Archives for April 2017
With sardonic wit and incisive social critiques, David Sedaris has become one of America’s pre-eminent humor writers. The great skill with which he slices through cultural euphemisms and political correctness proves that Sedaris is a master of satire and one of the most observant writers addressing the human condition today.
Sedaris’s pieces appear regularly in The New Yorker and have twice been included in “The Best American Essays.” There are a total of ten million copies of his books in print and they have been translated into 25 languages. His original radio pieces can often be heard on the public radio show This American Life and he has been nominated for three Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word and Best Comedy Album.
David Sedaris is the author of Barrel Fever and Holidays on Ice, as well as collections of personal essays, Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, and his most recent book, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, each of which became an immediate bestseller. David Sedaris’ next book will be a collection of his diaries, entitled Theft By Finding (summer 2017).
How much coverage do you need? There are two different numbers related to your home that are important in deciding on coverage: the cash value and replacement cost. The cash value is what the house would sell for in the open market. The replacement cost is how much it would cost to rebuild the home the same or similar to how it currently exists. Policies can be purchased based on both of these numbers. Make sure you know what type of coverage you have purchased.
The land under your home is not going to be destroyed in case of a fire or disaster, so make sure you deduct the cost of the land when buying a policy. Otherwise, you’ll be paying more premium than you might need.
>As in all consumer purchases, shop around for the best prices. A good rule of thumb is to get three quotes before purchasing your policy. Ask folks you know for recommendations. I’ve found that many people have horror stories or will give kudos to their insurance company. Don’t be swayed by price alone. Ask others about pricing, service and coverages. Make sure you are comfortable with the answers you are getting on your policy, whether you are talking to an agent in person, by phone or over email.
The location of the home makes a difference. Homes that are in disaster-prone areas may have higher costs. In addition, a home’s distance from emergency services can reduce or increase costs.
Find out if there are discounts that would reduce the cost of your policy. Senior citizens have discounted rates with some companies. Some groups you belong to may net you’re a discount. Unions, AARP, even some fraternal organizations may qualify you for a discount.
Bundle your coverages. Many insurance companies reduce costs when they cover more than one type of insurance. The company I am insured with offers a 15 percent discount when it covers both my auto and home insurance. But be sure and price the policies to make sure you are getting the best price on the combined policy.
If the policy is still pricier than you would like, raise the deductible. Moving from a $500 deductible to $1,000 can result in as much as a 25 percent discount.
Improvements you make in the home could net you a lower rate. Adding a fire suppression system or a home security system can reduce your costs. Before you invest in these type of systems, though, be sure to check with your company and see if they qualify for discounts. Then weigh the cost of the system to the premium reductions to see if it is worth the investment.
Check the specific coverage your policy covers. Many policies have exclusions or limits on certain items. I was recently reviewing my policy and found that it had a limit on art, jewelry and guns. The limit was far under the value of items we own. We are investigating the cost of additional insurance for specific items. Make sure the coverage will cover the items you own.
Homeowners insurance can help you sleep better at night. But make sure you are getting all the coverage you need at the lowest price.
Roxie Rodgers Dinstel is associate director of Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Questions or column requests can be e-mailed to her at email@example.com or by calling (907)474-7201.
I’ve already talked to two gardeners who have almost 100 tomato starts. They didn’t intend to grow that many tomatoes. Germination was good and they potted up every one. I should mention, their greenhouses hold about 10 plants. I once knew a gardener who moved out of his bedroom each spring to make room for the poppies he started. He placed his flats on planks set across his bed until it was time to harden off the seedlings.
I should disclose that my weakness is seeds. I’m not going to count the number of kale varieties I have, but I’ll give you some of their names: Scarlet, Rouge, Layla, Merlot, Medusa, Prizm and Roulette. There are a few kale varieties I have crossed off my list. Dwarf Curled Scotch is, indeed, dwarf and this equates to not-as-productive as I think kale should be. Starbor and Winterbor are dwarf. Redbor is dwarf too, but I can’t help but love a kale with bright magenta leaves. Red Russian, not quite as ostentatious, wilts as soon as it’s picked. This is maddening but I still have some seed. I much prefer the better- behaved White Russian.
