Friday, Dec. 20 through Monday Dec.23 @ Centennial Hall - welcome to the Fairweather Christmas Sale & Art Show. Hours: Friday, 12/20: 10am to 6pm Satur...
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Saturday, 12/14 from 11am-3pm @ Sea Mart & AC Lakeside - Christmas Food & Toy Drive Thursday, 12/19 from 4-7pm - Set up for Food & Toy Giveaw...
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Thursday, December 12th from 6 to 8:30pm at Sheet'ká Ḵwáan Naa Kahídi Community House - FREE Community Dinner to celebrate Sitka's winning of the RWJ Culture of...
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Saturday, December 21 at 6:30pm at library. - Free Screening of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" - "because life is too beautiful a thing to waste." For more about...
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Open Until Filled – EOE; DOE - Benefits include, but not limited to, 100% employer-paid health benefits (medical, dental and vision) for employee and family; re...
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Open Until Filled – EOE; DOE. Perform a variety of routine clerical, administrative, and technical work in receiving and dispatching routine and emergency infor...
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Responsible for installing and maintaining overhead and underground electric and substations lines and performing related work as required. Minimum qualificatio...
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Wed., Dec. 11 from 11:30am -1:30pm @ St. Michael’s Cathedral - Join us for a special luncheon and exclusive behind-the-scenes tour to view the latest renovation...
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Saturday Dec. 14 at 4:30pm & Sunday Dec. 15 at 4:30pm @ the Coliseum Theater - The Sitka Film Society & the Coliseum will present "A Weekend Documentary...
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Positions are available on the following Municipal Boards and Commissions: Animal Hearing Board, Building Department Appeals Board, Health Needs and Human Servi...
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Wednesday, December 18 from 6:15-7:45pm, at Sitka Public Library, the Sitka Community Land Trust will hold their next regular meeting The public is encouraged t...
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Saturday, Dec. 24 from 10am-12noon @ Library - Free Books for Every Child! A Reading Wonderland - join us at the library & get FREE children's or young adul...
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Join the board of the Sitka Local Foods Network - We are recruiting new board members! If you are interested, we welcome you to attend our board meetings - t...
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December 1 through 25 - Do It! - Join the Sitka Public Library Winter Family Program this holiday season & Celebrate Grinch-mas! Do one good deed a day, ask...
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With help from a friend, the Soupster sees Our Town with fresh “eyes”.
Originally published November 30, 2006
“Know what I found today?” Marcie said to the Soupster, as the two strode up the sidewalk on the Japonski Island side of the O’Connell Bridge.
“What?” asked the Soupster, on the rare recent day when it wasn’t blisteringly cold. His chin down into his coat, the Soupster was enjoying the spread of warmth on his chest when he breathed. He wasn’t really listening.
“3-D glasses!” Marcie said. “At the bottom of the pantry, beneath all the vole traps and old fishing net. Cardboard with cellophane lenses. One red and one blue lens. Must be fifty years old if a day!”
The Soupster uttered not a peep.
“Remember those old 3-D horror movies, like `House of Wax?’ asked Marcie. “Vincent Price?”
“`House of Wax’ was the first major studio motion picture in 3-D,” said Marcie. “And just about the last.”
“Although a lot of big actors, directors and producers got their start in horror films. Like Charles Bronson was in `House of Wax.’ Must’ve been his big break – at that time he was doing nothing but TV episodes. Played Igor in `House of Wax,’ under the name he also used when he did the TV stuff – Charles Buchinsky.”
“Buchinsky,” came the Soupster’s voice, as though from the vast beyond. “Isn’t Matt Dillon portraying him in some new movie?”
“That’s Charles Bukowski. Bukowski is a Beat writer from Los Angeles,” Marcie said. “Soupster, are you all there today?”
“No, I’m listening,” the Soupster lied. “3-D. I heard you. 3-D. Like my old Viewmaster.”
“Say what?” said Marcie, so the Soupster added, “That may be before your time.” The Soupster had a few years on Marcie.
