Salesmen will be Salesmen

So far we’ve made it past the Whetherman, through expectations (and the doldrums), and to the gates of Dictionopolis. Where do we go from here? To market of course. Would you not wish to see words being sold? Not sure I could resist. Just try to get me out of a bookstore before I’m ready to go…I dare you.


The plays Mr. Juster put on words do more than just provide amusement, they teach. Differences between which and witch, which you will discover later, for instance. As it is we have run into whether and weather and learned those have different meanings. These type of words that sound the same yet are spelled differently, and have different meanings are called ‘Homophones’.

Homophones may be more prevalent than you would imagine. Here’s a list of some of them:


Who knew? There are also homonyms, homographs, heterographs, etc… Each explaining characteristics of certain types of words as they relate to each other in ways that may be confusing on the surface. I don’t know them all, that’s for sure. And to differentiate when trying to explain I often have to confirm what I remember by looking it up again. The point is to show that words are not just skin deep. There are many layers and levels.


It has been said that English is one of the hardest languages to learn. Whether this is referring to British English or American English I do not know. But one of the reasons is that there are rules that govern the use of words that I can almost guarantee are not even taught. If they are it is in such a manner as to merely associate you with them in brief and then carry on as the bulk of daily communication does not rely on knowing them.

Spelling bee

They can be a lot of fun though. I’ve always found that most things are simpler if you only know how they work. Just imagine how much better you might communicate with a greater understanding of how your own language works. The best part…It’s a lifetime endeavour.

Have fun in the marketplace where bugs abound, just not as you might know them.

Tim R.

The Land That Once Was…

We have a problem. An ever increasing problem. I read recently that when you put a period at the end of a sentence in a text it equates to yelling. Someone is trying to hijack grammar! The comma is losing it’s importance as is the apostrophe. Twitter, text, Facebook posts, Instagram, They’re all guilty of neglecting the subtle art that grammar is. Words are only words without the ability to convey rhythm, inflection, tone, and meaning. Grammar is hard in that words are the paint and grammar is the brush. It is how we cover the canvas with the picture we paint.


A lesser but ever increasing issue as well is spelling and vocabulary. The understanding of the words we use. I have the opportunity to be a father. One of the primary means of learning these things as my children grew older was to employ a dictionary. That’s right, a real live, bound and published, paper dictionary. Where there is no autocorrect, no instant access to word definitions They contain multiple and official meanings of the words, as well as a pronunciation guide and usage examples. These days all one has to do is ask a digital assistant what something means and they get the most common answer, which many times is not the right one, from a search engine. Add to that the ignorance of the words in the definition that they do get and you have a thorough lack of understanding on your hands. In the hands of one with understanding, technology can be a wonderful time-saving resource and certainly has its place, but we are losing the basics.


Forgive my rambling. Literacy is a passion of mine. I work towards ever increasing the literacy of those around me.

Today we rejoin Milo on the road in The Phantom Tollbooth as he arrives at Dictionopolis. The very place where words come from. There are some strange characters indeed, and a little bit of wisdom which I would do well to remember.


Tim R.

The Whether man is my favorite

When reading aloud I often find that words will trip me up. Specifically when they are in dialogue. Authors write so as to give their character’s personality (thank goodness for that). As such, a challenge is created when trying to convey that personality to an audience. I can only hope I do well with this.


In this book one of my favorite characters, while being short in appearance, is the Whether Man. I’ve always seen him as an excitably positive fellow and read him in just that way. The dialogue written for him rolls off the tongue so well I had no rereads to make. It was just plain fun.

whether man quote

Do you have fun when you read? Do you find yourself immersed in a different world from the one in which you live? Can you see yourself as the main character? Don’t get me wrong, I like a good movie as much as the next person. Although it seems as if more movies today are stories converted from comics and books than as a story unto themselves. The problem with this I find to be in that conversion. A book has so much more scope for the imagination than a movie could ever hope to have. When you try to condense that scope into a singular lens through which everyone must view, and we all seem to see the same thing, then it is the viewing public who ends up being cheated f the full experience of the story. The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling are probably the largest victims of this condensation that I can think of. Soooooo much is lost from the books. The portion of the public that has read the books know just how much is missing. The portion of the public that has not are being shortchanged in the story altogether. Yes, yes, the overall themes remain largely unchanged, and my opinion may not be a popular one.


I’m not saying don’t watch the movies. What I am saying is if you’re going to watch the movie, read the book. In my opinion, read it before watching the movie. If not, you run the risk of making yourself rather lazy in the efforts afterwards. That being said I have seen all the movies and enjoyed them well enough. I just wish more books stayed books, and more movies were written as movies in the first place.

I hope you’ll enjoy this second chapter of the Phantom Tollbooth. It was fun to read.

Tim R.


Wordplay in rare form

One of my favorite books I remember being read when I was young involved wordplay as I had never seen before. The story was so much fun that I often reread the book later on and read it to my own children when they were young. I’m wanting to share that with you now over the course of the next couple weeks and hope you get as much from the story as I did. If nothing else, this is a story replete with vocabulary.

