Archive for the ‘Life of Arlo’ Category

Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend

Posted by Arlo on Sep 10, 2008 under Life of Arlo, Thought Objects

Alaska Dividend Graph, 1982-2008It’s been a miserable summer in Juneau. Rain, rain, and more rain. I wonder how many people have seriously considered moving because of it. And I wonder how many of those people decided to stay because of the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend.

The Alaska Permanent Fund is Alaska’s way of giving back to the residents of the state. Profits from oil sales are put into a fund, only 1% of which is then invested. Every October, the average earnings over the last five years is split among us 600,000 (or so) residents. (It’s more complicated than that, but only slightly.) Our dividends dipped during the dot-com crash, but that five-year average insulted us from a huge cut. Conversely, it’ll take a few more years before we see how high these record oil prices push it back up.

Everyone’s waiting for the checks, which could arrive as soon as Friday. This year’s dividend is the biggest ever, at $2,069. Of course, our illustrious governor decided that her constituents were unfairly burdened by high oil prices this year, so she spearheaded an initiative to share a little more of the state’s wealth. Each resident will receive an extra $1,200 in “energy relief” this year. (No wonder she has such a high approval rating!) The energy relief packaged is issued by the same office, the Alaska Permanent Fund Division, so in essence we’re each receiving a $3,269 dividend this year. Think of it: A household of five will receive a bulk sum of $16,345! Sky’s the limit for Mormons and Catholics! Who wants to move now?

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A New-To-Me Jeep

Posted by Arlo on Aug 7, 2008 under Life of Arlo, Travel

Obviously the Jeep is not in Florida at this point

This spring, when Oksana mentioned that she finally had things under control enough at work to consider a vacation, we sat down to decide where we could go. She could afford up to three weeks off, but that didn’t necessarily restrict us. With almost any country in the world as an option, we had to narrow it down from not only what we wanted to see, to what we wanted to do.

Oksana, for her part, was focused on diving. As far as she was concerned, we were going someplace sunny, warm, and underwater.

Me? I’d been thinking about buying a new car. My ’89 Jeep hasn’t been weathering the winters very well, and we can afford to trade up. I’m not in the market for a new new car; I can’t see spending that kind of money when I don’t even have a garage. Something a little younger than 20 years would be nice, though, and buying a used car from somewhere dry should minimize the risk of an getting rusty “Juneau body.”

I didn’t tell Oksana, at first, that I was considering shopping for a car while we were on vacation, because she would have pushed for buying it from her employer, Mendenhall Auto Center. That would have been fine, except the more I thought about it, the more I was starting to look forward to another road trip.

Combining these two goals limited our options somewhat.

We picked Florida. Not only could we buy a car and dive on a reef, we could also visit my grandparents!

As our departure date neared, our plan coalesced:

Step 1: Buy one-way tickets to Florida.
Step 2: Spend up to one week with my grandparents, shopping for a car.
Step 3: Put the car through its paces on a drive to Key West; spend up to a week diving the reefs.
Step 4: Drive across country either leisurely or like a bat-out-of-hell, depending on the time we had remaining. Barge the new car to Juneau from there.

It went… more or less according to plan.

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Auto Update

Posted by Arlo on Jun 10, 2008 under Life of Arlo

My new-to-me 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo

Oksana Midgett, MBA

Posted by Arlo on May 22, 2008 under Life of Arlo

Oksana and her diploma

On May 4th, the University of Alaska Southeast held its commencement ceremony.  After almost two years of hard work, Oksana finally received her fake Masters of Business Administration diploma.  Fake?  Yes, well, see… the document they handed out on stage was actually a placeholder.  She still has a couple more electives one capstone and one elective to go and won’t officially qualify for an MBA until the end of August…

Still, I’m mighty proud of her.  When she started the program back in 2006, it seemed like a great idea.  She had her day job pretty much under control and we could get free tuition through my university benefits.  A quick two years of evening homework assignments and she’d have three new letters to put after her name as well as a head start on the educational requirements for a CPA.  Unfortunately, we soon realized that the “free tuition” didn’t cover the inexplicable $400 “super tuition” fee that was appended to every class, and when her job’s workload doubled last year, she had far fewer hours in the week to tackle homework.

Me?  Thanks for asking.  I’ve been playing a lot of World of Warcraft.  Sometimes, if she manages to keep all the plates spinning, I get to see her on Sunday evenings.

I wish I could say that we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I’ll let you in on a little secret:  I’m only going to give her a small break at the end of August before pushing her to study for the CPA exam.  If she doesn’t do it now, while her study habits and time management skills are sharply honed, I think it will be much more difficult in the future.
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A Midgett Blog, Volume I, 2003… Published!

Posted by Arlo on Mar 12, 2008 under Life of Arlo

A Midgett Blog, Front Cover with glare

This is so cool!  I just received my blog-turned-book in the mail from!  It turned out better than I’d dare to hope!  Exclamation points should be reserved to represent forceful dialog, but who cares?!

Seriously, though, A Midgett Blog, Volume I: 2003 has been published and I couldn’t be happier.  It’s a 166-page, perfect-bound, 6″ x 9″ trade paperback.  It’s somewhat of a hybrid between a full-size hardback and a mass-market paperback.  I put so many hours into learning all the ins and outs of self-publishing and spent so much time designing the layout of the pages and the cover that I worried that I would be disillusioned by anything less than printing perfection.  Even with heightened expectations, Lulu doesn’t disappoint.

