The Tale Spinner

Vol. XXIII, No. 14

April 8, 2017


  • From HeroicStories, here is one woman's story about a helpful bus driver
  • Jean Sterling comments on an item in last week's Spinner
  • Shirley Conlon forwards a story about piano lessons
  • Tom Telfer writes about the use of computer graphics
  • Irene Harvalias sends a student's answer to an exam question
  • Tom Williamson shares chuckles for seniors
  • Sites are suggested by Shirley Coutts and Tom Telfer

Tilas T., from the Yukon Territory, sends this story of


When I was 20, I took the bus down to stay with a friend for two weeks in Vancouver. My friend worked days, so I decided to go exploring on my own. I knew where I was, up near the UBC campus. I knew where I wanted to go, the Vancouver Aquarium. It sounded simple.

Now, I've lived and grown up in a tiny 1,000-person town in the Yukon Territory all my life, rarely leaving it. Being a "small town girl," I admit I'm fairly ignorant about city life.

Soon I was completely lost. Finally I boarded a public transit bus, figuring they must do a circle, right? I rode a good half hour before becoming frustrated and getting off. I walked quite a while, up and down various blocks, no idea where I was. People at home always told me no one cares in the city, so I was afraid to talk to anyone.

I got on another bus, and began "bus hopping" again. Finally, after hours, I decided to get on ONE bus, and stay on until I recognized something. I rode that bus for well over an hour. Nothing ever seemed familiar. I began to get scared. I had no cell phone, and didn't even know my friend's work number.

As I was about to give up and leave the bus, the driver asked where I wanted to go. I told him the aquarium, and he laughed, saying his bus wouldn't go anywhere near, for we were now in Surrey. (Surrey and Vancouver connect.)

I s ank back in my seat, really afraid and upset. He asked where I was from, and I told him, how I was visiting, and now just wanted to go back to my friend's place.

Amazingly, the driver pulled the bus over, stopped, and called me to the front. He began printing tickets from his machine and numbering them. He gave me detailed instructions as to which buses to take, and how to understand the bus system.

I was shocked. He spent a good twenty minutes with me, telling me everything I needed to know, before giving me the tickets. I thanked him repeatedly, and asked him how much I owed for all the tickets. "Nothing. Just please get yourself home to the Yukon, young lady. You belong there."

Thanks to his kindness, I was able to make my way back to my friend's house, a LOT faster than I wound up in Surrey! I don't know what I would have done had that driver not taken the time out of his (and the other passengers') day to help me, and the amazing kindness to simply give me those tickets.

I never did learn his name, but I'll always remember him. People had told me that in the city, no one cares, but now I know that's not always true. That driver cared enough to help a foolish young northerner find her way home.

ED. NOTE: If you wish to comment on this story, or to tell your own story, or to subscribe to this free site, click on



Jean Sterling comments on the opinion piece in last week's Spinner about all the things that are wrong with Canada, and my note at the end of it in which I wondered if the author disliked it so much, why did he stay for 13 years"

I have to say I wondered the same thing! I'll bet you get some e-mails from irate Canadians!  

I have to add that having lived in Florida for most of my life, I would find Canadian winters a bit chilly by my rather wimpy standards. I knew I was getting old when people assumed that I had retired to Florida. 

ED. NOTE: You'd lose that bet, Jean - I didn't get one irate e-mail. Surely all my readers didn't agree with the author's sentiments?

Shirley Conlon forwards this story about


At the prodding of my friends I am writing this story. My name is Mildred Honor, and I am a former elementary school music teacher from Des Moines, Iowa. 

I have always supplemented my income by teaching piano lessons, something I have done for over 30 years. During those years, I found that children have many levels of musical ability, and even though I have never had a prodigy, I have taught some very talented students. However, I have also had my share of what I call "musically  challenged pupils."

One such pupil was Robby. Robby was 11 years old when his mother, a single mom, dropped him off for his first piano lesson. 

I prefer that students, especially boys, begin at an earlier age, which I explained to Robby. ButRobby said that it had always been his mother's dream to hear him play the piano, so I took him as a student. 

At the end of each weekly lesson he would always say, "My Mom's going to hear me play someday." But to me, it seemed hopeless; he just did not have any Inborn ability. I only knew his mother from a distance as she dropped Robby off or waited in her aged car to pick himup. She always waved and smiled, but never dropped in. 

Then one day Robby stopped coming for his lessons.I thought about calling him, but assumed that because of his lack of ability, he had decided to pursue something else. I was also glad that he had stopped coming. He was a bad advertisement for my teaching! 

Several weeks later I mailed a flyer recital to the students' homes. To my surprise, Robby (who had received a flyer) asked if he could be in the recital. I told him that the recital was for current pupils and that because he had dropped out, he really did not qualify. 

He told me that his mother had been sick and unable to take him to his piano lessons, but that he had been practicing. "Please, Miss Honor, I've just got to play," he insisted. I don't know what led me to allow him to play in the recital - perhaps it was his insistence, or maybe something inside of me saying that it would be all right. 

