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"And, anyway," I added, "They can't even decide on how to cook the bird we have." I returned to my reading and blocked out the sound of the ongoing turkey dispute. When Robert said, "Okay, 170 it is," I dropped my book. Before that moment, the possibility of Robert giving in to an argument fell shortly behind that of Paris Hilton making it through Harvard Law School. With the aid of his laptop and Google, David had finally located a page his father found persuasive. Robert stepped into the frigid air to fire up the grill, and David's sister, Michelle, entered the room. "Your dad just said he'd cook the turkey to 170," I informed her.

"Really?" Michelle said. Then, to David, she said, "You must be happy. That's closer to your number than his. How did you convince him?"

"I just had to find a source he trusted," David said. Smiling triumphantly, he turned his laptop so that Michelle and I could see the screen.

"Is that a joke or is there really a 'meat and poultry hotline?'" I asked, pointing to the 800-number at the bottom of the Web page. Michelle laughed, but David was all seriousness. Summarizing his find, a gem that put all his other attempts to shame, he said, "It's a government source -- the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods, or NACMCF. I showed Dad that 180 used to be the right number, but that the government recently changed it to 165. He's still cooking it more than it needs to be cooked, but there's always next year," David said cheerfully. "Look how many years it took me to get you to order your steak 'medium' instead of 'incinerated.' Baby steps, baby. Baby steps."

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