Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

January 2001

Marking Time

Get out your magnifying glass and look at this month’s cover closely. You are bound to recognize someone you know among the nearly 3,000 photos taken from our pages. To make it easier for you, we’ve included a blowup in our center spread. There are more business people pictured on this cover than read our first issue 200 months ago.

You know, I rather like counting time in months rather than years or days or decades or centuries. Think about it, when humans are little teeny tiny tots and someone asks the proud mother (most folks think dads wouldn’t know) how old the little one is, the answer comes back in months: “Henry’s eight months old next Tuesday,” or “Gweneth is 15 months old, and she already has an email address.”

Months are far more specific than either days or years. February is a lot more different than March than Wednesday is from Thursday, don’t you think? And the Super Bowl champ of 1992 was?

Months are human scale. They are long enough to accomplish some stuff, yet short enough to endure a setback or two. I’m so into months, I’m reordering my memories.

So, like how long did you go to college? Four years? Really? Even on the five-year plan (presumably 60 months) you probably didn’t go 48 months. I started college in September of one year and finished in late May sometime after that. Counting one month of summer school, I went to college for 37 months.

Let me tell you about this one professor I had (and I bet you could tell me about some of the beauties you had). Anyway, this one was the uncle of a friend of mine from high school. So even though he was a priest, I could think of him either as Carol’s Uncle Tony or Father Professor. He taught theology, which every future whatever-we-were-going-to-be was required to take. Many people who never studied theology (I ended up taking 36 months of it, none in summer school) assume theological studies to be reverent, solemn, pious undertakings. Actually, it was pretty straightforward, academic kind of stuff. Lectures, readings, papers, quizzes, exams were as much a part of theology as they were of history, economics, or money and banking.
Anyway, the extra point I wanted to make had to do with Uncle/Father’s grading system. Each answer (all the tests including quizzes were essays) was given a number grade that was part of the total grade. That’s pretty straightforward. But he also marked the errors in the answers with either a cee, dash, slash, ex or cross.

He explained it as follows: “If you left out something important enough to deduct points, I’ve placed a dash in red in your answer. I also take off points if you waste my time adding non-essential material to your answers which I signify by placing a slash in your answer at the offending point. If your answer is wrong, I so signify by placing an ex after it. Should you receive a mark resembling a cross, your answer is not only wrong, it’s heretical — don’t show your paper to anyone or I’ll have to excommunicate you.”

All that took place 508 months ago in the last millennium. Happy New Year!

Catch you next month!