Shootin' the Breeze

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Archive for the tag “the general public”

Dancing on Television

Only celebrities, some of whom I have heard of, are allowed to compete on Dances with the Stars.  However, be not dismayed, the general public may audition for America’s Got Talent.  Certainly not all contestants are dancers, but dancers are allowed to audition.

One of the contestants who went fairly far into the rounds of competition was a young man who was a pole dancer.  His background story was that he had started ballet lessons as a child.  His pole dancing also involved some gymnastic moves that required strength.  He was praised by the judges for his talent and artistry.  His costumes were “mahvelous.”

I wondered, as I watched, if the poor kid has a father.  Did his father ask him if he wanted to try out for Little League Baseball or take ballet?

I remembered a conversation that I had many years ago as my own father and I watched television.  My father, an Army veteran and college athlete, after watching a performance by a young man dancing on a variety show, turned to me and said,

“Son, I know I always told you that you can be whatever you want to be.  Now I am going to take that back.  Please don’t be a dancer on TV.  That kid just embarrassed the entire male gender.”

So, I have lived by those words of my father.  And that is why you won’t see me dancing on television, with or without the stars.

Resolutionary Ideas for the New Year

Today is the day that many folks around the world pause to reflect on the past and set goals for the future, known as New Year’s Resolutions.  I am here to help.

My help will be valuable for the self-esteem of the multitudes of people who comprise The General Public.  My mission is to set you who are in The General Public free from the guilt that comes with broken resolutions by helping you compose a list of resolutions that you are unlikely to break.

You are unlikely to break resolutions to do things that you want to do anyway; or, to refrain from doing things that you do not want to do anyway.  This is a very successful method of self-help.  It is a form of psychological judo.  Judo, as I understand it, involves the principle of directing force rather than resisting force.  The force about which this advice is directed is called Human Nature.

Those of you familiar with Human Nature have likely observed, for example, that it is a popular resolution to lose weight and to vow to go regularly to the gym in order to accomplish that goal.  You have observed crowded gyms in January that thin out by February.  (Of course you have observed this phenomenon only if you are one of the February attendees, so you might only have learned of this by anecdotal history told to you by others.)

1.  DO NOT PAY AT THE PUMP.  The silly, lazy people who purchase fuel by inserting a credit card into the device at the pump suffer from two disadvantages.  They miss out on the exercise of walking to the cashier, who is in a building containing a convenience store, and they miss out on the opportunity to buy a treat at the same time as they pay for the fuel.  Personally, the closest fuel pumps to my home lack modernistic pay-at-the-pump technology.  Not only that, but this convenience store is perhaps the only one in America that has a flight of stairs from the pumps to the cashier.  Here is the drill:  park by the pump; climb the stairs (even if you are a candidate for a double knee replacement) or, if you are chair-bound, wheel up the ramp on the other side of the building;  pre-pay the cashier (which is dangerous as the pumps do not automatically shut off so you pump an incorrect amount at your peril and would have to come back to pay the extra) or, for security reasons, leave your card with the cashier and walk back down the stairs to your vehicle; dispense fuel into your vehicle; climb up the stairs for the second time to sign the slip at which time the customer deserves a treat and if the customer is me, selects a cup of hot chocolate with a few drops of coffee as well as, say, a Snickers bar; and negotiates down the stairs balancing the cup and carrying the candy bar with no free hand to grab the railing, thus calling upon balancing skills while returning to the vehicle.  Exercise and a treat!  Brilliant!  You are welcome!

2. AVOID THE GYM.  Especially after purchasing gas where I do, there is no need to pay to go to a gym in order to get on a machine like the Stairmaster.  Even if you purchase fuel where stairs are lacking, there are other reasons to avoid the gym anyway.  As mentioned above, gyms are crowded in January, I have heard, so you risk exposure to sweaty individuals who might be carrying a contagious disease.  That is a reason in the category of self-protection, but I offer a more altruistic reason, which is that your absence make the gym less crowded for others.  Doesn’t that make you feel better about yourself?

3.  THROW AWAY THE SCALE.  It is a well known scientific fact that it is easier to gain weight than to lose it.  I know a man, who appears in my mirror, who can watch his food intake for a week, exercise diligently, and lose maybe two pounds, then have one hearty meal and gain five pounds.  That is discouraging.  That is depressing.  That lowers his self-esteem.  It is another scientific fact that, on a day to day basis, weight gain is almost imperceptible to the naked eye.  Therefore, in order to avoid depression and lowered self-esteem, throw away the scale and just look in the mirror.  You will hardly notice any weight gain unless you look at old photos of yourself or until a pesky physician tries to get you on the scale for your physical exam.  As the imperceptible daily changes become perceptible after a year without a scale, you can have a resolution for 2018 to throw away all mirrors in your home.

If you are keeping up with my irrefutable logic, you will soon enjoy the fruits of success, including positive self-esteem.  While others bemoan with shame their broken resolutions, you will smugly smile, secure in your superiority to The General Public for having harnessed Human Nature.

Have a Happy New Year!


I met a very special young lady today.  It quickly became obvious that she is not part of the general public.  I just don’t know why.

My middle-aged wife and I pulled into the parking lot for the boarding kennel, parking in the space closest to the front door.  As we stood there with a dog on a leash, fixing to open the gate, a twenty-something woman and her dog hurried in front of us and went in.  Sugar and I looked at each other, checking to see whether we were invisible.  She was not, nor was Rover.  Sugar assured me that I was completely visible as well.

Judging by her attire, the woman who cut in front of us did not appear to be on her way to work because she was not yet dressed.  She still was wearing bedroom slippers and sweat pants.  I noticed attractively-tattooed ankles showing between the slippers and bottoms of her pants. 

I wondered why she acted as if she was entitled to cut in front of us.  Perhaps she is not from around these parts.  Back where I come from, Planet Earth, folks are taught at an early age, approximately two years of age, to take turns, play nice, and say please. 

The woman I described  must not have been taught those things by her parents or teachers or anyone else, nor did she pick them up on her own during the first three decades of her life.

In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes about the universality of moral law, using as an example that if one sits in the chair of someone who has left the room but returns, the taker of the chair commonly says something like, “I’m sorry.  I did not know that you were sitting here.”  Or, “I’m sorry.  I did not know that you were coming back.”  The recognition that an apology is necessary proves the common belief that it is wrong to take another’s seat absent an exception to the rule. 

It seems that the special person we encountered was absent from charm school on the day the class discussed that book, and on the day they studied Emily Post, and on the day they taught T he Golden Rule.   She just was not taught how to fit in with those of us in The General Public.  Poor thing!  No one told her she ain’t special.  It is an important lesson to learn.

The Nature of Nature

Hurricane Sandy, related storms and their aftermath remind us that we humans are not in control of nature and the occasional natural disasters.

We do have some control over how we respond.  I cringe when people who refused to evacuate do not refuse, indeed invite, rescuers to risk their lives coming to the assistance of the non-compliers.  I guess they are entitled to change their minds after such a dangerous mistake in judgement.  Maybe I would not evacuate either, but I would feel guilty about then needing assistance.

When we face disasters together, we share fears and witness acts of heroism.  We feel connected.  We are connected by the shared experience, at least, and for most, by shared responses of helping one another.  Many of us turn to the Lord in prayer.

Rain can be good.  We longed for it during the wildfires last summer.  Too much can be destructive, such as with hurricanes and flooding.

The Bible reminds us that rain does not come as a reward or punishment for individuals based on merit.  “Rain falls on the just and the unjust.”  It falls on the general public, of which we are all members.

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