My grandfather loved to tell stories, and I loved to listen. Papaw had two kinds of tales. “Whoppers” were stories with a whiff of truth, but which changed with each new telling. “Adventures” were stories that really happened, and the facts never changed when retold. One day my grandfather told a story that just seemed too far-fetched to be true. “Whopper,” I declared, but my grandfather insisted it was true. Although his telling never varied, I simply couldn’t believe it, it was that unusual.
When I teach English composition, I require students to write in class. I know that in-class writing is their own work, so in this way I become familiar with each student’s writing voice and am able to detect if they “borrow” a bit too heavily from another writer. Students are surprised to learn that their writing voice—which includes what they say as well as how they say it—is as distinctive as their speaking voice. Just as the words we speak come from our hearts, so do the words we write. They reveal who we are.
Sometimes cleaning out Grandpa’s attic pays off. For an Ohio man, it paid off in the discovery of a more than 100-year-old set of mint-condition baseball cards. Appraisers placed the cards’ value at $3 million.
Deborah Kendrick loves to attend Broadway musicals even though she is blind and always struggles to understand the setting and the movements of the characters onstage. Recently, however, she attended a play that used D-Scriptive, a new technology that conveys the visual elements of the stage production through a small FM receiver. A recorded narration, keyed to the show’s light and sound boards, describes the set and the action as it unfolds onstage. Writing in The Columbus Dispatch, Deborah said, “If you ask me if I saw a show last week in New York, my answer is yes . . . I genuinely, unequivocally mean that I saw the show.”
As I waited to make a right-hand turn at a busy intersection, an ambulance appeared over the crest of a hill, speeding in my direction. Someone behind me honked, urging me into the crossroads. I knew the ambulance would be unlikely to stop and that it could have been disastrous to make my turn. So I kept my foot on the brake pedal and stayed put.
Not far from where my husband and I live is a farm with a lot of horses. During certain seasons, some of the horses have masks over their eyes. For a long time I felt sorry for the horses who weren’t allowed to see. But then I learned that my assumption about the masks was wrong. The masks are made of mesh, so horses can see through them. But flies, which cause eye disease, can’t get through them. The masks don’t keep the horses from seeing; they keep them from going blind!
Written in the sixth-century bc by Chinese general Sun Tzu, The Art of War has been a guide for military thinking for centuries. But it has also been used by men and women in a wide variety of other arenas, including leadership, management, business, politics, and sports. What Sun Tzu wrote about military warfare can help followers of Christ to understand the tactics of our spiritual enemy: “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”
When FBI agents train bank tellers to identify counterfeit bills, they show them both fake money and real money, and they study both. To detect a counterfeit problem, they must look for the differences in the genuine bill compared to the counterfeit—and not the similarities.
It can be quite discouraging for wanna-be writers to get their work rejected time after time. When they send in a manuscript to a publisher, they’ll often hear back in a letter with these words: “Thank you. But your submission does not meet our needs at this time.” Sometimes this really means “not at this time—or ever.” So they try the next publisher and the next.