Monthly Archives: December 2016

One challenging resolution

The new year, 2017, soon will be here, and so will I. I’ll be pondering the kind of New Year’s Resolution to try this time. One of them is to work on my second million dollars. I say it’s my SECOND million because I gave up on my attempt for the first million.

Do people even make resolutions anymore? It seems that some 20 or 30 years ago, such promises probably pre-occupied people. In much earlier installments of this column I’ve tried, albeit briefly and perhaps even half-heartedly, to choose one resolution and stick to it.

Some readers may remember that I published my weight each week for a couple of years. I urged readers to “keep me honest” and never to fear embarrassing me when discussing weighty issues. My promise then, and now, has been to report my weight honestly.

I began publishing my weight underneath my name at 234. What? I weighed that much?

During my teaching years, I hovered around 185. Suddenly, as I drew closer to retirement I tipped the scales at close to 200 pounds. It’s amazing how much difference a pound makes. As I stepped on to my very accurate scale at home, the night before, I weighed 199. The next morning — without my knowledge or consent — I’d reached the Big 200. Continue reading

Things becoming surreal

Without searching very hard, it’s possible to find many supposed awards bestowed on people and things.

Sports Illustrated treated LeBron James, the superstar of the often-luckless Cleveland Cavaliers to virtually its entire issue. It is true: LeBron is great, his having led his team to a national basketball championship (but the honor should have gone instead to Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors).

But let’s leave this session of “Coaches’ Corner.” The “award” I refer to now is what Mirriam-Webster, the dictionary publisher, calls the “Word of the Year.” That term, especially the “of the year” phrase must denote something special, along the lines of Man (or Woman or invention) of the Year, an honor bestowed by Newsweek or Time.

Before revealing that magnificent word, which some readers may already have learned about, let’s discus a few items that should be criteria for such a selection:

Things like the cell phone — which I am convinced every person on the planet owns — is an incredible invention, whose guts, contained in a unit thinner than a pack of cigarettes, contain more technology than some of those supercomputers that needed an entire building to contain them. Continue reading

A recipe for pugilists

I didn’t even recognize an old classmate as he rode his bike downtown and called me “Mannie,” which immediately told me I’ve known him since childhood.I believe his name is Leo. He told me that though he’d been reading Work of Art for years, he’d never made the connection. Leo said he especially liked “those articles about the fights we all used to have.”

That made me realize that in fact I have written quite a bit about a fight or several, usually in our barrio, the 900 block of Railroad Avenue. Let’s see: I’ve written about 750 columns. There are a slew of articles on language (my passion) and quite a few about school, travel, family, growing up, lost loves and my neighborhood, with its requisite fisticuffs.

Do I exaggerate the number of fights I witnessed or sometimes participated in during my childhood? I don’t think so, but my hesitation is based on the fact that now, in my late seventies, I’m not privy to much pugilism anymore. Continue reading

We needed rescuing

Many people my age are thankful for there being younger people around to figure out things we oldsters fail at.

Case in point, we received a text message from our former foreign exchange students, Phaedra Wouters and Ana Granado, asking us to join them for a conference call at 8 Sunday morning. This call differs from so many other kinds of calls we send and receive. We panicked, as the idea of being able to see the callers is a bit of a novelty.

Sure, we’ve talked (and seen) callers before, but we’ve never fully understood how to prepare for such a call.

First, this call involved three parties in three widely separate countries, Ana, Phaedra and us; second, it was to be on Skype, a program that lets us SEE the people we’re talking to, on our computers; and third, it was an international call, meaning that 8 a.m. our time in New Mexico equals 4 p.m. in Belgium and Spain, the home turfs of the girls we hosted all of the last school year while they attended West Las Vegas High School. Continue reading