Friday, July 28, 2023

Insight: Think it’s easy being an editor?

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

For many years in my journalism career, I preferred being a news reporter or a sportswriter to serving as an editor and having to edit someone else’s articles.

Yet back in 1982 while serving in the U.S Air Force, someone in a position of leadership decided it was my turn to experience reading articles turned in by staff members and then trying to make them clear, concise, and understandable for newspaper readers. Along with that task, I had to compile a weekly list of stories appearing in the paper, prioritize their importance for placement on the pages of that week’s edition, write the headlines and photo captions, and then review assignments with reporters for the following week.

It was quite a challenge to serve as the editor of the base newspaper and I was happy to take on the responsibility until several weeks into the new role, I was working with a woman who I had assigned to cover the base’s new women’s softball team.

It’s more than 40 years later, but I can still recall the introductory paragraph to her story and to this day it still makes me chuckle. This reporter had previously only covered news stories and she told me that she knew very little about sports. I assured her that the article would just be about the formation of the new team, its practice schedule, and to focus on the team members, what squadron they were from, and who the coaches were.

She went out early on a Saturday morning and interviewed team members and then turned in her article on Monday for my review.

The opening to her story went like this: “Every Saturday morning a group of girls gather behind the base gym to throw balls at and tantalize each other.”

Somehow after reading that, I knew my career would never be quite the same. But I adapted and became adept at rewriting articles that needed help and leveraged my experience and resourcefulness when I returned to college, earned a Bachelor’s degree in journalism, and started working for a commercial weekly newspaper and then a daily newspaper as a reporter and sportswriter and a copy editor.

In 2009 while working for a daily newspaper in Florida, I was promoted to a department editor role that included overseeing the content creation and production of seven weekly newspapers. My team included several friends I had worked with previously as a copy editor and I was happy to have them working for me.

This new promotion meant I had to proofread their pages, assign articles to them for their editions and approve their output for publication.

One copy editor I had worked extensively with in the sports department was working on an upcoming edition and along with designing the newspaper pages, he had to write the headlines that appeared with the articles in that edition. The top story on Page 1 of that week’s edition was about a women’s church group that had knitted mittens, scarves, hats, and shawl wraps for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy at the hospital.

As we approached deadline, I received the page proofs from the copy editor and began a review but was stopped cold by a large headline at the top of Page 1 of this edition. In large type, his headline for the article was “Thou shawl cover the ill.”

Sorry to say, but that one was sent back for a headline rewrite.

Through the years, I’ve tried my best to keep ridiculous errors from happening in the printed edition, but I’ve learned that no matter how hard you try, typos and mistakes will happen.

Once while working for a weekly paper in New Mexico as a news reporter, I had to cover a short city council meeting, type up the story, and hand it to the copy editor who was finishing up the edition that was supposed to come out the very next morning.

The meeting itself only lasted about 15 minutes and had been quickly arranged so that city councilors could transfer funds from one city account to another to pay for bridge repair expenses performed by a local contractor.

I walked to city hall, covered the meeting, walked back to the newspaper office, and typed up my article. Before handing it over to the copy editor for placement as the top story on the front page, I checked my facts, verified the correct spellings of the city councilors’ names, and wrote the headline. The copy editor then selected the correct font and style and put it on the page before typing the headline.

My headline read as follows: “Council shifts cash in special session.”

As my work was complete for the day, I left and went home, only to be stunned the next morning when outside the door to the newspaper office, I caught a glimpse of the edition in the window of the newspaper box there.

In large letters across the top of the front page it had my headline, except the copy editor had mistyped it, omitting the “f” in shifts.

The newspaper editor then required that all stories and headlines undergo proofreading before publication. <

Andy Young: Holidaze

Given the combination of this summer’s frequent rain, ceaseless humidity, and society’s increasingly litigious nature, I'm surprised some attention-seeking, greed-fueled attorney representing the Canine Anti-Defamation League hasn’t filed suit to eliminate the use of the term “Dog Days.”

