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Food for Thought Exercises

Food for Thought Exercises

Date: Jun 04 2012

Topic: Writing

Author: englishteacher24/7


This is lesson is written to engage your mind and provide an opportunity to express your thoughts in English.  Please offer your comments about the topic and I will offer mine in.

Scroll down to see previous topics and the responses.


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United States

A new “Food for Thought” has been posted.

07:57 PM Sep 01 2017 |


United States

Experience is the Best Teacher:

A ship engine failed, no one could fix it. Then they brought in a man with 40 yrs. on the job. He inspected the engine carefully, top to bottom.

After looking things over, the guy reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. The engine was fixed!

7 Days later the owners got his bill for $10,000. ‘What?!’ the owners said ‘You hardly did anything. Send us an itemized bill. ”

The bill simply said:

Tapping with a hammer: $2.00

Knowing where to tap: $9,998

Don’t Ever Underestimate Experience! Take every opportunity to read, write, listen, speak, and think in English. You will gain experience by doing so.

10:29 PM Aug 30 2017 |


United States

Bingo! Easypeasy you answered correctly and explained it superbly. The clue is that the fifth child is named “what” because the word “what” is usually used before asking a question. In this case there isn’t a question mark; therefore, it is not a question but a statement.

The answer was given and it required the reader to observe the wording and punctuation.

Good job Easypeasy, let’s all learn something from this lesson.

10:59 AM Dec 06 2016 |

1 person likes this




I’d say the fith child’s name is “What”. 

In the last sentence there is a question mark missing, so it is just another following sentence, not a question like it might seem at first. 

That was a very tricky one, Mr. Alston! :D 

10:47 AM Dec 05 2016 |


United States

I know this challenge question may be difficult but here is a hint:

The answer is in the text.

03:35 AM Dec 03 2016 |


United States

Read this carefully and see if you can answer it:

Penny had 5 children and named them as follows:

She named her first child January

Her second child she called February

The third child was named March

The fourth child she named April

What was the fifth child’s name.

07:25 PM Nov 30 2016 |



United States

hi yes I agge


12:09 PM Oct 28 2015 |

La Princesse de la vie


Hello again, Mr. Alston,

I think I wanted to say “The end doesn’t justify the means”, because hurting the others or breaking rules are not justified whatever it’s committed for.

11:57 AM Oct 28 2015 |



Iran, Islamic Republic Of

Hi Mr. Alston,

There is a Persian proverb that says Drink wine, Burn mosques but don’t hurt people. (In Islam, drinking wine is forbidden and It’s a great sin, and mosques are considered as God’s houses, very sacred places)

According to Islamic teachings, If you do something against God’s will, don’t worry God will forgive you,

If you utter blasphemies against God, again God will forgive you,

But if you trample the rights of people, this time God wouldn’t forgive you easily, You should go and try to correct what you’ve done wrong and ask forgiveness of those you have hurt.

I don’t like to trample the rights of others in order to achieve my goals, I know that I can’t deal with guilty feelings.

I don’t think the end would justify the means, in fact the end is built by our means, if you cause pain and pain, at the end you get more pains.

12:55 PM Oct 27 2015 |


United States

Hello Lesya, it’s good to have you return, now on with the show!

How you explained this phrase in your country is on the nice side.

La Princes, the same for you.

Somy hit the nail on the head.

The end justifying the means does not mean only using acceptable methods, it means using any method necessary to accomplish the goal, by hook or crook.

Therefore, please answer the question from that perspective.

Does the end justify the means?

10:59 PM Oct 26 2015 |

La Princesse de la vie


Hi, Mr. Alston,

Does the end justify the means? Of course I can do whatever it takes me to reach my goals as long as I’m not hurting the others or breaking rules or doing anything that goes against ethics.

Like Kotlesya, we have a proverb which grants that the end justifies the means, but I never believed it does in all cases.

04:44 AM Oct 26 2015 |




Hello, dearest Alston :-)

We have the same phrase in my country. In our understanding, this phrase makes us to analyze and ask ourselves about all means to be used to achieve our aim. In other words, is our goal worth all attempts, means and difficulties to be achieved or not?

10:39 PM Oct 25 2015 |


United States

Topic No. 3 - Does the end justify the means?

What this means is: Does it matter your method as long as you achieve your goals.

What do you think about it?

