Homer Alaska - Announcements

Story last updated at 3:38 PM on Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Homer's Best Bets

Just when you think you know everything about the universe you think there's to know, those smarty pants scientists go off and discover something new. That's kind of how the world works in the 21st century. You get all comfortable with stuff like computers heavier than bricks and then someone invents a computer you can put in your hip pocket. Don't sit down, though.

Out at the edges of the solar system, astronomers with the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., got poking around Pluto using the Hubble Space Telescope. Pluto, you may recall, got demoted from "planet" to "dwarf planet," a way of saying "just a really big asteroid" without hurting Pluto's feelings. Not that Pluto cares, seeing as it's a hunk of cold, icy rock.


Photo by Michael Armstrong

Kammi Matson demonstrates hooping at ther Cosmic Hoops booth at the Homer Council on the Arts Street Faire last Saturday.

Yesterday, the SETI astronomers announced a new gem in Pluto's crown: its fourth moon, P4. About 8 to 21 miles wide, P4 is puny in comparison to Pluto's biggest moon, Charon, 648 miles wide. You might wonder how anyone could have missed spotting a moon as big as the drive from town to Voznesenka, to which the scientists say, "Hey, we spotted P4 peering into the edges of the solar system from 3 billion miles away." The Betster can't even spot a red knot out in Mud Bay during the shorebird migration, so, dudes, that rocks.

Not that super high-tech stuff always works. Last Saturday, California shut down the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, which apparently was a big deal akin to closing the Sterling Highway in Anchor Point and making people take a detour on the North Fork Road, except they're celebrities so it was a tragedy. Carmageddon, they called it. JetBlue offered a flight from Burbank to Long Beach to avoid the 405 mess.

Then a group of bikers called Wolfpackhustle threw down the challenge. Starting from a home in Burbank, could bicyclists beat a passenger taking a jet to the Long Beach Lighthouse? And Wolfpackhustle beat the jet. The bikers took 1 hour, 34 minutes while the JetBlue passenger took 2 hours, 54 minutes. A man walking and taking the LA Metro mass transit made it in 1 hour 44 minutes.

You might want to take a bike this weekend if you're going to join the 100,000 other Alaskans heading to the Kenai to dip a few reds. If the traffic jam was anything like the Betster saw last weekend coming down from Anchorage, it could be a 220-mile long parking lot. Huh. It might be time to take advantage of a night red run and beat the crowds. Or, you could stay home and enjoy another marvelous summer weekend, maybe with these Best Bets:

BEST MANO A MANO BET: Two actors, two parts, three acts. Theater doesn't get any more basic than this in David Mamet's "Oleanna," opening Friday at Pier One Theatre. In the play directed by Marc Oliver and starring Oliver as John and Ruby Quarton as Carol, a professor goes up against a woman student who accuses him of sexual harassment. Who's right? Who's wrong? Show times are 8:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Ticket prices are $15 general admission, $10 for Raven's Club and $5 for youth under age 21.

BEST AND NOW YOU'RE A TREE BET: Hundreds of comedians now famous for, say, their impersonations of distinguished Alaskans got their start in improvisation. You could be the next Tina Fey. Learn the fine points of improv from one of Homer's masters of the craft in Martty Zeller's weekend workshop. The classes run 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday and noon-3 p.m. at the Art Barn on East End Road. The fee is $60. To register, call Zeller at 235-6589.

BEST BIG SCIENCE BET: We're not just an arts community — we're a science town, too. Catch several lectures this weekend by people who know way, way more about the world than the Betster. At 7 p.m. today, Kelly Cline speaks on "Mayan Astronomy, Calendars and the 2012 Prophecy" at the Homer United Methodist Church. Cline grew up here and is now an associate professor of math and astronomy at Carroll College in Helena, Mont. Head across the bay at 7 p.m. Saturday for the Seldovia Summer Science Lecture Series when Bret Higman speaks about the age of the earth. Higman grew up in Seldovia.

BEST ACID TRIP BET: With tons of carbon dioxide getting pumped into the atmosphere by human activities, our ocean has been absorbing a lot of it. That's the good news. The bad news is that the ocean has been getting more acidic, creating new challenges for critters like copepods, food for salmon. How has ocean acidification affected Kachemak Bay? Check out another cool science talk when Jenny Thomas speaks on "Trends and Variability in Ph and Oceanography in Kachemak Bay" from noon-12:45 p.m. Friday at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center.

BEST SINGING SCHOLARS BET: Here's a way to raise a little money for grad school: hold a concert. Opera starlets Elsa Bishop and Amber Gauthier entertain us starting at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Bunnell Street Arts Center, with proceeds supporting their continuing education. Tickets are $40 general, $35 Bunnell members and includes food. Just want to hear them sing? Sit on the sunny porch for Bunnell's "pay as you can" donation.