Zoos Clues

Comedian Rocky Laporte has a funny bit about the Staten Island Zoo. He describes the zoo as only having four birds and a squirrel. Laporte says it is almost as if two guys got together and said, ‘I have a dog and you have a bird, let’s have a zoo. Call up Jimmy and tell him to bring his cat.’

Hearing that got me thinking about the beginning of zoos. Was the very first zoo really started by a couple of guys who were sitting around and decided to combine their animals? It seems like an odd idea to just gather a bunch of animals together for people to look at.

According to Wikipedia, the oldest know zoological collection dates back all the way to 3500 BC.

This was revealed in 2009 during excavations at Hierakonpolis, Egypt. Apparently the original collection of animals included hippos, hartebeest, elephants, baboons, and wildcats.

What no dinosaurs?

The oldest zoo in the world still in existence can be found in Vienna, Austria. The Tiergarten Schonbrunn was constructed in 1752 at the request of the Holy Roman Emperon Francis I.

The zoo was initially reserved only for the imperial family, but was eventually made public in 1765.

The first zoo in the United States was the Central Park Zoo which opened in 1860.

Wikipedia describes many famous collectors of animals throughout history and I was surprised to find one name on the list, King Solomon.

Is that the same King Solomon who was one of the wisest men in the bible?

Who knew that part of his wisdom was to collect animals?

That got me wondering if zoos are mentioned in the Bible. A quick search using my Bible app found 0 results for the word zoo. But I guess Noah kind of had a floating zoo didn’t he?

I am amazed that zoos are so old. It kind of sounds like Rocky Laporte isn’t that far off in his assessment of bored people deciding to put some animals together and call it a zoo.

How Do You Explain Negative Events?

How do you explain negative events?

I don’t mean, how do you describe negative events to a friend. What I really want to know is, how do you explain negative events to yourself?

Author Daniel Pink says in his book, To Sell is Human, that how we explain negative events to ourself has a major impact on our resiliency.

Pink writes that “when something bad occurs, ask yourself three questions and come up with an intelligent way to answer each one no.”

Question 1: Is this permanent?

Question 2: Is this pervasive?

Question 3: Is this personal?

Say your boss rejects a marketing proposal you spent days coming up with. You poured hours of hard work into creating a brilliant strategy. Or at least you thought so.

You boss thought otherwise.

Let’s take a look at Pink’s three questions and see what a no answer looks like vs. a yes answer.

Question 1: Is this permanent?

–          Yes. I am terrible at coming up with ideas. Everything I think of, my boss will hate.

–          No. Maybe this idea didn’t work for this project, but I have other ideas.

Question 2: Is this pervasive?

–          Yes. I am no longer good at marketing.

–          No. I was just a little off at how I proposed the idea because I am sleep deprived from working so late to finish.

Question 3: Is this personal?

–          Yes. My boss hates me. He is a jerk.

–          No. My boss just had a different vision and I will try this idea again on a later project.

Do you see the major differences between a yes answer and a no answer?

Spending time only giving yourself yes explanations is a major downer. Negative events will take their toll on you.

But on the other hand, no explanations make it easier to cope with negative events. You see that there is nothing inherently wrong with you and you can (and will) do better.

A simple yes explanation vs. a no explanation can make a huge difference in how you bounce back.

Pink explains that, “The more you explain bad events as temporary, specific and external, the more likely you are to persist, even in the face of adversity.”

So next time your boss rejects your presentation, your students don’t understand your lesson or your brilliant idea is shot down, ask yourself three questions: Is this permanent? Is this pervasive? Is this personal?

And find a way to answer no to each one!

Be You

Last night I read a great blog post by Seth Godin and thought, “How do I come up with something that brilliant?”

Actually what I really thought was, “My blog is terrible compared to his.”

I began to compare myself to all of the great writers that I read. I looked through all of my future blog topics to come up with a post for today, but I immediately shot them all down because they weren’t “good enough.”

Anything I started to write didn’t to be “Godin quality.”

But then I realized something…

People don’t come to this blog because they want to read Seth Godin.

If reading Seth Godin is what they wanted, they would not need to come here at all. They would go straight to Godin’s blog.

I shouldn’t spend time comparing myself to other authors.

I know that I may never be as funny as Jon Acuff, as insightful as Susan Cain, or as devotional as Max Lucado.

And the best part is…I don’t have to be.

Those writers have been writing for years. I have been writing for days.

It is great to strive to be the same quality of a writer that they are, but it is silly to think that I should be where they are at this very moment.

If Godin is the big leagues of writing, I may be stuck in single A. But that is fine. My career has just begun.

Just because my post isn’t something Godin, Cain or Lucado would write, does not mean I shouldn’t write it.

I just need to be me. And my writing is “good enough.”

Hopefully that same message applies to you too! Just be you.

If you are a singer, don’t compare yourself to Taylor Swift. Her CD is already out. Just be you and sing your song.

If you are a painter, don’t try to be Michelangelo. You will lose that contest every time.  Just be you and create your own Sistine Chapel.

If you are a dad, don’t copy the older dads you see at the park. You don’t need their kids to love you. Just be you and love your own kids.

I may never be the best writer. And you may never be the best singer, painter or dad. But I can be the best me. And you can be the best you.

Importance of Context

Driving in the car the other day, I heard a news anchor say that it was a good thing that 3,500 people were killed in the Philippians.

Actually what he said was that it was a good thing that “only” 3,500 people were killed in the Philippians compared to an earlier report of over 10,000 diseased.

The small four letter word “only” made a huge difference in the overall message the news anchor was making.

Thinking about that made me reflect on the importance of context.

Context is defined as “the part of a text or statement that surrounds a particular word or passage and determines its meaning.”

3,500 people dying is never good. But compared to 10,000 people dying is can be seen as a good thing.

Often you hear celebrities or professional athletes say their comment was taken out of context.

Without context points are lost, confused and twisted.

Context is very important in the business world as well. To a financial consultant the abbreviation “PO” probably means “Purchase Order.” For someone in law enforcement, “PO” might mean “Police Officer.”

To kill the PO means something very different to each of those two professions.

How does context affect our everyday lives?

Should we consider the context when something good happens to us? What about when something bad happens?

If someone cuts you off in traffic, could the context be that maybe they are rushing to the hospital?

Or maybe not.

If someone is rude to you at the grocery store, maybe they just got fired from their job and are not sure how they are going to pay for their meals.

Or maybe not.

If someone doesn’t return your text immediately it doesn’t mean they dislike you, they might actually be busy and away from their phone.

Or maybe not.

Context is a difficult thing when it comes to knowing what is going on with the people around us.

But just because it is difficult, doesn’t mean we should ignore it.

Before we react to everything little thing, we need to step back and try to think of the whole picture.

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Have you ever had one of those days…

You burn your mouth on your morning coffee. Traffic makes you late for work. Your funny joke is met with blank stares. You lock your keys in your car. Your roommate used the last of the clean dishes.

Everything just seems to go wrong.

That is a “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

That term may sound familiar to those of you who are fans of children’s books.

Author Judith Viorst wrote a great kids book titled Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, in which a young boy named Alexander had the worst day you can imagine.

He wakes up with gum in his hair. He doesn’t find a prize in his cereal (but his brothers do). He forgets the number 16 when he is counting. The dentist finds that he has a cavity. His brother pushes him in the mud. He has lima beans for dinner (and he hate lima beans).

And those are only a few of the rotten things that happen during the day.

Throughout the book Alexander mentions that he wants to move to Australia. He seems to think that all bad days can be avoided simply by moving to Australia.

Sorry to spoil the ending of the book, but his mom assures him that everybody has bad days, even people who live in Australia.

Sometimes when I am having a bad day I will feel like Alexander. I will want to move to Australia or Mars or somewhere else far away to escape my problems. But like Alexander learned, bad days just happen. And they happen everywhere. You can’t move away to escape them, you just have to plow through them.

Today I am thankful for Alexander.

I am sorry he had such a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, but I am glad that he learned from his day. I am thankful that I can learn from his day (and my bad days) as well.


This week, Oxford Dictionaries announced their 2013 Word of the Year. And the winner is…


Defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website,” selfie joins other top words such as “gif” and “omnishambles” as Words of the Year.

Upon reading about selfie’s honor, I wondered to myself, “out of all the words in the English language, how does Oxford decide which one is the Word of the Year?” Seems like a decision that should not be taken lightly.

