Byline: Stephanie Penick
Last year at this time, our country was in the middle on a contentious presidential campaign.
I'd already been to Sam's to buy my usual 16-pound stash of candy to hand out to the Halloweeners - that's what we called them back when I was one of them.
I also had just finished carving my Halloween pumpkins. Along with happy faces on the jack o' lanterns placed on my front porch, I carved "VOTE!" on other pumpkins to illuminate the path to my doorstep.
From 4 to 8 p.m., just as the year before and the year before that, the doorbell rang dozens and dozens of times. My dog, Prairie, barked every time and we greeted the trick-or-treaters - as we call them today - with a handful of Jolly Ranchers.
I wonder what it will be like tomorrow. News reports say patriotic themes are the costumes of choice - soldiers in camouflage fatigues, Statues of Liberty, firefighters, police officers.
I think I'll carve "PEACE" in one my pumpkins this year.
Hi there? Hey there? If I said "hey" to someone when I was a kid, an adult usually reprimanded me with the comment, "Hay is what they feed horses."
When my daughter went off to college four years ago, I began noticing a change whenever I called her. As soon as she heard my voice on the other end of the phone, she'd respond, "Hey." And she'd draw out the long A sound.
Then I noticed her two younger brothers began greeting their friends with "hey" as well. I thought it was a teen thing.
In recent months, I've noticed reporters on Fox cable news address each other with "Hey, Shep" or "Hey, Rita."
And some of my friends say "hey."
But it wasn't until last week when my editor wrote, "Hey, Stephanie," and I saw it in bold print right before my eyes, that I realized "hi" has turned to "hey" in many circles.
I think I'll carve "HEY" in my second pumpkin.
Call 'em by name: Readers of this column know how passionate I am about this newspaper. However, if you only read the newspaper, you might never know how to pronounce in public the names you read in private.
This is America, after all. In our language, there's an exception to just about every language rule.
Take my last name for example. How do you pronounce it?
My late father-in-law, a Southern gentleman, pronounced it "pea- nick"- and that's actually the correct way if you follow the rule that says a vowel is long when it's followed by a single consonant in a multisyllable word.
For obvious reasons, all of us Penicks up North much prefer the pronunciation that should be spelled with two Ns.
Lately, I've heard folks botch the names of Mayor George Pradel, City Manager Peter Burchard, park district Executive Director Ken Brissa and various other people in leadership positions whose names are in the news. …