The Duncan Banner

May 25, 2013

Despite disaster, ‘home’ causes people to stay

Jeff Kaley
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — If you can’t remember where you’ve placed sticky notes, they can’t serve their intended purpose of substituting for your memory. Oh, wait, I found them:

In the wake of nature’s awesome indifference, Oklahomans in the tornado-ravaged I-40 corridor are receiving a gushing of support from their fellow Okies, from Americans across the nation and from people all over the planet. That’s not a surprise — this is how human beings respond after cataclysmic events. Our ability as a species to share sympathy and empathy is what’s kept us from going extinct.

At the same time, as many of the survivors of the twisters that struck on May 19 and May 20 talk about staying put, even if their homes are currently piles of rubble, an inevitable discussion is underway: Why do those folks stay in an area known as “Tornado Alley?”

Following any natural disaster, those looking in from outside can’t help but wonder: Why do people continue to live in a known disaster zone? It’s just a knee-jerk response, not meant to sound cynical. And it certainly doesn’t single out Oklahomans.

Folks in California build cities on fault lines and stick million-dollar houses at the top of hills that ooze mud every spring. Millions of people live on trickles of water in tenuous desert regions around Phoenix and Las Vegas. Those beautiful Rocky Mountains burst into flames with impunity every year. There’s always going to be hurricanes somewhere along the Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard.

Speaking of intemperate weather, how can anyone in their right mind spend a winter in International Falls, Minnesota? Ever experienced the rainy season in the state of Washington? Has anybody seen a tree that stands upright in west Texas? Ever sweat off a few pounds in the summer humidity of southern Illinois, western Tennessee or the Mississippi delta?

Fact is: All around the world and for a variety of reasons, when human beings find a place to call “home,” it’s worth the trade-out.

 “I’ve learned that no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.” The late Andy Rooney said it.

 Why is it you never think of the bathroom plunger until the commode has already over flowed?

 It’s a sad fact, but a person of few words never gets elected. (Yes, that’s my wife in the background asking, “When was the first time you used a few words?”)

 Where do you fall in this little quiz: At work, you go to the coffee pot and find one cup left. So you: 1. Pour it for yourself, then make a fresh pot; 2. Take half and tell yourself there’s plenty left for the next person; 3. Think, “Sweet! There’s still a cup left!” So you pour it into your cup and put the empty pot back on the warmer.

 In the past four months, three album releases prove the human voice can survive the ravages of time: Memphis by Boz Scaggs, soon to turn 69; The Next Day by David Bowie, who’s 66; and Born to Sing: No Plan B by 67-year-old Van Morrison.

 “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.” Hunter S. Thompson said it.

 While the newspaper business is struggling in the Techno-Age, why is Warren Buffett spending $344 million to purchase community newspapers? Because Buffett believes the local newspaper is still the best source for residents to accurately discover what’s happening in their town.

 How many folks miss out on opportunity knocking at the door because they’re afraid it’s a bill collector?

 One definition of stress: The confusion created when one’s mind overrides the body’s basic desire to choke the living daylights out of some jerk who desperately deserves it.

 I know this fellow who has a lifesaving tool in his car that’s designed to cut through a seat belt if he gets trapped. He keeps it in the trunk.

 Unless you’re an NBA owner or general manager with a yen to destroy team chemistry, why spend kazillions to sign Dwight Howard?

 The first multi-tasker? Leonardo Da Vinci could write with one hand while drawing with the other.

 Was chatting with a Baby Boomer and his son the other day and I made a reference to the Chicago 7. Fellow Boomer understood completely, but the kid thought I was talking about a rock band. OK, bring out the drool cup and get my cane.

580-255-5354, Ext. 172. Kaley is managing editor of Waurika News-Democrat