When Justina bought new tires for her car, she read the warranty. But it was hard to understand the language. So she rewrote the terms of the warranty in language that was easier to understand. This is what she wrote:
WHAT IT SAYS
WHAT IT MEANS
For a fee collected at the time of the original tire purchase, Steady Eddie’s Tire Company
Store or affiliated Dandy Dan’s Tire Stores will refund the purchase price and the sales tax, if any, on any tire in the event of a failure due to workmanship and materials or a non-repairable road hazard for the life of the original tread down to 3/32 inch remaining, or 3 years from date of purchase, whichever occurs first. At the election of the purchaser, we will sell a replacement tire to the purchaser at the same price paid for the damaged tire, plus the required sales tax. In the event the original tire is discontinued or not available, a tire of similar value will be substituted.
AT THE AGE OF 17, I WAS FIRED FROM MY JOB AS A CASHIER AT SCOTT'S GROCERY STORE IN FORT Wayne, Indiana. With only two months remaining before my freshman year of college, I saw in my unemployment an opportunity. Instead of telling my parents that I had been fired, I continued to leave the house every afternoon in my cashier's outfit: black pants, black shoes, white shirt, and smock. To my parents, I looked ready for some serious coupon scanning; in reality, I was pulling 10-hour shifts reading at the public library.
All reasonably curious people wonder how their brain works. At 17, I was unreasonably curious. I used my time at the library to learn about how brains work, how they break, and how they are rebuilt. In addition to keeping us balanced, regulating our body temperature, and making sure we blink our eyelids together every now and again, our brains ingest, process, and generate massive amounts of information. We construct unconscious responses to our immediate environment, short-term plans for locution and limb placement, and long-term plans for mate selection and education. What makes brains interesting is not just their ability to generate reactions to sensory data, but their role as repository of information for both plan generation and the creation of new information. I wanted to learn how that worked.
Stretching from the piney woods of east Texas to the Gulf Coast, across the rolling Texas Hill Country to the deserts of the Trans-Pecos West, Texas offers an immensely varied and complex landscape, one that has been creatively and imaginatively probed by twentieth-century writers. Traditional stories have included such stock elements as laconic cowboys, nasty outlaws, greedy oil barons, saucy bar girls, leering bandidos, Texas Rangers, blind heifers, horny boys, or conspicuous Cadillacs. Other stories—those with more lasting literary appeal—examined the state’s diversity and moved beyond stereotypes, reflecting and transforming elements that defined the region with originality, supple language, and humanity.1
Twentieth-century writers responded to the realities of Texas’ natural environment, as well as to the themes and qualities those events induce. Historically, writers journeying across Texas—from explorers such as Cabeza de Vaca to twentieth-century nature writers such as Roy Bedichek and John Graves—attempted to capture their responses to the natural and cultural phenomena they encountered. Much of the writing emphasized coming to terms with a variety of cultures, but just as often the literature explored the aesthetic and pragmatic challenges posed by the region’s natural conditions, where lush pine forests give way to empty plains that sometimes stretch so far that the eye yearns for even the slightest hill to lean against (as Roy Bedichek commented in his 1951 Adventures with a Texas Naturalist), where most of the indigenous vegetation is thorny and fruitless, and where often insufficient water exists to sustain cities or livestock. Texas landscapes are both as beautiful and appealing as they are dangerous and frightening—arid Chihuahuan desert, jutting Guadalupe Mountains, eroding Caprock canyon-lands, and rolling Llano Estacado.2