I just learned there is a school in London called the School of Life. It was founded in 2008 by a philosopher named Alain de Botton as an educational company focused on how to live wisely and well. It has branches in Antwerp, Amsterdam, Berlin, Istanbul, Melbourne, Paris, Sao Paulo, Sydney, Seoul and Tel Aviv. None, apparently in the United States. Is that because we already live wisely and well here or that we just don't care?
We'll call him Ali, though that's not his real name. Makes no difference for this true story. The young man's parents were born in one Middle Eastern country, and Ali was born in another Middle Eastern country, (both Muslim-majority countries) after his parents moved there. Today he lives alone in Fargo. Ali was not considered a citizen in the country where he grew up, because his parents weren't born there and were considered foreigners. For this reason, Ali could not get an education at home.
The day America stopped drinking coffee was one of the biggest national disasters since The Day the World Ran Out of Denim, which I told you about in this column and in a book by that name years ago. The denim panic accelerated when denim was faded, denim outfits had to have little patches, and dresses and suits of denim hit the markets. Suddenly, denim disappeared except what the hoarders had hidden away and what little could be found on the what was called the "blue market." It was ugly and I won't repeat it now. Obviously, we survived and came out of it.
Every year about this time, the Motion Picture Academy makes a major production out of awarding Oscars to the best actors, actresses, movies, music, sound effects (24 categories) of the motion pictures for this past year. This year was the 89th year. The ceremony goes on and on for hours and it's pure glitz — the ultimate in expensive shoes, dresses and jewelry, the ultimate in plunging necklines, bald egos and long speeches — almost nothing that ordinary folks can relate to.
Remember the panic of Y2K? As the calendar turned toward the end of the 20th century, many believed that our computers would not make the transition from 1999 to 2000. As a result, the computers controlling our banking systems, our hospitals, and our air control system would fail at midnight on December 31, 1999, and our bank accounts would be wiped out, our life support systems would come to a halt and patients would die on the operating table and airliners flying at midnight would crash because air controllers would be unable to communicate with pilots.
I was in this waiting room waiting for my appointment. The magazines were mostly out of date and on subjects that weren't of much interest to me — autos, diabetes, cooking and big game hunting. Taking the least disinteresting, I selected the big game hunting magazine and was flipping through the pages.
Is it possible to break a federal law while watching a Little League baseball game? Yes, and you can break the same law before a junior varsity, varsity, World Series, Rose Bowl or Super Bowl game. And if you watch carefully, you will see the law being broken on national television, witnessed by millions, just before the Super Bowl game on Feb. 5.
Kyle Schwartz is a third-grade teacher at Doull Elementary in Denver who wanted to get to know her students better, so she asked each of them to finish the sentence "I wish my teacher knew..." The responses she got were so startling that Schwartz, now in her fifth year of teaching, put them in a book, "I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything For Our Kids." Other teachers are now doing the same thing. The answers that kids give help the teachers to understand what they are going through, enabling the teachers to support them and help them cope.
What's the best thing to do with an apple that has a patchy skin? Eat it. What's the worst thing to do with blemished oranges? Throw them away. There is a nonprofit called Imperfect Produce dedicated to the proposition that blemished food should not be thrown away just because it is unsightly. It is estimated that in the U.S., up to 40 percent of food goes to waste, partly because farmers throw away a good deal of their less-than-perfect produce because it isn't pretty enough to meet the expectations of retailers.
I've been window shopping the list of New Year's resolutions just to see what's cool this year. Not with the idea of buying in, but just out of curiosity. It appears that a healthier diet (and loss of weight) and more exercise are still in the top three, but number one is to be a better person in 2017.