It’s vacation time, and Amy and I’d saved for ours for a long time. My organized and savvy wife hit the Internet and booked our trip. It ended a couple of weeks ago, and we are back to the grind once again; however, the break refreshed us and gave us a chance to rest for a while. Based on what we experienced, I’ve decided to offer a few tips to those who are traveling over the summer.
First, make sure you understand booking flights on line. Over the years, we’ve grown accustom to standing in line to check bags and receive boarding passes. Checking in electronically takes away that pass. I was more than a bit confused as to where I would sit. A hateful Delta worker met us at the gate and offered no help. We eventually understood that a seat would be assigned at the gate, but ours weren’t together.
If you travel often, buying a TSA Pre-check pass. It allows purchasers to go through shorter security lines where they can keep their shoes on. Most importantly, folks with passes don’t stand in lines for long times. In the Panama City Airport, we stood in a holding area for several minutes before we were allowed proceed to the security clearance lines. All of these points lead to the biggest piece of advice: arrive earlier than you think is necessary or take a chance of missing you flight.
Make sure to check the rating of the establishment where you stay. We booked place at a Wyndhamrd floor abode was magnificent.
spot through Resort Quest. It was 30 stories tall. The condo in which we stayed was nice. The amenities were also nice. Our view from the 23
The problems were multiple. We arrived at 10:30 a.m. because of our flight schedule. Yes, we knew that check-in time was 4:00 p.m. However, we hoped that the staff would be able to get us in our room before that time. We sat for a while and then decided to visit the beach. Chairs and an umbrella
were included in the booking, but we encounter trouble with that because we had not been assigned a room. The attendant allowed us to use the facilities any way. I checked at the front desk for our room number. Our paper work lay at the same place that it had when we arrived; it was now about 1:00 p.m.
A storm hit and scattered folks on the beach. We had no place to go, so we sat in the lobby across from the front desk. At about 3:45, we received a text with our room number and key pad numbers. I  
had to then go to the second floor to get a cart to load our luggage. One wasn’t available. When I finally loaded our belongings and returned from the garage, Amy and I discovered the worst problem. The elevators were slow and too few were available for 500 units.
All of this is to say that I suggest that you don’t stay in large facilities. I won’t book again a place where I can’t walk the stairs if the elevators are too slow or busy. I also will make sure that early check-in is available when our flight causes us to arrive before time. I’ll also make sure the staff cares about customer service and takes steps to get vacationers in their rooms in a timely fashion. That means they might have to send someone from the cleaning staff to clean a room instead of one where no one has been waiting for hours.
I’m not a griping, old man who finds fault with everything. Amy and I had a wonderful time after we finally broke through to our room. We filled our days sitting on the beach and reading. When rain came, we sat on the deck and watched the clouds and rain blow in. I do, expect, however, better customer service from those who are making a living on the travels of others. Make sure you check every step of your trip, but still expect problems to arise. They must be a part of vacations.


Okay, folks, I’m scared and worried. No, I’m not afraid for myself; my concern is for my children and grandchildren and this country. What is going on is the destruction of the U.S. by a man who is unfit to be the president.
Supporters say Trump is “draining the swamp,” but a quick look at the actions of those in his own cabinet prove that he’s swapped one type of swamp monster with another kind that answers to him. This man is a danger to our nation, and his giving power to corrupt individuals is criminal.
Immigration is a sticking point for this man. Remember when he vowed to build a wall for which Mexico would pay? It’s not started, so now President Trump wants American citizens to pay for the boondoggle. At the same time, he’s had the Department of Justice wage war on immigrants who come from the Mexican border. Children are ripped from their parents when families cross the border. Just today a baby was taken from a mother as she breastfed the child. I’ve heard the lines that they broke the law and must pay the price. However, should that ever include losing children and breaking families? What would you do if someone took your child from you and placed him or her and foster where you would not be able to find the young one? Nazi Germany did the same thing to families heading for the concentration camps.
Trump’s war continues against most elements of press. Fox News and the conservative media are spared haranguing. However, so-called “liberal outlets” are damned and condemned by this president and his minions. Kellyanne Conway called their convoluted stories “alternative facts,” and Rudy Giuliani said the same thing. The truth is not a variable. It is based on facts. The truth never waivers. Statements that don’t say the same things as the truths are lies, plain and simple. The Constitution is quick to defend a free press and states its importance. This temporary resident in the White House should understand that the truth will outlast his lies and those of his followers.
