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As you’ve probably guessed after over a year of this silly column, I write about Alaska reality television. Generally, I don’t venture out of the safe, comfortable confines of the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, National Geographic and the other cable channels that manage to fill hours of programming with so-called Alaskana.

But occasionally I take a moment to talk about other zeitgeisty television topics. And since it’s really cold, still pretty dark outside and a reader asked for it, I want give you some non-Alaska TV suggestions to get you through the remainder of winter...

Emily Fehrenbacher

JUNEAU - In the wake of President Barack Obama's actions this week to limit oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in waters off Alaska’s coast , the floor of the state Senate on Wednesday erupted with a string of impassioned speeches and fiery rhetoric.

Sen. Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, rose to address the topics of “preposterous courage and hashtags,” and used his speech to reference Alexander the Great and propose a social media label for citizens’ objections: #ThisIsOurAlaska...

Nathaniel Herz

Something to keep in mind before dining at BurgerFi is that high-end ingredients cost more. The restaurant is part of a chain that serves hand-cut fries and all-natural, free-range Angus beef (no hormones or antibiotics) that has never been frozen. BurgerFi also professes “environmentally sustainable best practices” in its design, furnishings and operation.

That’s why the basic BurgerFi Burger costs $7.27. It comes with two patties, lettuce, tomato and a sauce that’s similar to Thousand Island dressing (but thinner), and the potato bun is delicious. Yet the size of that bun -- slightly smaller than a standard fast-food burger -- is something of a surprise. (One guy I know said, “I thought I’d ordered off the kids’ menu.”)...

Donna Freedman

In advance of Thursday’s expected announcement the American Hockey League next season will move into several ECHL markets in California and shake up both leagues, Alaska Aces managing member Terry Parks said his club is here to stay as an ECHL franchise.

“We’re not leaving to go to the AHL, we’re staying in the ECHL,’’ Parks said Wednesday. “We’re not going anywhere as long as I’m alive.’’

Multiple media reports have ECHL Bakersfield, Stockton and Ontario elevating to the AHL next season, when the circuit one step below the NHL is also expected to place franchises in San Jose and San Diego.

Such moves would reduce the ECHL’s current Pacific Division from seven teams to four -- the Aces, Idaho Steelheads, Utah Grizzlies and Colorado Eagles...

Doyle Woody

PAXSON -- Have you ever made a run to the outhouse at minus 40? That’s when one really appreciates the Styrofoam seat. It was 40 below here last week. The low temperatures arrived on the heels of the best snow of the winter, reminding us that this is Alaska. Much of the state was wondering where the winter went until a few days ago. Then it began to snow. Twenty inches fell near the eastern Alaska Range. Glennallen received 14 inches. Paxson got a foot and a half. Even the normally dry Interior received fair snow. The temperatures have dropped, keeping most folks inside by the wood stove, but it looks to be a short-lived ice age...

During the fall, a large number of candidates campaigned on the theme of putting in place a sustainable budget. For example, on his campaign website Gov. Bill Walker said this, “I will make the hard choices necessary for a sounder fiscal future, including putting in place a sustainable budget.”

When asked during the campaign what they meant by "sustainable" budgets, most candidates, including Walker, referred to work on the subject by Dr. Scott Goldsmith of the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Institute of Social and Economic Research. According to Goldsmith, a sustainable budget is a spending level which, if implemented today, can be maintained indefinitely into the future, adjusted for inflation and population growth...

Brad Keithley

JUNEAU -- In a step that could reshape the Fairbanks energy picture, a state agency has signed a letter of intent to purchase the small natural gas utility system there for $52.5 million, fueled by natural gas supplies that would be trucked or shipped by rail to the Interior city.

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority announced the proposed deal Wednesday and said it would start due diligence on the plan to purchase the privately held company that owns Fairbanks Natural Gas.

Gov. Bill Walker briefed Fairbanks legislators in the state Capitol at 5 p.m. Fairbanks Rep. Steve Thompson, co-chairman of the House Finance Committee, said their reaction was uniformly positive...

Dermot Cole

SEATTLE -- A plan to allow Royal Dutch Shell PLC to use Seattle's waterfront as a homeport for its Arctic drilling fleet is drawing opposition from environmental groups that say it's not consistent with the region's environmental goals.

Several state and national groups, and local city leaders on Wednesday urged the Port of Seattle to halt lease negotiations that would allow Shell to use 50 acres of port property across from downtown Seattle.

Shell could house about two dozen vessels, including exploration drill rigs, ice breakers, tugs and barges at the site in the winter when they're not exploring for oil off Alaska's coast...

Phuong Le

Alaska elected officials have been trying to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for generations. Yet while control of Congress has swung back and forth between the parties, ANWR has remained closed.

Fortunately for Alaskans, ANWR is just one of several massive oil plays on or near the North Slope. The National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, Chukchi Sea, and Beaufort Sea are also thought to have hundreds of millions of barrels of oil. Between 2009 and 2014, something remarkable happened: The federal government opened up exploration to these areas in response to pressure from former Sen. Mark Begich, and these areas could dwarf Prudhoe Bay in oil production...

Rocky Plotnick

Algernon on stage

Synesthesia Artist Collective will present “Flowers For Algernon,” a stage version of the science-fiction classic (which seems a little less like fiction now). Scientists come up with a way to increase intelligence in mice and men, but with tragic results. Teresa Pond directs a big cast and experienced production team in the drama at 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30-Feb. 15 at Alaska Pacific University’s Grant Hall. Last year’s SynArts presentation of “The House of Yes” was a stunner and we expect this show to match it. See the promo at .


Lithuanian legacies...

Mike Dunham