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When Men Go to Walmart…


cartoon of age differences

Here at the beginning of September I'm thinking about some milestone birthdays in our family this month. On the 17th our firstborn will turn 30, and on the last day of the month, I will be 15 years younger than John McCain! (He's a lot younger than most people realize! You do the math….)

As I age gracefully, I'm noticing some of the subtle differences that come with each stage of life - the way you see things and do things. (Notice the cartoon on the right…) On a more personal level, when I was a 20-something, it was nothing to pull all-nighters or at least to stay up late into the night doing fun activities or doing grading and course preparations as a young teacher. Now I have a hard time staying up very late at all. Just this past Friday evening a bunch of us teachers got together for a game night. Most of us played games late into the early part of the evening! Sigh!

Today's "instant vacation" takes a look at some of the changes that aging makes in something as everyday as going to Walmart.

When men go to Walmart…

You are a man doing some kind of project around the house – mowing the lawn, putting a new fence in, painting the living room, or whatever. You are hot and sweaty, covered in dirt or paint. You have your old work clothes on. You know the outfit - shorts with a hole in them, old T-shirt with a stain from who knows what home repair, and an old pair of tennis shoes.

Right in the middle of this great home improvement project you realize you need to run to Walmart to get something to help complete the job.

Depending on your age you might do the following:

In your 20's:
Stop what you are doing. Shave, take a shower, blow dry your hair, brush and floss your teeth, and put on clean clothes. Check yourself in the mirror and flex. Splash on a lot of your favorite cologne because you never know, you just might meet some hot chick while standing in the checkout lane. And you went to school with the pretty girl running the register.

In your 30's:
Stop what you are doing, put on clean shorts and shirt. Change shoes. You married the hot chick so no worries in that department. Wash your hands and comb your hair. Check yourself in the mirror. Still got it. Add a healthy shot of your favorite cologne to cover the smell. The cute girl running the register is the kid sister of someone you went to school with.

In your 40's:
Stop what you are doing. Put a sweatshirt that is long enough to cover the hole in your shorts. Put on different shoes and a hat to cover up your messed up, unwashed hair. Wash your hands. Your bottle of Brute cologne is almost empty, so you don't want to waste any of it on a trip to Walmart. Check yourself in the mirror and do more sucking in than flexing. The spicy young thing running the register is your daughter's age.

In your 50's:
Stop what you are doing. Put on a hat, wipe the grime off your hands onto your shirt. Change shoes because you don't want to get dirt in your new sports car. Check yourself in the mirror and you swear not to wear that shirt anymore because it makes you look fat. The cutie running the register smiles when she sees you coming and you think you still have it. Then you remember the hat you have on is from Buddy's Bait Shop and says, "I Got Worms."

In your 60's:
Stop what you are doing. No need for a hat anymore – nothing to cover up. Hose the dog dirt off your shoes. The mirror was shattered when you were in your 50s and no need to replace it. You hope no one will notice the hole in you pants. The girl running the register may be cute, but you don't have your glasses on so you are not sure.

In your 70's:
Stop what you are doing. Wait to go to Walmart until they have your prescriptions ready too. Don't even notice the dog dirt on your shoes. The young thing at the register smiles at you because you remind her of her grandfather.

In your 80's:
Stop what you are doing. Start again. Then stop again. Then you remember you needed to go to Walmart. You go to Walmart, then wander around for an hour trying to think what it is you are looking for. Then you burp out loud and turn, thinking someone behind you called out your name. You realise you went to school with the old lady who greeted you at the front door an hour ago

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I want to be perfectly fair, though, and remind my readers that it's not just we men who are conscious of their appearance when they go to shopping. Here's a picture of a newspaper article that proves that women think about what they're going to wear when they go to Walmart.

picture of a newspaper article

Have any of you been or seen a "fashion plate" at Walmart lately? Or how 'bout some of those conversations you can't help overhearing?

quotation...

"You never realize what a good memory you have until you try to forget something." - Franklin P. Jones

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

Very funny, Scotty. Now beam down my clothes.

What Can You Learn from a Dog?


picture of Paisley under a chair

Our family seems to be growing lately by going to the dogs! In a comment I added to one of my recent blog posts called great cat quotations I mentioned that even though our kids grew up with cats, all three of them are dog people now. They don't dislike cats, but they've chosen to own dogs instead. The puppy in the picture on the right is our latest "grand-pup" - Paisley. Our daughter Nora bought her when she moved into her own apartment last week. Paisley is a Weimaraner that's about 7 weeks old. That makes our fourth grand-pup. Megan and Jim have a dog who's a mix of terrier and sneaky neighborhood dog, and Mark and Katie have two dogs, both of mixed heritage, that they got from the Greenville Humane Society.

