Slang words are sometimes difficult to understand. Not so much the words themselves, but their meaning. I mean, there are cool slang words out there. For instance, when I just used the word cool, I wasn't talking about the temperature. If a young person today looked at me and maybe said "Sus!" Now, what is that all about? Well, that means you're suspicious. That's what it means.
They thought it would take about three to five days. Yeah, when there was the invasion of Ukraine. That was the prediction of even our military people that because of the mis-match of the size of the Russian army and the Ukrainian forces it would be over very quickly. Well, as we know now, it has been an amazing part of modern history. And suddenly the world knew about a comedian who had become the President of Ukraine. And Volodymyr Zelenskyy has become a hero around the world. Someone called him "Churchill in a tee shirt." And we've all seen and heard him as he's really decided that he would not retreat, he would not disappear, and when the American government said, "We will give you a ride out," because there were three assisination squads stalking him. He said, "I don't need a ride." Remember? "I need ammunition." And he was there to stay! Guess what? Because one man wouldn't retreat, it inspired a nation to fight, and inspired the world to come and help them.
Over the years I've been the waste management engineer at our house. Yeah, I get to collect and take out the garbage. Take it from an expert, do not buy cheap garbage bags. No. Maybe don't wait as long as I did to sometimes collect the garbage either. Here's the problem. You've just tied up a brimming bag full of things you really don't want to see any more, you don't want to smell them any more. They're supposed to be in the garbage can. But sometimes they don't make it to the garbage can when a cheap bag rips open and dumps it all over the kitchen floor. Oh I've had it happen. Garbage isn't bad. Garbage dumped in the wrong place - oh, that's bad.
So, is a hammer a good thing or a bad thing? I guess it depends on whose hands the hammer is in. Had you put a hammer in the hands of our little grandson and turned him loose, you wouldn't like the results. He was probably going to do some damage with that thing. But I've watched that same kind of hammer do some really good things in the hands of some skilled workmen; of which I am not one. At our home, our office, I've seen a hammer used to build some things that are really useful. That same hammer in a child's hands, though, "Look out, man!"
There's something about the Olympics that's just larger than life, and there are those images of past Olympic performances we'll never forget. One of those happened in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Derek Redmond was representing Great Britain in the 400-meter event. Unfortunately, he went down on the backstretch with a torn right hamstring. And the medical attendants started to approach him, but he managed to fight his way to his feet. Maybe you remember seeing this. He set out hopping around the track, desperately trying to finish the race. When he reached the stretch, a large man in a T-shirt came out of the stands, and literally threw aside a security guard, and ran to the injured runner, and hugged him. It was Jim Redmond, Derek's father. Derek was weeping in excruciating pain, and his Dad said, "Derek, you don't have to do this." To which Derek said, "Yes, I do." And Jim Redmond said, "OK then, we're going to finish this together!" And they did. They had to fight off security men. The son's head was sometimes buried on his father's shoulder. But they stayed in Derek's lane all the way to the end - as the crowd stood and cheered and even wept.
When I would tell our kids we were going to Buttermilk Falls, I could expect two equally sincere reactions: "Oh good!" and "Oh no!" See, the "oh good" part was because it was just one of the "coolest" places in our area. There was this high, cascading waterfall, tucked in a remote place that few people knew about. It was magnificent to look at and it was fun to hike around. The "oh no" part was because of the road to get to this special spot. Think moonscape - potholes big enough to swallow an old Volkswagen. You couldn't avoid these craters; they were everywhere. So you went about as slow as a car can go, bracing yourself for a big bump and then another big bump. And then you were there, and it was great!
There's this island on the New Jersey Shore that our family loved to go to when we had a holiday weekend. After you cross the causeway from the mainland, you enter an island that's long and it's really narrow. In fact, at many points, you can drive right along that long street that runs through the center of that island and you see the bay just to one side and the ocean right there on the other side. I've driven that long street many times. Because it's flat, you can see the traffic lights way ahead of you. Often, I would start off with a green light in front of me and I'd be looking at some red lights up ahead; maybe a long line of red lights. But as I approached them, those reds would turn green, and I kept going. You'll be happy to know that when I came to a red light, I stopped - like the good boy I always am. You knew that!
It was a super-hot summer day and my wife and I were on vacation. Everything was going great until the electrical power went out at our cabin. No lights, no air conditioner, no TV. We decided to go to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Just as we pulled up, they put the closed sign in the window. It's a good thing I'm secure. I might take it personally otherwise. The owner said the power was out there, too, and they decided to close because they really couldn't cook. It turned out that lots of places were closed. The locals told us that the power company had actually recently replaced the old lines with a much newer line that was supposed to be failsafe as far as blackouts. Right. Well, the demands were great that day, and the power...it was just inadequate to meet them.
"Shun piking"! Yeah, our kids learned that at a very early age. That expression actually goes back to Colonial days when people would leave or "shun" the pike, the main road, and take side roads. Today, it's just a good word for describing getting intentionally lost - just exploring some of those side roads you've never been on to see things you've never seen. Apparently, this shun piking thing has been inherited by the next generation. Yeah, there was the day that our daughter took our then three-year-old grandson on one of those crazy adventures on some unexplored back roads. And he saw lots of things he never saw before. When she asked him if he was ready to go home, he told her he wanted to keep going. His reason? "I liked exploring."
When the famous violinist Paganini played a concert in one of the great halls of Europe, it was equivalent to the draw of like a modern rock concert. Well, the story is told of one such night in Paris. As Paganini appeared on the stage, there's this excited buzz in the audience, and there was expectant applause. But as the maestro began to play, a string broke on his exquisite violin. Well, any concern passed pretty quickly as he picked up the tune on his remaining three strings. Unbelievably, another string snapped, followed moments later by a third string. Now the buzz in the audience was more anxious, I mean, like disgruntled; it wasn't expectant anymore. But the old maestro just raised his hand - called for silence. And as the audience became quiet again, he made a simple announcement, "Ladies and gentlemen Paganini and one string." What followed was easily the most amazing musical performance the crowd had ever seen, or would ever see, as the maestro played a rich and flawless melody on one string.