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Adjusting to life in Alaska.

by Dear Jon
September 3, 2001

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79th Sort_Dear Jon-Adjusting to life in Alaska. Dear Readers: Keep those "Actual Letters" coming. Some have been moved around and are still waiting. I answer by inspiration. This is what is meant when people say, "Life's not fair."

By the way, we are coming up on the First Year Anniversary of the Partial Observer. Festivities at the North American Headquarters of the Partial Observer office will include annual performance bonuses for all regular contributors (based on percentages of what we're paid already), along with cake, ice-cream, and three cheers for the Webmaster from all those in attendance.

I also think a special edition of Dear Jon is in order. I would like readers to go back through the columns and vote for the 3 best letters and responses, which we will then publish on our anniversary as a "Dear Jon's Best" column. And of course I will write reflectively about my own experience as a pioneer in the field of Advice Column Journalism, as I re-invented the genre with a new theoretical rubric which I call "Masculine Empathy." I am sure that all of you agree that no designation could be more appropriate for the way I respond to my reader's needs.


Dear Jon,

I have recently moved to Alaska and wonder if you would have any tips for adjusting to life in "Da Nort."

Eagerly expecting your reply,
Pakphan from the REAL Frozen Tundra

Dear Tundra,

I have been as far north as Lake Christopher, Saskatchewan, and as far south as Nogales in Sonora, Mexico. Based on my vast experience of continental lifestyles and weather patterns, I can confidently state the following:

Anyone who lives north of Missouri is a blooming idiot.

Unfortunately, this includes Dear Jon, but we all do what we have to do.

My first piece of advice, therefore, is to get out while you still can, since in September, Anchorage's airport probably will have snow delays only 20 days out of 30. Assuming, though, that you are in Alaska out of some sense of purpose, that is, that you are filling some need experienced by the blooming idiots who chose to live there before you arrived, then my advice to pick up and leave is probably not pertinent.

So, obviously, the time to worry about is night-time. This is because, in the daylight, people who happen to be around will also be awake and will be able to see that you are in trouble. At night, however, nobody can see anything, so they will not know. Unfortunately, in Alaska, it is "night-time" for about, oh, 8 months.

So you will need lots of pajamas, and lots of fire-wood. You do not mention whether you have a spouse. I heard from a James Bond movie that Russian soldiers in Siberia were coached to cuddle together at night because shared body heat preserves body heat more efficiently. Of course, as I think Bond himself pointed out, the most efficient means would be to cuddle in the nude, with clothes and whatever else piled on top. So if you are alone, you are out of luck. But if you are married, I am certain that your spouse will be just as eager to survive the Alaska nights as you are. In that case, you will need blankets more than pajamas, really.

But firewood is still a must. And an ice-pick for carving out the igloo. And a rifle to spook away or, if necessary, kill bears. You need a large caliber for that, as I learned from the movie "Jeremiah Johnson."

Other tips: I discovered in Saskatchewan that pop left outside in bottles will freeze and bust the bottle apart. And do not ever touch a wet tongue to metal in sub-freezing temperature. This never happened to me, but I saw it happen in the movie "A Christmas Story." The History Channel tells us that vodka works as anti-freeze, as the Russians discovered during World War II.

If you are going to moil for gold, don't get partnered with anyone from Tennessee unless you have an oven close by. But if you do discover gold, don't tell anybody else. Quit your job, live off bear meat in your igloo, and then make your announcement a good six months later, with a good lawyer to walk you through the claim. Trust me.


Dear Jon,

You said that phrases in early Rock 'n' Roll songs, like "shama-lama-ding-dong," were harmless, but what about Fred Flintstone's "Yabba-dabba-do?" Surely this is some mystic phrase conjured up to pollute the minds of the American youth! The symbols are all there, with the Caveman imagery! Surely this is a call back to hedonistic paganism! How can we protect ourselves from this evil?

Concerned American

Dear Again, Again, I will have to refer your letter to the PO's designated expert on all things New Age, hedonistic, secretly conspired, and otherwise trite. Look for a response from Jon Deer in the "horoscope."

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