08:03 PM Oct 25 2015 |


United States

Somy, I like your answer when you stated “it depends on the product we are working on.”

Furthermore, you made a good case using Thomas Edison’ efforts but be mindful that his efforts is an example of persistence until your goal is reached. In this case it was experimenting with materials to determine which one would last as a light filament.

NavidArash, consider selecting which products to pursue perfection, the effects of missing the perfection targets is different depending on the item.

LaPrinces, I appreciate your deeper thinking and the revision of your answer. I’m delighted to see that your selection allows for the type of thing that is being produced.

My answer is similar to yours and Somy’s in that it depends on the item. Of course whatever is being done should be done to produce the best possible result.

However, to set a target of perfection on everything and throw away anything that is less than perfect would be an unacceptable waste on many levels.

For this reason, designers give a target specification and then a plus or minus amount that will still place the product within acceptable limits.

Finally, be careful when there are questions that imply the inclusion of everything (all).

In the case of this discussion, “Is perfectionism worth the time?” the first thought in answering it would be “it depends…” and then state your answer.

Anyway, it was good for all of you who took the time to answer this question to develop your answers in English. Continue to think and express yourself in English if it is your goal to be fluent.

Stay tuned for the next “Food for Thought” exercise.

08:00 PM Oct 18 2015 |

La Princesse de la vie


Hi, Mr. Alston,

Well, I’ve been beating around the bush, now I’m being straightforward about it. My answer is: No, perfectionism is not worth the investment of time. That’s in case the object worked on can be tolerated and quite satisfying, even if not perfect.

01:20 PM Oct 16 2015 |



Iran, Islamic Republic Of

Hi Mr. Alston,

Sorry that my answer wasn’t clear as a bell, I think I didn’t understand the question very well and I was still doubtful when I posted my comment.

But the following paragraph shed light on your question.

“The question is whether or not the effort is worth it if the end result is less than the target (perfection)? In other words, it’s all or nothing.”

I think It is worth the effort even thought if the result is far away from perfect. We only can work on our performance and the result is out of our hands and it depends on a lot of variables, we could easily fall pry of “all or nothing” thinking and be passive. so It’s better to do our best and let see what we get out of that. So I try my best to get a perfect result but still It is worth if it all ends up less than the target.

I hope I got it right this time.

09:32 AM Oct 15 2015 |


United States

Hello LaPrinces, the traditional protocol for designers already acknowledge the fact that to produce certain parts there has to be a tolerance that deviates from the ideal target or the scrap expense will be unprofitable for the company.

Your answer embraces this fact. The question is not whether targeting the ideal is a good thing, that fact is already established.

The question is whether or not the effort is worth it if the end result is less than the target (perfection)? In other words, it’s all or nothing.

NavidArash, you use the modal verb “may” as opposed to “is,” therefore please qualify your position.

You both are doing very well in engaging in this exercise. The purpose is to help you develop your thoughts in English. Good job!

05:23 PM Oct 14 2015 |



Iran, Islamic Republic Of


For the question relating to the cake, I was quite sure to enjoy what I have on my plate and not throw the cake away for a little cooking mistake. As a child, If I ever complained about the taste of my food, my mother would say “Thank God for what you got on your plate now, do you how many children there are starving in the world?” so for me It was like cardinal sin number one to throw the cake away.

But now, you made it more difficult for me to answer this one, Now on second thought about perfectionism, it may be worth the time and expense on this matter.

07:44 AM Oct 14 2015 |

La Princesse de la vie


Hello, Mr. Alston,

I’m really somewhere between them. I mean close enough is good when the design is already executed, so there’s no need to remanufacture it again to make it perfect as long as it’s falling in the range of dimension tolerance. That means no mistake has been made.

However, if the designers are targeting perfection from the beginning that would be even better, so they can work holding the ideal picture in their minds. It may goes right or may deviate a little, so if the final result is not the perfect image, then it’s okay as long as the miniscule difference is negligible.

I hope this time I clarified my thoughts better on that.

06:49 AM Oct 14 2015 |


United States

Welcome Somy_i! Ideally speaking, it would be good to achieve the exact dimension. However, depending on the part, there will be a cost to achieve this, resulting in an increase of scrap. Can you justify the expense of this additional waste from scrap?

I agree with you concerning the addition of salt to the cake. :)

03:20 AM Oct 14 2015 |

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