8 ways you’ll be stereotyped for living in Alaska

1. “Do you have a pet penguin/polar bear?”

Let’s look past the fact that penguins aren’t native to the northern hemisphere in any way, and consider the fact that wild animals should not be pets. It takes one close encounter with a mother moose with a calf or bear with cubs to realize that while they may be cute, animals in Alaska do best when you stay a really reasonable distance away from them.

2. “Do you ride a dog sled to school?”

Growing up in Alaska, whenever I visited friends or family in the Lower 48, everybody wanted to know about transit options. Last I checked, yellow school buses in Alaska work just fine — they just put chains on their studded tires and dash student dreams by never allowing a snow day.

3. “Do you ever even feel cold?”

Actually, I learned from an early age to put on tons of layers in the right order. I assure you, I feel the cold as much as the next person, but only in the strategic places I’ve chosen to expose or when I forget that extra base layer.

4. “Can you see Russia from your house too?”

Thanks for this one, Sarah Palin.

In case you haven’t looked at a map lately, the only place you can see Russia from is the island of Little Diomede, less than two miles from its sister island Big Diomede on the Russian side of the International Date Line.

5. “Do you speak Spanish since Alaska is right next to Mexico?”

Speaking of maps, the fact that Alaska is often shrunk and squished down next to the U.S.-Mexico border leads to a lot of confusion about culture, weather, and the languages Alaskans can speak — which includes Spanish as well as Inupiaq, Siberian Yupik, Central Alaskan Yup’ik, Alutiiq, Unangax, Dena’ina, Deg Xinag, Holikachuk, Koyukon, Upper Kuskokwim, Gwich’in, Tanana, Upper Tanana, Tanacross, Hän, Ahtna, Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian.

6. “Do you actually live in total darkness all winter?”

Some parts of Alaska do get extended darkness in winter, namely the northernmost town of Barrow. Most parts of Alaska have at least some light during each day and a lot more than that during the summer.

7. “Where is your survival stash?”

While there are lots of Alaskans who do have equipment set aside for emergencies or the potential zombie apocalypse, at least 90% of them have already been featured on reality TV shows about Alaska. The rest of us are just reasonably prepared for getting stuck in snow ditches or weekend camping trips.

8. “Have you ever eaten (insert unusual animal meat here)?”

Actually, this one might not be a stereotype. Alaska has plenty of hunting and fishing opportunities and the last I checked, I have eaten caribou, whale, moose, salmon, halibut, and musk ox.

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Come with an open mind and plan of travel to chase the sun or avoid the mosquitoes.

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8 Easy Steps to a More Organized Home

by Melissa Locker, AARP, January 15, 2021 | Comments: 0

En español | We love to think about decluttering and organizing. But we don't always love to do it.

Last year, people binge-watched The Home Edit on Netflix to see pantries and bookshelves organized in a rainbow of colors and messy garages and bedrooms transformed. In the past, people have Marie Kondo–ed their closets and drawers by tossing items that don't spark joy.

It can be hard to get around to decluttering in real life, even when people are spending more time at home because of COVID-19. But a few small steps can help jump-start the effort and may even improve your mental health just as much as your home.

"The more clutter you have, the less happy you tend to be,” says Joseph Ferrari, a professor at DePaul University, who along with his research partner has studied the negative impact of all that stuff. “The more you have, the less life satisfaction people report.”

Decluttering made simple

After Beverly LaZar went through a divorce and began contemplating a move, she assessed what she wanted to take with her. LaZar, 52, from Cedar Crest, New Mexico, realized her family had “accumulated a great deal of stuff” after living in one place for 24 years. Much of it was squirreled away in boxes in her garage, barely looked at.

She's decided to tackle organizing what's accumulated in those boxes. “I do not wish to move all of these things across the country,” she says.

Simple Ways to Declutter Your Spaces

1. Start by removing trash.

2. Begin by choosing one small area to organize — like a drawer.

3. Sort items into three piles: Keep, donate and toss.

4. Find a specific home for everything you intend to keep — for example, a hook for your keys.

5. Group similar items together, instead of storing them in multiple places, so you always know where to find them.

6. If you buy something new, pledge to get rid of something else to limit items in your home.

7. If you're holding on to items to pass to the next generation, ask your heirs if they want the items. Be prepared for them to say no, and be gracious.

8. Don't try to do everything all at once. Schedule limited amounts of time to work on decluttering and organizing on a regular basis.

The older you get, the more mugs, memorabilia, furniture, books, papers and accessories seem to pile up. So where to begin when it comes to organizing and decluttering?

