feel more energized, more refreshed, more home colon cleansers, to books enzymes, a great system for eliminating toxins naturally.” clear-headed. And personally I love fasting, detoxing, whatever like the 7-Day Detox Miracle, to But then there are doctors like James Balch, author of the best- you call it. detox spas that offer expensive getaways to flush out the gunk, a selling book Prescription for Nutritional Healing, who have writI’m not the only food writer who has felt this way. Padma Lakwhole industry has been built on an ascetic practice that’s been ten extensively on the benefits of fasting. shmi, host of Top Chef, told the New York Times that she goes around in every culture since the beginning of civilization. “Over time, toxins build up in the body as the result of the pol- into “food detox” after each season of the show until she’s back In ancient Greece, fasting was touted as a means of arousing lutants in the air we breathe, the chemicals in the food and wa- in shape. Although I look at what her body looks like when it’s visions, and the practice was encouraged by Pythagoras, Abaris, ter we consume, and other means,” according to Balch. “Fasting “out of shape” with envy, I hear where she’s coming from. There and Epimenides. Hippocrates prescribed fasting as a remedy for is helpful not just in times of poor health or during the body’s is a time to eat, and a time to fast. a variety of ailments. In Biblical times, Moses and John the Bap- low cycles. By fasting regularly, you give all of your organs a rest, Am I less toxic after one of these fasts? Maybe. For me, what tist both found virtue in the practice, and Jesus retreated into and thus help reverse the aging process and live a longer and seems to offer the most benefit is simply not punctuating my day the desert to fast. Muslims fast during Ramadan. Ayurvedic healthier life.” with food. My mind is relaxed, unworried with planning what medicine has used fasting and detox techniques for thousands But if you’re considering enemas, you might want to consider I’m going to eat for dinner. I feel free to relax and take things a of years. this: a review of 20 studies published in 2011 in the Journal of little slower. All of this, in and of itself, feels refreshing, rejuveModern medicinal fasting and detoxification generally falls Family Practice found there is no evidence that colon cleans- nating and almost spiritual. under a category the Centers for Disease Control calls comple- ers and colonics improve health. It also found that they can It’s the westernized approach to detox that seems harmful to mentary and alternative medicine. According to the CDC, the be harmful. The paper’s lead author, Ranit Mishori, wrote that me. Couldn’t we prevent the need, if there is one, for all-out fastpercentage of Americans using these therapies has risen from “there can be serious consequences for those who engage in co- ing, by just eating a little better? 34 percent in 1990 to 40 percent in 2007. This type of medicine lon cleansing whether they have the procedure done at a spa or Detoxing may not be necessary, and it may even be harmincludes naturopathy, which champions holistic approaches and perform it at home” and that “colon cleansing products in the ful. But it can also be enlightening. It’s hard to deny we live in non-invasive practices. Naturopathic doctors are most often the form of laxatives, teas, powders and capsules with names such a world of toxic overload, but so far it’s also impossible to find authors of books on detox diets, like the 7-Day Detox Miracle as Nature’s Bounty Colon Cleanser tout benefits that don’t exist.” scientific proof that any one detox regimen will fix this. Obvimentioned above. When it comes to the detoxifying properties of specific foods, ously, selecting a health care professional you trust to help you But what does modern science and conventional modern nutritionist and author of The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth Jon- make a decision is probably the best thing if you’re serious about medicine say? ny Bowden recommends aloe vera juice, carrot juice, dandelion detoxing. But if you’re like me, selecting the gentle route of good The scientific research behind fasting and detox diets for non- tea, garlic, and lemon. In his column for Huffington Post Canada, foods and moderate exercise could be your solution to bringing obese people is almost nonexistent. What does exist is a plethora neurologist John Dempster wrote there are some foods that are on the spring.
We want to change our bodies the way we change the oil—all at once, right now.
