A collection of essays, outdoor adventure stories, ruminations, wordplay, parental angst, and blatant omphaloskepsis, generated in all seasons and for many reasons at 64.8 degrees north latitude

Monday, December 20, 2021

Intra-familial and extra-familial undertakings since the previous hibernal solstice: a retrospective investigation


A multi-factor analysis was undertaken of the behavior and interactions of seven heterotrophic vertebrates [genus Homo: Jay (J), Nancy (N), Elizabeth (E), Molly (M); genus Canis: Shiloh (S), Eddy (E2) and genus Felis: Sinbad (S2)] during the period between December 22, 2020, and December 21, 2021.  Results indicate that if you’re one of those people who only reads the abstract, that’s entirely normal, and you should enjoy the holiday season just as much as the people who continue all the way to the conclusion and footnotes1. 


This study built upon previous annual research at the same site (Fresco 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020).  Longitudinal studies of this type can provide valuable insights2, and can also justify continuing to maintain a mostly moribund blog site. Experimental hypotheses were designed to test long-standing theories regarding the non-standard life choices of the subjects.


Experimental subjects were observed both while contained within a ~100 square meter chamber (lat/long 64.866011, -147.920129) kept at ~16°C for the duration of the experiment3, and also in a broader sub-Arctic environment4.  External ambient temperatures during the study period ranged from -39°C (Feb 22) to 31°C (July 1). One subject (N) escaped the experimental zone (7/1/21 – 7/10/21) and interacted with maternal, sororal, and unrelated mutualistic conspecifics.

Growth medium was primarily obtained from Fred Meyer and Costco.  Consumption greatly exceeded expected demands, particularly with regard to fructivory (Malus pumila et al.).  This may partially explain unprecedented chondrogenesis at the epiphyseal plates in two of the subjects (E, M). Additional growth medium was obtained via localized seasonal collection of Vaccinium (sp), Fragaria (sp) and Microtus (sp) 5.


Behaviors of all test subjects were semi-autocorrelated based on proximity, genetics6, and scheduling parameters determined by the Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board7. Heteroscedasticity8 was not assessed. Regression analysis showed a moderate degree of regression, particularly with regard to use of social media, attending Zoom school while wearing Star Trek pajamas, repeated reversion to mix tapes from the early 90’s, and excessive rereading of Harry Potter. 

Despite the paucity of sociocultural growth opportunities as compared to pre-2020 levels, both E and M evidenced remarkable increases in perspicacity.  Examples include ability to prevail in intra-familial debate via searing logic and correct identification of hypocrisy; understanding of the deeply flawed nature of human governance and belief systems; rapidity in understanding new apps; and ability to beat the author at Set. 

Selected behaviors of test subjects are shown in Figure 1.  Although some behaviors appeared to be idiosyncratic, others were universal, e.g. snoring.  Notably, none of the test subjects admitted to snoring.

Figure 1: Selected observed behaviors of test subjects.

Univariate and multi-variate increases over time were found with regard to several additional variables, including college-level Russian (E), horseback riding (M), trail marathons (N, E, M); swallow-catching and hatchling-banding (E, M); haircutting skills (M), viola-playing (M), art and photography (M), rock climbing (E), extensive reading about goats (M) and extensive reading about astrophysics (E).  Six out of seven subjects9 were closely correlated in their appreciation of long walks, bike rides, and ski jaunts on backwoods trails (Fresco, Cable, Cable, and Cable 2021). 

During data analysis, it was mathematically determined that if a person is digging an outhouse pit and is currently 17 feet below the surface, assuming she can fling dirt upward at a velocity of 32 feet per second, she will not successfully hurl the next shovelful of dirt out of the pit10. 


Based on these results, several experimental hypotheses can be supported, including Hypothesis 1: “Math is fun”; Hypothesis 2: “We miss traveling and especially miss seeing all of you plus also museums and cool restaurants and stuff”; and Hypothesis 3: “Yay, snow!” 

Additionally, although the author cannot correctly recall all the steps in the Krebs Cycle, despite having a PhD in biology, she can support the hypothesis that the Krebs Cycle exists, and will definitely be on the AP Biology Exam.

Future research will focus on upon linking climate change data to a series of derivatives, integrals, summations, and natural logarithms that the author recently found in papers on spruce bark beetles.  In light of this, it’s probably a good thing that she was able to solve the outhouse calculus, albeit not as quickly as anyone else in the room.


May your celebrations of the season be filled with joy, laughter, light, warmth, love, and deliciousness11.  Happy Solstice to all! 

Works Cited

Fresco, Nancy, 2012. Choose-Your-Own Holiday Letter. http://latitude.nancyfresco.com/2012/12/choose-your-own-holiday-letter.html

Fresco, Nancy, 2013. Oddness-y. http://latitude.nancyfresco.com/2013/12/oddness-y.html

Fresco, Nancy, 2014. Needs Improvement http://latitude.nancyfresco.com/2014/12/needs-improvement.html

Fresco, Nancy, 2015. Sing a Song of Sixpence, I Didn’t Send You a Card http://latitude.nancyfresco.com/2015/12/normal-0-false-false-false-en-us-x-none.html

Fresco, Nancy, 2016. I Verb You a Happy Noun http://latitude.nancyfresco.com/2016/12/i-verb-you-happy-noun.html

Fresco, Nancy, 2017. Emery Isthmus http://latitude.nancyfresco.com/2017/12/emery-isthmus.html

Fresco, Nancy, 2018. Hallelujah http://latitude.nancyfresco.com/2018/12/hallelujah_24.html

Fresco, Nancy, 2019. 2019 (Basic Recipe) http://latitude.nancyfresco.com/2019/12/2019-basic-recipe.html

Fresco, Nancy, 2020. A Short Letter, and Several Letters Short. http://latitude.nancyfresco.com/2020/12/a-short-letter-and-several-letters-short.html

Fresco, Nancy, Elizabeth Cable, Molly, Cable, and Jay Cable, 2021. Go Play Outside! Tips, Tricks, and Tales from the Trails.  University of Alaska Press.  https://www.alaska.edu/uapress/browse/author-detail/fresco-nancy.php



1 I mean, seriously, who on earth would read footnotes in a holiday letter?

2 Or grants.  Preferably grants.

3 Some exceedances occurred during summer months; project materials did not include air conditioning.

4 Subject S2 expressed a clear non-verbal preference for non-sub-Arctic environments.

5 Only subject S2, with occasional after-the fact participation by Subject S and Subject E2

6  Subject J was noted to sing a novel song to remind his offspring that they cannot escape his genes.  This behavior was received with characteristic eye-rolling responses.

7 Which, with the exception of a couple of delightful members, should never be allowed to determine anything, ever. 

8 But the author wants you to know that she knows the word heteroscedasticity.

9 Meow.

10 Hannibal Grubis, 2021.  Math is fun.  See also Beth Zirbes, 2021. 

11 And math -- but only if you personally support Hypothesis 1.