Monday, December 30, 2013

Starting project not on New Year's Resolution list

Got going on a project that wasn't a New Year's Resolution.
That is, cleaning out my study.
Or "purging," as my wife put it as she made like a whirlwind going through her side of our walk-in closet. Since it's not wide enough for both of us to go cleaning out at the same time -- 300 Hawaiian shirts take up a lot of room -- I got busy on another room that needed it.
The fact the book case was buckling under the weight of all the books I'd stacked on it was a good sign that was the place to start.
Took me part of Saturday and most of Sunday, but I got 'er done.
Managed to fill up two cardboard boxes with old books I've read.
Deciding what goes and what stays was tough.
I've still got books my dad gave me and are like heirlooms.
Like, "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," Dee Brown's gripping book on the U.S. government's betrayals of the American Indian.
Or "Goodbye Darkness," a vivid memoir by William Manchester, a Marine like my father, who served in the Pacific during World War II.
Or Jimmy Breslin's hysterical, "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight," fiction about mobsters in Brooklyn, N.Y., where I was born.
There are a bunch of sports books I kept, including "Always on the Run," Jim Kiick and Larry Csonka's memoir from the Dolphins' Perfect Season in 1972.
Then there are my Irish books, historical and fiction.
That includes Patrick Taylor's charming series that began with "An Irish Country Doctor" and continues with "An Irish Country Christmas" and so forth.
I've yet to read all of them.
The same can be said for books on Lincoln, Washington and Henry Clay, a colorful 19th century lawmaker  who has been called our greatest senator ever.
I'll get to them one of these days.
There are also books that were loaners from folks and I need to get them back.
Amazing what you find when you get serious about cleaning up and throwing things out.
Or purging.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Trying to bat .500 for 2014 New Year's Resolutions

When I ran down my list of New Year’s Resolutions for 2013, I laughed and shook my head.
I bombed on more than half of them.
To wit:
• I said I would pay more attention to whatever Sherri was saying so she didn’t have to repeat it three times. Consequently, a common refrain at home has been either, “Are you listening to me?” Or, “Don’t you remember me telling you that?”
• I said I wouldn’t monopolize the TV remote, though I did surrender it the nights “The Voice” was on. Ditto for “Major Crimes.” And “Nashville.”
• I said I would not make disparaging remarks when the country station played the same songs over and over every hour on the hour and we’re on a road trip.
But according to, folks who keep statistics on weighty matters such as New Years Resolutions, I may not have done too badly compared to people they surveyed.
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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Monsters Lacrosse squad eye fourth tourney title

The 2013 U11 Monsters Lacrosse team, an elite youth squad from Lakewood Ranch’s Premier Sports Campus, will play in Dick’s Tournament of Champions beginning Sunday in Wesley Chapel.
The players are Grayson Antritt, Nate Ashley, Michael Bavaro, Ryan Bolduc, Hayden Coakley, Luca Dominguez, Casey Fuss, Cody Gross, Brendon Herten, Owen Ingham, Stephen Markowski, Patrick McNelis, Trentt Melton, Conor O’Neill, Connor Rice, Joseph Palmeri and Ryan Sforzo. Coaches are Chris Markowski, Dan Rice and Chris Sforzo.
They won Boca Raton’s Casey Powell Orange Classic, Rippin’ at the Ranch in Lakewood Ranch and Clearwater’s Grip It and Rip It and were second in the Citrus Bowl Summer Face Off and the LB3 Summer Jam in Georgia.
• State College of Florida men’s basketball coach Elliot Washington, wife Nikke, daughter Brooke and son Elliot II, recently added another member to Team Washington. Son Brendan was born Sept. 30.
Al Cini, Al Saunders and Joe DeFrancesco, the grand ol’ men behind “Al’s Free Rods for Kids,” recently brought 40 rods and new reels to needy students at Daughtrey Elementary School.
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Monday, December 23, 2013

