Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Life Well Lived

Pop 87 William J. Fink, MD

"Pop", my uncle, Dr. Bill Fink (Aunt Shorty's husband), has been given the "final" diagnosis: the prostate cancer, already stage 4, has metastasized into the right lung, spine, joints. He's gone home to die (in accordance with his wishes); the doctors say it could be any time (probably in the next few days). He’s in quite a bit of pain; they’ve got him on the morphine pump.*  (He and I had many laughs about doctors saying “He has some discomfort”, which translated means, “Hurts like Hell!!!”)  I got to see him about a month ago; he was decently sharp for 92, though nothing like he was before. 

He had a remarkable life; a very intelligent man, he graduated from DePauw University with top honours, where he was a Sigma Nu. He was an FBI agent in Washington, DC working for J. Edgar Hoover (he was a "real G-Man"); decided that wasn't for him and went to The George Washington University School of Medicine, where he also graduated with top honours. He became a surgeon for the U. S. Army Air Corps (later USAF) during WWII (the good news: he was stationed in Miami Beach at the Fontainebleau Hotel; the bad news: the Army Air Corps hospital there was the first landing spot for US soldiers/airmen wounded in the Italian sub-theater, and he pretty much worked 24/7). After the war, he went to work for the VA. In the mid-50's, he took the position of Chief of Surgery of the VA Hospital in the tiny Arkansas mountain hamlet of Fayetteville, a position he held until he laid down his scalpel in the 1980's.

His wife Kay was head nurse at Washington Regional; they had 4 boys and a girl. Two of the boys died. He suffered the death of his wife (She passed away from complications resulting from an allergic reaction to the dye used in a common test at the hospital, a heart cath.) AND the death of his best friend, Cal Peeler. Cal was married to Bill's long-time secretary, who happened to be my Aunt Arline (Aunt Shorty).

Arline&Bill2 Arline and Bill having known each other since the early 1960’s, and both of them being lonely, started to hang out together, dated, fell in love, married and have been so for almost 20 years.  (And Aunt Shorty, if you see this and complain about the picture, perhaps you shouldn’t clown so when people try to take one of you! ;-)



Chicago_Cubs_ch68_largeA lifelong, die-hard Cubs fan (he grew up one block from Wrigley Field), Pop was in the stands at Wrigley for Game 3 of the 1932 World Series (he attended all games of that Series), when Babe Ruth called his shot to Center Field (Pop maintains that Ruth was “speaking” to the Cubs’ center fielder, with whom he had been “jawing”350px-Ruth1932-1 all day.  Pop, of course, never forgave Ruth as the Yankees swept   his beloved Cubbies; when I saw him last month and asked him how he was, he indicated that it was a good day because the Yankees had lost the day before. He had no love for the Cardinals, either....). (BTW, the next batter up in that 1932 game was Lou Gehrig, who also hit a homer). Pop may have been a Cubs fan, but he would watch baseball any time, any place, and at any level. Little League to Major League, made no difference to him.

IMG_0774He loved the times we were able to take him to Baum Stadium; though he had no affiliation with the UofA, he loved the Razorbacks and followed them avidly.



IMG_1040Pop loved dogs. When the last one, the cocker/beagle mix, died, I thought we were going to have to shoot Pop and bury him in the back yard.  He was always patient when I (and my friends) brought dogs to his house.

He also loved the stock market; he tracked all his investments daily, but he loved piddling with penny stocks too. He was a Reagan Republican (look at the picture of the 4 of them below; on the wall behind him is the picture he got for “significant contributions to the Republican Party, inscribed to him personally by GWB), and he and I had some really great high old political debates, which Aunt Shorty just detested. She'd put her hands over her ears and storm out whenever Pop and I got started. We both loved it. We both agreed on the religious right's affiliation with the Republican Party (Pop didn't like 'em; he was all about fiscal conservatism and didn't give a damn about religious issues. He was a staunch proponent of abortion on demand, which certainly set him at odds with his fellows).

He was also very, very proud of his longtime membership in, and leadership of, the Fayetteville Exchange Club. He went to Exchange meetings until they took his car away.

