Memorial Day weekend is upon us.
Once upon a time that meant a somber day of reflection on the sacrifices made to preserve our freedom. My parents and grandparents still called it Decoration Day and we visited cemeteries in Illinois from Christopher to Mulkeytown to Murphysboro, leaving flowers on the graves of loved ones.
From shortly after the Civil War until 1971, Memorial Day was on May 30 regardless of the day of the week. Then, though, a 1968 law kicked in making Memorial Day a three-day weekend but putting it on the last Monday in May.
It became the unofficial beginning of summer. It became a weekend of Memorial Day sales.
And for many, that Monday remained a quiet day of reflection. For others, it became of weekend of camaraderie, cookouts and canned beer.
Nothing wrong with a few beers with friends and family in the days leading up to Memorial Day as long as you underscore "a few."
Unfortunately, the three- day weekend has become deadly on our roads. That's why you'll see more police than usual. Because, you know, we'll behave if we believe we're being watched.
Many of us anyway. Others will drink and drive.
Which brings me to the point of this column. My columns often have them.
Every day I get what's known as "pitches." That's when PR people ask you for your services: read and review the latest and greatest books, for example. Titles such as "The Trump Presidential Playbook" and "The Ten Prison Commandments." You have my word there is no implied connection there. Those are just random, but real, titles.
Just as I'm sure it was a coincidence when Meagan at Dittoe PR thought I'd be just the person to review the AlcoMate Revo, AK Global Tech's latest breathalyzer.
My first thought was, very funny, Ron. Ron's my big brother and he's been pulling my leg so long I'm surprised I don't list when I walk.
But no, it was legit. I know because they actually sent me an AlcoMate. The big deal, I learned, is it comes with Pre-calibrated Replaceable Intelligent Sensor Modules. That, the company says, means you don't have to mail it in to get it recalibrated, you just put a new sensor module in. AK Global says that means it will last longer because other lesser breathalyzers have a single sensor that eventually wears out.
Here's how it works: It comes with a pouch so you can carry it around. It also comes with disposable tubes that you insert into the gizmo and blow until you hear a "click." (Maybe my sedentary lifestyle has left me a little short winded but I swear just as I thought my eyeballs were about to bolt from their sockets, the demon machine clicked.)
I think they should market it as an ice-breaker for cocktail parties. For younger men. I already have a wife who thinks I'm nuts.
Anyway, after driving around for a few weeks and forgetting that the AlcoMate was in the glove box, (and a few more good-natured inquiries from Meagan about how the review was coming) I decided to find a less dangerous testing ground.
So I cracked open a beer and got on Facebook.
And about the time a friend of a friend called me a "pea-brained libertard," (the equivalent of a trooper saying, "license and registration, please"), I thought it might be a good time to check my blood-alcohol content.
When I finally heard that famous "click," I registered a .11. Time to hand over the keys to the internet and slink to the recliner.
Three takeaways from my extensive testing. Don't drink and drive (or Facebook). AlcoMate will tell you that you are more blasted than you think you are (if you aren't too blasted to remember to use it). And the $219 price tag only seems steep until you consider the cost of a DUI, or worse, a horrendous crash.
Oh, I almost forgot the fourth takeaway: Don't call someone Dick on Facebook unless his name is Richard.
Contact Paul Hampton, politics editor of the Sun Herald, at 228-896-2330 or firstname.lastname@example.org