We have long thought that learning does not end with the completion of one’s formal education but rather continues throughout one’s life.

Each day brings forth some new thought or experience which can be added to one’s arsenal of life’s lessons.

Granted some lessons would seem to have more value than others. Nonetheless, we are always struck not only by the diversity of what we learn, but also by the manner in which we learn it.

For example, we were absolutely delighted to realize that we were able, on our recent trip to the Midwest, to drive over 3300 miles without assistance. Given the fact that we had to hire a driver to get us to Ohio and back over the Christmas holidays, we are most pleased we were able to drive to Grand Rapids, Michigan, take a side trip to Indianapolis, Indiana to attend the wedding of Alice and Harvey’s grandson, Rob Nagel, to Tisha Wilson, return to Grand Rapids before making the trip to Mount Vernon, Ohio to visit granddaughter Abby, and her parents of course, and then go back to Grand Rapids before returning to Cooperstown. We figure, based on our research on Map Quest, our driving has reached the point where we could plan to trek all the way from Cooperstown to Los Angeles, a mere 2768 miles. However, exactly why we might want to do that quite escapes us.

Plus, during our travels, we feel there were several other good life lessons to be learned. The first of these is the fact that tooling along on the road with the sunroof open has distinct drawbacks.

At one point it seems that a very large bird, perhaps a condor, let loose with a barrage of droppings which fortunately landed with much fanfare on the windshield. However, had the bird flown a bit farther west, or had we be a bit further east, we fear the results would not have been to our liking. In fact they weren’t to our liking anyway as we were dubious that we could clean the windshield enough to see to stop the car, let alone continue driving it. But fortunately, neither of those potential problems proved to be the case and we were able to continue.

The second lesson that we learned is that it is still possible to purchase shampoo.

We suspected that might indeed be the case, but we were not 100 percent certain as we have not bought shampoo for almost eleven years.

Unbeknownst to us, it seems we inherited an eleven-year supply of shampoo when we were widowed. But, during one of our many trips to a drugstore while in Michigan, we checked out the shampoo aisle and purchased a bottle of delightful tropical coconut shampoo. And frankly, we now wish we had purchased another eleven year supply because since we have started using the shampoo, everyone has told us how great our hair looks. Who knew what a difference new shampoo would make?

When we returned home we discovered that our mail contained several more life long learning experiences.

We received a notice from an unknown car dealership which told us that our 2002 Mercury Mountaineer has a trade in value between $6,280 and $8,580. And while we found that to be interesting, it was of little use to us as the 2002 Mountaineer was two cars ago. In fact, we passed that vehicle on to the Ohio Ellsworths who traded it in last summer when they purchased a new car. So we can’t even inform whoever might now own the car of the good news regarding its value. The notice did however point out to us the tremendous amount of misinformation and waste that can be found in snail mail, to say nothing of e-mail.

We were also somewhat surprised at what we learned by reading the Village of Cooperstown's ``Annual Drinking Water Quality Report’’ for 2009. And while we always find the report interesting, we must admit that we had not previously realized that the source of contamination for the dibromomethane found in our drinking water comes from ``Runoff/leaching from soil fumigation used on soybean, cotton, pineapples, and orchards.’’ Now we have no trouble believing there might be orchards within the lake’s watershed. But we do not seem to recall ever seeing soybean, cotton or pineapples being grown in the water shed. Have we missed something? We fear, given our quest for continued life long learning, that we shall now have to traverse the area in search of these crops. If anyone has any ideas where they might be located, please let us know.

And finally, thanks to a good friend of ours, we have finally found a method of shopping that we found to be to our liking. Normally, we hate shopping with a passion. We always wish that whatever we might need would simply appear in its proper location in the house. Unfortunately, we have found that rarely happens.

And if it does, it usually means that we have simply come across something which we purchased earlier and had forgotten we had. Thus, when we find it, we think it has just magically appeared. But now we have been introduced to ``drive by shopping’’ where we merely have to drive by the merchandise, check out the price at the various stores and then decide which one of the opinions to buy. Of course, there are some limitations to this particular shopping method. It would seem there might be a rather limited amount of merchandise that is displayed in such a way as to facilitate drive by shopping. In this case, we were looking for mulch so the drive by shopping worked well.

However, having reviewed the prices, we are suspicious that any savings in the price of the mulch was negated by the cost of the gas to do the driving by. However, it was explained to us that the driving by is actually entertainment and thus the cost of doing so may not be charged against any savings which might be realized by purchasing the cheapest product.

Now we are not certain, but we think this particular logic is not unlike that which we encountered growing up when our mother explained that if something was on sale for half price and one bought it, one saved enough money by making the purchase to buy the sale item. And since we believed that as a child, we really see no reason not to believe the logic that drive by shopping does not add to the cost of an item as the driving by is considered entertainment.

However, it does make us think, that in our quest of life long learning we should perhaps give some thought to the value of what we learn.

In closing, we suspect, however, we are not the only ones to embrace the concept of life long learning. In fact, John W. Gardner is credited with saying: ``The ultimate goal of the educational system is to shift to the individual the burden of pursuing his education.’’ Aristotle noted that: ``Education is the best provision for old age.’’ And there is a Chinese saying that: ``Learning is like rowing upstream: ``not to advance is to drop back.’’ However, one is tempted to muse as to whether or not one is really advancing educationally when fuzzy logic is part of the equation.

PLEASE NOTE: Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105 Pioneer Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326, by telephone at 607-547-8124 or by email at cellsworth1@stny.rr.com.

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