Stopping to smell the roses

By Jack Sparacino
There’s nothing like the heat of summer to prompt you to slow down, pour some iced tea and smell the roses (or whatever’s blooming that doesn’t prompt a sneezing fit). Take a break. And philosophize about the really big stuff. The following items topped my list recently.
1. Who’s smarter, Harvard graduates or Harvard dropouts? I’ve always suspected it might actually be the dropouts, who were smart enough to get into Harvard in the first place but perhaps so gifted and creative that even extraordinary classroom and academic environments are too confining for them. I’m thinking of people like Edwin H. Land, R. Buckminster Fuller, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, William Randolph Hearst, and Robert Frost. Does anyone have comprehensive data on this?
2. OK, it’s 2012 for heaven’s sake, so which actually did come first, the chicken or the egg? Once and for all. Maybe we should convene a blue ribbon panel which includes representatives from the poultry industry (is Jim Perdue available?), the Deviled Egg Society of America, a paleontologist, an archeologist, a biologist … and of course a logician. How about we give them 48 hours to render their decision and a straightforward explanation. This will go a long way toward answering the age old question of whether to serve egg salad or chicken salad first at a picnic.
3. Why do politicians (only, it seems) carry their office titles for life? Senator so-and-so. Governor such-and-such. Shouldn’t the same courtesy be offered to former company presidents, team leaders, and various officers, for example? And how did General Mills, Colonel Mustard, Captain Crunch and Sergeant Pepper cut in line?
4. Given how the human spine is configured, with all those moving parts, walking upright can be pretty stressful over a lifetime. There must be a better design that would lead to fewer back aches.
5. I’ve seen ground black pepper advertised as an excellent, healthy antioxidant. But who could eat enough of it to realize a significant benefit? (I’m open to being peppered with suggestions on this one.)
6. How in the world do great mystery/thriller writers do it? Where do all those plot twists and diabolical characters come from? The number of terrific books that top-selling authors such as John Grisham, Nelson DeMille and John Sandford turn out is truly astounding. It’s a mystery to me.
7. Grade school kids often say they want to be professional athletes, teachers, nurses, firefighters, astronauts, etc. All good and understandable. But do ANY of them EVER say they’re looking into taxidermy? Accounting? Managing a convenience store? Engineering? Running a bowling alley? Becoming an entrepreneur or inventor?
8. Whatever happened to popular girls’ names from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s? You know, like Linda, Becky, Jane, Sally, Jill or Debby. By the year 2020 or so, will all baby girls in America be named Emma, Sophia or Isabella? Britney or Courtney, anyone?
9. Cheese dates back 5,000 years or so (a good reminder to always check expiration dates). Curiously, crackers didn’t come along until 1792 when John Pearson made a rock hard bread product from just flour and water in Newburyport, Massachusetts. He called it Pearson’s Pilot Bread. It was a big hit with sailors because it lasted a long time and became known as hardtack or sea biscuit. In case anyone was wondering where the word “cracker” came from, Josiah Bent, another Massachusetts baker, deserves the credit. In 1801 he burned some biscuits in his brick oven. The burning biscuits made a “crackling” noise, hence the name. Mr. Bent later sold his business to the National Biscuit Company and the rest is history.
9a. Why do boxes of Cracker Jack not include any crackers? Maybe they should be called Popcorn Jack.
10. Lots of great songs have been written about trains (e.g., “City of New Orleans,” “Train Time”), cars (“Pink Cadillac,” “Little Deuce Coupe”) and airplanes (“Leaving On a Jet Plane,” “Bloody Mary Morning”). Seems like not enough songs feature bikes or buses. Anyone care to take a crack at snowmobiles?
11. What’s with Spanish moss not draping itself on pine trees or palmettos, don’t they like them? I don’t understand why the moss seems so overwhelmingly attracted to oak trees.
OK, break’s over. Time to check the crab trap. And then the cheese and cracker supply.

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