December 07, 2008

A rainy rock-n-roll weekend

The weather in Homer has taken a turn for the nasty the last few days, with freezing rain replacing the snow we got last week and making the streets (especially the steep side street we live on) slick and dangerous.

So what to do when winter gets oppressive? Well, turn to music, of course. 

I didn't get any pics of Three Legged Mule at the Down East on Thanksgiving weekend, which is probably a good thing as I got a wee bit tipsy with Nova and Uncle Dave, but I did take the camera to the Dan Bern show at Alice's on Thursday. 

I had never seen Dan before. He was great.

My homegirl Shannyn Moore drove down from A-town just for the show. Here she is with Dan and Marhall Crenshaw afterwards.

Saturday night it was Nova and my turn. I fired up the vocal amp and we took turns entertaining Otto and Alice.


For those lucky few who have heard Nova sing, you know she's got wicked pipes and an innovative style. That, and her goulash, is why I married her.

And yes ... that IS duct tape holding the microphone together.

Otto (wearing one sock and no pants) was more interested in playing with Mommy's hair thingy, however. Heathen.

December 04, 2008

Homer News roundup, 12/4

 Hydro project to tap Homer's drinking water

A combination of high energy costs and Homer's unique geography have led city officials to believe the city's main water lines, which descend into town more than 1,000 feet from Bridge Creek Reservoir, should be used to generate hydroelectric power. Now, with $39,000 in local and state funding in hand, engineers can get started on the project, the only one of its kind in Alaska … (read more)

Council may dish up some food tax to balance budget

Faced with a sharp decline in projected revenues, an estimated 68 percent increase in fuel costs and a looming deadline to finalize the Fiscal Year 2009 budget, the Homer City Council held a special meeting Monday to hash out various proposals to mitigate the city's financial challenges.

One idea, supported by council members Dennis Novak, Bryan Zak and Francie Roberts, is to continue at least some taxation of non-prepared foods between Sept. 1 and May 31 … (read more)

Black gunk that fouled heaters, frustrated repairmen identified

Last winter, a mysterious black gunk that clogged up the fuel screens of oil heaters baffled repairmen and fuel companies. After Petro Marine started distributing ultra-low sulfur fuel in early 2008, repairmen saw service calls go from a half-dozen to hundreds.

"I've been basically on the front lines of this," said John Ferrell, "The Toyo Man," who repairs Toyo brand heaters, last winter … (read more)

Homer News, other papers like it, thrive as industry falters

You may have heard the APRN report a couple of weeks ago: "The owner of the Juneau Empire, the Homer News and the Peninsula Clarion is in financial trouble. The papers are all owned by Morris Publishing Group in Georgia. One analyst says there's a greater than a 50 percent chance Morris will have to default on its debts." Since then, concerned readers have called and e-mailed, asking: What does it mean? What's going on? Is everyone OK?

First, thanks for your concern. Life at the Homer News is good -- busy and good … (read more)

A blog by any other name ...

Anchorage radio mouth Dan Fagan has started an Alaska news/politics/opinion website/blog. It's called The Alaska Standard.

Here's what my buddy BJK over at the Press has to say about the new site:

 Alaska Standard’s slogan is “Raising the banner of journalism in Alaska,” of which Fagan says, “that’s in regard to shaking loose some of that bias and giving both sides of the story,” noting “I think we’ve got some great journalists in this state, but I do believe that bias is pretty obvious and injected into a lot of mainstream media outlets.”

In recent days The Alaska Standard’s stories have criticized the Anchorage Assembly’s approval of five-year contracts for labor unions, noted the Permanent Fund’s $10 billion drop in recent months, and taken the Daily News to task for perceived support of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s offer of heating oil to rural Alaskans.

While Flashlight doesn’t always agree with the opinions offered on The Alaska Standard, we have to applaud Fagan’s ambition, especially in the wake of the loss of the long-running conservative Voice of the Times website. And we enthusiastically agree with Fagan on one point: “I think the more, the better; everyone’s going to have their own little niche,” he says. “There’s a lot of opportunity out there.”

A cursory glance at The Alaska Standard reveals it to be ... well ... a blog.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

It's filled with opinions, many of them unattributed, like the one in their article about the Anchorage Assembly that the  Assembly is an "arrogant, self-absorbed bunch of buffoons." 

Again ... not that there's anything wrong with that.

I agree with the Press's and Fagan's assessment that there's plenty of room in the marketplace of ideas for a site like this. It may fill the void left by the Voice of the Times (of which I was a big fan and daily reader) and it's always a good thing to have as many ideas and opinions out there as possible. That's the beauty of the "series of tubes" and blogs in particular. 

I love political blogs and read every one that's listed on the left side of this page.

I guess the problem I have is when ambitious sites like this declare their intention to "raise the banner of journalism" and pretend to be something they are not. 

