Madonna and a little Mercy

April 20, 2009 Malawi’s rejection of Madonna’s attempt to adopt a little 3-year-old girl named Mercy makes for alliteration and good headlines, but it’s the underlying story that really deserves the attention. Mercy is just the unfortunate poster-child for a much larger tragedy.

It’s contagious

April 20, 2009 Earlier last year a reader sent me an e-mail, suggesting I write a column about yawning and how contagious it can be when watching someone else do it. Here it is almost one year later, and I cannot count how many times I’ve stared at my computer screen trying to write about the subject.

Health highlights session

April 17, 2009 LITTLE ROCK — The 2009 legislative session will be remembered for the variety of expanded health care programs that were approved.Creation of a statewide trauma system is the cornerstone of the legislature’s health care package, but many other initiatives also received a boost in funding.Home health care programs will be expanded. Their value is in helping senior citizens live independently at home, without having to stay in a nursing home or other long-term care facility.

Free press still needed

April 17, 2009 Thomas Jefferson’s 266th birthday came and went on April 13 without much notice by Americans.At Monticello, Mr. Jefferson’s historic home near Charlottesville, Va., the U.S. Army’s Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps provided music, and wreaths were presented to honor the anniversary of Jefferson’s birth. The relatively modest pomp and ceremony were duly noted in the press.Jefferson famously once remarked that given a choice between government without newspapers and newspapers without government, he “would not hesitate to prefer the latter.”

Spring gushes, trickles

April 16, 2009 Thanks to Roy Goodman of Batesville for bringing in an Oct. 13, 1946, Arkansas Gazette article about an unusual spring on the Strawberry River near Evening Shade.Batesville residents Stanley Hanford and Claude Justus guided Gazette writer Tom Shiras to the “intermittent spring” on the Fourth of July that year.When they reached the spring about noon on that holiday, Shiras wrote, only a trickle of water was flowing from it.

The pyramid scheme

April 15, 2009 I was just a naive kid at the time. That’s how I got snookered.It happened in the spring of 1978. My best friend Ayresie and I had quit our jobs as cooks at the Ponderosa Steakhouse to start a business rebuilding retaining walls. We put an ad in the community paper and some fool — attracted by the cheap labor, no doubt — entrusted his driveway wall to us.

Wait till next year, Part 1

April 14, 2009 I was cursed at birth. Yes, I was born a Chicago Cubs fan. Well, that’s what I claim, anyway. That heavy burden actually arrived a few years later. It’s my father’s fault, regardless.

Table for two, please

April 14, 2009 I wish grown-ups got a spring break, too. True, I know we have that option, just take a week of vacation. But whenever spring break rolls around every year, I get just a little green at all my friends and family who work for schools or colleges and talk about how wonderful it will be to sleep in, go to the beach or whatever it is they’re planning to do.

Future Betty Crocker?

April 13, 2009 I love the Food Network on TV, and I think I’ve gained a cookbook fascination from my mom. I’ve started a little collection of cookbooks and I don’t even have my own kitchen, yet. Still, there’s just something fascinating to me about cooking from scratch, even if I don’t do very much of it. I love to bake. The Thanksgiving dinner I prepared this past year was absolutely scrumptious; and, one evening, while I really didn’t know what I was doing, I made some very yummy pan gravy to go with fried pork chops.