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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When you woke up the other day, did you feel a little bit older? If so, that’s because you are older — a lot, lot older, NASA scientists say, like 100 million years older. Thanks to some new research, NASA has come up with a new map of the oldest light in the universe. The new age estimate is 13.8 billion years, 100 million years more than previous calculations.
Holy Feng Shui, Betsteroids! Did you know March has five Fridays in it? This is supposed to be really rare and is called “money bags,” according to a chain email that popped up on Facebook saying I should copy it to my status. No, the Betster doesn’t believe everything on Facebook, either, but then again, you never know. Does it count if a chain email goes in Best Bets?
For the past few days the Betster has been chasing owls and comets. The Betster has been on a mission to find that great gray owl for the Betster Spousal Companion, who has yet to see it. You'd think this would be easy what with all the cop reports of cars blocking West Hill Road. Nope.
First the great gray was on the uphill side of West Hill, then on the downhill side. On Tuesday the bird hotline reported a sighting of it being on the trail below the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. Nada.
Have you noticed this month how every date in March falls on the same day of the week as in February? Feb. 1? A Friday. March 1? A Friday. It will go on like this until March 29 to 31, of course, seeing as how February only had 28 days. Except for Leap Year, February is a sensible month that can be divided into four seven-day weeks. If all months had 28 days, and Jan. 1 started on a Sunday, every date would fall on the same day of the week. Cool.
The big hot tech news this week had something to do with a thing called Google Glass. At first the Betster thought that was Google Grass. You can search the Web just by lying on a lawn? Sweet. It turned out the Betster got that wrong, which is just as well, seeing as how in Homer if we tried to lie on a lawn all we'd get would be a cold back.
You know how everyone says that modern social media is like way cool? On Facebook you can connect with old high school classmates, long lost relatives and people stalking you under made-up accounts. Seriously. The Betster read about this recently, where a woman got fired because she accepted a friend request from a fake friend who turned out to be her boss spying on her. Why would someone accept a friend request from someone she didn't know?
Notice the red color on this page? The words “love” and “Valentine’s Day”? Consider this fair warning that today might be a day those romantically involved won’t want to forget. The Betster gave ya a week’s notice already, so if you go home tonight with not even a bag of M&Ms, well, don’t blame the Betster if you spend the night on the lumpy couch.
Yo, Betsteroids, note the date on this issue. That’s right, it’s Feb. 7, a week out from National Strike Fear Into Men’s Hearts Day, more popularly known as “Valentine’s Day.” Fair warning, you romantic fools wishing to impress your sweetie with the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. Here’s the first rule of Valentine’s Day gifts. There is no perfect Valentine’s Day gift.
Worried that Homer had settled into a nice, calm stable weather pattern? Did you fear that our reputation as the banana belt of Alaska had been tarnished after that little subzero cold spell over the weekend? Holy goose down! Once again we had to dip into our coat closet and find just the right jacket for life in a coastal maritime climate. Big fluffy parka or light pile jacket? Decisions.
Over the past few weeks, Facebook has been mixing up its status questions. One week it was “How are you feeling?” and lately it’s been “What’s happening?” The Betster admits to being confused about these questions. Does Mark Zuckerman, the genius who created Facebook, think he has become the world’s psychologist? Do we really need prompts to fill in that status box?
You know how in the police blotter sometimes cops pull over motorists because they crossed the center line? Or, sometimes alert citizens call in a “report every dangerous driver immediately” complaint because someone weaves all over the road? Here’s the Betster’s question.
How the heck can they tell?
Yours truly does not like to be the town scold, always grumping about something that really doesn’t matter. After last week’s snow, you may have noticed the streets are slick — if you miss Erebus and Terror, the killer potholes on Lake Street.
Starting at midnight today, there are 521,280 minutes left in the year. You already blew the first 1,440 minutes on New Year’s Day, possibly by reaffirming your obeisance to the porcelain idol in your bathroom. OK, some of you might not have been hung over and spent the first day of the year writing thank you letters (72 minutes), going for a ski (80 minutes) and cleaning up the holiday mess (950 minutes). Good start, Betsteroids!
Oops. Santa Claus seems to have messed up the Betster’s Christmas wish list. “A new snow shovel,” the Betster asked for. And what did Santa send? Snow. None of that scenic Currier & Ives stuff, either — we got the full onslaught, about 2 feet by Christmas morning.
Fortunately, hard-working plow people put in some overtime and got our streets mostly clear. Power crews slogged through heavy, wet mashed potato snow to get electricity back. Whew. The Betster hopes they got some time with families on Boxing Day.
How can you find joy in a season when in a small New England town 26 families bury their loved ones? How do you find peace even in honoring a fine senator who lived a long and honest life of public service? Why is there evil in a world so full of good? How do you hope for light on the darkest day of the year?