Steamboats in history

September 24, 2009 A nifty book I picked up for about 25 cents somewhere is interesting to steamboat buffs and history buffs. “Merchant Steam Vessels of the United States 1807-1868” is a 294-page list of steamboats, including inland waterway vessels, sometimes called The Lytle List for its compiler, William M. Lytle who gathered the information from official Merchant Marine documents and other sources.The copyright on my copy is 1952.

Rampant rudeness

September 23, 2009 Outbursts in Congress, cursing on the tennis courts, and grabbing the mic from a young award winner; everyone is lamenting our loss of civility as more and more public figures continue to behave badly. To quote my grandmother, I think someone has forgotten their manners. It would be easy to go off on a rant about the disrespectful congressman, the angry athlete or the scene-stealing rapper, but these people are not acting in a cultural vacuum.

What about a Twinkie tax?

September 23, 2009 In that corner, you got your “seven deadly sins.” This is a list of bad stuff people do, thought by many to be listed in the Bible, but it isn’t. The list was actually compiled by Pope Gregory, sometime around 600 AD. Nonetheless, it has become part of Christian doctrine and, well, that’s all that really matters, isn’t it?

A slow, quick goodbye

September 22, 2009 In the waning days of winter, March 1980, I was 23 years old, and my father was dying.His illness was a startling development. He’d been working every day as a machinist, as he had for decades, right up to the morning my phone rang with my mother’s frantic message that there was something seriously wrong with Dad. He couldn’t talk. At all.

Don’t let ’em grow up to be hoarders

September 22, 2009 I have a fear that my 7-year-old niece could one day be on the A&E show “Hoarders.”On Sunday Gary and I went to Mountain Home, where our niece and nephew live. Our main objective was to pick up a blue ribbon at the Baxter County Fair, where Abby won first place for her scrapbook page. We were all so excited that she did so well, especially with this being her first time to enter. For the record, she did her page all by herself. She’s been scrapbooking four years now, and even though she’s in second grade she can whip out a page with ease.

Politics of race

September 21, 2009 The Democrats, led by certain members of Congress and former President Jimmy Carter, have developed a new tactic to dismiss growing displeasure with President Obama’s policies. As his approval ratings continue to drop, hesitancy over health care has snarled the plan’s progress, and tens of thousands marched on Washington this past weekend, the left has decided the entire opposition can be dismissed by the obfuscating charge of racism.

He had the time of his life

September 21, 2009 I will never forget the first time I saw it. It was a rainy day after school in 1993 or ’94 at Bridget’s, my next door neighbor and classmate’s house. My aunt had to be taken to White River Medical Center at Batesville by my parents and I was to wait there until they arrived home. To occupy our time Bridget asked if I wanted to watch “Dirty Dancing.” Needless to say I didn’t know if I should be watching anything “dirty,” but I said yes. After all, her mom was OK with it.

Debt will be trillions

September 18, 2009 How much is a trillion dollars? Mathematically it would be expressed with this simple equation: A trillion dollars = $1,000,000,000,000.It takes 12 zeroes to the left of the decimal point to make a trillion. Or in other words, a trillion is a million million dollars.

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.