Monthly Archives: February 2017

Iceland, in February

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND — One of the more memorable lines in a locally-produced play called “The Odd Couple” was about a minor character, a card player named Vinnie, who decided to vacation in Florida in the summer. I played the role of Vinnie, and during rehearsals often wondered who in all creation would even think of such a trip at such a place.

We did. Well, kind of.

That was when my wife and I opted for an eight-day trip to Iceland this month, February. And why would anyone travel there in this cold month? One day, when it hovered around freezing, here in Iceland, we found that even in mid-winter, temperatures one day were comparable to those in our own Las Vegas.

Please don’t misunderstand: The place where we landed, Reykjavik, Iceland, isn’t exactly Tampa or Miami; it does have periods of cold, mostly a constant drizzle. But regardless of the temperatures, we’ve yet to see the sun, except for a moment just before we landed, when the sun peeked through a cloud, thought about it for a moment, and went back into hiding.

It’s been both a challenge and an eye-opener to visit Iceland, an island the size of Ohio. The day we arrived, a fellow Icelandic Air passenger told us a version of how Iceland and Greenland got their names. Continue reading

Optic move stirs memories

Most of the boxes are packed, the furniture has been moved to our new offices, and the movers have finally gotten my hundred-pound dictionary out the door.

About all that remains is junking the unwanted equipment and finding the best place for my Pulitzer Prize. OK, so I don’t really have a hundred pound dictionary, much less a Pulitzer, sadly. The closest thing I have to that coveted award is what results when I try to make breakfast and come up with a Pullet Surprise.

As we turn the page on this chapter of the Optic’s history, I can’t help but think back to the many years I have spent at this decrepit old building, serving as everything from a paperboy to a columnist. I insult the building but I will grudgingly admit that I have a soft spot in my heart for the old place, which has housed the Optic since the dawn of time — OK so it just feels that way.

I can say definitively that we’ve been at our current location on Lincoln Avenue for more than 100 years. I respect the history that has played out here.

It’s difficult to identify too many local businesses that pre-date the Las Vegas Optic.

Founded in 1879 by Russell A. Kistler, the Optic turns 138 this year. And with its aging have come many changes. Continue reading

Where did humility go?

Pick up any news article that deals with the bestowing of some sort of honor, be it the Super Bowl championship, winning the presidency of the United States, being named a beauty queen or being appointed hallway monitor at your high school. It doesn’t matter.

What these supposed honors have in common is the choice of words the awardees use. Invariably, you’ll run across “humbled,” as in “I’m humbled to have been elected president.”

Let’s parse the word. Let’s examine its usage and examine why people have virtually reversed the meaning of the word. Let’s say somebody wins a mayoral election and says, “I’m extremely humbled to have been chosen as your mayor.” That sentence will doubtless be followed by the grandiose plans Señor or Señora Mayor wishes to put in place.

Most post-election speeches contain a smattering of plans, but before getting to the vast improvements, the audience generally needs to hear how “humbled” the winner has become. Most dictionaries define “humbled” as “marked by meekness or modesty, not arrogant or prideful.” Another alternative meaning given is “submissive respect,” as in a humble apology. Yet another alternate meaning says someone “humble” is “low in rank, quality, or station, unpretentious or lowly.” Continue reading

Having a Hillcrest moment

Yippee! We’re in the money, as the old song goes. Just minutes ago I received an email. It’s informal, starts only with “Hi” and its brief message is: “A Payment may have been sent to you.” The amount: $4,392.81. The status is marked as “Approved.”

The final sentence says, “If this email was sent to you by mistake, please ignore it.” And it ends with “Good luck.” The typed name is simply Richard L. I thank Richard for the familiarity and applaud the casual tone of somehow sending by mistake an email that promises a financial reward.

Ah, shucks! Easy come — easy go. And thanks for getting my hopes up. Thanks for symbolically ripping that check out of my cold, shaking, 77-year-old hands.

I’d grown almost to miss such missives. We have a brief history of “pie in the sky.” When my mother, Marie, was alive, she called me excitedly with the “news” that she was about to receive a check for $1,000.

Please note that a check of almost any amount, received serendipitously, would be welcome. People lived much more frugally in those days. Mom and Dad bought the house they lived and died in for $2,000. And the seller, a close relative, let them pay it off in $10 chunks, whenever they could. Continue reading