Friday, July 11, 2014

Just a Word

Ah, Oxford!

I’m pretty sure that it’s is where geeky people go when they die (well, at least that’s my plan).

I mean, what’s not heavenly about a collection of 38 colleges in a beautiful setting?

And then, of course, it includes the mega-nerd bonus…

Yep, that’s Logic Lane.

Anyway, for over a century All Souls (ahem, geeky souls… see above) College of Oxford had a very special test to help them choose which student would receive a 7-year fellowship.

It was an exam created to bring the most brilliant minds to their metaphorical knees 

The one-word essay.

Students seated for this task would have an envelope placed into their trembling hands. Within that envelope (gulp!) was a single white card. And on that card (gasp!) was just one word.

The students would then be asked to write coherently, creatively, and brilliantly about that word for three solid hours.

Each year, THE WORD was a closely guarded secret that everyone wanted to know. In fact, THE WORD held such allure that even the townsfolk couldn't wait to find out. 

Crowds would gather outside the exam hall just so they could be the first ones to roll THE WORD off their tongues. Americans, think Black Friday and a Talking Elmo special  yeah, it was THAT big.

Alas, that is all part of the past now. It was a sad day in 2010 when All Souls College discontinued the practice. Apparently they ran out of words

These days, the students write essays about the classics, politics, and philosophy. As for the townsfolk  they remain in front of their tellies, never missing the latest advert for Talking Elmo.

But to think, for over a century that essay actually determined the future of a whole lot of… well… souls.

Never underestimate the power…

of just one word.

PROMPT: Take your own All Souls College exam to test your mettle today. Here are a few of the famous last words used over the years: POSSESSIONS, MERCY, STYLE, NOVELTY, WATER, MIRACLES. Pick one and go!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Blinded by Science… Fiction!

Do you prefer ray guns to Rachel Ray?

When I say wormhole, do your thoughts have nothing to do with burrowing insect larva?

Do you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that telepathy, telekinesis, and teleportation are NOT the names of the three straight Teletubbies?

If you answered yes to all three questions, then you may be a sci-fi fanatic. And if you are a sci-fi fanatic, I suggest that you get your mutant android self to a local library or newsstand to pick up a Popular Science magazine.

I checked out one of these bad boys last week, and it was chock-full of plot potential. However, some of the plots I found would probably NOT make for pleasant bedtime reading… Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

One article featured NYU bioethics professor S. Matthew Liao who suggested that we reengineer humans so they’re less of a burden for old Mama Earth. 

He proposed that doctors use in-vitro fertilization to select only embryos with genes for short stature  because tiny folks leave tinier carbon footprints. 

Gee, I guess Randy Newman was dead wrong back in 1977  Short People DO have a reason to live, after all (thanks global warming!).

Dr. Liao also recommended the development of special drugs to induce meat allergies. That way, the inconvenience of anaphylaxis would reduce all that little people lust for big, bad carbon-intensive beef.

These approaches, reported Dr Liao (with a maniacal grin, I’m sure), would “encourage people to make the eco-friendly choices that they seem to have trouble making on their own.”


That’s really encouraging 

in the sci-fi department.

Well, sleep tight!

PROMPT: Give your imagination a good stretch — pick up a Popular Science magazine and fictionalize one of their features... 

What could possibly go wrong?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Typical Day on the Funny Farm… er… Ranch

Ridin’ the range in search of that elusive…
Red Delicious

Back when I was a psych. intern, I had a discussion with a coworker who knew everything and was never afraid to show it. Somehow we landed on the topic of “folks who grow apples.”
That’s when I said something like, “Yadda yadda yadda… apple farmers.”

“Ranchers,” he interrupted.
“Excuse me?”

“They are apple ranchers, not farmers,” he said with the authority of someone who grew up in Wenatchee, Washington  AKA the center of the apple lovin’ universe.
“You've got to be kidding.”

He was not. In fact, he looked at me like he couldn't believe that I’d managed to live so long, given my obvious brain impairment.
Well, growing up as an East Coaster, I was always under the impression that ranching usually involved a whole lot of ridin’ and ropin’ and such. Then again, I had never been to a real live apple harvest  it was quite possible that those Galas and Ida Reds were a lot feistier than I’d ever imagined.

But I’m open-minded about these things, so whenever my know-it-all friend was around, I went above and beyond when speaking of those “folks who grow apples” …
Yep, they were apple jolly ranchers from then on.

‘Cause I’m pretty sure they were all really happy that I no longer called them farmers.

PROMPT: There are two ways to go with this one. First off, we've got the annoying know-it-all who is always a fun character to work with (On the page. Real life? Not so much). Then there’s the topsy-turvy world of ranching. I mean, if you can ranch apples, you can ranch anything  poodles, turnips, penguins, pens…

Monday, July 7, 2014

The POWER of Positive!

Sara Blakely is the creator of Spanx. Yeah, she’s the one who created herself into the world’s youngest female billionaire.

Well, I recently listened to an interview of Miss Blakely, and WOW! It was chock-full of positive news that you might want to use.

When asked about the secret to her amazing success, Sara said that when she was 16 years old, her dad gave her a set of Wayne Dyer tapes (audio, not duct — for those of you younger than dirt) called How to Be a No-Limit Person.

Sara reports that she listened to those recordings until she had ALL TEN TAPES memorized. She said that she ALWAYS had the tapes going as she drove. In fact, her friends refused to ride with her because they couldn't 
bear to hear Wayne’s No-Limit yammering over and over and over again.

Hmmm… I wonder if they’d ride with her now.

Anyway, Sara said that all of those positive recordings retrained her brain.

Through them she learned how to deal with any and all of life’s obstacles by asking two questions —

Where is the blessing in this?

Where is the opportunity?

Fast-forward about 10 years, and Miss Blakely found herself cutting the feet off of a pair of pantyhose so that she could make her butt look smaller under her jeans…


At that moment, did Miss Blakely ask —

Will a new ThighMaster help me get rid of this butt?


Will the papaya diet help me get rid of this butt?


Should I break down and just buy bigger jeans made to fit this bigger butt?

No, no, and NO!

She asked —

Where is the blessing?

To which she probably answered —

There is absolutely, positively NOTHING blessed about a big butt.

But then she asked —

Where is the opportunity?

To which she answered —

I bet other women have the very same big butt bind.

You got that right, Sister!

The rest is billionaire history.

Now, if you've been around the sun a few times, you know that every single day of the year comes complete with at least one obstacle. What wonderful things might happen in your life, if you embraced those Sara Blakely questions?

I mean, come on! If those questions can defeat a big butt —

They can do ANYTHING!

PROMPT: Test out those questions with some of the obstacles that get tossed your way today. And while you’re at it, start feeding your brain some positive messages the way Sara did back when she was a wicked-smart teen. Some folks go for the almighty affirmation, some use visualization, and some look to books or recordings for inspiration. Whatever gives you a positive hit – try to fit it into each and every day. And if your first thoughts of “positive” involve the words “evening news” or “reality” TV — WE NEED TO TALK.