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

Core Curriculum

Core curriculum: (n) a collection of courses with a central theme

I tend to run out of the room in a bit of horror when I hear voices raised and people begin to stomp around sharing their opinions with more energy than wisdom.

I know it may be popular to be sold out on your convictions, but too often I see people’s convictions sell them out, leaving them ignorant or inept.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
Every once in a while, you’ll stumble across a discussion laced with some humility—and the participants will admit that the reason a conversation is necessary is because knowledge is lacking.

For instance, what does an eighteen-year-old American teenager need to know, think, believe and feel upon graduating from high school? Candidly, college offers new choices the student can take advantage of if he or she is so inclined, but I do think we should be very interested in what the average eighteen-year-old already knows upon completing the core curriculum in the American educational system.

And in a sense, it does boil down to “reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic”—but may I add a fourth “R?” Rationality.

Reading is necessary because if you’re eighteen years old, and you insist that everything you need to know you’ve already learned, then you are certainly a danger to those around you.

‘Riting because if you’re only going to use words in vague half-sentences or tweets, then you will often leave the world around you bewildered as to your intentions. Can you write a decent paragraph that conveys what you’re trying to say?

‘Rithmetic—because entering the adult world, you must understand that things need to add up, and if they don’t you must subtract something and learn to divide up your efforts to grant you the possibility to multiply.

And finally, rationality. Teaching an eighteen-year-old that most of the time, he or she is either wrong or deficient of the data necessary to make a good decision will calm things down, with a bit of needed uncertainty, instead of becoming overwrought, chasing unrealistic dreams.

Yes, there is a need for a core curriculum—where we start out agreeing on common sense principles.


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Convince

Convince: (v) to persuade; cajole

That would be terrific.

if we could actually persuade or cajole someone to be convinced of a great idea, the human race could leap ahead by several yardsticks of improvement.

But stubbornness prohibits us from persuasion and cynicism causes us to reject being cajoled.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Unfortunately, our human family is mainly convinced by being alarmed or threatened.

This opens the door to all sorts of nasty characters, who invent ridiculous scenarios of danger, and manipulate brothers and sisters to turn into enemies.

Therefore, I have to ask myself: rather than criticizing this weakness in humanity, which makes us afraid of almost anything, how can I transform my own life into a situation where I can be persuaded or cajoled?

Can I stay loose enough in my opinions that the insertion of knowledge and common sense can sway me to better paths? Can I realize that being angry has very little to do with being productive, and that nice guys don’t finish last—they just finish so early that they’re in the locker room, having already taken their shower.


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Convection Oven

Convection oven: (n) a gas, electric, or microwave oven equipped with a fan that circulates and intensifies the heat, thereby decreasing the normal cooking time.

There are many things in life that cause shock.

For instance, realizing that you’re too short to ride the roller coaster at the amusement park.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Finding out that you have to study for tests to get good grades.

Learning that human sexuality takes effort.

Noting that casting your vote more than likely does not mean that your candidate will be elected.

One of these happened to me the other day. I overheard a young fellow talking to his friend, referring to me as “that nice old man.”

A little piece of my soul died. I chased it down the thoroughfare, but it was gone.

The reason that young chap might be referring to me as a nice “old” fellow is that I remember when the first convection ovens arrived. We were startled at how quickly food could be heated. For me, it happened when I went to a gas station four miles outside of our town. They were using a convection oven to warm sandwiches. When placed in the oven, they came out piping hot in less than two minutes.

Of course, these initial ovens were flawed, sometimes drying out the food and turning it into petrified wood—but it was astounding. It was the fulfillment of one of the promises and predictions I had read as a small boy in my magazine, called “The Weekly Reader.”

I shall stop this article now—for the deeper I go into the origins of my knowledge of the convection oven, the older I sound and the more you’ll be convinced that I am nice…but ancient.

