So, Betsteroids, how many New Year’s resolutions have you broken already? Here it is day two of a bright, shiny year and already the B. has broken six, including “thou shalt not be snarky.” Being a hardened, cynical journalist, the Betster really has trouble with that one.
Time sure does fly up here in the dark north. After weeks of anticipation, a little stress and some foul weather now and then, the big day will finally arrive. Holy Axial Tilt! That’s right: On Dec. 23, we finally start gaining some daylight hours. Oh, it will be a minute or two a day, but our long slide out of darkness starts next Monday.
One of Alaskans’ favorite sports these days is making fun of how woefully unprepared cities in the Lower 48 can be when snow falls. We’re not talking respectable amounts of snow, like your average Buffalo, N.Y., blizzard of 5 feet. We’re talking 5 inches in downtown Portland, Ore. Apparently our neighbors to the south got a bit more snow than they’re used to. An ex-pat Alaska friend on Facebook has been whining about the pathetic response in Corvallis, Ore. “School’s canceled for the fourth day in a row!” she wrote. “Are they just going to wait until it melts in the spring?”
Now’s the time when our social calendars fill up like a bath tub at the bottom of Niagara Falls. Everyone wants to have open houses, office parties and fancy social affairs where men might even have to wear ties. OK, put on a pair of clean blue jeans without holes and maybe even a button-up shirt.
In a 1784 letter to his daughter, Sally, Benjamin Franklin observed that the bald eagle should not be the symbol of the United States. “He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly,” Franklin wrote. A better bird symbol would be the turkey, Franklin wrote: “For the truth the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original Native of America.”
The other night while driving home from the word mines, the Betster stopped by Beluga Lake to gaze at the rising full moon. With a new sheen of ice, the moon shimmered on the lake in one of those only-in-Alaska moments.
While the B. stood there watching the moon, a guy pulled up in a pickup truck with his son, got out, tromped on the ice, and said, “Three inches! We can skate!”
Ten days after Daylight Saving Time flipped, the Betster still hasn’t quite adjusted to the time change. Here at Latitude 59 degrees, as we slouch toward the winter solstice, it doesn’t really matter which side of the day gives up sunshine. Within a few weeks we’ve lost an hour of daylight anyway.
Jump into the Betster’s wayback machine and travel a year ago to the magical time of fall 2012. Remember that, Betsteroids? From Oct. 17-23, the average temperature was 29.93 degrees, with a low of 20. Oct. 23-30 the average temperature was 30 degrees, with a low of 19. From Oct. 31-Nov. 3, the average was 29.7 degrees, with a low of 13.
If you’re one of those grumpy Homer curmudgeons who don’t like kids and live downtown, you might want to turn out your lights, lock your doors and hide in the basement tonight. Not only will your neighbors’ little darlings come knocking for Halloween, but so will children from as far away as Detroit, it seems. OK, maybe not Detroit, but the greater Homer area.
After decades of living in Alaska, the years and seasons blur together. The Betster’s memories might have gotten mixed up, but yours truly dimly remembers the progress of summer to fall goes something like this: August, rain; September, more rain and colder; October, colder, lots of frost and some snow. Betsteroids, something has gone out of whack here.
You know how people these days get all harsh and rude, particularly on social media and the interwebs? Yeah, well, that’s Congress for ya. See? That’s mean and petty, isn’t it? Well, PRConsultants Group, a national public relations professional organization, wants to put a stop to that, at least for one day. They’ve declared next Tuesday Snark Free Day.
No, they don’t mean the mythical beast in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland,” which can be charmed with smiles and soap. They’re talkin’ snark as in nasty and sinister.
About this time of year, Homerites fall into outerwear confusion. One day it can be sunny and warm, with just a light jacket or sweater needed to brave the fall air. Another day it can be blowing rain sideways followed by blowing leaves sideways, but with sunny skies. Rain gear? Wool jacket? Gloves and hat? You just never know what to throw in your car to face the day.
Yet another Alaska reality TV show washes up on the airwaves. Starting Sunday on TLC is “Alaskan Women Looking for Love,” about six Alaska women who head south to Miami Beach looking for goods that aren’t odd.
“Faced with men consumed by fishing and hunting, often sporting long hair and scruffy beards, these women are fed up with their options,” a press release reads.
Whew. Dudes, these Alaska women have your number. Not content that there are more men than women here, they also want you to clean up nice. Hmmph.
With Tuesday’s municipal election approaching, the Betster has been thinking a lot about legacy. You know, the stuff we as individuals leave to our loved ones and the kind of community those who follow us find after we’ve left.
Seems like legacy — the kind we leave as individuals and as a community — is all about wanting to make a difference in big and small ways. Who doesn’t want to leave this place we call home a little better than we found it?
Skywatchers, if you missed the Harvest Moon Wednesday night, go take a look tonight and you’ll get a glimpse of the almost full Harvest Moon. It’s a sight worth seeing. It’s dubbed the “Harvest Moon” because its bright light allowed farmers to harvest their crops for several more hours, according to Farmers’ Almanac. The Harvest Moon is the full moon that occurs nearest to the fall equinox.
An alert observer of the natural world e-mailed the Betster with an update on the sandhill crane migration. “Huge Normandy Invasion type of crane formation passed over Homer heading southeast around 11:45 a.m.,” Mr. Nature Observer — we’ll call him “Nick” — wrote.
With that many cranes flying, you’d have to have sampled one-too-many fine wines not to notice. The Betster cautions against overimbibing, because that can lead to bad things. Also, don’t try the five-finger discount trick or you’ll be making some new friends at Wildwood Pretrial Facility.
The other day the Betster and some friends debated whether or not it would rain on a holiday weekend. “It’s Alaska, in September,” the Betster said. “What do you think?”
Anyone who has lived here long enough — say, two weeks — knows that Alaska weather can be pretty darn fickle. If you want consistent weather that is the same day after day after day, try the southwest. Also, practice saying, “But it’s a dry heat,” a lot.
Your average American holiday requires some sort of token effort. It’s not just a day off. You have to cook a turkey, shop for presents, put on a fancy dress, buy chocolate, get a new hat, buy more chocolate, watch a parade, march in a parade and maybe do some speechifying. Holy Punch List! That’s a lot of stuff to do.
You know why it rains in August? That’s so when students go back to school with their new clothes and carefully arranged coiffures, Ma Nature just dumps on them and ruins the back-to-school look. The universe has it in for teenagers, especially for kids just starting high school. There you are, heading for the big leagues, trying to make an impression and not look like a dweeb, and poof, one quick squall waiting for the school bus and so long super glamorous gel-spiked ’do.
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.