Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Better than the Oscar's

The Stardust Ball is ~the~ event of the season in Sitka. This annual Halloween celebration brings out quite a creative, festive crowd. The $15 entry fee is way worth the price of admission.

Where else can you see two guys dressed up as Batman and Robin (not my Robin) lip synching and dancing to Dirty Dancing's "I've had the time of my life"? Or Barbara Streisand dressed in a fur coat performing "Memories"? The hour-long lip synching contest was won ... drum roll please ... by a couple dressed up as the guy from Meatloaf and a woman lip synching "Paradise by the dashboard light."

Between the Amazon Afro-dye-tee (my friend Michelle), Thing 1 and Thing 2, DNA, Bun-in-the-oven-along-with-chef husband and lots of fish-oriented get-ups (like the famous fish box), it was hard to take it all in. I tried and you can get some ideas for your next year's costume by looking at my photos. (Sadly enough, I simply went as "An Alaskan" and had to borrow the proper shirt!) Bun in the oven won the costume contest. (See the other listings of winners.)

After the lip synch contest, this great band flown in from Seattle played (I forget or never knew their name). After, of course, everyone heads to the P-Bar because what would a Sitkan Saturday be without a trip to the P-Bar?!?

Suprisingly enough, the Monday Police Blotter was sorely lacking in content. At least I wasn't in it! Mark your calendars for next year's event ... scheduled for November 1, 2008. Better yet, just book in for the entire month of October till November and you can hit Alaska Day, Stardust Ball and Whale Fest!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Airlift Alaska

I just learned that Alaska's one and only elephant is leaving the state. (I also just learned that there ~is~ an elephant in this state.)

Anyway, Maggie, an elephant originally from Zimbabwe, has been alone for the past 10 years. Prior to that, she was with another elephant, Annabelle, who's premature death was caused by a nasty case of foot rot. (Gold Bond, anyone?) There has been a huge fundraising and media campaign to move Maggie because she was "being deprived of what it means to be a real elephant."

You can read all about Maggie and her uplifting story on the Friends of Maggie web site and the Air Force's plan to fly her out.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Alaska Day Action

Last week was the annual Alaska Day festival in Sitka, THE place to be for Alaska Day. (Sitka is where the transaction between the U.S. and Russia to purchase Alaska actually occured.) It was a week-long schedule of events including a croquet tournament, kayak race, a formal ball, a parade and a demonstration of a Coast Guard rescue swimmer. However, this year's Coast Guard rescue swimmer demonstration was modified so the swimmer could swim to shore and propose to his girlfriend (she said yes). Unfortunately, I missed the fish pie sale (I have no idea what fish pie is ... maybe next year).

I took a slew of photos so if you're up for a long slide show, check it out. Make sure to read the explanatory captions. Plus, you can see some incredible shots of Sitka in fall, me and my friends and me and Robin. (It is absolutely gorgeous here.)

An Alaska Day tradition and must-do is the annual Alaska Day ball, formal wear or period costume required. Obviously, I didn't pack anything like that. I borrowed something from my friend Michelle and bought great shoes for $2 at the White Elephant. Michelle was a costume designer in college and actually made her own dress! Another friend, Allison, also borrowed formal wear from Michelle. It was hysterical!

I helped out with the first annual smoked salmon competition (put on by Jim, the bear spray guy) and made the Forest Service banner for the float. Smokey Bear made the annual appearance in the parade, as did the Volkswagon van drivers and the Harley contingent. Noticeably absent was the presence of any horse or other type of animal. The weather was typical for Alaska Day: rain, snow, more rain, hail, a little sleet, more rain and some sunshine.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Stiff biathlon competition

I was in my first biathlon over the weekend. Yes, biathlon ... a running/shooting event. Do I shoot? Well, not really. Did I train? Well, no.

But I was told it was only a 1.5 mile run so who needs to train for that? However, it turned out to be a 5K run! I wasn't quite prepared for that (mentally or physically). Plus, I hadn't fired a 22-caliber rifle since the gravel pit/dynamite fiasco when I was 10 but hey, I figured, "Why not?"

I ended up placing second overall in the Women's Division (yes, there were more than 2 entrants in the category...maybe like 6 but who cares?). Anyway, I won a $25 gift certificate to a local sporting goods store. Right on!

This was just one of a multitude of activities taking place for Alaska Day. This festival is a huge deal here because Sitka is where the Russians transferred the purchase of Alaska to the U.S. on October 18, 1867.

I will also help out with the smoked salmon contest and the parade. I plan to attend the ball -- provided I can find some shoes (just like Cinderella) because that is one venue where XTra Tuffs are not allowed.

Friday, October 12, 2007


That was the headline of the letter plastered on the torn, beat-up-and-taped-back-together box that arrived in my mail this week. I'm not quite sure how they were able to damage it that way (and frankly, I don't want to know...it kinda scares me).

The letter states:
"We sincerely regret the damage to your mail during handling by the Postal Service. We hope this incident did not inconvenience you. We realize that your mail is important to you and that you have every right to expect it to be delivered in good condition."

Hmmm. Delivered ~and~ in good condition? I didn't know I had the right to expect that from the USPS. Plus I have a hard time believing they mean that "sincerely" thing.

The letter continues:
"Although every effort is made to prevent damage to the mail, occasionally this will occur because of the great volume handled and the rapid processing methods which must be employed to assure the most expeditious distribution possible."

Rapid processing methods? Most expeditious distribution possible? I guess it was sitting in Seattle that extra week or 10 days because someone was looking for the tape dispenser.

"We hope you understand. We assure you that we are constantly striving to improve our processing methods in order that even a rare occurrence may be eliminated. Please accept our apologies."

Wow, I don't even know what to say. It brings a tear to my eye to know how much a government agency cares about me! Maybe they should talk to the baggage handlers for the airlines. Now ~that~ would be something!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

It's PFD time

And PFD doesn't stand for Personal Flotation Device. It stands for "Permanent Fund Dividend." This is the money that an Alaskan resident receives thanks to the sale and royalties from Alaskan oil, gas and other minerals. The fund, managed by a semi-private corporation, was worth $734,000 in 1977 and is now worth $40 BILLION. It's earmarked to "benefit current and all future generations of Alaskans."

Retailers and businesses really cash in on this annual October fund dispersement. There are sales galore on everything: automobiles, furniture, special CD rates -- even Alaska Air offers a special PFD (Priced for Departure) sale.

This year's amount is $1,654. But it isn't free money for all. There are a few stipulations, such as you must be a resident for the entire calendar year and you must "intend to remain an Alaska resident indefinitely." Hmmm. Sounds a little suspect. I will be eligible next year, provided I "intend to remain an Alaska resident indefinitely." There is a huge fraud division to check out claims, so be warned.

A few interesting highlights from the PFD website:
  • 1989 Felons not eligible for dividends. Physical presence requirement established. (Makes me wonder about what the requirements were prior to this.)
  • 1996 Misdemeanants with two prior crimes not eligible for dividends. (Makes me wonder about what the requirements were prior to this.)
  • 1998 Physical presence changed to 72 hours every two years. (Boy, that's pretty lax!)
  • 2001 Alaska Supreme Court rules that immigrant aliens who form intent to remain in Alaska qualify for dividends. (Huh.)
  • 2002 Misdemeanants with one prior felony or two prior misdemeanors not eligible for dividend. (How is this different than the rulings in 1989 and 1996?)