The Tale Spinner

Vol. XXIII, No. 17

April 29, 2017


  • From HeroicStories, a teacher gets a note of appreciation
  • We get mail from Jean Sterling and Kate Brookfield
  • Tom Telfer writes about train travel
  • Rafiki maintains that we can all make a difference
  • Irene Harvalias sends this story about a Mensa problem
  • Shirley Conlon forwards some clever anagrams
  • Gerrit deLeeuw shares a story about a cracked pot
  • Sites are suggested by Barbara Wear, Judy Lee, Shirley Coutts, and Tom Telfer

From HeroicStories, here is a story by a teacher from New Jersey:


Another year as a junior high teacher in New Jersey was coming to an end. The morning ceremony for the eighth grade graduates was about to begin. There’s always a feeling of accomplishment at this time. You also hope that the students will look back and realize how much they learned, and that they’ll be successful in high school.

Having taught for 15 years, I had come to realize that teaching was a profession where you receive very few “thank you’s,” and where the impact you have will never be known. This empty feeling is especially acute on graduation day.

I headed towards the gymnasium ceremony and decided to stop by the room where I teach American history to pick up a few items I wanted to take home.

When I glanced at the podium in the room, I saw a sheet of paper and began reading. It was a note from an eighth grader addressed to me about 500 words long. I could not believe what I was reading.

This quiet young lady had written to express her gratitude for the positive affect I had on her life, both emotionally and academically. She wrote about the tough time she initially had in class, and how I was able to make learning enjoyable, make her laugh, and give her confidence that she would do well in high school.

As I read the letter, tears streamed down my cheeks. When I had finished, I quickly went to the gymnasium. Quite honestly, I do not remember anything regarding the ceremony; my thoughts kept going back to the letter. I do remember thinking that I’d better not make eye contact with her during the ceremony, because I would not be able to hold back my tears, and my colleagues would wonder what was happening to such a stoic member of the faculty.

This student changed my life forever by her act of appreciation and kindness. I still don’t receive many notes of thanks from parents and students, but I don’t need to. In June of 2002, I received a note of gratitude from a young lady telling me that I had made a difference.

Since this former student works at a local eatery when she is home from college, I see her from time to time. I always make a point of saying hello and inquire about her college experience. I hope she realizes the impact she has had on me.

Whenever I have misgivings about teaching, or question whether I make a difference, I read her note, and the tears appear once again - tears of gratitude for having the opportunity to meet this one angelic student.

ED. NOTE: To comment on this story, or to get your own free subscription to the site, click on


Jean Sterling writes: The description of the colonoscopy sure was right on! Dave Berry had a great sense of humor!

Kate Brookfield writes: Just a comment to support Tom Telfer’s piece on the modern reliance on cell phones for everything. 

We had trouble getting into the apartment in Genoa because we did not have a mobile phone. It seems everybody in Italy has at least ONE, and they expect the whole planet to have one too. Virgin wants to charge $60 for 30 days roaming charges when out of Canada. I opted not to pay, as didn’t think I would be phoning anybody. We always make sure all our accommodations provide wifi.

We e-mailed the Genoa folk about our arrival time, but they apparently replied by phone. The phone number Michael gave when booking was our land phone in Canada. Michael refuses to get a cell phone. Who answers an e-mail with a phone call? It seems everybody but me! :-) 

Next holiday, I will definitely need to make sure I have a phone number to give people. We really ought to do something about the high charges in Canada for what has become a necessity!

I cannot just get another Sim card as the phone is locked to Virgin. I bought a phone in Taiwan, and that has worked for our travels until last year when the date would not change, and I was told it was redundant. So I will buy another in the UK for about 10 pounds. I doubt I would get one that speaks English here in Italy.  

It's a bit much that I should have to have a phone for the convenience of others, rather than for my convenience! I can do all I need to do with wifi for free! 

We are busy packing up in Milan and will be off to Lake Como after viewing the Last Supper.

Hope you are getting decent spring weather at last!

ED. NOTE: I have a cell phone, which I carry with me in the apartment and when I leave, but only in case I should fall or need help of some sort.... We have had two lovely spring days and many rainy ones. The flowers are blooming in spite of the cool weather. The latest to bloom are the tulips and hyacinths, which cheer up the darkest days.

Tom Telfer writes about


My earliest memories of riding a train were with the windows open and cinders flying into our hair. In 1954, I headed to Banff to attend the Royal Canadian Army Cadet Camp. In 1958, I rode trains in Britain and Europe, covering nine countries in six weeks.

When I was teaching school, we took students to a hockey game in Maple Leaf Gardens. Wayne Gretzky was playing, so 500 fans arrived on different trains from Brantford. But,after the game, they all came back on the same train. It was a bitter cold night and several coaches had to be heated and then added to our train. We arrived back in London at 5:00 a.m. :(

Last week, we headed for Toronto on the train to attend a Maple Leaf hockey game. At Woodstock we were held up by a man sitting on the tracks. The police were called to remove him. With the delay, the engineer had exceeded his time limit, and we had to wait until a replacement was sent from Toronto. Two hours later, we continued our journey.

The system for handling luggage has improved. You check it in London, and when you arrive in Toronto, it is waiting at an office.

