George Pennebaker, Pharm.D.
George Pennebaker, Pharm.D.

I WAS JUST GETTING A PRETTY GOOD IDEA about what to put in my next column when the fire began near our home. It got big, fast. I am now finally able to relax and write.

You probably read about the “County Fire” in Yolo County, Calif. It has burned over 90,000 acres of land. Three thousand to 4,000 firefighters on the lines, airplanes, helicopters, and “You must evacuate” orders to us and many of our neighbors.

When the sheriff drives in with all of the patrol car’s lights blazing and blinking and says you need to leave NOW, it sure interferes with your normal habits. We grabbed our medications, our computers, and our dog, and left. Thank goodness we have close relatives with a large house about 30 minutes away. We stayed with them for about five days.

I emailed the Lockwoods and told them I would be late with my column, and that I didn’t know how late because these fires are so unpredictable. They said stay safe and get it to us when you can. So here is what I was thinking about when I got interrupted.


I collect quotes. I like to use them because they always do a better job of saying what I want to say. Here are some of my favorites, with a few comments.

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
— Mark Twain

He was famous for his writing and insights on the characteristics of his era. He also provided us with the best quote of all. Everyone should have this one embedded in his or her soul.

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

We all get into frustrating circumstances every now and then. That’s the time to hang on and work through them without giving up. If you throw up your arms, you will let go of that rope and surely fall.

“Laughter is the closest distance between two people.”
— Victor Borge

Victor Borge was an accomplished concert pianist. When he made some comments during a performance, he discovered that he also had a talent for comedy. His shows turned into comedy interrupted with piano performance.

Think about it: Sharing a laugh is wonderful.

Then there are some that, as true as they are in all places, seem to come up more under our current political climate.

“With indifference there can be no response. No chance for justice. No chance for change. Indifference is worse than hatred and prejudice.”
— Anonymous

So true. All of us who have concerns about an issue need to shed indifference and do something. Getting involved does not just happen to you. It requires your initiative to go to that meeting of a group of people you don’t know but might find interesting.

“Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions.”
— George W. Bush

Another think-about-it. We gather others into a group and give it a name, often derogatory, and then compare its figurehead to our own intentions, which are often no more than intentions.

“Common sense is nothing more than a deposit of prejudices laid down in the mind before you reach eighteen.”
— Albert Einstein

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”
— Albert Einstein

He kind of put us all in our place. Of course, he is known as the big thinker, so it is reasonable for him to think that the rest of us are not.


“Beer is proof God loves us.”
— Anonymous

I think it’s time for one.

“If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving is not for you.”
— Steven Wright

As an ex-pilot I could never understand why people wanted to jump out of perfectly good airplanes. The first time or the hundredth time.

“It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.”
— Yogi Berra

There are so many times when it seems that with this much energy and knowledge in the room it would be nice to have a conversation that has some depth instead of the chatter that skims over the surface of interesting subjects.


“I’m always ready, sometimes prepared.”
— George Pennebaker

It’s really a motto. Having that attitude has put me in some of the strangest positions and unbelievable opportunities. I have taken jobs that I was totally unprepared for and succeeded in most of them. (This column, started in 1985, is just one of them.)

“If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”
— T.S. Eliot

I think that too many people don’t attain their potential because they just get to a point where they are comfortable and stop exploring new goals. That’s too bad.

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”
— Frank A. Clark


These are some of my favorites. I am sure each of you also has some favorite quotes. Please forward them to me. We might get enough for another column.

P.S. As this is being written the fire is still burning in some remote areas. No one was killed or injured. No houses or major structures were damaged. California’s fire forces are experienced and very well trained, as well as dedicated. CT

George Pennebaker, Pharm.D., is a consultant and past president of the California Pharmacists Association. The author can be reached at; 916/501-6541; and PO Box 25, Esparto, CA 95627.