Focusing on money clouds the mind

I’ll be the first to admit that although I realize money is not everything, shortly after I wake up in the morning one of the first things I’ve been thinking about lately is whether I owe anybody anything and when it is due. I mention this because it is a new experience for me. I’ve always been the kind of person who has so much going on in my mind that money has not occupied many of my thoughts. Never having had any money to speak of, I have never had any reason to give it much thought. In other words, I’m not one of those people who have experienced an economic boom either before or after the big tax cut.

So, I don’t know why it is that money has become such an important subject in my thought factory over the past couple of years. Since it is rarely a topic of discussion among my friends and family, I can only guess that it is outside influences that keep me financially anxious and stressed. I know, for example, that all the junk mail I receive either online or by snail mail is about money. I get volumes on how much I can borrow and all the wonderful goods and services available for purchase for so many dollars and cents. An hour of television viewing will earn me at least a 30-minute sales presentation involving the receipt and expenditure of money. The subject screams at me from billboards. It seems every available slip of empty paper has been confiscated and turned into an advertising document that has to do with money.

Mediacom and Charter await audit

Columbia’s cable companies are about to be audited.

That was the decision of the Columbia City Council on Tuesday night when it accepted the recommendation of its Cable Television Task Force. The audits are intended to ensure the city is collecting the proper amount of franchise fees from cable companies Mediacom and Charter Communications.

Translating politics

We leave our sparkling new hotel in Xi’an, passing hundreds of facemask-wearing Chinese riding bicycles and pulling wheelbarrows. The smog/fog is terrible.

We reach an elevated highway. It’s elevated, we surmise, to preserve the farmland below in a country where only 10 percent of the land is arable. We’re on our way to a factory. Our states have lost manufacturing jobs overseas, and we want to see the competition up close.

Northwest pursues UM membership

MARYVILLE — If all goes as planned, this year’s legislature might consider a proposal that would make Northwest Missouri State University the fifth campus in the University of Missouri system after all.

In September, the presidents of the institutions cited the complexity of negotiations when they said they would delay asking the legislature to consider a merger.

Pulitzer winner to share experiences at MLK celebration

In 1953, Martin Luther King Jr. showed only a glimmer of the influence that would eventually unite communities for a common fight against inequality. Fifty-one years later, the memory of King seems as powerful as the man himself, as evidenced by recent celebrations across the country in honor of his birthday.

In honor of King, MU will sponsor a weeklong celebration, “The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on American Public Policy.” The event begins today with a speech by professor and National Public Radio commentator Roger Wilkins and a town hall meeting. Events running through Friday will highlight the continuing impact of King’s civil rights work. They are free and open to all.

Arts center in the works

MU’s Jesse Auditorium might have witnessed one of its most historic performances Friday when Chancellor Richard Wallace took the stage to unveil plans for a new performing arts center.

If MU gets its way, the 28 acres of land on the corner of College Avenue and Stadium Boulevard would slowly be transformed into an arts haven.

Auditorium showing its age

John Murray, the manager of MU’s Jesse Auditorium, points to an empty elevator shaft in the auditorium’s basement.

“The elevator was never installed because of budget cuts,” Murray said. The space is used to store curtains and big bottles of water.

Attorney to ask for delay in climbing wall trial

A hearing is scheduled for Monday morning on whether to delay the court case involving the death of a Jefferson City woman who fell from a climbing wall in July.

Patrick Eng, a lawyer representing Marcus Floyd, owner of the portable climbing wall involved in the death, said he intends to ask for a continuance. Floyd is charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter in the death of Christine Ewing, 22, who died while using the climbing wall at a Mid-Missouri Mavericks game.

Liquor law round-up snags 22

Despite the budget cuts that have forced significant restructuring of the Division of Liquor Control, law enforcement officials say they are finding the resources to continue their fight against underage drinking.

“They (the division) can’t put as many people down here,” said Sgt. Danny Grant of the Columbia Police Department. “So we have to step up and do some more enforcement ourselves.”

MU Health Care hears candidate

When the Hunter Group took control of University of Missouri Health Care in September 2002, it was understood from the beginning that it was only a temporary situation, that when University Hospital was financially stable, the Florida-based management company would step aside.

MU Health Care saw a profit of $8.4 million last fiscal year, so the time might be nearing to turn control back over to University administration.

Colorful discs mark MU storm drains

The stencils painted on Columbian’s storm drains might be replaced with something different come summer.