Norton Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster is a classic in every sense of the word. First published in 1961. Initially, Mr. Juster had been given a grant of $5,000.00 to write a book with the subject theme being cities. It seems he made only struggling progress with that concept but all the while was writing adventures of a character named Milo. Eventually, that character and pieces of those stories culminated in what is now the Phantom Tollbooth.


This is a story concerning education and the laziness of the mind. It is done in such a playful way as to inspire even the most entrenched ignorance to dislodge itself and climb towards rectification. Education is a choice. It is a conscious effort to acquire knowledge and pursue practical application, reviewing the results, and correcting course. It is not public school. It is not college. It is not a passing of names, dates, and other various information from one generation to the next. Oh sure, that is a piece of education, but by no means its entirety. So many currently see formalized school as education. A farce. Organized knowledge being passed from one to the next is only the beginning. What it should be teaching us is How to think, not What to think. So that we may go out and seek real education from that starting point.


Real education is dynamic, changing, constantly in motion, and is the direct result of applied knowledge. Even then, what we learn is up to each of us. How will the results of that applied knowledge be used? How will we choose to act upon what we know now that we did not know before? Real education is a lifetime process which will never be complete.

Today we will start at chapter 1. In which we are introduced to a rather bored young man.

Tim R.


Opportunity abounds

Some things in life spur us to action. In this case I have been behind in my posts and have the chance to focus on recording again. For the next two weeks I will be on a temporary duty assignment with my company. I’ll have little else to do with my free time. So it will be used recording stories and playing guitar.

Opportunity has a way of showing up if we can look beyond the surface and get creative. It’s almost more difficult to find extra time when we fill our days with a routine and become uncomfortably comfortable with it. The small pieces of time we once wanted to preserve in starting ourbroutine soon disappear. A little here, a little there. Taking a little longer than we need to on everyday tasks, in a word…complacency.

So this will be a good shakeup. I’m excited for it as an opportunity to produce again.

Talk to you soon

Tim R.

Forgive my rambling

Do you ever get that pull towards the unknown, to do that which some might find dangerous or impossible? That’s adventure calling. Will you answer? All of us feel at one time or another that we are meant for more than we have let ourselves become. It is what drives us to move forward to compete in the world, not with each other so much, but with ourselves. I’ve been living near the water now for almost exactly one year. When I say the water I mean the ocean. The Gulf of Mexico in specific. I thought I’d miss the mountains more than I do, and I do miss them. But there is a call to the water that makes me want to attempt the impossible. To do something that has never been done before and to do it against all odds.

In some ways, I believe that there is a story in all of us, one which if told, would be both our own, and would amaze the teller more than the listener. You see, all experience is valid and unique. The world has never looked the way it does now by anyone such as you or I, at any given point in time before. What we pull from our experiences is tempered by our previous experiences and no two people are exactly the same. Therefore all that has been done before may be redone and is completely new.

Live your life with adventure in your heart. Look at the world as the raw materials from which you will shape your story and pass it on to those you care about. Try new things, go new places, meet new people, eat new foods, dance new dances, and sing new songs. Immerse yourself in both near and far. Don’t get caught up in the grind of everyday minutiae. Routine is useful only in that it can help us accomplish our goals. It can be a driving and organizing force to help us achieve with focus and move on to the new and unexplored. Chaos is useful in so much as it forces us out of our comfort zones and requires us to think and act in new ways. Moderation in both is healthy and has a place.

There is no one answer. There is no right or wrong outside of the moral compass that guides us in civility with our neighbours. Strengthen your strengths and learn your weaknesses. Use the knowledge of both to your advantage. Work with others and serve all those around you. There is so much more to be had when you give yourself away in service.

I have a very dear friend who takes it upon herself to feed the hungry and the homeless. No one asks her to do this and she received no reward of a tangible nature. However, she is rewarded each and every time she gives of herself. I’ve been able to watch her find and amplify her character through such loving actions towards others and I love her for it. My son serves a mission where service is his life. Both spreading the gospel in his own way and being of tangible help to others where they may need it. He has grown from a drifting boy I knew to a man with a purpose. The whole of his mission is an adventure as he is provided with little of his own. But the growth in character he has gained is more valuable than the Midas touch. I love him and am very proud of him.

How can we find ourselves to be of more service How can we be of assistance to others? Do you look around you and see a need in this world? Can you think how you might fill it? It has been said that as you become of more value to others much will be given to you. I believe this wholeheartedly. I have been lacking on this blog in that way recently even though it was started with that intent. In some ways, I’m not even sure what I should do. The only thing I really know is that if I wish to grow, I need to contribute in ways that do not obviously benefit myself.

I sincerely hope and pray you find this within yourself too. How much better a place would this world be if all 6 billion people each focused more on each other than themselves?


Tim R.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

You’ll have to forgive the absence of my stories this week. It has been a rough week. There was a bit of redeeming light in it. I have finished a book that I wasn’t even sure I wanted to read once upon a time. I found it both encouraging and reassuring.


Too often we find stories and philosophy separately, even though they are almost always intertwined. This is one of those rare occasions where you find both at the same time. Realizing as you read the story that there are lessons here.  Continue reading “The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho”

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