IMG_0905 (2)Pop loved cars, and the faster and more luxurious, the  better. He had a string of Imperials, then Cadillacs, then Acuras, then Lexus's. His last car, amazingly, was a Prius---but maybe not so amazing, because he loved gadgets and tinkering (I think that's what he really liked about surgery, he could open people up and tinker with their insides and make them work again). He always subscribed to Motor Trend and Car and Driver and Automobile and Road and Track, always went to the Auto Show, and the last time I saw him he was mad as hell because they'd taken his Prius away from him (he was, at that point, a menace to himself and others).

That Prius. Let’s just say Pop wasn't broke, but he loved the Prius because of the gas mileage. It wasn't that he couldn't afford the gas, he just liked it because it was so cheap to drive. He was fascinated by the Prius when it was announced; he was at the Fayetteville Auto Show and they had one. He had a brand-new Lexus and a brand-new scooter-equipped Toyota Sienna (loaded), but he was at the show anyway. He asked the salesman how hard it was to get one; the salesman told him, "Well, this one's for sale, the guy on the waiting list backed out", and Pop whipped out his checkbook and wrote the guy a check (to Shorty's consternation). He then left the brand-new Lexus sitting in the parking lot and drove his new toy home.

He would drive the Prius over to the McDonalds on Crossover and Mission every morning and be sitting there waiting for them to open, BECAUSE THEY GAVE HIM FREE COFFEE BECAUSE HE WAS A SENIOR CITIZEN (their marketing worked, though, because he also had a fruit parfait every morning). Everybody at the McDonald's knew Dr. Fink by name.

Pop loved it when we came to visit and go Razorbacking. If his hip hadn't been so bad, he would have been out there with us at every tailgate (saying, in full grouch mode, "I don't know why on earth you people want to have a party outside in a damn tent when there are perfectly good houses and restaurants with which to do so."). He loved meeting all my friends and was always after me to "bring a bunch home with you when you come".


He had a great laugh; we loved to make him laugh because it was so infectious. He'd throw his head back and let 'er rip: HAAAA ha ha ha ha!!!  He loved The Catfish Hole and was on first-name terms with the owner; we never waited on line. He loved going there with as many of my friends as I could arrange; the time he told Jeremiah about Babe Ruth (and Jeremiah sitting there wide-eyed), Pop was loving every minute of it.

He mixed a mean cocktail. Where do you think I learned?


He was as persnickety as I am about the English language, correcting people in that clipped "Chicaago" accent of his. One which I inherited from him: you do not tell a dog, "Lay down". It is "Lie down!" "Go lie down, Lucy!"

I can't say how many journal articles he wrote; I know he published at least one book (long out of print) on the fine points of a particular surgery (damn, wish I knew these things).


He was a damn fine doctor.  Ask any of the thousands of patients he saved.


They broke the mold on that WWII crowd. When Pop is gone, we will have Aunt Shorty (90), Dad (85), and Mother (83). Mom's not looking good either, but Dad and Aunt Shorty both have bum tickers. I told Dad one time, I have this mental picture of him in his USAAC uniform, Mom with her hair up in that 40's style, both of them riding off into the sunset in a Packard convertible with "In the Mood" playing on the radio.

IMG_2709 (3)

Pop, Mother, Dad, Aunt Shorty, w/ Punkin III 

With Pop, somehow I see him in his lab coat in a big ol’ Imperial, punching it and roaring off in a hemi-inspired cloud of burned rubber and asphalt, heading off to the hospital to save another life.

We’ll miss you, Pop.

Pop 2

William J. Fink, MD

June 24, 1917 – May 24, 2009

*{ADDENDUM:  Pop died at 6:15 am Sunday, May 24, 2009.  Aunt Shorty held him in her arms while he died, and he was surrounded by family.  May he rest in peace, and may Light Perpetual shine upon him.}

Monday, May 18, 2009

We Interrupt This Blog for the Following Special Announcement: *I*AM*EMPLOYED!*

I have been offered and have accepted a position with Broadspire, an excellent third-party claim administration company.

I will be the Dedicated Unit Manager for the on-site HISD unit, managing the Broadspire staff that administers the workers' compensation claims for the Houston Independent School District.  HISD is the seventh largest school district in the nation, employing approximately 36,000 people.  It is the largest employer in the City of Houston.  One always thinks of teachers when one thinks of schools, but there are bus drivers, mechanics, building maintenance, groundskeepers, food service staff, administrators, a private, certified police force, etc.  The HISD workers’ comp program has been cited as a model program, having won the prestigious Theodore Roosevelt Award for excellence in Risk Management.