“Kids toy, looked like plastic binoculars?” prompted the Soupster, but Marcie shook her head.
“You put these round paper disks in the device — the disks contained about a dozen pictures each,” he continued to explain, as the two denizens of our town neared the crest of the bridge. “It was really a fancy slide viewer. Very 3-D. But you could buy these wonderful collections of disk sets like `World Cities’ or `Big Cats’ or `World’s Fair.’ I used to spend hours looking at these scenes and dreaming about seeing them for myself some day.”
This time it was Marcie’s turn not to listen. She stopped abruptly and stood perfectly still, except for her jaw, which slowly gaped open.
For the duo had reached the crest of the bridge’s graceful curve, revealing to their view a big chunk of the panorama that is Our Town. Always beautiful, the mountains on either side of Verstovia were expertly highlighted by white snow and dark forest, a drawing done in pencils. There was downtown, then town, then the inner ring of mere “hills” like Gavan, then simultaneously large and distant mountains crowding for every inch of the Soupster and Marcie’s view.
The Soupster stepped alongside his friend, pleased by the rapturous look on Marcie’s face. “Now, that’s 3-D!” he said.
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The Soupster helps a friend hunt for his wallet (back in ancient times, when Our Town had a “video store”).
Originally Published November 21, 2002
“I just can’t figure out where it could be, Soupster!” said Brian, sounding panicky. “It has my credit card, my driver’s license with my address and my Social Security card, with my Social Security number.”
“A truly dangerous combination,” commiserated the Soupster, as he scanned the ground for the black, checkbook length wallet Brian had said he was sure he had put in his jacket pocket when he left the house that morning.
“I know,” Brian moaned, “losing all that personal info sounds like a recipe for identity theft.” He looked at the quickly darkening late afternoon sky. “In a little while we’re going to need a flashlight.”
“Dark or not, you find things with your brain,” mumbled the Soupster.
“You don’t find things with your eyes, you find things with your brain,” the Soupster repeated.
“You find things by remembering what you did and retracing your steps.”
“So where did you go today?” asked the Soupster, as the two men rounded the harbor.
“I went to the grocery store and the video store,” said Brian.
“That shouldn’t be hard to check,” the Soupster encouraged. “Let’s go look.”
At the grocery store the two men squinted before a huge amount of fluorescent light and a surprisingly lively social scene. A school theatrical event had just let out and everyone was getting snacks. Their search turned up nothing and Brian’s brain was dormant on the subject of the missing wallet.
“A friend of mine in college once lost her wallet at the “Pageant of Hugging” celebration at her school,” said the Soupster. “Of course, she got it back the next day after somebody found it and turned it in. Who could be mean enough to keep a lost wallet at the “Pageant of Hugging”?
“And if they were mean enough, the probably wouldn’t be caught dead at something called the
‘Pageant of Hugging’ anyway,” said Brian.
“Precisely,” said the Soupster.
At the video store: nothing. Brian’s brain remained dormant. The Soupster shuffled his feet. The wind blew a mournful howl. The Soupster felt hungry. He told Brian about one time at the gas station, leaving his wallet on the roof of his car and driving off in the rain. A sharp-eyed police officer spied the wallet on the road before anything inside even got wet.
“Let’s get something to eat,” the Soupster said. “Something soft because of my loose tooth. It looks like I’m going to need to a bridge.”
“The bridge!” shouted Brian. “I was on the bridge today!”
He ran ahead. The Soupster could not keep up but stayed close enough to see Brian bend down and pick up something black and checkbook-sized from beside the pedestrian walkway.
“Eureka!” Brian said, sprinting back to the Soupster and then grinning like a fool. “If you’re still hungry, I’m-a-buyin!”
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The Soupster’s carpenter-friend is distracted by a “patriarch”.
Originally published November 4, 2004
“Hand me that laser level, will you,” the Soupster said to Charley, a carpenter friend who was helping him. “I want to do a professional job hanging these pictures.”
The phone rang. Looking at the display, the Soupster recognized the number of his old friend Zack, who worked with the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration as a meteorologist.
