Politics is a dirty word. Citizen approval for the U.S. Congress has dipped to just 9 percent, down from 14 percent scarcely five months ago. It is the lowest in the history of the Gallup Poll.
President Obama, once believed by some to be the nation’s savior, now has an approval rating of just 41 percent. That figure is expected to slide further as Obama continues to stumble aimlessly through the nation’s maze of economic, social and other challenges.
Has any Supreme Authority written a book listing the proper and improper ways for us to talk with one another? If so, I’ve missed it. Of course, many books exist that teach us how to become a better conversationalist. I’m not referring to that skill.
What concerns me is the absence of any rulebook that defines when, in a civilized conversation, a person should speak and when to shut the hell up. Have you noticed that today there are very few listeners? These are people who, perhaps in childhood or in a finishing school, were taught to remain silent while the other guy was speaking. If and when silence finally occurred, then it was your turn.
No more, or rarely, does conversation work that way. Today, closely observe talkers you know, especially if they’re appearing on a TV or radio program. You’ll find few polite listeners. If and when you do identify such persons, they’ll be the ones in the corner who everyone ignores.
President Barack Obama recently called Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s bluff. Obama let it be known that because Karzai is unlikely to sign a bilateral security agreement - essential to keeping some U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014 - he had asked the Pentagon to work on a plan to withdraw all troops before 2015.
Obama has good reason to want to cut Karzai off at the knees. Karzai won’t sign the security agreement despite unanimous support from the Loya Jirga, a council of elders with political say in Afghanistan. He released 65 Taliban from the Bagram prison despite U.S. protests that the detainees had been involved in attacks that wounded coalition and Afghan forces.
“The Afghan people have been amazing allies,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon told the National Press Club on Monday. “President Karzai has not.” Even before the Karzai phone call, McKeon was concerned that Obama might go soft on the mission.
I grew up on baseball. The first outfit my dad bought me was a New York Mets onesie. I’ve spent almost every Father’s Day for the last 10 years at Tropicana Field. Birthday parties were planned around Little League softball games. I can track my life from spring training to the World Series. Opening Night is my New Year’s Eve.
Baseball has a way of calming me down. There’s no headache-inducing back-and-forth motion like in basketball or tennis, or grating crunch of bone against helmet like in hockey or football. It’s quiet and exhilarating all at the same time, with the soft hiss of wind as a fly ball whooshes past or the puff of red dust as a runner beats the tag at second base. There’s a sweet simplicity to baseball that never ceases to amaze me.
But it’s not all quiet. Bats break and umpires yell and fans cheer. Baseball can be loud. And I love that, too.
Cox ran an employment agency. He helped employers find workers, and workers to find jobs.
The parts Cox liked best were the many different people he met, and the many skills and abilities he saw in action.
A man walked in and filled out an application form. “I’m a sooth-sayer.” Cox said, “Please demonstrate.” The man said, “Sooth. Sooth.” Cox said, “By gosh, you certainly are a soothsayer. We’ll call you as soon as we find an opening.”
The best yard sale I’ve ever had was in the snow. In case you didn’t know, in skiing terminology, a yard sale is defined as the act of a skier losing his balance and, due to the laws of centrifugal force and gravity, unintentionally falling down, causing his or her cap, sunglasses, gloves, skis and other personal belongings to scatter on the snow or beneath it.
I’m an expert at this. In 1992, my yard sale in the Alps in northern Italy was so spectacular that I somehow managed to lose my lift pass in the snow. Consequently, instinct took over, and I engaged in the longest Après-ski ever undertaken by an ugly American abroad while my friends enjoyed most of that afternoon on the slopes.
That incident came to mind recently when I was thinking about selling my ski apparel, which is tucked away in a suitcase in my closet. Haven’t skied since 2003, in deference to the toll that acts of jockdom have taken on my body - two knee surgeries and two foot surgeries. Put an end to my days of racquetball, too.
I keep hearing about the war between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the other 99 percent of people. Tom Perkins, a Silicon Valley billionaire, recently published a letter in the Wall Street Journal. In it he compared today’s vilification of America’s moguls with the Nazi persecution of Jews. He may have overstated his concern, but I think he’s correct in assuming that today’s War on the Wealthy does exist.
I don’t know much about economics, but I’m able to ask questions. Following are a few that strike my mind on a Tuesday unshaven morning with a cup of coffee beside me and another 10-degree F. New England air mass hovering outside my window.