Let me try to be clear on this, as I think I have a special perspective on this as both a journalist and as the former publisher of one of the first politically-oriented websites in Alaska. The argument that many bloggers, AM radio talk show hosts and "citizen journalists" seem to be making is that the mainstream media is so full of biased and political bent, it's up to them to put out information and reporting to counter it. 

And that's just fine. Put out your opinion. Get your thoughts into the marketplace of ideas. But remember one thing: there is, and always will be, a place for trained journalists, folks who spend all of their time chasing the stories that matter to their community and trying to present them in an unfiltered, unbiased way. Sure, journalists have political ideals of their own and sometimes it's difficult to keep those biases from creeping into stories. But every journo I know ALWAYS has that fact in mind and holds close to their heart the true purpose of their profession: to serve their community.

Journalists, unlike bloggers, always have their bylines attached to what they write and face consequences for getting facts wrong or for painting a story in a slanted way.

You are a blog, Alaska Standard, as are the rest of Alaska's political opinion blogs. Go with it. You are not trained journalists, you are sellers of a political idealogy. 

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

November 23, 2008

@ Mariner Park, 11/22

It was a beautiful evening out at Mariner Park last night, with the setting sun lighting up the bay and the clouds in shades of pink and violet. We weren't out there long - it was pretty cold and we were underdressed - but I got a few photos.

Homer knows how to smile for the camera.

Alice the speed machine.

When little Otto is in the baby backpack, one of his favorite games is to try to take Mommy's hat off.

Nova and Otto head off into the sunset.

Anybody know what this thing is? I'm still learning my sea creatures and I've never seen one of these before.

November 21, 2008

Turkey meets its maker as Palin talks to reporters

This video is going viral today (691,529 views on YouTube as of 12:30 today). In it, Governor Palin talks to reporters at a "turkey pardoning" event in the Valley. Behind her, turkeys are being shoved upside down into some sort of a funnel contraption. I'm not exactly sure what's going on back there because the guy with blood all over his pants is in the way but the turkeys don't come out alive. It gets interesting at the 1:06 mark when the turkey executioner produces a new victim.

I post this not to defend turkeys (I plan to cook one up on Turkey Day just like everyone else) nor to poke fun at the Governor (although I personally maybe would have moved over a few feet for a TV interview).

I post it only because it is truly bizarre. Enjoy.

November 19, 2008

Homer News Roundup, 11/20

Congratulations, Sen.-elect Begich

Congratulations to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, now U.S. Sen.-elect Mark Begich, for his victory over Ted Stevens. It was not an easy race, but Begich won in 25 of Alaska's 40 legislative districts, among them District 35, which includes Homer … (read more)

Gas soon may be flowing to Homer

Homer's long wait for a consistent supply of natural gas may finally be nearing an end as two gas companies -- Armstrong Cook Inlet LLC, a subsidiary of Denver-based Armstrong Oil and Gas, and Anchorage-based Enstar Natural Gas Co. -- have agreed in principle to build a pipeline to ship the commodity from wells in the North Fork area … (read more)

More questions than answers in Saturday's fire

The victim of a Saturday afternoon fire on Diamond Ridge still had not been identified as of Wednesday afternoon. Firefighters found the badly burned remains of a person inside the cabin, which burned to the ground, at 40495 Misty Ridge Road, a side street on Diamond Ridge Road near the Hickerson Memorial Cemetery … (read more)

Council prepares to move ahead with traffic signal

At its next regular meeting, scheduled for Monday, the Homer City Council will be faced with a choice -- whether or not to officially direct a $2 million state grant toward construction of a traffic signal at the corner of Main Street and the Sterling Highway … (read more)

Carey names top administrators

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dave Carey has named two long-time borough employees to department head positions in his administration. Their appointments were confirmed by the assembly Tuesday night. Carey tapped Jack Maryott as director of the borough's Solid Waste Department and David Tressler was named director of the borough's Maintenance Department … (read more)

Tibetan abbot returns to Homer this weekend

Floating Leaf Sangha, which means "community," brings Khentrul Lodro Thaye Rinpoche to Homer for two days of Buddhist spiritual teaching Saturday and Sunday. This is Rinpoche's sixth visit to Homer, said Ken Bergman, a Floating Leaf member who, along with Debbie Poore, coordinates teacher visits … (read more)

November 18, 2008

Berkowitz concedes

From a Berkowitz campaign press release this afternoon:

Following the apparent counting of most ballots, Democratic candidate Ethan Berkowitz is congratulating Rep. Don Young.  “I called Congressman Young and his wife, Lu, this afternoon to wish them well on what will be their 19th term in Congress,” said Berkowitz.  

“I have been privileged to earn the support of so many Alaskans,” said Berkowitz, who received more votes than any Democratic candidate in state history, prior to this election.  

“I’m proud we ran a race that elevated the quality and tone of a campaign, and one that focused on issues and values.  Though the 2008 campaign has come to an end, the need to solve problems of high energy costs, affordable health care, and economic opportunity endures.  I will continue to fight for Alaska and these goals into the future.”