Opinion

Uncommon Sense with Glenn Mollette

The only way to get out of the darkness is to follow the light. Sometimes it’s just a very faint light. Often you have to be in the darkness long enough to refocus your eyes so that you can look for a glimmer of light to follow out of the darkness.
Darkness is never enjoyable. Often it’s a long valley that seems hopeless and inescapable. There are different forms of darkness such as poverty, failing health, family difficulties, work dissatisfaction, discord in your relationships, failures of all kinds and the list goes on. You may have been there or you may be there now. You may not see any way out and may have given up to just try to survive the darkness of your life and existence.
The worst feeling of all is the feeling of hopelessness. Hopelessness is when we see no way out or no chance of things getting better. We go to the doctor with hopes of medical treatment. We go to work in hopes of financially caring for our selves and the people we love. Sometimes we seek other kinds of help in hopes that an addiction or other life altering habit might be solved so that we might be freed to be at peace with life.
I read this a long time ago and claim it every day in different ways. Walk in the light while you have the light before darkness overtakes you. Throughout life I’ve learned if I walked in the light that I had then I usually would receive more light.
When I was a kid we had a light bulb in the ceiling of most every room. There would be a long string attached to the little silver chain that would pull the switch and turn on the light. Throughout my childhood I often would go into a dark bedroom at night and search for that dangling string. Finding that string was a relief because it turned on the light. A room with light was much easier to navigate than a dark room.
Often we look for the dangling string for a long time to turn on the light. Sometimes we eventually find it and sometimes people never do. Some people live in desperation of trying to find the dangling string while others simply gave up a long time ago.
I tried for years to break through in publishing a book. I was about ready to give up when one morning I was reading the daily newspaper and read one sentence in that newspaper that turned on the light. I now have twelve books and have helped numerous others. Following that one sentence of light gave way to more light that enabled me to see the way to numerous other endeavors and projects. Following that light showed me the way that I needed at that time.
There is something to this old saying that is true, “Let us not grow weary in doing good. We will reap a harvest if we don’t quit.” Another truth that I have heard is, “Believe in the light while you have the light so that you may become children of light.”
I don’t know what you are dealing with today but don’t quit. It’s easier said than done, I know. However, maybe, if you hang in there and keep your head up and your hand stretching out in front of you, then just maybe, you will feel the sting dangling in the darkness.
Glenn Mollette is an American author whose syndicated column is read in all 50 states.

This ‘n’ That by Nicky De Lange

It was just over two years ago that I made the big leap into the terrifying world of technology. I bought an iPhone. The 5s, to be exact.
I did it because College of the Mainland offered a non-credit course for seniors (50-something and older). I got a telephone call from COM a few days later saying the class was filled. When I asked about a waiting list, I was informed that there were 58 people on that list.
Luckily for me, the college found an another instructor and opened two more class sections. I made it! I quickly ran out and purchased an iPhone and took a really good course. It was several weeks long and only cost $15.  You just can’t beat a deal like that.
And that brings me to today’s topic: Siri. Who or what is Siri? It’s your voice-activated personal digital assistant. It came into cell phone history on the iPhone 4s and has continued through the 5, 6, and & 7 as well. If there’s an 8 series, I haven’t heard about it but I’m sure one is in the works.
Siri can do so much more than you’d expect. You just push the home button and ask her/him whatever you want to know.
I say her/him because the original voice of Siri was a woman, Susan Bennett. But in my iPhone class I learned that you could change the voice to that of a male. In my early struggles learning to operate my phone, I found myself asking Siri a lot of questions and getting a bunch of not-so-helpful answers. Many of the problems were because of my lack of familiarity with how to phrase my questions so Siri understood me.
After a few weeks of getting really cranky when trying to use Siri, I learned in class that you can change Siri’s voice to that of a male. I got that done faster than you could believe possible. I was so fed up with the female Siri that I was highly motivated.
Here’s how to do it. Launch “Settings” and tap on “General.” Tap on “Siri” & choose. You’ll find “Siri Voice”. Tap and the next screen will let you choose  both accent and gender. Tap your choices here and you can turn Siri from “that woman” who drove me crazy to James Bond or Crocodile Dundee. Knock yourself out!
What can you do to have fun on Siri? Well, there are all sorts of questions that will elicit funny or odd answers from him. Here are a few to try out:
Beam me up. (Siri’s reply: Stand still.)
Are you real? (Siri’s reply: Ask Siri.)
What is your favorite color? (My favorite color is .  . . well, I don’t know how to say it in your language. It’s sort of greenish, but with more dimensions.)
What do you look like? (Let’s just say . . . multidimensional.)
What’s new? (Just watching the leaves fall. I’m betting on that big red one.)
And finally, my favorite: How much wood  can a woodchuck chuck?  The answer, according to Siri, is “None. A ‘woodchuck’   is actually a groundhog, so it would probably just predict six more weeks of winter.”
Siri – you gotta love him!

