Wow! Here we are with the first column of 2018. It’s hard to believe how quickly the time passes by.

On more than one occasion, I have been called a curmudgeon. My definition is a grumpy old grouch, who gets annoyed at everyday things. Not long ago, I read an article in which reference was made to current words and phrases that many find annoying. Let’s look at a few possibilities.

One of the most annoying is “whatever.” If you use that as a response to what someone says, it is, in my opinion, one of the most insulting types of dismissal. Another is “basically.” Why do some individuals feel compelled to begin so many of their statements with this word? Even Judge Judy finds it annoying! Here’s another one: “literally.” People are always misusing this word. A classic example is an insurance commercial where a women says that she literally fell out of her chair when she saw how much money she could save. In other words, she actually left her chair and wound up on the floor? Come on! When you use literally to describe something, that means that it actually, physically took place. In addition, we have the constant reference to someone “coming forward.” This has been so overused that it is starting to sound like fingernails on a chalkboard. For crying out loud, come up with something new. As an afterthought, “bff” and “lol” are starting to bug me too.

Before we leave this topic, there are a couple of illiterate phrases that must be mentioned. These are “would of,” “should of,” etc. It’s would HAVE and should HAVE. Aren’t they teaching even basic English in school anymore? Maybe I’m a curmudgeon at that, as few seem bothered by the aforementioned things.

Moving on, medical marijuana seems to be making the news again. Although I don’t need it personally, I fail to understand why the feds continue to declare it illegal, if it is prescribed by a doctor and is beneficial to a patient’s health. According to the feds, if someone is a user of medical marijuana, even if his or her state says that it is legal, they lose their gun rights as unlawful users. To his credit, Governor Wolf has come out against these prohibitions, and appears to be taking steps to counteract them. I would hope that Congress and the White House take the actions needed to deal with this injustice. While I do not agree with Wolf on some things, credit must be given where it is due. Just like Wolf must be given credit for suspending the death penalty, a barbaric practice.

Let me make it clear that in no way do I endorse the recreational use of marijuana. We have enough problems already with opioids. Why add to them? But when people can benefit from it medically, and it is regulated, what is the problem?

Well, while the question of whether or not I am a curmudgeon may still be up in the air, there are some areas where I am definitely not. One of these is volunteer emergency services. There is not enough good that can be said about these people. They risk their lives, sacrifice their time and work to raise funds, all for the benefit of their communities. In my own case, if Bradys Bend Township would have to come up with our own fire and ambulance departments, we simply could not do it. I know that we are not alone in this situation.

Let’s close out with a brief look at our animal friends. This brutal weather has made things really tough for them. This is the time of year when birds really do need help from us when it comes to food. Also, for various reasons, animal shelters find themselves overcrowded in the winter. Rather than donate to national organizations, with political ambitions, why not give your money to local shelters, like Orphans of the Storm, a no-kill shelter in Armstrong County, or some other nearby shelter?

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