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Tuesday, June 2, 2015
The history of mobile telephones, all in one drawer (05/29/15)
In anticipation of moving out of our home and into a different house, my wife and I have been going through a lot of stuff, deciding what to discard and what to keep. It is exhausting work, as those of you who have been through this process already know...
Modern times: We are measured by our motorized vehicles (05/22/15)
The regular session of classes at the university here in our favorite river city has ended. The summer session has begun. How do we know? Because there aren't as many automobiles going to and from the campus. The amount of traffic on city streets is just one measurement of activity. Another way to tell what's going on is to look at parking lots on the campus. They are all but empty. To get a higher education these days, it appears, one must burn gasoline as well as the midnight oil...
Go west -- or north or east or south; you decide (05/15/15)
My wife and I have moved more than 20 times in our half-century together. But we are spoiled. Nearly half of that half-century has been spent right here in Cape Girardeau. We have been in our house 18 years, the longest we've ever lived anywhere in our lives...
That tree looks like ... well, it reminds me of something (05/08/15)
I think that I shall never see A tree so ugly as the woods Butchered in Girardeau's neighborhoods. The tree whackers are out in full force these days. Maybe you've seen them. How could you miss them? Moreover, how could you not notice what the whackers leave in their wake?...
You can say that again, but not because I can't hear you (05/01/15)
By the time you read this, I will have been, for three days, a full-fledged citizen of the Bionic World. I can't say when the first bionic apparatus was applied to a human body in the hopes that life would be better as a result. Perhaps it was the ear trumpet used by hard-of-hearing folks who could get the gist of what you were saying if you shouted into the bell of the trumpet, which was inserted in someone's ear. It wasn't a foolproof system at all...
'Tapioca!' And now, the rest of the goofy story (04/24/15)
Lots of things change as I grow older. And older. Bad news: I don't jog anymore. Wouldn't even think of it. Good news: My knees are in pretty good shape. At my age, you take what you can get. For a couple of years now, I have noticed -- and so has my wife -- a change in my sleep pattern. For lots of years I would go to bed and wake up eight hours later when the alarm went off...
The diary, and why I don't have one, except (04/17/15)
More than once in my life I have attempted, with the best of intentions, to keep a diary, a daily journal of anything and everything I might think to jot down at any given time. I thought of my diary attempts -- all failed, of course -- as I tried to remember this week if it's time to put out the hummingbird feeders. I know the migrating birds are sending scouts this direction. It seems like mid-April is the time to begin the sugar-water hospitality campaign...
I can't remember ever being able to remember stuff (04/10/15)
Forgetting things is what I do best. Little things. You know what I mean. But a bunch of little things can become, rather quickly, a BIG THING. Which is why I'm telling you this in the first place. Let me see. What was I going to say *... ? Oh, yes. Forgetting stuff...
So this is springtime, in all of its colorful glory (04/03/15)
For as long as I can remember, my wife and I have taken "serendipity drives" along country roads wherever we have lived. We have come upon, with no advance planning, some of the most beautiful displays of wildflowers and other blossoms that you could possibly imagine...
What? You don't know who should be the next president? (03/27/15)
Have you made the Big Decision yet? You know, the one where you take a ballot and pick whom you want to be the next president. OK, maybe you would like to see who the candidates are first. Fine. Be that way. The first official candidate has officially filed to become an official money-raising organization for next year's official presidential election. ...
Why we pay taxes, why we vote, why we take pride (03/20/15)
Voters in Cape Girardeau and Cape Girardeau County will be making important decisions this year. They will be voting on plans to spend millions of dollars. Here are some thoughts about why I think these ballot issues are so important -- and why I think being informed and voting are duties we should take seriously...
Still time to hope, and Missouri can lead the way (03/13/15)
There is a God. Just when you think the Almighty has abandoned the political pits in Jefferson City and other places where politicians congregate, here comes a heavenly ray of light to show us the way. Yes, I am talking about the bolt of sanity that has touched the minds of some of our legislators in the state Capitol who are backing a bill that would eliminate -- I say eradicate! -- the twice-a-year folly of resetting our clocks...
1: Get the cat's attention. 2: Keep trying. 3: Again. (03/06/15)
Training cats and putting toothpaste back in the tube have much in common. To wit, they are nearly impossible. Maybe you have tried this at home. Let's say you have a cat. Let's say you want to train your cat to do something. Cats like treats, so you think you will use treats as an incentive for your cat to do something special...
