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WITandWISDOM(tm) - June 8, 2001
Constant thankfulness makes a human magnet out of a common personality. - Author Unknown
Source: Peter's Pearls, http://www.peterspearls.com.au
~~~~~~~ SPECIAL THOUGHTS:
By Michael T. Powers
I was exhausted from working my two jobs over the weekend and was not looking forward to the graduation ceremony. I have been to many graduations and I know how boring they are for most people. To top everything off, my wife and I had our two kids under the age of three with us. Both of the kids were squirming and whining, and I knew it was going to be a long afternoon. Our sole comic relief came when my three-year-old patted and rubbed the head of a bald man we did not know in front of us. As the ceremony dragged on I kept thinking of all the places I would rather be, and made up my mind that I wasn't going to enjoy myself.
It was your ordinary graduation ceremony: a hot, sweaty auditorium filled with people fanning themselves with their programs, listening to speech upon boring speech, and the endless calling of names as each matriculator walked across the stage to grab this piece of paper that symbolized his or her academic accomplishment. It was getting harder and harder to pay attention. Just as my attitude started to go sour, they began calling out the graduate's names. The classmates formed a single file line and made their way up towards the podium.
That's when I caught my first close-up glimpse of Kim. She looked up at us and was trying in vain to hold back the tears. She was not doing a good job of it. Believe me, holding back emotions is not something that Kim does very well. There she was, standing in line, about to receive her diploma, and she was probably thinking about a number of things. Maybe her dad who passed away a few years ago and didn't get to see her reach her goal, or her grandmother, who also passed away recently, and who had always wanted to attend college, but her family didn't have the money...
For me it was like something from a movie. You know, the dramatic slow motion scene where all the crowd noise grows quiet, and the camera slowly moves up on her face as the tears begin to fall. She was a good distance away from us, but to me it was as if she were standing in front of me. That simple act of looking up at those loved ones who had come to watch her graduate, and gently rubbing the tears of joy, accomplishment, and pride out of her eyes really got through to me. The selfishness in me melted away, and I realized why I was there and not somewhere else.
"KIMBERLY ANNE CONWAY, GRADUATING MAGNA CUM LAUDE," came booming over the auditorium's sound system, and she walked gracefully across the huge stage and received this piece of paper that symbolized so many things to her. Then just before she walked off the stage, she turned around towards those who had come to share the day with her, and, with the brightest smile on her face, waved and grinned at us like a little girl getting on the school bus for the first time.
I glanced at my wife, and saw the tear-drops roll gently down as the love she had for her sister manifested itself on her face.
You see, Kim is not your ordinary college graduate. She is thirty-eight years old, and has stuck with her goal of graduating from college for the past twenty years. It's not like she is going to look back on that part of her life, sigh, and say, "College... the best twenty years of my life!" She attended college while working full time, and she studied extremely hard, especially the past couple of years as she pushed toward her goal of a college degree. Many times she felt like quitting, and, if it weren't for her support group of other nontraditional students that cared for her, she would have given up on her goal. Many times she would call one of the other students she knew and tell them she wanted to quit, and would be talked out of it. Then a while later this student would call her and say she wanted to quit and Kim would talk her out of it... (Luckily, they both didn't want to quit at the same time!)
I have the utmost respect for Kim. It takes a special person to stick with a goal as long as she has. I attended college for three years when I got out of high school, but I stopped when I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life. Many times I have looked back and wished that I had stuck with it and gone on to be a high school teacher. If for no other reason, I wish I had finished something that I had started.
I know what it feels like to walk out of that last final exam of the semester, breathe in the fresh air just outside the doors of the university, and feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off your shoulders for at least a little while. I can't even begin to imagine what it felt like for Kim after so many years...
I love you, Kim, and I want you to know that I admire you for that symbolic piece of paper that will soon adorn a wall in your house.
In the words of Caleb, my three-year-old: "HAPPY GRADULATION, AUNT KIMMY!"
By Michael T. Powers, Thunder27@AOL.com
The above story is from Michael's new book: Straight From the Heart: "A Celebration of Life." which was just released this week! To read more of his stories or to get your own autographed copy, visit his web site at: http://www.storiesfrommyheart.com/
~~~~~~~ THIS & THAT:
THE TEN BEST TOOLS OF ALL TIME
Forget the Snap-On Tools truck; it's never there when you need it. Besides, there are only ten things in this world you need to fix any car, any place, any time.
1. DUCT TAPE:
Not just a tool, a veritable Swiss Army knife in stickum and plastic. It's safety wire, body material, radiator hose, upholstery, insulation, tow rope, and more in one easy-to-carry package. Sure, there's a prejudice surrounding duct tape in concourse competitions, but in the real world everything from LeMans - winning Porsches to Atlas rockets - uses it by the yard. The only thing that can get you out of more scrapes is a quarter and a phone booth.
Equally adept as a wrench, hammer, pliers, baling wire twister, breaker-off of frozen bolts, and wiggle-it-till-it -falls off tool. The heavy artillery of your toolbox, Vice Grips are the only tool designed expressly to fix things beyond repair.
3. SPRAY LUBRICANTS:
A considerably cheaper alternative to new doors, alternators, and other squeaky items. Repeated soakings of WD-40 will allow the main hull bolts of the Andrea Dora to be removed by hand. Strangely enough, an integral part of these sprays is the infamous little red tube that flies out of the nozzle if you look at it cross-eyed, one of the ten worst tools of all time.
4. MARGARINE TUBS WITH CLEAR LIDS:
If you spend all your time under the hood looking for a frendle pin that caromed off the peedle valve when you knocked both off the air cleaner, it's because you eat butter. Real mechanics consume pounds of tasteless vegetable oil replicas, just so they can use the empty tubs for parts containers afterward. (Some, of course, chuck the butter-colored goo altogether or use it to repack wheel bearings.) Unlike air cleaners and radiator lips, margarine tubs aren't connected by a time/space wormhole to the Parallel Universe of Lost Frendle Pins.
5. BIG ROCK AT THE SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Block up a tire. Smack corroded battery terminals. Pound out a dent. Bop nosy know-it-all types on the noodle. Scientists have yet to develop a hammer that packs the raw banging power of granite or limestone. This is the only tool with which a "made in India" emblem is not synonymous with the user's maiming.
6. PLASTIC ZIP TIES:
After twenty years of lashing down stray hoses and wired with old bread ties, some genius brought a slightly slicked up version to the auto parts market. Fifteen zip ties can transform a hulking mass of amateur-quality rewiring from a working model of the Brazilian rain forest into something remotely resembling a wiring harness. Of course, it works both ways. When buying used cars, subtract $100.00 for each zip tie under the hood.
7. RIDICULOUSLY LARGE STANDARD SCREWDRIVER WITH LIFETIME GUARANTEE:
Let's admit it. There's nothing better for prying, chiseling, lifting, breaking, splitting, or mutilating than a huge flat-bladed screwdriver, particularly when wielded with gusto and a big hammer. This is also the tool of choice for oil filters so insanely located they can only be removed by driving a stake in one side and out the other. If you break the screwdriver - and you will, just like Dad or your shop teacher said - who cares? It's guaranteed.
8. BAILING WIRE:
Commonly known as MG muffler brackets, bailing wire holds anything that's too hot for tape or ties. Like duct tape, it's not recommended for concourse contenders since it works so well you'll never replace it with the right thing again. Bailing wire is a sentimental favorite in some circles, particularly with MG, Triumph, and flathead Ford set. It is not generally common knowledge that bailing wire may be purchased at many hardware and auto stores under the heading "mechanics wire." However, this commercial reproduction is generally considered not as reliable as the original rusty and bent version.
9. BONKING STICK:
This monstrous tuning fork with threatening pointy ends is technically known as a tie-rod- end separator, but how often do you separate tie-ends? Once every decade, if you're lucky. Other than medieval combat, its real use is the all purpose application of undue force, not unlike that of the huge flat-bladed screwdriver. Nature doesn't know a bent metal panel or frozen exhaust pipe that can stand up to a good bonking stick. (Can also be used to separate tie-rod ends in a pinch, of course, but does a lousy job of it).
10. A Quarter and a Phone Booth:
(See #1 above.)
~~~~~~~ KEEP SMILING:
Watching the television news, we find that our highways aren't safe, our streets aren't safe, our parks aren't safe ... but under our arms we've got complete protection.
Source: Kitty's Daily Mews, Copyright (c) 1997-2001 All rights reserved worldwide, http://www.katscratch.com/
AOL plays the "You've got mail!" thing every time new mail arrives. Is there a way to do something similar with Outlook Express?
Yes! Go to the Start button, Settings, Control Panel. Open the Sounds icon. Find the "New Mail Notification" item. Click the "Browse" button and locate a sound file you would like to use instead. Hit OK and you're all set.
If you aren't happy with the Windows sounds that are available, head to your favorite search engine and look for "wave" files. You can use any wave file you locate in your Windows sound scheme.
What do you do when you locate wave files on the web? Most of the time, you can click a link to the file to hear the sound. If you like it, right-click the link and select "Save target as" from the resulting menu. Save the file to a location you'll remember then head back to the "Sounds" screen (under the control panel), select the sound item you want the new sound for, then browse to the file you just downloaded.
Source: Computer Tips, http://www.coolnewsletters.com