Twitter attacks by this president are daily events. Most of them are complete with misspellings and grammatical errors, but that’s not as concerning as the lies and attacks and misinformation that he unloads. His limited vocabulary always includes simple words, sometimes misused. Trump believes that if he says something in those Tweets enough times that all people will believe it. Only the 38% that has always blindly supported him will swallow the line of bull he shovels on social media.
President Donald Trump has turned his back on our allies. Those folks are the ones with whom we’ve had steadfast relationships for fifty years. This man swats them away as if they were flies. In their places, he puts our enemies and other countries run by thugs, murders, and miscreants. Each day the president sides with these evil folks he destroys the United States’ leadership role in the world.
So, yes, I’m scared, but at the same time I’m mad. I’m furious that this incompetent man has been able to hijack the GOP and turn it into a disgusting political party. My anger is also aimed at the cowards who represent the people in Washington. Keeping their jobs is more important than standing up to the lies and misdeeds from this administration. Last, I’m furious with those people who refuse to see that this president is destroying our country. It’s no longer a Democrat versus Republican thing; it’s a defining moment for the survival or destruction of the U.S.A. God help us and guide us because we aren’t capable of steering the country in the safe direction.  


Another birthday has come and gone, and another year is in the books. I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful family that chooses to gather on a weekend around that date to celebrate that day. We sit
around the pool, cook hamburgers and hotdogs, and laugh and talk until we’re exhausted.
Growing old isn’t that difficult for us. If we are lucky enough, time slides along and takes us with it. Birthdays when I was young left memories and warm sun, honeysuckle, and Mother’s sixth grade class picnic at our house. The smell of leather always reminds me of that birthday when Jim and I received new ball gloves as presents. Neither of us were skilled at using them, but that never kept us from throwing ball in the front yard or trying to play on the team Mr. Wright coached. Melt-in-your-mouth always set center stage on the birthday table.
Teenaged birthdays were different. Sure, presents were nice, but more important was having a few friends at the house for a while. After celebrating there for a while, everyone left for destinations such as the Copper Kettle or another hangout. Yes, we bought alcohol with fake drivers’ licenses and sipped on the stuff. Cigarettes weren’t taboo then, and many of us started the habit during those high school years. When a couple of birthdays rolled around, I even had a girlfriend with whom celebrate the day. Mother was always home on birthdays and made sure they were special.
Adulthood changed those birthdays. Amy did more than she should have to spoil me. We always managed to meet up with Jim and his clan at Mothers. On that 40th celebration, she and my sister-in-law Brenda planned a party at the Karns community center. A crowd of friends attended and listened to tales on the two of us. My older brother sent a cassette tape that recalled all the horrible events that we caused over the years. The get together was highlighted by the appearance of a large, friendly dancer.
Lately, birthdays are more about just spending time with the folks I love. Lacey and Nick bring Madden with them from Nashville, and Dallas travels home from Chattanooga. They insist on giving presents, some of which are rather strange. I’d as soon they saved their money and just came home for a couple of days. Years earlier, the family stayed up late to watch movies or television shows or just to talk. My bed time comes much earlier now, and my eyes slam shut too soon to suit me.
For the last few years, Madden has stayed the week after my birthday. We find things to do to keep a young boy busy. This year was to be partially spent swimming in the river in the mountains, but days filled with rain caused us to change plans. Just having him stay here willingly is nice, and I try to keep him from being too bored.
This year, I greeted the anniversary of day of my arrival with more aches and pains. Knees and
fingers ache, and a limp caused by inflammation of my Achilles tendon puts a crimp in the activities I want to enjoy. It sounds as if a case of the “gripes” is also present, but the truth is that I am thankful to be here each and every day. I love my wife, children, and grandson. Jim and I still hang out and find projects to keep us busy. I’ll take as many more birthdays as the good lord gives me because I want to share the days of each year with the people I love, even if I have to do so a bit slower.


I arrived at the Knox County Clerk’s office about five minutes before it opened. A man in front of me said the last time he completed this chore, he was number 50 in line. However, at that early hour, I walked in and immediately met one of the workers there. Her cheery voice and kind attitude made renewing my tags easy and pleasant. The fact is that we need more of this kind of behavior in our world.