The night of the recital came and the high school gymnasium was packed with parents, relatives, and friends. I put Robby last in the program, just before I was to come up and thank all the students and play a finishing piece. I thought that any damage he might do would come at the end of the program and I could always salvage his poor performance through my curtain closer. 

Well, the recital went off without a hitch. The students had been practicing, and it showed. Then Robby came up on the stage. His clothes were wrinkled and his hair looked as though he had run an egg beater through it. "Why wasn't he dressed up like the other students?" I thought. "Why didn't his mother at least make him comb his hair for this special night?"

Robby pulled out the piano bench, and I was surprised when he announced that he had chosen to play Mozart's Concerto No. 21 in C Major. I was not prepared for what I heard next. His fingers were light on the keys, they even danced nimbly on the ivories. He went from pianissimo to fortissimo, from allegro to virtuoso; his suspended chords that Mozart demands were magnificent! Never had I heard Mozart played so well by anyone his age. 

After six and a half minutes, he ended in a grand crescendo, and everyone was on their feet in wild applause! Overcome and in tears, I ran up on stage and put my arms around Robby in joy. 

"I have never heard you play like that, Robby. How did you do it?"

Through the microphone Robby explained: "Well, Miss Honor, remember I told you that my mom was sick? Well, she actually had cancer, and passed away this morning. And well ... she was born deaf, so tonight was the first time she had ever heard me play, and I wanted to make it special." 

There wasn't a dry eye in the house that evening. As people from Social Services led Robby from the stage to be placed into foster care, I noticed that even their eyes were red and puffy. I thought to myself then how much richer my life had been for taking Robby as my pupil. 

No, I have never had a prodigy, but that night I became a prodigy ... of Robby. He was the teacher and I was the pupil, for he had taught me the meaning of perseverance and love and believing in yourself, and maybe even taking a chance on someone and you didn't know why. 


Tom Telfer writes about


With the increased use of computer graphics, it is hard to know what is real and what is illusion. Just like news reports - what is real and what is made up? 

In the following video, you will see a brief shot of scenes as they appear in films; then you’ll see what was actually there while filming. And then you’ll see what was dropped in by computer.

I was aware of the extensive use of computer graphics in Sci-Fi movies, but had no idea how virtually any  movie, TV, or Internet video might be either cleverly manipulated or totally fabricated.

Computer graphics is a big industry. When you are enjoying a movie, how much of it is real? Perhaps 50%.

This video shows scenes from the TV show “Boardwalk Empire”:

Boardwalk Empire VFX Breakdowns of Season 2 from Brainstorm Digital on Vimeo.

Irene Harvalias forwards this:


The following is an actual question given on a University of Arizona chemistry mid-term, and an actual answer turned in by a student.The answer by this student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.

The question was: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following: First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell, and the rate at which they are leaving, which is unlikely. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. 

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions, and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added. 

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it? If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my freshman year that, "It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. 

The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct, leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being, which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting, "Oh my God." 

This student received an A+.

Tom Williamson shares these


I dialed a number and got the following recording: "I am not available right now, but thank you for caring enough to call. I am making some changes in my life. Please leave a message after the beep. If I do not return your call, You are one of the changes." 

My wife and I had words, but I didn't get to use mine.

Frustration is trying to find your glasses without your glasses.

The irony of life is that by the time you're old enough to know your way around, you're not going anywhere.

God made man before woman to give him time to think of an answer for her first question.

I was always taught to respect my elders, but it keeps getting harder to find one.

A women asks a man who is travelling with six children, "Are all these kids yours?" 

The man replies, "No, I work in a condom factory, and these are customer complaints."

Nominated for the best short joke this year:

A three-year-old boy was examining his testicles while taking a bath. "Mom," he asked, "are these my brains?"

"Not yet," she replied.


Shirley Coutts sends this link to a site that allows you to follow in the steps of Marco Polo, with videos of many of his stops along the way:

Shirley also sends the URL for a video of an unbelievable performance by two young children:

Ted Telfer forwards this link to a video of Nate Staniforth performing an impossible and amazing "Lottery Ticket Illusion:"

Tom also sends the URL for a discussion of the various forms of government, and why America is not a democracy:

This story appeared in this GoodNewsNetwork: George Boivin wrote his own obituary:

From the same site, here is the story of the first Canadian city to eliminate homelessness, and how they did it:

In this independent TED talk, Hether Crawford says that you really are what you eat:

After the Westminster attack, this restaurant fed hundreds of first responders free:

If you are alone and start choking, the action in this video may save your life:

Here is another scenario I hope none of us ever encounters, but by following this advice, it might also save your life:

On America's Got Talent, 13-year-old Laura Bretan sings a stirring version of a Puccini masterpiece:

Here are 10 signs that your cat actually loves you:

At times, driving instructors need to deal with terrified, inexperienced, or just plain terrible students, but nothing could prepare these instructors for what their new "student" had in store for them:


"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw 

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