Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Rider's Wednesday -- Dance Lessons

Yesterday, I spent a little bit of time playing with Theo. We didn't do any concentrated training. I just worked with him a little bit, encouraging him to pay attention to me and not be distracted by Spring Things.

He's a joy to work with, and he loves "school." He was perfectly happy to work at liberty in the round pen, and to practice rollbacks online.

Theo has been handled since the day he was born. He has no idea how big he is (about 18 hands, and still growing), or how much he weighs (close to 1800 pounds -- my weight tape doesn't go that high). I'd like to keep it that way.

I've used a lot of Clinton's techniques when working with Theo. I am continually impressed with how light, agile, and responsive they encourage horses to be. I've also used some of Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling's methods (but I'm less familiar with them, and thus, less sure of myself using them).

I highly recommend both trainers. Their emphasis on groundwork quickly produces a horse that is attuned to the handler. An added benefit is a handler that's more attuned to the horse. Both develop an awareness of each other, and understand each other's body language. When one moves, the other knows what it means, and moves accordingly. It's a phenomenal feeling.

Some people turn their horse handler noses up at doing groundwork exercises. I would argue that they're missing out. I don't think of it as Ground Work. To me, it's Dance Lessons.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

On Dan Brown, Damnation, and Decision-Making

God never fails. Unfortunately, organized religion never fails to disappoint. Rather than point us toward heaven and lift our eyes toward the possibilities, the religious Powers That Be prefer to point fingers and lift their eyebrows at naysayers.

Take the uproar over Dan Brown's book, The DaVinci Code, for instance. When I read the book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved Brown's literacy, his wordplay, his knowledge of history, and his verbal tour of Paris. I liked it so much that, when I finished it, I read Angels & Demons, (the prequel, of sorts -- also excellent), and all of his other books.

Never once did I say, "OH MY GOD! This book claims to be a novel. It clearly says it is a work of fiction... but it MUST BE TRUE."

(I also did not run out and buy all the books hurriedly written to ride The DaVinci Code's coattails, debunking Brown's "theories" and tut-tutting over his "assertions.")

I went to see the movie tonight. I thought it was a good adaptation of the book, and a fun ride. Never once, during the 2 1/2 hours I sat in the theatre did I labor under the misconception that I was watching a religious documentary (although the scene where Robert verbally spars with Lee over theological differences was pretty accurate).

Unfortunately, many Religious Leaders feel compelled to tell their sheep how wrong both book and movie are. For the past two weeks, our sermons in church have focused on Brown's book. (Not that our pastor has actually read it, you understand.) This past weekend, as he was gleefully deconstructing a point in the book, I sat and muttered for the millionth time, "...which is why it's called a work of fiction."

Nothing will damn you faster than allowing another to do your thinking.

I happen to believe that the average person is not dumber than a box of rocks.

I believe that people are capable of reading a thing for themselves, and arriving at their own conclusions about its verity.

I believe that people really don't want their religious leaders (or their politicians, for that matter) telling them what they can or can't watch or read.

When leaders start to pontificate about the supposed shortcomings of a work, I always wonder, "Who gives them the right to make a decision about what I see?"

In any given week, Hollywood releases films that depict unspeakable horrors, brutality, and depravity. Rarely does the Church address such fare. But when something comes out that is considered to be "church turf," the Leaders feel compelled to tell their Pew Sheep what to think. (Remember the frenzied kudos over Mel's gorefest "The Passion of the Christ?")

God created us with free will -- the mythology surrounding the Garden of Eden supports the premise. It appears that the Church has never forgiven Him for it. It never ceases to offend me.

Oh, to have religious leaders so upset over a work of my fiction that they drive it to the number #1 seat on the bestseller charts, and enable its movie adaptation to have the largest international opening weekend ever.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Shattered Dreams

I've written -- and deleted -- today's blog text about a hundred times. Trying to make sense of the curves life throws us is an exercise in futility.

I know a thing or two about Fate's sick sense of humor. But my broken dreams were never publicly played out on a worldwide stage. My heart goes out to Barbaro's owners, trainers, jockey, and team.

Further words are pointless. Nothing anyone says will remedy the situation. Someday, somewhere, God's got some explaining to do.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Word Trippers

Yesterday, I was editing a chapter of Dr. Warson's "Back Book" for riders and others with sore spines. During the edit, I ran into one of those nasty little English language bugbears -- knowing the difference between "lie" and "lay."

