Columns 2003

Accordion and Mr. Whitekeys bring back childhood memories

When my brother and I were growing up, my mother worked very hard to instill some culture in us. She didn’t want us to be street kids.  One of the ways she sought to achieve this goal was through music lessons.  I took piano lessons, and for reason known only to her and her god, she made my brother take accordion lessons.

Truth to be told, I was jealous of him. I just had a boring old brown piano to play on. But mom bought him a gold and white accordion that had glitter and buttons and straps and all

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Columns 2003

Family makes holiday table complete

Since mom’s death, my sister, brother and I have gotten into the pattern of spending Thanksgiving together.  Christmas is not a holiday I enjoy, and after spending one with me recently, my sister suggested I just shut myself up for the season so as not to poison it for others.

But I like Thanksgiving. To me it’s the perfect holiday.  Not too much decorating.  No presents to buy.  And, if you’re lucky, a great meal full of traditions and memories that stretch back through your whole life.  What’s not to like?

One year Judy came to Alaska to share Thanksgiving

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Columns 2003

Kennedy assasination remembered

I was a seventeen year old high school senior getting ready for opening night of my high school play the day Kennedy was shot. I recently found the paper I wrote that year about those events.  Kennedy’s death was a defining moment in American life whether you liked him or not. It marked the end of the 50s and the beginning of a decade that, for better or for worse, would redefine America.

Here, edited for length, is some of what I wrote then.  The piece starts as we are finishing final rehearsal for the play.

Just before we began

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Columns 2003

Remote villages offer no safe place for victims of domestic violence

The November 2, 2003 front page of the Anchorage Daily News featured a story on village justice.  It related the difficulties faced by small villages in coping with violence when they have no police and a trooper is stationed a plane ride away if the weather is good.  As always, the main violence encountered in these villages is alcohol fueled domestic abuse.

You would think that living near family would provide a buffer zone for abused women in small villages because they would always have somewhere to go. But the truth of the matter is that in most Native villages

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Columns 2003

An aging mind is a scary thing

One of my friends recently announced she was moving to Tucson, Arizona.  Too bad she’s not moving to Phoenix.  Because that’s where I’ve placed her in my head. And once she’s been placed there in my mind, it’s a pretty good bet she will be retired and living in the Bahamas before I correctly remember her new hometown.

I don’t know why Phoenix got stuck in my mind other than it being the first Arizona city I think of when I think of Arizona cities, which is admittedly not all that often.  But I have found that as I get

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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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