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October 12, 2011     Sentinel Tribune
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October 12, 2011

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SENTINEL TRIBUNE VIEWPOD00T Wednesday, October 12, 2011 Page 4 BETWEEN THE LINES By Tom Merchant - Sentinel Tribune -- Free Speech?... Last week I wrote a bit about the First amendment of the constitution. It is ironic that Free Speech came about last week when Hank Williams Jr. blurted out his opinion of President Obama and House Speaker John Behner playing golf togeth- er. He said Obama playing golf with Behner was like Hitler playing with Benjamin Netanyahu. Get it? Two guys who are enemies aren't likely to play golf. Well, for those of you who are not Monday Night football fans or Country Western fan, Hank Williams Jr. is a famous, or at least well known, singer. I suppose you could say Williams is one of the least politically cor- rect people in the country. But when he said that, he stirred up a bit of a hor- nets nest. Unfortunately his reference to the President and the Speaker was misun- derstood by a lot of folks, and it ultimately cut his 20 year relationship with Monday Night football's opening The opening promo for. the show featur- ing William's -- Are You Ready for Some Football! will no longer be heard on ESPN. Apparently ESPN decid- ed William's clumsy analogy was more than the folks there could bear, and they promptly dropped his open- ing for the show. Williams didn't make things any bet- ter when he called the pres- ident, and vice president Joe Biden the enemy, politi- cally speaking. As a result ESPN announced they were severing ties with the out- spoken entertainer. Although since that time, Williams has said it was he that cut the ties with ESPN. Either way, for me the best part of Monday Night Football was Williams open- ing featuring a rendition of "All My Rowdy Friends are Coming Over Tonight." I have always liked Williams' Honky Tonk, Slightly Red Neck sound of music. The only thing I can see that he did bad was using a bad analogy. Now I do believe the First Amendment protects us all from bad analogies and a lot of other stupid statements. After all, who among us has not made a bad analo- gy or two, or an otherwise stupid statement. I know I have, I won't tell you any, but if you ask my Best Friend, I am positive she could give you a few. Back to Hank, even though I think he really did nothing wrong, I still respect ESPN's right to pull the plug on Williams, although again I will miss the iconic opening. Of course I seldom get to see it anymore, so I won't miss it all that much. Lets see . . what night is that on again? Have a good week and do good! Paying as you go: :-' BBB advice on the layaway process The current economy has left many shoppers on a budget and searching for more affordable meth- ods of paying for big-ticket items and holiday gifts. This holiday sea- son, many families will be turning to alternate forms of payment to make ends meet. With many stores offering layaway services, the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is offering advice on how to use this payment plan in lieu of credit cards. Once considered a dated, old- fashioned method of payment, lay- away services are back in vogue, with many businesses now dusting off their layaway plans for today's beleaguered consumers. Buying items on layaway is different from putting them on a credit card because the buyer isn't charged interest on the purchase and can't take the item home until it is paid off. When purchasing items on lay- away, the buyer must typically makea down payment of 10 to 20 percent and pay any service or plan fees for the store to hold the item for them. The customer then typically has 30 to 90 days to make periodic payments to pay off the balance. Once it is paid off, the customer can take the items home. "Layaway services can be a great alternative to using a credit card," said Dana Badgerow, president and. CEO of the BBB. "However, it's extremely important that customers take note of the fine print and under- stand all the terms." As a complement to in-store lay- away, some stores provide online layaway services for purchasing items through the retailer's website. Additionally, third-party businesses have sprung up for the purpose of setting up layaway plans online between customers and retailers that don't already have a layaway pro- gram. Customers make periodic payments to the third-party layaway service provider. Once the item is fully paid for, the third-party busi- ness buys the item from the retailer and ships it to the customer. When buying items on layaway, the BBB advises consumers to get everything in writing and offers the following checklist of questions to ask: * How much time do I have to pay off the item? * When are the payments due? * How much do I have to put down? * Are there any storage or service plan fees? * What happens if I miss a pay- ment? Are there penalties? Does the item return to inventory? * Can I get a refund or store credit if I no longer want the item after making a few payments? * What happens if the item goes on sale after I've put it on layaway? * Does the retailer or third-party layaway service have a good BBB rating? For more advice on how to be a savvy consumer this holiday sea- son, visit news. Sentinel Tribune Thomas Merchant Junette Merchant Joan Spielman (ISSN 8750-3905) Managing Editor Office & Production Office & Production Published every Wednesday at Westbrook, Minnesota 56183 Periodicals Postage Paid at Westbrook, Minnesota 56183 SUBSCRIPTION PRICE FOR THE SENTINEL TRIBUNE WILL BE: In the following counties: Cottonwood, Redwood, and Murray $38.00 per year. Elsewhere in Minnesota $42.00 per year. Out of the state $48.00 per year. Canada and foreign countries inquire at the Sentinel Tribune Office. If wrong amount is submitted subscrip- tion will be pro rated accordingly. Newspapers still number one fo r news By Doug Anstaett Despite all the doomsayers out there writing obituaries for the nation's newspaper industry, 150 million Americans -- two out of three adults -- read a local newspa- per last week. Newspaper Association of America research from 2011 by Scarborough USA indicates almost 70 percent of your neighbors read either a printed newspaper or its online counterpart within the