I've found that various English teachers, English majors, and others of the writing ilk tend to have their pet words.

Some, like one of my professors in university, know the difference between "that" and "which," and care very deeply whether or not one uses either word correctly.

Some are great spellers. They give two rips that words like "judgment" and "acknowledgment" are spelled with a "dgm" and not a "dgem."

Some find the difference between "who's" and "whose" obvious, and cannot believe that others... don't.

Some know instinctively that "different from" is correct, and "different than" is not.

Some can smell a passively constructed sentence, a dangling modifier, or a sentence ending with a preposition a mile away.

And some were born knowing when to use "lying" and when to use "laying." I am not one of these people.

For some reason, conjugating "lie" and "lay" correctly always gives me fits, sends me running to my grammar books (or, more efficiently, to my friend Terri Gordon ), and makes me question my judgment (no "e").

I know why this is. It's the little prayer we learn as kids: "Now I lay me down to sleep..." I overlook the reflexive construction of the sentence ("I" do something to "me," so "me" becomes an object...), and focus on the "lay" part. I want to write about a person "laying down to sleep."

But this is wrong.

A person is lying down to sleep. "Is lying." As in -- being supine is the same as not telling the truth.

A hen, on the other hand, is laying an egg. As in -- "Look at me everyone! I have created life... or an omelet."

Barbara McNichol , a writer and editor I met at the Marketing Conference I attended in L.A. in March, calls things like my lie / lay mental block "Word Trippers." She specializes in them. She's even published an e-book that explains over 200 of the little buggers.

Barbara publishes a free monthly e-newsletter full of tips and inspiration for writers. (If you sign up for it, tell her I sent you!) In each one, she includes several such Words, and tells you how to avoid Tripping up on them. I'm certain she's covered lie / lay before, but knowing how to use either one correctly sometimes still makes me go "hmmm?"

It just goes to show -- no one will ever know it all. And trying to is quite tiring. Going to go lay myself down now, and get some sleep!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Rider's Wednesday -- Fire Drills

Yesterday, I wrote a bit about how my friend Denise discovered a barn fire just in time to put it out.

The fire involved electrical equipment. But I didn't know where the main switch was to shut the power off to the barn. I also wasn't sure where her fire extinguishers were located. When she yelled, "Grab a bucket of water!" finding a bucket in a horse's stall was easy. But the bucket was empty, all the watering troughs were difficult to get to, and the water pump was not immediately accessible.

The incident shook both of us. We got to talking about how well we did or didn't know each other's barns, and what to do (God forbid) should a similar situation arise.

Then we took the topic one step further, and considered our friends' and neighbors' barns. We discovered that either:

A.) we weren't as familiar with our friends' set-ups as we'd thought, or
B.) the barns in question had some serious design flaws that should be considered before an emergency arises.

For instance, one friend's water pump is located inside the barn, down a dark, fairly narrow corridor. In the case of a fire, it could be dangerous -- if not impossible -- to access.

None of us, we discovered, knew how to shut the power off to anyone else's barn. (One friend doesn't have a power shut-off outside -- it's only possible from the house. Not so good if there's an emergency and they're not home.)

With one exception, none of us knew where the others kept their fire extinguishers.

We weren't even sure where our friends and neighbors kept extra, empty buckets, or where an auxiliary water source could be found.

And so, each of us are drafting a Fire Drill protocol for our property. It will include contingencies for evacuating horses and other livestock (like Fair turkeys!). It will also include the locations of such important things as buckets, extinguishers, water, power, and exits. We're going to go over our drills on site, so that we know where things are in case of an emergency.

If you haven't yet done so, I urge you to come up with a fire plan for your place right now. Then, make sure that everyone who regularly visits your property knows where things are and understands what to do in case of emergency.

There's an old saying about locking the barn after the horse gets out. I'll admit, it took a fire to make us evaluate our preparedness to deal with a crisis. Fortunately, the crisis was small when we found it. Because the sad truth is, we were not prepared for anything big.

I pray that we will never need to use our fire preparedness. But if the situation does arise, here's hoping that a little advance preparation will help us avoid disaster.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

When Coincidence is Real

Yesterday, I had the experience of living through something I would never have believed if I read it in a book or saw it in a movie.

