When teenage boys come in the door from school, they have one thing on their mind, "What's for dinner?" Of course, they've been building up to this moment since shortly after lunch that day. Certain answers will, of course, make them happier than others. For one, I dreaded hearing my mother say, "We're having a casserole." I'm not sure why, but casseroles just didn't do it for me. But for our boys, and for many boys and girls of all ages, all over the world, there is an answer that no one wants to hear when they ask, "What's for dinner?" Answer: "Leftovers."
Our daughter was just a toddler, and she'd often talk with me while I was brushing my teeth in the morning, or shaving, or combing my hair. But one morning, unbeknownst to my wife, our daughter got in the bathroom, stood on something, and got the blade razor that I shaved with. When her mother walked in, our daughter was stroking that razor across her face, minus any shaving cream and leaving some pretty serious scratches and scrapes behind.
A few summers ago, I went on a river trip with some young people. It was a river that had not been nearly so friendly just three months before. The spring rains had been record breakers and the resulting floods had even redirected parts of the river. Our guide took us down a whole new channel of the river that hadn't even been there three months earlier, and he pointed out this palatial home that was built near the river by a multi-millionaire. The flood had suddenly made his home very vulnerable. It was saved only by a hastily-constructed brick wall. A lot of the landscaping around that home couldn't be saved, like the bridges for example. See, since this had just been a little stream before the flood, the homeowner built some charming wooden bridges across it at several points. Now the bridges weren't really destroyed, they were just, like, relocated. As we moved downstream, we saw this charming wooden bridge sitting in the middle of an island of mud in the middle of the river. Later we saw another bridge, pretty intact, just sitting on the riverbank. Oh, they were nice bridges all right, they just didn't go anywhere.
When your airplane flight is over, it's not really over. See, there's that closing chapter of a trip that you get to spend at baggage claim. At my home airport they have these big carousels where suitcases are dumped out and where they circle until their owners claim them. Now, my bags seem to have a knack for waiting until almost all the other bags are out, for some reason. So I just keep watching those suitcases of all shapes and sizes and conditions appear, and waiting for one I like - no, no, no. I mean, one I recognize. But there always seem to be some phantom bags there. Have you noticed that? They just keep circling and circling and circling. And since the luggage carousel is all I really have to look at, the show gets pretty boring! Yep, there goes that baggage again!
I saw this news story about a highly successful New York surgeon who volunteers a month every year to donate his services in needy countries. This particular summer, he'd had set up a tent clinic in the jungles of Costa Rica. In the middle of operating on a five-year-old boy, it became apparent this boy desperately needed blood. Problem: only 2% of the human race has that boy's blood type. Suddenly the doctor excused himself, only to return a few minutes later with the needed blood. It turns out that doctor is one of the 2% with that type! There, in the middle of that jungle, that boy's life could only be saved by one man's blood. Just like me.
You learn a lot about eagles when you spend time with Native Americans. Like how their babies learn to fly. When Mama builds their nest, she lays a foundation of rocks and sticks - then covers it with leaves and feathers and foliage. And the baby eaglets love hanging out there.
A cold is no big deal, unless it decides to expand its coverage from your nose to your ears. And even then it's no big deal unless you're coming down from 30,000 feet up in a commercial airliner. This is not a medical news bulletin - it's my personal testimony. I could feel a little something in my ears before I took off, but I didn't have any idea how the altitude ups and downs of my flight were going to totally block my ears and cause me some nasty pain on the way down. The poor lady next to me was telling me some of her heartaches and I kept yawning just to keep my head from exploding. And as my ears got more and more clogged, it was like somebody had turned down the volume knob on what she was saying. She must have thought I was a really great listener. Well, it was a painful afternoon, but the changing pressure in that plane let me know that I had a problem and it drove me to do what I usually try to avoid, go to the doctor. I'm glad I did - he really helped me.
At the time, the Thresher was the fastest and quietest nuclear submarine there was. Until that awful day in 1963 when it suddenly disappeared in the Atlantic. All 129 crew members were lost. When they finally located the doomed sub, they found it broken into six pieces. The cause of the deadliest submarine disaster in history, actually, has been hard to nail down. But ultimately it seems the Thresher collapsed because they were at a depth, for whatever reason, where the pressure on the outside became greater than the pressure on the inside.
Magicians are a sneaky bunch. Many of them might better be called illusionists. Oh, l know it looks like they made something disappear or turned into something else. But there's this little secret that's behind a lot of those tricks. It's called misdirection. See, when magicians learn to keep talking - talking fast, mostly. Like me. They call it patter. Purpose: to distract unsuspecting folks like me to look over there while the real trick is being done over here. Just get me looking in a different direction and you can probably fool me.
Ocean City, N.J. - actually "memory City" for our family. Like the large, annual youth conference I used to speak for there. One of the favorite activities of the week was a sandcastle competition where delegations from all over competed to see who could win the coveted prize for best sandcastle. And you should have seen the masterpieces they created! They were massive, creative, detailed - little empires made of sand. Of course, they made them at low tide. It was kind of depressing to go back there a few hours later at high tide. Because no matter how elaborate, how imaginative, how brilliantly designed they were, they were gone. They just couldn't survive the onslaught of high tide.