Technically, I suppose you would have to say that this book is “printed,” rather than “published.”   I looked into the two publishing options offered by Lulu:  Published by Lulu and Published by You.  In the former, Lulu will reserve an actual ISBN for your work, effectively listing it worldwide in every major bibliographic database.  Walk into any bookstore, do a search on, and you’ll be able to order your book.  With the Published by You option, you’d be listed as the publisher, which would be cool, but you would also have to go through the hassle of registering your own ISBN through the US ISBN Agency.  Both options add at least $100 to the cost of printing.  I decided to just print it.  Who’s going to be looking for my blog at a bookstore?

Having a book “published,” with all the acceptance that the word implies, would certainly be something to be proud of.  I would have thought I’d have experienced some niggling disappointment when I passed on the whole ISBN thing.  Turns out, not even a little.  I have an artifact now, a physical thing that sits on my bookshelf.  For some reason, that’s just so much cooler than digital bits flitting around in cyberspace.

A single printing cost me about $30, which I don’t think is terrible considering that a book of this size would probably have a retail price of $15.  The cost would drop all the way down to $8 or so if I were to print the interior pages in black and white.  However, I wanted the freedom to color some of the text, not to mention keeping the original color photos.  If I really wanted to pinch pennies, I could have reduced the number of pages by shrinking the font size of the body text style, too.  Actually, I think the default font size came out a bit too large, anyway.  A good thing, too, considering the rough draft of Volume II is clocking in at 450 pages ($72!).

Besides the slightly large font, there’s not a lot I don’t like about my first printing.  The glossy black cover attracts fingerprints, but I can live with that.  The dark blue text box on the back cover doesn’t seem to be differentiated from the black background at all.  The edge of the spine is worn down to white in a couple places, but I think that probably happened during shipping.  I did notice one typographical error while flipping through the book, but I’m not about to proof-read the material yet again just to see if there are more.  Easy fixes, if I decide to order another copy or two.

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Fisherman’s Bend Tesoro Fire

Posted by Arlo on Feb 11, 2008 under Life of Arlo, Photography

When I saw this scene developing, I scrambled to frame it tight with the identifying Tesoro sign.

Friday, February 9th, was the day that the social group I’ve been a part of for almost five years sort of imploded. But that was the same night that the gas station next to our apartment almost exploded, so I don’t think my brain will dwell much on the former memory.

It was midnight and the last two people were just about to head out when we heard the sirens. Someone remarked, “Weird. I can’t tell which direction they’re going.” Turns out that was because they started up at the fire station across the street and drove all of 100 feet before stopping alongside the gas station.

It was cold out, hovering around 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Our landlord had left a note on the door earlier that evening warning of the 80mph gusts and -30 degree wind chill factor. Inside, we set both sinks to run with their requested “pencil-width” streams to prevent the pipes from freezing.

We crowded out on the deck, watching the fire crews set up. They couldn’t find the fire hydrant that was almost beneath us, because some asshat had parked his car directly in front of it. Only after we got the fireman’s attention were they able to find it, hook up their hose, and snake it around the car. Out in front, they had the street cordoned off, turning back traffic from both directions.

It was far too cold to stay outside, so I placed my video camera on the railing and went back inside. We pulled the sofa out, swiveling it around to face the windows, and watched the show while pointedly disregarding the implications of sitting in front of a plate-glass window while a gas station burned 100 yards away.

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Two Thousand, Seven

Posted by Arlo on Jan 24, 2008 under Life of Arlo, Website

2007 Awstats

So, 2008.

Yeah, I didn’t get as much writing done over the break as I’d hoped. Instead, I fiddled around with WordPress a lot, both on my own sites and someone else’s. If you’re the type of person that likes to read this via the RSS feed – And why shouldn’t you? The new version of WordPress tried to stop me from including the whole entry, but I fixed it. I got your back! – you might click through and take a quick look at the new design. I frittered away a lot of time on it while procrastinating. Hope you like it the one time you see it.

Looking over my blog’s web statistics for 2007 was enlightening, though I doubt any of you care. Just a hair shy of 50,000 “unique” visitors last year. Well, not really. That statistic resets every month, so there’s no telling. But still… scary on so many levels. Who are all you people?

On a related note, I did an ego search on Google the other day for the word “midgett.” This blog is third on the list after Midgett Realty and the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter! That’s insane. “Arlo” shows up on the second page, but I doubt I’ll ever climb to the stratospheric reaches of Arlo & Janis and Mr. Guthrie.

What else is new? Hey, remember my idea to create a hard-bound book out of all these blog entries? Well, once I got to work on it, I realized publishing is harder than it looks. Specifically, proofing, editing, and designing the layout for a manuscript is a bitch. I scaled the project back, however, and I’m almost ready to try self-publishing a volume encapsulating just the first year of the blog. If it turns out, I’ll move on to 2004 soon. Right now I have a nice, big Word file – boy do I love Office 2007, by the way – with copious footnotes, a table of contents, and 4 or 5 appendices. Only thing holding me back is the foreword. Anyone want to write that for me?

Also, with the end of 2007, my first timeline was officially complete. I slapped up a new one for 2008, but my life has been boring so far; nothing to report. I went ahead and archived the old one, though it makes me feel bad that I didn’t write about many of the things on there. Guess it’s time for a quick synopsis:

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