FREE-FALLING- Would Simon have liked Bob Dylan?

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BOB WOELK
The summer is heating up, and so is my brain. And, when that happens, I come up with all sorts of ideas, some good and some not so good. You be the judge.

Another season of “American Idol” has ended. I don’t really get into the show, though my wife enjoys it immensely. She roots for her favorites, although, thank goodness, she has never called in to vote.

Basically, what comes out of that show is a pop star, not what I would consider a true musician. By my way of thinking, the real greats have paid their dues, working their way to the top.

Can you imagine how the infamous Simon Cowell would rank some of the most influential musicians of our time? Consider Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Janis Joplin or even John Lennon.

I don’t think they would make it past the audition stage. There is more to being a musician than just a smooth voice.

I’m all for buying locally when possible and when the price is reasonably close to what a shopper would pay in the city. But, there are still some items that are not even available in Hillsboro.

A person cannot buy high-quality running shoes or most top-of-the-line sporting goods in town, with the possible exception of fishing equipment. There is no motorcycle shop or boating store. So, it is sometimes more than OK to buy out of town. We don’t always have a choice.

Coincidently, last time my family went shopping in the River City, Do Dah, the Air Capital, we were incorrectly charged in four of the five stores where we made purchases. If we had not been watching the registers, we would have lost a substantial amount of money.

Is this how businesses make their profits? My advice is to be sure you look over that receipt before you leave town.

I haven’t been able to watch many Royals’ baseball games on TV since I switched to satellite. Most of the games on RSN are blacked out on my system. I’m not so sure that is a bad thing this year, however. If I need a baseball fix, I watch the Cubs or Braves.

I don’t tune in to ESPN very often. All that network shows are Yankees and Red Sox games, especially if the two teams play each other, which it appears they do about every other day.

My family and I went to see “The Da Vinci Code” last week. It was an interesting movie, though I quite frankly don’t understand all the hubbub. I did read the book first, and as usual, I found it better than the film.

My 20-something son made a good point when he said the same group of people who are all up in arms about a purely fiction movie are the ones who are trying to discredit films that are based on truth about politics and the environment. Hmmm.

Speaking of political decisions, I heard recently on National Public Radio (so it has to be true, right?) that in the countries hardest hit by last year’s tsunami, the United States’ approval rating has increased dramatically.

To me, this shows that when we send humanitarian aid rather than troops to help a country with its problems, we also benefit.

Would improving the living conditions of the people in Afghanistan and Iraq cause them to look more favorably on the type of government we are reportedly trying to establish in those nations? I believe it would.

Every summer it seems local newscasters try to find something we should fear when we go outside. We have been warned about West Nile virus, Lyme disease and shark attacks in the past.

This year, it has allegedly become increasingly unsafe to ride a bicycle on the streets of Wichita. Though the recent death and injuries to cyclists have been tragic, I don’t think it is any less safe to ride bikes out there. The danger has always been high.

Wear your helmets and always expect drivers of cars and trucks to do the most stupid maneuvers possible. These days, a driver is likely using a cell phone and thinking about lots of other things that cause distractions.

We’ve done it again. Though the wheat harvest outlook around the state has been dire at best, local farmers are reaping the benefits of market pressure with at worst an average harvest and at best a bountiful one. Some reports indicate a local yield of better than 50 bushels per acre. Yes, fuel costs are high, but imagine if the price of wheat was only $2 per bushel.

The seeds of the cottonwood trees seem abundant this year as well. They float into houses, fly through open car doors and get stuck in the fins of house air conditioner coils. They also add to seedlings around ponds, rivers and lakes.

I have often wondered if farmers were not constantly cultivating their fields, would central Kansas become a woodland area filled with forests of cottonwoods and eastern red cedars, or would the populations soon level off?

Finally, I read that the national marriage amendment failed in the senate once again. Proponents of the constitutional change claim to want to protect the institution by defining marriage as only legal between one man and one woman. I assume that means one at a time.

I agree that this is the type of couple that makes the most sense from scientific and religious angles, but I don’t happen to think two people in a committed relationship wanting to earn some of the rights married couples enjoy is a threat to connubial bliss.

The real challenge to the institution, it seems to me, is from celebrities who choose to cohabitate rather than wed and gain in popularity by conceiving children out of wedlock for all the world to admire.

Before we attempt to pull the sliver from the collective eye of one group that we ideologically oppose, shouldn’t we try to remove the log from our own?

I believe I read that somewhere.

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