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• ROSE (roz) n. One of the most beautiful of all flowers, a symbol of fragrance and loveliness. Often given as a sign of appreciation.

• RASPBERRY (raz’ber’e) n. A sharp, scornful comment, criticism or rebuke; a derisive, splatting noise, often called the Bronx cheer.

• ROSES to the first bit of good news we've seen in months regarding this year's influenza season: Oregon is the first state in the lower 48 to have the status of this year's flu season downgraded from "widespread" to "regional."

According to a report this week in The Oregonian, the state suffered through six straight weeks with "widespread" flu activity. The state caught another break in that the strain of flu most active here is H1N1; the strain causing the most havoc throughout the nation is H3N2, which is more resistant to vaccinations.

Flu season isn't over yet in Oregon; more than 5 percent of visits to emergency rooms currently involve influenza-like symptoms. So it's not too late to get a vaccination. But it's starting to look as if Oregon might be spared the worst of this year's outbreak.

• ROSES to word that we're starting to fight back against scam artists. Regular readers of this column know that we report, with wearisome frequency, about people losing thousands of dollars to telephone scams.

So it was gratifying to read this week in the Gazette-Times' Police Log column about a case that didn't end that way: Scammers called the Burger King restaurant downtown and said they were doing an FBI investigation on behalf of corporate and asked the employee who answered the phone to take money out of the restaurant's safe and meet them nearby. (You laugh, but a somewhat similar con paid off a couple of weeks ago for the scammers.)

In this case, however, the scammers did not get to have it their way. (Sorry.) A savvy employee recognized it was a scam and kept the caller on the phone until police arrived. An officer took the phone and started asking questions, at which point the scammer hung up.

Now, it would have been more satisfying to have this story end with police arresting the miscreants who made the call. But we'll take our victories where we can get them. In the meantime, remember to keep your wits about you if you're unfortunate enough to get one of these calls. If you're in doubt — or if you're told you can pay off some "debt" you didn't know you had by buying some of those cash cards — just hang up. And then call your local law enforcement agency.   

• ROSES to two members of the Corvallis City Council — Ward 1's Penny York and Ward 7's Bill Glassmire — who frequently are on hand at the Saturday morning "Government Comment Corner" sessions held at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library.

As you probably have gathered from the name, the idea behind these sessions is that an elected official from the city settles into a spot in a corner of the the library and that citizens can swing by to, well, comment on government. It's an easy and relatively painless way for city residents to connect with city officials. Sometimes, no one shows up to comment; in those cases, the official loses a couple of hours, but presumably can grab a book from the library or pull out a laptop to review the packet for the next council meeting. 

The general idea is that this weekly duty is divided among the nine members of the council; many hands, light duty, and so forth. But not all of the councilors are as reliable as York and Glassmire. To those councilors — and you know who you are — we deliver RASPBERRIES.

• RASPBERRIES to drowsy drivers. A new study released this week by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded that drowsy driving causes considerably more accidents than federal statistics suggest: The new study determined that 9.5 percent of all crashes and 10.8 percent of crashes resulting in significant property damage involved drowsiness. (Earlier federal estimates were that drowsiness only was a factor in 1 to 2 percent of crashes.)

In a nation that still battles sleep deprivation, the new numbers aren't really surprising. And the only sure way to fend off drowsy driving is to get enough sleep — the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that a third of all drivers get less than the recommended seven hours daily. (mm)


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