Column: I'm still gaga over Lady Gaga -- did you know she could sing? (02/27/15)
My wife and I tried to watch "Birdman" a couple of days before the film won an Oscar for best picture. I say we "tried to watch" because we only lasted about 45 minutes into the movie before we said to each other, "I've had enough." "Birdman" is promoted as a comedy, but we weren't laughing. Is that because we are in that age-advantaged generation that remembers when funny movies were, well, funny?...
Here's a tremendous unmet business opportunity (02/20/15)
Knock. Knock. Who's there? Neighborhood kid. Neighborhood kid who? Neighborhood kid who will shovel your driveway after a storm that leaves a foot of snow (before drifting). This is not about knock-knock jokes. This is about a dreamland. Not a single kid knocked on my door Monday after the snowstorm...
How parents deal with their sons, and vice-versa (02/13/15)
When another two feet of snow were forecast at the start of this week for the Boston area, we emailed older son, who lives there, to make sure he was OK and to let him know we were aware of the storm. Like most adult children, our sons -- one in Boston and the other in Seattle -- are used to spates of overparenting. We can't help it, and they know it. But that doesn't mean they have to like it...
What did you think (Boo-hoo!) of Super Bowl XLIX (Smack!)? (02/06/15)
OK. The most- watched event in television history has come and gone. More people watched last Sunday's Super Bowl than anything else that's ever been aired. That's what someone said. I wasn't actually counting. But I was watching. I rooted for Seattle. A lot of other football fans got their wish when the New England Patriots won. A lot of expert analysts have had their say about the fluke ending of the game. I imagine folks will be talking about this Super Bowl for a long, long time...
Winter is more than a New England blizzard. Really. (01/30/15)
As a winter storm headed for the New England coast this week, words like "historic" and "catastrophic" were being used to describe the depth of the expected snowfall and the speed of top wind gusts. This dire forecast came from the National Weather Service, which is about as official and bureaucratic a government agency as you can find. ...
The ecstasy of a new computer, the agony of passwords (01/23/15)
Let's just say the past couple of days have been interesting. That's because younger son has been home. One reason for his visit was to help his computer-limited parents through the installation of a new desktop computer. This was made necessary because the existing computer, like its users, was showing its age in more ways than one. It was often so unreliable that we had to call customer service, only to be sent, of course, to another company providing another computer service...
Things you read in the paper -- and then wish you hadn't (01/16/15)
Some of what you read in the newspaper can be a real eye-opener. Sometimes you see something interesting. Sometimes it's puzzling. Sometimes it gets your dander up. Sometimes you just shake your head and wonder. Let me give you some examples. There was the story a few days ago about a large truck involved in a highway accident. ...
The righteous battle against blaring TVs in waiting rooms (01/09/15)
The first time I saw a television set in a doctor's waiting room was sometime in the 1980s. It was one of the big cabinet TVs with lots of wood and an amazingly large screen: 19 inches. The TV in the waiting room was tuned to "As the World Turns," a soap opera that had captured the attention of an entire men's dorm at my college some 20 years earlier. ...
Welcome to a brief overview of Global Marketing 101 (01/02/15)
This is an introductory course that will include 13 sessions. By the time you have completed all the requirements of Global Marketing 101, you will be filthy rich. Or in jail. (If arrested, please refer to a related course, Legal Shenanigans 102, offered as needed. Hourly fees of $500 will be assessed.)...
Before the Internet, there were Sears, Roebuck and Monkey Ward catalogs (12/26/14)
It's too soon to say how much of this year's Christmas shopping depended on the Internet. But I'll go way out on a limb here and take a guess: a lot. And the dollars spent on Internet retail continues to grow and grow and grow. Disclaimer: If there are any small, susceptible, innocent children nearby, please ask them to go outside and play for a while. Do kids still go outside and play? OK. Ask them to take their favorite electronic device to the basement and see if the wifi is working...
Thankfully, this column will fill in some of the blank space (12/19/14)
Thankfully, this column will fill in some of the blanks on this page Someone asked me the other day if I ever have trouble coming up with ideas for my next column. The plain and simple answer is yes. I told this inquisitive person: "That's when you read about Missy Kitty."...
