The very first Bits & Pieces column was published on Oct. 5, 2004.

This is the 1,900th Bits & Pieces column that you and I have written together; that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of about 1.5 million words or roughly twice the size of the Holy Bible, both Old and New Testaments combined. That represents a lot of discussions between you and me.

Sometimes I feel I know some readers better than I know some members of my own family. It’s been a marvelous experience, and I wouldn’t have missed it for all the world.

The very first Bits & Pieces was published on Oct. 5, 2004 and was the result of several events that all seemed to come together at about the same time. Some might call it fate.

I had told my daughter Penelope (Penny) that coming up with new column ideas all the time for the column I was writing back then was the most difficult aspect of my job. She then suggested I write about something of interest, then ask readers for their opinions or comments on the matter, and print those.

Just a couple days later, a reader named Kathy Beaver, Ocala, told me about a column similar to that concept at a newspaper in Washington state where she had lived previously. I told then-Executive Editor Cherie Beers (now Cherie Foster) about it, and she told me to contact the columnist in Washington to get a better perspective on the concept. I did that, and then Cherie green-lighted the new column.

She wanted to call it just “Bits,” indicating it would be made of little bits of this and that while also invoking a piece of tack popular here in horse country. The Star-Banner news editor at that time, Joe Byrnes, discussed the concept with me, too — and he suggested “Bits” was a little austere, so he suggested “Bits and Pieces,” which Cherie approved, and thus was born this little column.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m in a whirlwind hanging on for dear life to that famous tiger’s tail we’ve all heard about, but it’s a pleasant feeling and one I’ve been fortunate to experience.

So, thanks to you, my readers, and to Penny and Kathy and Cherie, I now have something to keep me occupied during my retirement years. It’s much like a hobby, and it makes me a “Bit” of money, too — so thank you again, one and all! Here’s hoping we’re all good for ANOTHER 1,900 columns together!

CLEARING THE COBWEBS: I had written recently about how deep breathing can create a rejuvenating effect on a tired old body quickly and easily. Ocala’s Mary Ann Robertson then wrote: “Emory, funny that you had most of a recent column on breathing deeply.

“I have been doing this since I had some temporary amnesia about four years ago. During all of my hospital tests, I had the nicest therapist who showed me how to do this ‘miracle-working’ deep breathing. And, since then, I have practiced it EVERY DAY! And, I, too, feel MUCH better — AND, less stressed. Also, you are correct, it can cause giddiness, so I'm glad that you mentioned that, but more or less, that's the only negative side effect that I have experienced.”

QUESTIONS: Ocala’s Dolores Langley wrote: “Has anyone ever invented a mattress jack? The new mattresses are so thick and heavy. To top that off, they even removed hand grips on the side. It is hard for us seniors to hold the mattress up and slip the sheet on. I have arthritis in my hands, so it is painful. To turn the mattress without the grips is really a chore for us seniors.

”Next question: With all of the technology we have, smart phones, computers, cars that drive themselves, why are hearing aids so expensive for such a small thing? I have never seen advertised, refurbished or secondhand hearing aids. What happens to their hearing aids when people pass away? Hearing aids are $1,500 to $5,000. Most insurances do not cover hearing aids. Isn't that part of our health issues?”

Dolores, I can’t help you much with the mattress question, and I’m sort-of guessing here, but I know eyeglasses cannot be legally recycled inside the United States due to federal law and I suspect — without knowing for sure, mind you — that the same situation MAY apply to used hearing aids as well. All those used eyeglasses collected by the various Lions Clubs throughout the nation, are ALL shipped overseas because of that federal prohibition against recycling them domestically. Used hearing aids could fall into the same category.

RANDOM ACTS: We always encourage Random Acts of Kindness here, preferably performed for perfect strangers. Harold Imgrund, Ocala, wrote: “At a recent vacation outing in Biloxi, Mississippi, my wife and I were eating our last meal there so we made it a good one. The waitress came with the bill, and was given a card to pay for it. She came back, returned the card and said that someone else had paid for it.

“That ‘someone’ had paid $96 on our bill. All I can say is God bless the U.S.A.”

Please send your comments to slyguy73@gmail.com and include your FULL name and town. This column appears each Thursday and Saturday on page 1B and on-line at ocala.com.