Words Are Not So Easy

Grandson: Papa, I like democracy. Do you like democracy?
Grandpa: Of course I do.
Grandson: Is that like Democratic.
Grandpa: Why do you ask?
Grandson: My friend told me that Democratic was bad. He said Republican was good.
Grandpa: Well, son, democracy is really good. Democratic is not exactly the same.
Grandson:  But they sound almost the same. Grandpa, is it good to be right?
Grandpa:  Yes. I guess so. Why do you ask?
Grandson: My friend told me that the left is really very good, and the right is not.
Grandpa: Well words are not so easy.
Grandson: I know that I’m going to be democratic, and also I want to be right.
Grandpa: Sounds good son – just fine.
Grandson: I love you Grandpa.
Grandpa: I love you too


Home Come, How To Books, Don’t Work?


I’d like to have more friends, money, sex, power, strength, sleep, intelligence, and feelings. In addition, I’d like to improve my tennis, skiing, jogging, fishing, and cooking. Furthermore, I’d like to learn to speak Spanish, sail a sloop, throw a pot, snorkel, and do macramé.

All of the above are possible my making a trip to the local paperback bookstand. There is a “How-to-Book” for each of my desires. For a couple of dollars, I can purchase the means to gain a skill, a friend, a job, a lover, or even a new personality. For another two dollars, I can buy a “How-to-Lose” book which can undo all that I have gained.

Now that I’ve purchase the book, my life gets complicated. I don’t read!! Well, I do know how to read, but rather slowly. No problem! On the rack above “How-to-Peel Onions and Eat Garlic without Coming Apart”, is a “How-to-Improve Your Reading Speed in 10 Minutes per Day.”

I purchase the speed reading book and head home. It is now time to make life worth living! I am not really interested in reading faster, so I will skim the reading book. Skimming a book is a skill in itself, like skimming milk. How does one skim milk, let alone a book designed to improve your reading speed?

I read the authors’ notes on the front and rear covers; then I read any book reviews extolling the virtues of the book; then I read the chapter contents. Sounds good! Just 10 minutes per day for 300 days. That’s 3000 minutes of training or fifty hours. Why not one hour per day for fifty days, or perhaps a marathon of 50 hours? I wonder if you can adjust the training schedule and still improve? If I fail, I know it will be due to my modifying the training schedule. I am anxious to see exactly what is involved in the program.

I light up a cigarette and sit in my reading chair, a stool in the kitchen. I wish I had a comfortable reading chair, and proper reading lamp. Maybe I’ll read in bed? Maybe I’ll go to sleep.

But what about the improvements? What about my friends, money, sex, power, Spanish, and macramé? Oh well, I saw a book entitled, “How-to-Procrastinate and Enjoy it.”

Copyright, Thomas Golden, 1981

The Multiplication Tables


Have you ever given a toll booth collector a Canadian nickel? He will blow up your car!

Instead of giving the collector the toll of 65 cents, you give him sixty American cents and a Canadian nickel. God forbid you give him sixty cents and no nickel. He will ring the bell, sound the gong, flash the lights – just go completely berserk.

“What the hell are you doing, mister? You owe me a nickel – you owe me a nickel!”

“Yes, I know.”

He stares are you – glaring with all his venom because you busted him for a nickel.

When you think about his position, a nickel can be important to his well-being. What if the toll collector is really negligent? Four hundred thousand people a day pass through his booth and each one “stiffs” him for a nickel.

“Oh, it’s only a nickel; – it’s only a nickel.”

Let’s see the mathematics of it all: 400,000 people a day times a nickel. That’s like, $2,000.00 – no – $20,000.00. I know it’s the four times the five and then you have to handle (in your head) all those zeros. It is the zeros that can create havoc in your head.

Now 400.00 times five cents – five times four is twenty. Now, 400,000 times decimal point, zero, five, then I do a twist in my head, just behind my eyes. Four times five is twenty, zero, zero, zero, comma, zero, zero, zero. I strain to see my mental blackboard.

Now you understand what makes multiplying in your head difficult. It is handling all the commas and the zeros.

Tom Golden, PhD. Copyright, 1976

The Golden Rule


Why just one moment of silence?

The election results of November 8th, announced a new day for America. Pundits predicted major policy changes for defense, economy, rules of government, gun control, abortion rights, immigration regulations, and even changes in the Constitution of the United States.

Unbelievable as it may seem, the 36% of the eligible voters who went to the poles demanded a fundamental change in the constitutional prohibition against prayers in the public schools. Did I say prayer? Well I meant to say, a moment of silence, not prayer. Immediately, various lobbying groups voiced their opposition to just a ‘moment of silence’ in the old school house. The most vigorous groups protesting the ‘moment’ were the American Federation of Teachers, the Association of Public School Administrators and the National Education Association. The following is an office memo secreted out of the headquarters of the AFT. It is addressed to the President of the United States, with copies to Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh.

Dear Mr. President,

We take this opportunity to offer our total support for the notion of a moment of silence amendment, but we must humbly protest the restrictive nature of the ‘moment’. The silence that we would prefer is somewhat longer than a ‘moment’. Owing to the length of the public school day, and the unavoidable presence of children, we would suggest that the ‘moment’ be extended throughout the school day, approximately 6.5 hours.

Several advantages supported the extended ‘moment of silence’ concept. A student may pray at any time during the day, or even throughout the day. The privacy of silence would allow students of any religious persuasion to practice their beliefs to their hearts content. Even the agnostic, or the atheist could benefit from the silence period. Non-believers could recite the alphabet, or practice the difficult 8s and 9s multiplication tables. A student could daydream without punitive consequences. Children could think whatever they wished for as long as they desired.

Clearly the freedom to think is to be cherished, but there is a greater good that would derive from the extended moment of silence. The teaching population would be spared the incessant talking, whispering, shouting, gossiping, whining, hollering, and cursing that children are inclined to do. The constitutionally mandated daylong period of silence would free teachers from demanding silence, or punishing for speaking out of turn. The classroom would never again resound with such teacher outburst such as: Shut-up! Cut it out! No talking! Button your lip! Both the teacher and the student would have their privacy protected by the constitution. A student would never have to respond to a question, and possibly be in error. A non-responsive student might simply be engrossed in prayer. A prayer that is protected by all of the power of the United States Supreme Court.

We are proud of our chosen profession, and the responsibility that we have for the education of our children. We believe more than ever that silence is golden. We believe that prayer is good, but silence is better.


Sincerely yours,


Amercan Federation of Teachers.


Cc: Newt Gingrich

Rush Limbaugh


Copyright 1994, Writer’s Cramp, Tom Golden