The office is actually kind of a neat deal, very unconventional.  Broadspire's Houston office is in a glass box at Katy Freeway and Gessner.  I won't be working there.  HISD's office is the (converted) old Northwest Mall, at Katy Freeway and Northwest Freeway.  I won't be there, either.  The office is in an old elementary school in the Fifth Ward.  It's a two story school building, located directly on US 59; I'll have a (very nice) private office (with my own a/c control, VERY nice) with a view of the downtown Houston skyline out my window.  The administrator for HISD chose it purposely; making a commitment to the Fifth Ward.  The offices are on the second floor, the lower floor is used for community outreach.  I'll be driving downtown, but on the newly finished, super-duper ultra Katy Freeway.

I don't even have to move.

It is a lot more SECURE than the job I had before (as secure as it gets in these times).

So thank you, Jesus (serious as I can be).

And thank you to all my friends who have been through the Valley of the Shadow of Death with me these last 5 difficult months.  Being laid off messes with your brain; be kind to your friends and neighbors in that situation. Had it not been for my friend/roommate Nathan, my sister Marla, my friends Robert, Keith, Kathy and Marty, I don’t know what I would have done.  I can never repay them as long as I live.

And a special thank you to Suzann Still, the friend who started this ball rolling by putting Broadspire and me together.

I start Wednesday!  Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Greatest Store in the Greatest State

When non-Texans think of retail stores in Texas, the name Neiman-Marcus comes instantly to most minds.  The Dallas specialty retailer, led first by Mr. Herbert Marcus, then by his son, Mr. Stanley Marcus, certainly became and remains world-famous.  I have a long history with N-M, and still have a soft spot in my heart for it (even though the Marcus family is no longer associated with it, and it’s certainly not the store I grew up with).  I have lots of stories involving Neiman’s---eating lunch with Mother and her friends at the Zodiac Room (the fabulous restaurant on the top floor, run by the incomparable Helen Corbitt, where models would wander the room, stopping at your table, “I’m wearing a Balenciaga frock, with matching hat and gloves and pumps; price $500 in our Couture department”), buying the odd item for myself (I still always have one or two Neiman’s items around, including some that Mother bought me back then), meeting Mr. Stanley Marcus several times and enjoying every second of it (a true gentleman in the finest sense of the word).  This story, however, is not about Neiman-Marcus.

Houstonians, of course, revered Sakowitz.  The flashy store at Post Oak and Westheimer, operated by the equally flashy retail showman Robert Sakowitz, was the place where generations of Houstonians bought their finest items. This story, however, is not about Sakowitz.

There were the great and wonderful stores Sanger Brothers, A. Harris (then Sanger-Harris), and Foley’s, but this story is not about them.

There was another store in Texas, not as instantly-recognizable or flute-snooty as Neiman’s, not as flashy as Sakowitz, not as mundane as Sanger-Harris or Foley’s, but one which made an indelible mark on me and countless other Texans in years gone past.  I speak, of course, of

Joske’s of Texas.

ephem2-210-JoskesJoske’s was this great big grand wonderful romp of a store.  For decades their slogan was “The Biggest Store in the Biggest State”.  They had to change it when Alaska, with its hundreds of square miles of frozen tundra, became the “Biggest” state (I guess we don’t have much to say about “miles and miles of miles and miles”; anybody ever been to Andrews County, Texas?), but still---

They changed it to “The Greatest Store in the Greatest State”, but we Josketeers know better.

I say “we Josketeers” because I was one. 

On Sunday, February 11, 1973, I turned 16.  My Dad drove me over to his buddy’s house; I opened the door and got out, thinking Dad was right behind me.  He was, all right---in the car.  As soon as I closed the door, he gunned it and I was standing there alone in Mr. Lochte’s yard.  No choice but to go knock on his door, pay him the agreed-upon $250, and drive home in the charcoal-gray-and-pink (“Heather Rose, Jewell Black and Sapphire White”) hemi-powered 1955 Dodge Royal Lancer parked in his driveway, utilizing the skills I had garnered in the un-airconditioned black drivers’ ed Volkswagens on a hot asphalt parking lot at MacArthur High School the previous summer, and the freshly-minted handwritten paper receipt in my pocket that said, “Texas Department of Public Safety - Driver License”.

