SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

I Never Did Mind The Waterboarding



April 20, 2016
Wednesday PM

Ketchikan, Alaska -
It's springtime in Alaska.

jpg  Dave Kiffer

No, it's not 40 below.

Sorry, all you Johnny Horton fans.

Speaking of which, my dad loved Johnny Horton. Sang those tunes over and over again. Sang them until I got tired of hearing them. Which was usually in about two minutes.

I guess I wasn’t much of fan of Johnny Horton. He was big on “saga” songs like North to Alaska and the Battle of New Orleans. But I've always been more of a Tim Horton fan myself. Donuts, yum. Not just for breakfast, lunch and dinner, anymore.

But I digress.

Anyway, it's springtime in Alaska. Spring is that wonderful time in the First City where winter hangs on and on like someone digging their fingers into the edge of a bridge ledge after realizing, one step too late, that they really didn't want to commit suicide after all.

Which kind of describes the desperation that overtakes Ketchikanians as they wait, wait, wait, for the weather finally turn and winter - or the endless rain fest that passes for winter in these parts - to go away. At least for a couple of weeks until winter returns again in mid August.

So we're all just sitting around watching as the weather goes from overcast to really overcast to drizzly to really drizzly to cloudy to hint of sunshine to drizzly to really drizzly to etc etc etc. Every 15 minutes.

Speaking of which, for no obviously good reason, I signed up with for its severe weather alerts. considers any day when there is at least a 50 percent chance of rain worthy of an alert. So, you guessed it, I get an alert every day! Don't I feel special.

This, of course, spurs my interest in being helpful. Because I always want to be helpful. And I can really be helpful by alerting everyone within internet shot of me when I get a severe weather alert that is helpful sending me. Which is every freaking day in Our Fair Salmon City.

Not that I can do much about it. I can't actually stop the rain. Or change the weather, any more than I can wave my arms and force America to nominate normal, sane people to run for President.

It would be interesting if one could change the weather though. You could be the reverse of that old Joe Btfsplk character in Lil Abner, the one who always had a rain cloud over his head because he lived in Ketchikan rather than Dogpatch, USA.

Oh silly me, he didn't live in Ketchikan. He did live in Dogpatch. If he was in Ketchikan, we would say he lived in Rainpatch, USA

Anyhoo, imagine if you always walked around with sunshine on your head all day long.

Yeah, yeah, your body would quickly dry out and your facial skin would develop the consistency of a leather chew toy. But it would be sunny. And it would not be......raining.

To be sure, that's hard to understand. Kinda like being in East Berlin after the Wall came down. What do you do when everything you have ever known (like rain) is not there anymore? Scary.

They say that people who are kidnapped for long periods of time eventually develop an empathy or sympathy with their captors. It's called the Stockholm Syndrome. Not sure why. One doesn't usually associate the Swedes with heinous crimes against humanity. Well, other than IKEA, I guess.

Now, I am absolutely 100 percent NOT likening living in Ketchikan to being kidnapped. But it is weird how often I hear locals muttering that the rain really isn't so bad after all, that it cleans our skies, fills our lakes etc etc etc. I even hear some of the old timers, obviously suffering from dementia, claiming that they really “don’t mind the rain.”

Man, that is Saxman Syndrome in a nutshell! We have been brainwashed - literally - into thinking this constant Chinese Water Torture dripping on our head is good for us. We get waterboarded all year long and we say it's okay.

Except for that brief period in the spring, when we start to wish it were different, that we start to pine for sunshine, the smell of grass, that tinkling sound that tanzanite makes as it fills up our storefronts.

Some people are actually heard to state rather pointedly that it is “actually summer elsewhere.”

Right, like I am going to believe that line of deer scat.

Since I am the center of my universe (a friend once described himself as the fulcrum around which everything else turned, perhaps not accurate metaphorically, but certainly true perceptually), then I have to assume that whatever is happening to me at any given time is all that really exists in the world. Therefore if it is raining on me, it must be raining on you.

So into your life a little of my rain must fall.

And it can’t be summer anywhere if is not summer here.

Whew, I am so glad I cleared that up.

And since it is false springtime, in Alaska, it therefore has to be false springtime everywhere.

The only thing I can’t suss out, is that I keep hearing about drought in places that are not Our Fair Salmon City. Maybe y’all aren’t quite getting the waterboarding that we experience every day.

But at least it is not 40 below like Johnny Horton crooned. And you don’t have to worry about the grizzly bear hug or the caribou crawl or the Kodiak rug or red headed Lil.

Me, I still prefer the sour-cream-glazed- Canadian-maple-honey-cruller because I’ve always got plenty of rainwater to wash it all down.

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Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
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