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Commemorate

Commemorate: (v) to recall and show respect for someone or something

Mediocre is always so busy dragging down excellence that it doesn’t have the time to lift up inferior.

Because of this, mediocre keeps sinking deeper and deeper into the sag of inferiority, desperately trying to change the rules of operation and the requirements for the rewards provided.

We have a system of entertainment and information that streams in our country, which feels the need to commemorate events by finding the heroes, the standouts and those who fared well, interview them, extol them and then, within short weeks, dig up dirt on them to prove there was really nothing exceptional about them in the first place.

Why? Because without this kind of reporting, Ma and Pa Kettle, sitting at home, start getting depressed–thinking less of themselves because they don’t measure up.

After all, the problem of going to a nude beach is that you’re fully aware that everyone is stuck with an eyeful of you.

How do we commemorate the attributes, the virtues, the kindness and the intelligence that sets the human race on fire with an explosion of knowledge and unveiling of great cures and advances?

Well, we certainly can’t do it if we spend all of our time mocking initiative and making it seem that those who portray a classy morality are really just stuck in the past.

These are the three great things we should commemorate if we expect to shine:

  1. Empathy

Any time someone feels for someone else, it is miraculous.

  1. Research

Stop settling for the status quo, and find a better way to accomplish things.

  1. Humility

The only way to achieve the first two is to be humble enough to know when you’ve made a mistake so you can change it quickly and improve your cause.

May we step out of our doldrums of self-satisfaction and begin to commemorate–and therefore imitate–those who are actually doing matters better than us?

 

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Clueless

Clueless: (adj) having no knowledge, understanding, or ability.

Three categories.

No knowledge: Hardly seems likely. In this information age, a decision to go without knowledge has to be a purposeful dodge to avoid it. It’s feasible, but even if we’re trying to escape, some of the volume still pierces our defenses. Therefore it’s difficult to use “no knowledge” as an excuse for avoiding responsibility.

No understanding: The ability to interpret the circumstances around us and come up with a suitable solution does require engaging our souls. If we’re just looking into a pool of self-interest or trying to ignore becoming connected with the people around us, we can certainly pretend we did not understand the severity of the situation.

Yet if you’re around someone who’s crazy and they threaten to do something drastic, it is unlikely that you can claim ignorance of the crime.

No ability: We might lack expertise. Expertise is achieved when we take the ability we have and teach it to be useful.

The concept of “natural talent” is humorous. The idea that our ability arrives intact and ready to go is mind-boggling.

Ability demands an obstacle course before it can be classified as capable of overcoming obstacles.

Clueless is a choice.

Attempting to remove oneself from knowledge, understanding and ability might temporarily give us the free pass of grace, but ultimately exposes us as charlatans who run away from the heat of the battle.

 

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Chaff

Chaff: (n) worthless things; trash.

The Good Book might be really interesting if we actually understood it. Or maybe the problem lies in the fact that it has been so misunderstood that sometimes it doesn’t always appear to be a “good book.”

But when Jesus described the process of separating the wheat from the chaff, to the average reader of twenty-first century America, the
concept is alien, if not totally obscure. I suppose because we are no longer an agrarian society, the disposition of wheat does not necessarily tingle our brains.

Wheat that is used for making flour is often surrounded by a protective casing called “chaff.” For generations they removed it and cast it aside so the “pure wheat” could be extracted and put to use.

Have I ever told you the purpose for advancement? The real value of education and allowing knowledge into our lives is the discovery of an obvious, practical application. Therefore, today we know that the chaff that used to be thrown away is really quite good for us. It may be a little coarse and sometimes tasteless, but it enters our bodies like a dietary roto-rooter and cleanses us from all internal nastiness.

It is no longer thrown away. It is turned into cereals, granola and even used in supplements.

Gradually the human race moves forward and understands that the Creator of the Universe made sure that all the answers to our problems are available in a nearby field, a clump of rocks, a splash from the ocean or a stroll through the forest.

 

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