Homer Alaska - Announcements

Story last updated at 3:14 PM on Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Homer's best bets


Photo by Michael Armstrong

Northern lights shine over Diamond Ridge about 10 p.m. Friday night.

The other morning at oh dark hundred, the Betster woke up to an irritating beep coming from the heater. "E 14" the panel flashed, which the Betster quickly figured out was Monitor speak for "you're out of fuel, idiot." If you're like the Betster, you kindasorta figured the tank would run dry, but had been putting off ordering more oil because a) the price of fuel oil keeps rising, b) you'd maxed out this winter's fuel budget and c) the snow's so deep you can't find the dang tank anyway.

In the process of digging out the tank, the Betster broke the trusty blue-plastic snow shovel that has been so handy for displacing snow. Yeah, it's been that kind of winter. A guy in the grocery store line told the Betster the other day he used to think anyone who didn't live here year-round couldn't claim to be an Alaskan. After 30 winters, he's revised that opinion.

Heck, if you're new to Alaska and went through this winter, the Betster thinks you can definitely call yourself a sourdough. There's one ritual you have to go through to shed that cheechako status, though — bathe in the cosmic rays of the northern lights.

Holy Solar Maximum, Betsteroids! Last week we finally got what eluded us for years: an awesome, stay up late, forget the cold display of the northern lights. It's a tricky juggling act. Not only do we need clear skies but the proper blast of solar particles slamming into our magnetosphere. If you were like the Betster, last Friday morning you stumbled to work bleary eyed after a late night watching the skies.

Ah, but it's worth it. From straight overhead, the heavens spilled light that went from screaming green to faint purple. Curtains of light shimmered on the northern horizon. Standing outside you could hear neighbors cheering as another blast of light burst. The next day, talk of deep snow and grumbling about plow bills got set aside. "Did you see the northern lights?" people would ask. "Weren't they awesome?"

They were, indeed. And if we get clear weather over the next week and the aurora forecast holds, we just might get more northern lights. Watch the skies. Look up. As if that's not enough to do, don't miss these other Best Bets:

BEST LOS ANCHORAGE LAUGHS BET: Heck, you need a sense of humor to survive in the big city. Actor and comedian Kelly Lee Williams performs stand-up comedy today at 8 p.m. at Land's End Resort. A performer in Mr. Whitekey's Whale Fat Follies, he's done impersonations of Obama and Oprah — and was a stunt double for 50 Cent. Williams also does comed-oke — that's comedy and karaoke — at 9 p.m. Friday at Land's End.

BEST WILD AND WOOLLY BET: Jim Woodring, Bunnell Street Arts Center's artist in residence, draws wild and marvelous things. Better yet, he puts it all together in strange and wonderful stories — often without words. Celebrate his latest graphic novel, "Congress of the Animals," with a book release party, slide show and signing at 5:30 p.m. today at Bunnell.

BEST GO GREEN BET: St. Patrick's Day is Saturday. You know what that means, right? Cops and troopers are going to be out in force to keep the drunks off the road. If you have a wee too much Guinness or Bushmill's, call a cab or get a ride with a sober driver, OK? Otherwise, enjoy great events at local bars from East End Road to Old Town. See Calendar, page 14, for a list of all the events.

BEST GET LUCKY BET: Also on Saturday is the annual Winter King Salmon Tournament running 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Get out on the bay or cheer on fishermen returning to port with beautiful, sea bright salmon — and maybe a winner. See story, page 2, for all the details.

BEST UP ON THE ROOF BET: Raise high the roof beams, carpenters, and help out the Ninilchik Community Library put a new roof on its building with a St. Patty's Day dinner and benefit. Fill up on corned beef and all the fixings starting at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds.