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Thanksgiving and Gratitude without either word

Clark Smith, my friend of long standing, likes, at Thanksgiving, to read aloud the introduction to Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. Bryson never mentions the words gratitude or thanksgiving, but I, like Clark feel those emotions are implied.

Not only have you been lucky enough to be attached since time immemorial to a favored evolutionary line, but you have also been extremely-make that miraculously-fortunate in your personal ancestry. Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth's mountains and rivers and oceans, every one of your forebears on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from its life's quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result-eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly-in you.

College Jobs: WBZ

When it used to be possible to have your gas pumped, despite the extra cost, I had the attendant pump it because “I didn’t pay $10,000 for an MIT education so I could pump my own gas.” I really did pay $10,000; my dad’s $1,600 covered a little of my room and board. MIT asked him to take out a mortgage on his mortgage-free house to pay my tuition. How he laughed.

Many scholarship students of my acquaintance at MIT made their money shelving books or bussing tables at the Institute, or working in retail. I was fortunate; I never had to do any of those things. Well, I did 15 minutes in retail once while someone was on a break, but I don’t think that counts.

Thanks to the First-Class Radiotelephone Operators’ Permit that I earned during and because of attendance at Benson Polytechnic, I was qualified for a wide range of broadcasting jobs. I was a summer relief cameraman and overnight-shift master-control operator at KGW-TV. I minded directional antenna arrays at WCRB and KKEY. I was a master control operator and did lighting (big flat lights for Community Auditions) during an ill-advised full-time term-time job at WBZ-TV. All these jobs involved commutes.

You haven’t lived until you’ve commuted by bike from the Back Bay to WBZ’s Soldiers Field Road studio during a rainy Boston summer, over the streetcar tracks and through Boston’s cow-path street system. Ah, how I missed the rectangular street grids of the West.

Things My Mother Said: Grandmother Edition

My German-Swiss paternal grandmother, Gert, was a great believer in maxims. She told me that if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

Gert offered practical advice; no one ever got a dish or plate clean with a towel. I do that occasionally now and think of her while I’m doing it.

Gert loved the English translation of an old German maxim “We get too soon old and too late smart.”

Gert frequently called me a dummer Esel (dumb ass). And she used the German phrase Scheiß die Wand an, which literally means shit on the wall, but translates as “to hell with it.” She also said, “Zum Teufel mit ihnen,” meaning, literally, To The Devil With You.

What Counts?

“Not everything worthwhile can be measured, and not everything that can be measured is worthwhile.” Or, to put it another way, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” Attributions for these quotes are so dubious I shan’t repeat them here. We’ll just let it go at anonymous.

This and That

American Management In Brief
Best interpretation of today's corporate world. From LinkedIn

Inspiring Teacher Story
Teachers do make a difference. From LinkedIn via Michael Dortch

Funny Because It’s True
Don’t Jump To Conclusions. Also from LinkedIn

Of-ten or Off-en
Now matter how often I hear it, when people pronounce the “t” in often, it drives me crazy. The dictionary says both are correct. The dictionary is wrong. Rain down your Pet Peeves on this subject.

Book Review: Luck Off and Fly

The latest installation of H. Claire Taylor’s comedy science fiction series, Luck Off and Fly, is another impressive piece of work. And that is a definition of impressive with which I WAS previously familiar. Luck, the incompetent Texan thrown into a leadership position for which she is clearly unqualified, continues to muddle through somehow, just as she did in her third Sophomore Year at the UT in Austin. Somehow she ends up on a planet where everyone looks like an ex-boyfriend of hers. Improbable? Blame it on the improbability waves. An enjoyable and entertaining excursion through worlds of imagination, filled with colorful characters and bizarre aliens.