Another of life's mysteries is solved by watching live TV (12/12/14)
Another of life's mysteries is easily solved by watching live TV Because of a scheduling situation in our household, my wife and I watched the live broadcast of the evening news on CBS Monday night. As a result, we now know why medications -- prescriptions and over-the-counter -- are so expensive...
The truth about trees of the Christmas variety (12/05/14)
"The week after Thanksgiving." That was my mother's standard reply to my post-Halloween nagging. In my young mind, the first week of November was none too early to find the best living-room size cedar tree, which would be decorated for Christmas. "The week after Thanksgiving. That's when we'll go look for a tree," my mother would announce, using a tone of voice that needed no interpretation. The subject was closed until the turkey was eaten...
O say can you sing 'O Canada!' (11/28/14)
Let's be clear: I can be a pretty emotional guy at times. Whenever I see a bride going down the aisle at her wedding, I get teary-eyed. When I hear an infant cry, I get bothered -- in my book, holding a crying baby is why God gave us two arms instead of four ears. ...
Dear me, the deer still aren't a bit endearing -- to me, that is (11/21/14)
At a meeting earlier this week, one of the attendees, a hunter, was asked about his first weekend of deer season. The hunter reported that, although conditions were ideal, he did not get a deer. I immediately invited him to my yard. As it turns out, if deer hunting were legal in Cape Girardeau, I would have to wait in line for a hunter to show up in my neighborhood. That's how many homeowners hereabout would like to see the marauding deer culled, or even eliminated, inside the city limits...
Missy Kitty checks in, gives her much anticipated winter forecast (11/14/14)
You know, of course, that when Missy Kitty looks into the future, the last thing she's worried about is the weather. After all, her humans -- that would be my wife and I -- are well-trained and provide for her every wish and need...
Time for common sense about time: Look to China (11/07/14)
Time for common sense about time: Look to China There are many reasons to think about China. For one thing, it has a huge and growing population. It has a huge and growing economy (No. 1 in the world as of last month). It has a huge and growing military. It owns a huge and growing amount of foreign debt, particularly U.S. debt...
Seek answers instead of wallowing in ignorance (10/31/14)
A thought: Seek answers instead of wallowing in ignorance How is it that I'm in the wrong place at the wrong time? It happened last week. My wife and I went to lunch at a local café where you get your own drinks. My wife was filling her iced-tea glass, and I was sitting at a table waiting for her...
The past comes alive when a novice starts looking at his roots (10/24/14)
My family -- on both my mother's and my father's side -- has never been much interested in its ancestry. I've mentioned this before, but I think the reason was simple: They were consumed with surviving and didn't put much stock in digging into the past...
The marvel of finding magic when you're not even looking (10/17/14)
There's something special about finding art and beauty when you least expect it. You might call that serendipity. I call it the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum at Altenburg, just up the road a bit from Cape Girardeau. Some of you most faithful readers remember that I have mentioned the Altenburg museum a few times in the past. That's because this jewel of a museum always has a surprise or two...
This is why we stay home most of the time (10/10/14)
There's not much I can say for air travel these days that's good. Yes, airplanes get you there fast. And that's about it. My wife and I recently returned from a week in Seattle that included a drive to Portland for a wedding and a drive back to Seattle. Thank goodness Alaska Air has a nonstop flight from St. Louis to Seattle and home again...
I'm sorry. What did you say? Can you come a bit closer? (10/03/14)
Any lawsuit against the city ought to be taken seriously. And the one filed by the fellow who was arrested for violating one of Cape Girardeau's noise rules is getting sober attention -- and costly, too, seeing as how lawyers are involved. When I first read the story in the Southeast Missourian, though, I laughed out loud. I thought a lot of readers would find a portion of humor. I thought the comments section of the online version of the story would be jammed with hoots and hollers...
The week that was – but really should never have been (09/26/14)
Last week started well enough. Autumn temperatures. Rustling leaves. Schoolchildren waiting for buses. University students competing for parking spaces. Hot coffee. Whole-wheat toast. Fresh coffee. Hummingbirds on the feeder outside the kitchen window...
Our heroes can come in mighty - but small - packages (09/19/14)
If I should make it to my 99th birthday anniversary alert in mind and able to move about, I will know there is, indeed, a benevolent God. And I hope I can celebrate such an event with something approaching the grace, charm and dignity of my friend, Avis Muench...
