C. Fred Jones was always good for a great quote. I remember talking to the former Auburndale state legislator in the 1980s about the possibility of the Legislature’s session having to be extended for a month.
The shorter, the better, he said, “because anytime the Legislature meets, your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are in danger.”
Still holds true. And when the Legislature meets, common sense goes on sabbatical. For instance, why are some of our state leaders hell bent on making voting more difficult and killing people easier?
I’ve been reading about the recent troubles college fraternities have gotten into because of two things: alcohol and hazing. Just when we’re convinced that all the customs of the world have changed, and that the old days and old ways are gone forever, we hear about dear old Alpha Gamma Ray or some other fraternity getting sued or thrown off campus because of killing one of its pledges by forcing him to drink a gallon of vodka within half an hour.
As in days of yore, everyone throws up their hands and exclaims, “How awful! How could this happen in our enlightened society?” So let’s think about that.
For openers, start with the booze. Historians tell us that alcohol was invented about three seconds after the Big Bang occurred 13.8 billion years ago. (I’m exaggerating, of course, but I often do this to make a point.) My point is that alcohol has been around ever since humans discovered (by accident or intent) how to make it. Since that time, alcohol has been part of life. One theory says man was a hunter/gatherer until he began growing crops that could be fermented or distilled. He soon learned that by tossing in some sugar and other ingredients and stirring the mix for a few weeks, he could produce a marvelous beverage. When swallowed, it gave him a whole new outlook on life. He shouted, “No more hunting deer and groundhogs for me - I’m gonna be a farmer!”
A few months ago I surrendered my Verizon 4G smart phone. It was an ostentatious instrument, capable of doing everything from reporting the exact time in Baruun-Urt, Mongolia, to broadcasting country music from Toad Suck, Ark.
For two years my trusty Android robbed me of hours upon hours of time as I searched the Web for tasty treats like akutag, a frosty Arctic dessert made from seal or moose fat, to goodies from the Weird Food Club of New York City that includes scorpion with chili peppers, broiled snake, goose intestines, and brain soup. Ummm. Yummy!
Then there was the probing of news sites from around the world, or listening to live stream radio stations from distant places like Fiji, Iceland, Fairbanks, and Tampa. (OK, so Tampa is not that far away.) I thrilled to the days of yesteryear on an old time radio app as the Lone Ranger galloped across the plains with his faithful companion, Tonto, or the creaking door as the Shadow emitted his bizarre guffaw.
Should Congress repeal Obamacare? If you had asked that before the botched Affordable Care Act rollout, I would have had a hard time answering yes. I didn’t see how the scheme could work, but I also believed that Washington owed the millions of Americans who I was told had been waiting desperately for years for guaranteed health care.
Now I say, “What’s in a name?” There’s no need for a repeal when Washington is bound to revamp the law. The reason: Consumers aren’t buying it.
According to the White House, more than 6 million people have signed onto Obamacare exchanges. Problem: The law kicked close to 5 million Americans off their private health care plans. Also, the administration says it doesn’t know how many new plan members actually are paying their premiums, so that 6 million figure could be highly inflated.
THE ELEPHANT AND THE RECEPTIONIST. An elephant walked into a stockbroker’s office and told Pam, the receptionist, “I’m here to apply for your opening as a hedge fund manager.” Pam said, “I’m sorry, but we hire only bulls or bears.” Disappointed, the elephant rampaged through the place, knocking down walls and tossing desks and computers through the air. Moral: if you’re a receptionist named Pam and an elephant walks in, get out.
THE SHARK AND THE TURTLE. In the waters of Tampa Bay, on the Pinellas end of the Howard Frankland Bridge, there lived a shark and a turtle. The turtle kept bragging to the shark, saying “I can live both on the land and in the water, but you must spend your life in the water. I’m therefore better than you.” The shark finally said, “Yes, you certainly are.” At which point he gobbled up the turtle, with a mighty crunch. Moral: if you’re a turtle living near a shark, either shut up or stay on shore.
THE OLD MAN AND HIS DOCTOR BILLS. Each January an old man named Jake went crazy trying to figure out his medical bills. His eye doctor charged him $72 for a Jan. 6 checkup, plus $35 for a refraction he didn’t need or ask for. His primary care doctor charged him $73 to look at his sore throat on Jan. 28. Jake was puzzled. He had Medicare and Medigap insurance, so why was he being charged? He called the Medigap company, UHARP, and was told, “We don’t actually do insurance. We farm it out to the XYZ Healthcare Co.” Jake dialed the XYZ phone number, and spoke to a lady in Pakistan who told him, “You bean billed for Medicare deductible, Meester Jake. Wassa mattah fo you?” Jack phoned Medicare and was told by a taped voice, “Your call is important to us. It may be recorded for quality, or just for the heck of it. Please stay on the line.”
I want to tell you a story about why our community desperately needs to be aware of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mentoring programs. As a current Big Brother, I hope my story will inspire all who encounter it. So please, take a moment to join me on my mentoring journey and see where it takes you.
Our first meeting was inauspicious. Shaq was barely awake and sat uninterested on the couch. Our first outings were awkward. He was guarded in his responses, and we had little to talk about. After subsequent visits Shaq would always ask me if I was coming back, I assured him I would. I thought to myself, here’s a kid who’s been let down and hurt before.
