Archive for August, 2007

Question for the Day: What Happened to “Common” Courtesy?

August 31, 2007


The phase “common courtesy” is still heard, but I think the concept belongs on the endangered species list. Courtesy–or actions “marked by polished manners and by respect for and consideration of other” isn’t common. It often is completely missing.

As a Boy Scout should be able to tell you, courtesy is being polite to everyone regardless of age or position and that using good manners makes it easier for people to get along.

Being respectful, showing gratitude and thanks, treating others the way they would like to be treated . . . all signs of courteous behavior often seem to be missing today’s world.

A simple example that occurs for me almost everyday. On my commute to work, I need to merge right across 2 lanes of traffic to reach my exit. Almost everyone in these 2 lanes needs to continue straight ahead, or perhaps merge to the left a lane or two. Almost everyday, cars behind me will speed up or at least not let me in, only to merge to the left after they are in front of me. Simply “common courtesy” would be to let me move right, then they could move left. A win-win. But it rarely happens.

Another example: handling trash. I wrote an entry on August 30th on how trash is just tossed on the ground, without any thought at all.

Perhaps the world is getting too busy, too disconnected. Perhaps we should slow down, pay attention to what is happening around us, and each personally act more politely and more courteously.

We learned in Boy Scouts the importance of Doing a Good Turn Daily. Maybe we need to Practice a Common Courtesy Daily also.

How can you and I be more courteous today? Who can we say thank you to today? Who can use a nod and a smile? Who can use a helping hand?


The Specials Today are “Burnt Lion’s Head, Virgin Chicken, and The Temple Explodes the Chicken Cube.”

August 31, 2007

Next August, the Beijing Olympics will begin. However, the Chinese cooks are getting ready now. According to an AP story, people visiting the Olympics will have their choice of “virgin chicken” (a young chicken dish) or “burnt lion’s head” (Chinese-style pork meatballs). Other garbled names include “The temple explodes the chicken cube” (kung pao chicken) or “steamed crap” (steamed carp). Chinese officials are working on a menu list with better translations. I’m not too sure that is a good idea. I’ve had some kung pao chicken that has felt like “the temple explodes the chicken cube.” It is really Truth in Advertising.

Apparently, there is even a term for this–Chinglish. I needed some good laughs today. Here are some of my favorites that I found on-line. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.






1/5 of Americans Don’t Know Where They Are

August 30, 2007

According to the questioner at the Miss USA Teen contest, one-fifth of Americans can’t identify the United States on a world map.

When asked why, this is what Miss South Carolina Teen had to say, ” I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, um, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as, uh, South Africa and, uh, the Iraq and everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future.” Her incredible performance on YouTube is here.

She got a do-over on the Today Show and said this: “Personally, my friends and I, we know exactly where the United States is on a map. I don’t know anyone else who doesn’t. If the statistics are correct, I believe there should be more emphasis on geography in our education so people will learn how to read maps better.” Not a whole lot better in my opinion.

I’ve always enjoyed maps. As a child, I once covered my bedroom walls with National Geographic maps. [That didn’t work too well. Once the tape dried out a bit, the entire wall of maps peeled off on me while I was asleep.] I usually do quite well on geography quizzes that pop up on the Internet once in a while. And, with a little trepidation for agreeing with Miss South Carolina Teen, I do think we need better education in geography.

πŸ˜€ Hey, Julie. Can you identify South Carolina on a map of the US? πŸ˜€

Trashing your Home

August 30, 2007


There is a very clever spot on the radio regarding trash.Β  The link below will run the ad:

Radio spot

I hate seeing all the trash outside, especially along the roads. Most of it was just thoughtlessly tossed out the windows of cars. CalTrans spends over $40 million just for litter removal. The #1 problem–cigarette butts.

Wouldn’t you just love to do what the guys in the ads are doing? “Hey, buddy. I noticed you dropped something. I’m here to return it to you.”

A couple of weeks ago, I heard a news story about the Woodcraft Rangers taking about 100 kids from the inter-city to the beach for the day. They wanted them to enjoy the day, but they also wanted to teach them an important lesson. The leader said that they wanted to teach the kids what happens to the trash that is tossed on the ground—it ends up in the ocean. She said that it is a cultural thing—tossing trash on the ground just isn’t seen as a problem in their culture. I witness that every Monday morning on my way to work. I drive through Elysian Park, near Dodger Stadium. On Monday mornings, the park is so trashed up from the weekend that a special cleaning crew needs to come in to pick it all up on Mondays.

Wouldn’t it me nice if everyone took personal responsibility for their own trash? Never out the window, always in the garbage can? It’s somewhat like the gardeners who use leaf blowers to blow the leaves and lawn clipping away from the yards they are working on. The yard looks great when they are done, but the junk blown away is still in the neighborhood. “My yard looks great and I really don’t care if my trash is now your trash.”

I took the photo at the top at a rest stop along 395 on my trip to the Sierra last week.

Wonder Bread

August 29, 2007



I always wondered why they called it bread.


When I was a kid, Wonder Bread was heavily advertised on TV as the bread that “Helps build strong bodies in 12 ways.” I always thought it was a joke because it seemed like it was nothing but air, held together with some dough.