Here's my story, and every word is the truth, I think (09/12/14)
This is a true account of what happened. The lesson? Be prepared. Or else. You are all familiar with planned obsolescence. Once upon a time you could buy things and expect them to last. Today, of course, things last exactly one day past the warranty. How do they do that?...
When you hear certain sounds, you're right to be frightened (09/05/14)
The sound I heard the other day was familiar, but it was out of the ordinary, too. As my brain cells tried to figure out what the sound was or where it came from, I imagined a lot of possibilities -- all of them not quite right. Then it came to me. The sound had a bit of metallic screech and just a hint of "sproinggg!" -- if you know what I mean...
The word is out: Downtown golf is coming back with a big bang (08/29/14)
Tiger Woods, apparently, will not be in Cape Girardeau on Sept. 28. Sept. 28 is the date of the First-Ever Ninth Annual World-Famous Louis J. Lorimier Downtown Golf Tournament and All-You-Can-Eat Catfish Buffet. Does that seem possible? I mean the fact that this will be the ninth downtown golf tournament. ...
Buggy whips. Then rotary-dial phones. And now Ivory soap? (08/22/14)
Headquarters Procter & Gamble Cincinnati, Ohio Dear Mr.-Ms.-Miss Decision Maker: Please forgive my being so forward, but I must tell you that you may be on the verge of making a grievous error, and I feel it is my duty to let you know what I and millions of your customers think about the possibility that you will drop Ivory soap from the many brands you currently produce worldwide...
Valley full of memories flows out over the hilltops (08/15/14)
A conversation with friends this week made me wonder: Have I told you everything I know about Killough Valley? The farm where I "grew up" is on Killough Valley, which is a narrow valley in the Ozark hills over yonder. "Grew up" can mean a lot of things. ...
When things aren't right, they are wrong. Plain wrong (08/08/14)
There are lots of things I don't understand. I'll bet there are lots of things you don't understand. Maybe the two things I don't understand right now are among the things you can't figure out either. Example 1: If I made a list of minor and major aggravations in my lifetime, this would be at or near the top of the "major" group. What is it? It's mail-in rebates...
Feed the hungry, saith the Lord. What? All of them? (08/01/14)
Looking out one of our bedroom windows, I have a good view of the tomato patch in the raised bed where the old elm tree used to stand. Since the tree's demise during a wind storm, sunlight now reaches patches of our yard that used to be perpetually shaded...
Missy Kitty, who rules her world, is getting older too (07/25/14)
Once again, a bundle of fur and googly eyes gets top billing. It happened the other day when a lively group of Red Hat Ladies -- or, as they prefer, Women With Attitudes -- graciously asked me to be the luncheon speaker. So what were their first words of greeting? "How's Missy Kitty?"...
Some ballot issues are baffling to plain old hillbillies (07/18/14)
In a little while we'll be heading to our polling places and making decisions that we all have to live with, even those who don't vote. One issue is a statewide sales tax to pay for highways. Another has something to do with farming. We're being asked to add something to our state constitution called the Right to Farm Amendment...
Wild crops, and how to tame Missouri's chiggers (07/11/14)
Back in the day, in the Ozark hills over yonder, the bounty of the wild yielded a good portion of what we ate. For example: In the spring we went looking for greens, which grew along the roads and fields around our farm. I had no idea we were eating weeds. My mother's family and her mother's family had always gathered greens. With enough bacon fat and vinegar, they were downright tasty...
Celebrating freedoms – and still waiting for more (07/03/14)
Today we celebrate our nation's many freedoms. But are we truly, totally free? Of course not. Certainly we have escaped, as a model for the world, so many of the bonds that enslave too many people around the globe. But we still can't open a package of AAA batteries without uttering a few choice words...
Compliments from readers make for happier columnist (06/27/14)
Last week's column was about how to read your utility bills, which are complicated and, unless you work in Ameren's billing department, meaningless, except for the amount you have to pay. That's very clear. Do you know what's even more complicated than a utility bill? I'll tell you. ...
Compliments from readers make for happier columnist (06/27/14)
Last week's column was about how to read your utility bills, which are complicated and, unless you work in Ameren's billing department, meaningless, except for the amount you have to pay. That's very clear. Do you know what's even more complicated than a utility bill? I'll tell you. ...
