Mystery of being fourteen

July 19, 2011 My 14-year-old nephew is a mystery. Of course, I’ve never been a teenage boy so maybe that’s why I can’t relate, but he seems to give new meaning to “walking paradox.” For instance, he wouldn’t pick up a bug with his bare hand but wanted a python as a pet. He would eat cheese pizza by the truckloads but only from certain restaurants. He wanted a particular dog one weekend and when we finally found one the very next weekend, he’d changed his mind.

Are cigars endangered?

July 19, 2011 Are premium cigars next on the federal government’s hit list?You see, as part of the 2010 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has the authority “to regulate marketing and promotion of tobacco products and to set performance standards for tobacco products to protect the public health.”Though the law does not automatically apply to cigars, the FDA can issue new regulations that make cigars subject to the law.Boy, does that have premium cigar advocates worried.

Ledge update

July 19, 2011 LITTLE ROCK —  Arkansas shoppers can enjoy the state’s first sales tax holiday the weekend of August 6 and 7, when retail stores will not charge sales taxes on purchases of school supplies and articles of clothing costing less than $100.Accessories under $50 also will be exempt from the sales tax.  Shoes, boots and sandals will also be exempt if they cost less than $100.

Not your usual stop for food

July 18, 2011 Tuscan sausage pizza, grilled chicken burritos, marinara shrimp pasta, Belgian waffles and banana split pie.No, that’s not what’s for dinner tonight but it is what’s on the menu at one very recognizable restaurant chain in parts of the U.S.Being the hometown of Walt Disney World, every place in a 50-mile radius of Orlando, Fla. seems to require a theme and McDonald’s is no exception. Not only does the city and surrounding towns boast 25 themed restaurants, they take it up a notch by adding “bistro gourmet” alongside their burgers, fries and shakes.

Perception, persuasion versus truth

July 18, 2011 President Obama wants Israel to revert to the pre-1967 borders. That would mean handing some of Christianity’s most sacred sites over to the Palestinian government, which for all intents is controlled by one of the world’s most radical terrorist organizations, Hamas.Do you want them to control some of the most sacred sites of our Christian history?I didn’t think so.

Is this the end of magic?

July 15, 2011 I have never been as excited for a movie as I was for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II.” Don’t worry; I’m not going to spoil anything. I’ll just say the last movie did the other seven justice and then some.

Support for church-state separation

July 15, 2011 Its been a good month for the much-maligned, often misunderstood principle of church-state separation.A whopping 67 percent of the American people agree that the First Amendment requires a clear separation of church and state, according to the 2011 State of the First Amendment survey released July 12 by the First Amendment Center.This is somewhat surprising given the decades-old culture-war fight over the meaning and scope of separation.

New wheels for an old lady

July 15, 2011 As if there weren’t enough changes going on with my life such as a new job, new town and soon a new home; I had to get a new car too.My old one was a 2002 model with over 172,000 miles on it and I have had it for seven years.

Captain America’s patriotism

July 15, 2011 “Mr. Putin, tear down this movie poster!”That’s what I wanted to declare when I learned that three countries (Russia, Ukraine and South Korea) will not be using the full name of the upcoming motion picture “Captain America: The First Avenger” — instead advertising just the watered-down “First Avenger” portion.(To avoid opening ANOTHER can of worms, I won’t list the nations that are advertising the film as “Captain Sugar Daddy: The First Cash Cow.” Folks might take it as a comment on foreign aid.)

Historic lighthouses being sold

July 14, 2011 Want to own a lighthouse?I mean a real one. The government owns about 250 lighthouses, maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, and plans to get rid of — oh, sorry, make that decommission — about a tenth of those within the next few months.Two are up for auction right now. Well, make that one. Bids were to close Wednesday for one of them, but bidding remains open until July 23 for the other.