• By Bill Koch

    Florida’s collective blood pressure may have risen as Hurricane Dorian sashayed in the Atlantic Ocean early last week, threatening to strike Central Florida with ruthless intent.

    As the system sweeps cantankerously north with the end of its life in sight, we can breathe a sigh of relief – if only for ourselves. Others may not be as fortunate.

  • By Bill Koch

    Financial advisors and planners advise working people today to save at least $1 million for retirement.

    Long-term care in the later years of retirement may cost more than $250,000 alone, experts say.

    As baby boomers and graying millennials move with increasing velocity toward retirement, the financial requirements to form comfortable golden years appear to loom larger on life’s horizon.

    The working years compel many of us to pursue passionately the wherewithal to sustain the lifestyles we envision for later in life.

  • Bill Koch

    Dare we ask the question? Do people over-prepare for storms?

    At this reading, the ravages of Hurricane Dorian are hopefully behind us. But the windup to the storm’s landing was typically dramatic. Store shelves quickly emptied of water. Gas station lines wound around pump areas. Florida’s sober-minded meteorologists found gainful employment – and perhaps much overtime pay – in their exuberance to keep their wide-eyed, nail-biting viewers prepared and informed.

  •  By Bill Koch

    The children are returning to school. The weather will soon be cooling. And snowbirds are contemplating their long trek south in the next few months.

    This may be time for some peace, quiet and fun. It’s time to enjoy home sweet home.

    Cherish this time – for what it’s worth. It’ll change, in a sense for the better. The weather will continue to improve. Florida’s winter and autumn are splendid.

    But you know all that already.

  • By Bill Koch 

    The pigment melanin is responsible for skin color. At least six genes produce melanin.

    People of all skin colors possess melanin. Melanin comes in two forms: pheomelanin (red to yellow) and eumelanin (dark brown to black).

    Melanin resides in the outer skin layers, the epidermis.

    That description underscores in part the biology of what has evolved, unfortunately, into a very touchy political and cultural issue in much of the western world nearly a quarter of the way into the 21st century.

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  • By Bill Koch

    We’ve landed our time machines in 2019, nearly two decades into the 21st century.

    This is supposed to be the future. Technology is whipping around us like a whirlwind, providing us with convenience, marvel and unparalleled access to information.

    But still.

    While comparative economics may suggest we’ve got it made, the landscape is littered with strange, horrific debris.

  • We’ve been doing it for generations. It’s almost a mandatory human trait, reserved for (but not exclusive to) mature adults, a kind of rite of passage into the higher realms of enlightenment and grownup wisdom.

    What is it?

    It’s our proclivity for complaining about the condition of our country. We can also throw in the ever-popular “youth today” (or, for some, “the church today”) to bolster our perceived sense of sage analyses of world affairs and intellectual and moral superiority.

  • By Ross Olmos

  • She came strolling out of a healthcare center. The temperature outside was about 81 degrees.

    The sky was clear and blue. A very slight breeze stirred the air around her.

    She complained about the weather to the woman walking behind her.

    The woman following her added her comments. Yes, yes. Indeed. It was too hot or humid or something, she moaned, not really putting any heavy thought into her response. Both griped some more, the equipment, the children, the paperwork. It was a mildly pleasant union of disheveled souls.

  • A college English professor used to set aside 30 minutes every two weeks for his students to critique their essays.

    It was Advanced Exposition, a junior level English course.

    The professor often hemmed and hawed during lectures, which irritated most of his students.

    During our one-on-one time with Dr. Whateverhisnamewas, he would brutalize us. Many of us would leave those sessions looking for synonyms for shame, depression, humiliation, disgrace and remorse.

  • By Bill Koch

    Alone. Quiet. The child sits. Her mind miles and miles away.

    The teacher is angry, stressed. The girl doesn’t seem to respond. She’s inattentive, gazing out the window. She’s so far away.

    The teacher raises her voice. She’s trying to get the girl, pale and drawn, to focus. The teacher knows this little girl is smart. She’s always been so bright.

  • Politics once had its lure, and for many it still does. It is, after all, the art of governing, a worthy academic pursuit.

    The nature of the institution of politics has always mandated, in a practical sense, that combatants take an aggressive tack toward opposing ideologies and ideologues. Politics in a democratic republic requires winners and losers. So, you’re in it to win.

  • By Bill Koch

    You’re born. One day.

    You’re a teenager. Another day.

    You’re middle aged. Another day.

    Another day, you’re retired.

    Ten, 20, 30 years can pass between life stages.

    The comfortable horizons – so warm, gentle and easy – can change in a wild, ugly moment.

    What lay beyond? Why do the years and the days whip by as a mad, mischievous train? Is there some cackling, surreptitious jokester, nefarious and raging, lurking within our lives’ short shadows?

  • By Ross Olmos

    As a young man I thought about how cool it would be to be a motorcycle cop. They had the best uniforms and those big machines they rode were really something.  I was disappointed when I joined the Evanston, Illinois Police Department and found that out of about 150 officers, there were only 12 in the traffic division. It took me nearly three years, but eventually I was transferred from patrol to traffic. Now I was finally going to be one of those cool motorcycle cops!

  • By Bill Koch

    It’s the smirk. You see it frequently in local meetings, from political pundits on television and on self-righteous politicians.

    The verb smirk means to smile in an irritatingly smug, conceited or silly way.

    People who smirk make me smirk.

    The smirk by its very nature is wrong. Watch people who smirk.

    Are they smirking because they’re happy? Not really.

    Are they smirking because they’re full of joy and ready to celebrate? Nope.

  • By Bill Koch

    In another time, in another world, obnoxious people were quickly afforded the opportunity to make radical adjustments to their attitudes.

    If changes didn’t come promptly enough, thought leaders of the day employed age-old (and often politically incorrect) tools to help expedite the process. After all, bad behavior, left unattended, had a bad tendency to morph into bad lifestyle decisions.

  • By Bill Koch


    Several years ago, while at the gym, I used to talk to a man in his 80s. He was remarkable, insightful and genuine.

    You could say he was young at heart and mind. He seemed to be always contemplating new ideas, willing to examine new phenomenon and open to new experiences.

    He was a delight.

    One day, he stopped going to the gym. We had heard he had contracted a lethal form of cancer and had died within two weeks.

  • The 40th president of the United States may have aptly described American politics: “It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession,” Ronald Reagan said. “I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.”

    The election cycles of the 21st century have provided us with a very soiled view into the current American psyche.

    While Reagan’s observation may be correct as Americans take delight in lambasting politicians and the press, a darker reality appears to becoming increasingly apparent.

  • You may love your local newspaper.

    It hopefully serves as a valuable source of information, entertainment, insight and current events, all in one.

    You may even have something of an intellectual relationship with your newspaper. But like any relationship, sometimes, for a few, unrealized expectations or differing priorities may sour that bond for a time. And as with any relationship, misunderstandings can lead to disappointment or disillusionment, which often arise from certain assumptions or longing for the “old ways.”