Readers Know Best
The “Reader-Tested Life Advice” was the best part of your advice feature. After four decades of chronic disease, two organ transplants, and some of life’s more common turmoils, what gets me through is the belief that “life is a series of unpredictable events. You gotta go through them; Your tips in “How to Get a Person on the you can’t go around them.” Phone” work! I was frustrated with the United

Airlines automated system, so I pressed zero over and over. The voice said, “I don’t underWhen it comes to ignoring stand what you want. I’ll connect you with a minor rudeness from representative.” Lisa Sitek-Shaver, Burlington, Vermont strangers, I disagree (“How
S. Cra ig, Fort Collins, Colorado

to Rise Above”). If someone cuts ahead of me in line, I don’t yell, but I do speak up. Rude people are hoping you’ll be a wimp—don’t let them get away with it!
F ra n M a nnix , Watertown, Massachusetts
P H O T O - I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y K E V I N I R B Y

Thank you to Jeanne Marie Laskas for sharing the advice Mister Rogers gave her whenever she felt like a failure. Shortly after reading her

column, I made a huge mistake at work. Normally, I would have gone home and curled up in the fetal position, but Ms. Laskas’s experience came to mind. Instead of beating myself up, I regrouped and learned from my mistake. R. H., via Internet I got a kick out of the instructions in “How to Teach a Cat a Handshake.”

We Want to Hear from You!
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We asked readers on our e-mail panel how they’d improve U.S. schools. Increasing teacher pay and making parents more accountable tied for first (15%). Their other suggestions:

Over the years, I’ve taught my 13-year-old cat, Smokey, to shake, sit, kiss, and sit up. You’re right about the need for patience and the fact that food is a great motivator.
Karen Lord, Bogart, Georgia

Bursting the Bubble
Lenore Skenazy’s column about all the fearmongering products for nervous parents made me laugh (“Bubble Babies”). What she describes is so true. My advice to new parents: Buy the items, like electrical outlet covers, that truly protect against safety hazards—and skip the rest.
Tiffany Betz, Lititz, Pennsylvania

>> “Teach a subject, not how to take
a federally mandated test.”
A. F., Green Valley, Arizona

>> “Use a pay-for-performance system
instead of pay based on longevity. Eliminate tenure.”
J. H ., Sterling Heights, Michigan

>> “Require students to complete
community service to graduate.”
A. A., Norfolk, Missouri

>> “Make learning a cooperative
exercise rather than a rote memory K. S., Merritt Island, Florida chore.” >> “Leverage technology to ensure that rural, suburban, and urban students have equal opportunities.”
D. O., Arvada, Colorado

>> “Get rid of gadgets. Kids have no
social skills these days.”
A. T., Brooklyn, New York

When my friends and I were growing up in the ’70s, our moms didn’t hound us with anti-germ gel or put every last bit of protective gear on us when we went out to play. Trying to keep kids safe from the world will not help them in the long run. I’m sick of all these products turning American kids into wusses.
Connie L. Harding, Fort Worth, Texas

>> “Understand that not every child
learns at the same rate.”
D. G., Cedar Rapids, Iowa

>> “Hire educators who truly love what
they do.”
M. S., Fayetteville, North Carolina

>> “Take chairs away. Allow students
to stand at worktables.”
A. E., Piketon, Ohio

Want your opinion heard? Take part

in short surveys. Join Our Connection at and register to win $30,000. 8

While many of the gadgets seem ridiculous, I admit that I’ve used my fair share. Right before my son learned to walk, we installed new Berber carpeting. Before I knew it, his knees were bleeding from crawling on it. I would have loved to find those knee pads then! Instead, I made some out of socks. Necessity is often the mother of invention, even if it seems silly to others.
René Green, Effingham, Illinois 10/09

Animal Antics
Joanna Powell’s article about pets rescuing their owners reminded me of something that happened to my father a long time ago (“Hero Pets”). He had left a pan on the stove and dozed off, and it caught fire. His parakeet, which was free to come and go from its cage, knew enough to fly down to the “This isn’t helping your reputation.” floor, where it was less smoky, and walk over to my dad. The chirpWouldn’t it be great if we could pay ing woke my father, who quickly put less for items by cutting back on the out the fire. Smart bird, huh? N orma J. Ga ge, Custer, Michigan packaging? Why do shoes need a box? Or even toothpaste tubes, for that matter? Why can’t canned items Waste Not be sold in reusable jars that go back Here in Debord, Kentucky, we’ve to the manufacturer? Thanks for this started operating a power plant that forward-thinking story. gets all its energy from municipal solid waste (Quick Study: “Where Trudy Lundy, Spokane, Washington Our Garbage Goes”). We send nothing to landfills. Ground-up glass is A Father’s Legacy used in our concrete-block manufac- I was moved to tears as I read David turing plant. Steel, iron, and alumiMas Masumoto’s “The Growing num are sent to metal recyclers. And Season,” about his gentle, quiet we use clean steam to power over father. I, too, had a father who loved 7,000 homes. Plastics and Styrofoam the land. He wasn’t a farmer of are converted back to gas in about an peaches and grapes but of corn, hour. Our office is on a mountaintop, beans, and wheat. Strong men who and as we look out the windows, we had to struggle for their families’ are constantly reminded of the natusurvival teach us that hard, honest ral beauty we are commissioned to work is the way to live your life. preserve. H arol d Ma ndel, shift supervisor, Mary Ann Lang Fuelling,
Recycling Solutions, Debord, Kentucky Mount Vernon, Indiana



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