Let me explain, please, in terms no one will ever possibly understand (06/22/14)
After a church dinner last Sunday, a fellow parishioner said he had a topic for my next column. There's nothing I like better than suggestions for columns. Sometimes I run a little dry, and these unexpected offers to help are always welcome. So, said Charlie, why don't you write a column about the Ameren bill. Maybe, he said, you could find someone who could explain it to us...
Trading terrorists not like trading baseball players (06/13/14)
By the time you read this, much of the huffing and puffing over the five-for-one deal may have ended. Or maybe not. What I'm talking about is the exchange negotiated by the Obama folks: five terrorists being held in the Guantánamo prison for a U.S. soldier who has been a guest of the Taliban in Afghanistan for the past five years...
Get it off your chest? Out of your mind? Keep trying (06/06/14)
There are two things on my mind today: sobriety and deer. These are probably not the same two things that are on your mind. If they are, then that's quite a coincidence, isn't it? Not to mention the odds of something like that happening. But now that I've told you what's on my mind -- sobriety and deer -- you probably will be thinking about both topics all day. I wish I knew a catchy tune about sobriety and deer, because then it could drive us all crazy for days...
When the nearest phone was nine miles away (05/30/14)
I came this close -- this close! -- this week to yelling at the driver in the car in front of me at the wait-and-sometimes-go intersection of Broadway and Kingshighway. The driver -- could have been a man, could have been a woman -- was clearly in a snit because of a cellphone. The device either wasn't showing any bars or wasn't responding quickly enough to jabs on the keyboard. More than once the driver threatened to throw the phone into the street...
There is more to the night than things that go bump (05/23/14)
I was reading something the other day that referred to God's promise to Abraham. God said Abraham would have as many descendants as there are stars in the heavens. Have you looked at the stars recently? Or tried to? Poor Abraham. Hardly any kin left, if you put much stock in God's promises...
If the customer gets too smart, what happens next? (05/16/14)
It's hard to say when all this started. Maybe you were paying attention and have a better notion about exact dates. Let's just say that some time ago a funny thing started to happen. I know. I know. Lots of funny things happen all the time. But this is a particular funny thing that I've been trying for a long time to figure out. And now that I think have a clue about what's going on, I'm worried...
Where there's a will ... any mother knows that (05/09/14)
Before my mother died a few years ago, I would ask her about growing up during the Great Depression in the Ozark hills over yonder. It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized, while my wife and I raised our own family, how difficult it must have been in the 1930s...
College athletes are employees? Let them pay taxes (05/02/14)
Now that I'm on the government dole in my retirement, I try to keep track of who's going to pay for my Social Security benefits, my Medicare expenses and any other payments Uncle Sam wants to send my way. Yes, I paid for most of it during nearly half a century of paycheck withholding, but I figure at some point what I paid in is going to be exceeded by what I'm taking out each month. It's simple math...
If Utopia exists, please drop me a line (04/25/14)
After 20 years in Cape Girardeau, you would think we would be used to everything that causes allergies in these parts. Sure, we had allergies -- minor ones -- when we lived in other parts of the country. And we've lived in just about every part over the years...
Want wisteria advice? Ask your wife (04/18/14)
As many of you know, I like to putter in the yard. This includes several flower beds. And then there are a variety of shrubs and flowering trees. I like all of them. Except, of course, the wisteria. You have heard me complain about the wisteria in our yard. I planted it about 15 years ago. It bloomed once. I don't know what I did that year to produce blossoms. I've tried all the tricks I could find on the Internet and from talking to successful gardeners in the area. No more blooms...
Dying eggs and other memories of Easters pass (04/11/14)
After you've lived so long, you find fewer and fewer surprises in life. But they're still there. For example, I was at the Store That Sells Everything the other day, and as I turned the corner past the large cooling case stocked with cartons of eggs, something caught my eye. I stopped, backed up with my shopping cart (not always easy to do in this store) and felt my jaw drop...
Find a missing plane? First, know where to start (04/04/14)
It would be in bad taste to make jokes about the lives lost in the mysterious disappearance of that Malaysian jetliner. So take what follows as one man's musing about the irony that often results from such tragedies. Let's start with the fact that a huge airplane loaded with sophisticated communications equipment can vanish literally into thin air. ...
