If you've ever stayed in a hotel or motel, you've experienced the amazing work of the Room Fairy. You know, that wonderful creature who miraculously puts your room back together while you're out. Of course, they don't always clean your room. The other day the Room Fairy never came - and it was my fault. Because I was sleeping in and also doing a lot of intense preparation, I hung the "Do Not Disturb" sign on my door. Later in the day, I noticed a piece of paper that had been slid under my door. Here's what it said. "Housekeeping (that's the Room Fairy's real name) did not clean your room today in honor of the Do Not Disturb sign that was on your door." Well, as the kids would say, "Duh." By the next day, the trash cans were overflowing, the towels were shot, the toilet paper and Kleenex were going or gone - the mess was accumulating. All because of my dumb sign.
If you think all American history is boring, you need to check out the greatest American adventure ever - the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It's attracting all kinds of new attention as its bicentennial approaches - a major public television series, a mini-series, best-selling books. And it deserves all the attention. Just as America bought the Louisiana Purchase and suddenly owned much of the West, President Jefferson asked Meriwether Lewis to put together an expedition to explore the unknown territory. Imagine 30 men, going where no non Indian had ever gone, seeing what no non Indian had ever seen - like the Rocky Mountains, animals like antelope and prairie dogs, tribes that had ever contacted.
When you hear the word "superstar," you think of someone like, say, Michael Jordan or some box office giant. I'm sorry, but that's a pretty lame use of the word when you hear about the kind of star astronomers have recently discovered. It is the largest known star in the universe! Conventional telescopes had missed it because of vast dust clouds. But the Hubble space telescope picked it up. And it's 186 million miles wide and 10 million times brighter than the Sun! That's a superstar. Don't even try to comprehend one star that enormous! Interesting footnote - according to many theories on how stars are formed, a star this large is an impossibility! No, it's not.
Most of the courtrooms I've been exposed to are on TV. But not long ago, I had a moment in a courtroom that I will never forget. It began when we learned the whereabouts of a young Native American friend we had been trying to locate for a while - we'll call her Cathy. We learned, almost miraculously, that after a dark time away from God, Cathy was in jail in Nebraska. We got that word on Friday as I was leaving Michigan to meet our Native American summer team in South Dakota on Monday night. We ate up the Interstate trying to get to Nebraska before Cathy went before the judge. She had no idea we were coming - until we saw her during Sunday afternoon visiting hours.
Maybe you're someone who watches sports a lot. Maybe you're someone who watches someone who watches sports a lot. But if you're too busy to turn a football game and sit there watching the whole thing, you can do what I do sometimes. Just turn on the end of the game. Some of the most amazing things happen when the game is almost over. Especially after they sound that two-minute warning. Suddenly, everyone knows it's time to throw caution to the wind and go for broke. A lot of teams even practice what they call a two-minute drill - a bold, accelerated series of plays that are designed for those urgent moments when you realize it's almost over.
Well, I'm happy to report to you that I have no personal problem with the paparazzi. Those celebrity photographers have been very respectful of my privacy. In fact, they could care less about anything I do. But, in reality, these freelance celebrity photographers have been the object of some bigtime criticism - most vehemently after their pursuit of Princess Diana may have contributed to the circumstances of her tragic death. Their prying lenses seem to be everywhere, trying to capture a picture of someone famous doing something outrageous, something sensational, something lurid. And, unfortunately, the personal lifestyles of a lot of people provide those kinds of things to shoot. Of course, when it comes to our lives, we want privacy - no intrusive cameras capturing moments we would rather not have everyone know about. There aren't many people, frankly, who could afford to have a camera capturing everything they do.
Curtis and his Great Puppy Adventure. That was the lunchtime talk around our office when one of our team members became the proud owner of eight new puppies - thanks to his trusty dog, Sister. Each day seemed to bring a new episode - especially as Curtis would compare the way of the puppy with the ways of people. He told us one day about trying to replenish their food. His intention was to load up their container with lots of good things. But they made it very difficult. The puppies were too busy fighting over two little pieces that were left in the container.
When we're driving somewhere for vacation, my travel philosophy is very simple and very male. The purpose of the trip is to be there, why waste unnecessary time getting there. So we drive some long stretches and we have gas, rest, and food stops down to a well timed drill. But, during the busy vacation seasons there is a down side to this and it comes at the end of when your body's saying, "Put me down, now!" Now since I don't know exactly how far we will be able to make it, I can't make a motel reservation. So, I get off where there are some choice of reasonable motels and I drive in hoping I can be horizontal within say 15 minutes. "No Chance," I hate words like these. "Sorry, We're Full." Or those dreaded words, "No Vacancy." Or the slightly more comforting sign, "Sorry." They all mean the same thing - no room, I'm not getting in.
You think you've had a bad day recently. Let me tell you about a bad day. It's the summer of '97, you're a cosmonaut on Russia's space station Mir. While you've been there you've already had to battle a fire on board. Then a supply ship runs into you in a docking procedure and you lose 40 percent of your power. You've already had your fill of bad days for one mission. But then, one day the central computer on the space station suddenly shuts down and suddenly you are tumbling through space in what reporters call "chaotic flight." As you know, I'm not making any of this up! The day that computer failed, it threw those cosmonauts into a particularly dangerous situation. That space station is solar-powered and all of a sudden, as one reporter put it, it lost its orientation to the sun. Which means you don't have the power to meet the demands of your flight and worst case your life is in jeopardy. Why? All because, as CBS News said, Mir turned it back on the sun.
There is nothing quite so exciting as an exciting night at America's busiest airport - O'Hare. My goal was relatively simple - get on my plane and fly home. Easier said then done. The radar had suddenly gone down that night and there was only one runway open. I was frustrated because I could not get out of the airport. But pity those poor people up there who couldn't land. At least I could go outside and walk around. That's tougher when you're up there in the sky. We could see the lights of those planes and they could see the lights of Chicago down below. They were almost there, they could see their destination, but they weren't on the ground. Some circled so long they eventually had to be diverted to another destination that they didn't want to go to. Oh, the frustration of being almost there, but not there.