…it ain’t so bad

By CHRISTIAN KNIGHT

News staff writer

July 27, 2005

Four hundred twenty five stairs ain’t so bad.

I’m serious.

I mean if you think about it, it’s really only 212 steps if you can do two at a time.

That’s not so bad.

And since we’ve already climbed about half of them, we’ve only got another 105 or so to go.

That ain’t bad.

Not so bad at all, really.

Why then, can’t I convince you – my Legs and Lungs – of this? Why won’t you believe what I’m trying to tell you? That it’s really not that bad.

Right now Lungs, you are in flames, burning two holes through my rib cage. It hurts.

And Legs: Your threat to go on strike and strand us to this staircase is really uncompromising.

We should talk about this.

If you guys will remember: 10 minutes ago we all agreed to do this — together —no matter what. And we did it for one unifying reason: to prove that a sometimes-deskbound writer could outclimb a professional extreme athlete. Mostly, we agreed to do it, to prove to him that he can’t win everything.

Remember that?

Remember watching Tao Berman warm up? Remember how that grin stirred barrels of vindictive ambition in all of us?

Where is that aggression now? Where did it go?

We were all so motivated a few minutes ago. So motivated we couldn’t help but jump and breathe and sweat in anticipation. Was that so long ago?

I realize you have reason to be a little upset now. Just 45 minutes earlier, we were enjoying the morning from the love seat beneath the window sill. We had already worked-out. Already tore ourselves down. We knew in another few hours, we’d be swimming in the pool below Punchbowl Falls.

Now it was time to sit.

Just sit.

But then Berman exploded through the door, telling us we had to go, that the stair climb was going on right now! That we’d miss it if we didn’t go: NOW!

And we went, reluctant and skeptical at first, promising each other we’d only watch and cheer.

But then Berman began warming up, running up the street and back down again. He began strategizing and calculating.

And we began dreaming.

All of us.

We all did.

How great would it be to beat that guy?

Remember that dream?

If you truly want it, you’ve got to push for it – NOW.

Between the two of you, we have already wasted too much time in this race.

But we have to put all that behind us and push. Push until we can’t push any more.

We’ve only got a half a flight left. You see ‘em. Do you see them cheering you on, urging you to push harder?

They’re talking to you, Legs.

Do you see Berman up there? Smiling casually, confidently, probably thinking if we had taken that bet with him he’d own us right now.

Don’t let it happen.

Push. You’ve got to push. Harder!

Good. You’re doing well. Really well.

Keep going.

We’ve got another 20 left.

That’s not that many.

Keep going.

Ten more.

I know it hurts. But it’ll be over soon.

Five more.

We’re almost there. Don’t collapse on us now.

Three more.

Okay Legs, take all of them. Clear the last two.

Good. You did it.

Now you can strike all you want Legs. You can let us fall to the pavement if you want. I don’t care. You fulfilled your end of it.

Lungs, you are free to panic now. You can go into convulsions for all I care. You did well.

As soon as you are ready, I’ll ask how we did.

How much time do you need, Lungs?

A little longer. Okay. I can wait. You did a good job for us. The least I can do is let you relax for a while.

How about now? Can I ask now, Lungs?

Okay. I’ll give you another minute. But I’m curious. I’m really curious.

I can ask now? Great. Thank you, Lungs. Give me a second and I’ll report back to you.

We did it in 2:16.

Is that good? I don’t know, Legs.

The winner, Jason Wang got two minutes flat. He was 16 seconds faster than us. But we don’t care about him. All we care about is Berman, remember? That’s why we’re here. I’ll ask how he did.

2:02.

He did it in 2:02. Fourteen seconds faster than us. He killed us. He’s in second place.

That’s okay guys. You gave it your all. You didn’t give up. You tried hard.

But look at him. Look at him smile.

Maybe you could have tried a little harder, given it a little more of your all. Then we wouldn’t have to see that smile on his face.

Next year we’re going to beat him.

We are Legs. We are. We’re going to train for this event. We’re going to come back and beat that Berman guy. We’re going to practice every single month – except on holidays – until these 420 stairs feels more like a few rounds of musical chairs.

It’s going to take some commitment.

But if we all agree to it, I think next year, we might be able to accomplish something.

Agreed?

Good.

Next practice: How does Sept. 5 sound to everyone.

Wait a minute. That’s Labor Day.

Hmmm.

Well. We’ll keep you posted.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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