“Soupster!” Zack said. “My ship is in town for repairs for a few days. We’ve been out studying the weather.”
“I didn’t know NOAA was here studying the weather,” said the Soupster, who also didn’t notice Charley listening closely to his side of the conversation. “So, what’s NOAA’s forecast?” he prodded Zack.
The Soupster listened to the answer in silence and then said gravely. “That does seem like a lot of rain, even for here.”
Zack then described in detail the $300,000 NOAA was spending in Our Town, with another $3.9 million scheduled for the vessel’s shakedown in the spring.
“I hear ya,” said the Soupster. “NOAA is building quite a ship.”
If the Soupster had turned around, even for a second, he would have seen the stricken look on Charley’s face. But the next day, he noticed a change in Charley’s behavior. For one thing, the usually fastidious carpenter began missing nailheads and denting beams. After Charley started spending more time apologizing than working, the Soupster suggested that his friend go home.
And the following day, things didn’t get much better. For most of the morning Charley found ways to annoy the Soupster and slow the work. Charley seemed on the verge of saying something, but then so was the Soupster – on the verge of losing patience.
The phone rang in the next room and the Soupster picked it up. “Soupster,” said a cheery Zack. “My entire extended family has come to visit me on the ship while I’m in port!”
“That’s a quite a menagerie you’re bringing on board,” marveled the Soupster out loud.
“My two daughters, my parents, the two cousins and at least two other groups,” said Zack.
“Two by two by two by two,” said the Soupster. “Good luck with all those unpredictable creatures.”
Zack laughed. “Thanks!”
When the Soupster went back to the worksite, Charley was gone. And for the next two days, no Charley. As annoying as Charley had become, he made time go faster. The Soupster went to his friend’s house to find him.
He saw the light on in the biggest shed. He heard sawing and pounding inside. He walked in and saw Charley working on what looked like a huge floating tank.
“Charley, what are you doing?” the Soupster asked.
Charley pointed to the stout craft he was building. “Noah tells you it’s going to rain heavier, he’s building a boat and stocking it with animals! There’s something you’re not telling me, Soupster, and I’m getting ready for it!”
“That’s N-O-A-A,” said the Soupster. “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.”
“Oh,” said Charlie, and a long minute passed. “Well, see you tomorrow at work, then.”
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The Soupster recounts his “weird” dream in great detail.
Guest Written by Lois Verbaan
It was the time of the year when we get tired of being inside, yet outside, rain was falling so hard that even the newest rain gear was daunted.
“Do you suppose the other hikers made an earlier start?” the Soupster said, knowing he and Lola were probably the only ones in the forest right then.
“Let’s face it, we’re hard core,” Lola said, squinting through the droplets on her glasses.
The Soupster reached into his pocket and extracted a shiny red apple, bit into it and shook his head. “Disappointing,” he mumbled. “Floury.”
“Aah, expectations lead to resentment,” Lola said wisely.
“All that glitters is not gold,” the Soupster declared.
“How about, you can’t judge a book by its cover?” Lola winked. “Say, I ran into Fran downtown yesterday. She tried to convince me to go on The Library Show on Our Town Radio. The problem is, I don’t read much. Spend most of my time making stuff…or hiking in the rain.”
“Well, you Google, don’t you? “the Soupster asked. “What’s even considered a ‘book’ these days? You can find anything you need to know online. Does it cease being a book when you can see the person who’s delivering the info, like those YouTube videos? How do you think I know how to repair my washing machine, replace the rear window wiper motor in my car, and unclog the vent on the dishwasher?” the Soupster said.
“Okay Soupster, I get the picture,” said Lola, laughing. “I do read self-help books, but the minute I go public to discuss them, everyone will know what’s wrong with me.”
“Or themselves,” the Soupster said.
“True! Anyway, the best way to feel normal is to have weird friends,” Lola declared. “That’s why I like you so much, Soupster,” she joked. “Speaking of which, have you been doing any dreaming lately?” she asked.
