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Second Choice

Submitted by Albin Johnson - January 30, 2005

As I started writing this story, I immediately recalled that my High School English teacher had scribbled a big F on my book report. I had chosen to review Kathleen Windsors book Forever Amber which was mildly racy for its day. I thought the report was pretty good! My Next experience brought back memories of a freshman college English project asking me to write a resume for a possible job interview. I wrote a paper describing my desire and qualifications for a possible job working in a Mortuary. I received an F and the Teachers Assistant added the note that while trying to be funny, I wasnt! HA! He didnt know that at one time I had done some occasional work of delivering and arranging coffins in the display room at the local Funeral Parlor. Another few years passed when late in my college senior year, I took the dreaded Graduate Record Exam. Well, the professor told me I was deficient in English Composition and would need to take a remedial class lovingly called DUMBELL ENGLISH for no official credit. I must say I survived and did learn some basics of writing.

After graduation and a couple of years later, I was working in an aerospace firms Management Training Department. I helped develop and coordinate classroom training aids for the instructors. It was here I met a couple of ex Hollywood screenwriters who had found work in Aerospace. I became fascinated with their tales of writing for TV and told them of my desire to write scenarios for the tube. They suggested an Agent and advice on selling a story complete with storyboards and dialog. Amazingly enough I found an agent and submitted two or three ideas. I was certain they would catch on. They didnt! So, I went back to teaching high school drafting. Years later, I found a rather faded copy of one of my proposed stories. It was called Second Best and was about an average guy who set about remedying societies ills. He would never quite measure up! (Pathos) He wouldnt get the job, the award, the recognition, and the fame. He was always SECOND BEST. George was his name and is no relation to any one I have ever heard of!!!! (Wry humor)

The dictionary states rather mater of factly that second is next after first. By searching a little, I found a passel of other seconds: second best, place, base, sight, guess, wind, class, hand, cousin, degree, fiddle, floor, and coming. Oh yes, the second law of motion and thermodynamics. There is another definition for second. It is the time needed for a Cesium 133 atom to perform 9,192,631,770 complete oscillations. Or an easier explanation is 1/60th of a minute.

Ill start with SECOND SENSE. I found some old and some new words here, qualia, psychic, scrying, (using a crystal ball), clairvoyance, and primal urges. They all appear related to brain chemistry. There is a small Pineal gland located in the back of the brain. It secretes a hormone called Latonin, which controls our sleeping. Psychics as well as scientists have studied this gland looking for answers to life and neural diseases. From these studies have come products and theories for altering or answers to human behavior. Perhaps some of these drugs are familiar to you: Triptophan, Dopamine, Phen-fen, Prozac, Buspar, or Provicil which is used to treat Narcolepsy. (sleep disorder)

On a lighter note, Growing up and being the second oldest meant you have no bragging rights unless you suffered a second degree burn when playing baseball which might get sympathy from your second cousin who could only second guess as to why you slid into second base scraping your arm. The second baseman was waiting, but your second sense told you that you could make it. Thank goodness someone called timeout so you could catch your second wind, as this was only the second inning. Whew!

I found that some very patient person must have spent a lifetime researching when certain words using second were first recorded. Try these dates: second hand -1474, second rate- 1669, second sight -1616, second class -1942?, second nature -1390, second guess -1941, and second fiddle 1809. It is believed that the word fiddle was used long before the word violin.

Now, how many of you readers have a car that you shift from first to second gear? Can you describe Newtons second law of motion? Or Keplers second law of space travel? Did you know that a lead second could be added or subtracted from the Atomic Clock to keep it finely tuned? Have you ever played Play-Stations interactive video game called Second Sight?

Second Nature, some times known as Ontology or Metaphysics, espouses that: There is and X because X is possible, and in addition for describing existing objects, X satisfies certain specific conditions of existence. Almost sound like some reason to go to war! By the way, is it possible to larn something new if no one else has ever learnt it before?

Second Class has a positive side also. For instance, you could be a Boy Scout or even a Naval Petty Officer or seated somewhat comfortably on a train or airplane. Best of all is that second class is a step above third.

Second Hand is a popular phrase, which could mean a repeated story that now is being told to you. Or it could mean, pawn. The pawnshop dates back to China over 3000 years ago. An item was brought in, appraised and a loan was made for its value. In order to retrieve the item, an interest rate was applied which spawned laws of usury (exorbitant) charges. The church employed laws against this gauging during the middle ages. Pawn (hock) shops were recognized by using a sign made up of 3 golden colored balls hanging outside the business. Several groups take credit for the symbol. Israel will refer to an ancient shekel as having the symbol. King Edward of England used 3 golden balls as part of his coat of arms, and the Medici family of Italy claims the symbol! Did you remember that Queen Isabella of Spain pawned her jewels to finance Captain Christophers trip to the new world. A good thing, no?

A favorite New York Broadway show was The Zigfield Follies of 1921. One featured song was called Second Hand Rose Frankie (the girl) went to the pawnshop and got a forty four she then went and found Johnny (a boy) and shot him. After all he was her man. Jazz fans can still listen to Cliff Jacksons Hock Shop Blues. Most parents and kids can recite the words to the nursery rhyme A penny for a spool of thread, a penny for a needle, thats the way the money goes, pop goes the weasel. Do you know what it means? As it turns out, a weasel is a shoemakers tool and the term pop refers to pawning the tool for money to buy needles.

About 2 Billion Christians believe in the Second Coming or Advent or Parousia. The Bible states that believers be watchful and faithful for Christs return. There are also passages defining an Apocalypse on earth ending life and redemption in Heaven or Hell. Approximately 1.3 Billion Islamic worshipers who believe the Korans referral to a day of humankinds judgment where Allah will provide the faithful with everlasting life. The Hindus believe in eternal life by espousing re-incarnation or Moksha, and the Buddhists believe in rebirth or Sam Sara.

And finally, the ancient philosopher Plato argued that it was not possible to draw a perfect circle, only an imperfect one. Later Leonardo De Vinci drew the famous Vitruvian Man (also known as the Measure of Man) Perhaps what he was illustrating was that compared to Mathematics, mankind comes in SECOND BEST.