Bird explanations

January 4, 2011 Here’s the first meiosis (I had to look that word up) for 2011: “Last year ended up kinda weird.” Over here in west Arkansas, we had a New Year’s Eve tornado that claimed the lives of 3 people. Three more up in Missouri. Having lived in the Natural State for over half a century, I don’t recall another tornado, ever, into the winter like that.

Returning to life

January 4, 2011 It can be difficult to figure out how to honor a life, two lives in this story but that’s the task in front of me. What a strange passage to go from being told there’s just one year of life left only to find out there may be more time. That’s a lot to take in and everything ends up getting recalibrated to adjust for the new ideas. A little over a year ago, that was me when the doctors at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago diagnosed me with melanoma, stage two, Clark level IV.

Looking at 2011

January 3, 2011 Yes, we did. Survived 2010. 365 tumultuous days of what my good friend Elizabeth (Betty) Windsor, is wont to call an annus horribilis. And our reward for enduring that annoying annum is this clean slate of a new year where potentially anything can happen. A position we find ourselves now; looking flush-front blunt at an empty, unscrawled calendar embodying hope and optimism and aspiration and promise.

Mom suing McDonald’s

January 3, 2011 Telling her children “no” has apparently become too hard for one mother. Here I thought it was part of being a parent.Monet Parham, a Sacramento, Calif., mother of two small children has filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s, claiming the fast-food giant uses toys to market young children. SHe says the restaurant makes it that much harder to say the N-word when all kids really want are the toys that come with the meals.

Revisit the past

December 30, 2010 Ah, New Year’s Eve. What a great night to revisit the past year.Though I’d rather revisit 1999.The unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in 1999.Dot-com stocks were still creating lots of paper millionaires.The U.S. deficit for that year was $1 billion — that’s right, “billion” with a “b,” a far cry from the $1 trillion to $2 trillion it is nowadays.Things were going so well, we had to make up crises, such as Y2K, the Millennium Bug!

Hands off the Internet

December 30, 2010 The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to get its grasping hands around the throat of the Internet, the international town hall where Americans have been free to express their opinions without Big Brother’s permission or interference.That makes the FCC unhappy. It seems that this taxpayer-supported, intrusive federal agency simply can’t bring itself to allow anything having to do with Americans communicating with each other in public without their lordly oversight or permission.

A Tennessee mosque, a good American Story

December 29, 2010 The No. 1 religion story of 2010 was the emotional, often ugly debate over plans for an Islamic center two blocks from ground zero in Manhattan, according to Religion Newswriters Association members — and just about everyone else making a list.Not far behind was the media-driven obsession with the Florida pastor who got more than his 15 minutes of fame by dangling the threat of Quran-burning before eager reporters camped outside his church.

Old photo holds clue

December 29, 2010 It’s official. I no longer need Dr. Phil.Who knew that pilfering though some old photos would hold the clue to my relationship (that’s plural) status?According to the good doctor, one only has to look at past actions to glimpse what we have in store for the future, because most of us keep our old habits, even though we may masquerade around in new clothing. (A leopard can’t change its spots, wolves in sheep’s clothing kind of thing.)So when I stumbled across an old black and white “Girls of the ’50s” photo, it hit me. I am somewhat of a control freak.

The gift of human connection

December 28, 2010 Have you ever noticed that when you give to others you feel better about yourself?There’s a reason for that.As human beings, we’re hard wired for connection.  There are two basic human needs, intimacy and ultimacy.   We have an innate desire to create meaningful connections while we’re on this planet and to make a contribution that outlasts our stay on it.The problem is that we get ourselves so mired in our busyness that we forget how great it feels to help others.

Lighten up, it’s Christmas!

December 28, 2010 The ancient Roman lawyer Marcus Tullius Cicero wouldn’t have very high regard for my family and me, I don’t think.He once said, “To disregard what the world thinks of us is not only arrogant but utterly shameless.”For Christmas, I threw caution to the wind and made a fool of myself, but that’s OK. I was in good company.