Yes, I knew him well, but now I'm hungry. Feed me. (03/28/14)
It occurred to me the other day that Missy Kitty, the plump bundle of cat fur snoozing on the wicker chair in the family room, is better known -- far more famous -- than I am. And I'm the one who elevated her to such high status by mentioning her over and over in this column...
If it's not to much to ask, kindly uncage the lamb (03/21/14)
Dear Mr. Lion:Your unexpectedly early arrival -- when was it, last November, maybe October? -- has made for a few interesting months in our neck of the woods. Normally, we expect you to show up in early March. We tend to welcome your bluster and fuss, because it means another visitor will soon arrive, usually by the end of March...
It takes four reporters to say there's nothing to report (03/14/14)
One thing round-the-clock television news channels have taught us is that it is possible to fill 24 hours every day with nonstop news reports based on little or no information. Much of what now passes as broadcast news is pure conjecture at best and sensationalized speculation at worst...
Chilling words at the end of our coldest winter (03/07/14)
When I was growing up on a farm near my favorite hometown in the Ozarks over yonder, there was a prominently displayed sign posted on the wall of the Zephyr Cafe's dining room: "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone." "Anyone" meant persons with dark-colored skin. There was no question about that. Similar signs were at many other businesses...
Is it possible to be goofier than a state legislator? Absolutely (02/28/14)
There have been suggestions in this space in recent months that our state legislators have turned Jefferson City into a goofy party town. Such a town is a place where serious deliberation is grossly overshadowed by efforts that can only be categorized as nonsense. Nullifying federal laws is just for starters...
Will our glorious state flag fade away? (02/21/14)
Some folks in Jefferson City are, once again, proving how little effort it takes to run a state like Missouri. These folks, elected by registered voters, can't find enough to do. They are, apparently, ashamed to take their paychecks and per diems without looking busy to the folks back home...
Cold work deserves warm praise -- and lots of it (02/14/14)
Just about everything that can be said about this miserable winter has been said. But why should that stop me? While many words of thanks have been directed at those who work outdoors in cold weather, not nearly enough has been said on that account. It quite possibly might be impossible to thank everyone adequately...
Missy Kitty and the merits of the Ninth Commandment (02/07/14)
There are so many good things to say about the cat that rules our lives. Her name, as most of you well know, is Missy Kitty. She is accommodated beyond all reason. Spoiled, you say? Rotten. No question about it. Missy Kitty is cute, loving, a great mouser, defender of our yard, playful, funny and affectionate. ...
Some thoughts on being a very cold human being (01/31/14)
There isn't a whole lot I can say about cold weather that you don't already know. But I keep looking for the positive side of our frigid torment. I have to be honest: It's not easy. Each winter my wife says she hopes we get enough cold weather to kill some of the "bugs" that cause various ailments and make us miserable. I have to say I think she got her wish this year. And we don't seem to have so many allergies. Let's count this as a plus for freezing temperatures...
Weather memories, and why they are so unreliable (01/24/14)
So, the polar weather was not quite finished with us. Another blast from the north on the heels of a fine, sunny day that saw temperatures in the 60s. In January. Oh, that's right. It's January. What did we expect? I remember (this is a great way to start -- you know something good is coming) a few winters on Killough Valley over yonder in the Ozark hills. ...
Maybe you can figure this out, but I can't do it (01/17/14)
It was a slow, s-l-o-w news day when the big story broke about the New Jersey governor, the Fort Lee mayor and the traffic snarl that happened several months ago. How do I know it was a slow news day? Well, when a story like this dominates the media for days on end with no understandable explanation of why it was news, you know things in the news business are at a near standstill...
The Ice Age, and other bits of this and that (01/10/14)
Had enough? Ordinarily, this would be the time to make jokes about global warming. But it's darn near impossible to laugh when your tongue is frozen to your teeth. Have you noticed? And it could have been worse. The National Weather Service provided 24 hours of forecasting yoga before The Storm was scheduled to arrive Sunday. My favorite: Expect snow accumulations of 1 to 12 inches. Turns out the NWS was correct. We got the 1 inch. And the Arctic vortex...
All good things must have a beginning ... sometime (01/03/14)
If you expect great things for 2014, I'm with you. Great things have happened in the past: indoor plumbing, remote controls, the Internet, iPads. And great things are out there waiting to happen. I know what's on my list of expectations, but how about yours? If you made New Year's resolutions for 2014, do they include expecting something great to happen in the next 12 months?...