I'm so used to cats now after so many years of having cats that I have a hard time understanding what dogs are trying to communicate to me. Here's a Far Side® cartoon I can really relate to…

comic of dog decoder

If you too wonder what dogs are trying to tell us…

Things we can learn from a dog

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Practice obedience.

Let others know when they've invaded your territory.

Take naps, and then stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you're not.

If what you want is buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back in the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you're happy, prance around and wag your entire body.

No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout. Instead run right back and make friends.

If you stare at someone long enough, eventually you'll get what you want.

Leave room in your schedule for a good nap.

When you do something wrong, always take responsibility (as soon as you're dragged shamefully out from under the bed).

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

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Have you dog owners learned any lessons from your dog?

Here's a parting shot of Paisley in her crate…

picture of Paisley in her crate

quotation...

"Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear." - Dave Barry

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

So if it's a dog's life you're leading or if you're working like a dog, learn some of the lessons above – take a moment, take a breath, and just enjoy being alive. SMILE! (without sticking your tongue out, of course!) :-P

What’s Your Motive?


What motivates you? How do you motivate others? Is it even possible to motivate others?

Motivation is an interesting phenomenon. Here at the beginning of a new school year, we teachers try to think of ways to motivate some of our less enthusiastic students to try harder in our classes. Not necessarily an easy thing to do. If you read the "experts" in the field, you find a wide range of ideas and suggestions — instructor's enthusiasm, reasonable expectations and goals, showing relevance of the material, asking engaging questions, active involvement and participation of students, building self-confidence, variety, rewards and privileges, rapport between teacher and students, and on and on it goes.

There's a whole industry out there whose goal is to help motivate people. One of their products is the motivational poster. You've undoubtedly seen them. They generally have a symbolic picture, a keyword, and an inspiring or motivating saying or quotation. Here's an example…

motivational poster on destiny

Here's one on persistence…

motivational poster on persistence

There's another whole industry that is a spin-off of the motivational posters. They call their products demotivational posters. Here's their version of persistence…

demotivational poster on persistence

Their whole premise is that "motivational products create unrealistic expectations, raising hopes only to dash them." They go on to say, "…we created our soul-crushingly depressing Demotivators® designs, so you can skip the delusions that motivational products induce and head straight for the disappointments that follow!"

This poster of theirs pretty well sums up their philosophy…

demotivational poster on motivation

Some of their posters are quite cynical, but many are downright hilarious. Sometimes the picture is indispensable and other times their wording is enough. Here are a my absolute favorites…

demotivational poster on apathy

Blame - The Secret to Success is Knowing Who to Blame for Your Failures.

demotivational poster on burnout

Challenges - I expected times like this - but I never thought they'd be so bad, so long, and so frequent.

demotivational poster on cluelessness

Defeat - For Every Winner, There are Dozens of Losers. Odds are You're One of Them.

Dysfunction - The Only Consistent Feature of All of your Dissatisfying Relationships is You.

Failure - When Your Best Just Isn't Good Enough.

Futility - You'll Always Miss 100% of the Shots you Don't Take, and, Statistically Speaking, 99% of the Shots You Do.

demotivational poster on incompetence

Ineptitude - If You Cant' Learn to Do Something Well, Learn to Enjoy Doing It Poorly.

Mistakes - It Could Be that the Purpose of Your Life Is Only to Serve as a Warning to Others.

Pessimism - Every Dark Cloud Has a Silver Lining, but Lightning Kill Hundreds of People Each Year Who are Trying to Find it.

demotivational poster on tradition

Trouble - Luck Can't Last a Lifetime Unless You Die Young.

Underachievement - The Tallest Blade of Grass is the First to be Cut by the Lawnmower.

Wishes - When you wish upon a falling star, your dreams can come true. Unless it's really a meteorite hurtling to the Earth which will destroy all life. Then you're pretty much hosed no matter what you wish for. Unless it's death by meteor.

You can see the whole Demotivators® collection on their website despair.com and maybe even decide to buy some of their funny products.

Before leaving despair.com behind, I'd like to highlight a couple more of their posters. Here's one that goes to the very heart of this French teacher…

demotivational poster on effort

I wonder if anyone has shown these two demotivational posters to Obama…

demotivational poster on hope

demotivational poster on change

Ever since I first found the Demotivators® website, I have been saving things that others have put together, following the same basic template, satirizing a number of areas of life. Here are some of the ones I've collected…

demotivational poster on cleaning

demotivational poster on committees

demotivational poster on individualism

demotivational poster on misspelling

demotivational poster on uniqueness

demotivational poster on unity

I found one that I altered — I thought that the blank image with nothing but the word Alzheimer's was over the edge, so here's my softened version of it…

demotivational poster on senior moments

I hope that you were more amused than demotivated by the preceding posters!

