Category: Free Falling

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?

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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.?

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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.

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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.

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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 […]

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Here’s how not to vote in November

WARNING: the following column contains high levels of verbal irony. It is also political, but surprisingly impartial.

After taking in at least three minutes of each of the national party conventions in the past month, I have come to several conclusions about each of the candidates and his choice of running mate. What follows is my advice about how not to vote this November.

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We can combat the high gas prices

When gasoline prices topped $4 per gallon this summer, many of us were tempted to just throw up our hands and say, ?What are you gonna do?? The price of oil seemed to be controlled by a few speculators on the futures market and the big companies who turn crude into fuel.

But, take heart. There are some things that can be done, and the recent drop in prices at the pump is the evidence.

For now, at least, Americans have shown that $4 is the tipping point, the price where we begin to think about the unthinkable?parking our gas guzzlers and pulling the bikes out of the attic.

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Europe adventure once in a lifetime

?When you fly, you are pretty well at the mercy of the airlines,? said the Transportation Security Administration worker at the Boston security gate. His comment followed my explanation of why our group of 31 travelers was a day late in leaving the United States.

All it took was a brief thunderstorm in Dallas to cause a gigantic ripple in our connection to the plane that was leaving for Paris. Apparently, only one aircraft per day leaves Texas for Europe. And, it left without us.

Despite the well-documented slow start to our trip, the excursion Dustin Dalke and I led to France, Switzerland, Lichten?stein, Austria and Germany was a blast. What follows are some highlights from my journal of the journey.

 

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‘Tis the season for random thoughts

Some random thoughts as spring turns to summer….

Green. I know I?ve said it before, but June in Kansas can be best described by that single word. Everywhere I look, the overwhelming sensation I get is that the world is green and renewing itself.

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The third time was the best time
The third time was the best time

The third time was the best time

WoelkBobMarathon.jpg

An exhaltant Bob Woelk crosses the finish line at the Memorial Marathon in Oklahoma City.

I finished my third marathon a couple of weeks ago, and it turned out to be one of my best days to date?and, I?m not just speaking athletically.

I was hoping to finish the 26.2 miles in under four hours and 16 minutes. And, to be honest, I had my doubts. I had been hampered by a sore knee for the final two weeks leading up to the Okla?homa City event. Though I had trained consistently, I hadn?t done any extra work in preparation.

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