Cyclopedia

Cyclopedia: (n) an encyclopedia

 By the time I arrived, my mother was already serving him a piece of the blueberry pie she had made from the berries my dad recently brought back from his trip to Canada. I’m not sure if I had ever seen my mother so excited.

The gentleman sitting on the couch across from her was probably no more than twenty years of age. (Of course, I was thirteen at the time, so he looked prehistoric.) He, too, seemed very uplifted and called me by my name when I walked through the door, which was a trifle unnerving since I had never laid eyes on the gent before.

He was from the Grolier Company.

This will mean nothing to anyone under the age of fifty.

It was one of the largest publishers of cyclopedias in the world. It sent out people to sell the volumes door-to-door, offering handsomely bound examples to lure the hearts and eyes of housewives all over America.

The entire sales pitch was simple.

1.“Don’t you want your son or daughter to have knowledge at his or her fingertips, simply by walking across the room and acquiring it by looking up the needed data in the family cyclopedias?”

2. “It is statistically proven that families who have an entire set of Grolier from A to Z in their living rooms experience 63% less crime perpetrated by their youngsters.”

3. “And of course, your neighbors will judge you by how important you think education is to your upstarts. So when they walk through the door, don’t you want them to see a Grolier?”

My mother was sold.

And when the stranger showed me one of the books, I must admit it was beautifully illustrated, easy to read and the outside cover felt like it had just come off the back of a Wisconsin cow.

He warned us that it would take about three months for delivery. He was right.

Four months later, our Grolier’s arrived, and we frantically searched for a bookcase that would accommodate such presence and heft.

But the one set of cyclopedias was not enough.

A year later, the local grocery store offered Funk and Wagnall’s—a competitor to Grolier—for twenty-five cents per letter if you bought thirty dollars’ worth of groceries.

So nearly sixteen months later, we had a set of Funk and Wagnall’s just beneath our Grolier’s (the Funk and Wagnall’s being more compact and easier to place).

All through my growing up years, I opened these volumes, looking for information.

I garnered two things from the experience:

First and foremost, I learned alphabetical order, since that’s how everything was listed within the pages.

Secondly, I learned that knowledge was growing so quickly in our world that soon both the Grolier’s and the Funk and Wagnall’s were outdated.

Today we have the Internet.

But we don’t have the beautiful books, the great illustrations or conversations about knowledge over blueberry pie.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cyberbully

Cyberbully: (v) to bully online by sending or posting mean or intimidating messages, usually anonymously

 Vices are depleted of all virtue.

If we don’t believe this, we tend to make excuses for errant behavior—even contending that such actions have a time or place.

This is why bratty, snotty, cynical and ignorant continue to live on, although they were exposed as useless long ago.

Bullying has also proven to be both unpleasant and ineffective.

It is unpleasant because the one doing the bullying is left with a sour, stale taste in his or her mouth, and ineffective because after a brief sense of victory, every bully is eventually identified and eliminated.

But now we have the Internet.

It’s the perfect platform for those who wish to be bullies but fear being punched in the nose by a superior force. They can now hide out behind what is usually a not-so-clever tag or handle.

I am convinced that most human beings prefer to be considered nice but have found the upkeep on such a profile daunting, or perhaps boring.

I, myself, will occasionally get in the presence of those who twist my last nerve and try to stomp on the weakness of my good grace.

I immediately realize I have a choice.

I can become offended, infuriated or disgusted, using my language tools to devastate them with some unrighteous retort.

Or (now, please listen) I can walk away and realize that within thirty feet of my departure, they are barely on my mind.

Sometimes occupying the same space is the best way to turn yourself into an asshole—if you’re occupying that space with someone who brings out the bully in you.

The purpose of the Internet is to create communication, not destroy it—to connect us to one another instead of rubbing each other the wrong way, producing friction and pain.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Croup

Croup: (n) any condition of the larynx characterized by a hoarse cough and difficult breathing.

One of the more annoying aspects of writing a column or posting a blog on the Internet is what seems to be the incessant need to talk about life beginning with how it relates to yourself.