Trishna’s tidbits
Modern musings by Trishna Buch

Several Galveston County students were recipients of a variety of awards during the Texas Science And Engineering Fair competition which took place at the end of March. Participants competed in two sections; students in grades six through eight participated in the junior section, while students in grade nine through twelve participated in the senior section. The winners of the junior division will be competing at the Broadcom MASTERS (math, applied science, technology and engineering for rising stars) national science fair in September, while the senior division winners will compete in the Intel International Science And Engineering Fair in May. And first and second place winners of the senior division received a scholarship to attend a weeklong residential camp, the Texas Governor’s Science And Technology Champion’s Academy, held in the summer.
Not only were grand awards handed out, but participants also won category awards and special awards. The special awards were handed out by various organizations to the most-deserving students.
Clear Brook high-school student, Syamantak Payra, was the recipient of the senior division first place grand physical sciences award in the category of embedded systems. In the second place vein there were also several county students represented. In the junior division life sciences section, Seabrook Intermediate student, Bailey Foulds, won third place in the animal sciences category. In the junior division physical sciences section Seabrook Intermediate student, Grace Meyer, won second place in the chemical energy category. In the senior division life sciences section Friendswood high-school student, Aly Knowles, won second place in the behavioral and social sciences category; Clear Falls high-school student, Alex Abate, won second place in the category of biomedical and health sciences and Clear Brook high-school student, Tanya Kumar, won second place in the translational medical sciences category. In the senior division physical sciences section Clear Brook high-school students, Dhiren Wijesinghe and Andrew Liu won second place in the engineering mechanics and environmental engineering categories, respectively.
Payra was also the recipient of the Intel Excellence in Computer Science award in the category of embedded systems. The National Space Society And San Antonio Space Society presented an award to the “best project that forwards people living and working in thriving communities beyond the earth.” This award was given to Clear Spring high-school student, Ashley Hoffman, in the category of engineering mechanics. The Office Of Naval Research presented Brookside Intermediate School student, Kaustub Adhikari, with an award in the chemical energy category. And Payra was a third time winner when he received an award from the US Metric Association in the embedded systems category.
Being someone that is completely useless in all things Science, I commend all of the students who participated. Award or not, I believe that everyone who participated is a winner in their own right. I congratulate them all.

Where’s The Fun?

With summer on the way, there is only one question on the minds of every student: what are we going to do now?
All students, male and female, want to spend their summer break enjoying themselves. After spending nine months in the classroom, dealing with papers, tests, projects and assignments, they just want to kick back and relax. In fact, not only students, but we all like to take time away from our schedules and just put our feet up, right? Regardless of whether you are a student or not, I am sure that every person is looking forward to the warm weather and fun times the summer will bring.
Well, we Texans will have no problem finding warm weather. All we will have to do is step outside and we’ll be hit with a wave of heat and sunshine. But if we want to find entertainment, we may have to search for it because, our home state came in 35th in a study conducted by financial advice website WalletHub, measuring the most fun states of the year.
The score our state earned, while not completely low on the board, is still not one to boast of. But, personally, the score doesn’t surprise me. Whenever I have family coming to town I always wonder how I will keep them entertained. We have Kemah boardwalk, Galveston Island Pleasure Pier, the Galleria mall and other various entertainment venues, but what else do we have for people’s enjoyment?
I’m going to answer my own question. I know we have a lot. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of how much there is to do in Texas; resulting in the low score. Did you know that the Woodlands offers kayaking? I didn’t.
WalletHub analysts calculated the fun level of each state across two categories: “entertainment & recreation” and “nightlife.” Each category was evaluated using 22 factors including amusement parks per capita, movie theaters per capita, access to national parks, personal spending on recreation services per capita, nightlife options per capita, music festivals per capita and casinos per capita.
Texans can take pride in the fact that we haven’t fallen in the bottom spots, but we need to improve our entertainment sector so we can boast one of the top three spots – which are currently held by Nevada, South Dakota and Colorado respectively.