Anyway, back to motivation… What motivates you? If you are in a position to try to motivate others, what works for you? Like those posters above, what has demotivated you at times?

As cute as it may be, would the following "motivational" poster be enough for you or those around you?

demotivational poster on awesomeness

I fear that that is what is happening in many classrooms today — teachers telling their students how great they are in an effort to motivate them.

I'm really looking forward to getting some reader input on this whole area of motivation.

quotation...

"When I choose to sin, it's like taking a spoonful of death because sin and death go together." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

In the world of political correctness, people aren't lazy, they're only selectively motivated.

Did He Pass the Test?


boy taking a test

Does the thought of taking tests fill you with terror? Probably. Classes haven't even begun for us yet, and I'm already thinking about tests. We're in faculty in-service meetings this week on campus and they have been excellent - very helpful and thought-provoking! Next week we'll be working in our offices getting our courses ready to go. Then after several days of course registration, classes will begin September 3. Part of teaching is writing and grading tests. But tests aren't limited just to the realms of academia. Many potential employees have to take tests to show their competencies for the jobs they'd like to land.

Here's a story about a man in that very situation.

Tom is applying for a job as a signalman for the local railroad, and is told to meet the inspector at the signal box.

Tom seems like a good prospect, and the inspector decides to give Tom a pop quiz. He starts off by asking, "What would you do if you realized that two trains were heading towards each other on the same track?"

Tom says, "I would switch one train to another track."

"What if the lever broke?" asks the inspector.

"I'd run down to the tracks and use the manual lever," answers Tom.

"What if that had been struck by lightning?" challenges the inspector.

"Then," Tom continues, "I'd run back up here and use the phone to call the next signal box."

"What if the phone were busy?"

"In that case," Tom argues, "I'd run to the street level and use the public phone near the station".

"What if that had been vandalized?"

Tom quickly replies, "In that case I'd run into town and get my Uncle Leo."

The puzzled inspector asks, "Why would you do that?"

"Because he's never seen a train crash!"

(So, did Tom pass the test and land the job?)

Now here's a little test for you. It appears to be a list of trick questions with obvious answers, but it really is!

The world's easiest test?

(Answers follow, but NO cheating!)

1. How long did the Hundred Years War last?

2. Which country makes Panama hats?

3. From which animal do we get catgut?

4. In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?

5. What is a camel's hair brush made of?

6. The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?

7. What was King George VI's first name?

8. What color is a purple finch?

9. Where are Chinese gooseberries from?

10. How long did the Thirty Years War last?

Now remember ... NO cheating!

Answers to the world's easiest test…

1. 116 years, from 1337 to 1453.

2. Ecuador.

3. From sheep and horses.

4. November. The Russian calendar was 13 days behind ours.

5. Squirrel fur.

6. The Latin name was Insularia Canaria — Island of the Dogs.

7. Albert. When he came to the throne in 1936 he respected the wish of Queen Victoria that no future king should ever be called Albert.

8. Distinctively crimson.

9. New Zealand. (Chinese gooseberries is an older name for kiwifruit.)

10. Thirty years, of course! From 1618 to 1648.

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If that test made you feel as dumb as it made me feel, maybe this final item about testing will make you feel like a rocket scientist (or at least a rocket surgeon…).

A college football coach had recruited a top talent for the team, but the player couldn't pass the school's entrance exam. Needing the recruit badly, the coach went to the dean and asked if the recruit could take the test orally. The dean agreed, and the following day the recruit and the coach were seated in his office.

"OK," the dean said, "What is seven times seven?"

The recruit looked terrified as he thought it over for a moment then said, "I think it's 49."

The coach immediately jumped to his feet. "Oh, come on, Dean," he begged, "give him another chance!"

Lends weight to the oxymoronic nature of the expression "sports scholarship," doesn't it? Do you have a test experience you'd like to tell about? We'd love to read about it in the comments.

quotation...

"Right affections lead to right thinking, and right thinking leads to right living." - Dr. Bryan Smith

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, then the lesson afterwards.

(Non-)Olympic Moments?


You would have to have your head totally in the sand not to know that the Olympics are going on. We've followed the first week and a half far more than we thought we would, but the remaining events really aren't our faves.