Wonder Bread is a casualty of the times. Interstate Bakeries Corporation, the maker of Wonder Bread, announced that it is closing the Wonder Bread bakeries in southern California. No more Wonder Bread for the Southland. However, as far as we know, other Interstate Bakeries products–Ding Dongs and Twinkies–are safe for the time being.

100-year-old Celebrates Her Birthday by Lighting Up

August 29, 2007


Winnie Langley started smoking when she was 7 years old. She celebrated her 100th birthday by lighting her 170,000 cigarette on her birthday candle. She has smoked at least 5 cigarette a day for the last 93 years. I wonder how much that habit has cost her over the years.

I get a kick out of the advice for a long life offered by centenarians. It ranges from living a good religious life to having a daily shot of whiskey.

nn_mullen_busclean_060322300w.jpg Arthur β€œDeke” Winston probably had the best advice. Just keep working. He decided to retire at age 100 from the Los Angeles transit system. He cleaned tolleys and buses for 75 years without ever calling in sick. He only missed one day of work–the day his wife died. And he was never late or left early.

I have a feeling that if you can live to 100, it is mostly a factor of good genetics, and nothing you do added to your life span. It’s a matter of natural selection–the strong make it through most everything—even 170,000 cigarettes.

Question for the Day—Do You Have a Special Place for Escape?

August 23, 2007




Do you have a place that you can escape to in your head when you need to relax? When you are in the dentist’s chair, for example. My place in ironically named Deadman’s Canyon. It has that name because an old sheepherder is buried in the canyon. It is located in the southern central section of Kings Canyon National Park.

I first visited Deadman’s Canyon in 1992 when I was leading a 50-mile hike with our scout troop. I immediately christened it my “escape place” because it was so quiet, peaceful, and beautiful. I was able to return in August 2003. Unlike what sometimes happens, Deadman’s Canyon lived up to my memories of it. In 1992, we just had to hike straight on through. On my second visit, I was able to spend a little more time enjoying the place. There is a beautiful stream that meanders through it, full of trout. It is just a great place.

Do you have a special place in your mind that you use as an “escape place?” Is it real or imaginary? Tell me about it.

Question for the Day—Tattoos

August 21, 2007

Bruce Potts is a teacher of Public Speaking at the University of New Mexico. While his full facial tribal tattoo may be more extreme than most tattoos we see, he is indicative of a growing trend in America—we are becoming a tattooed nation.

In a survey done by Pew Research in 2006, 36% of 18 to 25 year-olds and 40% of those 26 to 40 have at least one tattoo. According to a Harris poll done in 2003, 1/3 of people with tattoos think that tattoos make them feel sexy and/or rebellious—42% of tattooed females thought the tattoos made them feel sexier. Males and females are tattooed about equally.

83% of Americans with tattoos don’t regret getting them. I wonder how that will change over time. One day, will it just be normal to see a grandma with her sagging tattoos?

In the business world, the increasing population of tattooed workers is causing some issues. Many companies have “no visible skin art” rules. Get your tattoo, but just don’t let anyone see it. Some companies have needed to change their policies because they can’t recruit enough applicants without tattoos. And I’m sure that a discrimination lawsuit will be coming soon—“I’m qualified for the job. What difference should it make if I show my tattoos?”

So what about you? Have you ever said, “Boy, I really need to get a tattoo like that”? Are you among the non-tattooed group that think that people with tattoos are less attractive (42%), less sexy (36%) and less intelligent (31%). Do you think that Bruce Potts is just nuts?

Question for the Day—The Boldest Thing You Have Ever Said

August 20, 2007

The very first words I said to the girl who would later become my wife were, “Wendy, I love you.” I didn’t know her name so I had to ask the girl she was sitting next to what her name was. And for the sake of full disclosure, it wasn’t a stupid line–we were playing a game at a party. However, looking back on it, that had to rank near the top of my personal list of bold things said. A further note: I was bold enough to ask her out for a date later that evening. She said “Yes” and nothing has been the same since.

So what is the BOLDEST thing that you have ever said?

A “Geocaching” Question

August 17, 2007

My Geocaching hobby has got me sometimes looking at the world in a different way. Wendy probably thinks that has been caused by banging my head once too many times while looking for a cache.

For the uninitiated, geocaching is using a GPS receiver to locate something hidden by another geocacher. It could be something large (my largest find was a 5 gallon bucket) or something quite small (my smallest find is about the size on an eraser on the end of a pencil). The geocacher who places a cache posts the cache’s location’s coordinates on the Internet, along with some details and perhaps hints about the cache. The cachers looking for it transfer the coordinates from the Internet to the GPS and the hunt is on. Some of the best hides (and most challenging finds) are the caches that are hidden in plain sight. They are right in front of anyone who looks, but, because of the way they are camouflaged, no one knows it is a geocache.

A too common (and boring) hiding spot is under the skirt at the base of a light pole in a parking lot. It is now hard to walk by a light pole without thinking “geocache.”

In a way, the world has gotten much larger for me since I started geocaching 6 years ago. Things are no longer the way they appear. There may be treasures finding right under our noses. We just aren’t aware that they are there. It takes some special hints and clues and perhaps some specialized equipment to find what is hiding right in front of us. It is like looking at pond water under a microscope–it isn’t just a drop of water, it’s a entire new world. Or looking at the night sky with binoculars or a telescope. There is a lot in our world that we just can’t see unless we are looking for it.

What could be some of the things in your world that are hiding in plain sight, just waiting for you to find?