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Summer sippin’, German style Try a mixture of soda and beer for something different By james “dr. fermento” roberts
n the craft beer world, the concept of light beer typically gets a bad rap. That’s because as Americans, we’ve been conditioned to think of the mass produced standard American lagers as light beers, especially when brands like Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors Light comprise the style. This stigma’s been around probably since Miller revamped Meister Brau Lite after acquiring the brewery in the early 1970s. Meister Brau Lite actually started out as Gablinger’s Diet Beer which started out at Rheingold, but ended up at Chicago’s Meister Brau. By 1992, light beers became the top selling beers in America. But what is light beer? I guess it depends on who you ask. Within the mass produced brands, a distinct process is used to lower the calorie and carbohydrate content of a beer, and those of us who have grown out of them over the years understand that this same process strips even more flavor from an already bland beer. Craft beer drinkers think of something different when they consider light beer. Light beers don’t have to be bland at all, and are actually some of the tastiest beers in the spectrum. “Light” might imply color, body or alcohol content. But it’s a misnomer. A Belgian-style golden strong ale is light in color, but can weigh in at upwards of 9 percent alcohol by content. A pitch black Guinness Stout can weigh in at as little as 4.1 percent alcohol. A Deschutes Abyss, another black beer, tips the scale at 11 percent. Color is no indicator of potency. In the same example, light beer varies widely in body. Some variants of Guinness Stout are quite light and dry in body, and the legendary Abyss is actually beyond full to the point of being “chewy.” Artfully produced very light beers can deliver immense beer flavor, and as the temperatures climb and my palate shifts toward lighter bodied beers, I’ve made an interesting discovery.
Radler might just be the perfect lawnmower beer.
uring my weekly foray to my favorite watering holes and grog shops, I ducked into the very convenient Café Amsterdam in the Metro Mall in midtown to discover a foreign oddity on tap: Stiegl Radler. At 2.5 percent alcohol by volume, undeniably, this is one of the lightest beers I’ve ever had, but there’s a twist. The beer is actually a mixture of beer and soda pop. Radler is a popular summer drink in Germany. Urban legend indicates that somewhere in 1922, a group of cyclists, also known as radlers in German, came into a bar after a long ride. The poor publican was low on beer and began mixing it with whatever he had, and at the time, that was lemonade. The cyclists found this indeed refreshing, and the radler was born. Actually, history indicates that the recipe for radler dates back to 1912. Still, the style gained instant popularity and somewhere along the line, soda was used instead of juice or lemonade. Today there are many different iterations, but carbonated citrus drinks mixed with lighter beers seem to produce the best effects. The style has evolved to loosely include either a 50-50 or 60-40 mix of German soda pop and beer. The beer’s popularity quickly spread from Bavaria, through Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Poland and other European countries and eventually showed up here as a shandy. There are many variants here as well. A shandy made
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with beer and cider is called a snakebite, and a non-alcoholic version of beer and soda pop is called a rock shandy. Grapefruit Stiegl Radler at Café Amsterdam pours very hazy yellow gold in the tall pilsner glass it’s served in. Minimal head tops the beer. The aroma is solidly grapefruit, with a touch of the light grain from the base beer poking through. There is no sensation of hops in the aroma and of course, the scant 2.5 percent alcohol is completely buried. And for those of you dieting out there, Radler contains only 35 calories per serving, a feat I wonder how they accomplish with soda in the beer. Across the palate, the same grapefruit essence dominates the beer with a touch of lemon in an overall sweet centered beer. It’s spritzy, light and quenching, and it finishes watery thin in the swallow. This might just be the perfect lawnmower beer. I know after physical exertion I could down a palate of this stuff in seconds. On the other end of the spectrum, I was also enjoying a Sierra Nevada Belgian Blonde Ale, one of the new releases in the Brewer’s Dozen Series from the Chico brewery. I toyed with alternating between sips of the blonde and the radler and found the effect very complementing. The beer is obviously good for experimentation. My son Scott had the beer the night before and commented that it would be a great mixer for rum or vodka. The Fadler got my curiosity up. I walked down the sidewalk to the nearby La Bodega Liquor Store and asked the clerks to come up with their lightest beers. One of the beers handed to me was another radler from Stiegl. The Lemon Radler, “a beer with lemon soda,” pours crystal clear and solid light yellow in the glass. The nose is lemony, but not nearly as pronounced as the draft grapefruit version. More of the beer’s base malt could be found in the brew, but I didn’t find this one nearly as interesting as the grapefruit version. This one also weighs in at 2.5 percent and a scant 35 calories. Radlers, or shandys, are not nearly as popular here in the United States, however, especially among the craft beer drinking crowd which generally craves something more substantial, and certainly, more like beer. Still, the style is distinctly interesting from both a cultural and historical standpoint, and true radlers are rare, especially in Alaska, so this one’s worth seeking out while it’s still around, either on tap or in the bottle. If you miss the draft version at Café Amsterdam, monitor the La Bodega
growler bar because rumor has it that a keg of Lemon Stiegl Radler will show up there soon. Hey, if nothing else, they’re fun to play with and pair up with other headier beers and would be quenching when you begin the annual ritual of shoveling the snow off your lawn.