Routinely associating energy-sapping climatic conditions with man’s best friend seems like a good way to turn loyal, tail-wagging companions into snarling, vicious curs. It’s times like these we should be thankful that most dogs can’t read, and those that can are generally too literal-minded to take potentially offensive idioms or metaphors personally.

What makes the ongoing muggy midsummer doldrums even less tolerable is the total absence of formal holidays. This year’s gap between July 4th and Labor Day consists of 61 sweltering 24-hour spans. At least there’s a school vacation (not to mention St. Paddy’s Day) between Washington’s birthday and Memorial Day.

Late July shouldn’t be unpleasant, let alone oppressively soul sucking. Fortunately, thanks to one unusually informative and imaginative website, dissatisfaction about the apparent dearth of midsummer holidays can quickly become a thing of the past. Thanks to, anyone with the right attitude can spend this week fully enjoying a wide variety of celebrations.

For openers, July 28 is National Milk Chocolate Day, National Waterpark Day, and National Talk in an Elevator Day. It’s also World Nation Conservation Day, Peruvian Independence Day, and World Hepatitis Day. I found that last one alarming until learning its purpose is to raise awareness about hepatitis, rather than encouraging people to actually go around spreading the disease itself.

Another designated July 28 “holiday” that might benefit from a bit of rebranding is Anniversary of the Fall of Fascism and Freedom Day. I for one am not unhappy about Fascism’s demise, assuming it actually has been eliminated. But without some strategic rearranging of words, the day’s unwieldy name suggests that freedom has fallen along with fascism, and as an enthusiastic supporter and longtime advocate of liberty I find that unsettling.

Like its immediate predecessor on the calendar, July 29 has plenty of excuses to make merry, including National Lasagna Day, National Chicken Wing Day, and International Tiger Day. In addition, July 29 is National Harold Day. This is, unsurprisingly, intended to honor everyone named Harold. Actor Harry Belafonte, football star Red Grange, composer Hal David and baseball Hall of Fame member Pee Wee Reese, Harolds all, would no doubt have a swell time on this day, were any of them still alive to celebrate it.

Nearly every public school in America is currently on summer vacation, so why has July 30 been designated National Support Public Education Day? I’m all for nourishing public education, but there’s a reason why National Waterskiing Day isn’t in mid-February. More logically placed July 30 “Days” include National Friendship Day, National Cheesecake Day, National Father-in-Law Day, National Whistleblowers Day, Paperback Book Day, and Share a Hug Day.

July’s final 24-hour period is officially National Avocado Day, International Lifeguard Appreciation Day, Shredded Wheat Day, National Raspberry Cake Day, and Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day.

There are undoubtedly plenty of August “holidays” listed on but I’m not looking to see what they are. Many probably involve food, and I’m already going to have enough trouble consuming all the leftover milk chocolate, lasagna, chicken wings, cheesecake, avocados, shredded wheat, and raspberry cake from the four previous days of celebrating. Plus, I’ll still be trying to figure out what to do with all those paperback books and uncommon instruments I’ll have lying around.

Maybe to celebrate August I’ll just head for a waterpark to see if any lifeguards named Harold would like to share a hug. <

Friday, July 21, 2023

Insight: Where have all the scourges gone?

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

It seems the older I get, the less likely I am to encounter a scourge. You know, those annoying and irritating individuals who make your life miserable merely because they can.

Lt. Col. Frank Hill, right, presents Ed Pierce
with the 'Golden Quill' Award for writing
during a ceremony at The Pentagon in
Washington, D.C. in 1980.
Back in high school, whenever I would ride the school bus home, there was a classmate who always happened to be on the bus at the same time and this young man, whose name was Floyd, took delight in being a bully. He would sit near me and either grab my hat and use it as a frisbee on the school bus, or he would make off with one of my textbooks as we neared my bus stop and he’d refuse to give it back. Several times we came to blows and it came to the point that it was hard to make eye contact with him for fear of what would happen next.

