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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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

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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

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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

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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

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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. 

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Columns 2003

Cronkite a hero to many

The heroes of my early life were, inevitably, the saints of the Catholic Church. 

The first “non” saint hero I can remember having was Dr. Tom Dooley. I was later to find out that this noble young doctor bringing modern medical care to war torn Southeast Asia was actually a gay spy for the CIA who was basically playing a two way blackmail game with the US Navy in return for intelligence information on the movement of the communist Pathet Lao guerrillas in Laos.

Since then, I have struggled to find heroes in a world that seems to take great

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Columns 2003

Moose never around when relatives are

Moose visit my yard every winter. They leave large piles of moose nugget jewelry all over my lawn as a present. They rip down limbs from my trees and annoy the heck out of my dog who feels he alone should be allowed to kill the dormant grass with his bodily fluids.

Walks and bike rides are that much more exciting because I never know when and where the moose will show up to make passage along my usual route impossible.  I sometimes think they are having a good joke at my expense by running from one block to the

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Columns 2003

America a melange of accents…and that’s a good thing

Ever since 9/11, a lot of pundits have been saying that patriotism is back in vogue.  I personally don’t think it ever went out of vogue. I do think there were attempts to hijack its meaning by some groups that decided if you didn’t agree with them, then you weren’t patriotic. They perhaps felt that patriotism had gone out of vogue because what they saw did not match their definition.

I don’t believe that any one group of people can speak for what is or isn’t patriotic in America.  A country built by rebels on the idea that shaking up

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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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