Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Location: United States

Friday, February 25, 2005

Adventurers, Misfits, and Fortune Seekers

Still here, just unable to post last week. Was being chased by bears.

Anyhow, life is different here. Got a phone bill ($378!) from ACS, which stands for Alaska Chaos System, or something like that, and it billed me for three phone lines. I only have one, and it's a funky beast at that. Let me explain:

We asked for a regular phone, and ACS agreed that they could do that. Got here . . . and nothing. Turns out all of the wires to our area are in use. Whenever the last folks moved out, somebody else hooked up a fax, or some such. So, ACS gave us a cell phone base station that we hooked our regular phone into. We got charged for two land lines, plus the cellular line, plus hook up for some of them, plus long distance fees that were billed to the wrong line. "Good luck on getting data connected to your phone, I heard of one guy who did it for a few minutes," said the ACS rep. I didn't even try. What, really, is the point? I'm now on some sort of wireless cable internet connection, and it's a LOT faster than a phone line would be, if I could get one, which I can't.

The wireless cable is a lot like that, too, kinda balky, but works well on odd-numbered Tuesdays. Businesses here are small, but when you're only serving 92,000 or so population (including dogs, cats, and moose) there is at times an attitude of "well, where else are you going to go?" Besides, you work with their sister, or cousin, or brother, or ex-spouse.

There was a pop culture thing in the 1990's - degrees of separation. Kevin Bacon was the primary target. You could link him to most other actors in six or less films, i.e.,

The Oracle says: Laurence Olivier has a Bacon number of 2.

Laurence Olivier was in Little Romance, A (1979) with Diane (I) Lane
Diane (I) Lane was in My Dog Skip (2000) with Kevin Bacon

So, this is just a manner of showing how people are connected to each other. In Fairbanks it turns out that most people have a connection to most other people in some fashion. I suppose that's a feature of most small town living, but in Fairbanks, due the physical isolation, it seems to be compounded. I don't think that you can floss your chihuahua or change the oil in your lederhosen without someone you know hearing about it, so I'll just do that sort of stuff on a moonless night.

I digress. Part of having these small businesses around is that some of them have no competition. I was talking with a friend who was attempting to buy an industrial size coffee maker, one that makes the coffee, and then drinks it, and then washes itself out. You'd think that a typical business would be busting its hump to sell one of these babies. Probably costs as much as a PT Cruiser. Can't get anyone to call her back.

I myself am trying to buy a house. Either one person or another is out of town, all the time, so I'm actually in the position of living in a house that I'm trying to buy, but am unable to due to vacation schedules of the people involved in the transaction. Most of them are on exotic tropical vacations up the Amazon (really!) where they cannot be reached. Frustrating! Wouldn't it be nice if I could just trade some sea otter pelts and be done with it?

At least I'm not a postman. I was talking with a gentleman who had delivered mail for a time, and up one particular canyon there are signs that clearly state that you will be disemboweled and eaten if you cross some imaginary barrier. His new postmaster had decreed that all packages would be delivered to the addressee's door. He dropped off one package, and, after knocking on the door, he was greeted by a gentleman who asked if he worked for the FBI. Another gentleman had a rifle trained on him. I'm guessing the wrong answer would have been, "Yes." I hear tell that there's all of one FBI agent up here, but lots of folks who don't take it very kindly if you want to take a picture. You do the math.

I was watching a Discovery Channel program (or was it the Discover The Learning of History Channel??) on Alaska last month (as an aside, it appears that Alaska has tons more Discovery and History Channel specials than does Kansas - I can't see why . . . oh, yeah, it's FRIGGIN ALASKA) and it mentioned that everyone in Alaska was either "an adventurer, a misfit, or a fortune seeker." Made me wonder which one (or what combination) I was.

Other business oddities:
  • Don't bother renting at Blockbuster: the no late fees thing DOES NOT APPLY here.
  • Pizza Hut specials, pizza for $5? Nope, look at the bottom line of the commercial, you know the one that you can't read? OFFER VOID IN ALASKA.
  • Amazon.com, however, offers free shipping.
I'll stop complaining about the businesses, though (for the time being). I can get fresh veggies, or Malt-O-Meal, or whale eggs, or moose cheese up here, and am happy to have them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wishing you all the best!

2:01 AM  

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