Missy Kitty delivers her annual Christmas wishes (12/20/13)
When you are a cat, you can only do so much. Sure, you can twist your resident humans around your little paw with no trouble at all. But there are bigger and more important needs out there. And let's face it, cats are limited. Why God didn't give us opposable thumbs is still a big mystery...
Cold work, and a cat ad that goes way, way too far (12/13/13)
This is about an ad campaign that has me scratching my head. But first let's give credit where credit is more than due. In the wake of last week's snow/sleet/ice storm, getting from here to there was a challenge. In some parts of Southeast Missouri, power outages added to the misery and inconvenience...
If you figure this out, please explain it to the rest of us (12/06/13)
There are some puzzles that are best suited for coffee shops. This is where most of the world's problems are solved and where questions with no real answers are asked. I've been wrestling with a few topics of my own recently. Maybe you already know the answers. That happens sometimes, when we get bogged down on something and can't see a simple solution, but everyone around us can explain it to us...
If at first you don't succeed, try something not so ad hoc (11/29/13)
Albino deer in Cape Girardeau have touched off a wave of emotional discourse. Some participants in the discussion go so far as to suggest special protection for the animals. Given the fact not everyone is a deer lover, albino or not, there doesn't seem to be a quick fix for the Let's Save Everything With Pink Eyes Alliance...
A slice of time, half a century later (11/22/13)
PREFACE: Everyone of a certain age has a frozen memory of events that occurred 50 years ago today. These events changed the world, but not for the last time. My memory is no better than anyone else's, and everyone who was old enough to remember the day President Kennedy was shot can tell his or her own story. The story I am telling today is the story I know best: my own slice of time...
Well, at least my photo isn't on the wall at the Post Office (11/15/13)
People are so nice in Southeast Missouri. I know this because they are so nice to me, sometimes when I least expect it. I am still both pleased and surprised when folks I have never met before come up to me at restaurants or in supermarkets and tell me they love my column...
'I was hungry and you gave me food' (11/08/13)
Anyone who knows me knows I am hungry all the time, but that's because I have an overgenerous appetite. My hunger is not because I don't have food. I have plenty of food. Maybe I have too much food. Not everyone is so lucky. And these individuals aren't in some far-off, war-torn, drought-stricken region of the world that we only see and hear about on the CBS Evening News. ...
Proud to be from Cape? We can all help with that (11/01/13)
A number of years ago there was a Speak Out comment in the Southeast Missourian that got my dander up. (That's not the only time, of course, but it's the only one pertinent to this column.) The comment said Cape Girardeau's littering problem was so bad that our fair River City of Roses looked worse than Wayne County...
Runaway spending? Where do we slice and dice? (10/25/13)
Now we know. Southeast Missouri's congressman is in favor of closing Fort Leonard Wood. There are plenty of other military facilities to handle the load. Ka-Ching! Billions of dollars saved. And U.S. Rep. Jason Smith favors closing the John J. Pershing VA Medical Center in Poplar Bluff. Let the soldiers who risked their health and limbs in the defense of freedom find their own medical care...
Sorting through life's puzzles on an autumn day (10/18/13)
With the arrival of fall comes that interlude between summer's hectic schedule and winter's desire to hibernate, which makes autumn the perfect time to sit in a La-Z-Boy and think about some of the Really Big Questions. Yes, I know we have big problems to solve all over the world. The plain fact is I cannot contribute much to these Really Big Questions. Neither can you. So let's whittle some thoughts down to our size, shall we?...
Cat stories, and much, much more (10/11/13)
Over lunch the other day, I mentioned to my wife that I hadn't written a column about Missy Kitty for quite some time. Almost everyone who mentions my column to me also asks about Missy Kitty. There is always some story to tell. That's because she's a cat...
This is why autumn is my favorite season of the year (10/04/13)
If a "perfect storm" is when weather disasters converge, what do you call it when autumn arrives and all these glorious fall events take place at the same time? How about "perfect"? Since my favorite season started a couple of weeks ago, there have been more things to do than I have time for...
Sweet memories, sweet sins and sweet forgetfulness (09/27/13)
So you know, up front: This is about sinning, redemption and forgiveness ... or, possibly, forgetfulness. One of those words that start with "for." When I was a youngster, my favorite hometown in the Ozarks over yonder had a bakery. I can't remember everything in its display cases, but I do remember two things for sure: glazed doughnuts and doughnuts filed with red jelly...
