• By Bill Koch

    You’re born. One day.

    You’re a teenager. Another day.

    You’re middle aged. Another day.

    Another day, you’re retired.

    Ten, 20, 30 years can pass between life stages.

    The comfortable horizons – so warm, gentle and easy – can change in a wild, ugly moment.

    What lay beyond? Why do the years and the days whip by as a mad, mischievous train? Is there some cackling, surreptitious jokester, nefarious and raging, lurking within our lives’ short shadows?

  • By Ross Olmos

    As a young man I thought about how cool it would be to be a motorcycle cop. They had the best uniforms and those big machines they rode were really something.  I was disappointed when I joined the Evanston, Illinois Police Department and found that out of about 150 officers, there were only 12 in the traffic division. It took me nearly three years, but eventually I was transferred from patrol to traffic. Now I was finally going to be one of those cool motorcycle cops!

  • By Bill Koch

    It’s the smirk. You see it frequently in local meetings, from political pundits on television and on self-righteous politicians.

    The verb smirk means to smile in an irritatingly smug, conceited or silly way.

    People who smirk make me smirk.

    The smirk by its very nature is wrong. Watch people who smirk.

    Are they smirking because they’re happy? Not really.

    Are they smirking because they’re full of joy and ready to celebrate? Nope.

  • By Bill Koch


    Several years ago, while at the gym, I used to talk to a man in his 80s. He was remarkable, insightful and genuine.

    You could say he was young at heart and mind. He seemed to be always contemplating new ideas, willing to examine new phenomenon and open to new experiences.

    He was a delight.

    One day, he stopped going to the gym. We had heard he had contracted a lethal form of cancer and had died within two weeks.

  • The 40th president of the United States may have aptly described American politics: “It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession,” Ronald Reagan said. “I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.”

    The election cycles of the 21st century have provided us with a very soiled view into the current American psyche.

    While Reagan’s observation may be correct as Americans take delight in lambasting politicians and the press, a darker reality appears to becoming increasingly apparent.

  • You may love your local newspaper.

    It hopefully serves as a valuable source of information, entertainment, insight and current events, all in one.

    You may even have something of an intellectual relationship with your newspaper. But like any relationship, sometimes, for a few, unrealized expectations or differing priorities may sour that bond for a time. And as with any relationship, misunderstandings can lead to disappointment or disillusionment, which often arise from certain assumptions or longing for the “old ways.”

  • A fellow at the gym asked me how I was doing. I said fine.

    I courteously asked him how he was doing. He asked if I really wanted to know.

    I said no.

    We were both partially honest. I really didn’t want to know how he was doing. And he me.

    Did he have leg pains? Were his kids OK? Was he paying his bills? Was he happy? Was he healthy?

    The only reason why I remember him is because I’m writing this column about our exchange.

    We do this so often. “Hey, how are you doing?”

  • By Bill Koch

    Top cops like to tout their professional perspective on life: Perception is reality, they cynically say. That means that something is true (or factual) because it appears that way. It is, after all, the only method they have to gauge life’s veracity.

    That may work for them, since their job is to capture bad guys, and most bad guys have a tendency to look bad.

    Politicians, on the other hand, often view life through different prisms. Perception merely affords them the opportunity to shape reality to win the next election.

  • By Bill Koch


    How do you define or describe empty spaces? What are they really? Yet our lives are filled with them. And we rarely take the time to contemplate the empty spaces of our lives.

    We strive, nonetheless, to keep our empty spaces filled. With something. With someone. An idea. A compulsion. A family. A vision. A comfortable preoccupation. A tender distraction.

    Often, we fill our spaces with activity. We keep moving, going here and there, doing this and doing that.

  • By John Preston

    The Tokyo Olympics are still 13 months away, but nothing like 13 months could ever stop The Grim Reaper.  The Reaper lives for the moment controversy rears its ugly head. GR is never satisfied when things appear to run smoothly, when plans seem to work, when people are about to smile.  The Grimster prefers to scowl and growl, sometimes howl! Grim does manage to grin when it wreaks havoc, creates trouble, and helps build throbbing, agonizing headaches for others. Chaos is the ultimate goal.

