Tag Archives: Alaska

“Bunks for Drunks”

The Atlantic Cities on why there needs to be more wet shelters.

Neil Donovan, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, agrees with the Daily News and says one death shouldn’t turn people off the idea of a wet shelter.

"This isn’t a party house,” he told me earlier this week. "Wet in this case refers to the fact that [tenants] can consume alcohol in spite of the fact that they declare to be an alcoholic. They’re there getting served but the understanding is that they can consume alcohol in the process of recovery."

The idea is that this type of home is designed to be transitional, he says. “They can get ready when they’re ready – inside rather than on the street.”

Donovan says the alternative amounts to blackmail.

"You bar a person from a shelter as a way to pressure them to get treatment," he says. "If you’re sick, your judgment is skewed. And you’re taking advice from some punk just out of college who tells you that you need to stop drinking. Do you think that’s going to be a turning point?"

Bill Hobson, who runs 1811 Eastlake, elaborates.

"We are dealing with a unique subset of individuals here,” he says. "These are late stage, chronic alcoholics, normally 45 and older with a minimum of 15 years of street alcohol addiction. They’ve lost everything — families, job, housing. And so they’re transacting their addiction in public spaces."

On the street, Hobson says, "these people have a 5 percent chance of survival." And furthermore, he says, when they’re out on the street, these folks end up in the emergency room, get picked up by police and often end up in jail, costing taxpayers money. He points to an April 2009 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that says the chronically alcoholic homeless people cost the city of Seattle two-thirds less housed in Eastlake than they do out on the street.

Hobson says administrators at Karluk asked him and others at Eastlake for advice before they opened the facility in Anchorage. And Hobson warned them: “people are going to die in your program. These people are medically fragile. So be prepared for it.”

Hobson says 1811 lost eight people its first year. Since then, he says between 30 and 40 have died in the program.

"But at least they’re dying on a warm bed rather than in the street," he says.


I watched my first episode of Survivorman last night which had Les Stroud taking shelter in Taroka Arm, Alaska.  He was cold, hungry, and battled hypthermia.  He did manage to make a nice shelter but then almost killed himself by starting himself on fire.  The title refers to the host of the show, Canadian filmmaker and survival expert Les Stroud, who uses his vast survival skills to survive for up to seven days alone filming his adventures in remote locales where he brings with him little or no food, water, or equipment. The fact Stroud spends his time alone without a production crew is a major focus of the show (differentiating it from the similarly themed Man vs. Wild).  During the filming of each episode, Stroud is alone and operates all the cameras himself. He is equipped with only his clothes, camera equipment, his harmonica, a Leatherman multi-tool, and often "everyday items" relevant to the episode’s particular survival situation or locale.

I didn’t know what to expect but I really, really enjoyed the show.  I learned a bit, found it pretty entertaining but I found myself quite curious about the technology he uses to film the show (kayak camera mounts, batteries used and other stuff).  I also learned that if even rancid fish can be eaten if cooked properly.  I read that he stopped making Survivorman after season 3 because of the toll it was taking on his body and I can’t blame him.  He looked pretty close to be exhausted while filming the episode Mark and I watched.  Now I need to track down the DVDs. 

Massive blob found off west coast

A huge Arctic goo is moving along the Pacific coast

"If it was something we’d seen before, we’d be able to say something about it. But we haven’t …which prompted concerns from the local hunters and whaling captains."

The stuff is "gooey" and looks dark against the bright white ice floating in the Arctic Ocean, Brower said.

"It’s pitch black when it hits ice and it kind of discolors the ice and hangs off of it," Brower said. He saw some jellyfish tangled up in the stuff, and someone turned in what was left of a dead goose — just bones and feathers — to the borough’s wildlife department.

"It kind of has an odor; I can’t describe it," he said.

Hasenauer said he hasn’t heard any reports of waterfowl or marine animals turning up.

Brower said it wouldn’t necessarily surprise him if the substance turns out to be some sort of naturally occurring phenomenon, but the borough is waiting until it gets the analysis back from the samples before officials say anything more than they’re not sure what it is.

"From the air it looks brownish with some sheen, but when you get close and put it up on the ice and in the bucket, it’s kind of blackish stuff … (and) has hairy strands on it."

Hasenauer said the Coast Guard’s samples are being analyzed in Anchorage. Results may be back sometime next week, he said.