• If you feel blah today or everything you hear seems blah, blah, blah, today is your day.  According to the Internet site, “Bizarre, Crazy, Silly Unknown Holidays,” today is the Blah! Blah! Blah! Holiday.

    “Blah” is often used as an expression where the words themselves are not important.  Since Pun Alley thrives on the meaning of words, reading it should never be blah, blah, blah to you.  If it is, take a break and enjoy your holiday.

  • The whimsical poet Richard Armour once wrote: that money talks I’ll not deny, I heard it once it said “Goodbye.”

    Plunging markets over the past several months have been unpleasant for all investors, and may have derailed your retirement portfolio. Yet, this is not a time to give up, nor is it a time for inaction. The rules of a carefree retirement may have changed and will take some careful planning going forward.

  • I am not what you would call an artsy person, although I have dabbled a little bit in the many worlds of art. I say dabbled, but more correctly, it should be dribbled, as the floor in my office could testify, if somebody could coax it to speak.

    But, not boasting at all, I must say there a few things I have learned to do passably, at least. Not that I am the best in any of them but it is something I do to the best of my ability.

  • There are all kinds of questions in this world of ours. Most are rather annoying. It would not surprise me in the least if there were a gang of hooligans somewhere hired to make up silly questions. If I could find this gang, I would disperse them immediately, without question.

    Of course, there is the fact that the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage is in cahoots with these question-maker-uppers. Every once in awhile she comes up with questions for Yours Truly.

  • When I was in the classroom, I used to love to play a game with my students as part of the Passover study unit. I discovered that the holiday centered on an unusual amount of numbers and that each of these numbers played an important part in the history of the festival. Without assigning any particular symbolism to the numbers (that is an entirely different topic) I would like to point out, as I did with my students, all the different numbers and how we can look at the holiday through the “eyes” of numbers.

  • The Big Sun Chorus of Ocala sang love songs, presented long-stemmed roses, boxes of chocolates and personalized cards as they performed around the community on Valentine’s Day. Three quartets were busy on the special holiday.

    The groups performed at area nursing homes, independent living facilities, and at restaurants. Of course we went to several homes.

    Elizabeth Van, a resident at Marion Manor Independent Living Facility, received a surprise “Singing Valentine.” It was a gift from her two daughters, Ceci and Joy.

  • This article is geared toward dogs but many of the tips also apply to cats. When you decide to add a pet to your family, you can’t just ignore that pet when it isn’t convenient. You have made a commitment for life, not just to feed and house the pet, but to keep him happy and contented. Your dog will love you unconditionally (cats love you, too, but with conditions!). To deserve this love, you need to think of your pet as a friend and do things for and with him. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Congratulations to Kathie Paules of Stone Creek, a new resident of the area, who was the winner of the Chicken Scratch quilt that was handmade and donated to Freedom Public Library by the Freedom Quilters Group. Ticket sales and the drawing were handled by The Friends and the Quilters Group, together.

    Jeannine Sirkoch, leader of the Freedom Quilters group, drew the winning ticket and Pat Babski, Friends president, announced the winner’s name.

    Proceeds from the ticket sales will go toward a special item yet to be selected for the library.

    Civil War Day

  • Derivatives: Investments once removed. A derivative is a financial instrument whose value is based on, or derived from, the price of another financial instrument. Just as a Chinese translation of a book originally written in English is considered a derivative work for copyright purposes, a derivative security may be based on the price of a commodity such as oil or wheat, a security such as a stock or bond, an index of securities, such as the S&P 500 Composite Index, or a currency.

  • Help international

    students learn English

  • It was 68 years ago this month that the Tuskegee Airmen were formed. And, 88-year-old Ocala resident Robert Walker was one of them.

    Walker was the guest speaker recently at the Cherrywood Estates Veterans Club monthly meeting. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first black aviators in history when they began their training in March 1941.

  • Community Legal Service of Mid-Florida (CLSMF) is issuing a warning to those facing a foreclosure to be aware of offers to modify their mortgages for a fee. Be aware that some of the services offered by some companies are already available for free– by visiting a nonprofit counselor or by talking to your lender. Some companies may charge the homeowner a fee but fail to deliver services.

  • It’s an overstatement to say that none of Antonya Nelson’s quirky characters have anything going right for them – but something is clearly wrong with them all. In “Or Else,” for instance, one of the short stories in this collection, the narrator’s favorite bar pick-up line is “My family owns a house in Telluride.” The problem is that the house does not belong to David but to old, out-of-touch friends and that it’s more of a shack than a house.

  • Criminals never cease to amaze me. Now comes word from the Attorney General’s Office about another scam, this one targeting those applying for unemployment.

    Attorney General Bill McCollum issued a warning to Floridians to be wary of companies offering to file unemployment compensation claims for a fee.

    Recent reports from other states indicate consumers have signed up for such services, only to later discover unemployment claims were never filed on their behalf.

  • A worried mind lives in the future. An unhappy mind lives in the past. A peaceful mind lives in the present. Or, to add a little lighthearted wisdom from the Jewish Buddhist: “Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so hard?”

    Spring signifies rebirth and rejuvenation. What better time to follow Jesus’ injunction: “Do not conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”

  • What a winter season we have had this year in our part of Florida! Sweaters have been de rigueur and scarves a necessary accessory. I actually had to wear my Florida “winter coat” more than twice and many a day I toyed with the idea of wearing — you should pardon the expression — gloves.

    This all, of course, leads me to thinking about spring. I know the warmer season is not far off just by looking at my garden and the lessons it teaches me.

    Right now, nothing seems to be alive. The predominant color is brown with hardly a green sprout in sight.

  • If you have been reluctant to open your 401-K statements lately you are not alone. Very few have been unscathed by the continued decline in the financial markets this past year. Retirees who are dependent on their security holdings in their IRAs and other brokerage accounts to meet monthly expenses have been particularly hard hit.

    Can the news get any worse? Stock prices are at 12-year lows, the GDP growth was negative last quarter, unemployment has climbed north of 8 percent and every day we are bombarded with stories of foreclosures and bank failures.

  • The Friends spring book sale is finally here. Come and load up for your summer supply. The sale will be in progress Thursday and Friday, March 26 and 27, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, March 28, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Be sure to attend. I predict some nifty unadvertised specials.

  • Every year about this time, a friend of mine always says, “If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb.”

    I would not mind it so much if I knew what in the world he was talking about.

    That is the thing about friendship. We allow people to go on and on about something without the slightest notion of what they are talking about and yet, we most heartily agree with their opinion. I suppose that is why we are still friends. We put up with their eccentricities in hopes that they will reciprocate.

  • Not everybody realizes how important it is to follow protocol. Many Philistines in our society do things so haphazardly that it is a real affront to those of us who know better. There should be a law forbidding such perfunctory behavior. We have a law for everything else, why not this? Plus, it would better serve our country and help maintain civilized behavior among our citizens.