Quotent Quotables

If you haven’t noticed, most of my posts feature famous quotes.

Whether it is something that makes you think like, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving” – Albert Einstein, or something that makes you laugh like “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours” – Yogi Berra, I often find inspiration from quotes.

Many times I will have a thought in my mind that just won’t seem to come out clearly on paper. In these instances, I have found that looking up a quote on the topic can help me un-jumble my brain.

I’m always impressed by all of the famous quotes from people like Henry Ford, Martin Luther King Jr & Elanor Roosevelt. Just looking up some of the things they said can keep you motivated for days.

If you get nothing else out of my blog, I hope that you can at least get some inspiration from the quotes I share.

I am thankful for quotes.

What are some of your favorite quotes? Let me know in the comments section below.

Rule of Thumb

For Wonder Why Wednesday I usually have a few guidelines that I try to follow. I write about something that makes me wonder. Then I typically guess at why I think it is that way before researching the actual answer.

You could say that these guidelines are my “rule of thumb.”

What an odd term, “rule of thumb.” When I look at my hand, I don’t think I would pick the thumb as the ruler. It is short and stubby, while the other fingers are tall and lean. Plus, the thumb is kind of an outcast, off to itself below and away from the others.

When I started to think about how the term “rule of thumb” came about I thought I knew exactly why.

The simplest explanation would have to date back to the ancient Roman era where a thumbs up or a thumbs down meant life or death for someone in the Coliseum.

That makes sense, right?

Wrong.

According to wiki.answers.com “rule of thumb” has a few explanations, none of which are what I thought it would be.

“The origin of the phrase is based on the use of one’s thumb as a measuring tool that can only give approximate measurements. Most Old English measurements originated from the bodily dimensions of the king such as the length of the “foot” for one foot, the inch (thumb tip to first knuckle), cubit (elbow-to-fingertip), and yard (nose-to-fingertip).   There is a second origin given for this phrase. In early English law, and potentially brought over in colonial American, a man was allowed to discipline his wife by beating her provided he used a stick no greater than the diameter of his thumb.”

I get the explanation about using the thumb as a measuring tool, but the one about a man beating his wife? Really?

The only rule is that a stick used to beat a woman couldn’t be greater than the diameter of the man’s thumb. What a dumb rule. Did men at that time think they were being sensitive and nice by making this rule and not using bigger sticks?

What would happen to the man if someone proved the stick was bigger than his thumb? I doube there was ever a time where the woman took the man to court in this instance.

In order to not let this post end on a downer, like domestic violence, let’s remember “rule of thumb” as a measuring device and end with a measurement/punctuation/anatomy joke.

What do you call half of a large intestine?

1 semicolon!

Big Days & Small Days

Throughout the movie War Horse there is one line that is constantly repeated, “there are big days, and there are small days…which will it be?”

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an app that could tell us when we wake up whether our day was going to be a big day or a small day? (I’m thinking the app could use the same magic that Shazaam uses to recognize songs)

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a day-size recognizer app in the app store. So how should we prepare for big days vs. small days?

In the Bible, Matthew 25:13 says, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” This verse is referring to the second coming of Jesus, but I think it can also be applied to our big vs. small day question.

We need to prepare like every day is going to be a big day.

If you are anything like me, you’ve passed up a good opportunity because you convinced yourself it wasn’t a big day. You created a small day. Small days are easier. They come with very little risk and can be forgotten about very quickly.

But that is the problem with small days. They have no lasting impact.

Big days, on the other hand, last a lifetime. The only problem is that they take work and require overcoming fear.

Like the Bible says, we know neither the day nor the hour we will be presented an opportunity to make it a big day. Whether it is asking someone on a date, paying off a credit card bill or taking time to help a person in need, we can create our own big days simply by small actions.

Big days are made when our fears start to fade.

Why My Life Would Make a Terrible Breaking Bad Episode

I am terrible at small talk and I am starting to think that it is because I don’t watch enough television.

I’ve never seen an episode of Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, or Downton Abbey and it seems like that is all anyone wants to talk about these days.  If you are looking to discuss TV shows, I’m the wrong guy to talk to.

Recently there is a big deal being made about the show Breaking Bad. I know many people watch it and say it is the best show on TV right now.

I am so out of the loop that I don’t even know what channel it is on. My only interaction with Breaking Bad is that I saw a commercial for it once and thought, “Isn’t that the dad from Malcolm in the Middle? What happened to his hair? Bald is not a good look for him. Why does he look so angry?”

But with all the talk of the show’s acclaim, I decided to read up about the program and see what it is all about. What I found was that my life would make a terrible Breaking Bad episode.

For those of you like me, who haven’t seen an episode, the show is apparently about Walter White (Bryan Cranston aka the dad from Malcolm in the Middle) who is a struggling high school chemistry teacher that is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. White turns to a life of crime and begins producing and selling meth with the help of a former student. He hopes the drug business will secure his family’s finances before he dies.