What's around the bend? Who knows for sure? (09/20/13)
I haven't always said nice things about roundabouts. You know what I'm talking about. Traffic circles. The latest fad in roadway engineering. "Latest fad" is relative, of course. There have been roundabouts elsewhere in the world for a long, long time. But in this neck of the woods, a roundabout is still something of a novelty...
It's time for downtown golf: Where will you be Sept. 29? (09/13/13)
When Louis Lorimier, founder of our fair city, set up shop along the riverfront, he had no idea there would one day be an internationally acclaimed sporting event named for him. Louis was not a great athlete. Yes, he raced horses when explorers Lewis and Clark visited that time. But did he actually ride a horse? Or did he simply yell, "Faster, you old nag!" as a herd of horses thundered past his home and general store...
The Syria question: Does it really matter to you? (09/06/13)
Whatever President Obama's motivation for seeking congressional authorization for a military response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria (constitutional, political, moral -- all of the above, and more), there are significant indications that most Americans would prefer to see our nation err on the side of caution in this matter...
Cats (like children) can't be spoiled too much (08/30/13)
My wife, who is allergic to cats, dotes on Missy Kitty. I say she spoils the animal. Father Howard Foland, a friend for many years and many years ago, disliked being told his rotund dog was "spoiled." "He is not spoiled," the good father -- who was a bit on the roly-poly side himself -- would say with a sniff of disdain. "He's accommodated."...
It's never too late to make a big deal out of a small flag (08/23/13)
What follows is a true story. Last week I took my wife's car for an oil change. The car is eight years old. It has just over 11,000 miles on the odometer. Neither of us can remember the last time the oil was changed. The reminder sticker on the windshield said the next oil change was due when the odometer rolled round to 12,000 miles or in February -- of last year. So we were either a thousand miles early or 18 months late for the oil change...
You asked, so here are some honest answers (08/16/13)
Q. Joe, you recently blamed strange weather patterns -- specifically, the way rainstorms seem to bypass Cape Girardeau -- on aliens. I thought your thinking was goofy at the time, and now that we've had record rainfall for August, don't you want to apologize?...
As it turns out, God has the greenest thumb of all (08/09/13)
The flower beds and other ornamental plantings around our house continue to surprise and amaze us. We are amazed mainly because we are pretty sure our house sits on a toxic waste dump. How else can you explain some of the weird things involving plants that grow from the soil in our yard?...
Building a new bandwagon and calling it my flagship (08/02/13)
I can't begin to tell you how many of you good folks have come up to me in the past couple of weeks to tell me what a great idea I had. Recently, I wrote that Cape Girardeau, home of the Missouri state flag, has never capitalized on this piece of important state history. I suggested that if AT&T wants to build a 14-story cell tower downtown, then having a huge Missouri flag fluttering at the top would be at least one attempt to claim our rightful heritage...
Something spooky is going on, and I know what it is (07/26/13)
Don't panic, but something strange is happening to Cape Girardeau, and I think I have an explanation. Remember last year's drought? Remember the storm patterns as low-pressure systems and weather fronts moved across Southeast Missouri? I told you then something wasn't right. But now I think I can put my finger on the reason...
Why, it's so hot you could ... something or other (07/19/13)
It's hard to be in Missouri in July without thinking about how hot it is. In reality, though, what we're really thinking about is the humidity. Folks who come to Missouri from other, less humid, parts of the world are amazed that we lifelong Missourians stay here. Why don't we have the good sense, they say, to go on vacation to places where the heat and humidity aren't conspiring to do us in?...
Destination Cape: Why we need more tourism magnets (07/12/13)
We have the Missouri Department of Transportation to thank for the best thing to happen in recent years to raise the visibility of Cape Girardeau. I'm talking about the huge Interstate 55 signs south of I-270 that show motorists which lanes lead to the River City of Roses. (I know that's not the city's moniker anymore, but I still like it way better than its current substitute.)...
And now a word from the folks at quality control (07/05/13)
My wife and I have just returned from a trip to Rapid City, S.D., which is a great central location for Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse memorial, Badlands National Park, Grasslands National Park, Custer State Park, Needles Highway, the Black Hills and many other interesting things to see and do...
Joe Sullivan
River City Journal