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Homer’s Best Bets

If you did a web search on “photos of icky fall colors” on local social media pages, your eyes would blur at the thousands of images flashing by. You don’t need the Betster to chronicle the subtle shift in Homer seasons, not when hundreds of citizen photographers stand ready with cell phone cameras.

Click! Oh look, that Devil’s Club leaf is turning yellow. Click! Oh my, the fireweed flowers have quit blooming and the leaves are turning purple. Click! The lupines have turned to seed.

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Some want to blame the Betster for this recent stretch of soggy weather. “So seize that sun again and again as if it might end tomorrow,” the B. wrote last week, whereupon, well, the sunshine ended. Blaming the Betster for this is what is called the post hoc fallacy, for trying to say there’s a causal connection between two events just because one follows the other.

Homer’s Best Bets

It might seem like a distant memory, but remember in May when it snowed? Remember how miserable we were, shivering during the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, and worrying that once again we would be skunked by a wretched summer? Yeah, the Betster forgot about that, too. 

The Betster has lived in Alaska long enough to be eligible for the Pioneers of Alaska, and has spent summers here from Barrow to Funny River. On the B’s list, this summer is in the top-5 of The All Time Best Summer in Alaska, if not Absolutely the Best Summer in Alaska (So Far).

Homer’s Best Bets

What with all this road construction and utility work, the Betster hasn’t had so much fun driving since the summer years ago when yours truly took Driver’s Ed at Chamberlain High School in Tampa, Fla. The Betster still remembers fondly the gruff coach who rode shotgun, big foot always ready to jam on the extra brake should the Betster do something stupid, like stop at the top of the on ramp to Interstate 75. OK, there the coach needed an extra accelerator.

Homer’s Best Bets

The other day the Betster noticed a large, saucer shaped cloud hovering over Homer. Sometimes a cloud is just a cloud, but sometimes clouds are cleverly disguised alien mother ships, particularly if saucer shaped. This would explain a lot, because apparently half of Homer has been abducted by aliens. How else to explain why all the really important people the Betster needed to talk to for a really important story seem to have disappeared?

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The other day as the Betster drove by yet another crew of lime-green vested pipeline dudes playing with big plastic tubes, a thought crossed the B’s mind.

This town has gotten awfully busy.

Oh yeah, there’s the usual in-state Alaska refugee traffic — Fairbankshoovians escaping smoky skies and mosquitoes the size of B-52s — as well as big land yachts with funny Lower 48 license plates (“Rhode Island: Because even though we’re smaller than some Alaska cities, we get two U.S. senators”). 

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A national holiday on Thursday? That is like so Thanksgiving, but there you go. This year, we celebrate the Fourth of July on Thursday. You know what that means. Just like in November, a lot of people will be calling in sick Friday — if they even have to work at all. Thanks to the miracle of cell phones, your boss cannot possibly know you’ve come down with a nasty stomach flu while basking in the sun at a remote fishing lodge. That’s assuming you don’t put on Facebook a photo of you holding up a barn door halibut.

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Here in Betsterland we run into a contradiction every summer: The more stuff that happens, the less space we have to write about it. Galleries, restaurants and bars have so much happening they of course want bigger and better ads on the primo Best Bets page. More ads, less Betster. Hey, it pays the bills.

Homer’s Best Bets

Based on the number of people with reddish tints to their faces around town, not all of you listened to the Betster’s advice last week regarding the rare event of continued sunshine. The Betster expected that mentioning an awesome stretch of clear summer weather would curse the weather and bring rain.

Danged if that didn’t work. Oh, not right away, but by Tuesday, poof, a sudden downpour roared in. Admit it: Weren’t you getting a little tired of all that sun? Hadn’t you begun to worry that we might have a rip-roaring wildfire? 

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“A screaming comes across the sky,” starts Thomas Pynchon’s “Gravity’s Rainbow.” Pynchon wrote about V-2 rockets in London during World War II, but here at Latitude 59 degrees and some change, that scream you hear is the collective shout of 5,000 winter hardened citizens facing the prospect of yet another day of sunshine.

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If you had taken a three-week vacation recently and just gotten back in town, you might wonder if you missed a plane somewhere. Where is all the snow? Why are all the people wearing shorts? And what is all that green stuff?

Yup, that’s Alaska in spring time. Remember May 18 when it snowed 3 inches in the hills? Remember when we were wondering if the studded tire deadline would get extended another week? Here it is 21 days later and danged if spring didn’t come after all. 

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How does that adage go? Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. That’s what’s happening this week at the Homer News. With one reporter gone on a much-deserved vacation and another recovering from an unexpected health problem, well, putting out this week’s paper has required more than a little bit of magic — and even more help from our friends.

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Just to continue this bizarre spring, it snowed 3 inches in the hills last Thursday. For you flatlanders, that’s why you saw cars around town that looked like they had time tripped from March. Some of the cars might have still had studs on, even though it was a day past the May 15 deadline.
Holy Little Ice Age! When is this all going to end? Will we even have a summer? Have we entered another round of global weirding? Is anyone going to show up this weekend for Memorial Day, or are our northern friends too chilled and frozen to contemplate getting out the camping gear?

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We silly humans think that just because we set a schedule the world will follow. Hah! You know how that studded tire deadline worked out. The snow was supposed to be gone by May 1, but that didn’t happen, so the deadline got extended to May 15.

Even though we threw a big party for the shorebirds, last Thursday when the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival started, only about 60 sandpipers had arrived. By Friday a few thousand more showed up. 

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Yowzah, has spring finally arrived in this year’s Not Current In This Time Zone season.The other day the Betster broke out into a smile at the sound of a floatplane taking off on Beluga Lake. Yee haw! The ice broke up.

We bird nerds have been absolutely giddy the past week with daily arrivals of some new shorebird. Yup, it’s the 21st Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival. From now until Sunday it’s just birds, birds, birds all day, all the time.

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You can tell it’s spring because the calendar now says May. Seriously. In some parts of the world people celebrate the month by torching off big bonfires. 

Homer’s Best Bets

Recently the Betster went up to Anchortown for a big journo conference. Periodic trips to Alaska's big city are worthwhile, if only to remind us of how awesome it is to live at the end of the road. The Betster always is stunned by how much the city keeps growing. At the University of Alaska Anchorage, where the Betster once attended, lots of new buildings have gone up. If not for big monumental art like the pile of lawn chairs or the twisted pipeline, the Betster would have been totally lost.

Homer’s Best Bets

It’s kinda hard to get silly and sarcastic when the week starts with a bombing in Boston that kills three people and maims many. Sure, humor can temper horror, but we word monkeys walk a very thin tightrope in times like this. The Betster really, really loves Boston and its people, including like a gazillion relatives and friends living in the greater Boston area. It’s a good thing the Betster learned to touch type in 11th grade, because the keyboard gets blurry when seen through tears.

Homer's Best Bets

In yet another sign of spring — the Betster has a long list, by the way — Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner Joseph Masters extended the studded tire deadline for all roads to May 1. Oh, sure, if you live north of latitude 60 degrees somewhere near Happy Valley, that has always been the deadline. Down here at the end of the road, the genius who wrote Alaska Statute 28.35.155 didn’t realize, or didn’t care, that a little hunk of the Kenai Peninsula was south of 60. Brilliant.

Homer's Best Bets

The other day while toiling away in the word mines, the Betster experienced something unknown since last summer. I got hot. No, we’re not talking the heat of grinding brain cells or from snuggling under six layers of comforter, blanket and big dog. We’re talking solar heat, a blast of thermal rays roaring through the western windows here at the intergalactic news headquarters on Beluga Lake.

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