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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."

Count your 'ordinary blessings' this Thanksgiving

By Lisa Christensen

November 26, 2008 | Thanksgiving is tomorrow and we all have a lot to be thankful for. Food is the most obvious one, with most of us looking forward to a feast grand enough to make Ghandi on a hunger strike drool. Most of us also have at least one change of clothes and a roof over our heads. Many of us even have cars.

We take these things for granted so often. It's great that these things are on our minds at this time of year (or should be, rather), but why do we need a holiday to make us count our blessings? Perhaps the best way to realize what we have is to consider the simple things others might not have.

Let's take water. We have drinking fountains in every building on campus, in every church house, in almost every store, all flowing with a cool stream of clean drinking water. What comes out of our taps? Unpolluted H2O goodness. How many people in the world are without this simple miracle of civilization? And this is even ignoring the miracle that is indoor plumbing. That's a lot to be thankful for even with just a flushing toilet when it's 20-below and a raging blizzard outside.

What about feeling relatively secure when you walk across campus? How lovely is it that we can ride on buses and walk down sidewalks and through shopping centers with at the most a very, very small chance of being attacked or the victim of a terrorist attack?

Many people are unhappy with the results of our recent election. Have you paused to think about how unusual that is to have democracy? The small margins of victory of candidates and bills are evidence that each vote really does count. Isn't that something for which we can all be deeply grateful? Even if things didn't go the way we wanted this time, there's always next election. And the assurance that our country will most likely still be here and enjoying the freedom of a collective decision is a pretty comforting one.

Some of us might just see Thanksgiving as a break before finals during which we can catch up on a little homework and studying, or perhaps as the deceptive calm before the storm. This is a very stressful time of year for everyone and many of us can hardy wait for the time when we won't have school (at least for a few weeks). But look at the bright side: we're going to school! We're going to college, people. Do you know how rare an opportunity that is in the global scheme of things? Even within the nation it is not yet the norm.

Instead of sleeping through classes or Facebooking on your laptop (sorry -- "taking notes"), try paying attention and learning something. You are paying more each semester than many people make in a year to get an education. Celebrate! When the professor hands out a test, smile and say a prayer of thanks. Say "Yes! I have a chance to fail an exam most of the world will never have the opportunity to take!"

Life is good. Remember that after Thanksgiving, after Christmas and into the new year.


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