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Tom Garrett

Stories by Tom

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‘Thinking something’ can be good or bad!

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There are three little words that scare the pants off me. When I hear them coming out of the same person too often, I keep my distance.

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Amazing how little we know about things in the very recent past – Pt. 2

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This column had its birth when I ripped up a finger and used some of the handy things we all have around the house to fix the mess I had made — a little peroxide, a Band-Aid, some antibiotic cream, and — especially — a pair of handy-dandy nail clippers.

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Amazing how little we know about things in the very recent past

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This column had its birth in a thought that passed through my mind when I was using some hydrogen peroxide to clean a cut on a fingertip.

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Authors and their creations: Who controls who? Part 2

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As I said last week, it has always seemed ironic to me that much the same thing happened to the two most widely read writers of detective mysteries.

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Authors and their creations – Who controls who?

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It has always seemed ironic to me that almost the same thing happened to each of the two most widely read writers of detective mysteries, two people whose books and short stories are still bought and read today — Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle.

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You can learn something new every day when you read

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By now I guess that you know I like to read. I picked up the habit when I was young and have been at it ever since

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Sometimes we have no idea how close we are to a bit of history

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A few weeks ago I finished up a column about a close call I’d had on a Navy aircraft, which ran out of fuel taxiing in after a mid-winter flight over icy seas. A few gallons less and we’d have crash-landed in the North Sea. Chances of survival? Probably few and none.

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Seeing some admired pioneer’s picture can be a shock

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Whatever you do, don’t let your kids read about an American hero, get a glorious image of him fixed in their heads, and then see a photograph of him. Oh, well. Go ahead, but plan on having some disappointed kids!

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A tale of Teddy

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If you’re thinking that the Teddy in the title to this column is a teddy bear or Teddy Roosevelt, think again.

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Plan on being surprised visiting a foreign country – Episode 2

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Five or six weeks ago I mentioned that if you go abroad you should plan on “enjoying” a few small surprises — and maybe some not-so-small ones.

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There’s thinking and then there’s just thinking you’re thinking – Part 3

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Last week we talked about the original “Star Trek” series, some very fine science fiction by the way, and we came across a small glitch in the thinking of the writers over which — if it were ever to come true — there would be hell to pay.

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There’s thinking and then there’s just thinking you’re thinking – Part 2

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Last week I mentioned something I once read in a book written by a philosopher named Descartes — namely, “I think, therefore I am.

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There’s thinking and then there’s just thinking you’re thinking

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We are always telling school kids to think. Nice idea, but ...

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The trip back home isn’t always a boring nothing, Part 2

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Both of my “interesting” trips back home happened on aircraft. I deserve no blame for the mess I told you about last week; it was a routine flight back home. But the mess I’m going to mention today was my own dumb fault.

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The trip back home isn’t always a boring nothing

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It’s an odd fact — but a very human one, I suspect — that we usually remember the outbound trip to somewhere, but not the homeward bound trip.

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Plan on being surprised if you ever visit a foreign country

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If you go abroad plan to “enjoy” a few small surprises — and maybe some not-so-small ones. I sure did, so let’s have some fun.

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A day that changed my life – Part 2

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Last week I left off where a friendly, helpful librarian lady had astounded Tommy Garrett, age 8, by granting him a privilege that even adults didn’t have back then — the privilege of going through the latched gate behind the librarian’s desk and wandering through the books until I found what I wanted.

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Remembering a day that changed my life – forever

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A while back we talked about what science is. Any scientist would say that science is nothing just observing the world and trying to understand how it works.

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Give yourself a very special Christmas present

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You are reading this sometime near Christmas Day. I wrote it back in September, but today feels like Christmas. Why?

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Sea Devil or Sea Eagle? – Part 3

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Last week we left Captain Felix von Luckner attempting the seemingly impossible: Slipping his tall masted sailing ship through multiple rings of British ships blockading German seaports.

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Sea Devil or Sea Eagle? Part 2

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Since my youngest days I have believed George Santayana when he said that those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.

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World War I ‘Sea Devil’ learned the lessons of history

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Since my youngest days I have felt that history teachers too often fail to keep in mind the words of George Santayana, a man famed for saying that those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.

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We occasionally have the wrong idea about someone

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Sometimes we see the name of someone from the past, yawn, and move on to something more interesting.

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Private enterprise is the heartbeat of America - Part 3

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Last week and the week before we talked about freedom and private enterprise here in America, but I’m happy to tell you that in most parts of the world I have been privileged to visit, the concept of “a man and an idea” is still alive and well. 

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Private enterprise is the heartbeat of America - Part 2

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Last week I talked about a friend of mine back in the Great Depression, a kid who came up with a simple idea and instead of making maybe a dollar or a dollar and half shining shoes all day Saturday made something like five or six dollars.