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Get your green on
How to do your spring cleaning without all that toxic mess Photo by ash Adams
By Ash Adams
even that wasn’t enough. of vinegar. Sure, I would scrub the tub, the toilet, and the bathroom sink I wasn’t good at this. Either the entire project was too much, pring is a time of rebirth, when everything is made new with the door closed so my son couldn’t come in while the chemi- or I didn’t have enough time to do the appropriate research, or I again. Buds appear on the trees, snow melts, the long days fill cals were out. But then, after everything was scrubbed and the couldn’t find the kind of research I needed. The cleaners on the us with energy and inspiration, and detox diets seem to pop chemicals were locked away and I felt dizzy from the fumes, I market have all been approved by someone, which means there is would open the door and watch my son crawl across the floor to contradictory evidence everywhere. up everywhere. gum that freshly cleaned tub. But days later, a tiny ray of hope came shining over the Internet. Any naturopathic guide to skin products Putting my nose near the tub made me At the invitation of fellow blogger Emily Levenson (emilylevenson. will tell you that you shouldn’t put anything dizzy. I could only imagine what putting my com), I joined the Healthy Living Book Club, a virtual book club on your skin that you wouldn’t put in your mouth on it would feel like. mouth, and that breathing in toxins could be that meets once a month on twitter. One book on the list was Toxic Inspired and concerned, I did what most in Free: How to Protect Your Health and Home from the Chemicals as dangerous as eating them. my generation would do. I Googled. So I detoxed my house. that are Making You Sick by Debra Lynn Dadd. I found what you’d expect: recipes with vinThis was just what I was looking for. Some actual direction. I feed my family an organic, whole foods egar, recipes with other vinegar, and product Some actual research—decades of it. diet without processed ingredients. But one sites. I felt lost, overwhelmed, and defeated: day, as I looked around my home, I realized I was fine with being hippie-ish, but I really we were soaking up countless other toxins as didn’t want my home to smell like vinegar. Every (toxic) breath you take we ate our poison-free meals. And, I wasn’t sure which store-bought prodIf I filter my drinking water, I wondered, I used to look at warning labels on cleaning products and think, ucts I could trust. I had been using Bon Ami “Duh. Don’t drink this stuff.” But the more I’ve learned about the shouldn’t I also filter the water my son bathes in? If my cleaners kill every germ they touch, could they be for years after reading about it in Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping body and how it works, the more I’ve realized toxins can also get Handbook. I tried to buy more eco-friendly products and find the into the body through my nose and my skin. dangerous to us too, even if we don’t eat them? best, least-toxic ones. But I still didn’t know which were the “most” Yes and yes. But first, a little background. Think about it this way: cleaning products are so toxic, the govgreen, or whether they were green at all. ernment requires that you dispose of these at hazardous waste Then I found www.ewg.org, the website for the Environmen- sites. tal Working Group. The organization ranks products for their According to Frederic Saldmann, author of Wash Your Hands!: Birth of a Hippie “greenness, based on an evaluation of potential hazards to health The Dirty Truth About Germs, Viruses, and Epidemics, “in pracWhen I became a mother, I adopted a hippie persona. Pre-preg- and the environment, and transparency of ingredients. tical terms, these products release chemical compounds that we nancy, I smoked like a chimney, I never ate enough, and I certainly breathe in every day: formaldehyde, glycol ethers, benzene, and terpenes.” He adds, “Interior air quickly turns into a cocktail of never gave much thought to the products I cleaned my home with. Pregnancy and the all-natural birth of my son transformed me. Gimmick or green? toxic products that can cause colds—which have doubled in numThe tight-bunned, tattooed fashionista hipster in the mirror softAt first, I was heartened. When I looked up Bon Ami, my old ber over the past decade—or asthma.” ened into someone else: a mama. Still tattooed, still a downtowner, friend, I saw it has an “A” rating. In EWG speak, that means “few In other words, what we think is cleaning our homes is really still rocking out to good music in the car, still wearing skinny or no known or suspected hazards to health or the environment” polluting it. Disinfectants, detergents, bleaches, car cleaners, drain clog rejeans. But softer, less cynical and more open to change. Tobacco and “good ingredient disclosure.” and alcohol-free. I started wearing my long hair down, stopped Yes. Ash (and Martha), one. Toxicity, zero. movers, polishers, carpet cleaners—you name it, they’re all toxic, wearing so much eyeliner. I walked around barefoot. I tried out Then, I searched my new green purchases on EWG, and found and some dangerously so. every baby carrier on the market. I insisted on cloth diapers for my that Bon Ami was the only winner in a very sad batch of posers. Dishwashing detergents are highly alkaline. Swallowing these son, at least while at home, and only purchased wooden toys and Green Works All-Purpose Cleaner, for example, has an “F” rat- can cause burns to the lips, tongue, esophagus, and stomach on those made from BPA-free or plant oil-based plastics. I became ing. An “F.” You’ve probably seen this stuff sold all over town. And contact, which is why they should never be left somewhere where a whiz at whipping out my breasts in public in a utilitarian, non- if you’ve spent a little extra for it, you probably felt, like I did, that a child could reach them. But, according to Dadd, parents do party sense. you were making a good purchase. sometimes leave them within children’s reach, and “As a result, At the root of this transformation was a heightened awareness But: “F.” As in green fail. According to the EWG, potential haz- detergents are responsible for more household poisonings than of my surroundings and my body. I became sensitive to every- ards of using this product are many, from general systemic and any other household product.” Dadd says detergents also leave residues on bed sheets and clothes, which can cause rashes. thing in my world because my son, so new to life, was sensitive to organ effects to cancer. Although bleach containers only warn against drinking, “chloeverything. The world became louder, faster, and brighter, and, on Everything except for Bon Ami had a rating of “C,” “D,” or “F.” the flipside, scarier and more toxic. I went on to find other sites similar to EWG, like Good Guide rine is toxic as a skin irritant and by inhalation,” says Dadd. AcCleaning my home became a chore with a new set of rules. My (www.goodguide.com). My green cleaners were green fails. cording to Karen Logan, author of Clean House, Clean Planet, son needed to be in a jumper or with his father if I was cleaning, So, it was just me and my Bon Ami again. I was back where I bleach, a stomach and lung irritant, “is the number-one poisonand he certainly couldn’t be in the room. But then I realized that started, feeling defeated and like my home was doomed to reek ous substance to which children under the age of six are exposed.”
What we think is cleaning our homes is really polluting it.
April 18 - April 24, 2013
She goes on to explain that “Clorox likes to keep their bleaches at pH 10.4 so that you can’t technically call them ‘corrosive,’” because at 10.5, chlorine is corrosive. “I call that too tricky for me,” she says. Disinfectants are difficult to get away from, because we want to keep our family safe from germs. The problem with typical disinfectants, however, is that they kill both dangerous and good germs. In fact, they kill everything, or close to everything. “The active ingredients in Lysol spray is a registered pesticide,” according to Logan. “All disinfectants are technically pesticides.” There’s no easy way to go through the dangers of each product and ingredient without writing a full book on the subject (which is why people have written full books on the subject), so the best knowledge I can impart is a simple, general rule to use when reading labels: If it reads, “DANGER,” “POISON,” or both, definitely do not use the product. It is highly toxic if you just touch it or breathe it in. A few drops to 1 teaspoon of this kind of substance, according to Dadd, would kill a person. But if a product label reads “WARNING” or “CAUTION,” it is moderately toxic, and could be acceptable with appropriate levels of caution. However, if you’re like me and seriously fed up with being scared of what’s under the sink, then the easiest path is to do what I did and start making your household cleaning products yourself.