Sign of the apocalypse: Fighting over Air Jordans

When my wife came home from doing some last minute Christmas shopping Saturday she talked enthusiastically about what she had been able to buy and for whom.
Then Sherri remarked about seeing four Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputies outside Champs Sports in DeSoto Square Mall.
"I wonder what that was all about?"  she said.
I had a good idea.
It was all about the shoes: Nike's new Air Jordan Gamma Blue 11s, retailing for about $170.
Earlier in the week I'd read about the new sneakers going on sale.
I hoped it didn't mean trouble.
I should've known better.
According to the MCSO, about 20 deputies had to disperse a crowd Friday night that had become disorderly.
It was all because of the shoes.
The four deputies my wife saw were probably there to make sure there were no repeats of what had happened the night before.
A crowd between 400 to 500 were waiting to buy the new Air Jordans, but there was a little  problem. The store didn't have enough for everyone, so the Champs staff, getting an eyeful of the size of that crowd, decided not to release the sneakers for sale.
That didn't go over well with the potential customers.
“When word of the cancellation filtered to the crowd many individuals became unruly and began to bang on the Champs’ security gate demanding entrance into the store,” a sheriff’s news release said.
Ultimately, deputies were able to peacefully disperse the crowd.
That's good because B'town was able to avoid the kind of ugly incidents that broke out at sporting goods stores from Stockton, Calif., to Dallas to the Bronx, according to news reports.
We're not just talking young men, either.
There were women brawling outside a Foot Locker over the Air Jordan Gamma Blue 11s.
How asinine is that?
Fortunately, there were no reports of anyone getting killed, a not uncommon occurence associated with the release of the latest sneakers in past years.
I don't get it.
Paying that kind of mad money for a pair of sneakers is crazy.
Fighting for them?
No thanks.
Dying over them?
No way.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

How could a sharp guy like Kinnan get in this mess?


Say it ain’t so, Joe.
The headlines we’ve become accustomed to seeing about coach Joe Kinnan late in the year usually trumpet yet another deep state playoff run by his Manatee Hurricanes.
Not this week.
These headlines are the unflattering kind about Kinnan facing a 10-day suspension after the Manatee School District’s investigation of the former Hurricane baseball coach, Dwayne Strong, and his alleged financial and ethical mismanagement of the program.
Kinnan is accused of lying during the inquest and faces additional allegations in the investigative report:
• Immorality.
• Misconduct in office.
• Incompetence.
• Gross insubordination.
• Willful neglect of duty.
Kinnan may have made mistakes in this baffling episode, but I’m skeptical of some findings.
Joe Kinnan?
Come on.
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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Good days for Palmetto High Dazzler, Raiders

Palmetto High School freshman Mia Holley is enjoying a unique Christmas. The freshman Dazzler dancer just turned 15 and performed in the Disney Christmas Day parade airing Christmas morning on ABC.
Taping was Dec. 5-8.
Mia was among 600 dancers and cheerleaders who qualified by being chosen as All-Americans at summer camps. Mia and the Dazzlers attended the National Dance Association camp at Rollins College.
Parents Veronica and Wes are proud.
• Big ups to Palmetto High’s Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps Raiders team that took second in its category at the recent Florida State Raider Competition at Braden River High School. They are Leonel Barboza, Preston Daniel, Nelson Doire, Mikel Ebanks, Joseph Eicher, Joshua Fleming, Steven Neuman, Vincent Olson, Donald Preston, Matthew Savage, Ezequiel Urbano and Joseph White. The coach is Chief Warrant Officer (Ret.) John Edmond.
• There are still plenty of copies of, “Korea Reborn: A Grateful Nation Honors War Veterans,” a coffee table book available free to area Korean War those vets.
The books are available in Manatee County at these locations:
John Saputo’s Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, 7051 Wireless Court, Lakewood Ranch. Call 941-355-7685. Congressman Vern Buchanan’s Bradenton office, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Suite 305. Call 941-747-9081.
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Friday, December 13, 2013

