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Published: Tuesday, 6/13/2006

Dear grads: Pick music intelligently, stay focused

A glance at the calendar tells me it's once again that time of year when no one has asked me to address a class of graduating seniors.

But since when has the absence of an invitation to speak ever stopped me before?

Let us begin.

First, let me just say to all you high school seniors: The nation stands in awe of you.

You're a group of people who can listen to an iPod, instant-message, update your MySpace blog, and edit your original short film all at the same time.

Granted, you're often stymied by a three-cycle washing machine, but, oh, never mind.

Sorry, I digress.

This is your big day, not an opportunity for adults to gripe.

My first piece of advice to you today is something that applies in any situation. Whether you're off to college or the workplace, you need to know this important piece of information: You have an actual last name.

And now that you know this, you are no longer stuck, say, answering the phone by saying only, "Hi, this is Tiffany."

Odds are you'll never be the only Tifffany. So please, use your last name. Make it easier for the rest of us.

My second piece of advice is actually stolen. I would never have thought of this had I not heard a graduating teen's older brother offer this word of warning: Choose your music wisely.

The music you listen to these next several years is the soundtrack for all the memories you'll have of this particular time in your life.

Do you want to be 50 and feel nostalgic at the sound of (1) Kelly Clarkson, or (2) Beth Orton?

Hey, you might someday have children; the choices you make today shouldn't be impossible to defend later. Remember how mystified you were by your parents' explanation of disco?

My third piece of advice - well, as long as I'm stealing advice, let's go straight to the top. One guy already there says: Keep your focus.

Vice President Dick Cheney addressed the class of 2006 at Natrona County High School, his Wyoming alma mater. He counseled grads to keep their eye on the ball in front of them, not the one in the next court.

At work, he said, "a good rule is to stay focused on the job you have, not the next job you might want."

Of course, Mr. Cheney also told graduates the tale of how President Bush asked him to head the search for his running mate for the 2000 election.

"We all know how that turned out," the current vice president said. "Let me put this lesson in very specific terms. If you're ever asked to head up an important search committee, say 'yes.'‚óŹ"

Now, you'd think by that anecdote that Mr. Cheney disregarded his own advice to "stay focused on the job you have."

But Mr. Cheney also advised grads to pick their friends carefully:

"They have a big influence on the person you will become. In many ways, when you choose your friends, you choose your future."



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