Simple Greening Which brings us back our initial question: can I clean my home without either bombing it with toxins or making it reek of vinegar? Yes. This is where I’m hoping my trial and error will help you. After reading Toxic Free, I moved on to a more solution-based book: Clean House, Clean Planet: Clean Your House for Pennies a Day the Safe, Nontoxic Way by Karen Logan. Logan’s book is a collection of recipes for home cleaning. She also explains which dangerous chemicals occur in which products and how the chemistry of cleaning works, which is helpful for a novice greener. Working through her book and then discovering more recipes on the Internet, I’ve narrowed down the cleaners under my sink to Bon Ami and a handful of ingredients that form the basis for everything I clean with. I use lemon juice and orange rinds here and there, too. These ingredients come together to make an allpurpose cleaner, toilet cleaner, floor cleaner, laundry detergent, bleach alternative, window washing liquid, dish soap, and dishwashing liquid. And every time I use one of these, I’m also saving money. Here’s the scoop: Baking soda is a deodorizer and mild abrasive. It absorbs odors, works as an abrasive to clean pretty much any surface, and is non-toxic and inexpensive. Logan reveals a trick for dishes with lots of caked-on food: Just sprinkle it on the dishes and let them soak. The food will scrub off easily without using any harsh chemicals. After my son’s first birthday party last month, our sink was completely filled with every single one of our plates, bowls, glasses, and cups, and several pots and pans. Many were in bad shape, so we did the sprinkle test. It worked! Hard-to-scrub pots were not so hard to scrub. White distilled vinegar, as resistant as I was to use it, is a miracle cleaner. It is a powerful deodorizer and cleaning rinse that dissolves soap film and mineral deposits. It repels grease and grime, and, according to Logan, helps to prevent mold and mildew. I use it for everything, and thanks to an idea I found on a lovely blog, My Healthy Green Family, I’ve made a special rinse for my dishwashing cycle: I juice a lemon or two, an orange, and a lime, then place the rind from these in a large mason jar and fill it with vinegar. I set this on the window sill for two weeks, strain out the rinds and poof: I have a citrus-scented vinegar that cleans and smells lovely. Tea tree oil is a non-toxic antibacterial and fungicide with a potent hospital-clean smell. It’s available in the natural section at Fred Meyer’s, and also at the Natural Pantry or online. I use a few drops in almost every cleaning recipe to add some extra antibacterial power to my cleaners (and because I like the scent.)
Coarse sea salt is used primarily to soften water. I use this in my homemade laundry detergent and dishwasher detergents. Washing soda is not the same as baking soda, but it’s close. Washing soda is sodium carbonate. It’s used in homemade nontoxic laundry detergents and dish detergents. You can use baking soda in its place, but you can also make your own washing soda from baking soda, which I learned from another neat blog called EcoKaren. Her recipe is simple: put the baking soda in a glass dish and bake it at 400 degrees for an hour; mix it, and leave it in for another hour. With heat, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) becomes sodium carbonate (washing soda). It’s used as a degreaser, ph balancer, and water softener. It also can be used to polish silver. The downside of washing soda is that, unlike baking soda, it’s not edible. I’ve created a dish detergent that does not require washing soda, because I wanted to know that it’s so safe you could eat it, even if it tastes disgusting. Glycerin soap is something I was reluctant to use in my laundry detergent, because I’ve always hated how it made my skin feel filmy if I used it in the shower. But after reading several blogs that used glycerin soap as a base for their homemade laundry detergents, I decided to give it a whirl. To my surprise, it worked. The best recipe I’ve found is from the blog My Healthy Green Family, which uses glycerin soap, washing soda, baking soda, salt and citric acid.
Domestic Engineering In addition to making my own cleaning supplies, I’ve cut down on our use of cleaning products by doing things that should have been no-brainers all along. For instance, because I have long hair, our home has always been prone to clogged drains. The solution? We fitted a fine-mesh strainer into every drain in our home, and we haven’t needed a drain clog remover since. Another fix eliminated the need for oven cleaners. I bake like a mad woman, and my cobblers and casseroles often boil over and burn in the bottom of our oven, which then needs a sound cleaning. Oven cleaners are nasty, so I bought an aluminum oven liner to protect the oven. Thinking preventatively instead of reactively means our home is cleaner all around to begin with, which makes actual cleaning even easier. Another toxic-free fix has to do with containers. Many plastics are toxic and contain known endocrine disrupters, such as polyvinyl chloride and bisphenol A. After reading all the possible side effects of these toxins, I have been slowly, piece by piece, ridding my life of unnecessary plastics, especially those that come into contact with my food, water, and child. To keep my home cleaning supplies extra-green, I’ve switched to glass spray bottles.