1955_Dodge_Custom_Royal_Lancer_ad1Having obtained the car, I quickly determined that it had a rather voracious appetite for gasoline. As I got $5 a yard, gas cost $0.25/gallon, and I had a 25 gallon tank, the math indicated that I’d have to mow a yard for approximately every 3/4 of a tank I drove.  I drove up the first tank in two days---and it was February; nobody needed any yard service.  Of course, there was also Mother to consider:  “When are you going to get a job?” (“so you can get your own transportation and I won’t have to shuttle your lazy butt around any more”)

It became immediately apparent that steady work was necessary.

Knowing that one of the teachers in my Sunday School department at Trinity Baptist Church was a very nice man named Jack Preston, and knowing that Mr. Preston was the Assistant Manager of the Joske’s at North Star Mall, and being well-familiar with Joske’s, I elected to apply for work at Joske’s, using Mr. Preston’s name as a reference.  (Jack was very kind to all of us, none of us was ever turned down at Joske’s.  We all tried very hard never to let him down, and I don’t think many did.).

Thus began my association with The Greatest Store in the Greatest State.

>End of Part I, Stay Tuned for Part II<

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day, Mom

We love you.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009



UPDATE 9/22/09:

I am delighted to report that Bessie has gone to her forever home! A lovely lady from Oklahoma, with a stalwart husband, two fine sons ages 11 and 16, and a lovely college student daughter, fell in love with her from the pictures. After correspondence, I drove Bessie up to their beautiful ranch. It was love at first sight on both sides; Bessie was a bit shy but according to Lynn she has blossomed.

Rescue is a great thing. I recommend it to all.


This is the hardest part of dog rescue, when you have to put the baby you’ve rescued up for adoption. It’s time though.

Bessie was rescued from a very difficult situation in San Antonio, along with her sister, Bonnie. Bonnie has been adopted by a good friend of mine in Arkansas, and is living The Good Life there. Her new Dad dotes on her, walks her, loves on her, plays with her, etc. and she eats it up. It’s good for both of them.

Honestly, when I got them, Bessie was the one I figured DSC_0038 would go first. She’s outgoing, happy, friendly, just a typical energetic one-to-two year old Border Collie, with the drive, energy, and playfulness of that breed. She’s great at fetch and will play with you for hours (don’t pick up the squeaky tennis ball unless you’re ready for a workout!). She’s sweet and loving, too; crate-trained, house-trained, walks well on the leash. In fact, she’s a joy to take for a spin around the neighborhood.

She is heartworm-positive, but she is very mildly so and the vet told us to use the regular medication on her and she’d be fine. She’s certainly not lacking in the “energy” department, so we know we got it before it got serious.


Bessie would love to be in a home with an energetic young woman, man, or couple who would exercise her and play with her. Border Collies DO NOT do well in homes with small children; BC’s are sheep dogs by breeding and temperament. When they see small children, they view the children as something to be herded (Disorderly! Can’t have that!). The dogs can’t help it, they’re doing what they were bred to do.

If you think you could find room in your home for this bright girl, she’d wiggle her way into your heart in no time flat. She has ours. It will kill me to see her go, but go she must. I have two of my own!

Email me at for information.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cupcakes, Kenya, Hearing Aids and B. B. King

My old friend David Green of Corpus Christi, Texas has always been a scream. He is possessed of the infamous "dry wit" so prized and so RARE in comedy these days. David is one of those people who, when confronted with visible evidence that the sky is, in fact, falling, would look calmly up at the falling pieces and say, "Huh, now how about that?"

David (like many of us Boomers) has recently discovered facebook, and he loves it. He updates his status frequently, and some of his are hilarious. I quote from this morning:

David Green Is upset that the dog ate the cupcakes he made at midnight to replace the cupcakes Sarah made that Kenya ate when she went to bed. That bast--- Kenya! Lesson: never let your guard down!

(David is also crazy about animals; Kenya is his black lab and David would take a bullet himself to save that dog...). (Sarah is his daughter; she's beautiful like her mother).

I pretty much died laughing when I read David's post; I can just hear him saying it out loud. For David, that was a temper tantrum, an outburst of the most violent kind.


