Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Some words just bring about a lot of fear

There are some words we never want to hear.

I’m not talking about cuss words. I’m talking about words that bring terror, abject fear and palpitations that make the heart go pitty-pat.

Not sad words, like “It might have been.” No, that’s a cliche. I’m talking about words like these:

“You will just feel a tiny pinch.” Isn’t that what you hear just before you get a shot in the arm — or elsewhere?

Or: “Your water will be shut off in three days.” Never a good way to start the day.

Or: “My name is Elmer Fudd (or some other half-baked politician) and I approve of this message.”

Shouldn’t there be a “disapprove” button on the TV, so we can say, “No, No, No, I do NOT approve of this message.”

TV stations are having a terrible time, trying to work a few programs in between the political ads.

Hasn’t some electronic genius come up with a way to blip out political ads with the push of a button?
Or at least draw long noses on politicians when they are lying.

We hear such a blizzard of lies on TV whenever a politician opens his/her mouth that we honest voters should be able to file a class-action suit whenever one of them tells a whopper.

The lying politician should have to mail a check for $1 to every voter for every lie told. Look at the bank accounts all of us would have!

Hello, Waikiki! We’d all be on the beach with Mike Holmgren and his wife, sipping on those drinks with little umbrellas in them, talking about the Good Old Days, when the Browns won almost every Sunday, and singing, “We’re All-American people, from an All-American town.”

Thanks to Paul Brown and George (Red) Bird for that anthem.

If you don’t know that song, Jimmy Haslam, then I know a lot more about the Browns than you do. And I probably do. And it didn’t cost me a billion dollars to find out.

If you can’t close your eyes, Jimmy, and hear that song and drift back to 1946 and the Browns first game-ever against the Miami Seahawks (as I can) then you’re a rookie. Go back to rookie school.

Leave the Browns to me and my friends, who went to that first-ever game (final score, 44-0) and ask yourself, “Who was the starting quarterback?”

No, it wasn’t Otto Graham, the greatest QB who ever lived. It was Cliff Lewis. You can look it up.

But I am drifting off the subject. We were talking about frightening words — words we never want to hear or read for fear of losing our grip on reality.

I read some of those words just last week, and I felt the beads of perspiration break out on my mesocephalic brow. Do you know what those words were?:

“Your password will expire in five days.”

Panic set in. I had become comfortable with the old password. I had written it down, because there is no way on God’s Green Earth I could ever remember it without having it in writing.

But as I thought about it, I decided to surrender, come up with a new password, and even provide advice to those among you who are facing the task of inventing new passwords.

Often the machine (computer) tells you to make it a combination of letters and numbers and throw in a capital or two (and I’m not talking about the blonde who changed her password to four characters and a capital: “Doc, Dopey, Sleepy, Bashful, Sacramento.”)

Here’s the way I do it. First, come up with a name, for example, “Doak Walker,” or “Jimmy Pearsall,” or “Casey Stengel.”

Then come up with a number, say, “37.” (FYI, all four of them wore 37).

Or, better yet, come up with pi to 20 places. So you won’t have to look it up, it is: 3.14159265358979323846.

That is correct. You don’t have to look it up. Someone once asked me why I know things like that. I don’t know why. I just do.

I also know why roses bloom in December. Because Glenn Miller said so. But I digress.

It is also helpful when devising a password to spell things backward, like my brother’s middle name, and then (here’s one you will never hack into) my Army serial number.

It is top secret. But I did use the last four numbers once to buy a raffle ticket, and I won.

If you really want to know those lucky numbers, I would suggest you find one of my old Army olive drab T-shirts, because it would have stamped on it my laundry mark, which was C (for my last initial) and the last four numbers of my serial number.

I never told you this was going to be easy.


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