After high school I never saw Floyd again until he walked up to me at the 45th class reunion and extended his hand to me. He hugged me and apologized for his boorish behavior and bullying me when we were teenagers. To tell the truth, I had long forgotten about some of those incidents until I saw Floyd again and his heartfelt apology indicated to me that he genuinely was sorry for the way he treated me years in the past. At subsequent class reunions and gatherings, I find myself looking for him and incredibly, I now consider him to be my friend.

Then there’s Lieutenant Colonel Frank Hill, an antagonist of mine from my days serving in the U.S. Air Force at The Pentagon in Washington, D.C. My duties as Public Affairs Representative for the 2044th Communications Squadron involved gathering information from members of our squadron and publicizing their achievements and activities by writing newspaper articles about them. For a long time, my unit’s commander was my supervisor but there were occasions where the deputy commander, Lieutenant Colonel Hill, would oversee my work and I would dread when that would happen.

He never quite grasped the value of publicity for the squadron and had little regard for time involved with interviewing people, collecting facts, and then writing an article. To that end, Lieutenant Colonel Hill would give me long lists of 50 or more potential articles to complete and then would chuckle as I would struggle to finish them by his arbitrarily imposed deadlines.

Once I asked him how he came about prioritizing his numbered list. He smiled at me and told me, “It’s stochastic derivation.” When I asked him what that meant he suggested that I find a dictionary and look it up. I found it is a mathematical term meaning to guess or at random.

After several months, our unit commander gave Lieutenant Colonel Hill new duties involving oversight of the telecommunications department working on the midnight shift, and he reassumed his direct supervision of me. Years later I heard from a friend that Lieutenant Colonel Hill had retired from military service and while watching a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game, he had died in the stands at Busch Stadium when he choked while eating a hot dog and suffered a stroke.

For several years at a newspaper in Florida in the late 1990s and into the 2000s, I sat across the aisle from a fellow named Ernie who was the world’s biggest cheerleader and fan of the New York Yankees baseball team. Knowing I was a lifelong fan of the Baltimore Orioles, he took great delight that his team regularly won the American League championship and was playing in the World Series. He would go on and on about how he booked his birthday trips to New York every October so he could watch his Yankees in the World Series. Working near him was like having a Yankees-only fan radio station on all the time as nearly every word coming out of his mouth was either praise for Derek Jeter or about the greatness of Mariano Rivera. This was long before the days of earbuds to tune him out, mind you.

If he wasn’t wanting to chat about Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams or Joe Torre before lunch, I could sense he wasn’t feeling well that day and I came to loathe him mimicking broadcaster John Sterling’s call of “Ballgame over! Yankees win! Theeeeeee Yankees win!”

Once he hung a gigantic Yankees banner across his cubicle when New York played the Florida Marlins in the 2003 World Series just to see how I would react. The stunt backfired when the Marlins toppled New York, 4 games to 2, to win the title that year. Despite the loss, Ernie continued to express his admiration for everything Yankees-related right up until he left the newspaper in 2009 to teach at the local community college. After not hearing from him for more than a decade, it took me by surprise last August when I learned that Ernie had suddenly passed away at the age of 67.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from the people I’ve mentioned, I wish I could say that remaining positive helps, all I know is that right now, I’m scourge-free. <

Andy Young: Platespotting

By Andy Young

I don’t own a fishing rod or a pair of binoculars, and I’ve never aimed a firearm at a living thing.

But I’m just as serious about stalking my chosen quarry as other outdoorsmen are about pursuing theirs. And those who share my passion know that given the hordes of visitors currently motoring through Maine, it’s prime hunting season around here.

