Nothing you can't spell will ever work.
- Will Rogers
Our spelling bee champion Joe Shepherd heads to Washington next week for his final challenge in national competition, and he takes our best wishes with him.
He also takes our respect and admiration, because most of us are poor spellers ... and getting worse.
I speak from experience when I point out that a certain young scholar at my address takes a cavalier attitude to one of memory's mysteries - consistently putting the right letters in the right sequence.
It would seem to be a lost art, because these days so many computers automatically correct minor spelling errors and do so without prompting.
The incentive to get the word right the first time almost seems like a waste of time.
And words aren't the only old school challenge being turned over to microchips - there's also math.
We used to check our addition, multiplication, subtraction and division with a separate sheet and neat columns of numbers.
Now we use a pocket calculator.
The result, I have noticed, is that while many older people can still do spelling and most numerical calculations in their head, many young people cannot.
This is why it sometimes amazes the youngsters at the fast-food drive-through when they tell you it's $1.87 and you hand them two dollar bills and a dime and two pennies.
I have been given a puzzled look because the two dollars alone will pay for the item.
Sometimes they'll even say, "That's too much."
But then you suggest they go through with the practice of punching the amount into the cash register, and bingo! The change is 25 cents, and they can hand you a quarter.
The advantage is that now you have just one coin in your pocket to keep up with, and not the dime and three pennies in change you would have had to add to the other dime and two pennies you already had in there.
It's change for the better.
TODAY'S JOKE: An out-of-town management consultant was driving to Atlanta when he accidently drove his yellow Thunderbird into a ditch outside a rural community.
Luckily, a local farmer came to help with his big strong horse named Buddy.
He hitched Buddy up to the car and yelled, "Pull, Nellie, pull!" Buddy didn't move.
Then the farmer hollered, "Pull, Buster, pull!" Buddy didn't respond.
Once more the farmer commanded, "Pull, Coco, pull!" Nothing.
Then the farmer nonchalantly said, "Pull, Buddy, pull!" And the horse easily dragged the car out of the ditch.
The motorist was appreciative and very curious. He asked the farmer why he called his horse by the wrong name three times.
"Well ... Buddy is blind," the old farmer said, "and if he thought he was the only one pulling, he wouldn't even try!"