Starbursts (repeat)

Many years ago when I was working for the Get Smart tutoring service, I went into homes to test students before they were assigned a tutor. The parents had already indicated the needs of the student, but I would test them to find their comfort levels in both math and language skills. I would then assign them a tutor who matched their needs. The tutor would set up appointment times and go into the home for the tutoring. Most of the time these testings were routine and certainly rarely involved food. However, one day during the Easter season, I made an appointment to test a kid who was having trouble with algebra. During the testing, I spotted some jelly beans in a fancy bowl. The student evidently saw me eyeing the jelly beans as he suggested I try some, which I did. My taste buds exploded with the tart flavor of the candy, and I continued to feed myself until I was embarrassed. When the session was over, the student’s mom came in to ask about the testing. After filling her in, I asked where in the world she had gotten the jelly beans. She informed me that they were usually available only during the Easter holidays. Since then, I have been a Starburst jelly bean predator during Lent, this year being no exception. Next year though, I plan to adjust my purchase time as I found this year that the jelly beans were reduced 50% after the Easter weekend.

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D. B. and R.

It’s Easter time again. I’m glad that Easter, unlike Christmas, has not become so commercialized. Yes, there are the Easter eggs and Easter bunnies and egg baskets that parents purchase for the kids, but basically Easter has remained a religious event. Christian churches celebrate in different ways: some celebrate Lent; some have Maundy Thursday services; many have Good Friday services; and all have Easter Sunday services attended by committed Christians and the “holly and lily” crowd who only attend church at Christmas and Easter. As a gardener, I love to think of the proof of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection as observed in many plants. Before a plant can grow from a seed, the seed must first be dried out (death). Next it must be put into the ground (burial). Finally, it emerges from the soil and begins life as a new plant (resurrection). It is this affirmation that gives me reassurance that the story death, burial, and resurrection of the Christ is true.

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A Polio Reminder

When I was growing up in Clinton, South Carolina, the start of school was frequently delayed because of the threat of polio. Polio was a horrible disease that struck randomly. The public knew little about what caused the disease or whether polio could be spread by contact. Therefore, schools couldn’t begin their fall sessions until the threat was supposedly over. There was no cure and those afflicted were frequently paralyzed, some even put into so-called iron lungs in order to stay alive. Two kids in my class were polio victims and, though both survived, they were forever crippled by the disease. Franklin Roosevelt had polio. He was struck with it when he was in his early 20′s, long before he became president. This vibrant man fought valiantly against the disease but never completely regained use of his legs. When he learned of a resort in Georgia that had been helpful to recuperating polio victims, he decided to go there. Warm Springs, Georgia, became a place where Roosevelt frequented before and after he became president and where he eventually died after building the Little White House and establishing a hospital for reparative care. Recently, I traveled to Warm Springs and was thrilled with the history of this famous little town.

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On Track

While eagerly awaiting the arrival of my friend from Greece, I was introduced by two friends to a website that made the wait for his plane less anxious. When I went to the website, I could see his plane from the time it left Greece until it arrived in Zurich. When the plane departed from Zurich, I followed it across the Atlantic and only headed for the airport when it was about 200 miles from Tampa International Airport. The site is On that site, you can feed into the search panel the airline and flight number, and the site will automatically find the plane you are seeking. Click on the plane icon, and you will be able to see the type of plane, the speed with which it is traveling, and the estimated time of arrival (which may change during the updates). I was amazed at being able to track all the way across the Atlantic. My friend arrived about the time I drove into the parking lot at the airport. However, I had not allowed for the time to get through immigration and was sitting at the arrival point for an hour and a half.

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Where Have You Been?

I can remember as a youth dreaming of travel. I read about many exotic places but never believed that I would actually visit some of them. I guess I had a “bucket list” at an early age. One place I dreamed of was New York City. It seemed to be within my potential reach, especially when I joined the Navy and planned to see the world. By that time, I had already been to the Big Apple. Surprisingly, I was not assigned to any shipboard duty while in the service, but I did visit Mexico and Puerto Rico by plane. After my four-year stint in the Navy, I settled down as a married man without doing any but local travel. After retiring from the public school system, I found my travel wings and traveled to Victoria, British Columbia one Christmas; to Finland, Russia, and the Scandinavian countries with friends; to Austria and Italy. Then I took a cruise around the Mediterranean starting and ending in Rome and experienced a wonderful trip to Athens, Greece, with side trips to many of the Greek islands and to Istanbul, Turkey. Lately, I have returned to Greece and made a side trip to Dubai, the most exciting place I think I have ever visited. Where have you been? Travel is not only exciting but educational. Check with your favorite airlines or travel agent and go somewhere.

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The Birds and the Fish

When Dimitris, my Greek partner, first visited me in October, 2013, he knew nothing about baseball. When I asked him what he knew, he said that it was a game where someone tried to hit a ball with a stick. Right away, I introduced him via TV to the Tampa Bay Rays, my favorite baseball team, our home team. Before long,he said he would like to attend a real live professional baseball game. In the meantime, we watched many games together, and he caught on quickly, at least until it came to things like stealing bases or double plays. When I told him he must be a Rays fan, he protested a bit. He had a good friend with whom he had gone to high school who now lives in Toronto. He had visited his friend prior to meeting me and had promised allegiance to the Toronto Blue Jays. Dimitris, who is now back here and living with me, went with me two weeks ago to our first professional baseball game together. Guess who was playing–the Blue Jays and the Rays. And guess who won–not the Rays..

Blue Jays th

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Black and Blue

As a sun worshipper in my earlier life, I am now paying the price and am a regular visitor to my dermatologist’s office. Fortunately, most of my skin cancers so far have been basal cell carcinomas. However, I have had one squamous cell and one melanoma, which can be very serious. My most recent trip to Dr. Alexander’s office was to allow him to check out places of concern on my forehead and nose. Both spots required deadening. While the forehead shot was quick, the nose required several shots and hurt. I am now awaiting the results of the analyses of these places and walking around looking as though I have been in a fight that I did not win.

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