The answer, complicated, the reply, complex.  For anyone upset that the answers were not present in the stories, I apologize, but that was partially my point.  This story began with a conversation between two dear friends and myself over a morning cup of coffee, or was it a midday ice tea, or an evening night cap?  Either way, we were surrounded by what seemed to be a million kids.  It was probably closer to seven kids, but the noise told otherwise, and my head went spinning.  I'll try to stay fluid and on subject, no promises. Death, Birth, Dream and now, Reply. 1. It really started with a book report that was due which hadn't been started, in fact, there was questions about if the book had even been completely read.  Regardless, the detailed instructions on how the report was to be written, black ink on every other line or typed double space or something with a summary about X and Y about that at least some odd pages long, to me seemed wrong.  The instructions covered an entire 8x10 page, single spaced.  I was curious why the book report had to be so rigid.  Maybe this would ensure that all of the students papers were going to be easy to grade since they would essentially be the same. 2. My recent obsession with Gatsby (Dear red head...) took me back to high school.  I'm sure I wrote a paper on Gatsby, who didn't, right?  That paper is no longer in my microscopic collection of memorabilia, so I can only imagine how completely insane it may have been.  Full of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, I'm sure, but none the less, I wondered what I wrote.  I do recall taking a few artistic licenses to the bank when turning in papers in high school, especially during the last two years, but I could probably today summarize the book in a few sentences, at least enough to get the point across, most likely not an A, though.  I will not embarrass myself (any more than I already do) by trying.  Yes, I read Gatsby last week (it was pretty dang good). 3. Enter a short (really short) story, a whole series of short stories (if you count 3 a series).  What else would accompany a few short stories than just10things, so I asked just10things, none of which had answers that were revealed in the text.  I really hope no one was banging their head on the wall and rereading a hundred times looking for some secret message, although the titles did require decoding from binary to ascii to stir the "hey-there-might-be-some-secret-message-in-here" part of your brain, there was no secret message there. 4.  What I did expect, though, is that there was a realization of how many details were not there.  Was this distracting as you were reading the story, or after, when you were searching for the answers?  Were the questions asked relevant to the story, or could the story stand without them had they been there?  Yes, this is a scaled back example, I certainly was not going to dive into writing a whole book, however if you put the exponents on, does this not apply to larger works as well?  When do the details matter and when do you as the reader either fill them in, or toss them out as not important? 5. As we consume literature, that back corner of the brain goes to work painting the picture for us, which is lucky for the authors else they would be writing million page books to tell a story.  Can you imagine: "Parallel with the right edge of the desk, one inch from the right edge and 2 inches from the back edge, of which the back edge was also in parallel with the desk was a telephone that was 6 inches by 12 inches and was beige in color.  The telephone was 2 inches tall in the back and 1 inch tall in the front and the top sloped 13 degrees from front to back.  There was a receiver and under the receiver were 12 buttons numbered 0-9 plus the # and * digits.  There was a red light on the phone to indicate there was a message waiting.  The button had the words "MESSAGE WAITING" under it in Helvetica 12 point font.  The telephone started to emit a noise out of the speaker that was 4.5 inches in diameter and made of..." vs. "She answered the phone."  Had I truly given you every detail about the phone (I would have also needed to fill you in on the desk it was sitting on, the room the desk was in, what else was in the room, etc. ), this would have taken until next year, but I think you get my point. 6. When we experience life, when do the details matter?  Someone I know is a date and detail fanatic.  She could recall what was for dinner weeks ago, remember dates years in the past, it is rather annoying.  Then there's the opposite.  I moved into my house 5 or 6 years ago, it was in the spring.  I ate dinner last night, I think.  I know you weren't around to witness, but just a few minutes ago, I failed to pay attention to what floor the elevator had stopped at and rode right back down to the lobby from the 5th floor.  It was a great laugh for the gentleman that got in the car and asked if there was nothing better to do in this town that ride the elevator all night.  Secretly, I was still working on the cricket decibel formula (only FB friends will get that one), that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. 7. A frequent phrase in software development (especially from the project manager) is "the devil is in the details."  The business tells a story and the designer/architect writes it down.  Soon, the developers start churning out brilliant code, only to find that the details of the specification were not told and you end up with a million line application that's 12 months behind.  We all need to become better story tellers.  We need to know and understand and respect where details matter and when they are unimportant.  There have been  just10things posts describing 30 seconds in time in 1000 words and 7 days described in 200 words, so span of time is not the answer.  How do we decide when to convey the right amount of detail and what that amount of detail is? 8. Comprehension.  Are there enough details for you to formulate what is happening?  Or are there so many that you can't keep track of what is going on? 9. Context.  It does wonders for influencing the painting of the details.  Without it, words can be misinterpreted, scenarios misread, situations gone out the window. 10. Book reports,  I still don't get it.  I am in favor of another style paper this same child had not too long ago.  I have not had the chance to read it yet, but the idea was to pick two books or movies and combine them (something like that) to tell a story.  So the subject became Sesame Street meets Godfather.  Way to be creative!  This shows comprehension much better than some slap in the face institutionalized manual for writing a paper to show you [may] have read a book.  It also allows those not included details to surface as catalyst to foster imagination, breeding a whole new story that hinges on the fact that you understood the books you've read (or movies you've watched) and weaves context in a creative manner. "Sometimes he's on for five minutes, sometimes he's on for five hours" - Pump Up the Volume Hope you've enjoyed the adventure.

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