As you can see, not all kale is created equal. This is my excuse for overindulging. Last year, to keep my preseason garden spending in check, I challenged myself to not buy any new seeds. I planted both flower and vegetable gardens with seed purchased in previous years. I did buy seeds in the fall. I had to be ready for this spring, of course. I fancy the dinosaur kales and added to my collection of seed packets of Black Tuscan, Nero Di Toscana and Lacinato. I purchased Olympic Red, Red Ruffled, Premier Smooth Leaf and a Korean variety, with the only words I can read on the packet, Kale Mat Jjiang.
My friend Jane plants pre-sprouted kale when the ground is thawed but only thawed 1½ inches deep. The pre-sprouted kale is so tiny, it’s not even a seedling. She buries the sprouted seeds and places a recycled plastic container over the top of watered soil. Within a few days, the kale is up and growing, albeit slowly.
I plant peas outside on Easter Sunday. This is regardless of the date on which Easter falls. But just so you don’t think I’m completely off-kilter, I want you to know this is not my entire crop. By the time you read this, the deed will be done. I will have placed a big pot that’s been sitting in a heated garage up against the sunny side of the house. I’ll cover the pot with a row cover, like Reemay, and when conditions are right, my peas will sprout and grow. Robert Service once penned, “There are strange things done in the midnight sun.” He should have been talking about gardeners.
To prevent overplanting, overspending and trying so hard to beat the season, check out the numerous gardening classes being offered by the Cooperative Extension Service, Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District, local greenhouses and farms.
Julie Riley is horticulture agent for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service. She has worked with home gardeners and Alaska’s horticulture industry for more than three decades and joined the Tanana District office this winter. Information on upcoming gardening programs can be found on Extension’s Tanana District website, www.uaf.edu/ces/tanana/. Julie can be reached at 907-474-2423 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spent a night in Hatcher Pass a few weeks ago and I walked up to the old Independence Mine.
Photo Courtesy Dwight Phillips
Several folks in our neighborhood experienced an electrical power outage a few weeks back. I’m not privy to the technical details, but due to high winds a good percentage of local residents had at least a short-term lapse in electrical service. My own power was out for roughly 5 hours while neighbors only a mile away lost their electricity for 24 hours or more.
Our primary local grocery store closed its doors. The gas station shut down as did most other local businesses. The hardware store was one of the few open in the downtown area. Powering up the cash registers with an SUV-mounted inverter and extension cord, they were doing a brisk business selling flashlights, batteries, lamp oil and all manner of propane lighting, candles and other camping gear.
A convenience market was experiencing a definite uptick in business. Powered by natural gas, their kitchen was kept busy while customers shopped by alternative lighting. What grocery items they do carry were flying off the shelves.
At my house, electronic devices were exchanged for Legos and a chess game. A pot of homemade chili cooked on the camp stove made for a special dinner by Coleman lantern. After a few hours of “camping-in” there were sounds of disappointment when the power came back on.
Here are some thoughts: Have a few small flashlights on hand. Give one to each member of the household to carry in their pocket so if they need to go to an unlighted room to look for that board game or to the restroom, they can find their way without carrying the Coleman lantern. Candles. Candles are great to place in the bathroom or other strategic locations around the house. With candles or any open flame, always be aware of the fire danger. It’s best to use candles that won’t tip over easily, like the ones that come in the fancy jars. The long tapers make nice table decorations, but from a practical standpoint the fire danger from tipping is a definite downside. One idea I’ve seen on the web is to stick a lamp wick in a can of Crisco. The claim is it will burn for 45 days. I haven’t tried it myself, but it makes sense. If you have kerosene-style lamps or lanterns, be sure you are compatible with the fuel. One acquaintance found that the fumes from burning kerosene caused her to have headaches. Liquid paraffin or other lamp oil might be a better choice. And last, I know I keep pounding the “stock-up-on-batteries” drum, but after the lights go out is no time to run to the store. They may be in short supply after this weekend’s outage, but now is the best time to prepare. Besides when you prepare ahead of time, you don’t have to shop in the dark.