I met my friend Denise around 10 a.m. for brunch and mutual errand-running. I left my truck at her place and she drove. We enjoyed a leisurely meal, and contemplated having an extra cup of tea, but decided against it. We went to Family Farm & Fleet where we got a pallet of bedding. We stopped by Goodwill and dropped off 6 bags of clothes. We went to the bank.

Denise mentioned she was looking for a smaller, square or rectangular outside garbage can to keep goat feed in. We went to Wal-Mart, but the ones they had were all far too large for what she wanted. We bought a booster seat for the various toddlers who will be riding in vehicles with her this summer.

Cassandra fell asleep in the back seat on the way home. I told Denise that I had two garbage cans / feed bins she could choose from. So, we went to our farm, unloaded my bedding, and measured my garbage can offerings. Too big.

We went back to Denise's place so I could get my truck. Cassandra was still zonked out, so we let her sleep a bit. Denise took me to the goat shed and showed me her current garbage can / feed bin set-up. We took more measurements. She said that she had a garbage can of the right dimensions in the big barn, so we opened the barn doors and showed me what she was talking about. Then...

"Something smells hot," she said.

She followed her nose to the corner of the barn and discovered that the stall containing her son's white Fair turkeys was on fire! The stall was closed up tightly to keep out drafts. A rod holding two heat lamps in the stall had fallen, somehow. One lightbulb had exploded everywhere. The other heat lamp had overheated and torched the pine shavings. Several lines of flames were dancing across the floor.

Denise turned off the power to the barn. We ripped open the outside barn door, tore down the tarp that was holding drafts out, and headed in with a hose. The fire had already reached an outside barn wall. The wall was scorched and charred, but hadn't yet ignited.

We figure that the fire only needed 2 or 3 more minutes to have been more than we could put out on our own.

One extra cup of tea... One more bathroom break... One more errand to run... One more red light on the way home.

Had Cassandra not been asleep, I probably would have put her in our car and left as soon as we got back to Denise's farm. In any case, without the recurring motif of a search for a garbage can, we would never have opened the barn door. The barn was shut up tightly -- there was no reason for anyone to go in there for hours...

So many coincidences came together for us to be in the right place at the right time. Like I said, if I'd read it or seen it onscreen, I'd have never bought it. "Too contrived," I'd have said.

Coincidence ruins art. But it's what saved a hundred year old barn yesterday.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mothers Day

My parents are visiting for the weekend. Yesterday, precious little work got done because we were out shopping. ("What do you mean, you're not going with us?" was my mother's reply when I told her that I'd be staying home because I had work to do...)

My mom is thoroughly enjoying being a grandmother -- and my daughter is soaking up all the doting attention. They're playing in the hallway now, after watching "The Heffalump Movie," one of Cassandra's favorites.

Today's post is not about writing or riding. It's about Moms. We've all got one. Some are great, some are tragically terrible. Some are biological and others are God-given. Some are superwomen, and some are so deeply flawed that they irreparably damage their children. But good, bad, or indifferent, they all brought life into the world and allowed it to grow.

As a mother, my goal is not to create a carbon-copy of myself (heaven forbid!), but to raise a person who can make her own way in life, who knows her own heart and mind, and who can have an impact on the world, and on other.

I am very blessed to have a wonderful mother. She has always been happy for my successes, and supportive of my goals -- even when she didn't understand what motivated me. With any luck, Cassandra will feel the same way about her mother when she grows up.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

On Irons, Fires, Loose Ends, and Works in Progress

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from a consulting client responding to a variety of e-mails that had originated on my end over the past two months. It was nicely itemized. The client was checking in and providing an update on several different marketing projects, prospects, and possibilities.

What this means, of course, is that the ball for follow-up is now in my court. I'm pretty good at follow-up, in most cases. But I'm one of those people who actually does what I say I'll do. My client is the same way. I (rather stupidly) think that others will do the same. So, when people tell me they will do something, I'm not one to continuously bug them. And, perhaps, sometimes I should.

So, today, I'm going to bug a few people.

I'll go through the list of marketing prospects, and determine where I stand on each one in terms of follow-up on commitments. In other words, I've got to check all the irons I've got in the fire. I've got to try to tie up some loose ends, and earmark others for tying up soon. If at all possible, I hope to get that done in time to also finish up a work in progress for another client.

It's good to be busy. But every so often, it's necessary to take a day and tend to the fire irons...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Rider's Wednesday -- Equine Education

As I mentioned on Monday, I spent some time this week working up a press release and flier informing people in our locale about a free Equine Clinic that will be held next Wednesday, May 17, at 6:00 p.m. at Whistler Farm in Coloma, Michigan. Sponsored by Millburg Red & White and Kent Feeds, Inc., the clinic will feature presentations from a variety of equine experts.

* Dr. George Bergman, DVM, of the Bergman Veterinary Medical Center in Cassopolis, will discuss effective equine de-worming programs & parasite control.

* Dr. Martin Langhofer, DVM, from South Bend's Western Veterinary Clinic, will speak on equine dentistry. Dr. Langhofer is an international authority on the subject.

* Mike Accoe, a Kent Feed representative will talk about equine nutrition and explain how to maintain an effective equine feeding program.

* Bradley Langhofer, a certified farrier, registered with the American Farrier Association, and a registered Veterinary Technician, will discuss trimming and shoeing issues.

Each session will include a question and answer period. Audience participation and interaction will be encouraged.

Other speakers may be added, as space and time permit. My friend, Denise, who owns Whistler Farm, will provid cold drinks and snacks for attendees. All who attend will be eligible to win valuable door prizes.

The evening promises to be both fun and informative. Denise is encouraging all horse owners, riders, and equine enthusiasts to attend. 4-H and Pony Club members are welcome, too.

It's hard to get people out of their houses for seminars, I know. And so many "horse people" think they know it all when it comes to such routine things as parasite control, feeding, dental maintenance, trimming, and shoeing. But no one can ever know everything. Where our horses are concerned, it makes sense to keep our equine education current. I hope Denise has a good turnout. I'll let you know.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Fact Tracks & Killing Babies

The current chapter I'm writing of Dr. Warson's back book is about the physics involved in riding. It's a very interesting examination of how Newton's Laws of Motion apply to different riding disciplines, and how the various forces encountered in those disciplines affect the rider's back.

It's not just about what happens to you when you fall (although some of the mechanics of that are discussed as well). No, it also explains what mechanical and physical laws come into play when you do everything right. It's quite eye-opening.

Now, Dr. Warson knows his stuff. I'm not the neuro-surgeon. He is. But my job is to make sure he comes across to the reader as clearly and as coherently as possible. To that end, I double check everything.

I don't take anything he says at face value. I'm not trying to be difficult -- it's my job to make sure the book is right. So, when he talks about Newson's three Laws of Motion, I double check to make sure that he's got the right concepts for the three, and that he's got them in the right order. I also make sure that the photo ideas and text examples are appropriate.

Sometimes, the co-author's (or ghostwriter's) job is not to check the facts that are included in a project, but to weed out the facts that don't belong. In the case of our current chapter, the source material Dr. Warson provided me is full of fascinating biophysical factoids. It's not that they don't belong in a book. They just don't all belong in this book.

I came across one such piece of information today. Dr. Warson is quite attached to it, and really wants it included. I wrote it up. It's currently in the text. But it's earmarked for exclusion if the project runs long and needs whittled down to an acceptable word count.

"You've got to be willing to kill your babies," are famous words of advice to screenwriters, but they apply equally well to all writing -- fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and more. Sometimes we can become so enamored with a character, a scene, or an entire chapter that we fail to see how much the work would be improved without it. It's often worth our while, however, to see if losing a pet phrase or excising a favorite fact is really in the best interests of the project as a whole.

The particular "baby" that inspired this post is still with us. But its days are numbered...

Monday, May 08, 2006

Press Releases Revisited

I'm meeting with my friend Denise today to discuss ways of getting the word out about an equine information clinic she'll be holding at Whistler Farm on May 17. A vet will be there to talk about the special needs of senior horses. Another vet will discuss equine dentistry. A representative from Kent Feeds will be there to talk about nutrition. And an equine chiropractor / acupuncturist may be there as well.

The clinic will be free to the public. All in all, it's the sort of thing that should be of interest to anyone who has a horse. The trick is letting those people know that it will happen.

I'm going to help her write a press release, and brainstorm other ways to let the public be aware of what is happening. As we all know -- having the best-planned, most interesting, most informative event is pointless if no one knows about it. The press release is not the only tool available for telling people about what's happening. But it is a useful tool.

