How many fingers am I holding up?

My son’s dog is not exactly the Arnold Schwarzenegger of canines. He looks a little like a Wookiee, weighs 28 pounds, and he has a long-haired fluffy tail that curls upwards so he looks like he’s got a feather boa tied around his ass. He’s a total babe magnet, but with a catch. Women love adorable fluffy dogs; they practically swoon over this little pooch. But I can’t imagine they’re feeling much attraction for the poor schmuck on the other end of the leash. You know, the guy holding that suspiciously saggy little plastic bag.

Anyway, I was walking the pooch through the neighborhood last night when a big, deep-throated dog started barking from behind a tall fence. Our little mutt raised his hackles and produced a reasonable facsimile of a growl, and I said, “Ohhh, yeah! You show that dog who’s boss!”

n

As soon as the words left my mouth I had an insight. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I get the feeling sarcasm is lost on most dogs.

This, of course, got me thinking about who else doesn’t understand sarcasm, and that got me thinking about people who write letters-to-the-editor.

To use sarcasm successfully, one really has to know one’s audience. Writing a column for a general newspaper in a small town as diverse as Hood River virtually guarantees that I have no idea who I’m talking to. So, here’s a little test to see if we’re all on the same page. Try to guess which of the following sentences are meant to be sarcastic:

n

n “I’m sure glad we spent all that money on the new bypass for Country Club Road! What a time-saver!”

n “I just hate it when they block cars off Oak Street for First Friday. All those people should stay on the sidewalk where they belong!”

n “Health care in America would be much better if we just let the insurance companies handle things! I mean, they’ve done a great job so far!”

n “Sure, son, you can borrow the new car! While you’re at it, would you like my credit card to pay for gas?”

n “Hey, no worries, son. I don’t mind a few dents in my new car!”

n “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”

n “I’m not prejudiced. I hate everybody.”

n “I’ve got a great idea! Let’s sell all our coal to China!”

n “Shut up and mind your manners!”

n “There’s nothing wrong with America that a few Tea Party candidates couldn’t solve!”

n “You’re right, son. It was wrong of me to expect you to actually do what you were told.”

n “Corporations are people, too, you know!”

n “Bush won the election fair and square!”

n “I smoked, but I didn’t inhale.”

n “Fruitcake? Sure, I’d love some fruitcake!”

n “What rich people need, more than anything, is fewer taxes.”

n “If I were president, I’d let them eat cake!”

n “Ever since the hospital bought out my doctor’s practice, it’s been easier and cheaper than ever to get in to see her!”

n “Wind? What wind?”

n “What this country needs is more prisons!”

n “I felt a lot safer when Bush was president.”

n “Who needs privacy if you never do anything to be ashamed of?”

n “I just hate it when people who love each other get married!”

n “You can take my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers!”

n “I’ve got an idea! Let’s move our troops out of Afghanistan and put them over in Syria!”

n

Go ahead and score your own test. And it’s okay if you cheat, because everybody else does.

n

Craig Danner is a novelist and physician assistant living in Hood River with his wife and two teenage sons.

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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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