Budget freeze

July 1, 2010 LITTLE ROCK —  State employees did not get pay raises when the new fiscal year began today. State employee pay raises traditionally take effect at the beginning of the state fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30.Budget officials hope that if the economy improves and state revenue increases, a raise may be possible about halfway through the fiscal year.In FY 2010 the state had to trim its budget by $206 million. Also, the state tapped into a rainy day fund for about $25 million to avoid cuts in services.

Something ventured, something gained

June 30, 2010 The tears came without warning the next morning while alone in my car. I wasn’t sobbing and my expression was somewhere between a grin and disbelief, but tears were trickling down my cheeks.Only on television did people quit their jobs because they felt unfulfilled as an artist and have it actually work out. Most people who walk away from paying gigs to become singers, artists, or in my case, writers, end up penniless and begging for their old job back after learning that they weren’t quite as good as they thought they were.

Look at our (faded) yellow ribbons

June 30, 2010 Edith Shain was 91 years old when she died last week in her home in Los Angeles. You knew her as the woman in the iconic black-and-white photo of a jubilant soldier kissing a nurse in Times Square on V-J Day. The snapshot tells an American tale of a war ending and an entire generation of people coupling up — creating the suburbs, a solid middle-class and a stupendous baby boom.

Get fierce, or get ready to fall

June 30, 2010 Can a single conversation ruin your business?  Or end your marriage?Author and leadership expert Susan Scott says, “While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a company, a relationship or a life — any conversation can.”Scott, the author of “Fierce Conversations,” writes, “Our lives succeed or fail gradually, then suddenly, one conversation at a time.” Which is kind of a scary thought given that most of us don’t spend much time thinking about, or planning, our daily conversations.

Friendship Outreach is organization, not church

June 29, 2010 Dear Editor:We just received the Progress 2010 edition in the Guard. Great job! But I do have one significant correction. Friendship Outreach, Inc. is not now, nor has it ever been a church, but a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit, faith-based community service organization.

Press meeting

June 29, 2010 Another year has gone by, at least for the Arkansas Press Association’s annual meeting, and it was apparent that it’s been a tough one for newspapers in general. Much of the focus was on revenue (such as the loss of, where it’s going, how to generate more, etc.). While the recession is making somewhat of a turnaround, that news isn’t necessarily translating into the newspaper industry at an equal pace.

Necessity mother of invention

June 29, 2010 What makes someone a great friend?Here’s a sentiment that helped make America great: Necessity is the mother of invention.Ted Conley offers a fine example.Conley, a 48-year-old software engineer, was laid off from a large financial services firm in February 2009.With four children to support — two teenage daughters from a prior marriage and a young daughter and son from his current marriage — he began looking for work immediately.His 3-year-old son, Pierce, added to his worry.

Happy 4th of July

June 29, 2010 Take a moment this Sunday on the Fourth of July as we’re gathered around picnic tables, pool sides, at the beach or in a town square or city park to say a little something about what you’re grateful for about America.Put down the hotdog and the sparkler and really give it a little thought.We have all come through so much together in recent years and it hasn’t given us much time to reflect about anything. If you were laid off from a job it’s probably even been a little harder to come up with much to feel good about but it’s there and it’s worth remembering.

What’s old is new

June 28, 2010 If you thought nail polish like black, green, yellow and the like were new — you and I were both wrong. The first time I saw someone wearing yellow nail polish on their fingers last year I couldn’t believe it and until the lady proceeded to tell me it was the “new red,” I still couldn’t believe it. Sure the woman worked at a prominent makeup store, but she also looked like she had taken a yellow highlighter to her nails, and in my opinion, it failed to suit her pale skin and blond locks. Then again, I probably wouldn’t care for bright yellow nail polish on anyone.

What makes a great friend?

June 28, 2010 What makes someone a great friend?Is it being supportive and accepting you just the way you are?Or is it someone who has the guts to kick you in the tail and demand that you do better?I had an abysmal book signing several years ago that gave me a different perspective on what it really means to be a friend.