In Other News

We had a houseguest this weekend -- my roommate from university came from Columbus, Ohio, for a visit. Went canoeing on a nearby small lake, watched videos, ate food that was bad for us, and just generally lazed around.

Also fought a nasty case of poison ivy that has affected both arms, my face, and infiltrated my sinuses. Not as fun as you might think. I discovered that washing the offending areas with warm, soapy water, and then applying liquid Benadryl (used for children's allergies) topically works better than anything else. Haven't figured out how to snort Benadryl and get the sinuses.

Today (in addition to working up Denise's press release), is set aside for working on the next chapter of Dr. Warson's book. Gotta stay on track to finish by the end of the month.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Ethics of Judas

Or, Everything's For Sale

The LA Times' cogent musings on the ethics involved when National Geographic paid at least $1 million for the right to the content in the Gospel of Judas is rich food for thought.

If you are unaware, the Gospel was originally purchased for $300,000 by a person with a history of dealing in looted, ill-gotten antiquities. The Gospel of Judas is one such antiquity. It's provenance is spotty -- the sort of thing that National Geographic generally frowns upon.

Lara Croft aside, tomb raiders are generally bad. They plunder sites, robbing them of their historical accuracy and their archaeological treasures. Their methods are quick and crude. As often as not, they destroy more than they take away, in their efforts to claim their prizes.

In fact, archaeologists in Guatemala are currently working against the clock to hold off tomb raiders long enough to discover some of the secrets hidden in a royal Mayan tomb that dates back to 500 A.D. -- or 1,000 years before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores.

Imagine--you have made the discovery of a lifetime. It could affect our understanding of an extinct culture and time. It could re-write history (or at least add to it in some significant way). You have studied for this and spent years preparing. You have painstakingly prepared the site so that no aspect is overlooked, tossed aside, or ignored. But when you do find something that makes it all worthwhile, you must do your best work under the ticking time bomb of some lout who is only interested in raping your work of everything that holds monetary value -- and is heedless of the damage he causes while doing so.

Ah, but there's money to be made, so that evidently makes it acceptable to bolster the credibility (and the bank accounts) of grave robbers, tomb raiders, and other archaeological neo-destructionists. The Gospel of Judas made for a very interesting television special, I understand. And it's been returned to the land from which it was plundered.

So that's all right, then, isn't it?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

What Point Geography?

According to a recent AP story in USA Today, a significant portion of young adult Americans, aged 18 - 24 (prime Hollywood target demographics), cannot find Iraq on a map of the Middle East. They are also incapable of finding the states of Louisiana or Mississippi on a map of America -- thereby perfectly equipping them for a career in federal emergency relief.

This means, of course, that the average high school and college grad couldn't find Tonga, New Zealand, or -- dare I say it? -- the South Pacific on a map. So hearing about Thursday's earthquake that registered 8.0 on the Richter scale wouldn't affect them in any way.

The purpose of this post is not to poke fun at all those "poor, uneducated kids." I, myself, as a product of our public educational system, am geographically challenged. No, I'm more concerned with the system that routinely encounters statistics like these (a significantly horrifying percentage of this segment of society can't even find India or Israel on a map, for cryin' out loud! I'll take "Countries Beginning With 'I,'" for 400, Alex...) without making it a priority to rectify the situation.

When I was in the 18-23 year old age group, I remember reading some of these same stats. An entire generation has gone to school since then and nothing has changed.

As my mother is so fond of saying, "No education is ever wasted." Could it be that we do not teach our children the geography of the world we all share because we fear that we will expose them to different ideas, broaden their horizons, or cause them to grapple with the knowledge that we are not alone on this planet? Our actions here affect everyone -- whether we can find them on a map or not.

Back Book Update

I finished the next chapter of Dr. Warson's Back Book yesterday and sent it off for his approval. The book is now officially half written. Rah! I'm right on track for finishing it by the end of the month.

Geoff Teall Hunter / Jumper Book Update

Geoff's book is doing well on rankings. Yesterday, the paperback was ranked 34,400. Not bad for a title that's not yet released.

I heard from Trafalgar Square -- we should have our authors' copies soon. Can't wait, as there are several people who helped with the book, who are eager to see the fruits of their labor.

