The new reality?

January 19, 2011 Imagine a handsome young family complete with kids living in a stylish two-story home in a quiet neighborhood. The parents work quiet middle-class jobs. Dad is a city bus driver. Mom is a secretary. Their house is brimming with consumer goods: a couple of mammoth-sized televisions, a drum set for the kids and high-end furniture. Mom’s closet is bursting with her ample wardrobe. Dad has a motorcycle. Combined they make just under $90,000 a year.

Change the standards

January 18, 2011 There’s something remarkably similar to the dual American problems of obesity and political trash-talking. Short term solutions made situations worse and in both instances most of us didn’t seem to notice till the problem was way out of hand.We have become a nation that’s more overweight than not, willing to watch people who call themselves politicians or policy makers trash talk others.

Hens scrap at party

January 18, 2011 Any other time of year, Gary has two favorite shows, “Two and a Half Men” and “Everybody Loves Raymond.”Doesn’t matter if he’s seen them a hundred times. When I come home from work, if the TV is on it is turned to one of those two shows. This time of year, he’s watching more football but I still don’t know a Seahawk from a Raven. Instead, I’ll retreat to my scrapbook room or find a quiet nook and read.

Home item in question

January 18, 2011 When I arrived at Buster’s house, the first thing I noticed was the weathervane on the roof. It was the most realistic one I had ever seen. It stood up there as if it were guardian of the wind, staring down like a rooster sentinel watching all who came.I hadn’t seen Buster in a long time. We grew up only a few miles apart, and spent a lot of time together. Now, though we only live about 20 miles apart, our lives keep us busy and we don’t get together too often.

Leave well enough alone

January 17, 2011 Dear editor:Why do some people not just leave well enough alone? We need to leave the metro police and sheriff’s department the same.They are doing just fine in my eyes. If they change the department, we will have to have a new metro chief at taxpayers’ expense, another building at taxpayers’ expense, more metro officers at taxpayers’ expense. The sheriff’s department will lose reserve officers. Right now they have one reserve officer for every officer in the sheriff’s office. Some do it for free; some get paid.

Elvis this ’n’ that

January 17, 2011 Last week I wrote about country singer Johnny Cash after a visit to his boyhood home, but I can’t remember the last time I wrote about Elvis Presley, so I figure I’m about due. (A few readers have said I write too much about the entertainer, however, those columns are ones in which I’ve received more nice comments.)Elvis would have turned 76 on Jan. 8 and like most years Luke and I traveled to Memphis to partake in some of the events scheduled around the big day.

Legislative disputes

January 17, 2011 LITTLE ROCK —  It didn’t take long for the first dispute of the 88th General Assembly to surface.Freshmen legislators took their oaths of office on Monday. On Thursday the House of Representatives sent the General Appropriation bill back to committee, rather than approve it and send it to the Senate. It was a signal that this legislative session will not be “business as usual.”

Exploring Arkansas

January 14, 2011 Jana Wood’s “Arkansas: An Explorer’s Guide” is the definitive guide to enjoying The Natural State. Wood, a native Arkansan and former communications director for the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, is both knowledgeable and passionate; her love for the state and its people and places comes through on every page of this well-written, easy to use travel guide.

Glimmers of hope in sea of despair is on the rise

January 14, 2011 Each Jan. 16, Americans are supposed to celebrate Religious Freedom Day, our least known, most neglected national holiday — except, perhaps, for the even more obscure Bill of Rights Day widely ignored every Dec. 15.

Gun remedies

January 13, 2011 Growing up, my father — now retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after 35 years of service — frequently took me shooting and to just about every gun show within a 100-mile radius of our Southern California home.In fact, as I write this, several of the guns from his collection are on display at the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia.I may be a progressive but I have absolutely no problem with private gun ownership.