How would or will I know when I reach the super-rich level? Has someone defined exactly how much wealth a person must have before he/she can be hated by the rest of us? We’d better find out, because one day there may come a knock on the door. An ominous voice will say, “The latest figures are in. They show that you have crossed the line into SRT - super-rich territory. Prepare to face the consequences.”
I have found the issue that can bring America together. Republicans and Democrats, urban hipsters and country folk, corporate scions and infrequent fliers - they all seem to agree: The federal government must not allow mobile phone use on planes.
If the Federal Communications Commission allows air-
lines with properly equipped planes to open the cellphone gates on commercial flights, even Washington agrees there will be revolts in the friendly skies.
Antique Alley Spring Antique Show
BELLEAIR BLUFFS – The Spring Antique Show will be presented Sunday, March 9, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Antique Alley, 580 N. Indian Rocks Road.
The alley overflows with more than 50 outside antiques vendors at this annual event, plus several charming and eclectic shops that are open year-round. Admission is free and parking is available in designated areas.
Art show and fresh market
ST. PETE BEACH – The Suntan Art Center, 3300 Gulf Blvd., hosts a juried art show and fresh market each Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Admission and parking is free. Call 367-3818 for details.
Corey Fresh Market
ST. PETE BEACH - Corey Fresh Market every Sunday October through May, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., on the 300 block of Corey Avenue in St. Pete Beach. Corey Fresh Market hosts an average of 50 local vendors, offering roduce, flowers/plants, arts/crafts, specialty foods, live music, special appearances. Free admission and parking. Visit www.coreyave.com or call 727-498-8778.
Kiwanis Club annual fire truck pull
SEMINOLE – The Kiwanis Club of Seminole will hold its annual fire truck pull, Pulling for Kids, Sunday, March 9, 1 to 3 p.m., at the Seminole Community Library at St. Petersburg College, 9200 113th St. N., south parking lot.
This fundraiser benefits several of the club’s projects, including the Key Club at Seminole High School, the Builders Club at Seminole Middle School, K-Kids at Bauder Elementary School, Every Child a Swimmer and Horses for the Handicapped.
The club is looking for sponsors and teams to register for the event. Adult and teen teams should have no more than eight members, and kids’ teams should have 10 to 12 members. Cost per team is $150.
For more information, call Steve Zazzaro at 432-3544.
Latin ballroom dance classes
ST. PETE BEACH – The St. Pete Beach Community Center, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive, offers Latin ballroom dance class on Mondays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., from Feb. 24 to March 17.
The cost is $40. For more information, visit www.spbrec.com or call 363-9245.
Non-Trivial Pursuits CLEARWATER – The next Non-Trivial Pursuits program will be presented Monday, March 10, 7:30 p.m., at Chapel-By-The-Sea, 54 Bay Esplanade, Clearwater Beach.
The event will feature guest speaker Capt. Tyson Wallerstein. Wallerstein will present Better Weather! Better Fishing! He will make recommendations about where to fish in the area and will offer other helpful fishing tips.
Non-Trivial Pursuits is a long-standing program at Chapel-By-The-Sea offering presentations to the public on various topics. There is no charge for the programs and light refreshments are available. Seat reservations are requested so proper arrangements can be made.
PINELLAS PARK – Senior Solos will meet on the second Monday of the month, 1:30 p.m., at the Pinellas Park Recreation Center, 7625 59th St. N.
Bring a potluck dish to share and pay $2 or pay $5 without a dish.
All singles 55+ are welcome.
Call Pat at 520-8797 for more information.
Speak Easy Toastmasters Club meeting
PINELLAS PARK – The Speak Easy Toastmasters Club meets Mondays at 6 p.m. at Lin’s K Hibachi Buffet, 7610 49th St. N.
Guests are welcome.
The Toastmasters program helps members become better speakers for their jobs, presentations and meetings.
Call Jim Martin at 536-3392 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
OLDSMAR – The city of Oldsmar offers high-energy zumba fitness sessions Mondays, 6 to 7 p.m., at the Cypress Forest Recreation Center.
The price is $5 per class with a recreation card or $7.50 per class without a card.
Community Chorus meeting
PALM HARBOR – The Palm Harbor Community Chorus meets Tuesdays from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at Crystal Cove Community Church, 6900 County Road, Palm Harbor. No auditions are necessary. For more information, call Anita at 939-2952.