Category: Free Falling

Civil War stops a highlight of sight-seeing version of this trip east

For the third time in the past 12 months, wife Kathy and I headed east?way out east. Last year when we loaded up the van, we were taking our daughter to college in Harrisonburg, Va., about 1,200 miles due east. We left home early on an August Thursday morning and returned the following Tuesday afternoon. That felt like a quick […]

Read more ›

Beware of the infomercial purchase

More random summer thoughts (aren?t they the best kind?)…. n I bought a pair of those Topsy Turvy tomato growers for my backyard. I saw the ad on TV early last spring, and I took the plunge. Understand, I seldom buy anything from an infomercial, and now I realize why. I was enticed to purchase not one, but two, tomato-growing […]

Read more ›

Random thoughts are in full bloom

Random thoughts as spring makes its way into summer: I have an ideal way to stimulate the economy: have all members of Congress and all government officials checked for back taxes they might owe. Imagine how those funds would fill the treasury. Once in a while a phrase just seems to sum things up perfectly. My favorite recession term for […]

Read more ›

Maybe we Kansans are hicks after all

Kansans are often heard lamenting the fact that we are considered by other parts of the country to be hicks, behind the times and backward.

Much of that reputation is undeserved as long-time residents can attest.

But, quite frankly, some of the way we are negatively looked upon by those from the east and west coasts is deserved. As Jimmy Buffet so eloquently put it, it?s our own dadgum fault.

Read more ›

It?s time to praise Marion?s assets

I write in praise of Marion. Yes, the county seat. The town between two lakes. Rhino central. Why? Because the city to Hillsboro?s east has a lot going for it. I believe it?s time we recognize that fact and put any lingering differences aside. First and foremost, Marion has a river running through it. I have always wanted to live […]

Read more ›

Ideas I don’t want to write about

I don?t have any ideas for a column this month. I do, however, have lots of ideas for columns I don?t want to write.

I?m not in the mood to discuss the state financial crisis. If I were, I would write that it is bush league politics at its finest to promise schools money for the year and then say, ?Oops; we can?t cover what we said we would provide per pupil. Tough luck.?

At this point, where can education budgets be trimmed? A number of ideas have surfaced, including extending the length of each day and then going to a four-day school week. We already have one of the longest school days in the state here in Hillsboro.

Another idea is to stop school May 1. We could do that, but would sports continue until the state baseball and softball tournaments and state track meet at the end of May?

Read more ›

Some people still care about English

My son gave me a book on language, our language, for Christmas. It was probably a bad idea for him to give an English teacher such a present, but ?Alphabet Juice? by Roy Blount Jr. is a great read for anyone who cares about English?both of us.

I?m nowhere near the finish of the latest offering from Blount, who can often be heard on National Public Radio?s ?Wait, Wait, Don?t Tell Me? and is the author of 20 other books. But, I?d like to share a few gems so far.

Blount comes out in support of ?ain?t? as a word, though my spell checker instantly underlines it as inappropriate. Blount writes: ?Just as ?y?all? as a plural of you fills a gap in English, so does ?ain?t? as a contraction of ?am not.? Anyone attempting to pronounce ?amn?t? may attract a crowd of well-wishers admiring his or her pluck, but whatever other words the speaker surrounds it with will be lost.?

Read more ›

No holiday from random thoughts

Some random thoughts as Christmas approaches, basketball season begins and measurable snow becomes a distinct possibility:

n I read an article in a big-city newspaper that mentioned the possibility of the return of gas prices below $1 per gallon. Amazing. I am still awaiting the day when the sign at the former Wen?s One station on D Street is once again accurate at $1.43 per gallon. I never thought I would see the day when that would be remotely possible.

n On the other side of the economic downturn, I have at times been tempted in the past to play the market. After all, it?s what farmers do every year. They gamble with their futures each time they put a new crop in the ground or buy livestock. But, I have always been afraid of losing it all.

Read more ›

Obama’s first task: Make us ‘United’

n open letter to Barack Obama:

First of all, congratulations. You have become an indelible part of our great nation?s history, a permanent reminder that anything is possible in America. You have risen out of humble roots in Kansas to become the most powerful elected official in the country. Celebrate while you can. The hard work is about to begin.

You have inherited a nation divided: between the rich and the poor, the old and the young, far right and the liberal left. Your first task will likely be to put the ?united? back into the United States. Somehow you have to bridge the gaps that have formed. You must inspire confidence that the majority of voters made the right choice, that you can and will make a difference.

The economy is in shambles. The stock market and housing market have taken tumbles. Word of impending job layoffs dominate the local news. Gasoline prices may have fallen recently, but so have grain prices.

You campaigned as the candidate of change; you announced election night that ?change has come.? It was a great speech. But rhetoric does not always translate into revenue. It now becomes your unenviable task to get our nation?s economy back on track. You will need to move cautiously, but please move quickly.

Read more ›

Many questions about that bailout

The recent $700 billion bailout of lending institutions has me puzzled. I have many more questions than answers. For example…. If the commercials were true, and no one could do ?what Countrywide can,? why did the mortgage company keep doing it? Why did all the subprime lenders continue to write bad loans despite obvious signs those who were borrowing were […]

Read more ›