Best In Business

Texans have much to celebrate because the state has been named the best state for business this year.
The exciting information came to light last week with a statement released by state governor, Greg Abbott.
In tidbits last week I told you about Texas being one of the nation’s top states for the growth and economic success of women-owned businesses. During that tidbits, I implored all women to explore their innovative sides to increase the amount of women-owned firms in the area. And now, with this new information come to light, I call upon you again. Women and men—dive into your creative selves, bring out that developer in you and consider starting a business. What better place is there to do it, than in a place that earned the title of best state for business for the 13th year in a row?

Uncommon Sense with Glenn Mollette

I wish I had my mother this Mother’s Day, actually every day.  How sweet it would be to talk to her on the telephone and talk about the weather, family and friends and hear about what she was doing.
How better yet it would be if life was such that I could take her to G.C. Murphy’s snack bar and buy her a hotdog. Dad and mom gave me $5 and bought me a bicycle if I agreed to have my tonsils removed when I was about seven years old.
When dad gave me the $5 I wanted to pay for our lunch, which consisted of hotdogs and cokes at the old soda fountain bar in the now defunct G.C. Murphy’s store in downtown Paintsville, Kentucky. It was the most money I had owned in my life and it felt good to treat mom and dad.
I never got the opportunity to do more for my mom and dad than they did for me. I would have liked to but time ran out.
I hear stories about rock stars who buy their parents cars and houses and stuff like that. That’s cool but then often I hear about some of the same rock stars going broke and mom losing the house so that’s not cool.
This is all beside the point. I just wish mom were alive so I could buy her Sunday dinner and give her some flowers.
I took her some flowers on her birthday September 3, 2001. She was on a breathing tube and wasn’t aware of my presence. I wanted to give her some flowers one more time while she was living.
Hindsight is always 20/20. We know people are going to die but we seldom make the most of our time with people.
Mom was a loving lady. She was a hard worker. She demonstrated Christian faith and perseverance and much more.
My wife and mother of my two sons passed almost 15 years ago. She was a great lady and mother to our children. She loved my boys more than life and the last thing she asked me to do was to please take care of them.
I’ve tried but no one takes the place of a child’s mother.
My two grandmothers have passed on. My Mama Mollette and Mama Hinkle were just incredible women that would brighten any grandson’s day. I wish I still had them.
There are numerous wonderful women who I can call and wish Happy Mother’s Day and I think I will this weekend. Special moms need to know they are worthy.
I do have one very special mom in my life and that is my wife. She’s great. She loves our five children and three grandchildren. She tries her best to go the third mile with each of them.
She works, she cleans, she bakes, she washes clothes, worries, prays, cries, helps and is just an all around great wife and mother.
She is worthy of praise, love, flowers, candy, dinner and whatever I can come up with to give her.
I just hope that I can cherish the day with a great lady, wife and mom because time unfortunately is not really on our side when it comes to lots of tomorrows.
On Mother’s day or any day take lots of time and thought for the Moms in your life, while you have the chance.
Glenn Mollette is an American author whose syndicated column is read in all 50 states.