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Private enterprise is the heartbeat of America

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If there is anything that life has taught me it’s that free people are happy people. A few weeks back I quoted something that a western writer named John Tuska had to say. Here’s part of it:

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A genuinely scary Halloween story

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Every once in a while someone tries to frighten me with a scary Halloween tale.

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It’s time someone explained what science really is – Part 2

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One thing the mainstream media just can’t seem to get straight is the difference between science and technology.

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It’s time someone explained what science really is

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Something that genuinely troubles me as a scientist, and even more as an ex-science teacher, is that so many of our youngsters go all the way through 12 years of school without ever having a science teacher take a moment out to tell them what science actually is.

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Music can be surprisingly powerful – Part 2

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It’s amazing what an effect music can have on us. I recently learned that it’s far greater than I ever suspected. I talked about it last week, using the background music in films as an example.

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Music can be powerful

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It’s amazing how much music has become a part of our lives. It wasn’t always true, but it certainly is today.

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The night that World War III began - Part 4

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The Korean War days of the 103rd Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron, Connecticut Air National Guard, began in Groton, Conn., and ended in Iceland.

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The night that World War III began – Part 3

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During the Korean War, I spent three great years in an Air National Guard outfit, but they didn’t start out great. Sergeant Michowski (pronounce it My House Key), an NCO with a brain the size of a pea, ordered the men in the Radio Section to stay outside all day in below freezing weather because there wasn’t room for us in the Radio Shack and he couldn’t think of anything as brilliant as training us in the barracks.

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The night that World War III began – Part 2

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During the Korean War, I spent three years in an Air National Guard outfit which were some of the best years of my life, but didn’t start out that way.

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The night World War III began – Part 1

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I loved my little Korean War Air National Guard outfit. I cherish the memory of the three years we served; they were some of the best years of my life.

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Some signs can put a smile on your face – Part 2

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Over the course of a long, happy life I have seen many signs that put a smile on my face.

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Some signs can put a smile on your face

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Over the course of a long, happy life I have seen a lot of signs. Some were hanging on restaurant walls, some were stuck on the back bumper of a car, some printed on tiny tags sewn to household items and some were even splashed across a huge highway billboard.

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How can we achieve happiness? Part 2

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Last week we talked about how miserable some of the troops in my outfit were while we were stationed up in Iceland. In our tiny 198-man outfit we lost three men in six months.

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I may have stumbled across the key to happiness

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Are you happy? I am. Been that way all my life.

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Stanley did more than just find Livingstone – Part 2

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Those of us living today haven’t a clue what it was like in 1871 Africa when Henry Morton Stanley set out to find aging missionary David Livingstone.

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Stanley did more than just find Livingstone

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About all that most of us know about Sir Henry M. Stanley is that he is the man who trekked through darkest Africa, found an aging missionary that no one else seemed able to find, and asked him a polite question that people will be chuckling about until the Earth quits rolling around the sun:

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Home is not just a word; it’s a feeling – Part 2

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Last week I left off at the point where my new friend Rick and I were driving north toward Sedona on I-17, a first for me because I had only been here in Arizona for about three or four weeks.

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Home is not just a word; it’s a feeling

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Yesterday evening I happened to open an anthology of “Famous American Short Stories.” I was on page 412 and just starting to read “The Courtship of Sister Wisby,” written by Sarah Orne Jewett, in 1888.

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Words that captured the meaning of America

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After the defeat and exile of Napoleon Bonaparte in April 1814, the British turned their eyes upon a still young nation across the seas that had dared to defy them.

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Life doesn’t work that way, Part 3

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Life has a way of humbling us when we get overconfident. Some learn early. Some never learn.

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Life doesn’t work that way, Part 2

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When it comes to future events, life has a way of making us pay a price for overconfidence.

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Life doesn’t work that way

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A few weeks ago I was writing about a Hi-Li paddle, a toy you could buy for a nickel when I was a kid. I mentioned that if you had one now you could get $29.95 for it on eBay. As I wrote that, a thought crossed my mind.

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The pioneer spirit lives on, Part 2

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It has taken me a long time, but I at long last understand what it was that so strongly attracted me to Arizona when I first passed through here 57 years ago.

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The pioneer spirit lives on

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It has taken me a long time, but at long last I understand what it was that attracted me so strongly to Arizona when I first passed through here almost 60 years ago.

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The joy of being one half of a pair

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What fun Lolly and I used to have together! What laughs! Last week I mentioned some evenings when we would go to a little Italian restaurant in Missouri with a couple of friends and spend an entire evening eating pizza, sipping beer, and — most important of all — talking and laughing. About what? I don’t know — but I can guarantee you it wasn’t politics or money.

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