Are you ready to celebrate . . . in warm temperatures? I am! I can't wait for the Strawberry Festival, Wingate Sweet Corn Festival, 4-H Fair and all the other great events coming this summer.

In two years we have the opportunity to make them even more special. We are being encouraged to brand our events with the Indiana bicentennial.

Before he left office, Gov. Mitch Daniels established a commission headed by Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and former Congressman Lee Hamilton to plan for our state's bicentennial in 2016.

Today the commission includes Indiana's first lady Karen Pence and some other people you might recognize: Tony George and Justice Randall Shepard.

Go to the website There you will find all kinds of information about plans for our bicentennial.

You know, in 1976 I really didn't pay much attention to our nation's bicentennial plans. "OK, so we're 200 years old," I thought. "Big deal."

Then, July 4 rolled around. I awoke in a motel somewhere in Nebraska or Kansas, on my way to a convention in Denver, Colo. I turned on the TV and Omigosh! Walter Cronkite was the anchor for a huge program of festivities from various locations, honoring our nation's 200th birthday and I almost missed it!

That won't happen with our state's bicentennial. I am excited. We have two years to plan and execute those plans.

We really need to do a bang up job of saying, "Hey, World, Indiana is the best place to live and work. We're 200 years old and we're proud to be Hoosiers!"

By the way, where did the name "Hoosier" come from? There are lots of stories but the one that makes the most sense to me so far is that in the pioneer days, when a stranger came to the door, he was usually greeted by, "Who's here?"

If you have a better answer, let me know!

By the way, in my novel, "Living in Victory," the main character made a comment about "Buckeyes" in Ohio, comparing them to Hoosiers. The character asked, "What's a buckeye, anyway?"

Paul Fischer at Alamo not only knew the answer but he gave me one. It's a dark brown nut with a tan circle on it that looks sort of like it was a buck's eye. Seems appropriate Ohio residents would be compared to nuts! (I'm laughing.)

So tell me about the term, "Hoosier!" Educate me on Indiana lore and start thinking about our bicentennial.

Hasn't this been the hardest winter in decades? I have a photo of my 1974 Pinto stopped on U.S. 136 near New Ross after the blizzard of '78. The car looks like it was parked in a toboggan run! Wish I would have thought to bring it in earlier this year. Oh, well, we still have some winter left this year and, who knows, next year could be worse!

By the way, my "thanks" to the snow plow driver who was a real "gentleman." We were following him, glad he was removing the snow on the road ahead of us. Then, he decided to pull over to let us pass. Thanks, buddy. Oh well, I'm sure he meant well.