My guess is that they pick a word that is trendy or popular in order to gain some publicity for their dictionary. Given that “twerk” and “bitcoin” were finalists for Word of the Year, I think my guess is probably accurate. That being said, there is nothing wrong with using a word like selfie to gain a little exposure (don’t tell anyone, but that is what I am trying to do with this post).

Besides picking a popular word, how exactly does Oxford decide which word deserves the honor of Word of the Year?

According to Oxford Dictionaries’ blog the Word of the Year is ultimately chosen by a team lexicographers, dictionary consultants, and editorial, marketing, and publicity staff at Oxford Dictionaries. Software helps determine the initial contenders by scanning a database of around 150 million words used online each month for new trends and frequency of use.

“We can see a phenomenal upward trend in the use of ‘selfie’ in 2013, and this helped to cement its selection as Word of the Year,” Oxford Dictionaries Editorial Director Judy Pearsall said in a press release.

I don’t know what lexicographers or dictionary consultants are, but Oxford Dictionaries seems to have a sound process in picking the Word of the Year. If I understand it correctly, the Word of the Year doesn’t have to be a trendy word, just one that has asserted “some kind of prominence.”

Reading all this leaves me with just two more questions…

First off, why do they pick the Word of the Year now? Last I checked there is still over a month left in the year. What’s the rush Oxford?

And my second question…is a selfie really a selfie if there is more than one person in the picture?

If you look at the selfie slide show on CNN you will see that many of the pictures are of two or more people.  I thought a selfie was a picture “one has taken of oneself.” Wouldn’t a picture that you take of yourself and others be called a “weie” or an “usie”, or just a normal picture?

I guess those questions will just have to wait until another Wonder Why Wednesday.

Think Like a Racer

What do you really want to be?

Do you want to be an actor? A business owner? A mom? A chef?

Dusty Crophopper wanted to be a racer.

In the Disney movie Planes, the main character, Dusty Crophopper, is a crop dusting plane who dreams of becoming a racer.

He trains and eventually qualifies for the upcoming Wings Across the World race.

Dusty is now going up against the fastest racers in the world. Pretty intimidating for just a simple crop duster.

He enlists the help of a veteran WWII fighter plane named Skipper to be his coach.

One thing that Skipper repeatedly tells Dusty is that in order to win the race he needs to “think like a racer.” Dusty has been a crop duster his whole life and if he wants to keep up with the real racers, he need to change his thinking.

This proves to be difficult for Dusty to grasp. Sure he wants to win the race. He feels like he is doing everything he can to win. But there are things that he has to get over so that he can think like a racer.

As a crop duster, Dusty has a sprayer attached to him. Just as it sounds, this is used to spray (or dust) the crops. It is important for a crop duster, but it is a handicap for a racer.

Even though the sprayer slows him down, Dusty will not get rid of it because he feels more comfortable with it on.

It takes awhile, but he finally gets out of his comfort zone and has his sprayer removed. This immediately shows results by reducing his drag, improving his aerodynamics, which allows him to fly faster.

He finally starts to keep up with the other planes. And in standard Disney fashion, you can imagine what happens next.

The lesson Dusty learned is an important one for us as well.

It is one thing to say you want to be a racer. It is another thing to think (and act) like a racer.

What do you really want to be?

it’s time to start thinking like a racer.

My New Book’s Website

Today I am happy to announce that I have a new website for my book that will be coming out in a few weeks, Maury C. Moose and The Forest Noel. If you would like to learn more about the book you can check out the site at www.MauryCMoose.com.

I will be adding more and more to the site over the next few weeks. Once the book is printed I will add some new pictures as well as information about how to get the book.

If you haven’t already, be sure to like the book’s Facebook page at facebook.com/MauryCMoose

Let me know what you guys think of the website and if you have any suggestions for things that I should add!

Anatole France

Last week I posted a great quote about acting, planning, dreaming & believing.

However, I failed to mention who the quote came from.

I looked it up and the quote is from French poet, Anatole France.

Upon reading about France’s life, I found that he not only had the great quote about acting and dreaming, but he also had many other awesome quotes.

As you know, I am a big fan of inspiring quotes. So I have decided to post a few others that I enjoyed from Anatole France.


I especially like this last quote. France is basically giving me permission to use his quotes in my blog. France said many things better than I will ever be able to say, so instead of trying to top them, I am going to use them.

Thanks Anatole!