Charlie Sheen offered higher speaking fee than President Clinton

April 7, 2011 Okay, so I realize I’m a bit late for April Fool’s, so I guess you can just call this headline a big fat lie. Although give it a day or two and I’m afraid it may just come true. It’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibility, not in an age in which Snooki from Jersey Shore is paid more than literary legend Toni Morrison to speak at the same institution.

Raining on prom

April 7, 2011 A disclaimer: I missed out on my own high school prom back in 1978, so you may dismiss this column as sour grapes; but I felt compelled to comment on the dark underbelly of this pervasive phenomenon.The traditional pre-prom photos snapped by parents are particularly troubling, producing toxic results that will survive for eons. Pre-prom photos are the evil twin of new cars; the hairstyles and facial hair immediately turn humiliatingly nerdy as soon as you drive them off the lot.

Medicare discussion

April 6, 2011 If we really care about our children’s future, now is the time for Americans on both sides of the aisle to cast aside their political aspirations long enough to carry on an adult conversation about debt reduction and spending cuts.Now is also the time to remind ourselves why Washington is still discussing the 2011 budget this late in the year. We are here today because Democrats, controlling all three branches of government last year, failed to pass a budget - because they were too busy spending borrowed money.

If the First Amendment had to be ratified today…

April 6, 2011 Republicans will tell you they’re the sole Constitutional purists in the country; they worship the document more/better than you do. But imagine if the First Amendment had to be voted on today. It would need two-thirds majority in both Houses just to be proposed.Consider it: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The big picture

April 6, 2011 Doesn’t it make you crazy when people can’t see the big picture?You’ll be in the middle of a project, and they do something completely counter to the goals.  In our family, we call it the doorbell dynamic. There’s a story to explain. My parents remodeled their house a few years back.  It was an old, boxy split-level on a lake.  They bought it because the lake was beautiful, it was near the grandkids, and the price was right. But it needed a lot of work, and they pretty much gutted the entire interior.

Opening homes, wallets for pets

April 5, 2011 Gary and I were among the scores of people crowded into what was at one time a water holding tank Saturday night for the Humane Society of Independence County’s fundraiser.The Trivia Game Night was held in the firefighter training facility down by the river, and it really was a lot of fun. We’d never been to one (although we’ve all played trivia board games), but from what I hear these trivia events are the wave of the future for fundraising, popping up everywhere, it seems, for various causes. In my opinion, helping animals is one of the best causes.

Defining moments

April 5, 2011 The recent democratic uprisings calling for social change that have been a rolling wave of protests across the Middle East may seem like a reflection of our distant past from 1776 or perhaps even the Civil War but look again. The U.S. had a lurch in mid-step during 1968 that continues to affect everything.The year started with a wave of optimism and promises of more basic civil rights for women and blacks that were already changing the way neighborhoods looked and corporations did business from the root level.

It takes a community to raise a child

April 5, 2011 As I stood in the grocery store checking my list, I thought I heard someone call my name. I turned around, but I didn’t see anyone I recognized, so I went back to my list. I heard my name again, but this time there was no mistaking it. I turned to see a young man approaching me. He was about 6 foot 2, and skinny. I couldn’t figure out who he was until he grinned. That grin triggered memories I would never forget, nor could I believe who was standing in front of me.“Mr. Howard, do you remember me?”I laughed. “Dustin! My how you’ve grown.”

Dressed to kill

April 5, 2011 “You are not leaving the house dressed like that, young lady!’’“Oh, Mother, all my friends are dressing this way!”“In high heels, hip-hugger pants and a tube top that leaves your stomach exposed? I don’t think so!’’“But, Mother, don’t you know that the popular culture has been driving fashion for years? So many TV shows feature young girls wearing provocative clothing. Is it any wonder younger and younger girls are dressing this way?”“Not in this household they aren’t!”

Happy birthday, Mom

April 4, 2011 She is one of my best friends and someone I look up to despite what she might think and today she celebrates her birthday. I won’t divulge her age, but Mom looks great for it. One thing I hate about being an adult and on one of life’s different paths is being away from her but any time I can spend with her is treasured and this weekend I did just that.Although she only lives about two hours away I hate that it’s not minutes, but she’s never more than a phone call away.