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a silent salute: The audience "claps" at Joke Night during Deaf Awareness week. Click Arts&Life for a link to story. / Photo by Leah Lopshire

Today's word on journalism

December 15, 2008

As part of my own personal "war on Christmas" (which a Utah state senator has offered legislation to outlaw), the WORD celebrates the season by going on hiatus until January. May all out days be merry and bright, and here’s to a safe, healthy and saner New Year. HoHoHo!

Empty Minds: "Of all the people expressing their mental vacuity, none has a better excuse for an empty head than the newspaperman: If he pauses to restock his brain, he invites onrushing deadlines to trample him flat. Broadcasting the contents of empty minds is what most of us do most of the time, and nobody more relentlessly than I."

--Russell Baker, Pulitzer-winning columnist

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Yasuko's smile and pizza invitations light up Hub customers' lives

By Ashley Schiller

November 21, 2008 | Anyone who has ever eaten at the Hub knows Yasuko Brown, the spunky Japanese woman who works at Pasta La Bella. She is a master salesperson and reels in undecided diners like giant trout.

"Hi, how you doing today? You want some pizza? It's so good," she says to nearly every person who comes into the Hub. If you make eye contact, your agency is out the window -- not even the Grinch could turn away from her bright smile.

Over the semester, I have grown to simply adore this woman. The world is changed in a small but indelible way by people who love their job, no matter what it is.

Yasuko makes every day count. Pizza sales have doubled at Pasta La Bella since she began working there almost a year ago. She has a personal goal to sell 100 pizzas in a day (whole pizzas, not slices). Right now, the average is about 80. Only positive attitudes and team work can get them to 100, she said with determination and faith in her eyes.

Yasuko wakes up at 3:30 a.m. each day so she has time to chant and pray before work. She prays for her goals -- including the 100 pizza mark -- and the happiness of everyone around her. The chanting is a practice of Nichiren Buddhism and is an extremely influential part of Yasuko's life.

"It give me positive energy and help me achieve my goals," she said.

Her testimony of chanting is so strong that she wants others to have the experience. She graciously invited me to a session at her home.

"You like Japanese food?" she asked.

"Yes, I do," I said.

"Oh, you should come!" she said.

The invite didn't really surprise me -- her heart is so big and open to everyone. She loves befriending college students and believes every person "has a treasure inside."

Another reason Yasuko enjoys the company of students is because many are nearly the same age as her children. She and her husband have three children. The two met in Nagasaki, Japan while her husband was serving as an American marine. They have been married for almost 38 years. She is very involved with Japanese culture here at USU and often dances in special festivals.

What a beautiful life.

What would we do without people like Yasuko? I suppose we'd all go on just fine, but something would be missing in our lives, like a bland plate of vegetables wanting of salt.

Yasuko is a daily reminder to me that attitude is everything and making other people smile is one of the greatest gifts we can give our communities. In the words of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, "One person can make a difference and every person should try."


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