SA4QE 2016 - Diana Slickman - Chicago Illinois, United States

On the 4th, just as I was preparing to leave home for work, my boss called. He was using the last of the coffee beans at the office and since our office, like many, cannot function without a steady supply of caffeine, he asked me to swing by Metropolis and pick up a couple more pounds. Metropolis is our coffee purveyor of choice and since their cafe is not far from my apartment so I am often called upon to perform this critical operational task for the greater good. I am always happy to do this, but today especially so, because I had a quote printed and folded and ready to go and it seemed almost providential that I should be sent out of my way to a place where people are sitting around reading and drinking coffee and eating sticky buns and tapping away on their computers and thinking deep thoughts. No better place to leave a Hoban quote.

“I’m always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,” said Muskrat. “That is why I speak as I do. You’ve heard of Muskrat’s Much-in-Little, of course?”

“No,” said the child. “What is it?”

Muskrat stopped, cleared his throat, ruffled his fur, drew himself up, and said in ringing tones, “Why times How equals What.” He paused to let the words take effect.
“That’s Muskrat’s Much-in-Little,” he said. He ruffled his fur again and slapped the ice with his tail. “Why times How equals What,” he repeated. “Strikes you all of a heap the first time you hear it, doesn’t it? Pretty well covers everything! I’m a little surprised that you haven’t heard of it before, I must say. It caused a good deal of comment both over and under the pond, and almost everyone agreed that the ripples from it were ever-widening.”

February 4 is Russell Hoban’s birthday. This yellow paper was placed here as part of an annual world-wide celebration of Hoban and his work. Your finding it and reading it makes you part of the celebration, too.

I walked in to the cafe and picked up a bag of Falstaff Winter Blend and one of Mocha-Java. I left the quote tucked in between a the rows of bags of beans. I ordered a latte and while waiting for it to be carefully hand crafted for me, I overheard two baristas who were tasting something, a beverage of some kind, and one of them said "I'm always a little leery of the interplay of flavors between coffee and tea. Apples and oranges, you know?" It wasn't quite Muskrat quality, but I thought if I hung around long enough, I might hear the coffee version of the Much-in-Little. Alas, I couldn't wait that long. People were depending on me! I picked up my drink and left the cafe with the beans and a feeling of accomplishment. A great way to start the day.

Thanks to all who 4Qate, in all forms, in many places. It's always a delight to read your thoughts, your choices, the lengths you go to, to make this idea real every year.

Happy Hoban Day!

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Chicago Illinois
United States