Friday, October 31, 2008
Americans now believe that every young person can benefit from going to college, said Marty Nemko. It's just not so. For students who graduate high school in the bottom 40 percent of their class, college is usually a waste of money: More than two-thirds of such students who enroll as freshman, research shows, fail to earn a college degree. Colleges, which are businesses first and foremost, gladly admit these ill-prepared students, cashing their tuition payments but doing little to prepare them for the real world. When they wind up dropping out, these failed students leave campus "with a mountains of debt and devastated self-esteem from their unsuccessful struggles." When high school students show no aptitude for or interest in academics, their parents do them no favors by insisting on college. Such young people are far better off earning a career-oriented associate degree at a community college, joining the military, or enrolling in job-training programs in a thriving small business. They may not get an expensive diploma to hang on the wall - but they will get the skills they need to hold good jobs and lead happy, productive lives.
They're afraid they'll relax and unwind.
It's perfect for Halloween, but it also applies to a lot of mummies I know - if they relax too much, they might not be willing to take up the yoke again when the vacation is over...
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
My indebtedness to the Atlantic Ocean must be acknowledged first. In perverse conspiration with the S.S. Nieuw Amsterdam, it lengthened my crossing to Europe and compelled me to remain in my stateroom for the greater part of the journey. To this forced immobilization can be attributed the first sixty-two pages of this thing. For continued encouragement, I am deeply grateful to G.D. Searle and Company, makers of Dramamin, a new seasickness remedy.
Thanks are in order to the Pullman Company, whose new type of automatic folding toilets makes me appreciate the joys of staying home. To home, where a defective incinerator poisons my daily life, thanks for making me appreciate the joys of travel. For continual criticism of what I was thinking, doing, planning to do or write, thanks to my beloved wife, Viola, without whom this book might otherwise have been much longer. Selection of the text was greatly facilitated by my secretary, Miss Peters, whose well-timed loss of a particularly boring chapter in a New York taxicab led to its complete elimination, and my blissful relief. To the mosquitoes who made writing unbearable on the beach at Porquerolles, and chased me to Zermatt, I must credit a lovely month of June in the shadow of the Matterhorn.
To the makers of my ball point pens, may I extend the thanks of the dry cleaning industry, which has been kept busy removing spots from most of my bedsheets, pajamas, tablecloth, evening shirts, white poodles, upholstery, and Lanvin neckties during the genesis of this book. To the airlines, thanks are in order for the countless hours of leisurely waiting at airports and bus terminals, where many chapters have been written on empty popcorn boxes, travel folders to Mexico, and other deadly airline literature. Acknowledgements are in order to Ella, my cook, who reduced the printing cost of this book by conveniently dropping a saucerful of hollandaise on a batch of illustrations, thereby materially cutting down printing expenses.
Finally, my heartfelt thanks to my dear friend Peggy (Mrs. Howard) Cullman, who, after reading the first two parts of the ms., assured me that she had read much worse, thereby supplying the final dose of enthusiasm that I so badly needed to finish the job.
He got his revenge on the airline industry, at least, with a detailed description of a fiasco of a trip across the US.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Recently I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport. They had announced the departure. Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the mother said, "I love you and I wish you enough." The daughter replied, "Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom." They kissed and the daughter left.
The mother walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see she wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on her privacy but she welcomed me in by asking, "Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?"
"Yes, I have," I replied. "Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?"
"I am old and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is - the next trip back will be for my funeral," she said.
"When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, 'I wish you enough'. May I ask what that means?"
She began to smile. "That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone." She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail and she smiled even more. "When we said , 'I wish you enough', we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them." Then turning toward me, she shared the following as if she were reciting it from memory.
"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more. I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting. I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger. I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye."
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
One advantage to her approach to clothing is that I can easily read her mood just by looking at what she is wearing. Another is that she always looks great.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
By noon, half the leaves on the ash tree were gone, and by late afternoon, there were about 8 leaves left on it. The forecast is for 4-6 inches of snow in the valley tonight.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
I prefer to teach literature in context, so that the stories inform the study of history and culture, while the history clarifies and enriches the stories. Basho's haiku illustrate the medieval Japanese aesthetic, and the aesthetic explains the haiku; in a vacuum, the haiku is just pretty words. Plato's scheme to take children away from their parents and raise them communally makes sense now that I know that in his time, scheming parents maneuvering to position their children well were a major threat to the stability of Athens. Literature gains immensely in power when the context is known, even imperfectly.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
The second article was about large-animal veterinarians, especially those who work with cows, pigs, sheep, and other food animals. They are getting harder to find, apparently because kids aren't growing up on family farms and learning about the animals early. Without hands-on experience, kids don't have the interest or the background to follow the profession.
So thanks to our increasing emphasis on computers and urban living, we may be starving our construction and agricultural future. That is good news for the few people who do want to build things or take care of farm animals, but not for the rest of us.