Travel via business class is the best option. You have very comfortable seating and are served a delicious meal. Wifi is always available. It is very relaxing way to travel.

Rafiki shares this thoughtful tale about


As a man walked a desolate beach one cold gray morning, he began to see another figure, far in the distance. Slowly he approached the other, and he could make out a local native who kept leaning down, picking something up, and throwing it out into the water. Time and again he hurled things into the ocean.

As the distance between them continued to narrow, the man could see that the native was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach, and one at a time, was throwing them back into the water.

Puzzled, the man approached the native and asked what he was doing. "I'm throwing these starfish back into the ocean. You see, it's low tide right now and all of these starfish have been washed up onto the shore. If I don't throw them back into the sea, they'll die up here from lack of oxygen."

"But there must be thousands of starfish on this beach," the man replied. "You can't possibly get to all of them. There are just too many. And this same thing is probably happening on hundreds of beaches all up and down this coast. Can't you see that you can't possibly make a difference?"

The local native smiled, bent down and picked up another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea he replied, "Made a difference to that one!"

Each of us is but one person, limited, burdened with our own cares and responsibilities. We may feel there is so much to be done, and we have so little to give. We're usually short of everything, especially time and money. When we leave this shore, there will still be millions of starfish stranded on the beach.  We can't change the whole world, but there isn't one of us who can't help change one person's whole world. One at a time. We can make a difference!

Irene Harvalias sends this story about


Mensa, as you know, is a national organization for people who have an IQ of 140 or higher.

Several of the Mensa members went out for lunch at a local cafe. When they sat down, one of them discovered that the salt shaker contained pepper and the pepper shaker was full of salt.

How could they swap the contents of the two bottles without spilling any and using only the implements at hand? Clearly this was a job for Mensa minds.

The group debated the problem, presented ideas, and finally came up with a brilliant solution involving a napkin, a straw, and an empty saucer.

They called the waitress over, ready to dazzle her with their solution. "Miss," they said, "we couldn't help but notice that the pepper shaker contains salt and the salt shaker...." but before they could finish, the waitress interrupted, "Oh! sorry about that."   She leaned over the table, unscrewed the caps of both bottles and switched them. There was dead silence at the Mensa table.

Don't confuse IQ and education with common sense.

Kinda reminds you of the government, doesn't it!


Shirley Conlon writes that this is one of the cleverest e-mails she has received in a while. Someone out there must be deadly at Scrabble:


PRESBYTERIAN: When you rearrange the letters: BEST IN PRAYER

ASTRONOMER: When you rearrange the letters: MOON STARER

DESPERATION: When you rearrange the letters: A ROPE ENDS IT

THE EYES: When you rearrange the letters: THEY SEE

GEORGE BUSH: When you rearrange the letters: HE BUGS GORE

THE MORSE CODE: When you rearrange the letters: HERE COME DOTS

SLOT MACHINES: When you rearrange the letters: CASH LOST IN ME

ANIMOSITY: When you rearrange the letters: IS NO AMITY

ELECTION RESULTS: When you rearrange the letters: LIES - LET'S RECOUNT

SNOOZE ALARMS:When you rearrange the letters: ALAS! NO MORE Z'S

A DECIMAL POINT: When you rearrange the letters:I 'M A DOT IN PLACE

THE EARTHQUAKES: When you rearrange the letters: THAT QUEER SHAKE

ELEVEN PLUS TWO: When you rearrange the letters: TWELVE PLUS ONE

And for the grand finale:

MOTHER-IN-LAW: When you rearrange the letters: WOMAN HITLER

Gerrit deLeeuw forwards this story just in case any of us are feeling a little imperfect:


A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.

"I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you. I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you've watered them.

"For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house."

MORAL: Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots, but it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You've just got to take each person for what they are, and look for the good in them. Remember to appreciate all the different people in your life!


Barbara Wear forwards this link to a video of a three-year-old pianist who is remarkably talented:

Barbara also sends the URL for a video of a man saving an owl that was wrapped in a fishing line:

Judy Lee forwards the URL for a video of an unmarked traffic intersection in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:

Shirley Coutts shares this link to a video in which a young Spanish musician performs a Puccini aria on a most unusual instrument:

Tom Telfer forwards this link to a video in which Mathieu Bich fooled Penn and Teller:

Tom also sends the URL for a video of the early days of flight, when a biplane made the world's first piloted flight under steam power over Oakland, California, in April of 1933:


These remarks by Carl Sagan seem to be related to our own situation in a remarkable way:

This retirement home for unwanted senior pets offers them love in their final years:

More content at link

To sign a petition to ask Premier Christy Clark to commit to monitoring and taxing methane emissions from fracking, click on

In this TED talk, Rutger Bregman declares that it's time for a new, radical idea: basic income for all:

Ontario will launch North America's first test of universal basic income, to find out whether a basic income makes a difference in people's lives:


"It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get."


The following from The Free Dictionary

Word of the Day

Article of the Day

This Day in History

Today's Birthday

In the News

Quote of the Day

Match Up
Match each word in the left column with its synonym on the right. When finished, click Answer to see the results. Good luck!



You may also read this newsletter online at:


Past Issues