Today I'm posting four short things that, on the surface, don't seem to be related. Read on to find out the connection.
1. Start with a cage containing five apes. In the cage, hang a banana on a string and put stairs under it. Before long, an ape will go to the stairs and start to climb toward the banana.
2. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the apes with cold water. After a while, another ape makes an attempt with the same result - all the apes are sprayed with cold water.
3. Turn off the cold water. If later another ape tries to climb the stairs, the other apes will try to prevent it even though no water sprays them.
4. Now, remove one ape from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new ape sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his horror, all of the other apes attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.
5. Next, remove another of the original five apes and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.
6. Again, replace a third original ape with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well. Two of the four apes that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest ape.
7. After replacing the fourth and fifth original apes, all the apes who were sprayed with cold water have been replaced.
Nevertheless, no ape ever again approaches the stairs. Why not?
"Because that's the way it's ALWAYS been done around here."
What to do when you discover that you are riding a dead horse:
Buy a stronger whip.
Threaten the horse with termination.
Appoint a committee to study the horse.
Arrange to visit other countries to see how they ride dead horses
Lower the standard so the dead horses can be included.
Reclassify the dead horse as living impaired.
Hire outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
Harness several dead horses together to increase the speed.
Provide additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse's performance.
Do a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's performance.
Declare that the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.
Rewrite the expected performance requirements for all dead horses.
Promote the dead horse to a supervisory status.
When my wife Becka taught Home Economics (back in the days before it was called "Family and Consumer Science"), she used to tell her students the following story:
A girl who wanted to learn to be a good cook was watching her mother prepare a ham to go into the oven. Before her mother put it into the pan, she cut a large section off the end of the ham. Her daughter asked her why she had done that. The mother replied, "That's how my mom did it when I was learning to cook from her."
Not wanting to miss out on any great family cooking secrets, the girl asked, "What does that do for the ham, Mom?"
"I don't know," replied the mother. "I'll call Grandma to ask her."
Later that day the mother called the grandmother to tell her about the daughter's interest in learning to cook and to ask her why she cut the end off the ham. The grandmother replied, "I don't know why you do that. I always did it because the pan I had back then was too small for a ham."
I fear that there are many things that we do in life, not because we have a good reason for doing so, but because that's all we know to do - it's how we've ALWAYS done it. And that fact short circuits all logic and reason. Many businesses, schools, churches, organizations, and families carry on procedures and/or traditions whose origins are long since lost. I'm not saying that just because a new idea comes along, it's automatically better than anything tried before. But I think that many of us miss out because we weren't unwilling to do things differently. Sometimes the best thing to do really is to dismount and bury that dead horse!
So where does the square dancing come in? A friend from college days now living in Pennsylvania sent me a link to a video of some people who weren't content to keep doing something they way it had always done it. She wrote, "Hey, Rob! This is the week of the PA Farm Show - a big event in our state. I was looking at the schedule online, and was very interested to see that this year (for the second time), they are having Tractor Square Dancing. I have read about this in Country magazine, but have never seen it. It sounds hilarious. I decided to see if I could find a video on line and found one. The video (from last year's Farm Show) is a five minutes clip and you really have to watch it all the way to the end. Don't miss the 'split and swing'! Enjoy!"
So, in this instant vacation about trying out new ideas and procedures, ivman has done just that - I've embedded video in my blog. Those of you reading this in e-mail or a blog-reader may need to go to the blog to see the video. Since this is something new for me, I don't know how this will work in those other contexts. Click in the square below to start the video. It's a rather large file and may take a while to load, but it's so worth it!
"Let's stop giving lip service if we're not willing to give life service." - Mark Herbster
Due to financial constraints, the light at the end of the tunnel has been extinguished.