My fascination with automobile license plates began as a small boy in Connecticut. Our family rarely crossed the state’s border; that’s why I assumed the Nutmeg State was approximately the same size as Asia. Then one day my father’s uncle and aunt came all the way from Brooklyn, New York for a visit, arriving in a car adorned with an orange license plate! Who knew such items came in any color but blue? Once I learned each of the 50 states had its own special marker I was bound and determined to see every last one of them before my Earthly days were done.

Our family traveled infrequently when we were kids, but when I was 11 years old, we took a vacation to Montreal. En route we saw countless Massachusetts plates, plenty of green Vermont tags, and a few New Hampshire “Live Free or Dies,” too. Once across the international border, we learned about exotic places called Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick, each of which had its own special marker as well.

Some years later I visited the license plate-spotting capital of the USA, Washington, DC. A 10-minute walk through the capital area on a weekend is all but guaranteed to yield sightings of tags from at least half of the U.S. states, and certainly all of the east coast ones. Take the same stroll on a weekday and you’ll probably see close to all 50 state plates, though you might have to get lucky to spy an Alaska or a Hawaii.

As a young adult I zig-zagged 2,800 road miles to a summer job in Butte, Montana. Along the way I couldn’t help but notice that the further west I got, the more unusual my own tags seemed to become. After Indiana I never saw another Connecticut plate, and perhaps as a result I got lots of curious stares from people as I passed them (or they passed me) on the highway. It’s unnerving having everyone look at you as though you were from outer space just because your car is registered far from wherever you happen to be traveling. I always resist the temptation to check out drivers with yellow New Mexico plates when I see them on I-295, because I’ve felt their pain.

Shortly after college my friend Jeff and I began a circuitous driving vacation that took us through Niagara Falls, Toronto, Chicago and Washington DC, among other places. On the way back he claimed to have seen every possible domestic license plate. I politely reminded him that we hadn’t yet seen one from Puerto Rico. He insisted such a marker didn’t count. Determined to finish the job right, I spent the rest of our trek searching for the elusive Puerto Rican tag, but never did spot one.

The very afternoon our ten-day odyssey concluded my mother welcomed me home, then almost immediately asked me to run an errand for her at the local drugstore, a ten-minute drive away. Parking next to an empty space, it took no time at all to pick up the prescription she had asked for.

When I returned to my car a vehicle was parked next to mine.

It was a white Pontiac with a Puerto Rico license plate! <

Friday, July 14, 2023

Insight: As luck may have it

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

I’ve never minimized the importance of luck in determining my life’s course. Unexpected events and twists of fate cannot be planned for and when things happen, we can either mope and wallow in self-pity or accept what’s presented and ride the waves.

Throughout my life, along the way I’ve experienced both good and bad sides of luck and have plenty of stories to tell. Harkening back to my days in the U.S. Air Force, I cite for you an example of what I call some of the best luck that I’ve ever experienced.

I was stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona in 1983 and was a staff sergeant working in the Public Affairs Office at the time. There were two staff sergeants assigned to our office and frequently we would split tasks and duties as they arose. One mid-summer afternoon, the officer in charge of our unit summoned both of us to his office for a meeting.

He said that the base commander had asked that our unit send one of us on a temporary duty assignment for a month overseas starting at the end of the week and he was leaving it up to us to decide who was going to go. He didn’t disclose the assignment and told us that he was doing so with the understanding that the next time a temporary duty assignment was requested from our unit, the staff sergeant who didn’t go this time would be required to go then.

We were asked to reach a decision by the end of the day and to let him know so that he could arrange for transportation to the overseas assignment for that person.

It really didn’t matter to me one way or the other, but one thing I learned early on in my military career was to never volunteer for an assignment not knowing exactly what it was. Therefore, I wasn’t quick to share my indifference with the other staff sergeant. After about 30 minutes, the other staff sergeant approached my desk and told me that he had spoken with his wife by phone, and that he was going to volunteer for this overseas assignment because his wife’s sister was getting married in the fall and a potential temporary duty at that time wouldn’t work for them.

