Five lessons learned

May 4, 2011 Just as most of us will never forget where we were on Sept. 11, 2001, most of us will never forget where we were on May 1, 2011, the evening that the world was told that Osama bin Laden, the man responsible for causing so much unforgettable pain on 9/11, was dead.For many Americans the announcement brought some element of closure. For others it brought back the pain of that day. Nearly 10 years later we are a nation still living under the ghost known as grief.

American spirit now from abroad

May 4, 2011 I know a fellow from Lebanon who is more American than most Americans.In 1977, when I was 14, I rode my bike, played ball with my friends and enjoyed a safe and happy American existence.During that same year at the same age, the Lebanese fellow I now know was dragging dead bodies into the street and setting them on fire.As civil war raged in his country — as Beirut was bombed every night —many dead bodies lay in the streets. The stench was so great, he and his neighbors dragged the bodies into a pile and burned them.

Filtering mistake

May 3, 2011 My phone rang, and I recognized the voice on the other end as that of The Dean over Student Standards. His voice was terse, and I could tell he was not happy. “What the devil is going on over there?!”Back then I taught math at a small religious college, and in the evening I worked part time as a programmer for a government contractor. My programming assignment was to develop software that would later become part of the yet unknown phenomenon, the Internet.

Day of reckoning arrives

May 3, 2011 They got him. Put a couple of slugs in his face. Then they dumped his body in the sea — something for the fish, which don’t much care what they eat, to feed on.No matter how you look at it, this was a masterful stroke by a group of Navy Seals who went about their business with great skill and steely nerves. Naturally, great credit went to the president who stuck with an operation that was set in motion by his predecessor, George W. Bush.

National show of support

May 3, 2011 I don’t know if I have anything more to add to the news, other than what we’ve all heard and read already. I have a bit of a morbid streak and would have liked to seen the body. Maybe it’s all the “CSI” and “Criminal Minds” shows I watch — they have no problem showing the most gruesome depictions they can dream up, not to mention all the horror shows. So yes, I will admit to being somewhat desensitized in addition to being a bit ghoulish. But it’s not like I want to see every dead body out there. Just bin Laden’s.

Ledge update

May 2, 2011 LITTLE ROCK — The deadline to apply for Academic Challenge Scholarships for next school year is June 1.The Department of Higher Education has a newly re-designed web page that focuses viewer attention on how to apply for college scholarships. Also, the Department has a new “app” that people with smart phones can use to apply for financial aid and to keep track of their application status.

Routine changes

May 2, 2011 Saturday marked my seventh time to see Jerry Lee Lewis perform in concert at the Beale Street Music Festival in downtown Memphis and each year he never fails to put on a great show. Luke, who has seen the 1950s rock ’n’roller 12 times, and I (who have seen him a total of nine) have made the festival a yearly event since Lewis has too, and we’ll probably continue going as long as “the Killer” keeps showing up.

All about the party

April 29, 2011 I get the whole fascination with William and Kate’s royal wedding. I even get the mixed reactions every time it’s mentioned. Women let out a delighted “oh” and clap their hands. Men groan and roll their eyes. My friend Jenn Gibbons’ mother went out and got tiaras that they can decorate themselves and wear in honor of the occasion. My neighbor Matt let out a laugh when he heard of all the going-on.

Will levee be blown near Cairo?

April 29, 2011 Word came along Wednesday — not official word, but Mississippi “River Rat” buzz — that the U.S. Corps of Engineers is sending 60 tons of explosives up the Mississippi River to near Cairo, Ill., to blow a breach in the Bird’s Point (Missouri) Levee to take floodwater pressure off the levee that protects Cairo.“The explosives were at Blytheville this morning,” Charles McKenzie of Evening Shade said Wednesday morning. McKenzie is a retired riverboat chief engineer who spent 17 years working for Ingram Barge Co. He currently owns and operates McKenzie Monuments near Pfeiffer.

Final exam

April 28, 2011 I was taking a computer science class that was considered by most students to be the hardest one in the curriculum, and it was taught by the hardest teacher. We met for three hours each week and, as we were finishing up the next to last class, he made an announcement.“For the final next week, I will allow one of two options. For the first option, you will take the final, and it will count for half of your grade.”