I’ll admit that sounds like a great premise for a drama, but I just can’t relate.

My high school chemistry teacher was the sweetest, funniest old man that you could ever meet. He was very soft spoken and I’m sure he has never heard of Method Man let alone methamphetamines.

He was more like Bill Nye the Science Guy than he was like Walter White.

Plus my high school was so dull that I doubt any students knew how to help a teacher get involved in a drug ring. The only ring us kids would have known how to get into was a ring pop.

So I don’t think I will get hooked on Breaking Bad anytime soon. I just can’t relate to their storylines. My life would make an awful episode. There would be no drugs, no violence and the only drama would be performed by clumsy, sweaty kids in our cafetorium.

Try Stuff

Check out this great picture that my mom sent me from inside a Columbia Sportswear store.

IMG_0895

It is not everyday that you get some motivation while shopping for fleece, but in this case I think Columbia nailed it.

In order for any type of progress, in any aspect of our life, we have to be willing to try.

Teachers

I recently took a CPR class and the instructor was great!  She was informative, funny and even pretended to defibrillate herself accidentally.  I not only learned a lot, but I had a lot of fun.

This got me thinking about some of the teachers I had when I was in school.  Not all of them were great, but there were a select few that really impacted who I am today.  They taught me things like Pre-Calculus and Chemistry, but more importantly they taught me the value of learning.

Very few things make you feel better than being excited by really learning something new.  We don’t always want to be “lectured” but we all want to continue to discover new things.  It takes a special person to deliver a lecture in a way that is meaningful and will have a lasting impact.

Today, I am thankful for teachers.

Being a teacher is not easy.  Kids do not want to be in class, they would rather go to recess. The pay isn’t good and it is often a thankless job.

I can’t do anything about the pay, teachers, but I can say thanks.  Thank you to teachers everywhere for all that you do.

Does that C have a tail?

If you stop and think about it, letters are kinda funny. Who came up with the designed for them? Did he or she just start making squiggly lines and then naming them? I am guessing that “O” was one of the first that letter inventors came up with.

Another thing, why complicate things by having an upper and lowercase?? Sometimes the capital letter looks nothing like the lower case equivalent. Take a capital G for instance.

Someone who is really good with words is called a wordsmith. Does that make someone who is good with letters, a lettersmith?

I am by no means a lettersmith. Just the other day, I saw a letter that I have never seen before. I thought I knew all 26 letters, but I guess I was wrong.

I was reading and came across the word façade. Look at that word. What’s going on with that C? It looks like it is leaking some letter fluid or something.

That got me wondering, what is that mark below the “ç” in façade?

Apparently I am not the only one who has asked that question because there are quite a few results when searching for the answer. Here is what they say:

The letter is used in French and other languages and is called a C-cedilla. The cedilla is the squiggly part. Cedillas can appear under other letters too.

If that is true, then how come I have never seen it under any other letters before? I guess it is probably because I don’t read French very often.

On a side note, am I the only one who read the word C-cedilla and got hungry for a quesadilla?

Swoopes

Hannah Storm directed an awesome documentary about Sheryl Swoopes. The film ran last week on ESPN as part of their Nine for IX series celebrating women in sports.

The documentary looked at the highs and lows of Swoopes’ amazing career as the Michael Jordan of women’s basketball. The film covered everything from her Olympic gold medals to her money issues.

But Storm left out one major event from Swoopes’ life…the game I coached her.

Yes, you read that correctly. I actually coached the great Sheryl Swoopes (although I use the word “coached” lightly).

A few years ago, the company I worked organized exhibition games for NCAA women’s basketball teams. We would put together a group of former players to give college teams the equivalent of a warm up, or preseason, game.

This particular year, we only had one game scheduled and it was against the University of Montana. In order to save some money my boss decided not to hire a real coach and he convinced me to act as coach for the game. I had no coaching experience, but he said all I had to do was show up and make sure nothing went wrong.

It sounded easy enough. But then he also said, “Oh yeah, Sheryl Swoopes is playing on the team.” I did a double take.

Somehow my boss had a connection that arranged for arguably the greatest women’s basketball player of all time to play on my team. Talk about pressure. What could I possibly tell Sheryl Swoopes about basketball??

At our first, and only team practice the night before the game, I told the players to get warmed up by running a full court drill. Sheryl looked at me like I had two heads. “I’m not doing that. My knees are bad,” she joked.

“Umm…okay,” I replied, scared to death. “What should be do instead?”

From that point on, it was Sheryl’s team. She ran practice and I became the water boy.

More of the same continued the next day at the game. I stayed out of the way while Sheryl drew up plays and coached the team. The only other “coaching” that happened was when my assistant coach (co-worker) called a timeout when our team needed a reminder to run the offense, aka get Sheryl the ball.