He said he had informed the officer in charge that he would take this overseas assignment and the next one that came up would be mine. The officer agreed and then told him to pack a bag and prepare for a flight to Honduras, where he would be living for a month under field conditions sleeping on a wooden cot in a tent in the jungle there.

The other staff sergeant flew out that Friday and didn’t return for a month. When he did get back, he appeared to have lost some weight and told me about some of his experiences at the temporary assignment. The mission was to help train airmen in jungle survival. Mosquitos were everywhere and they were issued malaria pills to avoid contracting that disease. They ate canned food and had to boil water to remove parasites. And the only way to wash their clothing was to boil it in a large vat heated only by a campfire.

Several months passed and I had forgotten all about any potential new temporary duty assignments that could be pending that fall and that it was my turn to go next. One morning in late September, I was informed that a new temporary assignment was nearing, and I would need to pack a bag and pick up my airline tickets in the morning.

My orders were to fly to Las Vegas, Nevada and report for duty at Nellis Air Force Base there to produce a daily newsletter for the Air Force’s annual air-to-ground weapons meet called Gunsmoke. It drew flight and support crews from throughout the Air Force and included active duty, reserve, and Air Guard units. My workday typically consisted of arriving at the flightline to interview pilots and ground crews at 7 a.m., take a few photos and then write several stories. Finishing that, I then had to layout and design a newsletter and have it ready for production by noon. Once it was printed, I handed the newsletter out to the flight crews by 2 p.m. and I was done for the day.

Never having been to Las Vegas before, I was pleasantly surprised by the experience. The food on the Las Vegas strip was plentiful and inexpensive, my room in the noncommissioned officer quarters on the base was clean and air conditioned, and the Air Force had rented a car for me to travel across the town.

One evening during the assignment, I visited Sam’s Town Casino and was able to eat dinner and watch a performance by singer Ray Charles. It was also during the World Series and my favorite baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Philadelphia Phillies to win the title while I was there.

Sometimes you never know how luck will treat you, but on this occasion, I have to say that I made out pretty well.

Andy Young: Why annoying repetitive verbosity is so irritating

By Andy Young

This very unique essay is a free gift. But here’s an advance warning: while it’s full of true facts, the whole entire thing contains few if any new innovations.

In my opinion I think the most aggravating irritant in authoring written essays is the redundancy. At the present time the reason why involves my personal past experience.

A redundancy involves needlessly repeating expressions unnecessarily, or duplicating phrases superfluously. To scribes who write using words, nothing is more irritatingly annoying.

It’s difficult and hard to know how redundancies first originated and started. Perhaps it occurred when some obscure unknown attorney at law asked a witness who had seen a crime to sit down, or to stand up, for that matter. Or maybe it took place aboard an airplane, when some foolish simpleton, tall giant or short dwarf realized that they, along with all the female women and male guys around them, were flying through the air.

Avoiding extra surplus words should be a mandatory requirement for each and every author who intends to earn money by writing for a living. Any would-be journalist whose future plans involve pursuing a career in wordsmithing will always forever lag behind if they ignore certain basic fundamentals. Any senseless dimwit who fails to avoid redundancies will inevitably in the end revert back to the start of where they began.

Consensus of opinion maintains it is an absolute certainty that repeatedly using repetitious references over and over again is excruciatingly painful to literate readers. Rational people with common sense are positively sure that written redundancies are exactly the same thing as orally speaking the identical words(s) far too frequently..

Imagine and picture this scenario: you have a sudden impulse to go to an ATM machine at 12 midnight. But an unpleasant ordeal awaits you: an armed gunman wearing a face mask! And while he doesn't hit you with a closed fist, the end result is that your finances are completely annihilated.

