Seeing the elephant

April 23, 2009 When I came out of the eye doctor’s office in McMinnville, Ore., with a black patch over my right eye, the first thing I saw was a baby elephant coming through an alley onto the street.Or maybe it was a pre-teen elephant. I turned to my wife. “Is that a real elephant, or am I just seeing things?”“It’s a real elephant,” she said.This was the summer of 1971, when we were migrant workers in California and Oregon.

Find time for friends

April 22, 2009 As my friend’s almost 2-year-old son repeatedly cried, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy” at his father, who had gone outside to grill dinner for the group of us, I took some solace in the fact that it was not my child crying at that moment. Of course, 80 or so miles away, my 5-year-old son was likely laughing maniacally at my wife while using rude language and refusing to get ready for bed.

Facebook fatigue

April 22, 2009 I’m turning into my father.My father was born in 1933. He was a paperboy in the days when paperboys stood on city corners and shouted “Extra!”In my father’s home, the newspaper still is king. He has two delivered daily. He reads every inch of both. He does the crossword puzzles in both, too — with a pencil.(Note to people under 25: A pencil is a small, yellow stick that leaves a mark when its tip is pressed against paper.)

Assault weapons ban

April 21, 2009 Escalating violence in Mexico and border towns in the U.S. from the growing drug trade has increased a call to reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban against some semi-automatic and automatic weapons. The 1994 ban passed by Congress was allowed to expire under the last administration but after investigations proved that many of the guns being used in the recent drug wars originated from sales in the U.S. more groups began calling for Obama to make good on a campaign promise.

Going to Pirate School

April 21, 2009 It’s bad enough Obama has to juggle two wars while scrubbing the floor of the White House trying to clean up the domestic mess left by the previous tenant, but as soon as he looks out the door, what does he see. Pirates. That’s right. Pirates. And no, I’m not talking left-handed relievers from Pittsburgh or a limo full of Bernie Madoff wannabes or some Hong Kong cartel peddling bootleg copies of the “Watchmen” sequel. Actual bilge-sucking pirates. With guns and boats and rum and Davy Jones’ Locker and everything.

How many me’s?

April 21, 2009 There are 26 people in the United States named Andrea Bruner.That is according to, which states, “There are 306,212,373 people in the U.S. How many have your name?”So while there are 50,566 people named John Smith in the United States, 1,070 people named James Bond, 115 people named Harry Potter, 514 people named George Bush, and 39 named Johnny Cash — there are only about two dozen Andrea Bruners.

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.