We had this beautiful white toaster that did everything a toaster should do. It had all the bells, dials and buttons. It popped the toast up at just the right time and it was always perfect. Life was good.
I am sitting here reading double full page ads for firecrackers and an eight page fireworks ad insert. I am reading labels like "Master Blaster," "Five Inch Super Shells," "Dakota Dynamite," "Dakota Nightmare," "Dominator," "Cruze Missiles," and "Memory Surprise," and while I am reading and gritting my teeth, I have a memory surprise.
Pamela Lewis, who lived in New York City and has taught high school and middle school French for 30 years, has just been named America's Greatest Thinker. You may have read about this. The Cultural Center of New York Mills, Minn., has sponsored the Great American Think-off for 25 years. The Center considers itself a rural center for creativity, community vitality and lifelong learning of the arts.
There are many wonders in this great land ─ including the Grand Canyon of Arizona (averages 10 miles across and one mile deep) and Mount Denali (McKinley), 20,308 feet high in Alaska ─ but sometimes the most awesome wonders are the simplest.
Depending on what you do on the morning of the first day or seventh day of the week, you might consider this a crisis. According to census figures, approximately 40 percent of Americans consider themselves church members. In Canada, the figure is 20 percent and in Europe, it's 8 percent or less.
I had a choice and I didn't choose the easy way out. And, as we all know, there are consequences for the choices we make. When our old gas grill burned out and went to the heap where all burnt-out grills go, we went in search of a new cooking appliance. Ultimately, the choice narrowed down to two. Both required some assembly. My search took me to a store where the guy who assembles grills was right there assembling furniture. His name was Randy. But he had assembled the dozen or so grills available and he answered all my questions.
There is an expression that originated in Italy several centuries ago that goes "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Having been fooled a time or two, or three, I couldn't pass up the little book I saw in a bookstore lately with the catchy title, You Can Read Anyone and promised, "Never be fooled, lied to or taken advantage of again." I couldn't resist at the bargain price of $7.98. I wasn't preparing for any upcoming dramatic event, but I thought I'd learn some clever trick I could report in an article to you. Here is my report.
When President Abraham Lincoln was choosing his cabinet in 1860, he was advised to appoint a certain man. "No I won't," said Lincoln, "I don't like his face." The advisors couldn't believe their ears. "The poor man isn't responsible for his face" they argued. Lincoln had an answer: "Any man over 40 is responsible for his face." The fact of the matter was that the man in question was not physically ugly, but he had, in Lincoln's opinion, an overly pinched expression that created a bitter, disdainful look about him.
We've all had the same experience — a lawn mower engine that won't start. You pull the cord 50 times and sometimes it fires, but it never starts. But before you get the 50 pulls, the starter cord breaks and then you have two problems. There are physical and emotional effects that could lead to a heart attack, a temper tantrum or worse. I remember reading about a guy who lost it and put about eight bullets into his stubborn mower. I understood completely.
(Note: This article was first published for the graduating class of 2004. One mother wrote and told me she had it blown up to poster size and put it on the wall where her graduate and his friends couldn't miss it. Others have suggested I repeat the article. Here it is.)