The mellow sound of a flute wafting from the central chamber of the Lincoln Memorial at dusk gave us pause as we studied the inscriptions on the walls.
I remember that evening almost as if it were yesterday. The late summer of 1981. Three newspapermen in their 20s on vacation, taking in the scenic beauty of the eastern seaboard from Tampa to New York City. My first trip to Washington, D.C.
Finally we stand on the cusp of the “Only 100 days to go!” mark in the 2016 presidential campaign. All sorts of fragments clutter this battleground that our beloved democracy stages every four years. Following is a listing of thoughts that have popped up in my mind as the skirmishing goes on.
LIES, FIBS, CANARDS, FALSEHOODS AND WHOPPERS. I can’t remember ever hearing more bald-faced lies in any political campaign than the one we’re going through right now. It’s as if we’ve been thrust into the fictional world created by British writer George Orwell. In his fantasy, everything was opposite: up was down, cold was hot, good was evil.
So another warped human has inflicted more misery upon the world. Motivated, perhaps, by tiny voices in his head that repeated a mantra of hate, Mohammed Lahouaiej Bouhle plowed his 20-ton rented truck through a crowd of holiday revelers in the picturesque French town of Nice.
One day about 16 years ago I lost the ability to think of the word “waffles.” I was in a Publix store in Largo. I could picture waffles in my mind, but the actual word slipped out of my vocabulary and did not return for several days. Suddenly it reappeared. It has remained with me ever since.
I had recently undergone some traumatic emotional events, but I can’t blame that fact for my waffles slippage. I was approaching the three-score-and-ten age the Bible talks about, but up to that point my mental acuity had remained as sharp as I could demand of it, considering the fact that, all told, I was never likely to be ranked up there with Einstein or Barry Manilow on the genius charts.
Rick Scott, our Trumpster-diving governor, has declared a state of emergency. He’s suddenly discovered Florida’s waters are choking in toxic algae, green as arsenic, and malodorous as a pile of rotting mullet.
Images of slime-covered sand, and fish gasping their last on closed beaches are appearing in print and on screens around the world. It’s not just another day in paradise.
Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson sees a path to the White House. The former Republican governor of New Mexico can boast a running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who also is the former Republican governor of a blue state. When they were Republicans, they won in blue states not just once but also when they ran for re-election. They’ve never been social-issue conservatives.
Both support efforts to legalize marijuana for recreational use. With Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton their parties’ presumptive nominees - Johnson branded Clinton and Trump the “two most polarizing figures” to ever run for the White House - the Libertarian ticket has a shot in November.
The recent vote by the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union was a welcome piece of news for most Americans. No matter how we felt about the UK’s membership, its vote to quit the EU gave the news media a new topic for hysterics.
For weeks the media had dished up only a few subjects: the death of Prince, the death of Mohammad Ali and the shootings in Orlando. The “Let’s exit the EU” decision by British citizens brought shock waves to the world’s stock exchanges, and triggered several “Oh, my God!” days to TV and print media reporting. By the time this appears the Brexit coverage will have been partially replaced by the airport bombings in Turkey.
The New York Times headline said it all: “House Benghazi report finds no new evidence of wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton.” The headline doesn’t say there was no wrongdoing, just no new evidence of wrongdoing. Both Hillary and Bill Clinton have a genius for convincing the media that their miscues and cover ups don’t matter because they are old news.
For the record, I don’t blame President Obama or his secretary of state for the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. America cannot insert itself into another nation’s civil war without risk. Critics can hit the administration for ignoring attacks that led the Red Cross and Brits to withdraw personnel from Benghazi. Stevens was aware of those alarms, but he courageously chose to stay. If he miscalculated, then it was from a generous impulse to help Libya evolve into a country that serves its people. He paid the ultimate price.
Active shooter training ST. PETERSBURG – The city of St. Petersburg Police and Fire departments will host a free community training program on what to do if an active shooter threatens your workplace, campus, shopping center or other public area on Thursday, July 28, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N., St. Petersburg.
Taught by a St. Petersburg police department instructor, the course will provide strategies, guidance and a proven plan for surviving an active shooter event. The course is designed and built on the Avoid, Deny, Defend strategy developed by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University.
The free program is open to everyone. Seating is extremely limited and will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Children are welcome to attend, but parental guidance is strongly recommended as parts of the presentation contain material some viewers may find sensitive.
