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Homer's Best Bets

Now that we’ve dumped Daylight Saving Time for the season, we’ve entered that time when Alaska gets dark and gloomy. If you want to get going on a good winter grump, you’re in luck. Along with darkness comes all varieties of weather misery: snow, ice and rain. 

Homer's Best Bets

Monday marked the 15th anniversary of continued habitation of the International Space Station. Ever since the first crew arrived on Nov. 2, 2000, at the big tin can in the sky, 220 people from 17 countries have called it a temporary home. Zipping around Earth at 17,500 mph, 26,500 meals have been served at Chez ISS. Drinks have been from water recycled through the station’s Water Recovery System. Don’t think too hard about where that water comes from.

Homer's Best Bets

Homer could be like this super-duper productive place except for one tragic flaw: We live in Homer. It’s not that we’re not hard-working souls, ready to take on the tough jobs and get our Carhartts filthy. We do that. Or rather, we try. Sometimes this awesome world on Kachemak Bay gets in the way.

Homer's Best Bets

As the city of Homer slouches toward a budget to be born, seasoned citizens might ponder how the heck we ever managed in the days before huge oil revenues and big federal spending. From what the Betster understands in talking to pioneers who lived here long before reliable internet, it was dang tough. 

Homer's Best Bets

On Oct. 18, 148 years ago, at the Governor’s House in Sitka, Russia formally transferred possession of Alaska to the United States. Soldiers marched, sabers flashed and, oh yeah, the double-eagle flag of Imperial Russia got stuck on the flagpole. Several soldiers had to shimmy up the flagpole to get it loose, only to have the flag flutter down and get impaled by Russian soldiers’ bayonets.

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If it seems like Alaska has gotten a little less populated, well, you’d be right. According to a recent report In Economic Trends by economist Neil Fried, 7,500 more people left Alaska than moved here in 2014. That’s not as big as in 1983, when 25,000 people left the state. Don’t panic: the figure is for 2014, before oil prices dropped and politicians began talking about revenue enhancements. OK, next year you can panic.

Homer's Best Bets

Should a 22.3-foot tide fall at the same time as a southwesterly, people are like, OMG, look at that, waves be crashing on the Spit. They seem surprised that rocks as big as basketballs get thrown up on the road, turning the asphalt into Tranquility Base after Neil and Buzz blasted off to Apollo 11.

Oh, and then when a cold front out of the west slams into a warm front from the east, the dudes go, Whoa! Snow! Yeah, that’s right. Snow, in Alaska, in September. What did you think this was, Maui?

Homer's Best Bets

In the past week, the weather has ranged from toasty warm to rain with a chance of seagulls to just a light touch of mid-elevation termination dust. On Tuesday morning ice covered the Betster’s windshield thick enough to require three minutes of scraping. That includes digging out the ice scraper. Some people never could find scrapers and so used handy implements like spatulas.

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Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, started on Sunday. Yes, it’s now year 5,776, a pretty respectable run for a culture and a religion. It’s also the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, so congratulations ye distant ancestors.

Homer's Best Bets

The sandhill crane colts have begun to gather together for the big migration. On the Spit, except for a few brave businesses hanging in there for one last cruise ship visit, many places have closed. At Mariner Park, Mavis Muller and her magical assistants are getting close to finishing Reach, this year’s Burning Basket.

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Now that Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has ordered Mt. McKinley be renamed Denali, will other prominent Alaska geographic features be next? The renaming of a mountain with a dead guy’s moniker on it to an indigenous name does raise the question of other appellations.

Ahem, like Homer.

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The other day the Betster ran into a friend who has toiled for decades in the visitor industry. Oddly enough, she was not chained to the counter at her way-cool shop on the Spit, but out and about in the middle of the day. As if reading the Betster’s mind, she smiled, and said, “Late August.”

While school teachers, college professors and those who work in the education enterprise have been moaning about going back to work, summer employees run around town with big grins on their faces.

“Late August,” they say.

Homer's Best Bets

In the past it happened that moose hunting season and school opened in the same week. The School Board didn’t realize that a hunting family kid might want to skip school the first few days and go hunting with Ma and Pa on opening day.

Homer’s Best Bets

Recently the Betster has been having issues with computers — OK, to be exact, the grand wonder of interconnected devices that saturate our lives. The B. doesn’t just mean a lone computer. No, we’re talking system-wide problems, input errors that begin in the cloud — that mysterious web-based storage network — and end ... well, that’s the problem. In theory information submitted on online forms should be wending its way to the Betster’s inbox. Where does that go?

Homer’s Best Bets

Recently the Betster has been having issues with computers — OK, to be exact, the grand wonder of interconnected devices that saturate our lives. The B. doesn’t just mean a lone computer. No, we’re talking system-wide problems, input errors that begin in the cloud — that mysterious web-based storage network — and end ... well, that’s the problem. In theory information submitted on online forms should be wending its way to the Betster’s inbox. Where does that go?

Homer's Best Bets

On a fine summer evening when the setting sun lights up a cloud-splattered sky in azure blues and brilliant pinks, how can we not think we live in the most amazing world possible? How can we believe all the trivial pains of life matter when the glory of nature sweeps aside monkey-mind worries.

Homer's Best Bets

Less than 24 hours after the Homer City Council held its longest meeting in recent memory — 4 hours and 8 minutes, but who’s counting? — a 6.3 earthquake shook somewhere under Iliamna Volcano. The psychologist Carl Jung called this “synchronicity,” or an acausal connection between events.

Homer's Best Bets

OK, Besteroids, here’s something the Betster bets you didn’t know: This is National Moth Week. In celebration of that event, Shana Loshbaugh, area researcher and journalist and all-around awesome person (who has done more than her fair share this week to make sure you have a Homer News in your hand) shared some pictures she recently took of moths on the southern Kenai Peninsula. (See above and get a macro science lesson.)

Homer's Best bets

On an early morning walk this week, the Betster, observant as always, noticed a couple of things:

1. In the wee hours of the morning, when some fishermen may be stirring but most of the rest of Homer is still slumbering, it’s light. The sun may not officially have risen, but it’s light outside. That early-morning soft summer light that makes you glad you’re in Alaska.

Homer's Best Bets

Recently while walking the Spit, the Betster noticed an odd phenomenon: Homer cars sure do have a lot of bumper stickers. At least the B. thinks they could be Homer cars. They have Alaska plates, and the “no Pebble” stickers suggest a local origin. 

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