Flood insurance hikes may flood us out

When the annual invoice arrived, I’d glance at it, nod approvingly and toss it aside for payment.
Sticker shock?
It never happened during the decade I had flood insurance, which was well under $1,000 a year.
The only beef I had was the fact my house, a classic 1928 Ware’s Creek cottage, wasn’t in a flood zone.
The edge of my backyard was.
Regardless, I had to have it, so I was told.
Well, I finally sold the place a year ago, a logical move for practical reasons, namely I’d gotten married and was now living with my wife in South Manatee.
Never thought I’d say selling it was a good thing because of flood insurance.
Given the spiraling rate hikes that began kicking in Oct. 1 and are now at the epicenter of a political battle on Capitol Hill, I would not be able to afford it.
Increases of up to 600 percent?
Good grief.
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Young Scrappers Ripken Rookie Division champions

Manager Lee Heintz’s 7-8-year-old Scrappers are Manatee Cal Ripken Rookie Division Champions. They are Parker Severs, Baden Wallace, Hunter Jackson, Camden Pope, Jonathan Stone, Ben Hedgepeth, Gage Hinds, Aiden Brown, Sam Heintz, Hunter Winneka, Cody Simpson and Ryan Swenson. Coaches are Brian Stone, Tim Simpson and Brian Hedgepeth.
Diane and Howard Small’s son, David, made it back to B’town for the holidays Wednesday. The Navy lieutenant had been serving as an airborne air traffic controller with the aircraft carrier USS George Washington during Operation Damayan, the U.S. military’s relief operation in the Philippines region devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.
Nick Zec’s North Central College Cardinals, Naperville, Ill., are in the NCAA D-III national semifinals against mighty No. 1 Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio, Saturday. Go, Cardinals!
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Healthy Start's Project Moses fundraising success

It's going to be a happier and safer Christmas for 25 families in Manatee County's migrant community.
That's thanks to the generosity of folks who ponied up enough donations to "Healthy Start Project Moses."
"We did it within hours," said Luz Corcuera, program director for Healthy Start Coalition of Manatee County, Inc.
Moses bassinets are sturdy baby baskets  with liners, little mattresses and matching quilts made by volunteers. They're named for the iconic Biblical figure whose mother, according to the Book of Exodus, set him adrift in a basket on the River Nile when the Pharoah ordered all male Hebrew children be drowned in 1391 B.C. The Pharoah's daughter subsequently found Moses and raised him as her own child.
These bassinets serve a similar purpose: Keeping an infant safe.
Money to buy 25 bassinets was raised after board member Adam Tebrugge has submitted "Healthy Start Project Moses" to the Gulf Coast Community Foundation which approved it and kept the endeavor on its website.
"We raised the money in one day," Corcuera said. "Amazing."
Moses bassinets provide a secure place to sleep for babies up to three months old such as ones in the migrant community with difficult living arrangements.
"So many families live in crowded conditions, sleeping with their babies," she said. "They put babies in their own bed, then they fall asleep and accidentally roll over the baby without realizing it. In some cases, they don't have places to sleep at all. But now moms can still put a mattress on the floor and keep the bassinet next to them without accidentally rolling over the baby. They can also take it around, but our goal is making sure babies have a safe place to sleep."
Folks can still donate to help Healthy Start buy more Moses bassinets, too.
For details, visit

