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Lighten the load 

 She avoided  the dangerously gluten-laden pastries, but was struck by a trolley on leaving the restaurant:

"It quickly became apparent that the Hastings Cutoff was no place for ladened wagons."

In American English, those wagons were laden (that is, "heavily loaded"). Garner's Modern American Usage says, "Although ladened is permissible in Scottish English, it is a solecism elsewhere. E.g.: 'She stares out from the magazine cover, line-free, mascara-ladened [read laden] and pouting ... ' "

 

Full mettle jacket:

"Beebe says the campaign will test the candidates' metal by fire.  He noted curve balls would be thrown at the candidates and how they responded would serve as a test for potential voters." (Courtesy of Max Brantley)

 

Shut up, TED's talking:

"There were TED talks on how to be a creative person." What TED is this, I wondered. Ted E. Bare is usually pretty close-mouthed. Teds Williams and Kennedy have crossed the bar. I had to consult Wikipedia for the answer:

"TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, under the slogan 'ideas worth spreading'. ... TED talks address a wide range of topics within the research and practice of science and culture, often through storytelling. ... Past presenters include Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall, Malcolm Gladwell, Al Gore, Gordon Brown, Richard Dawkins, Bill Gates, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and many Nobel Prize winners."

 

Doing research on our sister state of Michigan, I came across the state motto, and was taken by it: "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you." Honest and unpretentious, not promising more than it can deliver — that's the kind of state motto I like. Any state that might be looking for a new motto (Arkansas has changed its several times) would do well to emulate Michigan. "Could be worse" is pretty good, and so is "Not South Carolina." Although people make fun of Texas, the state's motto ("Fascism and Western Wear") is apt.

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