Trishna’s tidbits
Modern musings by Trishna Buch

If you’ve been keeping up with Tidbits, you might recall that, in our October 12 edition last year, I detailed why I hate driving. If you are new to my column, or just need a refresher, take a quick skim of that article before reading on as I now have a part two, of sorts, of that article.
Slowly but surely, my relationship with driving has started to improve. An act that – at first – I found tiresome and irritating has now become an extremely enjoyable time of the day for me.
I cannot pinpoint a specific moment when my attitude shifted because it has been more of a work in progress but, a while ago, I realized that driving is something I am going to have to get used to.
Without driving I had to depend on my parents to take me places, which resulted in dependence on their schedule. If I wanted to see a movie with a friend, I would have to ask Mom or Dad when they would be free to take me before I could make the arrangements. Now that I drive alone, however, I can easily call my friend and say: “Meet me at the theater in an hour”.
I have also decided that, if driving is something I have to do all the time, I might as well make the best of it. That goes for other aspects of my life, too, so over the past few months I have been taking things I do not particularly enjoy – such as driving – and turning them into something more enjoyable.
When it comes to driving, as soon as I get in the car I turn on the radio and take the back roads during traffic time so I can enjoy the view, listen to music and enjoy a relaxing drive.
In any case, driving in America is not devastatingly terrible. I do have to deal with speed demons, people who cut me off and trucks that drive 20 miles under the speed limit but these are all inevitable.
At least I am able to drive on the right side of the lane so I don’t have to stress about people going fast behind me. I can also depend on stop lights and signage to keep me safe and the infrastructure of our roads is commendable.
So there you have it. A complete turnaround to my previous “driving is the worst” attitude. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of changing perspective and looking at the bright side of things, in order to change your mindset.
Have you changed your attitude toward anything? Please write and let me know. Who knows – you might be the subject of a future Tidbits!

A case of good deeds indeed

My favorite thing in the world is when folks who spend their lives helping others are helped out themselves. Repaying good deeds shows such people and organizations that their hard work and efforts do not go unnoticed.
That is exactly what happened when nonprofit CASA Of Galveston County was given a grant of $7,500 from Texas Bar Foundation.
The foundation has been awarding assistance to law-related programs since 1965, awarding $17 million in grants.
I cannot think of a program that deserves this grant more than CASA. The volunteers and staff at the nonprofit work tirelessly to ensure that someone takes care of every child in the county’s foster-care system who has been abused or neglected.
The money provided by the grant will help the organization train new volunteers whose main job will be to advocate for these children and ensure their best interests are met.
Let’s applaud the work that CASA does for these often-forgotten children, giving them much-needed stability. And let’s applaud Texas Bar Foundation for providing CASA with the grant because the money will allow it to help more children and change their life for the better.

Women on the up in business

It seems that Texas has much to be proud of in terms of its support for women because the state has just been named one of the nation’s best for the growth and economic success of its women-owned firms.
According to the US census bureau’s survey, the state is one of the first in the nation for its female business owners’ economic clout, which refers to “a measure combining the growth in the number, employment and revenues” of their firms.
As a woman, I feel proud that to live in a state whose women dominated firms have earned this high honor. I feel even prouder that Houston, along with Austin, Dallas and San Antonio, is among the top metropolitan areas for such businesses.
But, like so many things in life, there is always room for improvement. The census bureau’s survey says: “Texas-based women-owned firms with employees made up just one-fifth of the state total and less than five per cent of annual payrolls.”
So we need to continuously push our female citizens to realize their full potential. I am pleased that the women-owned businesses are doing well in the state, but I’d love to see more women-owned businesses that I can support.
If any woman out there is considering starting a business, go for it! This might be the perfect time to do so.

Helping to see sand between our toes

During this year’s spring Adopt-A-Beach cleanup, 6,722 volunteers picked up more than 78 tons of trash along 146 miles of Texas beaches at 28 locations along the Gulf coast.
In our county, 1,415 volunteers cleared away 40,625 pounds of trash along 48.5 miles of beachfront on Bolivar Peninsula, Galveston Island and at Texas City Prairie Preserve Bay.
One of the folks who participated was Texas land commissioner George Bush, who joined more than 200 volunteers in cleaning up trash at Mustang Island state park.
Afterwards, he said: “Many Texas industries rely on a healthy coast to thrive. Keeping beaches clean is not just an environmental issue – it’s an economic one as well.
“The Adopt-A-Beach program has been instrumental in keeping beaches clean throughout the last three decades, aiding tourism and commercial fishing industries while maintaining the coast for Texas families.”
I thoroughly agree with Bush’s statements. We only have one planet to live on and we cannot continue treating it like a giant trash can. The amount of trash thrown all over our beaches is shocking but not surprising.
We seem to find it easier to throw our trash all over the floor rather than place it in its correct trash receptacle but this attitude will seriously harm the environment and cause a backlash on us – maybe not today but certainly in the near future.
We need to make sure we leave a clean environment for our children, our grandchildren and future generations to come.
Good job to everyone who participated in the 31st annual Adopt-A-Beach! Here’s hoping 2018 will see an even larger turnout but a lot less trash collected. What a party that should be!