ALASKA

IT'S COLD AND THERE AREN'T MANY WOMEN, BUT...

Last week, each of the 555,415 lucky residents of Alaska received a $1,296.54 check simply for living in the nation's coldest state. It's Alaska's annual lagniappe of North Slope oil money. This year's windfall--the biggest ever at $720 million--has set off a spending spree that has become as much a rite of autumn as the first snowstorm. Across the state, every opportunistic merchant is offering a deal. Want four tickets to Hawaii? Just $1,296.54. A computer? A mere $1,296.54. A camcorder? That's right--$1,296.54. "It's another Christmas up here," says author Richard Nelson.

The buying orgy is triggered by dividends paid from...

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