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Life As We Know It: June 2, 2014

      During his lifetime I was a fan of the work of the late and great journalist, Carl Rowan. I valued his perspective as an African-American columnist as much as I did his talent as a journalist and writer. But I came to appreciate him even more when I saw a video of an appearance he made before the National Press Club in Washington several years ago.
      Mr. Rowan was relating an exchange he’d had with a white reader who disagreed sharply with something he’d written.
      “My dear Mr. Rowan,” she wrote, “ what an unfair burden your life must surely be. To be not only black but stupid.”
      Mr. Rowan wrote her back, as was his custom, he explained, “for my more reasonable mail.”
      “Madam,” he said, “what a joyful life yours must surely be. To bear only half the burdens I carry.”
      It was one of the cleverest and most stinging rejoinders I’ve ever heard.
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      Our newest nominees for the best T-shirt message:
      “It’s 4 o’clock somewhere. Why wait?”
      “Some people have a way with words. Others not way.”
      And this one: “Just because it comes in your size doesn’t mean you should wear it.”
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      A homicide detective’s worst nightmare: a murder at a butler’s convention.
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      Just wondering if the military has ever had soldiers named General Store, Colonel Korn, Major Payne, Captain Marvel, Corporal Punishment, or dare I say it, Private Partz. If so, I imagine those folks worked hard to get promoted as fast as possible.
      *    *    *
      I was sitting at the computer a few days ago when I encountered a problem. A little box popped up on the screen and here is what it said:
      “Server error. Object reference not set to an instance of an object.” So THAT’S it.
      *    *    *
      I read somewhere that it is against the law in Allentown, Pa., for a man to become aroused in public. This is a stupid law. By the time the guy gets his day in court, the judge is just going to throw the case out for lack of evidence.
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      Every now and then I’m reminded of the Serenity Prayer, which my grandmother kept in a frame on her kitchen wall: “Lord,” it said, “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
      The prayer is often associated with Alcoholics Anonymous, though it was not written for AA, and no, my grandmother did not have a drinking problem. She just liked the sentiment expressed.
      I thought of it the other day as I was recalling my years laboring in the journalism vineyards. I certainly tried to change the things I could, though I was not especially serene about accepting those I could not. I wish I had been wiser about recognizing the difference.
      Reciting the prayer again provides a dose of humility, something that we can all use from time to time. I once overheard a guy talking to an acquaintance who was getting a little full of himself: “You may think you’re hot stuff,” he said, “but the size of the crowd at your funeral is still going to depend on the weather.”