Letters to the Editor for January 1, 2013

Words are fictitious

I am sick and tired of letters, like that of David Schneeberg in a Dec. 21 letter to the editor, who now (after President Obama did it) just love to say “there are better ways to satisfy the health care needs of the needy.”

Words now are not just cheap, they’re fictitious.

Dave Dockham

Hood River

Mercantile hoggishness

It is certainly true that FedEx and UPS operate in a manner that tends to generate a considerable degree of resentment, but a far greater share of the blame for holiday gift delivery disasters ought to be placed squarely on the shoulders of none other than “John (and Jill) Q. Public.”

The transport system buckled under the strain of Americans’ consumerist frenzy, and it simply could not keep up with their voluminous greed. Advertising-driven retail gluttony finally managed to surpass what our carriers of freight could properly handle.

No “Grinch” truly “stole Christmas” as a result of these unhappy parcel-toting failures. What’s really wrong is a mentality that seeks a stratospherically high mountain of purchases over the Yule season.

Just as no one can realistically expect healthful outcomes from incessant gourmandizing, so also is it reasonable to expect unsatisfactory developments in the wake of our hysterically excessive accumulation of retail items. “More and more” simply is not a sustainable attitude in a world of finite resources.

Bothersome though the recent FedEx and UPS experiences proved to be, it must be admitted that the fundamental problem is our gargantuan mercantile hoggishness.

If the public elects to send a nearly infinite amount of “stuff” hundreds or thousands of miles away, then it ought to simply accept the fact that the imperfect and mortal human beings doing the transporting will make mistakes.

Frank Goheen

Camas, Wash.

Give young men WINGS

After being overwhelmed with projects around our horse boarding stable and property, I decided to call WINGS for help. And a darned good decision it turned out to be!

WINGS (Give Them Wings Inc.) is a nonprofit that provides housing, work, education and other services to homeless young men who need a “hand up” on their way to independence.

Some of the jobs weren’t very appealing, like pruning years of blackberries from an old, 2-acre-long stone wall and stacking them in huge piles for burning; or hand-digging a trench through rocky ground inside the barn to extend a water line. But the young men of WINGS were willing to tackle anything.

They arrived with all the necessary tools, and every job was finished to perfection. They were all very amiable, hardworking and respectful, and it was my pleasure to work with them. No doubt more projects will crop up next year, as they always seem to. I’ve got WINGS’ phone number programmed in my phone!

I’d like to encourage others to visit the Give Them Wings website (getwings.net) and invite these young men to come and give you a hand. We’re grateful to them and wish them well on their journey.

Kurt Osborne

Hood River

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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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