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Columns

  • Magic Bars, chocolate covered Oreos, Monkey Bread... oh my!

    As I sit here, trying diligently to concentrate on my work, there is a container of chocolate covered Oreos screaming my name. I'm desperately trying to ignore their call, but they are begging me to come rescue them from their Tupperware prison and devour them and their double stuffed goodness.

    Oh, and sitting directly beside the chocolate covered Oreos are Magic Bars that have done a trick on my taste buds, since all I can think about is their perfect layers of graham cracker crumbs, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips and coconut flakes.

  • My personal letter to Santa

    Dear Santa,

    I hope you're well this year and aren't too worn out by the time you reach Taylor County on Christmas Eve. There are a few things I'd like to ask you to bring some of the people who live here.

    Local school systems - A winter of healthy students and snow only on weekends. Santa, it would also be a good idea to keep the state legislators from taking the school districts' contingency funds. They worked so hard to save that money all year, it really wouldn't be fair to yank it out from under them after you demanded that they save it.

  • The gift of open government

    With Christmas just days away as I write this, the thought of writing a full column on one topic just wasn't going to work. Or maybe it's just the distractions that come with the holidays have rendered me incapable of staying focused on one topic.

    Either way, instead of a full treatment of anything, I'll offer a few "stocking stuffers" on some items that have caught my attention.

    -- The Jefferson Circuit Court has provided a gift on behalf of open government.

  • There's always a silver lining

    Seems that every time we have an election, I do this. And since I'm a creature of habit, I guess I'll do it again.

    Tuesday's special election saw a higher turnout than expected. A whopping 23 percent. Of the county's 17,000-plus registered voters, only 4,000 of them bothered to cast their votes. Statewide, the turnout was only slightly better at 24 percent.

    OK, quiet down. I can already hear your arguments.

    "It was a special election and there was only one race on the ballot."

  • Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays ... who cares?

    Every year about this time, great debates arise about keeping "Christ in Christmas" and whether it is proper for stores to use "Merry X-mas" or the more generic "Seasons Greetings" in advertising or for clerks to greet customers with "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

    I think we should be grateful for clerks who are polite enough to offer any greeting, much less pick apart how they say it. Friendly clerks are a blessing.

  • Unexpected Christmas gifts

    Christmas gifts come in a variety of packages, but the best ones come as surprises, off the cuff, bouncing off the wall, the where-did-it-come-from kind of surprises.

    My wife asked me the other day what special Christmas memories I had. No way, stressed as I was with getting ready for Christmas, could I think of any Christmas memories. But, Christmas gifts, like memories, most often come in unexpected ways.

    Don Hughes has cancer. That's why I know him. I visited him for the first time over a year ago.

  • A few of my favorite things

    I love to go to movie theaters. There's just something about seeing a movie on the big screen that is exciting to me. Surround sound speakers and larger-than-life picture make the stories seem so much more real than watching at home.

    I also love to read mysteries, crime dramas and real-life survivor and hero stories. You can escape to anywhere in a good book.

    And I love to listen to all genres of music, but my favorite is country. Give me anything by Sugarland, Keith Urban and Little Big Town, and I'm set.

  • Flip-flopping speed limits don't make sense

    It's quite a humbling experience to get caught doing something wrong in front of one's children. But about four years ago, that's just what happened.

    The kids and I were traveling home from a soccer game when blue lights flashed in my rearview window. I glanced down. Uh oh. While we were laughing and talking about the game, the speedometer needle had crept upwards without my realizing it.

    The kids were shocked: Mom was getting pulled over by a police officer.

    Of course, they laughed about it later, and they still won't let me forget it.

  • No one has to live in abuse

    Tammy's world was spinning out of control. (Tammy is not a real person, but many have lived in similar situations.) First, her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Tammy lived closer to her mom than any of her brothers and sisters, and this meant Tammy transported Mom to chemo and radiation treatment.

    Second, Tammy had three children of her own who were in many different activities after school and on weekends. Though she was married, Tammy had no help in transporting and supervising the children.

  • No time left for double-checking

    I'm starting to get a little worried. OK, to be honest, I'm getting a lot worried. Christmas is just 22 days away, and I'm nowhere near ready for it.

    We do have the Christmas tree and a few decorations up. But Christmas cards haven't even been bought yet, let alone addressed or mailed. Barely half of the gifts have been purchased, and not the first one has been wrapped.

    I'm ashamed. Usually I'm much more prepared than this. I like being organized, with calendars and lists and such. But it just hasn't happened this year.