"I always suggest starting with removing the trash first,” says Nikki Bell, a professional organizer in Houston. “Grab a trash bag and just walk through the space throwing away anything broken, damaged or actual trash."

Cardboard boxes can take up a lot of space, so removing them changes the way you view a room, Bell says. After that, pick one small area to tackle, like a drawer, in order to ease yourself into the work.

To start her decluttering project, Sabrina Hamilton, 52, of Colorado, picks one room, assesses the clutter, and starts sorting, using a system many professional organizers follow.

"I create three piles: what I'll keep, what I'll donate and what I'll throw away,” she says. “With each item I'm considering, I decide if it's meaningful, useful or useless.” Meaningful items get to stay, useful items that she no longer wants are passed along, and useless stuff goes in the trash.

From there, Andrew Mellen, a professional organizer in New York City, encourages people to start organizing. He suggests following what he calls his “organizational triangle” — “one home for everything, like with like, and something in, something out.”

  • Everything has a spot where it lives. For example, “your keys have a home and they're either in their home or they're in your hand unlocking something,” Mellen says.
  • Like with like involves organizing your belongings so that “all like objects live together — not most of them,” Mellen says. That means storing all tools in a toolbox and not leaving a stray screwdriver in a junk drawer.
  • Something in, something out helps manage the number of items in a home. If you buy something new, something has to be donated, given away or trashed.

Letting go of items can be hard

Of course, parting with possessions can be emotionally difficult for some people. That's because the objects may be imbued with good memories, believed to be valuable or seem worthy of passing on to the next generation. That's when it's time for a talk.

"I am a firm believer in frank conversations,” Mellen says. For people holding on to items to pass to the next generation, Mellen recommends asking the intended recipients if they actually want that wedding china, family silver or antique painting.

"When it comes to things that don't have an inherent monetary value, you have to have a willingness to be vulnerable and have the conversation: ‘I love you, I'd like you to have this, do you want it?'” he says, adding that you have to “be OK with them saying no.”

But all that work can get exhausting very quickly. That's why Bell recommends breaking up your decluttering work.

“I am stronger emotionally, and I am more willing to let go of things I clung to in the past,” she says. “I want to focus on creating life experiences and new memories, instead of holding on to old things that no longer serve me.”

"The clutter didn't arrive in a day, so don't expect it to vacate in a day,” she says. “Schedule time to work on your home, set a timer, and applaud yourself at the end of each session. You may not be finished, but you have started. Keep going!”

If all else fails, hire a professional organizer. “Once you've reached a point where you no longer are able to meet your goals, it's time to call in the big guns to get you back on track,” Bell says. “A fresh set of eyes on your space can do wonders."

As for LaZar, two years after her divorce she is ready to move on from her past and let go of the stuff that came with it. “I am stronger emotionally, and I am more willing to let go of things I clung to in the past,” she says. “I want to focus on creating life experiences and new memories, instead of holding on to old things that no longer serve me.”

Where Can I See the Aurora?

Try Fairbanks first. While the aurora can appear over every part of Alaska, from Barrow to Ketchikan, the chances improve with latitude. The main auroral band usually crosses the state in an arc north of the Alaska Range. So this interior city and the surrounding area (including Chena Hot Springs) is probably the state’s sweet spot for northern lights viewing. It’s where the frequency of bright displays dovetails with ease of accommodations and travel logistics. You can fly into Fairbanks and be at a world-class aurora viewing venue in less than an hour. Tours: Arctic Circle Day & Overnight Adventures, Aurora Pointe, Multi-Day Winter Northern Lights Tour, Northern Lights & Chena Hot Springs, Aurora Ice Fishing, & Borealis Basecamp clear-roofed igloos.

Auroras may occur even more often in and beyond the Brooks Range—Bettles, Coldfoot, Wiseman, Fort Yukon, Deadhorse (Prudhoe Bay) and Utqiaġvik (formerly known as Barrow.) Here's a cozy wilderness lodge we recommend.

But don’t count out southern Alaska! Southcentral Alaska—Anchorage, the Mat-Su valleys and the Kenai—all experience nights with terrific auroral displays. Just not as often as Fairbanks and parts north. In a natural paradox, nights will be slightly longer in Southcentral than in the Interior during the weeks just before and after the equinoxes, slightly improving the prospects for August-September and March-April. See our Anchorage aurora guide.

Southeast Alaska locales also experience auroras, but the frequency falls off as you go further south. Add in the cloudiness of the region’s rain forest climate, and you should not travel to these areas primarily to see auroras.

Watch the video: Why is it dark in Alaska for 67 days. No sun. The story of why

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