Shame of a Bad Face Memory

If I only see you a few times a year, chances are good I’ll either not say hi or try to introduce myself to you. This isn’t because I don’t think you matter. Nor is it because I think I’m better than “the little people.” I’m simply afflicted with what seems to me a below average memory for faces. It’s like I live in a world of Cheers where everyone knows my name, but half the time I simply can’t return the favor.

This makes me sad. Especially in my profession and my current role in it. At it’s best, librarianship is a welcoming, caring profession. We acknowledge people, give them a safe place to be, answer their questions and sometime steer them to books and other materials they might like. We do much more of course, but my two current primary areas are technology training and public service. Both areas, but especially technology training, benefit from a good memory for people. I think it helps build confidence that a trainer is both caring and mentally sharp when they remember your name at in-person trainings and conferences.

Not such a good impression when someone walks across the room and addresses you warmly by name and you look blankly at them. Only to find out that they have either taken some of your in person sessions, or worse, are a volunteer on a project you manage remotely. Most people are polite about introducing themselves (again) and reminding me where I know them from. But I feel like I’ve let them down. I can be disappointed when someone I met and found really interesting draws a blank when I saw them again. It’s happened a few times. What usually happens is a moment of sadness, then I remember that if our positions were reversed, I’d be the person with the blank look. I reintroduce myself and we move on. But usually, I’m the one with the blank face – even in situations where the person and I work together a lot online and I really appreciate they work they do.

I have to admit that sometimes I’d love something like a “Google Glass Mark 2 (3?)” that ran continuous facial scans against a photo database of all my contacts. Then I could pretend to be someone with a solid grasp of faces. But then the Big Brother aspect of it all kicks in.

I do what I can when I meet someone. I try to repeat their names a few times in conversation. Sometimes that works. Sometimes not.

So if you know me, but don’t see me every week, please know it’s not arrogance or lack of care that I can’t come up with your name right off. It’s me, not you.

Dragged into the 21st Century: Mobile Deposit

I’ve read about making deposits with your smartphone for a few years now. With my last credit union app update — several months ago I think — I gained the ability to do mobile deposit. But I still resisted. It just seemed weird that I could take photos of my checks to the bank. Something just didn’t feel right.

Then I went through a two week stretch of really, really intending to make to the bank to make a few deposits. But I keep forgetting to go after work. By last Friday I was ready to give it a try. While I could find the mobile deposit agreement, I couldn’t find the function itself, but an e-mail to the credit union cleared that up. During my lunch on Monday I got out my two checks, endorsed them and fired up my banking app. I went to “mobile deposit” and it was really straightforward. All I had to do was:

  • Type in the amount of the check.
  • Take a picture of the front of the check with the signature to the right.
  • Take a picture of the back of the check with my endorsement to the right. There was even a shaded spot where my endorsement was supposed to fit.
  • Hit the submit button.

I got e-mails telling me the checks were received and then more e-mails letting me know the checks had been successfully added to my account. After a specified waiting time I don’t have in front of me, I should destroy the physical checks.

The whole process made me feel bad about being so resistant. I’m definitely going to use this method from now on. Though if my credit union was still next door to me, I might still take checks over.

Unplotable Trail Leads to Hidden Vistas

An amazing forest trail, right of the paved Brotherhood Bridge Trail.
Love in the forest.

Today’s hiking plans misfired far more than yesterday’s but still had a good outcome.

The plan was to go out to the Juneau Airport Dike Trail for a couple of hours around 9:30 am and come home in time to had off the car so my spouse could hang out with a friend.

Despite the fact I’ve been to the Airport Dike Trail a number of times before, I just could not find the trailhead today. Partly it was a matter of construction around intersections I normally use to get there. I tried several different routes but kept getting forced back onto to the main roads. It was like some wizard had come along and made the trailhead unplottable. My temper flared and I was very frustrated. I could have have turned around, gone home and grumbled for the rest of the day. Instead I took a deep breath and decided to go on the Brotherhood Bridge trail instead.

Juneau’s Bridge Trail is a paved path along the Mendenhall river just past Riverbend as you are driving out from town. It’s pretty enough, but I go there fairly often. It wasn’t quite what I was in the mood for, but I decide any walking was better than no walking. So I drove to the Dimond Park Field House and parked my car next to one of the entrances to the Brotherhood Bridge trail. I started walking, I quickly reached a pedestrian bridge over the Mendenhall River. I stopped for a moment mid stream to take in the mountains, the clouds and the river. Then I crossed to the other side and hung a left. I intended to go to the start of the trail, currently blocked by bridge construction. However, I noticed a dirt trail leading off to my right. I’ve noticed these turn offs for years, but never actually took one. Why not now? So I started down a well maintained dirt and gravel trail.

