# Cosmic

Cosmic: (adj) of or relating to the cosmos

When I was in the first grade and they presented math problems for addition—like 4 + 3 and 2 + 7—I did them, believing that when I finished, I would know everything about mathematics.

They didn’t tell me that subtraction was next.

They might have scared me off if they had talked about multiplication.

And, well, division is so divisive.

If they had shared that by the time I was in high school I would be studying something called calculus, which is mathematics taken almost to the realm of ethereal religion, I might have lost heart in the whole process—or stupidly, tried to jump ahead and take on “the big one.”

That’s the way I feel about people who are involved in religion, spirituality and the cosmic.

Here we have a beautiful Earth to learn, add up, subtract, multiply and even occasionally divide up into parts, and we are still tempted to study the heavens, the gods, the stars and the universal spectrum.

It doesn’t make us better people.

It certainly can make us self-righteous.

And in the long run, it pushes others away, who might like to have a conversation with us if it weren’t laced with “angels, planets and demons.”

There certainly is a cosmos.

But it seems to me that we should eat the plate that is set before us before we start ordering other things off the menu.

For our Earth is in great need of being befriended by those with bigger brains than the creatures who live in the jungle.

If we spend too much time looking at the stars, the Earth might turn into dust at our feet.

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# Arithmetic

Arithmetic: (n) the branch of mathematics dealing with the manipulation and properties of numbers.

Arithmetic is definitely one of them.

It is one of the four basic skills required to maintain an adult life without constantly looking inept.

I wish I had known that when I was in high school. But fortunately, I did learn enough addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to handle my finance and everyday activities without always requiring a calculator in my hand, with numbers too tiny to punch.

Would you be curious about the other three?

Yes, often people ask us to read aloud–and if we stumble over words or are too slow, it is immediately surmised that we are mentally challenged.

3. Writing. Although grammar can be a naughty mistress or a nagging wife, there are certain qualifications necessary to be part of the human family. One should know that “you are,” as a contraction, is spelled y-o-u’r-e, not y-o-u-r.

If you are not familiar with several of these common mishaps-in-print, you will be laughed at by the snobs and bewilder the kinder folk.

4. Can you make a two-minute speech on your feet without spending 72 seconds of it explaining why you’re not good at it? We are a gregarious race, and demand that those around us have the ability to articulate their feelings without having too many a-a-h-s, umms, or … what was I saying?

Arithmetic is very important. Without it, things just don’t add up.

Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix

# Andrew, St.

Andrew, St.: An apostle, the brother of St. Peter. He is associated with the X-shaped cross because he is said to have been crucified on such a cross, and is the patron saint of Russia and Scotland. Feast Day, November 30.

Long before he was nailed down on a multiplication symbol and they started a special holiday in his honor, Andrew was a fisherman in a little town called Capernaum.

His prospects for being prosperous or well-known and his aptitude for upward mobility were less than promising–actually, comical.

Living in a village of less than five hundred people and a partner in a business in which his brother, with a more boisterous personality, took over the entire room, Andrew had little chance of surfacing socially, or even generating a jot and tittle in a history book.

Yet he possessed one powerful personality trait–he was curious.

While his brother probably took the time to sleep off the latest fishing jaunt, which included heavy wine drinking, Andrew was out and about, looking for possibilities. In the process, he met another unlikely earth-shaker named Jesus of Nazareth.

We don’t know why Andrew was impressed or why he was so moved by the Nazarene’s message. But we do know that he was one of Jesus’ early followers, and ends up bringing his brother to the cause.

As often is the case, there is no Peter without Andrew. There are no five loaves and two fishes for the five thousand fed without Andrew bringing the little boy’s lunch for consideration.

And even though after all the smoke cleared of the posturing and shuffling, he did not end up being one of the inner-three best friends of Jesus (positions held by Peter, James and John), we are never made aware that he is slighted or offended in the least.

He did three things that gave him personal salvation and a place for all time:

1. He stayed interested.
2. When he found something important, he got excited.
3. He stuck with it to the end.

In many ways Andrew is the hero of the gospel story simply because he brought the right people at the right time … to the right person.

Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix

# Abacus

by J. R. Practix

Abacus:  An oblong frame with rows of wires or grooves, along which beads are slid, used for calculating.

I’ve heard of these things. I’m not so sure I’ve ever actually been in the presence of one. Listen to me go on. . . “Presence of one…”

It’s not exactly an alligator or the Queen of England. I always thought the Chinese used it for calculating–and since my society universally believes the Chinese are good calculators, I guess an abacus is quite efficient.

It looks complicated. It looks like one of those games advertised by Milton Bradley, with moving pieces that have seven pages of directions and you find yourself baffled by the second paragraph.

Can I be the first one to say that I think the calculator may be one of the greatest inventions ever known to man? It comes in second behind the fork. Never underestimate the power of that utensil.

Boy, that got me thinking. I gave such an importance to the fork, and left out toilet paper. I sometimes get picky about toilet tissue. It’s amazing how valuable it is, though,  even if it’s a second cousin to sand paper.

Anyway, back to the abacus. I was never good in math. I mean, I did great with long addition, subtraction, division, multiplication. But then, when it had to be explained instead of ciphered, with algebra, geometry, and we shall not even mention calculus, I started feeling like the last monkey staring across the plain at a group of humans building a fire. In other words, I saw the need, appreciated the effort, but had no way of fathoming the process.

I probably should go out, find an abacus and enlighten myself on its value, but instead, I think I’ll just go to the store and purchase a calculator.