Columns 2003

Change not always a good thing

I know that we have all the ducks and geese we need in Anchorage, along with moose and bears and eagles, to name just a few.  But I’ve always thought they were part of what makes Anchorage different from every other American city of its size and age.

Back East, cities don’t share their sidewalks with wildlife – at least, not by the definition we attach to that word.  They are cities that grew up before cars and tend to have large and vibrant centers with massive buildings that create their own modern canyons for walking.  Nature, if found at

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Columns 2003

Demand that children learn before being passed

When I went to school, the rule was simple. Pass your courses and you passed to the next grade at the end of the school year. Fail and you were held back until you did. 

My parents, and all the parents I knew, thought this was just fine. They felt we were in school to learn and if we didn’t learn, why would we be sent to the next grade.

Now I will be the first to admit that the phrase used for this system – “getting left back” – is probably not the kindest phrase in the world. But

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Columns 2003

Loose dogs a danger to themselves and others

I am, by anyone’s definition, a rabid animal lover.  Probably 90% of my charitable donations, financial or otherwise, go to animal rescue organizations. St. Francis of Assisi is my idea of the perfect man. And to this day I can’t watch Bambi because I get so hysterical at the thought of that little deer being all alone.

I am just as rabid in my belief that owning a companion animal comes with certain responsibilities that are non-negotiable.  You are responsible for seeing that they do not reproduce unless you are breeding them for a specific purpose.  You are responsible for

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Columns 2003

Post office line gives time for reflection

Do you ever feel as though life is the time you spend in line at the post office and all else is simply a dream?  I do.  I spend a lot of time in post office lines. 

There was a point where I thought I had beaten the curse when I realized there was hardly ever a line at the post office in the Dimond Center.  Then other people discovered my little secret and now there are lines there too. 

Of course, standing in line at the Dimond Center is made a little easier if you go to the Thai

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Columns 2003

Matrix needs teenage boys for interpretation

I saw the first Matrix movie because I had a thing for Keanu Reeves.  Now before you go off thinking I’m a dirty old lady, let me explain that the hunk part was less than 50% of the fascination. 

I was more fascinated with what I’d seen of him in a movie called My Private Idaho, a movie done completely in free verse – which is why only about six people in the world including me saw or liked it.

I thought it was a quirky choice for a young actor just coming off the Bob and Ted series and

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Columns 2003

Native health corporations doing the job

Well now, here’s one of life’s more amusing moments.  The federal government, that bastion of financial accountability, is questioning whether Alaskan Native non-profit health organizations are making efficient use of their federal dollars and providing quality services. This from the same government that houses the BIA, a group that seems to have misplaced about a gazillion dollars in trust fund moneys they were supposed to be holding for Native American tribes.

And the pundits said that irony would die after 9/11. Clearly they didn’t have enough faith in the feds.

I arrived in Alaska in those faraway days when Alaska

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Columns 2003

Nona’s plates

In case those of us with a weight problem didn’t have enough to worry about already, we now find that being overweight also increases our chance of developing certain forms of cancer.  Just when I thought it was safe to attack another cheese cake.

One of the other things that caught my eye in the recent spate of stories about obesity was the issue of the larger portions now served routinely at restaurants, homes and concession stands. I am no slacker in the food consumption category, but even I have to question if anyone can really drink some of those

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Columns 2003

Barrow High School Band makes a mighty sound

When I was in kindergarten, I was briefly in the kindergarten band. It consisted of tin horns, a few drums and some triangles.  I was given a triangle. Clearly the nuns had already figured out my spectacular lack of musical ability.  This was confirmed every time the band played and I once again showed I could not even hit the triangle with the little stick in time to the beat.

Up in Barrow, though, there is a mighty band, the Barrow High School Band, with talent and dedication at work on each instrument.  Last month, that band won first place

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Columns 2003

Is legalized gambling worth the cost?

Once again gambling has reared its head in Alaska as a painless way to start dealing with the fiscal crisis we face.  I remember when my hometown of Atlantic City went through this debate in the early 70’s.  Gambling won. Anyone who goes to Atlantic City now can attest to the fact that the operation was successful but the patient died.  Atlantic City is a ghost town where once vibrant, if somewhat seedy, neighborhoods thrived. But Atlantic City also has money now, lots of it.  So the ultimate goal for legitimizing gambling was definitely achieved.

Here in Alaska we aren’t

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Columns 2003

Friends substitute for distant family

Here’s how you define a true friend.  They get out of bed late at night because you’ve called them and are hysterical and they drive you and your bird to Pet Emergency.  Not only that, but they sit there with you for two hours, long after the crisis has passed, and are actually still willing to have a civil conversation with you while you wait. That’s the kind of friendship that Alaska is famous for. That’s the kind of friendship that makes survival in the Bush possible.  That’s the kind of friendship that allows you to live far from your

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