• When the clocks spring ahead an hour Sunday, March 8, Marion County Fire Rescue (MCFR) encourages residents to also change the batteries in their smoke alarms.

    Most people die in house fires not because of the flames but because of the deadly carbon monoxide smoke. People inhale the toxins, go to sleep and often never wake up.

    But if people have working smoke alarms, they are more than 70 percent more likely to escape a fire unharmed. Sadly, most smoke alarms don’t work because of missing, dead or disconnected batteries or poor maintenance.

  • Many of us transplanted from the North tend to dismiss Florida history, thinking it refers to a few Seminole raids, Henry Flagler’s railroad, and the creation of Disneyland. But in Patrick Smith’s A Land Remembered we are given a rich history predating trendy beaches and cheap souvenirs.

  • Some things I absolutely refuse to do. However, when I am coerced into doing one of those things I remember why I usually refuse to do them and swear a solemn oath never to do them again.

    It is not things that I hate to do, necessarily, but things that get me into trouble.

    For example; I positively refuse to sing in public. I love singing but my respect for human dignity, not to mention the delicate nature of human ears, restrains me from this kind of public display. It is perfectly all right for me to sing in the shower.

  • The Freedom Quilters group consists of 30-plus members. Over the course of six months and unimagined hours, they created a work of art in the chicken scratch quilt which they donated to the library as a fundraiser.

    On behalf of the library, The Friends and Quilters Group working together will have tickets available at the library for a minimum donation of $2 per ticket or three for $5. Stop in and get your tickets from Monday, March 16, to Saturday morning, March 28.

  • When you lend money to someone you want some assurance from the borrower that the debt will be repaid. You get that assurance by knowing whether and how a bond is secured, or backed.

    In some cases bonds are backed by a legal claim on specific assets that can be forfeited to the lender if the debt is not repaid. One of the most common examples of s secured bond is a mortgage.

    Your mortgage is secured by a lien against your house. If you don’t make your mortgage payments, the lender has the legal right to the house. The house serves as collateral for the mortgage.

  • Well, they are at it again; criminals have developed another way to try to get your personal information. This scam, which is making the rounds again, works by the criminal calling an unsuspecting victim. That caller claims to be a jury coordinator, making you think you missed a jury summons.

    If you protest, telling the caller you never received a jury summons, the caller asks for your Social Security number and date of birth so he can “cancel the arrest warrant” that he infers may be issued for your arrest because you failed to answer for jury duty.

  • Some people have a hard time with nothing. They get all jittery and nervous and don’t know what to do with themselves. I, on the other hand, enjoy nothing better than anything I can think of. Of course, right now I’m not busily engaged in thinking. I’m saving my thinking for when I really need it.

  • I have a lot of spiders around my place. It seems like there are more this year, maybe because we had a nice, wet winter. The spider I particularly like is the spiny orb weaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis), a Florida native. These spiders look like little flat crabs with white shells, with black spots and six-pointed red spines around the outside edge. That’s why their common name is “crab spider.”

  • State Road 200, just east of I-75, has long been known as “restaurant row.” In today’s economy it has four restaurants in a row out of business, two more nearby closed and even a fast-food place shuttered.

    Driving through this section of highway brings forth memories of having dined on great food and enjoying good fellowship with others at most of these closed establishments.

  • A mind is a terrible thing to waste, especially when there are ways to save it. Although everyone experiences some degree of mental decline as they age, the good news is that there are ways to delay – and even prevent – it, according to Raymond Crowel, Psy. D., vice president of mental health and substance abuse services at the National Mental Health Association.

    Am I Losing my Mind?

  • This year marks a significant milestone in Marion County Fire Rescue’s (MCFR) history. Employees and county commissioners are celebrating the department’s 30th anniversary.

    Our recent acquisition of the ambulance service Oct. 1, 2008 and several fire station construction projects have kept us very busy. But we’re committed to doing whatever it takes to improve emergency services for our residents. In fact, many of our current initiatives will specifically benefit those living along the State Road 200 corridor.

    Liberty Station 32

  • If laughter is the best medicine, Beat the Reaper is a wonder drug. Although it’s preposterous, violent, full of weirdoes, gory details, and vulgar language, it’s black humor at its best. But don’t read it if you have a date with a hospital. At New York City’s worst hospital, fictional Manhattan Catholic, few lives are saved unless you count stopping an inept nurse from administering the wrong drug.

  • Did you watch the hundreds of thousands of people weeping with heartfelt tears while President Barack Hussein Obama was delivering his inaugural address to the nation? Whether a supporter or not, everybody could feel what that weeping meant.

    I hope the meaning of the weeping agrees with Obama’s inaugural address, which seeks a “new age” with values of the past and calls for an “era of responsibility.” The nation is in a deep economic slump; people are yelling, screaming, and slamming at one another, and especially at the government.

  • Wheelchairs won’t keep the Paralyzed Veterans of America from a good time. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 16, the Central Florida chapter of the PVA will host its second Disability Air Rifle and Bow Competition at the Ocala Gander Mountain, 3970 S.W. 3rd St.

  • Fifty-six golfers competed for prize money, hole prizes and raffle prizes Saturday, Feb. 21, at Lake Diamond Golf and Country Club. Paul Preuit, Mike Attard, Rick McKnight and Mike Clubb won the $300 first place prize with a sterling 6 under par on each side and a final score of 60 at the second annual Air Force Association chapter 136 tournament.

  • Azalea Days are a big deal at Ravine Gardens State Park, about 70 miles northeast of us, up in Palatka. That’s because the azaleas are adding their full colors throughout the grounds and ravine walking paths by then. And it’s especially so this year because the annual event is a major fundraiser that will help keep this state park open.

  • World War II veterans can now apply for a free trip to Washington D.C. to see the World War II Memorial completed in 2004. A local group, “Honor Flight Marion,” has been given official “hub” status by the national organization headquartered in Springfield, Ohio (www.honorflight.org). They are now ready to set a date for the flight, tentatively this spring, and are ready to kick off a fundraising campaign to raise the necessary funds.

  • “If you need it, insure it.” This was the recurring theme during a continuing education class that I recently attended. The laundry list of risks that we all face would include market risk, inflation risk, longevity risk, being held liable, dying too soon, and one that often gets overlooked; becoming disabled during your working years.

  • I used to love to watch Touched by An Angel when it ran in primetime a few years ago. (Catch the reruns on Hallmark channel.) This feel-good schmaltzy drama starred Roma Downey with her lovely Irish-lilt voice and big gospel mama Della Reece, as two angels who went around helping people in trouble and assuring them that God loves them.

    Sometimes things didn’t work out as the main characters planned but always God’s plan worked out for the best.

  • Our travel down Pun Alley last week took us to Lovers’ Lane for Valentine’s Day. Our heart was racing so fast we completely missed annual Speed Week at Daytona, where racecars went round and round for a whole week, ending on Feb. 15 with a 500-mile race.

    We may be late but we’ll make a pit stop in Pun Alley to see if we can find a racy story or two.