I will be honest—I don’t think I am as interesting as other folks do.

I don’t know whether this is even possible, but I have often felt I was boring myself.

But when I saw the word “croup” today, I couldn’t resist relating a piece of personal identity concerning the condition.

Up until five years of age, I was sickly.

Chubby, round-faced and ill. (Very attractive for young parents.)

Every time I caught a cold, it went into my chest and I mustered a hacking cough which eventually made it difficult to breathe. So my mother often rushed me into the bathroom, turned on all the faucets with hot water, and sat there with me in the steam, hoping my croup would clear.

It was so bad one night that the town doctor was called to come to our little bungalow.

He  felt compelled to give me a shot of adrenalin in the heart to keep me among the living.

Yet somewhere along the line—about the age of six—I began to improve. It was a good thing, because on top of my croup, I was festered with an inability to master swallowing pills, and the only real treatment for my condition were these huge, white sulfa tablets, which greatly resembled horse pills.

So yes—because I could not swallow them, I had to chew them up—two at a time, every four hours.

When the reprieve came and “croup” decided to become a part of my past, I was jubilant. Later on we discovered that because my dad was a cigarette smoker, the air quality in our little home was not conducive to my fussy lungs.

So even though I shared this story with you in candor, and the years have certainly passed, and I have proven myself to be more balanced for the human environment…

I still feel like a Willy Wonka Wimp.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C


Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Podcast

Good News and Better News

 

Counterproductive

Counterproductive: (adj) tending to defeat one’s purpose

I think it is wisdom to take a moment—maybe even sit down—and consider what it means to be a productive person.

There are five words that come to my mind:

  1. Solvent
  2. Temperate
  3. Loving
  4. Generous
  5. Focused

Now, there may be others, but you can take these five attributes, blend them together and end up with a productive human life.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

So let’s take a moment and consider what is counterproductive.

Starting with Number 1, solvent, I would assume the counter would be financially in need, as impulsive would be the opposite of temperate.

Let’s move along. Shall we say that spiteful might be considered counterproductive to loving? And stingy undoubtedly would discourage generosity.

Distracted certainly is the antithesis of focused.

So what do you get when you put together a human life which is financially in need, impulsive, spiteful, stingy and distracted?

It seems to me that you might end up with the American culture—so intent on individual families that it lacks vision for the entire humanity on Earth, and also so entwined with the Internet that opportunity which often stumbles into the room is ignored in favor of binge-watching.

I’m not so sure you can build a human being of quality, soul or mercy by trying to emphasize counterproductive values.

I think our first step into escaping our own trap of inefficiency is to realize that we’re all in this together—over the seven continents, all of the countries, all the races, all the religions and both genders.

In doing so, we might begin to produce instead of having our fruit rot on the vine.


Donate Button


Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Podcast

Good News and Better News

 

Couch Potato

Couch potato: (n) a person whose leisure time is spent watching television.

Quietly listen or observe the contradictions around you and you will be able to accurately assess what is true and what is just the present jabbering fad.

For I will tell you, it is completely impossible to be so busy that you “just don’t know what you’re going to do,” and still have enough time to binge-watch a television show or an Internet series.

One of these two thoughts does not go with the other.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

In similar fashion, it is highly unlikely that we are on the verge of equality between men and women when every romantic comedy has a female protagonist who is completely dissatisfied with her life of business success and financial gain, but according to the plot of the screenplay, must find a man or she will be despaired.

Likewise, be careful listening to those who threaten that couch potatoes—people who spend more time sitting than moving—are in great danger of shortening their lives.

It’s a toss-up.

I’ve met people a hundred years old who worked hard all their days—and just as many who may have never actually gotten out of a chair.

There doesn’t seem to be any universal reasoning for who gets heart disease, the big C, a stroke or any other variety of deadly disorders simply based on whether they rose from their couch and walked around more than anyone else.

Matter of fact, I have bought potatoes at the store, put them into my pantry, and come back many weeks later and found that they were still edible. Potatoes seem to have an impressive lifespan.

