Columns

A Century of Honoring Our Veterans

Seven years ago today, Cody Norris was killed while on patrol in Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. He had joined the Army at 19 and died under enemy small-arms fire in Kandahar province. Cody was my sister-in-law’s nephew. He grew up in the Houston area but loved spending time in East Texas. We met a few times at holiday gatherings. He had followed his older brother, who graduated from West Point, into the military. Hundreds of people lined up for the funeral procession, to honor this young man who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The sanctuary was overflowing. Medals were presented to his parents....

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Getting Dunked (Not Me) For A Good Cause

Over the course of my career as a newspaper editor and publisher, I was called upon to sit in a dunking booth a few times, for one charitable cause or another. Being dunked is not the most pleasant of experiences. The water is invariably cold since the tub was likely just filled out of a water hose, and the sun has not had a chance to warm it. Then, there is the sudden shock of being plunged into the water, when someone bent on vengeance and flush with cash hits the target. Even though one knows it’s coming, the sudden descent into cold water stuns the system. At least it did mine. I helped...

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Discovering a New World Through Glasses

While in San Antonio recently, we attended a service at Oak Hills Church and heard Max Lucado deliver a sermon. Lucado is a well-known Christian author with several dozen published books. He delivered a thoughtful sermon based on the accou nt, in the Gospel of John, of the blind man that Jesus healed. Jesus did so by spitting on the ground and creating a daub of mud, which he spread across the blind man’s eyes. Then Jesus instructed him to walk to Siloam and wash, after which he could see. Though Lucado did not mention it, that is where the term, “Here’s mud in your eye” evolved. Lucado...

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It’s Autumn, & The Red Sox Are Going To The Series

Current events are proving to be a bit overwhelming these days, at least for me. We are beset with tragedy, corruption and disasters. Even for a news junkie like me, someone who has spent his life following — and reporting, on a modest scale — what is happening in the world, there are days I simply can’t listen any more to NPR news, or read The New York Times or Washington Post online. That is rare, since it is so ingrained in me, but it happens. Thank goodness for Spotify and iTunes. At least it is October and there is baseball. My beloved Boston Red Sox beat Houston with four straight...

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Learning a New Way to Tell Stories

I began producing stories for Red River Radio a month or so ago. I was asked to help them expand their news coverage with piece every week or so. Sure, I said. It pays a modest amount, being public radio and all, but I’m happy to help. For nearly six years, I have contributed weekly commentaries gratis. Producing a news story is different. I ensconce my self in the small closet in my study, which is banked with file cabinets and boxes of unsold books, which doubles as a recording studio. (By the way, Christmas is coming, and a copy of “Yours Faithfully, J.A.: The Life and Writings of H.B....

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I Think I Passed The Genes Test

A high-school classmate and fellow CrossFit fanatic mentioned several months ago that he had signed up for a mail-order genetic testing kit and had just received the results. He’s a well-respected doctor in town, so it caught my attention that he was willing to fork out $199 for the test. This fellow is not likely to spend money on scientifically dubious endeavors. His test was conducted by 23andMe, one of three companies out there catering to consumers. It is the least expensive by far, and uses SNP genotype testing, which examines the spelling variations in DNA. The test covers both ancestral...

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Marking Banned Books Week at the Library

This is Banned Books Week, launched in 1982 to call attention to attempts to keep certain books out of circulation. At the Margaret Estes Library on the LeTourneau University campus, where I work part-time weeknights as a reference assistant, the student worker in charge of promotions and social media put together a compelling exhibit to note the week. Construction-paper flames and the word “BANNED” in fiery red lettering peeped out of books around the library. A banner proclaiming Banned Books Week hung from the ceiling. Lots of students asked what it was all about, which was the intent of the exhibit. Students...

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The Seasons Grow Shorter

Autumn officially arrives on Saturday. In East Texas, the official date doesn’t mean much. Summer heat can linger well into October. I am keeping my eye on a cool front possibly arriving late next week that could drop our highs down into the 70s and lows into the high 50s — practically sweater weather to thin-blooded East Texans. The highs this week have been pushing 100. It is well past time for the dog days to end. Heat notwithstanding, the leaves have begun descending, skittering across the deck when a breeze blows, clogging the swimming pool skimmer, finding their way inside the house...

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Mr. G’s Packed As Closing Looms

I showed up on a rainy Saturday afternoon to take Mr. G’s photograph. “Come about 2,” he said on the phone the day before. “It usually slows down by then.” When I opened the door to Gonzalo’s Mexican Restaurant, about a half-dozen folks turned to see who was entering. They were waiting for a table, while Mr. G. – Gonzolo Hernandez – stood behind the cash register, the three walls behind him covered in snapshots. So much for not being busy. That’s how it has been at Gonzolo’s – which most folks call Mr. G’s – since the 78-year-old owner announced he was closing the restaurant...

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A Little Moxie Goes Long Way

I was walking Sam the Dog the other day, listening to NPR as usual, and a rather lengthy report came across that Coca-Cola had purchased Moxie. One might ask why this would matter if raised anywhere except New England. It is likely most folks in these parts have never heard of Moxie. If I concentrate, I can still summon the bittersweet taste of sipping a can of Moxie soda. Moxie is the official soft drink of Maine. The town of Lisbon hosts an annual Moxie Festival. The beverage is produced in New Hampshire, my native state. It tastes somewhat like root beer, but with a bitter, rather wanky aftertaste....

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