Night before last my Dad was sitting out on the patio, taking the evening air with my niece's dog (named B. B. King), which he is dogsitting. Cell phone rang, Dad had to take his brand-new hearing aid out to answer it (too much feedback otherwise). He set the hearing aid on the table and talked on the phone.

As he was talking, he saw movement out of the corner of his eye and turned to look---just as the long, long tongue of B. B. King snaked out and lapped up the $1,500 hearing aid!

Dad (the last thing my aunt heard him say was, "DAMMIT, B.B.!!!") threw the $200 cell phone down and wrenched the jaws of the offender open. He managed to salvage the hearing aid (sans battery, which will not be seen again--he's not digging through poop a la Marley & Me), with a few teeth marks. The last time I talked to him (yesterday), he was on his way to the hearing aid place to see what the damage was.

I love dogs.


I put a mini-version of this on David's facebook page. He laughed and said, "From now on, that's my new phrase when something goes wrong: It's only cupcakes!"

Monday, May 4, 2009

Pontiac, Chrysler, and the Good Old Days

All the news stories this week about Chrysler, and the demise of Pontiac, Saturn, and Hummer got me to thinking about “The Good Old Days”. 

The Good Old Days were usually NOT as good as we remember them.  Sometimes, they don’t even exist at all, except in our fervid imaginations.  I was telling Nathan (who is 25) last night:  my entire generation grew up thinking “America” was “Leave It To Beaver”; a world where Mom did her housework in silk dress, heels, and pearls, with perfectly coiffed hair, in a large, beautiful home with all modern conveniences; where Dad went to his office at 9, left at 5, and lounged in the living room in his sweater and tie while waiting for that delicious dinner Mom had prepared (after returning home from the Beauty Parlor); where the two cute kids learned life’s lessons gently while growing up in a beautiful universe where everybody was just like them:  rich, white, content.

The alternative to this universe was that of Mayberry, North Carolina:  quiet, tree-lined streets, colourful characters on every corner of the picturesque town; the most serious threat to the status-quo a possible brick through the window from Ernest T. Bass or a speeding New Yorker running the town’s only stop light (Danny Thomas, in the episode from Make Room For Daddy wherein Sherriff Andy and Mayberry’s cast of characters was introduced).  We ALL wanted to live in Mayberry, who wouldn’t???  It was perfect (just like Mayfield for the Cleavers, or Hillsdale for Ozzie and Harriet; heck, even the Ricardos moved to suburban heaven by packing up Little Ricky, Fred and Ethel and moving to Westport, Connecticut!).

None of this existed, except on television.  We, however, now pine for The Good Old Days---that weren’t.


All of the preceding by way of introducing my main topic:  the demise of an era in automotive history.

Chrysler has a somewhat checquered past; they’ve been at or near bankruptcy many times over their 80+ year life.  It’s a shame; I like Chryslers (really!).  They made very nice cars, usually more affordably than GM and Ford, with superior engineering.  I’ve owned several, and loved every one of them.

Pontiac, though, is tough.  I’ve owned one Pontiac my entire life, a 1980 Pontiac Bonneville Brougham, much more luxurious than the 1983 Cadillac for which I traded it.  It was a DIESEL, one of the infamous GM diesels which were converted 350 gas engines; those either lasted 300,000 miles or were junk in less than 30,000.  Mine was the former variety.  Not much pickup, but 30 mpg in a 4,000 lb luxury yacht. 

Pontiac is tough for me because my extended family owned a Chevrolet dealership for decades, and I can empathize with the Pontiac family dealerships that will be closing shortly.

“Truman Baker Chevrolet” is the way the cheery receptionist would always answer the phone there.  My great-uncle by marriage, Truman Baker, was a doughboy in World War I.  Returning from Europe, he faced the same trouble every other returning soldier has faced:  no jobs, nobody wanted him.  He found work in the oil fields of East Texas, saved and scraped as much money as he could, then went home to Searcy, Arkansas to go into partnership with his brother on a brand-new Chevrolet dealership.  At first, it was just the Baker brothers, a mechanic, and an office lady (a very young lady named Frances Ahlstrand, who worked for them until she died in the 1980’s; Frances was wonderful, I can still hear her voice).  Later, Truman bought his brother out.  His brother’s son, Wallace, wound up owning Wallace Baker Chevrolet in nearby Beebe.

