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By: Melissa Griffiths on June 3, 2015 - 10:11am - Add new comment

Though Beau Schooler will head to Louisiana as a competitor, promoting Alaska foods with the dish he prepares, the Great American Seafood Cook-Off also serves as an opportunity to meet other chefs to build relationships and potentially learn new things.

Schooler has studied in Italy in the past and most recently was invited to serve as a guest Chef at the Caputo Brothers Creamery in Pennsylvania.

By: Melissa Griffiths on June 1, 2015 - 4:39pm - Add new comment

Didn’t get my headline? Well, maybe I’m not as good at this game as the brilliant creative minds who re-wrote David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” using only the thousand most frequently used words in the English language — their music video, called “Space Weird Thing” made it onto David Bowie’s radar.

By: Melissa Griffiths on May 12, 2015 - 10:24am - Add new comment

Bulky cameras swinging from straps around the neck for taking photos of majestic mountains or breaching whales? So last season. This season is all about mobile phone photos with the tourist as focal point. 

Thanks to the selfie stick, tourist-centric photos need not be at odd angles with terrible cropping due to short, stubby human arms. With the selfie stick, a photo can contain the shoulders and head in entirety, set against a serene backdrop of — is that a seal? Who cares!

By: Melissa Griffiths on May 6, 2015 - 6:48pm - Add new comment

Since the April 25 quake that devastated Nepal, Yasmine Habash has wondered desperately where her mother might be. Dawn Habash was on a trek in near the Langtang National Park when it struck. 

At first, Yasmine and her family sought to spread the word about Dawn, with a social media campaign and various interviews with news organizations.

By: Melissa Griffiths on April 9, 2015 - 12:00pm - Add new comment

The bronze whale isn't gobbling up local schools' funding. The new library isn't paved with children's dreams of new textbooks. The City and Borough of Juneau isn't blowing money for schools on frivolous — or useful — purchases or investments. 

I've written a fair amount lately about the Juneau School District writing and re-writing its budget to account for ever more stringent state funding cuts.

A lot of people are upset.

I've seen public testimony during legislative hearings, rallies, letter writing campaigns and more. 

By: Melissa Griffiths on March 31, 2015 - 11:42am - Add new comment

Budget cuts!

It's hard to say if hearing the phrase one more time or hearing the consequences of said budget cuts is more likely to make a reader rage-cry these days. 

I've been in Alaska for nearly eight years now. It's a land of plenty! We weathered the Great Recession! But now with low oil prices, oil tax scenarios that require an advanced degree and a graphing calculator and limited production of the Alaska economy's lifeblood, there seems to be only one thing on the minds of our legislators: Budget cuts!

By: Melissa Griffiths on October 27, 2014 - 10:35am - Add new comment

After missing out on an opportunity to attend a star-studded fundraiser concert featuring Willie Nelson, I decided that when opportunities arise, I should take them, however weird the circumstances might be. So, when I got a text message that someone had recommended me to be on a reality television show set to film in Juneau, I ignored my gut instinct to stay very far away and called the woman seeking a couple willing to fake-buy a home. 

By: Melissa Griffiths on October 24, 2014 - 10:58am - Add new comment

Congratulations to everyone who has the opportunity to get married! Maybe I'm still in the honeymoon phase, but I think marriage is great. 

I was in a rental car between Seattle and Redmond, Oregon, when former State Reporter Mark Miller texted me the news. Of course, things evolved over a few days as a stay was requested and talk of fighting the decision inevitably bubbled up, but I didn't allow that to stop me from feeling very happy for my friends who now have that same right I do. I'm looking forward to the wedding invitations.

By: Melissa Griffiths on September 23, 2014 - 4:59pm - Add new comment

Housing in Juneau is notoriously expensive, whether renting or buying a single-family home, but paying Juneau's high prices might be worth it when you consider the alternative — dressing as a marmot?

By: Melissa Griffiths on August 22, 2014 - 4:09pm - Add new comment

On sunny days in the Empire newsroom we often open the doors to let in a cool breeze — but this afternoon we got a little more than fresh air — we got a live bird.

We often have crows perched along the railings of the two balconies with access to the newsroom. To my knowledge, today was the first day one of the birds decided he was too good for the balcony and ventured indoors.

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