Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, March 23, 2024

MVNews this week:  Page 9



Mountain Views-News SATURDAY, MARCH 23, 2024 







Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 



Patricia Colonello




John Aveny 


Peter Lamendola


Stuart Tolchin 

Harvey Hyde

Audrey Swanson

Meghan Malooley

Mary Lou Caldwell

Kevin McGuire

Chris Leclerc

Dinah Chong Watkins

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Rich Johnson

Lori Ann Harris

Rev. James Snyder

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Jeff Brown

Marc Garlett

Keely Toten

Dan Golden

Rebecca Wright

Hail Hamilton

Joan Schmidt

LaQuetta ShambleE



Remember “Reader’s Digest”? 102 years ago newlyweds Dewitt and 
Lila Bell Wallace launched the magazine. Calling it a general-interest 
family magazine, the couple hoped they could make income of about 
$5,000 a year. How did they fare?

Six years later in 1929, Reader’s Digest had 290,000 subscribers and a gross income of 
$900,000 a year. By 1962 they were publishing 40 international editions in 13 languages 
and Braille. The “Digest’s” format consisted of 30 articles per issue (one per day). The 
publication also contained several regular special interest pages such as “Humor in 
Uniform”, “Life in these United States”. 

“Reader’s Digest” greatest contribution in my world? I can draw nuggets of useful 
factoids equipping us with fascinating talking points useable at dinner parties and 
other social events. As I have stated for years ad nauseum, my desire is to entertain you, 
and to also equip you with “conversation starters” shareable at the various functions 
that populate a week in your life. So, here we go…again!

How big is the Empire State Building? Well, it has its own ZIP code. The number is 
10118 in case you need to know.

Sloths can hold their breath longer than dolphins can. Up to 40 minutes. Dolphins 
need to come up for air every 10 minutes!

Know what an anagram is? A word or phrase made by transposing the letters of another 
word or phrase. Believe it or not, someone with too much time on their hands figured 
out that “Albert Einstein” is an anagram for “Ten elite brains”.

Roller coasters were invented in the 1880s to distract Americans from sin. Businessman 
LaMarcus Thompson hated that Americans were tempted by saloons and brothels. So, 
he built America’s first roller coaster in the most immoral place he could think of: 
Coney Island in New York.

Lobsters taste with their…feet! Those spiny critters have their taste buds in their 
pincers. Oh, and lobsters’ teeth are in one of their 3 stomachs.

Blue whale tongues can weigh as much as an elephant. In fact, their hearts weigh almost 
a ton and beat just once every 10 seconds.

The Eiffel Tower was originally intended for Barcelona Spain. Barcelona city fathers 
thought the design was just too ugly. So, Gustave Eiffel pitched it to Paris…as a 
temporary landmark. By the way, the French didn’t like it much either.

A woman was elected to Congress 4 years before women were given the right to vote. 
In 1916, Jeannette Pickering Rankin was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives 
representing Montana. She introduced legislation that eventually became the 19th 
Amendment granting unrestricted voting rights to women commencing in 1920. Ms. 
Ranking, in addition to being a suffragist, was also a Republican.

What did people use before toilet paper was invented? Americans used to use corn 
cobs. How? Don’t ask me. In the absence of corn cobs, our rural society used pages 
from periodicals like the “Farmers Almanac”. Which is why the publication came with 
a hole through it. So it could hang in outhouses.

The next time you take a picture of a group of people don’t tell them to say “cheese”. 
Tell them to say the word people were encouraged to say in 1840. Okay, everybody, say 
“prunes”. “Prunes” will keep their mouths taut.

What’s the smallest country in the world? Vatican City. This tiny country measures 
0.02 square miles.

And finally, what was the last letter added to the alphabet? No, it’s not “Z”. It’s the letter 
“J” as in “Johnson” or “JJ Jukebox”. “J” began as an “i” with a “swash”; a typographical 
embellishment of the letter “i”. Italian scholar Gian Giorgio Tissino gave the letter 
“J” it’s official status. Mr. Trissino, in the early 1500’s, defended the addition pointing 
to Jesus. It was improper to translate the Hebrew word “Yeshua” as the Greek word 
“iesus”. We needed the hard “J” sound.

Have a good week. And remember this truism: “Wherever you go, there you are!”


If life is a game who’s winning and who’s 
losing? What are the rules and how did 
they get created or discovered? (More about 
this creation versus discovery later) For now are winners the 
ones who live the longest, or have the most fun, or have the 
greatest impact upon society, or check most of the boxes on 
their personal bucket lists, or is it those who live most in accord 
with their own ideals and beliefs? What are ideals anyway and 
where do they come from?

 Let’s talk about creation versus discovery. Sometime during 
my early Grammar School years, a teacher went on about how 
Columbus “discovered” America in 1492. Some kid, not me 
but I wish it were, blurted out, “What about the Indians?” I do 
not remember much about the teacher’s response other than 
that she was flustered. I think at that moment there began my 
realization that what we were being taught was not truth but 
just somebody’s view of what was convenient or acceptable.

Last week I got a surprise call from a friend I had met on the 
golf course, I had been trying to call him, but my calls were not 
being accepted. He explained to me in a kind of light-hearted 
way that he had just been told by his oncologist that he had 
less than a month to live. I asked if I could come over and visit 
and he said, “Sure, come over tomorrow”. As perhaps you can 
imagine this was a vastly different kind of visit for me. 

First off, my friend did not seem ill at all. He was standing 
in the doorway and greeted me with his usual “Hello, young 
man.” It’s funny because we are both due to turn 80 in the next 
couple of months (I would say God willing but that is one of 
the subjects I want to discuss.) In a large room there stood a 
huge standing structure of the number 80 prepared for a party 
which, I guess, will never take place. My friend is devout (does 
that just mean following the rules?) Mormon who is proud of 
his living 61 children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. 
He explained to me that he has already spoken to all his family 
members that it is God’s will that this life of his will soon end 
but there is nothing to grieve about. He expects to see his 
deceased parents in Heaven and expects to see his still living 
family members in Heaven when they eventually pass from this 
life. Somehow the subject of coffee came up and I mentioned 
that I rarely drank it because of the caffeine it contains. One 
of the grandchildren corrected me by saying “we don’t drink 
coffee because IT’S A RULE not because of the caffeine.

The entire experience seemed to be like entering into another 
world wherein people were certain that they were living 
within the rules brought down from their Creator through 
his messengers on Earth. To put it mildly, this all had a very 
unsettling effect on me. I have absolutely no connection 
with religion and don’t want one but I was still moved by the 
experience of being with these people while I am so stressed 
about my own condition.

The next morning, I got an email from an old friend who was 
concerned about the stress I mentioned in last week’s article. He 
suggested I read the book authored by Noah Feldman, TO BE 
A JEW TODAY which somehow connected with my experience 
with the Mormon family of the day before. I bought the book 
and began reading. So far it has not provided many answers, 
but it has left me with many questions such as the questions 
I mention in the first paragraph of this article. What I have 
gathered so far is that the most important quality one identifies 
with being Jewish is the quality of respect.

Respect for what? Respect for other people no matter what 
their beliefs or opinions. Respect for God’s will even if there 
is no God. A fair understanding of the satisfaction one has 
in his or her own life and the ability to notice the living life 
all around you and how we, humans, animals, vegetables, the 
environment, and the cosmos are all connected. The point 
I think is to not get stuck in one’s own beliefs but to freely 
observe all that you can. I don’t know all the answers, I don’t 
even know all the questions, but that realization for now makes 
life more interesting, tolerable, and actually satisfying.

See you next week, God willing or even unwilling, I guess.

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