But does it work? I know what you’re wondering at this point after reading that witch’s brew of ingredients: Do these homemade cleaners work as well as the toxic ones? I’m not going to lie: Yes and no. Yes and sometimes. My all-purpose cleaner, once tweaked, has never failed me. My window washing alternative is a joy to use, and my windows are streak-free and beautiful. My toilet is cleaned and deodorized by a simple non-toxic cleaner. My dishes are clean, and they smell citrusy and fresh. My clothes are clean, but they’re not Tide-clean, (at least, they don’t have that Tide smell I grew up loving). Hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, lemon juice and sunshine: none of it gets my whites as white as I’m sure bleach would. Any inadequacies, however, are well worth dealing with for the good feeling I get knowing the floor my son plays on and the air we all breathe is truly clean—no hazardous toxins, no dangerous pollutants. What’s more, it feels good to know that I’m reducing the damage I contribute to the earth. I know what you’re thinking now, too—she does sound like a hippie. Maybe. But my home doesn’t smell like vinegar or toxic fumes, and it’s squeaky clean.
Ash’s Window Washer I tried a few different recipes for window washing liquids, including just straight-up club soda, and this little ditty was born after several attempts with washers that weren’t quite right. It will clean your windows to streak-free satisfaction. 10 ounces club soda 2 tablespoon white distilled vinegar 4 drops tea tree oil 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice Mix everything together in a 16-ounce glass spray bottle. Use to wash windows and mirrors, or anywhere you’d use your old toxic window cleaner.
Ash’s Everyday All-Purpose Cleaner This recipe was adapted from Karen Logan’s “Alice’s Wonder-Spray” in Clean House, Clean Planet. Her original recipe used Borax, which I’ve read is actually not as green as everyone once thought, so I created a recipe that works wonderfully without it. 3 tablespoon white distilled vinegar 1 ½ cups purified water 12-15 drops tea tree oil ¼ cup Dr. Bronner’s Magic Pure Castile Liquid Soap (I use lavender, but choose whichever scent you like) Combine the vinegar, water, and tea tree oil in a 16-ounce glass spray bottle and shake to mix. Add the soap last, and gently shake to combine. (It is important to add in the soap last, otherwise the vinegar will dissolve some of it, and you’ll end up with a clumpy, nasty mess.) Use to clean anything.
Dishwashing Detergent This super-simple dishwashing detergent cleans pretty well, especially with the addition of a vinegar rinse. Glasses are not always streak-free, but if you’re planning on hosting or just really want that streak-free shine without the chemicals, you can spritz the glasses with club soda and buff lightly with a soft flour towel. 1 cup baking soda 1/3 cup coarse sea salt 12-15 drops orange essential oil 1. Mix everything together. Store in a glass mason jar, and use about 1 tablespoon per full dishwasher load. 2. Fill the rinse aid compartment with citrusinfused vinegar, or vinegar scented with an essential oil.
Photo by ash Adams
Orange essential oil is a luxury item that I can’t live without now. I add it to my homemade dishwashing detergent, and it smells so lovely I will always keep it in my home. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Pure Castile Soap is a wonderfully effective non-toxic liquid vegetable oil-based soap. It’s highly concentrated, so it looks more expensive than it really is. A little goes a very long way. But don’t stop with using it in home cleaning supplies—keep a bottle in the shower, too, and use it as a non-toxic body wash. My uncle bought the men in my family bottles of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Pure Castile Soap in peppermint for Christmas, and said with a wink, “it tingles.” (It does.) Club soda is a must-have for washing windows and pre-treating stains. If you spill something on your shirt, dab it with club soda before washing. Hydrogen peroxide is the main ingredient in store-bought green bleach alternatives (Seventh Generation’s Bleach Alternative is made up of just water and hydrogen peroxide), and that’s exactly how it functions in my home now, as a bleach treatment and bleach alternative. I treat stains with hydrogen peroxide before washing, and to whiten my whites I use a homemade bleach alternative that uses hydrogen peroxide as a main ingredient.
April 18 - April 24, 2013
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