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From Pac-Man to Pokemon: Huntin’ critters

July 20, 2016
From Pac-Man to Pokemon: Huntin’ critters

So, I was listening to “Pac-Man Fever” the other day – yes, “Pac-Man Fever.”
Perhaps you remember that Top 10 hit – yes, Top 10, it actually reached No. 9 eventually – from 1982.
It was written to cash in on the insane popularity of the video game Pac-Man in those ancient days where you went to an arcade and waited for your turn to play.
The song by Buckner and Garcia was a regional hit in the Southeast then got a national release where it went gold with 1.7 million copies sold.
The album also went gold. It was filled with video game tunes like “The Defender” and “Ode to a Centipede.”(Finding an original LP of the same name is a feat; a later reissue of Pac-Man Fever is not the same as the 1982 album.… Read the rest

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Stop pointing fingers and start reaching out

July 20, 2016
Stop pointing fingers and start reaching out

Mrs Sweetie and I recently watched the 2014 Disney movie Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie. In this retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story from the 1959 film, we learn what caused Maleficent to be transformed from a charming and innocent fairy to the “Mistress of All Evil.” It was someone else’s fault. She was a victim of someone else’s obsession with power.
I’m thinking about that this morning as our country continues to reel from the tragic events of the past few weeks. Videos of men being shot by police officers. Videos of a crowd of protesters scattering as a demented sniper picked off one police officer after another.  Prayer vigils and protest marches.… Read the rest

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Woman with little schooling pens vital family history

July 20, 2016
Woman with little schooling pens vital family history

This column first appeared Nov. 5, 1987.

While as many as 700,000 high school graduates are “functionally illiterate,” contrast that with the literacy of a Western woman whose book I finished reading last week. She had only two or three years of school in the country school houses, yet she was an extremely literate person whose book is well written, grammatically correct, and wonderfully expressive.
What makes the difference in 12 years of public schools in the United States of the 1980s in which a student does not learn to read and write capably and two or three years of spasmodic schooling on the frontier a century ago which produced a literate person?… Read the rest

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Texas baby is born with Zika-related microcephaly

July 20, 2016
Texas baby is born with Zika-related microcephaly

The Texas Department of State Health Services has confirmed a Zika virus infection in a baby recently born with microcephaly in Harris County.
The July 13 report is the first official confirmation of a Zika-related microcephaly case in Texas. According to the agency, the mother traveled from Latin America, where she was likely infected and the baby acquired the infection in utero.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt. “This underscores the damage Zika can have on unborn babies. Our state’s work against Zika has never been more vital.”
DSHS is coordinating with Harris County Public Health and the U.S.… Read the rest

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The days of dressing to impress are long gone

July 13, 2016
The days of dressing to impress are long gone

At a funeral recently, the lady who had died was quite old – 90, I think.
She was small and frail yet always smiling when I used to help her out of the passenger’s seat and set up her walker so she could slowly roll into church.
The sweet lady was very faithful, even after the recent death of her husband and partner of decades and decades.
Two things were unusual at the service.
The first came during the slide show that ran as attendees filed in. An entire life flashed past in three second intervals and that frail lady was nowhere in sight.… Read the rest

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The Oldies station

July 13, 2016
The Oldies station

I am reminiscing this morning. Last night, our favorite daughter-in-law sent us a great picture of our favorite grandson. He’s six weeks old and has the greatest crooked grin I have seen since his daddy was that age 25 years ago.
That photo prompted Mrs. Sweetie to want to find some pictures of favorite son at about six weeks. Yep! The grin has some definite similarities.
We also looked at some old photos of our house. We still live in the same house that we moved into when favorite son was three months old. It doesn’t even look like the same house or yard.… Read the rest

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European tourists witness the wildness of the West – one that often was completely ficticious

July 13, 2016
European tourists witness the wildness of the West – one that often was completely ficticious

This column first appeared January 19, 1984.

Being a tourist in Americas is a relatively new phenomena, barely over 100 years old.
An English visitor to the U.S. in 1835 remarked he saw few women on steamers, coaches, or in hotels, leading him to believe most men were traveling only for business purposes. Entire families were not traveling for pleasure.
A few wealthy Northerners traveled to the South, and rich Southerners went to Newport, Rhode Island, and other places in the northeast; but the Civil War interrupted this tourism.
Finally in the 1870s and 1880s, the real beginning of travel for pleasure began when the well-to-do Easterners boarded the New Transcontinental railroad and its new Pullman palace car and traveled throughout the “Wild West.”
In 1873, National Parks began to gain publicity when Yellowstone gained notoriety.… Read the rest

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Governor reacts to downtown Dallas ambush

July 13, 2016
Governor reacts to downtown Dallas ambush

A “Black Lives Matter” protest turned tragic when a sniper fired into a crowd estimated at 1,000 people in downtown Dallas at about 9 p.m. on July 7.
Dozens of shots were fired, reportedly from an assault rifle, leaving five police officers dead and seven police officers and two civilians wounded. Police pursued a suspect identified as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, a former U.S. Army reservist, and killed him in a parking garage using a robot-propelled explosive device early on July 8.
Gov. Greg Abbott issued an open letter titled, “A Time To Come Together,” published in The Dallas Morning News on July 8.… Read the rest

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Just how badly do you want that Olympic medal?

July 6, 2016
Just how badly do you want that Olympic medal?

Back in 1980, Olympic dreams of many were dashed because of political reasons. America boycotted the Moscow Games because Russia invaded Afghanistan.
The boycott was devastating to many athletes, including defending decathlon champ Bruce Jenner who was so upset that he turned into a woman. (FYI: This is the sort of easy jokes I’ll be making in this column.)
Thirty-six years later, there’s another reason why so many of the U.S.’ finest are declining to compete against the best in the world.
The reports coming from Brazil are not good when it comes to the variety of reasons that this could be the worst Olympics ever.… Read the rest

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The power of perspective

July 6, 2016
The power of perspective

Well that really puts things in perspective!”
I don’t know how many times I have heard or used that little sentence. Recent variations on that theme make reference to “first world problems.” The message seems to be that, if you think a little bit about someone else’s worse situation, you will realize that your issues are fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
For example, much of my time, energy, and focus over the past few weeks has been given to preparing for the launch of my new book. I’ve posted to social media, sent out emails, and actual – gasp – paper letters in envelopes with stamps!… Read the rest

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