Carl Wernicke

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How to get a good night’s sleep seems to be a recurring topic in our hectic, modern society. And with the Baby Boomers aging into growing sleep problems, it’s likely going to be a lucrative medical field as well.

For me, a good night’s sleep starts with my chickens. I’ll explain.

Doing anything new involves a learning curve. In our case, deciding 10 years ago to raise chickens for the eggs was definitely new. And we basically just jumped in after doing a little research. Which is where the learning curve comes in.

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  With the arrival of real winter this week I suddenly realized that this year seems to be zooming by at breakneck speed. That was underscored by what is quickly becoming a traditional sign of the arrival of Thanksgiving – the outbreak of Christmas decorations.

     In my day, we didn’t start decorating for Christmas until after Thanksgiving, but these days the passage of time seems more fluid and irrelevant than ever.

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There’s a reason why archeologists dig to recover the past. Nature piles the new on top of the old, and so do we. But covering something up doesn’t make it go away.  Just ask Richard Nixon! Or, as William Faulkner famously put it, “The past is never dead. It's not even past.”

In Pensacola, our Superfund sites tell us all we need to know about how the past stays with us. A happier example is the archaeological work done by the University of West Florida, uncovering so much of our past.

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   Apparently every community in America takes pride in having the worst drivers, and certainly Northwest Florida can make its case.  But the advent of the cell phone is taking things to a new and scary level.

   Leaving the University of West Florida recently, I was at the light at Nine Mile Road and University Parkway. Now, we’re all used to aggressive drivers who cheat the light and push through the intersection after it turns red. They do this trusting that the drivers on the other side will take a moment after the light turns green to hit the accelerator. 

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Saturday morning I was driving down Mary Kitchens Road on Garcon Point when I began to ask myself, when did all those wildflowers pop up on the shoulders? Sure, I had been seeing the fall flowers coming on, but how did they go from coming on to a cornucopia overnight?

Well, they didn’t. It just seemed that way.

Before I say why, let me backtrack a bit.

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I have always loved newspapers. They’ve been called the first draft of history, an elegant phrase. And what I have found is that the smaller the paper, the more intimate the news. So as a traveler I have long made it a practice to buy the weekly and other small publications wherever I go, to try to get a sense of that community.

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Working as a newspaper writer for 35 years imbued me with a healthy dose of cynicism. Why? It’s not just all the bad news. Reporters and editors are exposed to far worse stuff than ever gets into the news pages, and unfortunately we learn a lot about the dark side of human nature.

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“If you could choose a time to live, would you rather go back 100 years, or forward 100 years?”

That’s the question a co-worker asked me recently. My initial response was, go back (although I’d choose the 1920s or ‘30s).

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The occurrence earlier this month of a so-called super moon, which occurs when a full moon coincides with a close orbital approach to earth, prompted my wife and I to find a good spot to observe moonrise.

We set up our folding chairs on the shore of Blackwater Bay by 8 p.m., anticipating moonrise at 8:03. However, storm clouds suggested less than optimal conditions for observing a celestial event.

But even with the obscured horizon, we weren’t disappointed.

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All of us have times when we are less than sociable. While I know that I am in reality a cuddly, warm human being, this doesn’t always come across to others. My mother used to call me anti-social, and my wife has deemed me a curmudgeon. But who cares what they think, right? I know the real me, and, well, modesty keeps me from being too boastful.

Still, I admit that sometimes I just can’t deal with all the sweetness and light.

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