ASSE International Student Exchange Programs (ASSE), in cooperation with your community high school, is looking for local families to host boys and girls between the ages of 15 to 18 from a variety of countries: Norway, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Japan, to name a few.
ASSE students are enthusiastic and excited to experience American culture while they practice their English. They also love to share their own culture and language with their host families. Host families welcome these students into their family, not as a guest, but as a family member, giving everyone involved a rich cultural experience.
The exchange students have pocket money for personal expenses and full health, accident and liability insurance. ASSE students are selected based on academics and personality, and host families can choose their student from a wide variety of backgrounds, countries and personal interests.
To become an ASSE Host Family or to find out how to become involved with ASSE in your community, please call the ASSE Western Regional Office at 1-800-733-2773 or go to www.host.asse.com to begin your host family application. Students are eager to learn about their American host family, so begin the process of welcoming your new son or daughter today!
Delta Junction area state parks will receive especially sharp cuts this year under a budget being considered in the Legislature.
Alaska manages six state park properties in the Delta Junction area along the Richardson Highway. The budget introduced by Gov. Bill Walker in December would close the division’s small office in Delta Junction and halt active state management of the six parks. The budget would cut 10 jobs between Delta Junction, Harding Lake and Fairbanks.
Leaving parks to what the state calls “passive management” amounts to neglect in the view of the Northern Area Alaska State Parks Citizen Advisory Board, which compared this year’s plan to a budget that left state land north of Fairbanks at Olnes Pond unstaffed for a decade.
“This is Olnes Pond a few years ago all over again, which resulted in heavy damage to the area and strong public outcry,” the advisory board wrote in a March 13 letter to legislators. “It would be a shame to see the same happen again throughout the region.”
The advisory committee also objected to the removal of a full-time maintenance job, which would reduce the state park’s maintenance staff to one for the state’s entire northern region, an area that contains 17 parks.
The advisory committee asked legislators to consider funding the state park jobs to keep the properties actively managed. The funding request is a tough sell for a Legislature that faces a $2.8 billion deficit and has been in the business of cutting spending beyond the governor’s blueprint — not adding new spending. Walker’s budget called for cutting state park expenditures 4.5 percent to about $13.4 million this year.
The six Delta-area parks are Big Delta State Historical Park, Clearwater State Recreation Site, Delta State Recreation Site, Donnelly Creek State Recreation Site, Fielding Lake State Recreation Area and Quartz Lake State Recreation Area. According to the governor’s budget, passive management would involve removing park facilities such as bathrooms, picnic tables and fire pits and halting regular employee patrols of the park sites. The budget describes passive management as a tool only to be used in hard times and only with remote and little-used parks.
While passive management will end most state employee services at the six Delta-area parks, it’s possible a private business could be contracted to provide some services in exchange for fees from users.
Under a switch to passive management, the state does not plan to close public use rental cabins at Fielding Lake and Quartz Lake. It also wouldn’t close Rika’s Roadhouse Café and Gifts, a Delta Junction business that operates out of an early-20th Century roadhouse at Big Delta State Historical Park.
The state’s cuts in Delta Parks come at a time when businesses and people have donated to keep Delta State Historical Park on dry land. Construction is planned this spring to strengthen a Tanana riverbank and save the park’s historic buildings from erosion.
The state parks office received $48,000 in donations last year through an internet crowdfunding campaign.
This ice tunnel inside Canwell Glacier continues to change over time. With the sun now shining directly inside it has become a little more photogenic but more difficult to explore. StevenMileyPhotography.com