Once upon a time, I was a younger man than I am now. Back then, I thought I really had things figured out, but the longer I hang around on planet Earth … Well, let’s just say I’m not so old that I still can’t learn a lot of stuff.

Admittedly, much of it is merely stuff. The latest example came during a half-hour of visiting after church choir rehearsal when several of us discussed all the words we have heard even intelligent people mispronounce. And if they didn’t mispronounce words per se, their enunciation was sloppy.

“Per se.” That’s Latin for “in itself.” See? We’re all learning stuff now.

People used to sit around and talk a lot before Facebook.

Regardless, I’ll not list examples of those mispronounced words, because it would embarrass the guilty.

But folks, you don’t have to buy a 21,730-page Oxford English Dictionary to learn such things. By the way, if you want the 20-volume set of that behemoth for your den, act fast. Reports suggest the next edition will never be printed. Instead, it will all go online, where experts already define and pronounce words for you. Even the esteemed OED can be found there now too. Open the app on your phone to listen and learn.

It’s been a discombobulated week for me, so discombobulated that I lost a day. That was because I woke up on Tuesday to the highest temperature I can remember having in years, with chills and shakes that made it difficult for me to open a can and give our cat his breakfast. A case of flu this season wasn’t nearly as bad. My doctor diagnosed a sinus infection, and recovery was quick. But I slept for most of the rest of that day.

The IRS gave taxpayers an extra 24 hours to file their 1040s this week because of a computer overload, so maybe my likewise esteemed editor might also extend by a day the deadline for filing a column. However, I didn’t want to drop the ball on such short notice. At least that electronic filing issue had been predicted last year by a former IRS commissioner who warned Congress that inadequate budget appropriations meant needed updates of computer systems weren’t possible.

In other news about government underfunding, striking teachers in Oklahoma learned at least one student is pleased with her old textbooks. A girl in Ada discovered her elementary reading book had been used — and signed — by Blake Shelton in 1982.

Hopefully you don’t need to do a Google search for “Blake Shelton.” Occasionally though, I like to use Bing. They have gorgeous photos on their home page.

Getting back to my point, I didn’t understand about people getting sick when I was my younger self. We had a wonderful co-worker here when I was first starting out, and the writing she did was quite important to the community and the newspaper. But it was underappreciated — at least until that work didn’t get done. Whenever she was out, this dear lady was sorely missed because nobody relished doing the things she did so well. But she often called in sick, battling recurring sinus infections and migraine headaches.

Sinus infections? Headaches? My younger self thought she just needed to toughen up. She wasn’t contagious. Come in and do your work so I don’t have to.

My older self understands now. Fully understands. Live and learn.


Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at news@brownwoodbulletin.com.