And, in Other News

Persistence pays off. I'd like to send out a huge, personal CONGRATULATIONS to my friend, screenwriter John Alarid, for receiving the Bronze Remi Award at the 39th Annual Worldfest Houston International Film Festival.

John and I met a few years ago at the Austin Film Festival. He's quite talented -- this is just the most recent in a string of solid contest results. It's a tough business. Congratulations, John!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

On Basics, Boredom, and Breeding Contempt

When Robert and I were first married, we took a month-long honeymoon. We had no money. We had no jobs. We had just graduated university, had no commitments -- nowhere we needed to be. We rented a cabin near the Finger Lakes of upstate New York and did absolutely nothing of consequence for 4 glorious weeks.

The area was gorgeous. We hiked and explored in the state parks and wandered up and down some of the lakeshores. We went up to Canada--to Niagra Falls--for a weekend, but for the most part, we stayed fairly close to home. It was delightful. Calm. Quiet. Serene. Beautiful. And inexpensive. Perfect.

No one we talked to could believe we were on our honeymoon. We were asked "Why come here?" more times than we could count. We saw beautiful trees, historical sites, and quiet streets. All those who lived there could see were factories closing, imminent job shortages, and roads in need of repair.

Familiarity, the adage tells us, breeds contempt.

It happens when we know something so well, so intimately, so thoroughly that we see it only through jaded eyes that have become blind to its charms. We are actually surprised to discover that someone else finds mystery or consequence in something with which we have become hopelessly familiar.

The contempt of familiarity is a very real danger to any work of non-fiction. Since the writer is an expert on the subject matter, he or she is so well-versed, so up-to-date, and has such a complete grasp of the material that the reader is often not given all the information necessary to understand what is written.

Excessive familiarity blinds the author to an understanding of what the average reader may not know before reading the book. It can lead the author to assume that everyone knows a thing when, in fact, only masters of the craft are aware of it. It causes authors to use jargon, acronyms, and "inside terminology," rather than defining a word or explaining a phrase.

The last few projects I've worked on have been at risk for this. In every instance, the projects benefitted from the clear, unclouded eye of someone who was completely unversed in the subject at hand.

(That "someone," incidentally, wasn't always me. I, too, find it easy to assume that the reader is more knowledgeable about a subject. If I'm co-authoring a project about which I know nothing, I'm pretty good at eliminating jargon. If I know something about the subject matter, however, I try to get the opinion of someone else.)

This topic has arisen somewhat as we're working on Dr. Warson's Back Book. A portion of the book covers what happens during a typical back exam. It tells about certain physical movements and diagnostic tools. It explains what the patient can expect. It also illuminates what the physician does, and what he's looking for.

Neurological exams are not a part of the average person's day. So, we're taking great care to define any anatomical or diagnostic terms, to include a lot of illustrations, and to explain exactly what happens. Dr. Warson voiced a concern that the information in this chapter might be a little... well... dull.

Upon re-reading it to see if he had a point, I had to laugh. It's not boring, it's thorough. It's not dull, it's detailed. When the final edit comes, we'll take pains to make the reading as interesting and engaging as possible. But the information contained in the chapter so far must stay. Only a neurosurgeon with 30 years of practice would find it contemptuously familiar. The rest of us need to read it.

Monday, May 01, 2006

So It Comes To This...

I look forward to working all day writing Dr. Warson's Rider's Back Book. The book has merit, and we hope that once it's in print it finds its audience.

With that in mind, I felt compelled to share this, and ask the burning question:


It's not the book I object to. Perhaps the content is quite useful. It's the title that disturbs me. I find it genuinely unsettling that a single person on the planet thought helping self-described "dummies" live longer would be a valuable contribution to the world.

Evidently, the book does NOT contain such gems as:

"Join the armed forces. Safety is found in numbers."

"The toxicity of arsenic is overrated. A small dose, taken daily with a glass of water, is an excellent systemic preservative."

"Sky diving, bungee jumping, racing Superbikes, rock climbing, and steeplechasing are phenomenal stress relievers."

"If accosted by a mugger, thief, mobster, or drug addict, refusing to cooperate and ridiculing his parentage or IQ is an effective means of forcing him to commit a felony -- thereby increasing the chances of putting him behind bars."

"Seat belts and helmets are for wusses."

...But maybe it should.