“Glad you asked, Lola. I had a fabulous dream just last night. I dreamed that I woke up, made my bed and went into the bathroom to comb my hair. When I returned, I found the covers turned down with my laptop lying open by the pillows. Figuring a pixie was messing with me, I found a deck of cards and laid them out to spell the word PIXIE and left the room again. I came back to find the cards reorganized to spell the word DAVID, which I assumed was the pixie’s name. Then I saw him! Perched on the windowsill, he looked like Elf on the Shelf: About 18” tall, a red outfit and hat, ruddy complexion and round nose.
“He and I went to the grocery store where he gave me a bucket of gold, alarming the Scouts as I tipped it out on their bake-sale table.” Just then, the Soupster paused to dig in his pocket for a handful of sunflower seeds. Tossing them into his mouth, he instantly spat them out again. “Eeeww! Raw lentils!” he exclaimed. “I must have topped up my trail mix from the wrong jar in the pantry.”
“Or your elf friend is trying to change your teeth into gold… crowns,” said Lola. “After all, it is that weird time of year!”
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The Soupster runs into Avogadro’s Number.
Originally published October 16, 2003
“Ouch,” said the Soupster, as Dr. Gwen pulled on his arm to examine the skin above his elbow. “Don’t yank it off, Doc!”
“You’re a baby,” chided Dr. Gwen, hiking up the Soupster’s sleeve to get a better look. “But I’m glad you came to see me. Moles can signal something far more serious and should be checked by a professional.”
“What about mine?” the Soupster asked, obviously worried.
“You’re fine,” Dr. Gwen said. “It’s just a mole.”
“Whew,” exclaimed the Soupster.
Dr. Gwen chuckled. “You ‘re reminding me of a squirmy old patient from the Lower 48, Soupster,” she said. “In fact, you kind of look like him.”
“You know my theory,” said the Soupster, and Dr. Gwen nodded patiently.
“Every kind of person there is in the world is represented in Our Town,” the Soupster said. “Everyone in Our Town has a bunch of duplicates running around the world.”
“Everybody in the world, ” Dr. Gwen repeated.
“There are 9,000 people in Our Town, every one of them completely different,” the Soupster said, “And there can’t be more than 9,000 kinds of people in the world.”
“There’s 6 billion on Earth at present,” said Gwen. “That means 666,666.6 times as many people in the world as there are in Our Town. Each Our Towner then, is represented by more than half a million duplicates. Don’t you think you’d run into at least one of them on vacation?”
“Sounds likely,” the Soupster. “That is a lot of people — like a ‘mole’ of people — not like the mole on my arm, but the chemistry term – that’s a ‘mole’ too, isn’t it, Doc?”
“It is,” she answered. “A mole in chemistry is defined as the aggregate of 6.02 times 10 to the 23rd power — that’s 6.02 with 23 zeroes after it. But the number of people on Earth – 6 billion** — is only 6 times 10 to the ninth power — only nine zeroes after it. A mole of people would be 100 trillion times the number of people on Earth today. A hundred trillion times six billion people.”
“Wow, a mole is a lot of something, isn’t it?” asked the Soupster.
“Not always,” said Dr. Gwen. “A mole is a lot of units. But if those units are small — like molecules? For instance, see that half-filled bottle of hydrogen peroxide on the shelf? A mole of hydrogen peroxide molecules would weigh in at 34 grams. About an ounce.”
“Then, there’s the moles with big claws for digging underground,” the Soupster remarked idiotically.
“And moles can also be spies in the CIA or KGB,” Doc Gwen said, finishing her exam. “But the moles in chemistry are definitely more distinguished than those that grow on your arm or the ones that dig in the ground or infiltrate spy networks.”
“Why do you say that?” the Soupster asked.
“Among the four types of moles, only chemistry-type moles have their own holiday,” Doc Gwen said. “October 23 is Mole Day. It’s true. Look it up!”
**Ed. Note: When this Our Town was first published in 2003, the pop. of earth was six billion. Today, it is 7.7 billion.
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