Monday, December 9, 2013

Some ol' habits, like good westerns, never die

Some habits die hard.
Or never die at all.
Yours truly is a bachelor again for a brief spell.
Sherri and one of her sisters left last Saturday for a few days of investing in the charm and culture and commerce of Biloxi, Miss.
Anyway, before my wife drove off, she made sure there were plenty of groceries in the house so I wouldn't starve.
Not a chance.
Saturday I had hot dogs for lunch and later, while watching the SEC and the Big 10 championship games on TV, I finished the rest of the chicken wings we'd had Friday night while watching my alma mater, Bowling Green, win the MAC Championship.
Sunday? Hot dogs for lunch again and, after watching football all day, I pulled out some coconut shrimp from the freezer and fired those up for dinner while I watched "3:10 to Yuma" with Russell Crowe.
There's a pattern here.
After work Monday, I heated a frozen pizza and enjoyed it with a glass of wine while watching my man Clint Eastwood in "Pale Rider" followed by "Josey Wales."
Movies, Sherri would say sarcastically, for which I should know the dialogue verbatim having seen them a thousand times before.
Some habits die hard.
Or never die at all.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Floridians should decide medical marijuana issue

Would you vote for medical marijuana in Florida?
I would.
So would 82 percent of Floridians, according to a recent poll by the recognized Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
If it ever gets on the ballot.
Whether the proposed medical marijuana amendment makes it to next November is presently in the hands of the Florida Supreme Court, which will decide on the constitutionality of its wording.
According to the proposed amendment, a debilitating medical condition is a prerequisite — i.e., AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, multiple scleroris and Parkinson’s disease.
It also states there are other debilitating conditions — i.e., chronic pain — for which a physician could decide to prescribe medical marijuana.
Is that too broad?
Therein lies the crux of the issue, which went before the Supreme Court last Thursday.
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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Army paratroopers just two kids from Bradenton

Capt. Scott Hall and Pvt. Cowan Porter meet in Germany.
A funny thing happened to U.S. Army Capt. Scott Hall not long ago.
The 2004 Lakewood Ranch High grad was waiting to conduct a combat equipment jump with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in Hohenfels, Germany.
“So, I struck up a conversation with a new paratrooper sitting next to me, asking him where he was from?” the company commander said.
“Bradenton, Florida,” said Pvt. Cowan Porter, a 2012 Southeast High School graduate.
A small world, indeed.
“It’s rare to meet someone from your own hometown in the Army,” said Hall, a six-year veteran with combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Cowan is a vehicle mechanic in Hall’s unit, the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment.
Glenn and Jackie Cobb celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary Thanksgiving Day. Helping them celebrate were children and spouses Rick and Claudia, Ron and Denise, Janet and Rod and John and Karen.
• Remember Saturday’s rummage sale/fundraiser for Braden River High School’s chorus and band, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., at school, 6545 State Road 70 East. Call Maryann McDevitt at 941-742-3972 for details.
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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas in the Park to help church food pantry

Going to Palmetto’s Christmas in the Park Friday or Saturday?
Then how about bringing along a little something for a worthwhile cause?
The Palmetto Historical Park, 515 10th Ave.W., is collecting non-perishable food items to help stock the food pantry at First United Methodist Church of Palmetto.
There will be collection boxes at the two main park entrances in which to drop off your contributions.
This food pantry has provided food for 2,942 families since last January. The pantry is staffed and operated by volunteers not only from First United Methodist Church of Palmetto, but Family of God Methodist Church and Ellenton Methodist Church, too.
Christmas in the Park is 5-9 p.m. both days.
For more details, call 941-721-2034.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Boys & Girls Club can use Christmas decorations

You know those old Christmas holiday decorations you're thinking of tossing?
Got a place that can use them.
Like the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County.
The DeSoto and Palmetto Clubs need them in particular.
If you have decorations that you no longer use, yet are in good condition -- i.e., lights, ornaments, artificial trees, lawn ornaments -- the Boys & Girls Clubs would gratefully accept the items to help give the clubs that magical feeling of Christmas for the kids.
The clubs have large areas to decorate, so larger items would be ideal.
Christmas decorations can be dropped off at:
• DeSoto Boys & Girls Club, 5231 34th St.W., Bradenton.
• Palmetto Boys & Girls Club, 1600 10th St.W. Palmetto.
Call the administration office at 941-761-2582.