2009.07.01 How much news can happen in one week?

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

I hope you’ll excuse me if I don’t stick to just one topic this week. I really can’t remember a time when there’s been so much going on in the news, whether important, trivial or somewhere in between. But who am I to decide? Let’s take a look at as much as we can... 

Starting today, it is illegal in Indiana for drivers under the age of 18 to use a cell phone while driving. Those violating the ban are subject to a fine up to $500. I see only two problems here. First, the law should extend to drivers over 18 as well. And secondly, the ban should be nationwide in scope.

I just can’t conceive of any non-emergency situation where anyone needs to make a phone call while driving.  People drove for 80 or 90 years with no problems before cell phones were introduced. What’s so important that you can’t wait until you get home?

Other things, of course, really can’t wait, so Lambert Airport in St. Louis has opened a pair of pet rest areas to cater to traveling animals. Both have about 400 square feet of space and include benches, fire hydrants and plastic gloves for the convenience of pets and their owners.

And the folks at Lambert even allow the pets a choice of material underfoot. One rest area features natural grass, while the other has artificial turf. Just ask Fido which surface he prefers.

Know anyone with a worn-out 1972 Chevy Camaro in their back yard or barn? The right one could make you big bucks.

John Schnatter, better known as “Papa” John of the pizza chain of the same name, is offering a $250,000 reward for his old Z28 Camaro, which he sold back in 1984 to finance his first restaurant. The original award was $25,000, but when the first batch of leads didn’t result in the return of his car, he upped the reward tenfold. It may be time to start checking junkyards.

While Schnatter plans to hit the road this weekend in a continuing search for his Camaro, my own road trip quest for the perfect drive-in order of tater tots just got a lot shorter.

I’ve written before of the Sonic drive-in in Vandalia, Illinois, which I frequented on trips to Missouri. Since I no longer have a reason to visit St. Louis, it became an 800-mile road trip to Vandalia and back, a bit too far even for tater tots as good as Sonic’s. Even if someone else was willing to drive, the length of the trip just didn’t make sense.

Imagine my excitement when Sonic started building drive-ins in northwest Ohio, the latest opening a few weeks ago in Bryan. I no longer need a weekend to get my tot fix, just an hour or so. If you go, have a limeade with your tots. If you see a maroon Buick, wave. And while you’re at it, ask them about opening a drive-in in Fayette. Then I really can save some time. 

And before I wrap this up, I suppose I should mention the rash of well-known people who have passed away during the last week or so. But I’ll be brief, unlike the unending coverage of a couple of the deaths.

It’s obviously tragic that Farrah Fawcett died, but it’s been quite a while since she did anything noteworthy. I get a kick out of the entertainment reporters who make a big deal out of her fighting cancer. Anyone faced with the diagnosis basically has two choices: Give up, or fight. Millions of ordinary people fight it just like she did. Why does the fact that she used to be famous make her so special?

And then there’s Michael Jackson. You’d think a world leader had passed away with the news coverage his passing is getting. I understand that his “Thriller” album is the all-time best seller with sales of about 50 million worldwide. That also means that eight or nine billion people passed on purchasing a copy.

In the United States, approximately 25 million copies were sold before the temporary sales jump sure to occur over the next few weeks. With a population of over 300 million in the country, that means 11 out of every 12 people in the United States never bought a copy. Count me among the eleven.

Enjoy his music if you want, mourn his death if you wish, even moonwalk if you must. Just don’t be sad if I choose not to join you. I always thought Michael Jackson was an acquired taste, and I’m still not feeling all that acquisitive.

I’m afraid that’s all I can cram in for this time. But stop back in a couple of weeks. I should have more space by then.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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