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"two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." -- Robert Frost

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Be a sourdough—talk like an Alaska local

Breakup is not a sad thing. Breakup means rivers will soon be ice free

Q. What is “Breakup?”
A. Breakup is a shoulder season akin to mud season in Montana in the lower 48. The snow melts in spring. The ice that covers rivers and streams begins to break apart, or break-up. Chunks of ice float downstream. Breakup means winter is ending and summer is on its way.

Some ice floes on sea ice refuse to participate in breakup
Q. What is "Outside?"
A. Outside is any location other than Alaska. This includes all the contiguous U.S. states. If someone is from somewhere other than Alaska, he is from Outside.

Q. What is “PFD?”
A. Qualifying Alaskans receive money each year from dividends on a Permanent Fund, monies related to oil and gas sales. In Alaska, PFD, or Permanent Fund Dividend, is distributed once each year. Much like dividends from other kinds of investments, it can vary from year to year. In some years, it has meant an additional one or more thousand dollars a year to individuals.

Q. What is “termination dust?”
A. Termination dust is snow, a specific snow event. On some mountains, snow is never fully gone. However, many Alaska mountaintops emerge green in the midst of summer. When the first dusting of snow coats the peaks with white, summer is drawing to a close. Summer visitors tend to leave before the mountain passes are difficult to traverse.

Q. What is “the valley?”
A. It’s not the San Fernando Valley or the Shenandoah Valley. It is the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. The valley is the farmland outside of Anchorage. In it, also known as the Mat-Su Valley, are towns including Palmer, Willow and Wasilla, and the huge recreational area, Big Lake.

And as for those other questions that continue about Anchorage...

Q. Directionally speaking, how does Anchorage compare with other major cities?
A. Helsinki, Finland, and Anchorage are about equally far north. Honolulu, Hawaii and Anchorage are similarly west.

Q. With 22 hours of functional daylight in the longest days of summer, how does Anchorage fare for daylight in shortest days of winter?
A. Anchorage has only about five and a half hours of daylight. 

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