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THE IDLE AMERICAN
A Round-Up of Reflections…
Wednesday, August 20, 2008 • Posted August 20, 2008

THE IDLE AMERICAN

A Round-Up of Reflections…

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

Column #277 for release Saturday, August 16, or Later

Miscellany rules as summer winds down, and the Olympics heat up. Observations herein were gathered from “hither and yawn.”

With Beijing’s “smogginess” roughly six times that of Los Angeles’, it’s a good bet that the “air condition” is a major topic of conversation among Olympic participants. Two women, reportedly members of the USA’s curling team, offered hair spray when they heard two others bemoaning a “bad hair day.”

What a misunderstanding! The complainants were actually lamenting a “bad air day.” We should forgive them—words filtered through air masks lack clarity….

  • * * * *

My Uncle Mort often worries about back-burner issues that sometimes aren’t even “pilot light warm.” Now, he’s warning friends that cranes are “headed for extinction.”

I challenged him with strong statistical support: “Whooping crane numbers have grown by six fold in three decades.” I added that when the birds dipped into double-digits back in the 1970’s, one aviary expert said we might need to “teach ‘regular’ cranes to whoop.”

We were on different tracks, as usual. “I’m not talking about cranes that fly,” Mort clarified, “I’m talking about cranes that fall.”…

  • * * * *

He’s all excited about the upcoming football season.

His friends chuckle when he admits to being “headstrong;” most of ‘em think his admission is off by 180 degrees, and some claim he’s “headweak.” For example, he’s convinced he knows why the Dallas Cowboys took the train ride down to San Diego for the season’s first exhibition game.

“They can blame the loss on ‘rail lag,’” he joked, but a five-hour train ride after a loss “feels” longer….

  • * * * *

Mort also wanted to inform me that he believes that there are three kinds of working men. I braced myself, hardly knowing what to expect.

He continued, “There are a few men with their names on buildings, many with their names on their doors or desks, and hoards of us with names stitched on our shirts.”

My 90-year-old uncle told me about the preacher who had “hoof and mouth” disease, explaining that the parson “refuses to visit and can’t preach a lick.” Our conversation ended abruptly when it was his turn to shuffle the dominoes….

  • * * * *

“Hold the mayo. Hold the mustard. Hold the catsup.” Sounds like orders to a short-order cook, right?

Wrong! It’s Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez’s cancellation of packaged condiments for jail prisoners. With a budget awash in red ink, it’s a $150,000 lick at a $6 million shortfall.

Historically, similar actions haven’t set well with inmates. They’ve been howling about jail conditions since locks were installed on cell doors. The late Lew Sterrett, for two decades Dallas County Judge whose name now adorns the justice center, had a word for the protestors, in the form of a suggestion: “Those who don’t like the Dallas County Jail should commit their crimes in some other county.”…

  • * * * *

Those crunches we hear all over the country are coming straight from the budget sheets. Most agencies, institutions and organizations show negative balances.

The American Ballet Theatre in New York City may be the exception. Its annual budget includes $350,000 for shoes—that’s $7,500 per ballerina.

It’s “point”less, I guess, to suggest that they take old shoes to the cobbler. When “pointy-toed” shoes are gone, they’re gone….

  • * * * *

Our nation cries out for “feel good” stories, and, God be thanked, they’re still around. Maybe we should all look harder for “larger than life” figures.

Often, unlikely heroes step forward. Consider Neil Sauter, a 24-year-old Michigander who was saluted for completing an 830-mile walk. Earlier this summer, he walked across Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas.

Oh, I failed to mention that this cerebral palsy victim made the walk on stilts. And that he raised $16,000 for United Cerebral Palsy of Michigan….

  • * * * *

Two recent accidents in Texas and New York that typically would have resulted in obituaries had happy endings. Near Fort Worth, a man survived a 40-foot fall into a hole at a gas field drilling site, and in Manhattan, a 12-year-old girl survived a 14-story fall down a chimney.

Firefighter Derek Izzo was lowered into the hole to rescue the “wedged” victim. Sporting a barn door-wide smile when it was clear that the victim had been spared serious injury, he was asked if he drew the assignment because he had the most experience. “Nope, the least seniority,” he answered.

Authorities in New York said that the youngster lucked out because of the make-up of the final two feet in her 180-foot fall: soot and ashes. Sudden stops rarely are so cushioned….

  • * * * *

I fully expect to find some new heroes at in-service programs of several public schools where I’m committing speeches during the next couple of weeks.

My memory floods at thoughts of long-ago heroes at school. Does yours?

And their jobs grow tougher with each passing year….

  • * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and author in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com.

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