ECO Teacher Training Workshop TARPON SPRINGS - ECO Teacher Training Workshop 2016, Monday, July 25, 9 a.m. to Friday, July 29, 3:30 p.m.
The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension has teamed up with the St. Petersburg College of Education Professor to offer this nationally award-winning, week-long environmental education workshop for pre-service elementary, ESE education students, current elementary and ESE teachers and non-formal educators.
The workshop aims to teach participants with tools to interpret the natural world and impart the need for resource conservation to their audience.
Each day will feature different environmental subjects. Day 1 is Project Butterfly Wings; Day 2, Project Wild; Day 3, Schoolyard Wildlife; Day 4, Flying Wild; and Day 5, Project Learning Tree. Call 727-453-6800 or visit www.brookercreekpreserve.org.
GFWC Pinellas Seminole Woman’s Club meeting SEMINOLE – The GFWC Pinellas Seminole Woman’s Club meets the fourth Thursday of every month at Freedom Square in the Roskamp Auditorium at 11 a.m. Meetings include lunch and a guest speaker. All are welcome.
The group offers scholarships to local students and donates to organizations in the area.
Call 727-709-3778 for more information.
GFWC Seminole Junior Woman’s Club meeting SEMINOLE – The GFWC Seminole Junior Woman’s Club meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at the Holland G. Mangum Recreation Center, 9100 113th St. N.
The group is dedicated to serving the community, particularly through programs helping children. Club activities include providing dinner to families at the Ronald McDonald House in St. Petersburg; and the SJWC’s annual “Share Our Spirit” food drive, which helps feed Seminole children during the winter holiday break.
Those interested in learning more about the SJWC are welcome to attend the meetings or call 727-398-0558 for more information.
Kiwanis Club of Seminole meeting SEMINOLE – The Kiwanis Club of Seminole meets every Thursday, 6:30 p.m., at the Holland G. Mangum Recreation Center, 9100 113th St. N.
All are welcome to attend.
For more information, email email@example.com.
Learn at Lunch ST. PETE BEACH – The Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce plans a Learn at Lunch event Thursday, July 28, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Fountains at Boca Ciega, 1255 Pasadena Ave., South Pasadena.
The presentation, titled “Room Full of Referrals,” will focus on increasing “referability.”
Cost is $15 for Chamber members and $20 for nonmembers.
RGA Network Summer Expo LARGO – The RGA Network Summer Expo will take place Thursday, July 28, 3:30 to 7 p.m., at Minnreg Hall, 6340 126th Ave., Largo. Admission is free. For information, call 727-433-2774.
The RGA Network Business Expo will feature local businesses. There will be door prizes and a silent auction benefiting local charities Women with Purpose and Love Thy Neighbor. The event's theme is Tacky Tourists and there will be a costume contest and best themed exhibit for vendors. Auction items include hotel stays, fine dining gift certificates and much more. The public is welcome to attend.
Any business interested in becoming a vendor at the event should call 727-433-2774 or visit www.rganetwork.net.
Seminole Chamber Business Breakfast SEMINOLE – The Seminole Chamber of Commerce will host its monthly Business Breakfast Thursday, July 28, at the chamber office, 7777 131st St. N., Suite 7. Dr. Yamani, All Care Health Center, will be the guest speaker.
Call 727-392-3245 for more information.
SPC Emergency Management Expo ST. PETERSBURG – St. Petersburg College will host an Emergency Management Expo on Thursday, July 28, 6 to 8 p.m., at the SPC Allstate Center, 3200 34th St. S., St. Petersburg. The expo is free and open to the public.
Participants will learn about safety practices, shelter locations, and what to do before, during, and after a storm. Home Depot, Pinellas County Animal Services, and more will have information tables with resources on how to protect residential homes, family members, and pets from a potential hurricane disaster.
In addition, residents can ask questions and learn about careers in Emergency Management and SPC Public Safety programs.
All residents are encouraged to attend, especially those who are new to the area or inexperienced in dealing with hurricanes.
Water arthritis classes PINELLAS PARK – Water arthritis classes are offered at Skyview Pool, 9040 54th Way N., Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:40 to 9:40 a.m. Cost is $2.50 per person.
Doing arthritis exercises in the water provides added resistance for a great workout. Classes will focus on gentle stretching, balance and movements. Swimming not required. Exercises done in shallow waters. Call 369-5694 for more information.