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So I’m going to use the question of “What is Happiness?” as an intro into teaching freshman writing this spring. I wonder why I never thought of it before, and I’m curious to see how it pans out. Aren’ t you?

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If I squint, I can just about see both sides of the debate over allowing guns on college campuses. But I’ll admit I sympathize with those who would rather keep them off.

That said, my reasoning may be a little less reliant on preserving the notion that campuses should be scenes of peaceful debate. I highly doubt that students arguing about Plato’s Republic will end up settling their differences through a duel at high noon on the quad.

One part heat, two parts lightning.

What worries me instead is the potentially fatal brew of guns and alcohol.  It strikes me as mildly insane, at the very least, to ignore the risks of guns being mishandled, misused or misfired.

College students, convinced they will live forever, do all kinds of stupid things while drunk. Guns may become just one more tool to inflict self-harm–or worse.

And I get it that 18-year-olds are packing heat in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, uh, they go through something called training. I haven’t seen anyone require that of gun-toting college students. Perhaps, before it’s too late, someone will figure out a way to attach a breathalyzer to the trigger.

Grey, cloudy skies and bitter cold temperatures suck the life from people, students included. We should hibernate in the winter–or fly south–and go to school in the summer.

My goal today is to get better at sitting and typing even if I have nothing to say, hence the title of this post. Really, things could go either way. I could produce a placebo, or I could plumb some unknown depth.

The wrench is both a help and a hindrance to thieves.

Then I began looking for pictures, and wrenches seemed to predominate. So, they call the work plumbing, yet it involves a lot of wrenching. That seems fitting, somehow. But it doesn’t offer me any place to go. So, I will move to another interesting chapter in Tales of a Pathfinder, the 1920 memoir of highway pathfinder A.L. Westgard.

In this particular chapter, Westgard spills a great deal of ink describing the many languages he encounters in hamlets and towns across America. Here is his take on a Norwegian man, living in western Illinois, who spoke no English:

The wonder of it was that he had lived right on that land for forty-two years. As the country was settled almost exclusively by his countrymen, he had never learned English, though he had been a productive citizen for a generation and voted regularly at every election.

Westgard, an immigrant himself, was undoubtedly a sympathetic audience not given to flights of outrage over someone voting yet not being able to speak English. Ironically, however, Westgard’s work as a highway pathfinder helped connect those pockets of people speaking Norwegian, German, Italian and Spanish–no doubt ratcheting up pressure for everyone to learn English.

 

 

 

Note the absence of operating instructions.

Today’s college students are tech-savvy, sure. But here is how I would boil down my experience of digital natives trying to navigate the Internet:

People may grow up in a forest, but that doesn’t mean they know how to climb trees.