It blew me away almost immediately. Tall trees with the trail sloping up hill, a tributary stream to the Mendenhall clearly audible. Before I got too entranced, I called my spouse and let her know about my change in plans. When hiking in Alaska, you ALWAYS tell people where you are going and when you expect to be back. It’s just what we do and it has saved lives. Not telling people has ended lives. I would probably be ok, but why take chances?

After my spouse confirmed my change of plans, I continued walking. I set a timer for a half hour, because I still needed to be home in time to hand off the car. After the top of the hill, the view widened some and I saw that I was close to a swiftly flowing creek. The lack of still water may have contributed to the lack of flying insects. The path kept branching. There were a few places were it looked like the path might go back to pavement and I turned away from those. I had a great half hour and had walked more than a mile when my alarm chimed. I hadn’t found the end of this branch. So I headed back in the direction that I came. I resolved to take an exit out onto the paved path if the opportunity presented itself. After several branches, a way to the main path appeared and I took it. It turned out to be about five minutes down from when I entered the forest. I easily made it back to my car. I had a grand time and I’ll definitely be back on the next sunny weekend.

Moral of the story – I discovered whole new vistas because I was willing to set my anger at myself and frustration aside and try something different. It worked for me and I hope it works for you.


Juneau Airport Dike Trail

Unplotability, Harry Potter Wiki

Brotherhood Bridge Trail

Juneau Sun Madness Continues

imageThere are some residents of Juneau that can resist the pull of sunshine. I’m not one of these people unless utterly exhausted or on my deathbed. Today was sunny and mid 70s (F). I worked late last night, so I was able to leave early today. I live about three miles from work. So on nice days when I’m not driving home with my spouse, I like to walk home. It seemed like a good idea and for the most part it was.

I was dressed in tan slacks and a light Hawaiian shirt when I walked out of MPOW about 3pm. I liked being able to watch seabirds, ravens and eagles on my way home. We were at low tide so I was also treated to long stretches of brown, yellow and green seaweed along the sea side of the road.

I did get hot though and yearned for my hat. My walk home was long sunny stretches interspersed with small patches of shade brought to the road by tall evergreens. I slowed down in those patches. I couldn’t bring myself to stop because I wanted to keep a steady pace. After about an hour, I made it home. So grateful.

I wouldn’t say I was too overheated. After all, everyone who walks home immediately changes into shorts, downs three tall glasses of water and eats six stalks of celery. Right?

Day 15: More Random Musings

In a previous post, I said I intended to drop the “Day ___” from my Write. Every. Day. type posts unless it was a meaningful milestone to me or I was restarting a streak. I’m throwing that out the window for this post because the only reason this blog exists is for me to make another mark on the calendar. So putting the day number in the post title seems appropriate.

As I write this, it is 4:45am Alaska Time. I’m writing the post now because I’m working till 6pm tonight instead of my usual 4:30pm. I figure that by the time I get home and make dinner, I won’t feel like writing. This will be doubly true if I walk the three miles from work to my home. I might because we’re supposed to be back into sunny weather. I might not because one of the perks of working till 6pm on some Thursdays is being able to leave work at 3pm and I’ll almost certainly walk home tomorrow. But either way, it seems likely I’ll be too tired to write tonight.

Writing this early in the morning though, I didn’t have any great ideas for a post theme. A lot of my intellectual energy these days has been spent watching the Legislature’s reaction to our cash flow problem. I’ve been obsessing over the #akleg tag on Twitter. I’ve been forming strong opinions. But I’m not going to share them here. I’ve had a long standing policy against criticizing the level of government that I am employed by. I was able to hold my tongue during the Sarah Palin years and I’m holding it now. I MAY have something to say if I actually have a layoff notice in my hands.

So, being unwilling to write about my obsession of the moment, what could I write on? I thought about a post on last fall’s trip to Monterrey California and how I fell in instant love or at least infatuation with it, but I could only think of a few sentences to go with the photo I had in mind. So you get to read, skim or skip another post on writing about writing. Hopefully tomorrow I will have something more interesting for you.

Perspective Shift Yields Better Path

I have worked at the Juneau State Office Building (SOB) since 1998. For the past ten years and probably longer, I have walked on my morning and afternoon breaks. On gray and rainy days, I walk from the SOB Snack Bar on the 8th floor down past the public faces of the Alaska State Library, through the sky bridge to the Alaska Office Building, walk that from end to end on the third floor and loop back into the SOB until a few minutes before my break ends. Then I go back to my desk. It’s a pretty firm routine.