past seven days. How could that be? Well, it's because newspapers still represent the most trusted source of news in America. I know that's hard to believe when you hear the mainstream media criticized at every turn on cable TV. But it's true When citizens want to get the facts, they turn to their local news- paper. National Newspaper Week, this year's theme, "Newspapers -- Your Number One Source for Local News," underscores the importance of the nation's newspapers in the daily lives of citizens. Newspapers certainly have their competitors out there: a hundred million websites, hundreds of thou- sands of bloggers, Facebook, Twitter, billboards, radio and televi- sion. And that competition is formi- dable. But where does the vast majority of the "authoritative" news cover- age originate that other media out- lets utilize? Simple ... the nation's daily and weekly newspapers. If print is dead, then why do more than 7,000 weekly and 1,400 daily newspapers still open their doors every day and report what is hap- pening in their communities? Because they take seriously the importance of local news. They know those who plunk down their hard-earned cash want their news- paper to cover those events that are unique to each community. Every day, newspapers in our local communities cover the big stories and the routine as well. Editors take to heart the newspa- per's role as the most comprehen- sive source of a community's his- torical record, so births, deaths, weddings, engagements, business accomplishments, crime, courts, real estate transactions and a myriad of other day-to-day news events are covered along with the important governmental decisions that affect our lives. Newspapers are the number one source of local news in every city and county in America because we show up each and every day and cover those stories. It's what our readers have come to expect. And it's what we do better than any other news source in America. Doug Anstaett is executive director of the Kansas Press Association and current presi- dent of the Newspaper Association Managers. AI Bart... "Stories from the Batt Cave" From those thrilling days of yesteryear My father met with friends in Vivian's CatS. Vivian made won- derful fried rolls that frequented my dreams. Dad and the other farmers sat around the table and took turns complaining about the weather, taxes, government, and crop prices. I looked around that table and saw that many of the men were missing digits. Fingers and other body parts had been sacrificed to agriculture. Bloodthirsty farm machinery had struck unexpectedly. One day, as my father drove home while I rode along with a belly happily holding one of Vivian's fried rolls, I asked him why anyone would want to be a farmer if the life was going to devour you piece by piece. Dad answered that' no matter what you do for a living, it's going to wear you out piece by piece. Grandmotherly grace The child was throwing a major league temper tantrum in the store and had attracted quite a crowd. The tantrum moved into the crying stage. I readied for the adult in charge to say, "Stop that or I will give you something to cry about." She didn't say that. Instead, the woman said, "Stop that or I will give you something to smile about." Everyone laughed, including the child. The woman was a grandmother. In youth, we learn. In old age, we understand. Cleaning house I was doing my spring-clean- ing ahead of time--during the fall. Actually, I was finishing the spring-cleaning I had started nine years ago. I was filling what was empty and emptying what was full. Ok, I wasn't doing any spring-cleaning. I was reducing the collection of books that had taken over our basement, rve given hundreds of books to the local library to sell in its book- store. I became carried away. I have written for countless car- toonists, greeting card compa- nies, comedians, speechmakers, radio/TV shows, books, maga- zines, and advertising. I've kept a paper copy of each gag rve written--more than 150 gags each week for 37 years. That's approximately 288,600 gags and 7,792,200 words. Those are con- servative estimates. Uffda! No wonder I'm tired. I hauled the pile of gags to the recycling center. There will be more room in our basement. I'll need it. I'm plan- ning togo to the library's book- store and buy some of my old books back. The nightmare was a clock radio When I was a teenager and stayed up too late, I had a meth- od for getting up in time for milk- ing the cows. I set a battered device that I called the alarm o'clock. I tuned the clock radio to a station that played music that gave me a toothache. I didn't understand or enjoy the music that I set the alarm to. When the alarm went off in the morning, I jumped out of bed to hasten its silence. There I was I was sharing a house with a Manhattan psychiatrist in a small town in Alaska. I was excited about seeing the northern lights at 2:30 in the morning. I shared my desire to see the Aurora Borealis and suggested he join me. He didn't share my enthusi- asm. The psychiatrist did not like Alaska or small towns and he hated mornings--especially cold mornings. My alarm clock woke us both. I waited while the psy- chiatrist slurped down a cup of lukewarm coffee left over from the night before. We ventured outside into the freezing cold. The psychiatrist wore all the clothes he owned. The northern lights were amazing. They danced across an endless sky. We stood in awe, staring at the colorful sky, until we heard nois- es coming from the nearby brush. Out of the darkness strode a moose cow and calf. We froze, the moose drawing our attention from the northern lights. The cow and her calf walked by, paying no attention to us. The psychia- trist Iooked at me and shook his head beforeanding me his pro- fessional card and saying, "You need to make an appointment with me." The mighty pencil I had chores to do outdoors. It was cold enough to freeze thoughts. When I was able to thaw a thought I deemed worth remembering, I reached into my coat pocket and pulled out a 3X5 card and a Ticonderoga #2 yel- low pencil shortened by repeat- ed sharpening. Pencils are nec- essary if I am going to write something in inclement weather. I learned long ago that no matter what age I am, if I don't write things down, they go away, and they don't always return. 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