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For one day we were all Londoners

I took my dog for a walk the day the bombs hit in London.  I felt sadder than I had in a long time.  I’ve always been a bit of a fanatic about England.  Charles Dickens is my favorite author, closely followed by Jane Austin, Thackeray and all the Bronte’s. I am a charter subscriber to a magazine called British Heritage and I actually read each issue cover to cover.

One of the best afternoons of my life was spent at Old Bailey in London attending the murder trial of a man who was a British Hell’s Angel. I loved

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Pot not a candy flavor

Under the general heading of “What Were They Thinking?” I offer you Purple Haze, Acapulco Gold and Rasta.  No, not pot. That would at least make some sense, as they are names familiar to many of my generation for various kinds of marijuana.  No, these are actually the names of pot-flavored lollipops apparently being offered for sale in some convenience stores in this country.

Now before I go any further with this, let me indulge in a little full disclosure. I’ve smoked pot.  Many times.  And to all of you out there looking shocked and acting so self-righteous, I can

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Mosquitoes – our proud state bird

I am usually a peace loving person. Call it a throwback to my youth in the sixties. Yet if the carnage of last week didn’t prove it to me, the carnage from this week did. I have changed.  In fact, I will have to repaint my whole house this fall to get rid of the evidence of this summer’s mass slaughter of mosquitoes on its walls. Red streaks are everywhere. Tiny screams of death can be heard echoing throughout the universe.

Each night before I go to bed, I do battle with these mighty warriors. I wander through my house

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Bathrooms basic need on planes

I come from a long line of frugal people.  Actually, by the time the family genes from my parents mingled, some would say frugal is a mild term for what resulted.  So, despite what I recently paid for a pair of original Beatles-styled sunglasses from the sixties in almost mint condition for my sister’s 50th birthday present, I usually am on the side of caution in spending.  I pay off my credit card every month and spend a lot of time reassuring myself that I do not have more debt than I could pay off instantly if required.

So when

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Nice teeth important to good self-image

There’s a new picture with my column today.  After resisting for years the idea of seeing how much I’d actually aged, I felt like my life was starting to imitate “The Picture of Dorian Grey” in some perverse, reverse way. Ergo, the new picture.

One thing that you will notice missing in the picture is any teeth. My mouth is firmly clamped shut.  That’s because I don’t have the Chicklet teeth of movie stars.  I have the rather normal, somewhat yellow teeth that most of us end up with even after years of good dental care.

What we look like

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The boys of summer

Summer has arrived at my house with the first contingent of friends and relatives up to fish Alaska’s rivers and streams.  In this case, it was two young cousins and four of their friends – in all, six young men in their mid twenties who kept me laughing and shaking my head in wonder for four days.

When they took over an hour to cook steaks that were still raw in the middle despite catching fire, I found myself hoping they’d end up with good and patient women who will see the bright interior under the strange exterior. Otherwise, those

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No hope Alaska politicians will use time wisely

My cousin Therese recently adopted a pound puppy she named Stella after losing her first pound puppy Jerusalem at the ripe old age of 16. Well, we think Jerusalem was real.  No one could be sure.  Whatever had happened to him in his previous life had apparently left him very nervous about people – all people, all the time.

So most of us never saw much more of Jerusalem than two eyes staring at us from under whatever piece of furniture Therese was either standing by or sitting on at the time. 

This meant that Jerusalem needed little more than

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Hear the Parrots of Telegraph Hill

It should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this column even semi-regularly that I am a bit of a bird nut.  OK, perhaps I zoomed by “bit of” and went right to “totally crazed” about twenty years ago. Either way, the reality is that birds are a passion of mine.

That’s why I’m so excited about some events coming to Anchorage the week of May 16th.  It’s a chance for people who aren’t bird crazy to mingle with those of us who are and learn why we have the passion we do.  These events may never convert you

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Reading trumps all other forms of entertainment

I grew up a reader.  It’s not that my parents pushed me into it.  I was raised way before the concept of reading to your child to make your child a reader came into vogue.  No, what worked in my family was the idea that books were part of the very special privileges enjoyed by adults and that the only way I’d be able to enjoy those privileges was to grow up and learn how to read.

This was perhaps even more special in my home because my parents were the first literate generation on either side of my family.

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Teachers and meth lab in Barrow

In most small towns in America, two professions stand out as receiving the most respect and admiration – preachers and teachers.  While there are obvious exceptions to this rule, for the most part people rely on these professions to maintain certain ethical and moral standards.

After all, you trust one of these professions with your immortal soul and the other with the development of your children’s minds.  What could be more important?

Teachers and preachers in Bush Alaska definitely fall under this mantle of respect.  In fact, in many Native villages they have historically been exalted to a pedestal they

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