Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

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This post was supposed to be “Of Slugs IV” in my little series within my series on classroom and education events. However, …


We are sort of celebrating this morning because the AQI1Air Quality Index is down to unhealthy. It rained during the night, but the smell of smoke is still in the air.

Remember the song “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” a show tune written by American composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach for the 1933 musical Roberta. The song was sung in the Broadway show by Tamara Drasin. But most of my generation remember the Platters release in November 1958.

What do you know about William Robinson Jr.? Er… Smokey Robinson!

Remember Lit’l Smokies? The adds said, “No Artificial Ingredients.” Good sales pitch, I think, but what is an artificial ingredient2Yes I know the definition? An ad for another product touts, “Made from real ingredients!”

Consider the reality of artificial flavors. Artificial reality? Artificial Reality is the first of book series by Myron W. Krueger about interactive immersive environments. The phrase ‘artificial reality’ brings to mind virtual and augmented reality. (Reality: the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.

I had the idea that one would find more time than ever to finish multiple writing projects. There was a time when I did or had to work under the ‘time is money’ concept. Being an octogenarian with a fixed income3Fixed does not always mean not enough for the petition ‘give us our daily bread’ in the Lord’s Prayer! means that concept is long in the past.

Someone said, “the past is over – get over it.” I’ve said that phrase a few times while reminiscing events over which I had some control. Thankfully, I’ve taken that advice.

My contribution to

tells about results of following advice.


How far off an original thought can one get in less than 1000 words when there is more than enough time to stay on track? Like someone said, and I paraphrase, “Give me a week and I’ll give you ten-thousand words; give me two weeks and I can make it five-thousand.”


Next post4I think
Of Slugs IV”


Last line in Iniquities of the Fathers: A Story of Illusions and Deceptions – That evening he wrote and mailed long letters to Lillie Grand, Deb Johnson, and Sam Murphy.

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“Good, Very Good, Best” is my contribution to Chicken Soup for the Soul.


High school was difficult for me in the mid-1950s. My high school counselor told me that college wasn’t in my future. I would graduate in the middle of my class. And we were poor—my widowed mother often stretched a half-pound of hamburger to feed seven kids. He concluded our pre-graduation meeting with, “Benson, I believe the military would be a good fit for you.”

I did well in the Army, and my electronics training was a foundation for later things. The counselor’s advice was good, but it wasn’t the best advice I’ve ever heard.

My work in the Army qualified me for a manufacturing job with a small company in Minnesota. It was a low-paying position, but any job to support my wife and three kids during a Midwest winter was a good job.

The agency I’d been with in the Army recruited me to return to Virginia for an unposted civilian job. The government salary wasn’t significantly higher, but health benefits and other perks gave me the incentive to accept the offer. However, I still needed a part-time job to support my family once we settled in.

So, I worked evenings and some weekends as a clerk at one of the stores in a rapidly expanding drugstore chain. After less than a year, I was recruited into the company’s management program. Compensation in the training program was equal to government employment, so with the expectation of advancement, I changed jobs. Leadership skills I’d learned in the Army were a personal asset in my new occupation.

The day I was promoted from trainee to assistant manager, my district manager said, “You’re moving up faster than most, but remember this—while climbing the ladder of success, you might have to climb back down someday. In other words, always treat those you supervise with respect and fairness.” His advice was very good, but still not the best advice I’ve ever heard.

We were spending a summer afternoon with friends from church, and our conversation turned to our work and the future. Our friends were preparing to move back to their home state, where they were both certified to teach. My friend Lyle asked about my own work and what might be ahead for me.

I told Lyle that my previous boss, who had recruited and promoted me to manager, was moving up to the corporate office. He told me I was on the fast track for supervising one of the new districts. The increased pay and responsibility seemed like a good incentive to accept the position, but I lamented that the working hours and traveling time would increase.

When Lyle asked what I’d really like to do, I told him, “Teach.” I explained that my favorite job had been teaching operation and field maintenance of communications equipment to U.S. embassy personnel when I was in the Army.

He asked if I had a teaching degree, and I told him I had taken only a few college classes. When he suggested that I could enroll and maybe transfer my previously earned credits, I said, “I’m nearly thirty-three, with house payments and a family to support. Do you know how old I’d be if I went to college now?”

He countered, “How old will you be if you don’t go?”  That was the best advice I’ve ever heard.

Three years later, I graduated with a teaching degree and started a satisfying thirty-five-year career as an education professional. I retired from teaching with an advanced degree, and now I can afford hamburger.

My high school counselor’s good advice was helpful. My district manager’s very good advice was practical. But the best advice I’ve ever heard, my friend’s question, was life-changing