The clerk’s employee unarms visitors with her friendly demeanor. In return, others relax and return the kindness. Everyday, those workers at that office face throngs of drivers who want to renew
licenses or registration stickers. The job demands patience and efficiency. For them to be kind also to folks, especially the ones who are more than a bit annoyed by the wait, is a credit to them. I didn’t get the name of the woman at the Cedar Bluff office, but if she sees this column, I want to make sure to thank her for being nice.
Fast food businesses are other places filled with stress on employees. Hungry customers are in a hurry to get their food and eat it or take it home to families. True, sometimes those workers at the businesses have no regard for customers and never worry that the line through the drive-thru wraps around the building. However, most of the folks on that side of the counter are concerned about processing orders as quickly as possible. We who are ordering food might make the day a bit easier
for them by being nice. That means saying thank you and foregoing our first instincts to tear into a teenager for having to wait a long time for a burger, order of fries, and drink.
Nothing tests the limits of our temper as does a phone call to a major corporation. Whether the help is with our cable, computer, or health plan, most customers fume when the first thing they hear is a
recording. If the wait is long, company representatives are in trouble when they finally answer calls. Our first tendencies are to blast workers for failing to answer quicker. Never mind that the phone lines are jammed with customers; we want help now. A kind person on the other end can quickly diffuse angry customers. If that person can quickly take care of our problems or questions, we are a bit stunned. In the end, we change our tunes and become kinder, gentler people.
Now, I’m the first to admit that my patience wears thin quicker than most people, and I’ve been a surly S.O.B. at times. However, when people are automatically pleasant, I become a calmer person as well. In fact, I enjoy talking with the worker and tell her how much I appreciate the kindness and help. That’s the way the world should be. More consideration for others makes everyone feel a bit better about life. One thing is for sure: we need to remember what our parents told us when we were children—be nice!


The legend regarding the father of the country tells us that he “could not tell a lie.” As children, we are taught to tell the truth or otherwise suffer the consequences. As witnesses in court, we “swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help us God.” What happened to the commitment to the truth?
Every day, television ads blast us with promises and results. However, the fine print at the bottom of the screen tells the real story. Companies advise viewers not to take on the IRS by themselves and scare them by saying that the agency is taking homes, cars, and all other possessions of those owing tax moneys. However, few folks can qualify for paying the IRS less than they owe. They might still might have to pay just as much in taxes after working with one of these businesses, and then they pay fees for services to that company that promised to help them so much. That sounds like a lie to me. 
Buying new cars are nerve-racking experiences for most people. That time only worsens when they face salesmen. Customers are taken to small offices where they bargain with the dealership representative. It’s surprising that the salesmen are unable to accept or reject offers by buyers.
Instead, they must discuss offers with the sales manager. On many occasions when a seller leaves the office, he stands around for a while without ever asking permission before returning with a counter offer. I don’t need games, nor will I play them when buying a car. No customer appreciates the string of lies and deceptions with which car dealers beset them. All of us know that there’s no such thing as a deal on a car.
People don’t know what is true in the news. Sometimes reporters inject their biases into news stories; at other times sensationalized and exaggerated statements turn what should be solid reporting into yellow journalism. Even when stories are factual, they can be pooh-poohed by an opposing
media outlet. In the end, we can only go with our gut feelings as to determining what is true, and all too many have irritable bowel syndrome that colors their best guesses.
Worst of all, our government is lying to us. Polarization has taken over both parties. Instead of working together for the common good, politicians in two of the branches of government are more interested in promoting their viewpoints than in digging for the truth and giving it the light of day.
New lies bombard us daily, and citizens turn deaf ears to anything that doesn’t agree with their thinking. The country feels as if it is in a tailspin, and the pilots have parachuted to safety. Telling the truth offers no advantage to individuals who hold office.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” All of those who sing Jefferson’s praises might do well to take that statement to heart. In fact, all of us would do well to be more honest in all of our dealings in this world. The return to the truth should start in the hallowed halls of our government. Elected officials becoming role models for the citizens of this country could turn the tide toward better days. Otherwise, I fear that we are watching the crumbling of our country and its rightful place in this world.


All over the country, folks are assembling at churches, school gyms, and larger facilities to hold graduation ceremonies. Whether the event is for a high school or college, moms, dads, husbands, wives, and children are celebrating the educational accomplishments of students.
Some historical accounts report that the traditional cap and gown were worn during the 12th th century to differentiate the students from the townspeople at the university where they attended. Others say the garb was worn to keep students warm in the unheated classrooms where they studied.