Not to make excuses, but most of our players were moms who were too busy driving carpools to play much basketball at the time, so we lost by 10-15 points. But if it wasn’t for Sheryl we would have lost by 50. She had nearly 40 points and 20 rebounds and was by far the best player on the court.

And she couldn’t have been nicer off the court as well. She stayed hours after the game, signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans, the opposing team and what felt like everyone in the big city of Missoula, Montana. She was funny, charming and a joy to be around.

I can honestly say that coaching Sheryl Swoopes was one of the coolest things I will ever do in life. How many people can say that they’ve coached a National Champion, MVP and three time Olympic gold medalist?

Apparently our time together didn’t have the same impact on Sheryl since Hannah Storm left it out of her documentary. I will just assume that it is included on the DVD’s special features.

 

 

 

 

Cover picture By © Two Gypsy Hearts (photo taken by Kate) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

With The Greatest Of Sneeze

A few weeks ago I referenced the WritersDigest.com writing prompts that I receive every week.  Here’s another writing prompt that I recently completed.  Enjoy!

You’ve signed up to go tandem skydiving for the first time.  On the plane, your instructor says he isn’t feeling well, but jumps with you anyway.  When you jump, he passes out.  Write this scene and the stream of conscious thoughts as you fall toward the earth.

I have the worst friends.  For my 30th birthday they bought me a pass to go tandem skydiving.  Sounds nice enough, right? Wrong!

What they didn’t tell me is that I would be the only one going on this skydiving adventure.  Apparently, they don’t want to jump out of a plane attached to a complete stranger.  But I didn’t know any of that until it was too late.

So here I am, sitting in a place, listening to my instructor teach about how best not to die.  Jealous yet?

Oh it gets better.  My instructor, the one who will literally have my life in his hands as we soar through the air, looks awful.  He said he had a touch of the flu, but he looks and sounds much worse than that.  He keeps sniffling and coughing and seems to have a hard time keeping his eyes open.

He says he is okay to jump, so soon we will be soaring through the air with the greatest of sneeze.

As we walk to the open plane door and prepare to jump, I keep thinking to myself about Michael Jordan.  His Airness had the flu before one of his greatest NBA Finals games of all time, right?  Maybe this will be my instructor’s Michael Jordan moment.  Maybe we are about to have the greatest skydive ever.

This fires me up! “Let’s do it MJ,” I yell as my instructor straps himself to my back.

“MJ?” he asks in between mucousy coughs.

“Don’t worry about it,” I say.

“1. 2. 3. Jump!”

And just like that we are out of the plane and into the air.

As we sail toward the ground, my instructor appears to be feeling better.  I haven’t heard a cough, sniffle, or sneeze for seconds.

I turn to look at him, expecting to see Michael Jordan fighting off adversity and having the dive of his career. Instead, I find him asleep.

Asleep!?!

“Wake up MJ!” I screem at the top of my lungs.  But it does no good.  He must have passed out.  He is no longer Michael Jordan, rather, he is Dennis Rodman after a late night of partying.

‘We are going to die.’ I think to myself.  ‘We are going to die and I am never doing to have a chance to have a family.  I’ll never own a house. And worse yet, I’ll never finish my leftovers from that great Thai place.’

I’m no skydiving expert, but I suspect that we are getting close to smashing into the ground.  What originally looked like tiny dots is now starting to look like Lego pieces beneath us.

If I could only remember what the instructor said to do in case of emergency.  I should have paid closer attention to his tutorial and spent less time daydreaming about the 1990’s Chicago Bulls.

I think I remember him saying something about a red lever that will release the parachute.  I see something red near his left pants pocket.  I reach for it and pull with all my might.

Turns out that was his wallet.  At least I think that is what it was.  I only got a brief glance as it went flying away.

But then I spot something else red by his right pants pocket.  How many red wallets does this dude have? What the heck, I’m going for it anyway.

Expecting to make it rain with the remains of my passed out instructor’s second wallet, I pull the red item.

Only this time it works.  We immediately stop falling to out death and begin to drift softly to the earth.

What a relief. Now I just hope I don’t’ catch the flu.

Kid President

Napoleon Bonaparte said, “A leader is a dealer in hope.”

For years, when someone said the word leader, they were probably referring to an old white guy. But hope can come in all shapes and sizes.

One of my favorite leaders, Kid President, deals hope via YouTube.

Kid President is just 10 years old, but he has already inspired millions of people across the world through his weekly videos. He loves to dance and is on a mission to make the world less boring.

The wisdom and positivity that comes from such a young person is amazing. When I was 10, I was too shy to dance, and too busy playing Game Boy to worry about making the world a better place.

Even though I am nearly three times his age, I look up to Kid President.

Using Kid President as motivation, I hope that my blog helps make the world more awesome.

Below is a video that KP made in which he gives the world a much needed pep talk. I’ve watched it dozens of times and every time I see it I get motivated to do more with my life.

Thanks Kid President! Today, and everyday, I am very thankful for you.