Top 'o the morn

"Pablo Casals, the world's greatest cellist of his time, was asked by a reporter, Mr. Casals, you are 95 years old, and the greatest cellist that ever lived. Why do you still practice six hours a day?Casals answered, Because I think I am making progress.Although far from the greatest in any effort of our own life, we understand somewhat what this great man meant. He meant don't give up because a few extra years of your life urge you to do so. Enjoy your work, and continue to produce. Be thankful for all the years you have had, the friends you have made, and the joy of living that comes now and then, regardless of the down years. When someone tells you they enjoy your work, take it as a special blessing. Thank goodness that you aren't a politician.Mark Russell, that piano-playing humorist, defines the word polytician: Poly is a Greek work meaning many, and ticks are bloodsucking leeches. Of course that doesn't apply to all politicians. We have known a number who are God-fearing, loyal, decent men and women who were a pleasure to have working for the great American public.Newspapering is a life-work that has many pitfalls, one of which is the typographical error. Let a letter be left out of a word, or put in the wrong place and as Grandma would have said, The Divil's a hog! (No typographical error here. The divil was a divil, in those days!) The typographical error is a slippery thing and sly. You hunt till you are dizzy, but it somehow will get by, 'Til the forms are off the presses, it is strange how still it keeps, It shrinks down in a corner and never stirs or peeps. The typographical error is too small for human eyes, 'Til the ink is on the paper, when it grows to mountain size. The boss, she stares with horror, she grabs her hair and groans, The copyreader drops his head upon his hands and moans, The remainder of the issue may be clean as clean can be, But the typographical error is the only thing you see! People are strange. Experimenting, one biologist placed plastic reptiles on highways and studied 22,000 simulated road crossings in an effort to prove that every time a snake or turtle crossed the road, there is one chance in 12 it won't make it.His findings: 87 percent of motorists went out of their way to avoid the animal; six percent went out of their way to hit it; and seven percent scored accidentally. Not surprisingly, twice as many drivers made a special effort to hit the snake rather than the turtle.Which gives one a good view of the human race and potential. Like the fella who had two brains. One was lost, and the other one was out looking for it.Then, of course, in newspapering, the typo isn't the only error that makes printing so popular. Just plain reporting may be one. You report that was the way he said it, and the town needs to know. The speaker is either a hero or a dastard. (Yes, the d is the proper letter.) The reporter must convey whether the speaker is ineffective or properly motivated, and either way the readers are divided. And God save the queen!All in all, newspapering is not an easy job, particularly when you get in your 90s. But in 1973 a study of a group 87 years old or older found that their characteristics included a strong interest in current events; they enjoyed their jobs, were optimists, adaptable, and lived in the present. They had good senses of humor as well as a strong sense of religion. They remained physically active. So we'll keep writing.Writers run in our family, but most of them were being chased.---------Dorothy Neil has gathered and recorded Whidbey Island history for more than 50 years. She is the author of 10 books, including By Canoe and Sailing Ship They Came, which chronicle Whidbey life and times. "

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