Yesterday I received an e-mail that took me awhile to cipher.

Dear Mr. Coward,

Recently I have been thinking about making a hovercraft and wanted to be able to propel it in directions unlike the ones I’ve seen on the Internet. Those ones can’t propel in certain directions, but yours I saw was able to. However, the instructions were not as self-explanatory as you may have thought it was. I wanted to build what was on the site and modify it to make my own hovercraft. Please reply to me with this email address and help me understand certain parts of your instructions. Thank you.

After more than 11 years on the net, my various websites contain well over 30,000 pages. I’ve had many, many e-mails over the years, asking all sorts of questions. But this one was a first.

Hovercraft? Directions? When did I teach hovercraft building? Or is this some new sort of Spam e-mail looking for gullible hovercraft fans? What page was she looking at? Was this meant for another Mr. Coward?

An hour or so of mulling (as well as some furious clicking) brought me to the answer. Through the wondrous power of Google, this budding hovercraft builder found an old informative essay, written by one of my students for one of our class webzines….in 2005!

With no context, and no link back to the original index, this page was orphaned. But the mighty Google found it, and now this poor soul thinks I can help her with her hovercraft.  What I don’t get is how she was savvy enough to find my e-mail address and send her query, without realizing that she was looking at an old student essay.


Today’s classic seventh grade line come to us after the following warm up:

“Two roads __________(ed) in a yellow wood…” I went left. (Bonus: What poem/poet is this from?)   a) converge  b) diverge  c)  sinuous  d) arbitrary  e) fluctuate

After we answered the question, I looked for volunteers for the bonus. Milk was amped on Red Bull again today, and excitedly blurted that he knew the poet of that famous line.

“Dr. Seuss.”

After the laughter subsided,

“It’s the only poet I know.”