  • It’s almost July. The year is 2019.

    Two dozen candidates (at this time) are running or planning to run for the Democratic Party’s nomination for U.S. president.

    Election Day is Nov. 3. Of next year. That’s 16 months away.

    For nearly 500 days we will have the opportunity to hear and learn so much about American politics; primarily, the big ideas may revolve around what the incumbent and, to a lesser extent, the other Democratic candidates are doing wrong. 

  • A retired cop and I ended up talking about neural pathways in the brain – mostly at my urging.

    He said he had read one of my columns, and that he liked it, although he couldn’t recall what it was about.

    That makes sense, I said. I couldn’t either. Once I finish one, it’s stored somewhere on some neural pathway, I supposed.

    He doesn’t read books; they are too long, he said. He simply doesn’t have the patience to trudge through sometimes very long-winded expositions on obscure or trivial subjects.

  • Immigration stands at the forefront of so many political debates across the nation. Diverse views are causing lawmakers to shape laws that at the core serve to defy or negate basic authority structures.

    The most recent salvo in this long-running feud is a new Colorado law that prohibits local law enforcement in the state from holding suspects of immigration violations at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

  • By Bill Koch

    Look at State Road 200. Worse yet, try driving on it.

    You already do, right? You don’t have a choice, you say.

    How about State Road 40 or even U.S. 27?

    As Charleston Heston once said in the 1969 version of “Planet of the Apes,” “It’s a madhouse!”

    While the older motorists complain that whippersnapper drivers should just slow down, the younger 4-wheelers are hollering for the more leisurely and mature sojourners to get the heck out of the way.

  • Florida became the third largest state some years ago.

    A number of factors – many of them economic – contributed to the Sunshine State’s popularity.

    While many old timers and that nearly extinct breed of native Floridian enjoy whining about the dangers all those Yankees pose to the tranquility, serenity and quaint solitude of the peninsula state, it was destined to grow. In fact, developers have been anticipating the growth for at least a generation.

  • What’s your first reaction if someone were to ask you to take a leisurely afternoon drive on State Road 200?

    Impossible? Has the person lost his mind? What part of State Road 200 is the person talking about?

    Unless it’s 3 a.m., driving on State Road 200 (or State Road 40 and U.S. Highway 27) and “leisurely” just don’t seem to go together.

  • By Bill Koch

    A sheriff’s lieutenant once asked me why I was a writer.

    I said writing is the purest form of human interaction. It’s also how we as a species process in our brains our humanity.

    I asked the lieutenant why he was a cop.

    His reply was less esoteric and bloviating. He wanted to protect the innocent and preserve the sanctity of human civilization. Of course, he didn’t put it in those words. But I’m sure that’s what he meant.

  • The average life span in the United States is around 80 years (depending on your information source).

    That doesn’t mean you should plan for the inevitable as you approach the 8-decade mark nor does it imply that you should fret if you’ve surpassed your 80th birthday.

    Life isn’t years. Life, in a sense, is about living.

    But even that statement deserves further explanation and expansion.

    Now please hang on tight for some adolescent irony. Life is certainly about living. But life isn’t at all about living.

  • Many readers have been wondering about the changing face and character of their local newspaper.

    Earlier this year, we decided to change from a tabloid-size paper to a narrow-broad sheet, a format similar in size to most newspapers today. This allows us to streamline production costs and create an opportunity to provide more creative designs.

    We apologize for the inconvenience the broader sheet may create for reading, but we are confident you will get accustomed to the new size.

  • By Russ Olmos

    For many generations the National Rifle Association was a highly respected public service organization dedicated to promoting safe ownership and usage of firearms. It conducted wonderful programs for youngsters who were interested in firearms, and supported laws for making sure firearms didn’t get into the wrong hands.