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Frank E. Baker

I recently sent some hiking photos to a friend in Washington state, who many years ago lived in Alaska. He emailed back in laudatory fashion, praising me as a “true Alaskan.” I responded by telling him there are as many types of Alaskan as there are opinions on salmon management or oil taxation. I added that to be a true Alaskan one needs to be a bit crazy, and in that case, he was a true Alaskan.

To the best of my knowledge, we’re the only state fixated on such a title, and on how long we’ve each lived here. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone in the contiguous 48 states use the phrase “a true Pennsylvanian” or “a true Oregonian,” or brag about how long they’ve resided in those locales...

Frank E. Baker

We are the people who lose things, and it’s doubtful we can be helped. Throughout our lives, wherever we roam, we leave a trail of sunglasses, hats, coats, cameras, wallets and in more recent times, an assortment of mobile phones and iPods. If we’re inclined to venture into Alaska’s great outdoors, we leave behind binoculars, hiking poles, gloves, ice axes, knives and heaven forbid, pricey GPS units.

We’re fortunate, however, to live in a state inhabited by legions of Good Samaritans who come to our aid, pathetic as we are...

Frank E. Baker

Following the recent announcement by University of California and Harvard researchers that the blood of young mice made older mice stronger, both mentally and physically, some people might be worried about a proliferation of vampires preying on young human beings, and who knows, maybe even mice. Admonitions of “don’t try this at home” were quick to follow the announcement, which offered a ray of hope that in blood proteins like GDF11, there might indeed lurk a “holy grail” to curtail the effects of aging...

Frank E. Baker

Every year about this time I think about the devastating earthquake that struck Alaska at 5:36 p.m. on March 27, 1964, wondering if it will ever happen again.

Everyone in Alaska from Ketchikan to Dutch Harbor has told their 1964 earthquake story except me. You see, I was never allowed to tell one because I wasn't in Alaska when it happened. Even my parents wouldn't let me have an earthquake story...

Frank E. Baker

Because of the large crowd, I sat in a relatively empty area not far from my boarding gate at the Las Vegas airport. Plugged into the wall a few feet away, my iPhone was gleefully receiving its daily power ration. I looked up and saw that my flight to Portland, Ore., was boarding, stuffed a book into my small pack and walked away, unwittingly abandoning my little electronic friend, whom I affectionately call 4G, pronounced phonetically: “forgee.”

Fifteen minutes into the air and ensconced in my aisle seat, I reached into my small pack for some earphones and realized 4G wasn’t with me. I emitted an audible gasp, which I believe awakened my slumbering seatmate...

Frank E. Baker

I read with interest that Wal-Mart was under investigation for the Nov. 28 tragedy in Mineola, N.Y., when a worker was trampled to death by hordes of frenetic Black Friday shoppers. There was an assertion the store didn't have the right "protocols" in place to handle a bargain-crazed mob who couldn't wait to get their sweaty hands on big-screen TVs and other merchandise from China and Korea.

Rather than castigate Wal-Mart for not acknowledging the fact some 21st century humans have regressed to the level of Neanderthal, how about examining the latter's despicable behavior? Perhaps Wal-Mart is remiss in not placing a large sign above the door that read:...

Frank E. Baker