Ben's Babbles: A return to normal

January 28, 2012

It's amazing how much I keep my calendar based on what I have to cover on any given night.

Am I at city council or county commission? Must be Monday.

First basketball game of the week? Tuesday.

Nothing at night? Wednesday.

Wrestling? Swimming? Likely Thursday.

Second basketball game? Friday.

Any combination of all of the above usually means it's the weekend.

With all the snow last week and into this week, I completely lost track of time. Even as I wrote that last sentence I couldn't remember exactly when the snow began or when it all stopped.

The only indicators I had in the last two weeks were Monday before last when I went to county commission and last Monday when I went to city council. Somehow, those were the only days that week it didn't snow.

Other than that, I honestly couldn't tell what day it was. Even on Thursday, as I got ready to write this column, I wasn't even sure it was actually Thursday. The weekend, which I usually either spend out working or with my fiancée, instead saw me largely at my apartment, shoveling out the driveway, or posting weather updates on the Hood River News Facebook and Twitter pages.

As I caught up on my calendar with all the games that had been rescheduled I kept having to double-check the dates, because an entire week seemed to have disappeared.

So when I wandered out to the high school Thursday night to do a preview on this weekend's Elks Memorial wrestling tournament, and to snap a few pictures of HRV JV and freshman games against The Dalles, I was glad.

Normalcy had returned.

After a week or so of going crazy from the ice and snow, listening to the constant tone-outs on the emergency scanner of downed power lines and car crashes and the sound of branches cracking off ice-laden trees, I walked into the high school and was met by the sound of wrestlers running drills and a basketball being dribbled on the hardwood.

It was good to hear.

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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 to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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