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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, May 6, 2009 • Posted May 6, 2009

Flu Bug Flying High…

Column #314 for Release Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dogs’ barks, the saying goes, typically are worse than their bites.

Not so, however, with swine flu, whose potential dangers loom to be far more ominous than a porcine’s “oink.”

There’s never a convenient time for epidemics, or even worse, world-wide pandemics. But when such potential health catastrophes occur near the end of a school year, “havoc” seems far too tame a word to describe the disruptions. And this is true for educators and students alike….

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Both groups are running short of furrows to accommodate worries embedded on troubled brows.

Looming for some educators and students are canceled and postponed events, possibly including proms, commencement exercises and “Project Graduation” events.

Superintendents, bless ‘em, figured their lives couldn’t become more complicated. They’ve shuffled schedules to provide more time for school funding issues and such. Now, they’ve got to consider possibility of swine flu. Shucks, some of the administrators are also dealing with safety issues linked with, of all things, faulty light standards that teeter above athletic fields….

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I’ve long contended that school folks may provide the primary reason for the “National Day of Prayer” being recognized in the month of May.

Why? Because administrators, teachers, students and parents of students are already praying anyway! “Just help us make it through the year;” that’s their plea.

At press time, thousands of prospective graduates were feverishly addressing invitations to their commencement exercises, wondering, of course, if the events will be held as scheduled….

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They were already committed to getting invitations out early to beat the postal rate increase scheduled for May 11.

Two cents saved is two cents earned, they always say.

An even better incentive is to get ‘em mailed before events are cancelled. Wow, what if the “invites” become “virtual invitations” to “virtual commencement exercises.”…

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Prospective graduates are marking up phone books, “Googling” madly for addresses and names of relatives as far removed as fourth cousins and suddenly talking to parents about friends across the years who might enjoy seeing them cross the stage.

The point, of course, is to accrue as many gifts as possible.

Once we got an invitation addressed to “occupant.” Turns out it was from a kid who once toted our groceries to the car. I think I detected an “I’ll get even” smirk when I handed him his 25-cent tip….

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Truth to tell, all of us are immersed in education. This is as it should be.

We should aspire to be like green tomatoes.

As long as we’re green, we grow. When we think we’re ripe, we start to get rotten….

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Actually, Socrates was pushing this theory some 2,500 years ago. Once he asked, “Whom, then, shall I call educated?”

We don’t know whether he answered the question in the next moment, hour, week, month or year, but a few words later in history books, he provides the answer: “First, those who learn to manage well the circumstances they encounter day by day.”

As prominent and admired as he was, Socrates likely had few clues about how many new circumstances would come along. Seems like multiple new circumstances are encountered under every rock….

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People I’ve always respected most are the ones who’ve uttered the oft-heard expression: the one about their desire for their children to have more and better opportunities than they had.

A few days ago, I met a distinguished Fort Worth executive chef for the first time. His name is Jon Bonnell. He visited our table; his remarks focused on education. He was a high school teacher before opting to attend culinary institutes in New England and New Orleans. One of his joys now is teaching in various culinary venues. Jon shares his recipes with all who ask and opens his kitchen to visits at all times.

With culinary awards stacking up, he’s a quick-to-like guy. And he has a sense of humor to match. “When you visit my restaurant for the first time, you’re a rookie; when you return, you are a repeat offender,” he laughed. I think Socrates would have held classes at Bonnell’s, pointing to Jon as “Exhibit A” as a man who has learned a bunch, wants to share his expertise with others, and is ready to take on new circumstances as they come along. This includes, of course, swine flu and falling light poles….

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Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

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