Aqua and purple discs bearing a purple fish and the white block words “No dumping, drains to stream” have been placed adjacent to storm drains throughout the MU campus. The 79 discs are part of a trial to determine if they will be used by the city to supplement the Storm Drain Stenciling Project.

Migrating worker

The group of 15 immigrant women still were having trouble learning English, despite the efforts of Maria Sanchez de Morales. Knowing the love these ladies had for soap operas, she started telling them about “Days of our Lives.”

After hearing just a basic outline of the show, the women became enthralled. Watching “Days of our Lives” helped them become more fluent in English, and it helped them to develop the confidence and skills to get their citizenship paperwork done.

5th straight win earns Cougars practice-free day

Bribery is taboo in most situations, but Mike Davis, the Columbia College women’s basketball coach, used it to his advantage Saturday.

Davis made a deal with his players before the Cougars’ game with Williams Baptist (Ark.) at The Arena of Southwell Complex. He said he would give his players a day off from practice today if they played well.

Unhealthy new year no shock

It’s just like clockwork. It begins about 2 p.m. on Christmas Day after the presents have been opened, the house has tissue and empty boxes strewn about and the family is kicking back and relaxing. My nose starts to itch. Not the kind of itch that you can scratch. This itch begins somewhere high up in the nostrils, and by now I should know the signal. My annual post-Christmas cold is about to begin.

This year I was prepared. I dashed madly up the stairs to find the new super-duper nasal spray that has been advertised on TV. According to the ad, just one sniff in each nostril and I’ll barely even know that I have a cold.

Serial Beauty Queen

On the second day of the Miss Missouri USA pageant, Miss Columbia 2003 Kelley Rohlfing eased into the competition but still felt slightly confounded by its unfamiliar rhythm. The format departed radically from her usual pageant routine. For one thing, the swimsuit and evening gown competitions preceded the interview, and meeting the judges after they had sized her up onstage struck Kelley as odd. Instead of the in-depth group interview, she got four-minute stints with each judge. Still, she was getting the hang of it, and the vague anxiety she felt gradually melted.

The weeks before the pageant had been punctuated by bouts of insecurity. Did her body look good enough? Were her legs toned enough? She had been bracing for an on-stage standoff with a few pageant friends and fellow contestants who crossed over from the Miss Missouri America pageant who she knew would be tough competition.

Mother at home

‘Do you want to read the story with me?” Traci Stiles asks her 3-year-old daughter, Gillian, while brushing the bangs back from the child’s eyes.

Within seconds, the story of Madeline comes to life in a mother-daughter chorus. Traci and Gillian say the words at the same time, their voices rising and falling like music. Traci holds the book while Gillian snuggles next to her, arms wrapped around her teddy bear. Gillian’s 4-month-old sister, Libby, gurgles happily on the floor.

Demystifying Miss America and Miss USA

For the uninitiated into national pageant lore, the distinctions between the two U.S. competitions, Miss America and Miss USA, are usually fuzzy. Despite the similar basic format and the relatively frequent crossovers by veteran contestants, those involved in the two pageants are acutely aware of the differences.

Starting out in 1920 as a bathing beauty contest and a marketing ploy of Atlantic City entrepreneurs hoping to spur traffic to the resort, the Miss America pageant has changed with the times. As the century progressed, the concept of the “ideal woman” swelled to accommodate more than someone fit, vigorous and “able to shoulder the responsibilities of home-making and

Red-letter day

It’s a new year, and second-graders at Russell Boulevard Elementary are all a bit richer. If you’re thinking you’ve missed something, don’t worry. The world is not on fast forward.

Thursday marked the first day of the Chinese New Year, and local restaurant owner Amy Chow used the occasion to visit her niece’s classroom to give students a quick lesson on the holiday and a bit of money.

Two more join race for mayor

Two local residents entered Columbia’s mayoral race on Thursday, creating a unique situation for incumbent Darwin Hindman whose position has not been contested since he was elected mayor in 1995.

Arch Brooks, CEO of Brooks Computing Systems Inc., and John Clark, president of the North Central Neighborhood Association, filed to run in the April election just before the 5 p.m. deadline Thursday. Brooks is also running for a seat on the Columbia Board of Education.

Hidden guns debate heard by high court

JEFFERSON CITY — The intense, decade-long battle over whether Missourians should have the right to carry concealed weapons reached a pinnacle Thursday, as state Supreme Court judges questioned whether a new law allowing hidden guns violates an old constitutional provision.

The assumption heading into the hearing — as determined by a St. Louis circuit judge’s ruling — was that concealed guns are prohibited under a state constitutional section dating to 1875.