My uncle, Horace Tarkington, married Truman and Roxie’s daughter Edna, went off to/came back from WWII, and went to work selling Chevrolets.  The company prospered, and my cousins Jim and Jeff came along, then I came along.

I remember going to Searcy to see them; Jeff and I were always close, and we had a lot of fun at “the company” playing in the cars.  We’d go out to the showroom and sit in the new cars, pretending to drive them.  Usually, somebody would grab us and lecture us affectionately about playing with the merchandise.  (To almost the last day they owned the Chevrolet/Buick company, whenever I’d go to Searcy, we’d go play in the cars—except, as adults, we’d have access to the KEYS…we must’ve test-driven every product Chevrolet made from 1970 or so through 2005).

Show day (new model introduction) was always a big deal.  They’d cover the windows of the big glass showroom downtown at Main and Race, hiding the new cars.  On Show Day itself, everybody would get All Dressed Up, there would be refreshments and sometimes live music, and the entire city would show up to see the new cars.

My cousins never got rich off the car company, but it made them all very, very comfortable.  Big houses, LOTS of cars, boats, lake houses, etc.  “Small Town Gentry”. 

In the 1990’s, they bought the Chrysler dealerships (Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, Jeep, Eagle), the Mazda dealership, and the Buick dealership in Searcy.  They moved the company out to a big new “family of dealerships” on US 67/167 (freeway).  I bought one of my one-and-only brand-new cars, a 1999 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, and drove it off the showroom floor on “Show Day”, the day the dealership opened.  That purchase later saved my life, as I was involved in an 80-mph collision with an 18-wheeler (he flipped over and landed in my lane) on the way to a Razorback game; the entire side of my car was destroyed, but I had not a scratch (the only damage was to my nerves, but I recovered). 

But all good things must come to an end, and the family sold the dealerships to one of these conglomerates for a nice profit.  They bought the Lincoln-Mercury dealership, sold it, and now have a “Used Car Lot” (Tarkington Automotive) specializing in late model, low mileage slightly used Luxury Cars (they are the unofficial BMW/Mercedes/Jag dealer in Searcy). 

My friend West Hornor in Helena West Helena, Arkansas has a very similar experience; his family owned a (rare) all-lines GM dealership there; he still has that dealership but is primarily a Toyota dealer now.  Still, West had the same experience---playing in the cars, growing up nice in a nice small town. 

Now we’re seeing the end of all that.  The article that sparked this reminiscence was this one in the New York Times, about a remarkably similar Pennsylvania Pontiac dealer. 

Ahh, the Good Old Days.  Sometimes they really WERE that good.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


One of the blogs I read (link here), Junkfood Science, has a funny take on the flumania permeating the news media. "By the end of the day, panic over swine flu had reached pandemic proportions, with more than 117,607 news stories appearing on Google News." (emphasis mine)

Ok, I think we should all be concerned about the flu (I am). CONCERNED. Not HYSTERICAL. Take reasonable precautions (make a conscious effort to wash your hands more frequently, avoid--if possible--airports and other big gatherings. Our church is suspending wine at Communion; some of the conventions have been cancelled or postponed (a good idea in potential pandemics); avoid people who are obviously sick. And if you do get sick: STAY HOME.

Other than that, there's no reason for this mass hysteria. Sensible precautions and then do the best you can and take your chances.


The Mexican toddler who died here in Houston ("CHILD DIES IN HOUSTON HOSPITAL FROM FLU!!!!!") was the grandson of the "Mexican Rupert Murdoch", a very wealthy gentleman who owns a huge string of newspapers, briefly owned United Press International, and is a member the board of the International Olympic Committee. His brother owns a string of radio stations and hospitals. His daughter was vacationing at South Padre with her family when the child became sick, and doctors there suggested he be sent to Texas Children's Hospital. There is an ugly rumor here that the family stopped off at the Galleria for a little shopping with the lad before heading on to the hospital, but I've not confirmed that with anything in any reliable news reporting organization.

In any event, it's sad he died, but it's not like the virus is spreading like wildfire through the barrios here. It's just more fun to report it that way. Channel 11 devoted 15 minutes of its morning news cast this morning to flu hysteria. I guess they're taking a break from gloom-and-dooming the economy.