You had hoped to buy a foreign import car, but because you failed to plan ahead, you now face a difficult dilemma. The sum total of your chances to purchase an expensive, costly motor car are now null and void. In this particular specific case, it’s absolutely essential you postpone those plans until later.

Shortly thereafter you become conscious and wake up. Fortunately it was luckily all just a scary nightmare, probably caused by past memories.

Clearly, it’s obvious some people need a new beginning. Gathering together for an unexpected surprise could help, since returning back to a regular routine, even if it’s under false pretenses, will probably most likely yield exactly the same end result: the usual final outcome.

Also, in addition being surrounded on all sides by truly sincere invited guests is a great way to get a fresh start. A bowl of minestrone soup is a good midday lunch, and there’s an added bonus to this planned arrangement: when someone is in a safe haven completely encircled by trusted friends, they’re likely to evolve over time, rather than reverting back to throwing temper tantrums. This is blatantly obvious to anyone who’s previously conceived of this idea before.

As is my usual habit, I have re-read each and every sentence I’ve constructed over again, since it’s really vital to avoid unintended errors. Now that I’m completely finished. I hope everyone can concur and agree: all the fuss and ado concerning and regarding repeating duplicated words is justifiably reasonable.

The crucially imperative intended concluding outcome of this column: to convince every aspiring writer to eternally forever cease and desist from personally using redundancies themselves. <

Friday, July 7, 2023

Tim Nangle: Ensuring our students have access to nutritious meals

By Senator Tim Nangle

We should do all we can to support our children's physical health and academic success. Access to nutritious, locally sourced meals in our schools and at home is vital to reaching that goal. As we pass the half-year mark, I want to bring your attention to two critical programs that have helped transform student nutrition in Maine schools.

State Senator Tim Nangle
First, let's turn to a recent milestone, LD 921 — a bill from my colleague Sen. Cameron Reny — and a victory in our legislative efforts to improve school nutrition. This bill was passed with unanimous, bipartisan support and has now been signed into law by Gov. Mills. This legislation expands the variety of locally produced food products available for purchase and use by our schools through the Local Foods Fund.

In the 129th Legislature, Sen. Eloise Vitelli sponsored LD 454, “An Act To Encourage the Purchase of Local Produce for Public Schools,” which funded the Local Produce Fund for the first time. Then in the 130th Legislature, after hearing feedback from school districts across Maine, Sen. Vitelli sponsored LD 636, “An Act To Encourage the Purchase of Local Foods for Public Schools,” which broadened the eligibility criteria for the Local Produce Fund to further benefit Maine farmers, schools and students. It also changed the name of the program to the Local Foods Fund.

This year, thanks to Sen. Reny’s bill, LD 921, we removed restrictive language from the statute, enabling our schools to access more fresh food products made right here in Maine.

For our children, this means more healthy, locally sourced meals. For our farmers, it means more opportunities to contribute to our schools and connect with local buyers. And for our state's economy, it’s another opportunity to thrive as we invest in our own backyard. We are building bridges between our school cafeterias and local farms, fostering a greater understanding among our students of the essential role agriculture plays in our economy.

It’s also crucial to ensure our children have access to nutritious meals during the summer months. This is what the Summer Food Service Program, or as the Maine Department of Education fittingly calls it, "Hot Lunch Summer," is all about.

The Hot Lunch Summer program’s goal is to make sure that no child is hungry when school is not in session. In a state as rural and community oriented as ours, it is so important that we look out for each other, especially for our youngest Mainers. As part of this initiative, free meals that meet federal nutritional guidelines are provided to all children ages 18 and under at approved sites.

I am proud to share that locations such as the Gray-New Gloucester High School in Gray and the Westbrook Community Center and Saccarappa School in Westbrook are offering these vital services. From July 11 to Aug. 10, the Gray-New Gloucester High School will serve breakfast from 8 to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

From June 26 to Aug. 11, the Westbrook Community Center will provide breakfast from 8 to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to noon on weekdays. The Saccarappa School, on the same dates, will offer breakfast from 8-8:30 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to noon, Monday to Thursday.

