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Welcome to Thinking Out Loud, a blog that contains postings from The Tampa Tribune’s Editorial Board and from various Tribune Community Columnists. Unlike the unsigned editorials that represent the newspaper’s institutional voice, the blog postings offer personal perspectives on the issues, personalities and events of Tampa Bay. We invite you to participate by posting your comments. We’ll do our best to respond.

Joe Guidry

Joe Guidry is the deputy editorial page editor of The Tampa Tribune. He is a Tampa native and a graduate of the University of South Florida. He is married and has an adult son.

Jeff Stidham

Jeff Stidham grew up and lives in Bartow. He has been with the Tribune for nearly 22 years, the last 10 on the editorial board.

William Yelverton

William Yelverton is a Tribune editorial writer who has worked for the paper nearly 22 years. He lives in the Dade City area.

Jim Beamguard

Jim Beamguard is a Tribune editorial writer. He is a native of North Carolina and a graduate of Davidson College. He and his family live in Brandon.

Jackie Papandrew:

Jackie Papandrew is a freelance writer and editor. Her syndicated humor column appears in publications in the United States, Canada and India. She lives in Largo with her husband and children. Visit her website at

Camille Beredjick

Camille Beredjick is a senior at Chamberlain High School, an avid musician and a scribbler with a quirky sense of humor. In the fall, she will be attending Northwestern University to study journalism, political science and music, and she plans to pursue a career in journalism.

Jim Harnish

Jim Harnish is in his 17th year as Senior Pastor at Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa. He and his wife, Marsha, have two daughters and two grandchildren. He is a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary and received the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Bethune-Cookman University. He is the author of six books and numerous articles and studies. He enjoys playing with his grandchildren and cheering for the Florida Gators.

Angela Hunt

Angela Hunt is a novelist living in Pinellas County with her husband and two 220-pound mastiffs.

Sheryl Young

Sheryl Young was a Tampa Tribune Community Columnist in 2005-2006. A freelance writer since 1997, including the Tampa Bay Business Journal, Tampa Style Magazines, St. Pete Times and nationally in Better Nutrition, Today’s Christian Woman and more. She’s received a First Place Amy Foundation national "Roaring Lambs" Writing Award, and has lived in Tampa Bay with her family for over 20 years.

Christie Gold

Christie Gold teaches English and journalism at Freedom High School in Tampa where she advises Revolution, the school newspaper. She has been both the Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year and Florida Journalism Teacher of the Year. She lives on a small farm in Wesley Chapel where she trains as a competitive equestrian.

Natalie D. Preston

Natalie D. Preston is a karaoke singing, only-child pouting, Seminole Tomahawk waving, newlywed bride blushing, 50-state traveling, girlie girl who loves to shop, read, run and jump up and down on her soapbox.

Fernando Figueroa

Fernando Figueroa is a researcher, educator and lives in Riverview.

Gary Beemer

Interests include humor, politics, economics, community and world affairs, finance, people, religion, music, sports, current events, the arts and education.

Nicole Yunger Halpern

Nicole Yunger Halpern is an undergraduate at Dartmouth College, where she studies everything she can get her nerdy little hands on. Desired major: life. No, not necessarily biology. Life.

Kris DiGiovanni

Kris DiGiovanni is a Tribune Community Columnist, Huffington Post contributor, Daily Kos diarist, and teacher, who recently moved from NW Hillsborough to another planet - a small beach community in Pinellas County. She also blogs at

H. David Braswell Jr.

H. David Braswell Jr. is an Information Systems Professional. He is a native New Yorker and a lifelong NY Giants fan. He attended college in California (Cal State Northridge) and moved to Tampa in 1998.

Sean Marcus

Sean Marcus teaches creative writing, journalism and reading at Chamberlain High School. He has one son and is expecting a daughter in early March. He can be reached at

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Santa Stopped by Today

Posted Dec 24, 2011 by Gary Beemer

Updated Dec 24, 2011 at 01:16 PM

I’m not sure how you feel about the new round of TV commercials dissing Santa Clause, but I find them a bit discouraging. You just don’t mess with the Jolly Old Elf, and you certainly don’t try to outdo him with the latest gaggle of electronic gadgets. The Santa tradition is about a benevolent soul who toils all year long with his elfin helpmates to produce toys that require skill to make, and imagination to play with. Tapping icons on a glass screen may stimulate many, but true genius lies in toys like wooden trains, erector sets, logs and Legos.
Today, a knock came at our door and we were given a very special gift that affirmed our belief that the Spirit of Santa lives on. Included with the gift was a short note, and instead of trying to paraphrase it, I’d like to share it with you word-for-word.

Merry Christmas! You are now the proud owner of a handcrafted, custom-made bread-board/cutting board. It was made with love by an old retired school teacher living in Florida! Your board is made of maple, cherry, sapele, and walnut. With minimum care your board should last a lifetime. Just remember, its only enemies are heat and moisture. After use, towel dry and prop up so that it can air-dry completely. Since using a board for raw meat requires extra thorough cleaning with soap and water, such use is not recommended. Never store near a window with direct sun, clean with strong chemicals or put in the dishwasher. Your board is finished with mineral oil to keep it water-proof and to assure a soft luster. This is the only finish approved for use on cutting boards and butcher-block surfaces, as it is non-toxic and will not spoil or go rancid. But it will not last forever. Depending on usage, it may need re-oiling every six months or so. To renew the finish on your board, apply a small amount of mineral oil onto each surface and rub into the wood with a paper towel.  Allow to air-dry for 24 hours, then buff briskly with a soft cloth. Your board is a unique, one-of-a-kind work of art that will last you for many years. And of course, it comes with a 100 year, money -back guarantee! If it ever breaks, warps, or separates, return to the old man in Florida for a complete refund..

Thank you David… and Merry Christmas! I’m certain that I will still have this thoughtful gift long after my gadgets have burned out and faded away.

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