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These days, the cap and gown outfit is a sure signal that a person has completed a course of study. Now, whether that individual has exceled in his studies or has sneaked through them isn’t necessarily indicated. Only those with the highest academic successes are labeled with cum, magna, or summa laude. The rest of the graduating class is a hodgepodge of grade point averages.
Some students have been diligent in their pursuits of knowledge. During my high school years, I never let classes interfere with my education. Instead, I poured more of my energies into friends, events, and mischief. That’s not to say that I squeaked by to graduate, but a 2.6 grade point average and a score of 18 on the ACT were nothing about which to brag. Some of my friends spent little time in study but managed to make A’s in their classes. One individual even scored a perfect 36 on the ACT. However, in looking back, the people I most admire are the ones who worked for their good grades.
In college, things are a bit different. Many students arrive on campus with dedication and determination to succeed. I was one of them. It was in those classrooms where I paid the price for not working hard in high school. For my entire college life, I studied long, hard hours; “all-nighters” came before exams. So much of the material made little or no sense to me the first time I read it. Only after reviewing things did I “get it.” That studying hard continued even as a worked on a graduate degree. However, most of the materials in that program was stuff with which I disagreed, but to make it through the program, I played the game and regurgitated the stuff for professors during test and in papers.
A large group of students leave homes for college for different reasons. They are there to make friends, engage in parties, and meander through their lives free of home and rules. Last on their lists are attending classes or studying materials. Consequently, their stays at universities don’t last more than a term or two. Then, they return home to figure out what will become of them for the next several years.
College is not for everyone; I’ve said that for years. However, a basic education is essential in today’s world. The old manufacturing jobs of the past that once paid so well either aren’t coming back to the U.S. or aren’t paying sensational salaries. Having a skill or continuing an education to develop one is essential. Otherwise, individuals are doomed to a life of struggle.
Congratulations to all those who walk across the stage with a diploma in hand. If you have worked to earn it, know that your efforts will be rewarded. If you have done as little as possible and narrowly made it through with an attitude that “D stands for diploma,” realize that such an outlook will lead you to disappointment. Each day is new, and with it all of us have opportunities to learn something new. 


I’ve always said that high school students have remained the same over the years. One of my classes proved me wrong the other day. We were studying humor, and I showed the old routine by Bill Cosby about being a parent. Yes, I know Cosby stands convicted of terrible crimes, but these students don’t read or watch the news enough to know what’s going on. The comedy that Cosby presented is still excellent, regardless of the type of person he’s become. What is upsetting is that the world we’ve created has stifled many admirable qualities of too many children.
Plenty of our children don’t have much curiosity. Information bombards them all day long. The
Internet and social media broadcast all sorts of materials, and young folks aren’t always sophisticated enough to tell what is true. In the end, they begin taking what is dished out without ever wondering first about a topic and then investigating it.
At the same time, children are rarely excited about anything. We’ve given our offspring so much that not much is left to be called special. Christmas and birthday gifts don’t surprise them. In many cases, our offerings pale in comparison the things we have given
children on a daily basis. A car isn’t a special thing to a child unless it’s a new model. How dare parents try to pass off used vehicles as a wonderful presents to teenagers. A vacation isn’t such a big deal unless it includes swank settings and plush accommodations.
Today’s young folks are too quickly offended. Our society sanitized everything in life. Too many things are politically incorrect, and as such, they are either taboo or have been assigned “kinder, less offensive” names or titles. We all recognize that some labels are simply
wrong, but that doesn’t mean all of them are. Words we used just a few year are no longer acceptable because someone decided they demeaned another person or group. Our children live in a world where they are taught to use “he or she” so that no one feels left out. Double-speak continues to spread like a virus in our language. I’ve often said that such politically correct language reminds me of the movie “Demolition Man,” where uttering any word identified as offensive resulted in a ticket.
Worst of all, adults have wiped out children’s senses of humor. Some might ask how that has happened. On too many occasions, parents have failed to pass along what constitutes a funny situation or action. The absurd is the standard for humor these days. Of course, it might help if moms and dads shared some of the adventures they experienced as young people. Also, children fail to understand subtlety or nuance in humorous situations.
Perhaps what occurred today is further indication that my time has come and gone. Still, this is the first time in over 30 years that I’ve showed this video to a class without a single laugh coming out at some point. If children don’t see the humor in being a parent or going to the dentist, I feel sorry for them. Their futures are going to be filled with angst. I like my life up to this point and wouldn’t change it with a teenager. They have already missed too much.