To see all the sites providing free meals, you can use the interactive map viewer on the Department of Education’s website here:

Our kids are the future. They are our very own budding scientists, teachers, artists and leaders. Ensuring they receive the nutrition they need is not just our duty — it's our privilege. The passage of LD 921 and the continuation of the "Hot Lunch Summer" reflect our state's strong commitment to Maine children.

Let’s continue this momentum forward and put Maine and its people first. Together, we are making a difference — for our children, for our farmers, and for our economy. And as we've seen, we do it best when we do it together.

If you or someone you know needs assistance, wants to discuss legislation, or needs help connecting with a state agency, please don’t hesitate to reach out. My email is, and my office phone number is 207-287-1515. You can find me on Facebook at To receive regular updates, sign up for my e-newsletter at <

Insight: Lessons in humility

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

I recently had a long discussion with my wife Nancy about letting go of an obsession I have developed throughout my life with how an individual in my family constantly blamed me when I was a child for just about everything wrong with her life.

No matter if it was a phone call informing my family that I had neglected to turn in an envelope on Sunday containing my weekly 25-cent donation to the church or the fact she couldn’t take me anywhere because I liked to talk to people and “children are meant to be seen and not heard,” somehow any negative issue that arose in her life was attributed to me. It has led to a lifetime of fear of criticism and an apprehension about making mistakes that impact others.

Sometimes what I perceive as affixing blame is truly just an attempt to make conversation, yet my self-filter wants to interpret that conversation as a reason to blame me.

I stopped living with that family member decades ago and her wanting to blame me for every bad thing that happened to her was her shortcoming, not mine. But on occasion through nothing more than sheer habit, I find myself thinking that a person is trying to blame me for something wrong when it’s not the case at all.

As a sportswriter for many years, I always enjoyed interviewing role players, those who clearly understood their weaknesses and limitations while taking steps to learn from others and improve. It often led to more success in games for them and a longer athletic career.

In my career working for newspapers, I have had many great editors and bosses who possessed the trait of humility, prompting them to be more willing and open to new ideas while at the same time being empathetic, forgiving, and compassionate for those who work for them. The way I see it, exhibiting humility is something that drives us to better relationships with others and most importantly, makes us less likely to take criticism personally and be less defensive.

When you get right down to it, humility is the building block and foundation of teamwork and a springboard for greater self-awareness and self-reflection that leads to positive growth for us.

As a child, I wondered why asking that family member for help with a homework problem resulted in a burnt cake. Over dinner when asked why the cake burned in the oven, the answer was given that it was my fault because I distracted that family member when she should have been paying closer attention to the cake as it was baking. She told me I had no sense whatsoever in the kitchen and would always be dependent on others to cook meals. She vowed never to teach me anything about cooking and she kept that promise as I grew up. Yet, when visiting me during my graduation from college, that same family member told my wife and friends that she was astounded that I cooked Sunday dinner because I “never took any interest in cooking” as a child.

Or another time that family member raved on and on for days about how I ashamed her by telling my third-grade teacher that two of my grandparents emigrated to the United States from Poland during a class about ancestors. Even though it is true, she blamed me for giving neighbors reason to look down upon our family because of “questionable heritage.” And she said nobody would have known about that “disgrace” if it wasn’t for me and my big mouth. Years later she told me I should be proud of my ancestry because Pope John Paul II was Polish too.

On a field trip to the Museum of Natural Science while in the sixth grade, that family member accompanied students from my class as a chaperone along with a few other parents. That day it happened to be raining, and she brought an umbrella on the field trip. I had walked through the entire museum and was sitting on a bench near the entrance when she walked up and sat down next to me with her umbrella in her hand. For some reason, I asked her if I could have 5 cents for the gumball machine near the entrance door to the museum and she became enraged, slamming the prong of the umbrella tip down roughly onto my sneaker on my right foot. The umbrella tip went through my canvas sneaker, through my sock and broke the skin on the top of my foot. When I screamed out in pain, she told me to shut up, and to stop crying because I was embarrassing her. She said that if I hadn’t opened my mouth with a stupid question, I wouldn’t have been hurt by the umbrella prong.

