Columns 2003

“Handicapped” aunt sure didn’t act that way

When my aunt contracted polio as a child in the early years of the last century, the idea of any special accommodations for people with handicaps was still over 50 years away. So she grew up learning how to make do in a world that didn’t quite know what to do with her, the braces on her legs, or the limits they imposed.

We now live in a country where every new public building automatically accommodates handicap needs thanks to federal law mandating that it must.  If there are stairs in the building, you’ll find a ramp or an elevator

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Columns 2003

Being responsible is our family curse

According to Newsweek Magazine (Oct. 13), in the face of natural disaster Americans stock up on batteries, water and Pop-Tarts.  Yes, Pop-Tarts.  A wholesale club back east noticed a 20% jump in sales of Pop-Tarts right before a hurricane. The theory for the jump is that they are cheap, stay fresh up to a year and are tasty even when not toasted.

The government apparently approves of this because they fit the government requirement to have “high energy, stress/comfort foods” around in case a hurricane is about to blow you to Kansas or a nuclear bomb is threatening to rearrange

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Columns 2003

E-mail – what did we do without it?

Septentrion (sep-TEN-tree-on) noun – the north.  From Latin septentrionalis, from septentrio, singular of septentriones, originally septem triones, the seven stars of the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear, from septem (seven) and triones (a team of three plow oxen. These are the principal stars of the Great Bear, which is located in the region of the north celestial pole. These stars are more commonly perceived as the Big Dipper.

I learned all that and much, much more about the word septentrion, which I’d never heard of before, thanks to an e-mail buddy.  It’s the kind of critical e-mail that I

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Columns 2003

Being a good customer is a waste of time

I’ve written about the lack of service provided to customers by American businesses before. But every once in a while, a business will do something so egregious that it deserves special notice. There always seems to be some big corporation that thinks it can go one better than its rival in extending its middle finger of courtesy to its customers.

So what has started my ranting this year? Well, it’s based on my perception of how major businesses in this state, and probably in the rest of the country, treat customers who make the mistake of being loyal to them. 

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Columns 2003

Men have responsibilities for sober pregnances too

A couple of week ago, I wrote a column about the cost of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder to our society and to the children involved.  The column spoke about the damage done by a mother’s drinking during pregnancy.

I got a very interesting e-mail soon after that column ran asking why the father was not mentioned at all in it.  The writer wanted to know where the father was and why society was not holding him as responsible as the mother, why society was not blaming and shaming him the way a mother is.

The writer asks very good questions

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Columns 2003

Imagine that! Bike tires need air.

Getting a tricycle this summer was probably one of the best things I’d done for my health since discovering Rolfing.  For some reason, even on days when I’m feeling particularly lazy about walking, I’m more than willing to go for a bike ride.

So all summer I rode my trike through my woodsy neighborhood, learning which house had loose dogs, which house had friendly people, which house was for sale or getting a new driveway or using the same lawn service as I was.  Probably by the end of the summer, I knew the houses on my route better than

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Columns 2003

FASD epidemic in Alaska

Here’s a scary statistic to cogitate on with your morning coffee.  A child born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) will cost society approximately $1.2 million over the cost of his or her lifetime.  That’s $1.2 million per person that you and I will be paying through our taxes, through the loss of productivity that person could otherwise have brought to the workplace, through loss of income that person could otherwise have earned thus allowing him or her to contribute to the costs of a civil society.

Here’s something even more frightening.  When the issue of FASD is brought up,

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Columns 2003

Political campaigns start WAY too early!

Can you hear them yet?  They’re coming whether you can or not. They are stealthily creeping into our unconscious, just enough to start a minor annoyance that almost, but not quite, rises to a conscious level.  Come next year this time, though, they will be assaulting us on a daily basis in our newspapers, on our TVs, from our radios.

They are the candidates and their campaigns.

I don’t know when running for office became a full time occupation or when the next campaign started three days after an election. But that seems to be the point we have reached.

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Columns 2003

Polygamy and pedophilia seem to go hand in hand

I had just finished reading the book “Under The Banner of Heaven” by Jon Krakauer when the article about George and Lisa Micheaux appeared on the front page of the Anchorage Daily News.

Krakauer’s book is about two brothers who belong to one of the many fundamentalist Mormon groups in Utah, Mexico and Canada that still practice polygamy.  These two brothers killed their sister-in-law and her 18-month-old daughter because, they claimed, God had told the older brother to do it. There is more than a little evidence to suggest that God told him to do this soon after his sister-in-law

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Columns 2003

Person answering the phone makes difference in business

This is a story about service and why one business wins out over another when both are unknowns.  But let me start at the beginning.

Sometime earlier this winter, I became aware of a little critter that had started calling my house his home. At first he seemed quiet and polite enough.  I even named him Shadow.  Shadow went out early in the morning and came back late at night, so I really didn’t get too worked up over him.

Then Shadow rudely took advantage of my hospitality and invited some friends over. I found this out one night when

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