I made the mistake of many new Big Brothers; I tried to make each outing an event and spent too much money trying to entertain. Shaq was unclear on the Big Brother concept. He thought I was a paid employee and could not believe I was spending my own money on him. As the weeks went on we became more comfortable with each other. Shaq stopped asking if I was coming back. I got to know Shaq’s grandmother, Doris, who raised him since he was a baby.
Whenever I hear somebody say that the lack of corporal punishment in the schools has led to the demise of public education, I immediately think about Ol’ Fat Face.
Mr. B was an assistant principal in my junior high school back in the late ’60s. He was about 6 feet tall and had a blimp of a belly. On hot spring days, Ol’ Fat Face’s white shirts, which he wore every day, were stained with perspiration around the armpits.
I’ve written about Ol’ Fat Face before. Guess you can say he left an impression on me, but more so on other students, especially their rear ends.
A couple of days ago I got to wondering about dandruff. Whatever happened to it? When I was a boy during the McKinley administration you couldn’t open a newspaper or magazine without being warned about dandruff.
If you were on a date with a girl and she noticed the flecks of dandruff on your shoulders, you were finished. It didn’t matter that dandruff was not contagious and did not signify your membership in the Communist Party or AMORC (Ancient Mystic Order of the Rosy Cross). If you had dandruff, you were a slob. Or so said the drug companies that sold an alleged cure for dandruff. Even back then, pharmaceutical firms bent the truth, and they haven’t stopped since.
I’m probably mistaken in thinking that dandruff has disappeared or faded from our civilization. After all, dandruff is nothing more than dead skin cells. My exhaustive research reveals that about half a million cells are released each day from our scalps, and even more if you live in Phoenix or Reno and other places where the air is abnormally dry. Regular shampooing can reduce the amount of dandruff, so modern Americans aren’t nearly as worried about it as they used to be.
Classic car show TIERRA VERDE – More than 100 cars will be on display Saturday, April 19, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., when the Tierra Verde Business Partnership plans its third annual Classic Car Show and Taste of Tierra Verde in the Tierra Verde business district at 1101 Pinellas Bayway S.
A portion of the proceeds from the event will be donated to the Eckerd College Search and Rescue Team.
The TVBP is made up of 75 local businesses and community groups. Its mission is to support and promote existing and new businesses on Tierra Verde.
Entry fee for the car show is $15 in advance and $20 day of the show. Cars for sale are $10 day of the show and vendor space is $25.
For more information on the car show, call 547-8082.
Document shredding ST. PETERSBURG – A post-tax season document shredding event will benefit the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. The event is set for Saturday, April 19, 10 a.m. to noon, at Cummings Financial Organization, 3637 Fourth St. N.
To get these services, people are asked to bring a donation of canned goods for use by the clinic.
Commercial shredding will not be accepted at this event, though monthly on-site pickup services are available separately through the Louise Graham Regeneration Center.
Feeling Better About Ourselves workshops PINELLAS PARK – Feeling Better About Ourselves will present a series of monthly workshops for people coping with depression, biopolar disorder and addictions (dual diagnosis).
The first workshop,“The Importance of Self Worth in Our Recovery,” will be offered Saturday, April 19, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at Windmoor Healthcare, 11300 U.S. 19, Pinellas Park.
The suggested donation is $5. For information, call Sandi and Les at 822-3480.
Golden Corral blood drive Golden Corral restaurant at 10050 Ulmerton Road, Largo, will host a blood drive Saturday, April 19, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The blood drives will offer donors an opportunity to share their power to save lives by donating blood.
All blood donors will receive a coupon for a free lunch buffet from Golden Corral and a voucher for a free movie ticket, as well as a wellness checkup, which includes blood pressure, temperature, iron count and a cholesterol screening.
Rotary Club Easter egg hunt TREASURE ISLAND – The Gulf Beaches Rotary Club and the Isle of Capri Civic Association are co-sponsoring a free Easter egg hunt Saturday, April 19, 10 a.m., at Treasure Island Community Center Park, 106th Avenue and Gulf Boulevard.
Activities for children 10 and younger will include an egg hunt, bonnet and hat contest, and a visit with the Easter bunny.
Those attending should bring cameras to capture the fun.
For additional information, call 547-4575 or 367-2303.
CLEARWATER – The East Library, 2251 Drew St., is hosting a monthly Socrates Café, which are free forums that are open to the public. Attendees will get a brain workout, which research has shown is as important as exercise is for the body.
The Cafés are set for Saturdays, Feb. 8, March 15, April 19, May 10, June 21, July 19, Aug. 16, Sept. 20, Oct. 18, Nov. 15 and Dec. 20, 2 to 4 p.m.
Participants choose a philosophical topic and then use Socratic dialogue – a question and answer debate technique developed by the Greek philosopher – to examine the topic. There are no prerequisites or additional preparation required.
Socrates Cafés came into being through writer-philosopher Christopher Phillips who said that people learn more by asking questions in social groups. In his book, “Socrates Café: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy,” he advocates using the Socratic method of philosophical dialogue in open-invitation forums to understand truth.