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

Continue reading →
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,

Continue reading →
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.

Continue reading →
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

Continue reading →
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

Continue reading →
Columns 2003

Not a great week for Alaska’s kids

Last week was a bad week to be a kid in Alaska.  All the headlines made it clear that we, as a society, were failing our kids in just about every way possible.

Our schools seem to be failing them.  The state’s Children’s Services, supposedly a safety net for kids in dangerous homes, seems to have more holes than net.  And a kid in Kivalina, a town that has already had enough publicity about problems with violence at its school, has a drunk kid show up with a shot gun and point it at the principal.

Yep, all in all

Continue reading →
Columns 2003

Alaska just doesn’t cooperate with brother’s visit

It took me 31 years to convince my brother to come to Alaska. I finally did it by pointing out that he could not consider himself a real fisherman unless he fished in Alaska and he couldn’t call himself a golfer if he hadn’t golfed in Alaska. I think his pride finally forced him to rise to the challenge.

It rained the entire week he was here. It rained on him as he sat on his charter out of Homer; it rained on him as he golfed in Anchorage, it rained on him as we wandered the Saturday market; it

Continue reading →
Columns 2003

Life’s hustle and bustle subdued in the bush

I recently heard a young woman, Alexandra Soprano, speak at the Alaska Press Women’s monthly luncheon.  She was part of the Rose Urban Rural Exchange Program of the Alaska Humanities Forum. Alexandra spent two weeks in a Bush village living with a local family and attending the local high school. The program works both ways with students from the Bush coming to live for two weeks in Anchorage homes.

The whole idea of the exchange is basically to broaden the perspective of everyone involved in it. It is based on the very true belief that there are two different worlds

Continue reading →
Columns 2003

Deep fried Twinkies – it just seems wrong

A number of years ago, a magazine out of New York City did an experiment on Twinkies.  They took a Twinkie and put it on the ledge of the windowsill of their building.  They let it sit there through rain and snow. They pounded it a few times to try and smash it down. They let it bake in the heat and freeze in the cold.  When all was said and done, the Twinkie pretty much held its own.  It retained its shape, flavor and freshness

.

That’s pretty remarkable. In fact, I figured if Twinkies could withstand all that

Continue reading →
Columns 2003

Alaskans can be a strange lot

Generally speaking, Alaskans are a mixed bag of somewhat odd characters who have more or less come together to form a loosely cohesive, if slightly bizarre, society.  One thing is for sure, if you are an Alaskan of the tried and true duct tape, Carharts, blue tarp variety, no one will ever mistake you for someone from New York City.  Or Portland, Oregon.  Or Podunk, Iowa.

My sister brought that home to me on her last visit when she said that she knows she’s getting close to Alaska when the composition of the people on the plane starts to change. 

Continue reading →