When it’s sunny, I almost always walk on Calhoun past the Governor’s mansion and the seemingly endless under construction Choate Residence, then past two more buildings. Then I turn around and go back to the SOB. That takes about 14 minutes. Perfect for my break. I haven’t meaningfully varied that route in ten years. Occasionally I walk in another direction, but if I’m walking down Calhoun, I’ve stayed on Calhoun until it’s time to turn around.

Today I was walking at morning break and finally noticed that from the intersection of Calhoun and Dixon, a sidewalk goes up Dixon. I’m not sure why I hadn’t noticed it all these years – perhaps I was focused on getting as far as possible on Calhoun. So I crossed the street and started walking. Dixon rises at about a 30-40 degree angle above Calhoun. It gave a nice view of the tops of the Governor’s Mansion and nearby buildings. It also gave an unobstructed view of the Kashevaroff Building, the future home of the State Library, Archives and Museum.

Dixon St. had another surprise for me. Once I reached the top of the hill, I noticed a staircase leading down and to the right. At first I thought it was to a residence, but a more careful examination showed that it went down to the street. So I walked down the stairs and found myself back on Calhoun across the street from the Governor’s Mansion. Walking back from the Mansion, I got to my desk about fourteen minutes after I left. A perfect loop with better exercise and a superior view. It was waiting for me until I could shift my perspective from the street in front of me.

Hiking DuPont Trail




If I was in a relationship with the DuPont Beach Trail, our Facebook status would be “It’s complicated!” I love DuPont Beach, but I find getting there to be very annoying. I have the additional problem of forgetting just how annoying the hike is to me. So every few years I come back to enjoy the view, complaining about the difficulty of the trail about 90% of the way.

The trailhead for this trail is at the end of Thane Road, about five miles south of downtown. I was there at 7:15am. I turned on my MapMyWalk app and started walking. About five minutes later I came to the first payoff of this trail – a very nice waterfall flowing at about a 50 degree angle and creating whirlpools around the bridge I was standing on. Up to this point, the trail could ALMOST be accessed by a wheelchair. The bridge has seen wear and tear lately and showed a few repairs. Part of the bridge was low enough that it got wet from the waterfall spray. After a few minutes admiring the falls I was on my way again. About ten minutes after that, the trail turned very uneven with roots and rocks. It is not the sort of trail you want to be on a wet day. The trail got worse and I was scrambling up and down rocks, roots and doing my best to avoid being hit be Devil’s Club.

It could have been worse. This area sees a lot of windfall trees, but either Trail Mix, our local trails organization, or the US Forest Service does a great job of clearing the path. I passed through a number of sawed off trunks. If it wasn’t for this help, I and most people would have found the trail impassable. My hike went on and on. I’d pause once in a while to take in ravens and squirrels in trees, admire the tree canopy, glimpses of Douglas Island through the tree, etc. I was also pausing because negotiating this sort of trail was much harder than the much longer Treadwell Ditch Trail hike I did on Friday. On the DuPont Beach Trail you are constantly making decisions about where to put your feet. Mistakes can put you in the mud — or onto pointy rocks or off a cliff in a worst case scenario. So there is there a lot of mental effort in addition to the physical effort. At least for me. While I know some people travel this trail without a lot of trouble, the Forest Service rates this hike as difficult.

It’s about 1.7 miles from the trailhead to the DuPont beach. On level ground, I could cover such a distance in about 40 minutes. With all the roots, rocks and other obstacles, it took me over an hour and a half to reach the beach. The beach had a crumbling dock, on top of which sat a bald eagle. Off shore was a sail boat, a fishing boat and several skifs. It was glorious and reminded me why I put forth this effort. I stood on the brightly lit beach for a bit, then found a spot and had a fiber bar and a few drinks of water. There wasn’t really a great place to rest in the shade that didn’t have a lot of flying insects so I turned around after about 10 minutes and carefully picked my way back to the trailhead. In all, it took me 2 hours, 55 minutes, and 45 seconds to have a round trip of 3.45 miles. For comparison, last week I walked home from work. I covered 3.18 miles in 1 hour, 2 minutes, and 52 seconds.

I had a good time overall. I really did enjoy getting to DuPont Beach. But for the next few years before memory of the trail difficulty fades, I’ll avoid it as somewhere the payoff doesn’t match the effort invested. Juneau has 120 trails. I have better options. At least that’s what I’ll tell myself before I desire again to see the eagle topped ruins of DuPont.


DuPont/Pt. Bishop Trail, US Forest Service