Retired teachers see pay increase

September 18, 2009 LITTLE ROCK —  Retired teachers recently got an average increase of $51 a month in benefits, thanks to a resolution passed by the Board of Retired of the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System.The increase results from the board’s voting to compound the annual cost of living adjustment for this year. The amount of the increase in the COLA will differ among individuals, depending on their final average salary and years of service. Compounding the COLA was a one-time only decision that will increase benefits to retired teachers by $19 million this fiscal year.

Terrible thing to bee-fall climber

September 17, 2009 “I was 50 feet up a tree. It was in the spring of my 50th year when 50,000 bees fell on my head,” author Doug Elliott writes in his latest book, “Swarm Tree: Of Honeybees, Honeymoons and the Tree of Life.”“Fifty thousand bees weigh more than you might think,” Elliott says. “...The mass landed heavily, with a buzzing thud and pushed my hat down to my ears. Within a few seconds I was virtually covered with bees. They oozed down over my shoulders, arms and trunk like a mass of living, breathing, buzzing pudding. The bees that missed me began flying back ...

An over ‘FED’ mind

September 16, 2009 I don’t recall exactly when it began but I wish it would stop: I think about the federal government all the time now.There is no way to avoid it.Every time I turn on the tube, President Obama is on — or there are people talking about what he is trying to do.Every time I go to a cookout or party, the conversation always turns to politics and worries about what our political class is trying to do.

The blizzard of 1979

September 15, 2009 “Every man has a rainy corner of his life whence comes foul weather which follows him.”                             —Jean Paul Richter

My night to purge

September 15, 2009 Ever since I started watching “Hoarders,” Monday nights have become my night to purge.After seeing the clutter and filth that some people live in, I am all about throwing away my own stuff that’s unwanted, unneeded and unusable. It’s the opposite of hoarding. The people on the show often say they get joy by buying things, but I’m getting joy by tossing them out.

Lincoln’s new role

September 14, 2009 LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Blanche Lincoln’s ascendancy to lead the Senate Agriculture Committee doesn’t assure her an easy ride to re-election next year.But it may at least level the playing field.The announcement last week that Lincoln is taking over as the chairman of the powerful committee was a spot of bright news for the Arkansas Democrat after a summer of troubling signs for her re-election bid. Between public opinion polls showing weak support for her bid and a virtual parade of Republicans crowding the field to take her on, good news was in short supply for Lincoln.

Real, unreal neighbors

September 14, 2009 “Your weeds are in violation of section 3A of our neighborhood covenants.”The letter was stuck in my friend’s mailbox. She opened it late one night after returning home from visiting her husband who had taken a job out of state.The husband had lost his job the previous year, and taking a position six hours away was a last resort in order to keep making the mortgage payments.

Goodbye Poplar Tunes

September 14, 2009 It opened its doors following World War II, and just about everyone, including Elvis Presley, bought their favorite music there.On Thursday, after more than 60 years Poplar Tunes at 308 Poplar and a second location at 4622 Faronia has closed its doors.The decision to close is the result of a number of econmic factors, according to Music City Record Distributors of Nashville, Tenn., which bought the music stores in 2001. Internet digital downloads and different musical tastes are two such reasons.