Traveling the world, learning languages, and immersing myself in new cultures.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

10 Things I Bet You Didn't Know About Alaska

10 Things This American
Notices About Alaska

Did you know these? Leave a comment below!

So everyone knows Alaska is the largest state in the US and that it's the 49th state to join, but after living here for just over a month, I've learned some interesting things I would have never guessed about this state. Limiting this list solely to my personal observations, I still came up with 10 enlightening tidbits. How many of the following did you already know?

1. Alaska's flag (pictured above)

A field of blue with the star constellation Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) and the North Star, is the state flag and flown proudly in many locations. On the clear nights here, I've easily been able to see this constellation (maybe because it's the only one I recognize).

2. Plugging your car in during winter

An outlet with a green light lit, in a parking lot
You'll never see this in Europe, because electricity is expensive there!
It gets so cold in Alaska that people have to plug in their cars to keep the engines warm. You'll see parking lots full of poles that have outlets on them so people can plug in their cars. Others have remote starters that will turn on the car and run it for a period of time and auto shutoff.

3. Homeless people

I don't know how or why, but the homeless population in Alaska is quite high. There are several shelters that offer food and lodging for them, but I couldn't imagine being homeless in the winter in Alaska. The Guardian states that in 2016 there were 3,000 - 4,000 homeless people.

4. Online shopping for Alaskans

So, many online stores do not ship to Alaska, as it is quite far away from the rest of the continental US. This is a huge inconvenience for the people here because there are also many brick and mortar stores that aren't here, so if you can't get it online, then you can't get it at all. It's such a problem that there's even a Facebook group for it.

5. Northern Lights

The aurora borealis, the beautiful green magnetic light show seen all around the northern pole of Earth, can easily be seen from most parts of Alaska, for well over half the year. I still haven't seen it yet, but I'm sure excited about it! They're are so awesome to see in person! Once I get photos, there will be a special post just about them.

6. Pacific islanders seem to be everywhere

Despite being only about 1% of the population (wikipedia) their presence in the community is definitely noticeable. As a people, they've kept their customs and brought them to share with everyone else in Alaska. In certain areas, especially downtown Anchorage, you can see, hear, taste, and feel the island influence. Why would a people from such a warm climate move to freezing cold Alaska? I guess you have to ask one of them to know for sure, but I imagine they got lost on their way to somewhere warmer.

I wish they had this sale for my drone when I bought it!

7. PFD (permanent fund dividend)

The state pays out an annual dividend ($1,100 in 2017) to residents, for the oil the state sells. Money is distributed at the beginning of October. All the stores advertise PFD Sales, including the marijuana places. This dividend is for every resident, so if you have a family of seven, Christmas just came early!

8. Marijuana

It's legal. As, you seen in the previous point, they have no issue advertising and selling it like a normal commodity. I can only imagine that junk food sales are booming here, haha.

9. Boroughs

I thought New York and New Jersey were the only places in the United States that used boroughs (small municipalities), but according to Wikipedia (I seem to get an inordinate amount of my information from this site), there are six that use them and Alaska is the only state where a borough is the same as a county. Minnesota, Connecticut, and Virginia are the other states.

10. Blockbuster Video

If you are under 25, you might not even know what Blockbuster Video is. Before streaming video directly to your tv (for a reasonable price, since pay-per-view has been around for awhile), we had to go to a video rental store, the largest of which, was Blockbuster Video. In their heyday they had 9,000 stores open. I remember when video rental stores were closing all over the country, and I thought they had become extinct. Today, nine of the last 12 active Blockbuster's are in Alaska.

Tim surprised to see a Blockbuster Video
I'm still in shock!

How many of these did you know? Leave a comment!

Location: Anchorage, AK, USA


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