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After work ethic's gone

I woke up feeling lazy and illiterate, so I don't think I'll be able to give this column my best effort.

This wouldn't have happened had I not lost my work ethic. I don't know what happened to it. I remember leaving it on a table with my car keys, but then it disappeared.

Anyway, I'm writing this on a Friday and you're reading it on a Monday and as our brethren across the Pacific are fond of reminding us, we only work at half-speed on those days.

So, here are some notions and random thoughts for you to chew on while you open your Presidents Day presents (I got a Jimmy Carter "I-never-lie" tie and a recording of the TV jingle, "If I could be like Ike").

Several weeks ago, I told you about Bob and Judy Traugott of Sugarmill Woods. They're the couple who are circulating petitions calling for our elected leaders to forgo their own top-of-the-line, taxpayer-paid health care plans until the rest of America gets the same sort of coverage.

At the time, the Traugotts had collected about 500 signatures from petitions around Citrus County. The local groundswell is now growing into a national tsunami. (That's the Japanese word for what's popularly known as a tidal wave. Better start learning the lingo.)

People have been sending copies of the petition, and that column, to friends and relatives across the land, Traugott said last week. There are now petitions working in Oregon, California, Illinois, Indiana and Florida locales from the Panhandle to Miami.

Traugott said he makes four copies of each filled petition and sends one to the White House and one each to Sens. Bob Graham and Connie Mack and Rep. Cliff Stearns. So far, he notes, none of the pols has responded.

One representative has reacted, however. Rep. Andy Jacobs of Indiana said the Traugotts should have included generals, admirals and other top brass in their net. Traugott might just do that.

If you're interested in getting a petition, call 382-1129. If you don't reach Bob or Judy, you'll love their answering machine message.

While heading home the other day, I saw a dreaded sight in my rearview mirror: flashing police lights. Balderdash (or words to that effect), I muttered as I pulled onto the right of way, waiting for the cop and ticket.

I wondered what was going on because, this time, I knew I wasn't speeding. The police love to hide in the bushes along this stretch of highway, and I always creep along with my head on a swivel, looking out for them.

Imagine my surprise when the cruiser roared by and flagged down the leadfoot in front of me.

Definitely one of life's Top 10 great feelings.

Is anyone else perplexed by the sudden interest that County Judge Gary Graham has shown in the institution of marriage?

In two recent cases, Graham has made a defendant's marital status central in a courtroom discussion. He told one man he was showing a "fundamental disrespect" for his girlfriend by not marrying her. He darn near married another man right there in court. All the bewildered man had asked for was a break in his jail sentence, not a lifetime commitment.

This marriage fixation struck me as odd, considering the judge is one of Citrus County's most eligible bachelors.

It also reminded me of something an old Italian uncle used to say about priests who ran marriage preparation classes: If you no play the game, you no make-a the rules.

Observant readers may have noticed a new face gracing the inside pages of the Citrus Times these days. Meet Mary Ann Koslasky, who came to newside after serving as a Times carrier for nearly a year.

I was going to describe her background, but she did a much better job of it than I could. Here it is:

"An almost-50 grandmother of one and mother of two who moved to Florida in late 1989 from Ohio, I spend my time away from work spoiling my husband and three cats. My interests include public speaking as a member of Toastmasters International, reading, crocheting, crafts, and lots of people-watching.

"With a background of 14 years in banking, it was obvious to me that I belonged in the communications business. I was editor of my high school newspaper, on the debating club and the Junior Council on World Affairs.

"As a teen-ager, I entered the Seventeen magazine story-writing contest, once winning an Honorable Mention. My letters to the editor often caused a flurry of interest up North.

"I am strongly opinionated, but wisely open-minded. Good food, good company and intelligent conversation are three of my favorite things. Cats and fast cars are the others.

"Do I like Florida? I remain wisely open-minded."