• Not too far back, the show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” was a staple in our house. We taped it and watched it when we could.

    Gradually, I grew to like the Meredith version better than the Regis version. She seemed more relaxed, more personable, and seemed to make the contestants more at ease.

    The format hadn’t changed much from the original, and this made the daytime version a success.

    So what happened?

  • Consolidation is a fancy word used by some to combine government services.

    Right now in Marion County we have a major push, initiated by the sheriff, to consolidate sheriff and fire/rescue services in the county.

    Some people are calling for other consolidation, such as combining parks jurisdiction … all in the name of efficiency.

    What they should call it is what it is … a power grab.

  • Something caught my eye in my wanderings through Internet stories this past weekend, and it got me thinking about traffic in Marion County.

    Someone is proposing that, with the creation of new roads, all u-turns and left turns be eliminated. There would be jug-handles and cloverleafs at every intersection with a traffic light, and that would be the only way you could get from one side of the road to the other. No crossovers, no u-turns.

    The story, which I believe had its origins in the Smithsonian Magazine, said this would increase safety on the roads.

  • If there is one overriding concern of the folks who live along the State Road 200 Corridor, it's health issues.

    One need only count the number of medical services offered along the stretch of highway that is home to various retirement communities.

    It was very evident this past weekend.

    On Top of the World held a health and wellness event at the cultural center, and it was packed. Crowds wandered through the displays, had numbers of questions of those with displays, and seemed particularly interested in the home health care agencies.

  • All journalists respect free speech, so there’s no reason to tell the commentators who have attempted to assess blame for the Arizona shooting to shut up … except common decency.

    Almost as soon as Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ wounding made the airwaves, some radicals were on the air blaming, of all people, Sarah Palin. They said her map of several months ago, with crosshairs indicating which members of Congress the Republicans should try to unseat, was the cause.

    How utterly ridiculous!

  • The other day, I was going through the websites of a bunch of newspapers, reading all the stories about the opening of Congress, with a new majority of Republicans in the House.

    In going through the material, I was hard-pressed to find a decent story about what was going to happen, but I found plenty about who was occupying what office in the Capitol.

    Congressmen were worried about the pecking order, seeing who got the biggest and best-placed office space, which committees got the most staffers, whose budget would be cut, etc.

  • There was a news item circulating last week that threw a bit of fear into many folks, until they realized how far-fetched it seemed to be.

    Former Congressman Alan Grayson, the Democrat from Orlando whose district included part of Marion County, was targeted by Republican strategists as one of the key people to get rid of.

    It worked. He was dumped in favor of Republican Daniel Webster, one of the many elections that helped the GOP take control of the House.

  • With all the nasty stuff we read about sports participants, it’s nice to recall one famous athlete who was a decent guy.

    In the mid 1960s, I was named basketball coach of the 7th-8th grade team at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Tenafly, N.J. I was fairly young at the time, in my early 20s, but I had graduated from a good basketball school, Bergen Catholic, and had a good hoops background from spending time on the bench as the team manager with two great coaches.

  • As 2010 fades into oblivion, we look forward to 2011 with anticipation.

    Will this be the year the economy turns around?

    Will this be the year we can declare victories over fear, intimidation and terrorism?

    Will this be the year that the federal government begins to understand that people want less government, not more, in their lives?

    Will this be the year that Marion County officials will realize that the people are tired of unplanned growth and overcrowded roads?

  • T’was the week before Christmas in the well of the House; not a speaker was spouting, not even a grouch. Their stockings were hung at the Treasury with care, in hope St. Bernanke soon would be there.

    House members were anxious to be home in their beds, with sweet dreams of pensions filling their heads.

    The speaker and leader were trading their caps, but they weren’t quite yet ready for a truce and a nap. Then out on the Mall there arose a great clatter, and they sprang from their places to see what was the matter.

  • When you get to my age, change doesn’t come easily. I’m actually proud of myself for keeping up with computers and how to use them, especially at the newspaper.

    So when it was announced quite some time ago that we would be changing the look of our website and the method for getting things posted, I was a little skeptical.

    As the process went on, one thing did become obvious. It would take cooperation from the readers to make it work.

  • Some of the loudest cheers of the day at the Christmas parade on Silver Springs Boulevard last Saturday came when the military units went by.
    That included the JROTC groups from West Port and Forest High schools, who marched in precision and received rousing cheers as they went by.
    Patriotism is still very much in vogue in Marion County.
    A lot of people put a lot of effort into this parade so that the thousands of people who lined the route could enjoy the marchers, bands and brightly-lit floats.

  • Sometimes in politics, things happen that only a Consitutional amendment will solve.
    That's the case with what's been going on in Congress the past couple of weeks.
    It's called a lame duck session.
    A little history here: According to Wikipedia, the phrase was coined in the 18th Century at the London Stock Exchange to refer to brokers who couldn't pay their debts. It alludes to a wounded duck who can't keep up with his flock, and therefore is more easily subject to predators.

  • Sitting at the traffic light at State Road 200 and Interstate 75 the other day, I began to let my mind wander to the chance that maybe someday traffic would be eased a little.

    Then came the story that the County Commission wants to expand plans at 95th Street to create a full interchange, with an existing road to the west past Liberty Middle and Hammett Bowen schools, and a new road to the east toward Shady Road, or Southwest 27th Avenue extended.

    I mentally cheered, but I knew there would be an immediate outcry. I wasn’t disappointed.

  • Every once in a while Congress does something that pleases many consumers. Admittedly, it’s rare, but when it happens, it’s worth mentioning.

    How many times have you been sitting in front of your television watching a nice, calm program, and a commercial comes on that blasts you out of your seat and you scramble to find the remote? We also have to wonder how many people miss part of a TV show because they doze off, only to be awakened by the loud voice of a commercial.

  • I lived the American Dream where, after leaving school, jobs were available for anyone who wanted to work. Regardless of your educational background you could find a job to fit your taste and needs.

    Back in the 1950s there were high schools that taught auto mechanics, wood working or carpentry, type setting and printing, machine shop and sports for the guys. The girls had bookkeeping, typing, cooking, music and cheerleading for their interests. I don’t mean to sound sexist but that was the educational system back in the 1950s.

  • Back when computers started to come in at newspapers, about 30 years ago or so, journalists were taught from the beginning, “Don’t type anything into the computer that you don’t want to see in print.”

    Even the most innocent jokes would have a way of accidentally finding their way into the newspaper, much to the embarrassment of the writer and the publication. Quite often, there were apologies issued to the public, and reprimands to the writers.

  • I’ve always believed that the privilege of voting is the ultimate tool that “we the people” have to control our destiny in this country. I’ve recently been forced to take another look at that premise. It might be true that an uninformed vote is worse than not voting at all.

  • Some words are harder to say than others. It doesn’t matter how short the word is either. Two letter words are pretty short and to the point.

    So if the word is short, to the point and there is no tricky pronunciation rule to trip up the tongue why is saying the word “no” so hard.

    The word “yes” is a bigger word. Yet the word “yes” seems to come out of one’s mouth without much ado.

  • And you wonder why I don’t fly.

    I can’t remember how many times I have led off a column with that phrase.