To the point week of 10-27-11

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WITH NOVEMBER NEXT WEEK, AND Christmas decorations already in the stores, I decided that the final issue of October would be a good time to share some general observations.

– With Halloween this weekend, it amazes me how the holiday has grown in popularity in this country. I have seen reports that it is now the second most popular holiday in this country, only behind Christmas.

Here in Switzerland County, we will again have the traditional Halloween Parade on Saturday night, and thanks to the Jeff-Craig Fire Department for continuing to take that on. Yes, I’m sure there will be politicians and lots of loud sirens and bright lights, but the highlight is seeing all of the little children dressed up in their costumes.

I really enjoy handing out goodies at my house. I used to volunteer to stay home while my wife walked our kids around; but now that they’ve all grown up and left home, I still like hanging around on the front porch and watching the trick or treaters.

A couple of years ago, I was just getting ready to go in the house when a woman came walking through my yard, but I didn’t see a child behind her. As she got closer, apparently she realized that she didn’t have her kid, either, and began looking around. That’s when we spotted him.

He was lying on his back in the middle of my front yard, arms outstretched.

“I don’t wanna go to anymore houses!” he wailed.

“Looks like it’s time to get the little guy home,” I said.

“Oh, not yet,” was her response. “Still lots of free candy to get.”

Surely there is something more to all of this than free candy. Every year I always have some older kids who wander up for free candy – usually without any type of a costume.

I always make them say “trick or treat”, which they don’t like very much, but at least it keeps me in the spirit.

One thing I still can’t get ahold of is when parents – grown people - walk up to my door with a bucket in hand. They are trick or treating for their child, who is usually asleep in the car.

Sometimes, they are trick or treating for a baby who’s so tiny that there’s no way it could, or should, be eating candy. Just be honest, you want to take your baby out and show everybody how cute they look in their little Halloween costume, but the candy is all for mom and dad.

By the way: does anyone remember when you could buy a Halloween costume that became pajamas after you got done trick or treating? They were flannel or something, and after October 31st you had a new pair of pajamas to wear. Anyone? Anyone?

But, with all of the fun that the Halloween weekend will bring, whether you’re trick or treating on Saturday or Monday or whenever, what’s most important is that you watch out for the little ones while you are driving around. Most people are going slow through neighborhoods, but many times we get distracted by our own kids getting in and out of the car; and we really need to be watching for others who may be running across the street to the next house with little regard for traffic.

We need to watch for those who don’t watch for themselves.

One last note: I’m hoping that the tradition of wagons filled with hundreds of kids who stop and let them all descend on my house at one time comes to an end. It feels like you’re having a press conference on your front porch.

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At 50, all I’ve ever known is that the country of Cuba is off limits to Americans. We can’t go there. We can’t buy goods produced there. We can’t buy cigars rolled there.

For all of my life I’ve been told about Cuban communism and Fidel Castro and all of that. From my friend, Jose Hernandez, I’ve learned that life in Cuba isn’t very nice, to the point that he and thousands of others take heroic chances with their lives in an effort to get here and have a better life.

I understand all that, and for five decades that’s all I’ve ever known.

The other evening my wife had a shirt (blouse, top – whatever you ladies want to call it) hanging by her closet, and I noticed that on the tag in the back it said:

“Made in Vietnam”.

I stopped.

“Did you know that shirt was made in Vietnam?” I asked.

“No, I never really paid any attention to it,” she replied.

Now, please don’t run around saying that I support communism or the Castro regime, but it seems funny to me that roughly 40 years after the conclusion of the Vietnam War; after we withdrew our troops from a country that was overrun and it now a communist state; it’s okay to purchase clothes from American stores that are being made there.

We can travel to Vietnam if we’d like, although I don’t know why you’d want to. But, I looked it up, you can take a “Luxury Vietnam vacation”; or relax at a Vietnam beach resort.

Don’t believe me? “Google it”.

I cannot understand how that’s okay in our country today; but I can’t buy a Cuban cigar – even though I don’t smoke anyway.

It seems to me that limited trade resuming with Cuba might allow the people who live there to have a little better life.

Like I said, I’m not campaigning to be Secretary of State or anything like that, but it just seems odd to me that we willingly allow one communist country to export goods here; while continuing to shut out another – one we haven’t technically ever been at war with.

Does this make sense to you? Someone please educate me on this.

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Don’t forget to move your clocks back one hour early in the morning of Sunday, November 6th. How exciting is it to think that we all get an extra hour’s sleep that night! Probably so exciting that we’ll all stay up late so we can change our clocks and lose the hour anyway.

And – while you’re changing your clocks, it’s also time to change the batteries in your smoke detectors. It’s a little reminder twice a year that might save your house – and your life.

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Lone sports note of the week: “I hate the St. Louis Cardinals”.

There, I said it. I feel better.