The passing of time does not diminish my feelings about those incidents. Discussions like I had with Nancy about my perceptions of blame have given me keen insight into why I sometimes act or behave the way that I do. I now realize that humility is based upon self-awareness, an appreciation of others, being open to feedback, and acceptance of my past.

Andy Young: Trying to remember the opposite of progress

By Andy Young

I’m currently taking a bi-colored pill with every meal. The pharmacist told me what it was, but when someone asks, I can never recall the exact word for it. It’s an anti-something, but anti-what? I’m pretty sure it’s not an antihistamine, an anti-inflammatory or an anticoagulant, though.

Which reminds me: is there any such thing as a prohistamine, a pro-inflammatory, or a procoagulant? If so, what do they do? And if not, why not?

I’m reasonably certain I’m not the only English-speaking person who often has to grope for the right word(s) or phrase(s). There are far too many words that don’t mean what they logically should, or that don’t exist, but ought to. Take the pros and cons or “pro” and “anti,” for example.

If to progress is to make headway or to move forward, shouldn’t antigress be its opposite? It would be if English were a logical language. However, despite significant effort on my part I cannot find evidence in any dictionary suggesting that the word “antigression” means a move backward. Or, for that matter, that the word “antigression” even exists.

Some inconsistencies about English are at least understandable. For example, while rational people use a substance that is absolutely free of germs or other microorganisms to clean a wound, there really isn’t any use for a word denoting an antiseptic’s opposite. Who would ever need a proseptic? The same goes for the nominal opposite of an antiperspirant. A properspirant would be a pretty tough sell since anyone who really wants to sweat can just engage in some semi-strenuous exercise.

Trying to make sense of the English language is problematic. Exhibit A: how come “antiblematic” isn’t in the dictionary? Shouldn’t there be a one-word term for something describing a situation that is utterly problem-free? On second thought, its sound suggests that an antiblematic should be a medicine that fights acne.

If a professor is a teacher of the highest academic rank, shouldn’t an antifessor be a teacher of the lowest rank? If an antidote is a medicine or remedy used to counteract the effects of disease or poison, shouldn’t prodote be a synonym for disease or poison? And if to protect someone or something is to defend it/them from harm, shouldn’t antitect be a verb with the same meaning as “attack” or “assail”?

If an antipathy is a strong aversion or habitual repugnance, shouldn’t a propathy (correctly pronounced PROP-uh-thee; pro-PATH-thee would be an antinunciation) be a strong love for or attraction to someone or something? Shouldn’t the 21st amendment, which ended Prohibition in 1933, have gone down in history as Antihibition? And if the proletariat is the working class, are the members of the antiletariat uber-wealthy, unemployed, or both.

Is the opposite of an antiquity a proquity? Is an antijectile something that isn’t thrown or propelled? And if something I own is property, is something that’s not mine antiperty?

If a promotion is a step up within a hierarchy, shouldn’t an antimotion be a step down? And for those who respond to this question with a pompous, “DE-motion is the opposite of promotion, Antifessor Young!” my reply to their smug feedback is, “Then how come PROject isn’t the opposite of DEject, DEpressional isn’t the opposite of PROfessional, and the opposite of a prodigy isn’t a dedigy?” Furthermore, if someone wishing to destroy something demolishes it, shouldn’t someone wishing to build something launch a promolition?

And while I’m thinking of it, if Prozac is used to treat depression, shouldn’t Antizac be used to battle overactivity?

If a probiotic is a dietary supplement……

Wait! That’s it! I’m taking an antibiotic! <