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Random thoughts for the week

Published 5:07pm Tuesday, August 7, 2012

One of my new newspaper friends that has been in the business for decades told me that occasionally I might like to encourage some controversy to keep the readers interested and buying papers. Wanting to write about serious issues occasionally, I took his advice this past week with a column about gun control.

You might have thought that I came out in favor of killing babies or nuclear war given the swift and pointed responses I received.

The messages started coming in on my email before I woke up the next morning. I hardly recognized who they were talking about at first, wondering “Who is this awful man?” Then I realized it was me.

Within 24 hours I was listed on a gun blog, where people were encouraged to flood my email account. I wasn’t really surprised that most didn’t want to discuss limited gun control at all. I was, however, surprised at how many people actually called my office to voice their support of limited control of assault rifles.

I’ll admit that I made a technical error or two when describing various guns. James Holmes, the killer of 12 people in the movie shooting, used an AR15, which is not an assault rifle but rather a semi-automatic rifle. Even so, it was still capable of firing 60 rounds in the first minute that way it was equipped.

The next morning I had breakfast with three other men. It turns out that two of them own AK-47 assault rifles. I guess I should choose my topics more carefully.

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The Olympic Games in London remain a delight to watch. It is hard to fathom the dedication and discipline these athletes must have to train for years, just for a chance to compete against the best in the world.

Michael Phelps may not have been at the peak of his game, as he was in Beijing, but he sealed his place in history by becoming the greatest Olympian of all time. His career medal total of 22 is a record that may never be broken.

Lost in some of this particular story, was the fact that Larisa Latynina, the former holder of the record for most medals was in the audience and watched Phelps . Latynina, who won 18 medals as a gymnast for the former Soviet Union, is now 77 years old. She has not competed in almost 50 years.

However, the most inspiring story of the games so far had to be Oscar Pistorius of South Africa. Pistorius, also known as the “Blade Runner,” ran in the quarterfinals of the 400-meter race despite the fact that he is a double amputee. Although he did not win, he is an inspiration to the millions that live with handicaps or disabilities. Indeed, he is an inspiration to the whole world.

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As we meander through the Dog Days of Summer, it is hard not to get your hopes up about football season and the cooler fall weather that promises to come.

After living in the South, and below the gnat line for over 50 years, I am pretty accomplished at all the puffing, blowing, and swatting necessary to keep these pesky creatures at bay this time of year.

However, this past week, while unlocking a door with my hands full of packages, I had not one, but two, gnats simultaneously dive bomb into my ears; one on each side. Unable to stop them, they both flew on down into my ear canals. Between the amplified buzzing and the tickling sensation, I threw those packages down and desperately tried to remove the gnats.

For two days, every movement or buzzing sound I heard made me think they were still there. All I could think about was the old urban legend about the earwig that burrowed into a man’s brain and laid some eggs. At least I hope it was an urban legend.

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Finally, congratulations to my nephew, Davis Ponder, on receiving the rank of Eagle Scout at an impressive ceremony in front of a packed crowd on Sunday afternoon at Friendship Methodist Church.

I had always wanted to be an Eagle Scout, but unfortunately our troop disbanded before I got that far along.

However, even if I had the opportunity, I am not sure I would have made it. A young man has to really be dedicated during these times to accomplish everything needed for this rank. There are distractions everywhere, from video games to participating in several sports.
Through these last few years, Davis kept his eye on the prize. It was something he wanted. He enjoyed Scouting. He had some great mentors. He didn’t let anything get in his way.

In the meantime, he raised the money and constructed the impressive flag and flagpole at the intersection of U.S. 84 and State Route 39/91 as his Eagle Scout Project.

Way to go, Davis. We are all proud of you.

Dan Ponder can be reached at dan@ponderenterprises.net.

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