So beware those who think they can sum up everything in life with an exercise program or people who think what you eat doesn’t make any difference at all.

Here’s a clue—an idea that just might have legs and feet:

If you’re planning on binge-watching something like “Game of Thrones” for the next eight hours, just make sure you’re snacking on salads and seeds instead of pizza and Big Macs.


Donate Button


Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Podcast

Good News and Better News

 

Cornhusker

Cornhusker: (n) a Nebraskan

It would be much easier to claim that you’re a cow if you’re able to chew your cud and moo. Producing milk would also be a positive.

When I graduated from high school and opted not to go to college because my wife and I were pregnant with possibilities, I realized that I did funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
not want to be the kind of guy who didn’t go to college and worked at the kind of job this kind of guy is forced to take.

I liked music. I thought I had some talent.

No one ever actually sat down with me and made suggestions on how to use my ability or guided me in a direction of turning my existing efforts into some sort of cash flow.

I was told that I was not allowed to do anything but get a job and take care of my family.

I didn’t want to do that.

Now, I’m not asking you to side with me on this issue, nor am I desiring your cultural rebuke. I’m just explaining that if I were claiming to be a singer and a musician, I needed to go “music” somewhere.

So discovering in a very obscure newspaper a notice that there was a coffeehouse opening up in Kearney, Nebraska, I contacted the fellow beginning it on the phone, told him about my little group, and said that we would love to come and share at his new venue. He was thrilled (since we were from Ohio and he was all the way in Nebraska.)

It didn’t even cross my mind to look at a map. Before I knew it, the gentleman invited us to come and sing at the coffeehouse with the promise that he would “help out with gas.”

At that point in my life I had a van which creaked and squeaked just driving around town, threatening to break down at a moment’s notice. I didn’t care. Nor did my three other comrades.

We set out for Kearney, Nebraska. Matter of fact, when I began this essay today, I had to look up how far it was from Columbus, Ohio, to Kearney, Nebraska. I am so glad I didn’t have the Internet back then, because the distance one way is 968.4 miles.

We packed in some soft drinks, made some sandwiches, gathered as much money as we could borrow and pull out of couch cushions, and took off. We joked about “touring to the Cornhusker State,” never realizing that it would be many, many hours—twelve to be exact—before we would be anywhere near those who were traditionally proclaimed “huskers of corn.”

I’m happy to report that we actually made it there.

As is often the case, the opportunity was even smaller than I could have imagined. But the fourteen people who showed up said they were really impressed with our songs and happy we had made the trip. They gave us thirty dollars for our gasoline, a bushel of sweet corn and a peck of apples.

It was my first payday.

The round trip, as you can imagine, ended up being nearly two thousand miles.

But I was young, looking for an adventure, and especially trying to find a way to escape—for one week—from hearing all the town cronies telling me what a deadbeat I was.


Donate Button


Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Podcast

Good News and Better News

 

Convalescing

Convalescing: (v) to recover health and strength after illness

If you will allow me, I will outline the process:

  1. I am sick.

I am not just “under the weather.” I am not “fighting off something.” I am not struggling with allergies.

  1. I am prepared to receive assistance.

Having used up my favorite rabbit’s foot and gone through the Internet to try several homeopathic methods, I am not prepared to do what is necessary to get 
well.

  1. I will understand and honor the procedure.

Even though there are many medications for a cold and the flu, the old adage, “3 days coming, 3 days with you and 3 days leaving” is pretty much on point. The goal is to try to even those nine days out, into one common, more tolerable passage of misery.

  1. I will start doing things that keep me well, and begin convalescing toward better health in the future.

A friend of mine was diagnosed with lung cancer. He wanted prayer to be healed. I saw nothing wrong with that, so I joined in agreement. Three days later, when nothing got better, I walked into his room and he was smoking cigarettes again. I said, “What the hell?”

He replied, “The damage is already done. Might as well enjoy my exit.”

If you’re not ready for your exit, start convalescing by treating your ailments for what they are, and then find ways, through good health, good eating and good attitudes, to scare them away.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C Donate Button


Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Podcast

Good News and Better News