Undoubtedly the dominant name has been Michael Phelps. The mainstream media has proclaimed him "the greatest athlete of all time" and the debate will rage on until the next "greatest athete of all time" comes along. Michael has definitely achieved wonderful feats in a very tough sport and seems himself to have a good attitude of humility, but there are still many who are asking, "Well, what about __ (fill in the name of their favorite sports figure)?! Is Michael really a greater athlete than __?!"

I found a terrific comic online this morning that I want to share:

Michael Phelps' dominance

For today's iv, I'm sharing two stories - one funny and one thought-provoking - about some runners, Olympic or not.

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Two gas company servicemen, a senior training supervisor and a young trainee, were out checking meters in a suburban neighborhood. They parked their truck at the end of the alley and worked their way to the other end. At the last house an older woman was looking out her kitchen window, watching the two men as they checked her gas meter.

Finishing the meter check, the senior supervisor challenged his younger coworker to a foot race down the alley back to the truck to prove that an older guy could outrun a younger one.

As they came running up to the truck, they realized the lady from that last house was huffing and puffing right behind them. They stopped and asked her what was wrong.

Gasping for breath, she replied, "When I saw two gas men running as hard as you two were, I figured I'd better run too!"

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In the late 1990s at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with determination to run the race to the finish and win. All, that is, except one little boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry. The other eight heard the boy cry, slowed down, and looked back. Then they all turned around and went back. Every one of them.

One girl with Down's Syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, "This will make it better." Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line.

Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for several minutes. People who were there are still telling the story. Why? Because deep down we know this one thing: What matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. More important than winning for ourselves in this life is helping others win, even if it means slowing down and changing our course.

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A friend told me that, upon reading my last post about becoming empty-nesters, he thought it sounded like I was saying, "Well, life's all over ... now we can die." I laughed and told him, "Far from it! Let me tell you about Friday of last week...." My wife and I decided to take the day off and "head for the hills" for the day to do some of our favorite things - a last hurrah before my teacherly duties began this week. We headed to Flat Rock, NC, to a shop called The Wrinkled Egg. That day we weren't interested in the shop as much as in the new barbecue place right behind it. It's called Hubba Hubba, and let me tell you - HUBBA! HUBBA! We definitely found a new favorite - or as my wife Becka put it, "yet another reason to go to Flat Rock!" We picked up a cranberry-apricot scone at the bakery in the back of the Wrinkled Egg for dessert/mid-afternoon snack and headed for Carl Sandburg's house. We didn't want to tour the house on this trip - we just wanted to see how this year's baby goats were doing. We took the hike to where the goats are kept and enjoyed petting them. Here's a picture of Connemara (the Sandburg's house) and a picture of Becka with several of the kids.

pic of Connemara

Becka and three baby goats

After that we headed to a quilting shop Becka really likes in Hendersonville. What a nice place - they have an area with rocking chairs and magazines for husbands! I had actually brought along my own entertainment a Sudoku book to pass the time pleasantly, warding off dementia while Becka touched every bit of fabric in the place (of which there is a lot!) After that we went to Lyda farms to get some produce and some early apples. From there we headed off to the Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC, to go to Sliding Rock. It was really crowded, and so I had to wait in line for about a half hour before I could slide down the rock into the 55 degree water in the pool at the bottom. Below is a 10 second video clip of Sliding Rock (viewable on the blog itself, not in e-mail or blog readers).


Here's a picture of me ready to begin my trip down the rock...

Rob on Sliding Rock

The line was even longer by that time and we had some other things we wanted to do, so I changed into warm, dry clothes, and away we went!

On the way back to Brevard, we stopped at the ranger station across the road from the Davidson River Campground. They have done a lot of renovation on the ranger station, and there's a lot for children to enjoy inside. One thing we enjoyed outside the ranger station was watching hummingbirds visit their two feeders. After that, we went shopping at four different stores in Brevard (and bought something in each) before having dinner at the Pisgah Fish Camp. While eating dinner we decided to drive back to the ranger station to take some pictures of the hummingbirds - something we hadn't thought to do earlier.

There were even more hummingbirds when we went back than there had been earlier. And the hummingbirds actually flew right up close to us to check us out! Here's a little video footage of their activity (viewable on the blog itself, not in e-mail or blog readers). Sorry for the talking in the background - Becka's on the phone with one of our daughters telling her all about it.


After that, we drove back to Greenville. Now does that sound like two people whose lives are all done and are now ready to die?! :-D

I can't figure out a way to work up a poll question to get at the following - have you decided to and actually gone ahead and tried out any of the activities and/or places that I've written about in the past several years on my blog? If so, which one/s? Since it's impossible to structure as a multiple choice poll question, please just tell about it in the comments to this post.

quotation...

"What you live for and base your decisions on has the greatest effect on your children." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then your body and your fat have become really good friends.