Lottery missteps

November 26, 2010 LITTLE ROCK — The new Arkansas lottery system needs to improve its financial practices to avoid a loss of integrity, to eliminate a lack of transparency and to prevent any violations of state law, legislative auditors have found.The lack of financial controls is serious enough that legislators charged with oversight of the lottery have increased the frequency of reviews, stepping up meetings with auditors from once a year to six times a year until the problems are fixed.

Crazies are winning

November 26, 2010 Four years ago I had hip replacement surgery — which involves having an implant containing metal — and that means that every time I fly, which is often, a Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) employee passes a wand over my body to be sure I’m not concealing some explosive device on my person. I’m used to it and I don’t complain. It’s the price we pay for airline safety.

Finding spiritual growth

November 24, 2010 Is the recession good for your soul?The economic numbers continue to fluctuate, and the most reported psychological symptoms of the recession are depression, fear, worry and stress. Yet what has gone relatively unreported is the rise in gratitude and an appreciation for thrifty living.According to a study from market research firm Decitica, 71percent of men say they feel more fortunate now, and 76 percent of women say they feel more grateful. Both figures are up significantly from previous years.

Celebrating Thanksgiving

November 24, 2010 Most Americans know the story of Squanto and how he helped the Pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts survive the winter of 1621 by showing them how to adapt to their new home. School children everywhere still celebrate the great tidings with cornucopias and pilgrim hats and turkeys drawn by tracing a hand and coloring in the fingers like feathers. The thumb is always the turkey’s head.

Praying for solace

November 23, 2010 When you’re a bereaved parent, to say holidays suck is putting it mildly. Nothing is the same; everything changes, in ways you’d never imagine. The grief is like a weight tied around your foot, pulling you further and further down. If you can keep your head above the water, then you’re doing all right by most accounts.

Holiday book list

November 23, 2010 The holidays are approaching rapidly. Chanukah begins Dec. 2 and Christmas is not far behind. There will be plenty of books being given as gifts, most of them from the bestseller lists. However, if you’re shopping for someone who loves books it can be difficult to know if you’ve found something they’ve never read.

Giving thanks

November 23, 2010 I’m thankful that this year many merchants were considerate enough to begin Christmas sales shortly after Columbus Day to avoid interfering with Halloween and Thanksgiving.I’m also thankful that:• Starbucks managed to put the snowflake designs on its paper cups long before most of the country got any snow.• The Neiman Marcus Christmas Book — a catalog so lavish they call it a book — this year includes a $15,000 edible gingerbread playhouse.

Finding revenue

November 22, 2010 LITTLE ROCK  — The Blue Ribbon Committee on Highway Finance last week finalized a report on how to pay for improvements and maintenance to state highways and bridges.The Legislature will consider the proposals during the regular session that begins Jan. 10. Members of the Blue Ribbon Committee have suggested that tax increases may need to be referred to voters for approval, rather than enacted by the Legislature, because the political climate at the Capitol is strongly against tax increases.

Royal excitement

November 22, 2010 Don’t tell anyone, but when I was about 13 years old I dreamed I would be the girl who would capture the heart of England’s Prince William, the eldest son of Prince Charles and Diana Windsor. Long before the Internet, I was lucky to have the complete Encyclopedia Britannica collection while growing up and it was there I first learned of William and our tiny two-year age difference. I’d daydream about how neat it would be to meet the royal prince and be the one he would choose as his wife.Me, a commoner.

Thanksgiving holidays of yore

November 22, 2010 The fourth Thursday of November is definitely the bestest holiday. Food, Family, Friends and Football. Four of the five F’s. I most fondly remember the Thanksgivings of yesteryear. The big, old family reunions, which I looked forward to, until about five seconds after I hit the driveway, then it all comes back … why I left home. And they always made me sit at that stupid fold-up cardboard kids’ table. Never got to graduate to the wooden table because none of them would die. Darn medical advances.