New approach: Less is more

May 24, 2011 I’ve been watching “Hoarders” again. That’s not great news for my trash pickup guys, since it usually involves my throwing stuff away. But every so often, I’ve got to do this, or I just get overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we have that we don’t need. And the more clutter I have, the more it affects my mood in a negative way.

When schools go to church, conflict follows

May 23, 2011 Like thousands of other public school students across the country, seniors in Irving, Texas, will graduate from high school next month — although in Irving they’ll go to church to get their diplomas. The venue is the Potter House, a megachurch led by Bishop T.D. Jakes, site of Irving commencements since 2004.

Niece, nephew moving on

May 23, 2011 I can still remember the butterflies I’d get knowing there were only a few days of school left before summer. For many students across the area that time is now. Many will be leaving one grade for another while others mark the end of one era to begin a new one this fall.On Friday my niece Ashley graduated from Hillcrest High School, and to be honest, I can’t believe it. It was only a few short years ago (ok, 17) that she was brought home from the hospital, a precious, tiny little bundle. I can remember it. I was there.

Arkansas troops in Civil War

May 20, 2011 One hundred and fifty years ago, Arkansawyers began taking serious the preparations that were needed to head off any Northern invasions. As Arkansas seceded on May 6, 1861, the First Arkansas Volunteer Regiment left the grounds of the Little Rock Arsenal on May 8 and arrived in Lynchburg, Va., on May 19, 1861. Arkansas was officially supplying troops to the Confederate States Army.

Break out the bell bottoms

May 20, 2011 “The wife and I have a plan to survive this lousy economy. We’re breaking out our bell bottoms.”“Ah, yes, you refer to a recent article in the Financial Times by Spencer Jakab. He writes about a growing fear that America may relive the ‘70s.”“That’s right. Slow growth, high unemployment, high inflation — ‘stagflation’ is what we called it then!”“There certainly is that fear it will happen again.”

How to grow optimism

May 20, 2011 In many cities across America spring has sprung at last. I’m not quite including where I sit in Chicago in that group just yet because we keep bouncing around between the high 80s one day and feeling like it’s in the 30s with the wind chill. We’ve been holding steady mostly in the 50s, which is still 20 degrees below normal for this time of year.

Ledge update

May 20, 2011 LITTLE ROCK — Officials at the state Department of Human Services are working to correct problems at the State Hospital.One area of concern is treatment of children with dual diagnoses, meaning they suffer from mental illness as well as a developmental disability.  An advocacy group has asked federal authorities to review disciplinary incidents to determine if treatment of children put them in danger. The group also is seeking changes in how medications are prescribed to avoid excess use of sedatives as a method of keeping the children docile.

GOP on health care: Twist & shout

May 19, 2011 The best thing about the upcoming 2012 election is that the ominous “Obamacare” was a Republican idea. But now since this alternative to Hillarycare was signed into law by a (gasp) Democratic president the GOP has been trying to peg as a radical socialist Kenyan — Republicans now have to be against their own ideas.Politicians who are already adept wafflers and wrigglers are shadowboxing with their pre-Obama-Administration-selves. It’s a very avant garde off-off-Broadway production sponsored by Koch Industries and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

Finding of tomb creates mystery

May 19, 2011 An article in the Oct. 7, 1882 edition of the Hartford (Mich.) Day Spring newspaper tells of an unusual artifact found a few days earlier by stonecutter J.H. Cook of Hartford while quarrying on a farm owned by W.L. Thomas in the community of Bangor. Both Hartford and Bangor are in Van Buren County, Mich.Writers Carol Stone and Roy M. Davis, telling the story in the September 2007 edition of Ancient American magazine, state that had the relic been saved, it would have been of inestimable value to antiquarians.

‘Interesting’ communication from students

May 19, 2011 Most of my college students are bright, fun to teach, and work hard.But each semester I get interesting letters, emails and phone calls from a few students. I save these, and occasionally I compile them into a column. Last year I shared some, and I thought I’d share a few more this week. This semester, some of my colleagues have also forwarded some on to me, and the first three are from them. I don’t think any of these comments need any explanation, other than to say I changed or removed any names for anonymity, and some I had to pare down a bit: