Monday, December 30, 2013

The genius in all of us: Why everything you’ve been told about genetics, talent, and IQ is wrong

The genius in all of us: Why everything you’ve been told about genetics, talent, and IQ is wrong
By David Shenk

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

One of the most interesting features of this 302-page book (total pages) is that there is only 134 pages of text. There is an 18 page bibliography (pages 279-297), and there is a 138-page "Sources and Notes, Clarifications and Amplifications" section (pages 139-277). There is no index.

Just a note here on the "Sources and Notes. . ." section: Shenk uses 134 pages of text to make his case, and it is engrossing reading. But, if you think "Sources and Notes" would be a long, tedious, boring section of the book, you would be sadly mistaken here. For each and every assertion that Shenk makes in his argument (we’ll get to that in a moment), he has a source or note to verify it. This is a highly researched, evidence specific, thoroughly developed argument that is worth every minute you spend with it.

If you are looking for a motivational book that will support all that you do in life, this is where to start. If you think for one moment that you are limited by the genes with which you were born, think again. Shenk claims your genetic heritage may account for only about 50% of your talent, and the other 50% is determined by nurture and your environment. What you do, and how you feel about what you do matters.

If I was looking for support for all of the motivational essays, speeches, articles, and books I have written throughout the years, this would be the book — and the evidence. What Shenk is saying is that the intensity of your motivation, ambition, persistence, and self-discipline are not genetically determined but are shaped by nurture and environment. Just as you teach children how to take responsibility for their lives, you, too, can have a direct, sustained, ongoing, positive, and productive influence on your own talent and ability. This is good news, and if you don’t believe it, read this book, and bathe in the evidence that supports his assertions.

All of the books that have been (and are being) written on neuroplasticity — "[the] term referring to the ability of the brain and nervous system in all species to change structurally and functionally as a result of input from the environment" — gain support from Shenk’s work. Shenk makes the case for the plasticity of intelligence.

Shenk explains how genes really work, that intelligence is a process not a thing, that talents are not innate gifts "but the result of a slow, invisible accretion of skills," as well as how to be a genius, how to inspire children, how to foster cultural excellence, and how to improve your genes. This is an amazing book!

Having been an advocate of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work on flow, I was delighted to find Shenk referring to Csikszentmihalyi: " . . . intelligence isn’t fixed. Intelligence isn’t general. Intelligence is not a thing. Intelligence is a dynamic, diffuse, and ongoing process. This finding fits perfectly with the earlier work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and colleagues, who concluded that ‘high academic achievers are not necessarily born ‘smarter’ than others, but work harder and develop more self-discipline’" (p. 42).

Whether you are a supporter of the interactionist perspective or not, the book will introduce you to the way genius is made. That is especially interesting to read.

I think the author made a superb decision to separate his argument and the evidence used to support his argument. He is an excellent writer, and 134 pages may be all you have to read. I have found that the more technical you become by incorporating all your evidence and references within your narrative turns off more readers than it encourages. Shenk’s argument is so well presented, so smoothly offered, and so effective that it should be readable by a large audience — especially, I might add, educators. Educators are often those prone to picking out and doting upon their brighter students. After reading and absorbing what Shenk has to say may make them think twice about this approach.

The use of examples such as David Beckham, Michael Jordan, and Tiger Woods, as well as Friedrich Nietzsche, Beethoven, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was delightful information.

Because of Shenk’s argument, and because of his emphasis on the interaction between genes, nurture, and environment, I loved the following paragraph: "For deliberate practice to work, the demands have to be serious and sustained. Simply playing lots of chess or soccer or golf isn’t enough. Simply taking lessons from a wonderful teacher is not enough. Simply wanting it badly enough is not enough. Deliberate practice requires a mind-set of never, ever, being satisfied with your current ability. It requires a constant self-critique, a pathological restlessness, a passion to aim consistently just beyond one’s capability so that daily disappointment and failure is actually desired, and a never-ending resolve to dust oneself off and try again and again and again" (p.55). Talk about motivation to excel!

Now, after writing a paragraph like that, Shenk offers a realistic assessment of what it takes to excel: "It also requires enormous, life-altering amounts of time—a daily grinding commitment to becoming better. In the long term, the results can be highly satisfying. But in the short term, from day to day and month to month, there’s nothing particularly fun about the process or the substantial sacrifices involved" (p. 55). Do you wonder why the information in this book — even when read by those seemingly committed to change — is likely to go in one ear and out the other?

Oh well. Even if you are familiar with the ideas here, even if you wave off social-science research as bogus, and even if you believe that talent comes primarily from genetic inheritance, this book is a good read. Shenk makes you think — and that’s a healthy thing to do whether you agree or disagree with him. Five stars out of five!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday Humor

Be careful during parties

I would like to share a personal experience with all of you about drinking and driving.

As you well know, some of us have been known to have had brushes with the authorities on our way home from an occasional social session over the years.

A couple of nights ago, I was out for an evening with friends and had a couple of cocktails and some rather nice red wine.

Knowing full well I may have been slightly over the limit, I did something I've never done before, I took a cab home. Sure enough, I passed a police road block, but since it was a cab, they waved it past.

I arrived home safely without incident, which was a real surprise, as I have never driven a cab before and am not sure where I got it or what to do with it now that it's in my garage...

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Humor

A young guy from West Virginia moves to Florida and goes to a big "everything under one roof" department store looking for a job.

The Manager says, "Do you have any sales experience?" The kid says "Yeah. I was a vacuum salesman back in West Virginia."

Well, the boss was unsure, but he liked the kid and figured he'd give him a shot, so he gave him the job.

"You start tomorrow. I'll come down after we close and see how you did."

His first day on the job was rough, but he got through it. After the store was locked up, the boss came down to the sales floor.

"How many customers bought something from you today?" The kid frowns and looks at the floor and mutters, "One". The boss says "Just one?!!? Our sales people average sales to 20 to 30 customers a day.

That will have to change, and soon, if you'd like to continue your employment here. We have very strict standards for our sales force here in Florida. One sale a day might have been acceptable in West Virginia, but you're not in the mines anymore, son."

The kid took his beating, but continued to look at his shoes, so the boss felt kinda bad for chewing him out on his first day. He asked (semi-sarcastically), "So, how much was your one sale for?"

The kid looks up at his boss and says "$101,237.65".

The boss, astonished, says $101,237.65?!? What the heck did you sell?"

The kid says, "Well, first, I sold him some new fish hooks. Then I sold him a new fishing rod to go with his new hooks. Then I asked him where he was going fishing and he said down the coast, so I told him he was going to need a boat, so we went down to the boat department, and I sold him a twin engine Chris Craft. Then he said he didn't think
his Honda Civic would pull it, so I took him down to the automotive department and sold him that 4x4 Expedition."

The boss said "A guy came in here to buy a fish hook and you sold him a boat and a TRUCK!?"

The kid said "No, the guy came in here to buy tampons for his wife, and I said, 'Dude, your weekend's shot, you should go fishing....

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Humor

An elderly man in Louisiana had owned a large farm for several years. He
had a large pond in the back. It was properly shaped for swimming, so he
fixed it up nice... picnic tables, horseshoe pits, and some apple and peach

One evening the old farmer decided to go down to the pond, as he hadn't
been there for a while, and look it over. He grabbed a five-gallon bucket
to bring back some fruit. As he neared the pond, he heard voices shouting
and laughing with glee. As he came closer, he saw it was a bunch of young
women skinny-dipping in his pond.

He made the women aware of his presence and they all went to the deep end. One of the young women shouted to him, "We're not coming out until you leave!"

The old man frowned, "I didn't come down here to watch you ladies swim
naked or make you get out of the pond naked."

Holding the bucket up he said, "I'm here to feed the alligator."

Some old men can still think fast.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sugar nation: The hidden truth behind America’s deadliest habit and the simple way to beat it

By Jeff O'Connell

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

What surprised me at the outset of reading O’Connell’s book is a confession he made in the introduction. It isn’t his ignorance of type 2 diabetes, it is that as an executive writer for Men’s health and editor-in-chief for a magazine called Muscle & Fitness, that he would not be aware that "hamburger buns, French fires, and glazed doughnuts" (page 3) would not be good for you in the long run. I mean, he learned this less than five years ago (in 2006) — four years before this book was copyrighted. "So I changed my ways with a vengeance," he writes. Good heavens!

And I thought it was only the illiterate, ignorant/uneducated, or idiots who did not know that! Many, of course, know it and ignore it: "It won’t happen to me!"

On page 29, O’Connell again confesses: "Yet over those two decades, I had somehow acquired a disease of the overweight, or at least what I thought was a disease only for the overweight. Unfortunately I had been eating a lot of unhealthy foods with impunity because they didn’t cause me to pack on pounds. But they were unhealthy nonetheless." Once again, it is hard for me to believe that this author had never learned the long-term effects of eating in this manner!

I am happy that he finally came to the conclusion that careless eating would eventually take its toll on his body, I’m just shocked that it hadn’t happened sooner. He said he had relied on fast food for years!

Once again (a bit later in the book) he said, "After working out at the gym, I’d swing by 7-Eleven for a Butterfinger or an Almond Joy and a twenty-ounce bottle of Gatorade" (p. 29). Gheesh! It’s no wonder that he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes! I’m not shocked regarding his diagnosis coupled with his confessions!

When driving from Woodland Hills, California, to Zionsville, Pennsylvania, he would stop for "a Big Mac with a large order of french fries, washed down with a large Coca-Cola Classic" (p. 32). At Arby’s he would order "a large roast beef sandwich and a large chocolate shake" (p. 32). It never dawned on him that his diet was killing him? If that wasn’t enough, he would order "the premium fish fillet sandwich, large original chocolate Frosty, and medium french fries" at Wendy’s" (p. 32).

It is clear the point he is making (that this is the way many Americans eat), it is simply the irony of a man so closely associated with health and fitness seemingly totally unaware of his horrible dietary habits.

That said, this is a terrific book. Not just because it is well-written, not just because he has 20 pages of notes (250 in a 265-page (of text information) book), but because O’Connell is a great story teller. He is truly engaging.

Also, I liked the way O’Connell incorporates the incredible amount of evidence on the subject. He gives the professional initials of the researcher(s), identifies the university or institute with which he or she is associated, and then clearly and specifically discusses the study or studies accomplished, and the conclusions which follow. Not only that, he effectively relates the information to the point he is making at the time. His quotations were relevant, to the point, and interesting.

The real problem with type-2 diabetes occurs on page 196: "Along with a low-carb eating plan, a gym membership is the most potent antidote to type 2 diabetes" (p. 196).

He cites a Finnish study on diabetes that "found that regular exercise reduced diabetes incidence in subjects by nearly 70 percent compared with subjects who didn’t exercise" (p. 196). Ironically (again!), just 50 pages prior to these statements O’Connell writes, "the diabetes epidemic boils down to two main variables. The first variable is the decline in physical activity over the past century, to the extent that one in four Americans engage in nothing that could reasonably be deemed physical activity. They are couch potatoes, firmly rooted. Sixty percent of Americans don’t engage in enough activity to derive any health benefit" (p. 143) The second factor "is the increase in the consumption of calories" (p. 143).

After reading the paragraph above, is there any wonder why, "The number of Americans with diagnosed diabetes is projected to increase 165% from 11 million in 2000 . . . to 29 million in 2050" ("Projection of Diabetes Burden Through 2050," American Diabetes Association ) ? There needs to be a dedicated, serious, well-advertised national movement.

I loved this book, and I loved the author’s emphasis on exercise; however, anyone reading this review already knows that those who need this information most 1) will not (cannot?) read this book, and 2) will not follow the necessary suggestions (even if they read the book!). Our society, unfortunately, has become negligent, lackadaisical, sloppy — slovenly. Yes, it is too bad, but it is a fact of life with which O’Connell is fully aware.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Humor

I am passing this on to you because it definitely worked for me and we
all could use a little more calmness in our lives. By following the simple advice I heard on the Dr. Phil show, I have finally found inner peace.

Dr. Phil proclaimed, "The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you've started and never finished."

So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished, and before leaving this morning, I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey's Bristol Cream, a bottle of Kahlua, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some saltines and a box of chocolates.

I have truly achieved inner peace, and I know I'm a better person because of it.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People

By Gary D. Chapman and Paul E. White

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

Let me say at the outset that I was biased TOWARD this book before I even opened it. First, it was to discuss "languages," and all of my professional life I have taught, lectured, and written about the use of language. Second, it had to do with interpersonal communication — work relationships. My book on Understanding Interpersonal Communication (now out of print) went through seven editions. Third, it examined how to improve or human encounters — what effective communication is all about. Fourth, it treated workplace communication. In my book, Communicating Effectively, 10e (McGraw-Hill, 2012), I have a chapter on "Communicating Professionally . . .," which has continually received positive reviews. I am always in search of additional information with which to enhance that chapter and readers’ experiences with workplace communication.

It is not my normal form to mention my publications at the outset of a book review, but in this case, my biases were important for readers to understand prior to reading my review. I wanted to like this book a lot before turning the first page!

I have not read any of the books in Gary Chapman’s "five languages" series, thus, I have had no previous experience with his ideas. When I read about the five appreciation languages (words of affirmation, tangible gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch) my first impression was: This is common sense. There is nothing here that a sensitive, concerned, open, expressive, responsive, and aware person would not already know — and, to be honest, would not already be practicing. But that may, indeed, be the key: Utilizing the five appreciation languages may be the way for those who are not sensitive, concerned, open, expressive, responsive, and aware, to become so or . . . more so.

Like many other self-help books, it is unlikely that those who need this information the most will read it. How likely is it that an insensitive, unconcerned, closed, non-expressive, unresponsive, and unaware person would find or be led to this book? And, what’s more, if led to it, would consider him- or herself in need of this information? Unlikely, to be sure.

The examples used throughout the book are useful and interesting.

The MBA (Motivating by Appreciation) Inventory is a handy, well-conceived tool. What I find most interesting is that the idea that any person has a single preferred way of either receiving or giving appreciation, to me, begs a more important question: To what extent is giving (or receiving) appreciation situation specific? I would think, just as an outside observer, that the kind of appreciation I would give (or receive) would depend entirely on the situation I was in, the person who was either delivering the appreciation or the person to whom appreciation was to be expressed, the degree of need I experienced, the other people involved, whether or not I was being observed, how much credit or appreciation I thought I deserved, and, probably, a fair number of other variables. It’s a little like assessing — or trying to interpret — nonverbal communication. You cannot do it exempt of the circumstances in which it occurs.

The authors contend that "each individual has a primary language of appreciation. Speak that language and they will feel appreciated. Fail to speak that language and they will not feel appreciated" (p. 117). How about expressing appreciation in a wide variety of different modes? In that way 1) if one way misses the mark, another will likely hit it, and 2) one mode of appreciation will skillfully and aptly reinforce, buttress, fortify, and bolster up the others. A person would quickly come to know and understand exactly how much appreciation was being expressed.

I think the alternatives to the MBA Inventory are excellent suggestions for improving communication: 1) Observe their (coworkers’) behavior, 2) Observe what they request of others, and 3) Listen to their complaints. (Pp. 121-123)

I liked the book, but I thought it wasn’t totally necessary; and I missed having an index. I thought there was a great deal of padding once the basic appreciation languages were described and the MBA was explained. Many of the additional application chapters just seemed repetitive and could have been grouped, summarized, and shortened.







Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday Humor

How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.

Venison for dinner again? Oh deer!

A cartoonist was found dead in his home. Details are sketchy.

I used to be a banker, but then I lost interest.

Haunted French pancakes give me the crêpes.

England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.

I tried to catch some fog, but I mist.

They told me I had type-A blood, but it was a Type-O.

I changed my iPod's name to Titanic. It's syncing now.

Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.

I stayed up all night to see where the sun went, and then it dawned on me.

When chemists die, they barium.

I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can't put it down.

I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.

PMS jokes aren't funny; period.

Why were the Indians here first? They had reservations.

We're going on a class trip to the Coca-Cola factory. I hope there's no pop quiz.

I didn't like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.

Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn't control her pupils?

When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.

Broken pencils are pointless.

What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.

I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.

All the toilets in New York 's police stations have been stolen.
The police have nothing to go on.
I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.

Velcro - what a rip off!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The 3rd Alternative: Solving Life’s Most Difficult Problems

By Stephen R. Covey with Breck England

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

There is no doubt that Stephen Covey is a fine writer. The book flows smoothly and comfortably, and readers will have no difficulty understanding any of the concepts or ideas here.

Any book designed to help people solve problems, no matter what the context (work, home, school, law, society, or the world) makes a valuable contribution to our society. Too bad the Republicans and Democrats in Congress can’t read this book, learn the basic concepts and truths, then apply them in thier work with each other. The idea that "I’m right, and you’re wrong" never got anyone anywhere when it comes to solving problems and resolving conflicts. Yes, of course, there is a third alternative (a win-win strategy) that will work, and the explanation (through page 85) is clear, useful, practical, and desperately needed.

The value of the application chapters (3-9) is simple. Many readers will only read the application most relevant to themselves, whether it be work, home, school, law, society, or the world, and they are unlikely to read others. What this means is that there must be redundancy and repetition. It can’t be otherwise. Readers really only need to read through page 85 and then select that chapter that fittingly applies to them or to their situation. That, for most readers, becomes a complete offering and all that’s needed.

I have been writing about empathy, listening, group participation and leadership, as well as conflict management for most of my professional life. My book, Communicating Effectively, 10e (McGraw-Hill, 2012), contains my most recent thinking and writing on these topics. I don’t think that Covey offers anything new or startling with respect to synergistic thinking, but what he does is effectively underscore its importance as well as the specific steps necessary for achieving it. This is worthwhile and makes an important contribution to human-relations effectiveness — and success.

What makes this book truly outstanding is the selection of examples. Now, you may get tired of reading them, however, note what I said previously. You don’t need to read every chapter in the book. After reading up to page 85, then read only that one or those that apply to you or to your situation, and you won’t become overwhelmed by the sheer number of examples. They are certainly one of the strengths of the book.

In your life, you will not and cannot avoid conflict. Conflicts are inevitable. Since that is true, the best recourse you have is to learn how to deal with them effectively. Covey provides a useful set of tools, and the more tools we have in our toolbox, the more likely it is that we can resolve the conflicts we face and move on with our life.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Humor


A friend told a blond man: "Christmas is on a Friday this year." The blonde man then said, "Let's hope it's not the 13th."
Two blond men find three grenades, and they decide to take them to a police station.
One asked: "What if one explodes before we get there?"
The other says: "We'll lie and say we only found two."
A woman phoned her blond neighbor man and said: "Close your curtains the next time you & your wife are intimate.
The whole street was watching and laughing at you yesterday."
To which the blond man replied: "Well the joke's on all of you because I wasn't even at home yesterday."
A blond man is in the bathroom and his wife shouts: "Did you find the shampoo?"
He answers, "Yes, but I'm not sure what to do... it's for dry hair, and I've just wet mine."
A blond man goes to the vet with his goldfish.
I think it's got epilepsy," he tells the vet.
The vet takes a look and says, "It seems calm enough to me".
The blond man says, "Wait, I haven't taken it out of the bowl yet".
A blond man spies a letter lying on his doormat.
It says on the envelope "DO NOT BEND ".
He spends the next 2 hours trying to figure out how to pick it up.
A blond man shouts frantically into the phone
"My wife is pregnant and her contractions are only two minutes apart!"
"Is this her first child?" asks the Doctor.
"No", he shouts, "this is her husband!"
A blond man was driving home, drunk as a skunk. Suddenly he has to swerve to avoid a tree, then another, then another. A cop car pulls him over, so he tells the cop about all the trees in the road.
The cop says, "That's your air freshener swinging about!"
A blond man's dog goes missing and he is frantic.
His wife says "Why don't you put an ad in the paper?"
He does, but two weeks later the dog is still missing.
"What did you put in the paper?" his wife asks.
"Here boy!" he replies.
A blond man is in jail. Guard looks in his cell and sees him hanging by his feet.
"Just WHAT are you doing?" he asks.
"Hanging myself," the blond replies.
"It should be around your neck" says the guard.
"I tried that," he replies, "but then I couldn't breathe".
An Italian tourist asks a blond man: "Why do Scuba divers always fall backwards off their boats?"
To which the blond man replies: "If they fell forward, they'd still be in the boat."

Monday, November 18, 2013

Write your life story: How to organise and record your memories for family and friends to enjoy

By Michael Oke

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

When I first looked at the Contents of this book, I quickly realized that the process Oke discusses is precisely the structure that I intend to follow when I write my own memoir (no date is set, but it is certainly an item on my agenda). There are 16 chapters in this 212-page book (194 pages of content in 15 chapters means an average of about 15 pages per chapter), and Oke begins with, "Why Write Your Life Story?" — an excellent place to begin. (Although the book contains 16 chapters, the 16th contains "Advice from Others...." — about 18 pages of advice.)

"Thinking Things Through" is the title of Oke’s second chapter, and that one is followed by: "Getting Organised," "Planning the Structure," "Considering Alternative Structures," "Preparing to Tell Your Story," "Some Tips and Techniques," "Inspirational Extracts," "Doing Your Research," "Being Ready to Write," "Tackling Difficult Areas,""Revising the Manuscript," "Presentation," "Production," "Publishing," and "Advice from Others Who Have Written."

The advice in this book is specific, practical, and realistic. I liked the way sections were divided up, the many examples, the numerous case studies used to illustrate the text material, as well as the checklists and assignments. There is so much in this book, including a glossary, useful addresses, further reading, and an index.

There is one weakness with the book that Americans need to understand. Look at the title and note the word "organise." That is the British spelling of the word. Oke is a British writer, and the book is published by a British publishing company (), and you see it not only in the spelling of certain words, but I thought the "Further Reading" section was most interesting. 1) Of the 8 books recommended for further reading, half of them were published by How to Books. 2) Of the 11 magazines recommended (although all have websites), they are all British publications.

Here is an example of some of the British oriented text material: "Another source worthy of consideration for the more enthusiastic researcher is the National Newspaper Library in Colindale, London N11. Here you can read through local and national newspapers from decades ago. It is a fascinating place, but worth booking first" (p. 122). (There is no website offered for this source.)

This is a useful source for those thinking about, about to begin, or engaged in writing a memoir (or life story). Why? Because it really covers the essential ideas, offers many different suggestions, and provides additional possibilities that many writers may not think about or may find valuable. It trips synapses that may make you stop and think or may help make your memoir better or more complete. It is a worthwhile assistant — like having a trusted mentor offering hints, recommendations, and counsel that you may not get from any other source.

One overall impression with which I am left is captured in this sentence: "Writing your autobiography is immense fun. . . ." (p. 8). Oke is an enthusiastic advocate of the process, and it is almost as if he is a cheerleader for readers’ ability and their success. If I heard that people were planning to write their life story, this is the kind of book I could and would happily recommend. It is not just a good starting place, it offers the guidance, direction, and information that will help them move from their appropriate starting place to the end of their work.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Humor

A father put his 3 year old daughter to bed, told her a story and listened to her prayers which ended by saying, "God bless Mommy, God bless Daddy, God bless Grandma and good-bye Grandpa."

The father asked, 'Why did you say good-bye Grandpa?'

The little girl said, "I don't know daddy, it just seemed like the thing to do

The next day grandpa died
. The father thought it was a strange coincidence.

A few months later the father put the girl to bed and listened to her prayers which went like this, "God bless Mommy, God Bless Daddy and good-bye Grandma

The next day the grandmother died

Thought the father, "this kid is in contact with the other side

Several weeks later when the girl was going to bed the dad heard her say, "God bless Mommy and good-bye Daddy

He practically went into shock. He couldn't sleep all night and got up at the crack of dawn to go to his office. He was nervous as a cat all day, had lunch and watched the clock

He figured if he could get by until midnight he would be okay.

He felt safe in the office, so instead of going home at the end of the day he stayed there, drinking coffee, looking at his watch and jumping at every sound.

Finally midnight arrived; he breathed a sigh of relief and went home

When he got home his wife said, "I've never seen you work so late. What's the matter?"

He said, "I don't want to talk about it, I've just spent the worst day of my life."

She said, "You think you had a bad day, you'll never believe what happened to me. This morning my golf pro dropped dead in the middle of my lesson!"

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday Humor

Three friends married women from different parts of the country.

The first man married a woman from Alabama . He told her that she
was to do the dishes and house cleaning. It took a couple of days, but
on the third day, he came home to see a clean house and dishes washed
and put away.

The second man married a woman from South Dakota . He gave his
wife orders that she was to do all the cleaning, dishes and the
cooking. The first day he didn't see any results, but the next day he
saw it was better. By the third day, he saw his house was clean, the
dishes were done, and there was a huge dinner on the table.

The third man married a girl from Virginia . He ordered her to keep
the house cleaned, dishes washed, lawn mowed, laundry washed, and hot
meals on the table for every meal. He said the first day he didn't see
anything, the second day he didn't see anything but by the third day,
some of the swelling had gone down and he could see a little out of
his left eye, and his arm was healed enough that he could fix himself
a sandwich and load the dishwasher. He still has some difficulty when
he pees.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday Humor

There was a Irish painter named Patrick McGilligan who was very interested in making a penny where he could, so he often thinned down his paint to make it go a wee bit further.

As it happened, he got away with this for some time, but eventually
the local church decided to do a big restoration job on the outside of
one of their biggest buildings.

Patrick put in a bid, and, because his price was so low, he got the
job. So he set about erecting the scaffolding and setting up the planks, and buying the paint and, yes, I am sorry to say, thinning it down with

Well, Patrick was up on the scaffolding, painting away, the job nearly completed, when suddenly there was a horrendous clap of thunder, the sky opened, and the rain poured down washing the thinned paint from all over the church and knocking Patrick clear off the scaffold to land on the lawn among the gravestones, surrounded by telltale puddles of the thinned and useless paint.

Patrick was no fool. He knew this was a judgment from the Almighty, so he got down on his knees and cried: "Oh, God, Oh God, forgive me; what should I do?"

And from the thunder, a mighty voice spoke..

(you're going to love this)

"Repaint! Repaint! And thin no more!"

"Blessed are the cracked, for they are the ones who let in the light."

Thursday, October 31, 2013

White Sands National Monument and Missile Range

Essay by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.
Honestly, I thought we had one of our most impressive visits when we toured Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (which is the subject of another essay of mine). It was as if one experience was trying to upstage and outshine the other. The drive from Elephant Butte, where we were staying in our fifth wheel at the Cozy Cove RV Park, is 153 miles (just over 2 hours), and we had no idea what we would be seeing.

There is a Visitor’s Center at the entrance to the paved road (the Dunes Drive) that leads about 2 miles north to the start of the sands.

As you enter, you cross the edge of the dunes which is just a few feet high and support some plant life—several species of grass, yucca, and saltbush. Further into the monument there is little or no vegetation—just an unbroken white landscape.

As you begin the drive into the monument, you will notice that the road is paved, although blowing sand often covers the surface. Toward the center of the monument, however, the surface of the road is simply compacted gypsum, and the road becomes just a series of large cleared areas. This is important simply because the roads then can be adapted to changes in dune positions. The sands move up to 20 feet per year—growing, cresting, then slumping, but always advancing.

Driven by strong southwest winds, the sand covers everything in its path.

During the summer in the center of the dunes, everything is white, dazzingly bright, intensely hot, and capped on most days by a clear blue sky. Our visit duplicated this description without the intense heat.

The White Sands National Monument (WSNM) is considered one of the world’s great natural wonders. The wave-like dunes of pure gypsum sand move across 275 square miles of desert and, thus, create the world’s largest gypsum dune field. It is truly a sight to behold! The National Monument includes only about half of the sand in the entire dune field.

Within the dune area there are a couple of sites where shelters and picnic tables allow places to have your lunch. Because we always pack a lunch before traveling, we ate it in one of these areas—especially valuable because of the shade.

Despite its harsh climate and surroundings, the dunes "support a limited range of wildlife., some of which has evolved white coloration to match the surroundings, and exist as species unique to this region, such as the white sands wood rat, the Apache pocket mouse, the white sands prairie lizard and the bleached earless lizard. The most prominent plant, in the dunes," this website continues, "is the soaptree yucca, a species with numerous thin narrow leaves and an extensive root system that can stabilize a mound of sand and remain in place after wind causes the surrounding dune to move away."

What you may not be aware of is a vast area of desert and mountain ranges 100 by 40 miles in size directly to the west of Alamogordo. This area is closed to public access because it is used by the military for various kinds of weapons testing. There are warning signs as you approach the gate to the military base, and, as a visitor, you are not allowed to drive in without a thorough and complete search of your vehicle and, after showing your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance, obtaining a vehicle pass.

We were told at the gate that if we just wanted to visit the military museum, we could park in the visitor parking area prior to going through the gate and, thus, avoid the search, and still be close to the museum, located just inside the gate. That is precisely what we did by going through the gate, making a U-turn at the traffic light, coming back through the gate and entering the parking area.

It was at this military base—at the Trinity Site—where the first atomic bomb was detonated in July, 1945.

If you followed the information at the White Sands National Monument website , you would think that you could not visit the base except on two days each year: "the first Saturdays of April and October, when accompanied tours are provided." That is not entirely true.

The military base has a museum, as noted, which is interesting and worth a visit. The feature, however, that intrigued us the most was "Missile Park," where there are displays of the 61 (too many to list here) rockets and missiles tested at the site. You simply walk a winding concrete sidewalk that takes you to each clearly labeled display. Those that I remember included the Hawk, Nike (whether it was the Ajax, Hercules, or Zeus, I don’t remember), Patriot, Pershing I and II, Redstone, and Sidewinder.

One of the most striking images in the Missile Park is the Aeroshell Flying Saucer. You can see a picture of the Saucer at the flickr White Sands Missile Base Museum website . This was the object seen over Roswell and probably gave rise to all the "flying saucer" rumors. The real purpose of the Aeroshell was to test a method of landing a missile on the planet Mars.

As we entered the gate, the guard informed us that pictures could be taken at "Missile Park," but only under the condition that the camera is pointed toward the mountains and not down into the valley below the park. The valley is where active missile silos are located.

At the White Sands Missile Base Museum website , it says this about the Missile Base: "It is the largest military installation in the United States. This strip of New Mexico desert has been in use since the 40s to test practically every weapon system in the U.S. military arsenal. Pioneering research in rocket technology shortly after World War II at WSMR [White Sands Missile Range] helped propel the U.S. into space. Because of this, WSMR is sometimes known as the ‘Birthplace of the Race to Space.’"

If you haven’t gained the feeling, let me be specific: This area of the country, between the White Sands National Monument and the White Sands Missile Range Museum, is an incredibly important region, and a visit to this area will certainly convince you—especially if you head in this direction with no knowledge of what to expect, as I did—why I was so impressed.

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There is a lot of information at the White Sands Missile Range website , including a brief history and an explanation as to why it is considered the birthplace of the race to space.

At tripadvisor, "White Sands National Monument," , there are reviews of the Monument by people who have visited. Their reviews are outstanding.

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Copyright October, 2013, by And Then Some Publishing LLC

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Quotations by Richard L. Weaver II

Certainly it’s a risk or gamble, but when you venture and win, the benefit to your ego and your willingness to take a similar risk or gamble a second time, increase out of all proportion to the chance that you took in the beginning.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

And Then Some News

The first paragraph of Thursday's essay, "White Sands National Monument and Missile Range," reads as follows:

Honestly, I thought we had one of our most impressive visits when we toured Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (which is the subject of next week's essay). It was as if one experience was trying to upstage and outshine the other. The drive from Elephant Butte, where we were staying in our fifth wheel at the Cozy Cove RV Park, is 153 miles (just over 2 hours), and we had no idea what we would be seeing.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The compound effect: Jumpstart your income, your life, your success

By Darren Hardy

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

Over the years I have read a large number of self-help books. This one is a small book (6-inches wide and only 7½-inches long) of only 162 pages of text. So, right up front you know that it will be a short read. It reads quickly and comfortably.

Every day of his life, Hardy reads "something positive and instructional" (p. 103). I would recommend this book—that is, if you’re looking for something positive and instructional. It fits, it works, it succeeds! "Finally," Hardy writes, "I like to read at least ten pages of an inspirational book before going to sleep. I know the mind continues to process the last information consumed before bedtime, so I want to focus my attention on something constructive and helpful in making progress with my goals and ambitions" (p. 104). I have a second suggestion: Read this book. If you’ve already finished it? Read it again.

There is no index, no notes, and no references. Often, this is a trigger for me that suggests that the book is lightweight, frivolous, shallow, and not to be taken seriously. What counters that notion are the characteristics of the writer of the book.

Hardy has been a leader in the personal development industry for sixteen years, a successful entrepreneur by the age of eighteen, and CEO of a company producing $50 million in revenue by the age of 27. But these, to me, are not the most profound credentials. He has been the publisher and editorial director of SUCCESS magazine for five years (since September of 2007).

It is his work at SUCCESS magazine that gives him the unique credentials to write this book. That is because, as he says it himself, "as publisher of SUCCESS magazine, I sift through thousands of article submissions and books, help choose the experts we feature in the magazine, and review all of their material. Each month I interview a half-dozen top experts on a multitude of success topics and drill down to their best ideas. All day, every day, I read and filter through an ocean of personal-achievement information" (p. 3). That is what makes this book great—no, not just great, terrific!

Throughout the book he borrows from the self-help gurus he has interviewed, written about, or read about. He cites his sources, of course, but he borrows liberally. So, this isn’t just Hardy talking, he backs up his thoughts, and he offers tidbits and suggestions that have worked for others and that he, himself, has adopted in his life. This makes for a very enjoyable read.

His background, expertise, and knowledge is evident (and appreciated) throughout this short book, and he is absolutely correct: If you want a distillation of what all the other self-help authors have written about ad nauseam, this is surely the book for you. It is crisp, succinct, well-written, and full of noteworthy, memorable, and valuable examples.

There are so many places in this book that directly reinforce what I have been teaching for over thirty years. For example, he says, "For most of us, it’s the frequent, small, and seemingly inconsequential choices that are of grave concern. I’m talking about the decisions you think don’t make any difference at all. It’s the little things that inevitably and predictably derail your success. Whether they’re bone-headed maneuvers, no-biggie behaviors, or are disguised as positive choices (those are expecially insidious), these seemingly insignificfant decisions can completely throw you off course because you’re not mindful of them" (p. 25).

For a second example, Hardy was in a seminar when the speaker asked, ‘What percentage of shared responsibility do you have in making a relationship work?’ Well, the answer is NOT 50/50, 51/49, or even 80/20. "The instructor turned to the easel and wrote 100/0 on the paper in big black letters. ‘You have to be willing to give 100 percent with zero expectation of receiving anything in return’. Only when you’re willing to take 100 percent responsibility for making the relationship work will it work. Otherwise, a relationship left to chance will always be vulnerable to disaster.’" (p. 29).

For a third example, "You alone are responsible for what you do, don’t do, or how you respond to what’s done to you. This empowering mindset revolutionized my life. Luck, circumstances, or the right situation wasn’t what mattered. If it was to be, it was up to me" (p. 30). It revolutionized my life as well.

For yet another (can you believe a fourth?) example, "Personally, I’m always happy when something is hard. Why? Because I know that most people won’t do what it takes; therefore, it will be easier for me to step in front of the pack and take the lead" (p. 90). There are so many examples!

Also, I liked the "Summary Action Steps" Hardy places at the end of each chapter. No, they’re not really needed. This is a short book, and chapters read quickly. But I think the reinforcement they offer is useful, and since each one is so practical, they can serve a functional assist for those who are trying to put Hardy’s advice into action.

You see what really energized me about this simple but profound book? He reinforces, buttresses, supports, and lends encouragement to what I have taught, lectured about, put into my speeches, and written about for all of my professional life. All in a 162-page book! It has taken me so much more time and space that it’s embarrassing! (He says with tongue placed squarely in cheek! —even though tongues are not square!)

This book isn’t merely motivational (and yet it is!), it is inspirational! If you are looking for a book that will rouse your spirits, stir your emotions, energize your conscience, influence your intellect, galvanize your gut, and incite you to action with a fire in your belly, then choose this stimulating, animating, uplifting book because it will have a compound effect on your life!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Humor






























Thursday, October 24, 2013

Three Snapshots of New Mexico

Essay by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.
As we traveled to and from the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge and to and from the White Sands National Monument (on Interstate 25), we saw small signs along the highway that advertised Silver City. Once again, we packed a lunch, and our trip took almost three hours from Elephant Butte where we were staying at the Cozy Cove RV Park. We left shortly after 9 a.m., and immediately upon entering Silver City asked about a park where we could eat our lunch. Gough Park was the suggested location, and it was situated in the center of the city.

"Perched on the edge of the Gila National Forest in a high-desert wonderland of ponderosas, deep gorges, and red-rock mesas, Silver City is a bit rough around the edges," says one website. The town sits on top of a site that has been home to Native Americans, Hispanic, and Anglo settlers for hundreds of years. It was formed in the 1870s after the discovery of silver and quickly became a boom town. The silver industry crashed in 1893.

With approximately 10,000 inhabitants today, Silver City "is noted as becoming one of the most popular small town destinations for visitors to explore in America. Voted the best small town in New Mexico, Silver City offers the best of small town American charm and true American beauty," says another website.

Although we did not have a chance to investigate the local culture, history, exciting events, or beautiful scenery, we did visit a number of the two dozen art galleries and studios in the central city.

What we discovered was well worth our time. Some of the artists maintain superb retail sales areas where most are actively working as well as selling their products. In one, we relaxed and had ice cream in a back corner of the shop amidst a fabulous display of a wide range of the artist’s paintings. It was truly an aesthetic experience. (There was a slight aroma of incense.)

Talking to some of the local artists, we discovered that Western New Mexico University, located there, has an excellent Art Department and through shows and other cooperative efforts, helps support some of the many local artists. Also, Silver City itself makes certain that the local artists can afford to operate shops downtown and live inexpensively in the local community.

= + = + = + =

We left the White Sands Missile Range Museum heading back toward Elephant Butte, New Mexico, when I proposed to our group that we go to Las Cruces (only slightly out of our way) and eat Mexican. There was unanimous support for the suggestion. Having to do a little banking, while others conducted their business, I asked a woman in the bank where the best Mexican restaurant in town was located. She asked which was more important, the price or the atmosphere. Thinking that it is difficult making quality distinctions with Mexican food, I opted for atmosphere.

Not only did she direct us to the La Posta restaurant, but she drew us a map as well. It was a bit difficult to find since it sat back from the main thoroughfare, but it was worth the little difficulty we had.

The restaurant occupies a mid-18th-century adobe building that is the only surviving stagecoach station of the Butterfield Overland Mail route from Tipton, Missouri, to San Francisco. Kit Carson, Pancho Villa, Douglas MacArthur, and Billy the Kid were all here at one time.

Quoting from the Frommer’s review of La Posta at the New York Times, "Las Cruces" travel site: "The entrance leads through a jungle of tall plants beneath a Plexiglas roof, past a tank of piranhas and a noisy aviary of macaws and Amazon parrots, to nine dining rooms with bright, festive decor. . . .The tables are basic, with vinyl and metal chairs." The ambiance alone made our visit worthwhile—and, besides, we were all starving.

La Posta offers traditional "New Mexico" Mexican dishes made from century-old recipes handed down over the years from the Fountain, Chavez, and Griggs families. Because we had no background nor history of their food, we took our excellent waiter’s suggestions and ordered the Tostada Compuesta—which originated at La Posta in 1939. The dish consisted of a toasted corn tortilla cup filled with frioles, red chile con carne, topped with chopped lettuce, diced tomatoes, and grated cheddar cheese.

Others tried the green chile amd the "Locals" favorite, the sour cream enchiladas. That dish consisted of corn tortillas smothered with green chile sauce, topped with grated Monterrey jack cheese and sour cream. Also, it included refritos, rice, and La Posta’s tasty Mexican slaw.

I am not one who normally enjoys Mexican food, but this meal was delicious— and filling.

= + = + = + =

The third and final snapshot comes from Truth or Consequences, NM. It is our visit to the Geronimo Springs Museum. There were at least eight different rooms in the museum, and I will focus on just two of them: the Pottery Room and the Miner’s Log Cabin. There is so much more to see than these alone.

In the Pottery Room we found the largest prehistoric southwestern pottery collections with pottery ranging from A.D. 200 to A.D. 1350. Most of it was the Mimbres and Tularosa black-on-white pottery from southwestern New Mexico found within the Sierra County area. Their collection of early tools, effigies, bone artifacts, and arrowheads is also impressive.

The Miner’s Log Cabin came from the Black Range Mountains and is accessible through the Museum. Dismantled log by log and reconstructed on site exactly as it was built, it includes displays of items from early mining history in Sierra County such as a pedal-powered grinding wheel for sharpening knives and early gasoline and diesel jackhammers.

The Geronimo Museum includes a Ralph Edwards room celebrating when he came to town in 1950, the time the town changed its name to Truth or Consequences to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the radio show by that name, and his contributions to the town and the Ralph Edwards’ Fiesta—celebrated annually to this day.

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At the Geronimo Springs Museum website, you can read about the other six rooms of the Museum and the displays housed there.

Visit the Silver City, Grant County, Chamber of Commerce’s official website for additional information on Silver City.

The New York Times website labeled, "36 Hours in Silver City" includes a wide range of things to see in Silver City. This is one of the most useful sites on the City.

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Copyright October, 2013, by And Then Some Publishing LLC

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Quotations by Richard L. Weaver II

In a state of relaxation I find the best time to consider ideas, problems, and concerns. Relaxation offers views, angles, approaches, and interpretations that I seldom have during the ebb and flow of daily activities.

If you find it difficult to discover a quiet time---when your creativity can truly exhibit itself---begin by imagining yourself behaving the way you want to behave.  Use "covert reinforcement" by imagining your friends, co-workers, family, and acquaintances noticing your behavior and praising you for it.  It will help you carry out your intention of discovering quiet times and, thus, becoming more creative.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

And Then Some News

The first paragraph of Thursday's essay, "Three Snapshots of New Mexico," reads like this:

As we traveled to and from the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge and to and from the White Sands National Monument (on Interstate 25), we saw small signs along the highway that advertised Silver City. Once again, we packed a lunch, and our trip took almost three hours from Elephant Butte where we were staying at the Cozy Cove RV Park. We left shortly after 9 a.m., and immediately upon entering Silver City asked about a park where we could eat our lunch. Gough Park was the suggested location, and it was situated in the center of the city.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Millionaire Messenger: Make a Difference and a Fortune Sharing Your Advice

By Brendon Burchard

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

This is a book of 156 pages of text with 10 chapters. That means each chapter is approximately 15.6 pages in length in a 6-inch by 9-inch paperback. The book is not very big nor very long. So, does it accomplish what it sets out to do?

The first chapter describes in great detail the car crash that almost took Burchard’s life in the Dominican Republic —being in the Dominican Republic is a bit scary in and of itself, then put an automobile accident on top of that and you sense the anxiety. (We visited the Dominican Republic on one of our Caribbean cruises and, honestly, we never have to visit the island again. It is poor, has little for tourists, and is dirty.)

The story about Burchard’s car crash is well told, but it should be since it has been refined over many years of countless tellings. The point of the story is that it changed Burchard’s life—how he wanted to share his message with others. Tony Robbins was the one who changed his life.

Burchard wanted to "be that voice of inspiration and instruction for people" (p. 12).

I think Burchard can credit much of his success to becoming the best-selling author of Life’s Golden Ticket (HarperCollins, 2007). For me, it was a successful college textbook—Communicating Effectively 10e (McGraw-Hill, 2012). Much as many want to be successful, it is nice to have some kind of financial cushion to rest upon.

(To suggest that some people can become a David Bach, John Gray, Oprah Winfrey, Rachael Ray, Dr. Phil, Marianne Williamson, Bob Greene, Tim Gunn, Nate Berkus, or Dr. Mehmet Oz, is stretching to be certain, but it is great to have someone to emulate. Anyone who sets celebrities up to establish goals for readers, has to be a little bit warped. Who in their right mind would accept such false hope?)

Burchard cites the success stories of numerous non-celebrity individuals, but his main focus is on his readers, so he does not dwell on inspirational stories.

Burchard’s ideas are sound. The fundamentals for success are the same in every profession: 1) passion and knowledge, 2) relating and creating, 3) work anywhere and anytime—start now, 4) work with whom you want, 5) develop promotions, 6) pay equals value delivered, not the reason you work, 7) you do not need a large loan, 8) the tools for success are simple and cheap, and 8) same goes for financial income (pp. 24-38).

Please be aware that this book is for beginners. Anyone who has experienced any degree of success in his or her area of life is unlikely to find anything new or challenging in this book. It is about basics, laying out the essentials, and trying to establish a firm foundation.

The advice given in Chapter 5, "10 Steps to an Expert Empire," are essential and are no quick fix: 1) claim and master your topic, 2) pick your audience, 3) discover your audience’s problems, 4) define your story, 5) create a solution, 6) put up a website, 7) campaign your products and programs, 9) get promotional partners, 10) repeat and build the business based on distinction, excellence, and service. (There is no number 8 between pages 61 and 64. It was forgotten!)

One of the problems with this book is that Burchard explains what needs to be done, but he spends little time discussing how to do it. Someone just starting out needs to know how since much of the what is either obvious common sense or reading that is available on Google. I think this is an important omission.

There is nothing in this book that will astound you, and there is no magic formula—even a unique or unusual perspective. What you do come away with, however, is: if you want to become successful, it is very hard work! There is no such thing as a free ride.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Humor

When Gina got off work up there at Toledo, it was snowing heavily and blowing to the point that visibility was almost zero. She made her way to her car and wondered how she was going to get home. She sat in the car while it warmed up and thought about her situation. She remembered Ole's advice that if she got caught in a blizzard, she should wait for a snowplow to come by and follow it. That way she would not have to worry about going off the road or getting stuck in a snowdrift.
Sure enough, in a little while, a snowplow went by, so she pulled out and began to follow it. As she followed along behind the plow, she felt quite comfortable and smug as they continued on their way and she was not having any problem with the blizzard or road conditions. After some time had passed, she was somewhat surprised when the snowplow stopped. The driver got out of the cab and came back to her car. He signaled her to roll down her window and asked if she was all right, as she had been following him for a long time. Lena said she was fine and told him of her husband's advice to follow a plow when caught in a blizzard. The driver replied it was okay with him and that she could continue to follow him if she wanted, but he wanted her to know that he was done with the WalMart parking lot now and was going over to Target next.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Knowing when to duck

Essay by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

It was totally unexpected. There was no warning and no way to predict it. Saundra Hybels, the former co-author of my college textbook, Communicating Effectively 10e (McGraw-Hill, 2012)—she died unexpectedly in 1999—called me one day in 1972 and asked if I would be interested in writing a textbook with her. In retrospect, saying "yes" to her question was one of the most important responses I made in my professional life.

There were a number of reasons for saying "yes": 1) I thought it would be fun. 2) A successful textbook would help my career. 3) Writing a textbook capitalized on my interests and background. 4) A textbook was another form of teaching, which I had a deep passion about. 5) I thought it would significantly contribute to my credibility, 6) It could add to my meager financial situation. Clearly, this was not a time to duck!

But, notice that knowing when or when not to duck was based on solid reasons. It was not a flippant nor frivolous response. I took the time, considered the possibilities, and I responded in the most appropriate and responsible way I knew at the time.

What the decision to say "yes" to writing a college textbook meant, however, and unknown at the time the decision was made, was being able to duck a number of other situations. For example, I was asked by one university to become a department chairman. That was an easy request to duck.

There were a number of reasons for saying "no": 1) First, and most important, taking on such a job is an enormous time consumer. 2) Being a chairman is, what a number of chairmen told me, a "thankless" job. 3) I wasn’t certain I was even qualified to become a chairman. Others thought I was qualified. I was not sure. 4) I much prefer the atmosphere of being a teacher and writer, not the public atmosphere of a chairmanship. 5) Having said "yes" to taking on the burden of writing a textbook, I knew that the additional time of a chairmanship would keep me from my family—and I had four young children at the time.

Ducking the request to be a chairman was not a simple, straightforward, easy decision. There is no doubt a chairmanship adds prestige. It is a significant addition to one’s resume. It can substantially add to one’s paycheck. And, probably most important, by being a chairman you can create change. You are in a position of influence, and if you believe in your subject, and you have faith in your department personnel, and you really want to make a difference, a chairmanship makes sense. Although it wasn’t of concern, it should be noted that being a chair can be a stepping stone to higher leadership positions—deanships or even presidents.

Sometimes, knowing when to duck requires listing the pros and cons and giving a great deal of consideration to that list, not just simply looking at the items but considering your own goals and mission, how the items on the list affect you personally—your family and friends—as well as how this may affect your future. Notice, once again, that knowing when to duck, is not a spur-of-the-moment, impulsive, spontaneous response. It is based on good reasons.

One of the things that helps when it comes to knowing when to duck, is to decide what is important to you. If you have well-defined goals—ideas that you want to accomplish—it makes it easier to know whether or not to duck.

The success of the Hybels/Weaver college textbook has actually made it easier to duck a raft of other requests. For example, at various times I was asked to take on department tasks. I have been asked for my opinion on a variety of books—mostly fiction. I do not have the time to read fiction, because of having a successful textbook, my time must be spent in reading books or other material that will contribute to my writing. I have been asked to give speeches, write recommendations, attend a variety of functions, and serve in efforts that I know, in advance, will require more time than I have available or want to spend.

What I discovered is a simple fact: You cannot be productive if you take on too many commitments. Not only will you not accomplish very much, but the quality also goes down. So, knowing when to duck will make your life better. You will be able to focus, become more efficient, lessen your stress, add quality to what you do, and become more productive.

By learning when to duck, you will add value to your life. You will have more time. You will feel confident about your priorities. And you will become more assertive. These are positive attributes that often need reinforcement or encouragement—even on a daily basis.

One of the ways I have learned to duck a request is the same response many use in a relationship to duck commitment—or remove themselves from that relationship. That is, "it’s not you, it’s me." I will say, "I realize that your project is a good one, but it’s just not right for me right now, at least not at this time." I have often used this response to duck telephone surveys about my feelings about a recently purchased product, the service I received at a particular institution, or how I stand politically on a wide variety of issues.

I have often said, "This isn’t the right fit for me," "It’s not what I’m looking for at this time," or "I just don’t feel right about this, but thank you for asking me"

One area where knowing when to duck is important is all the solicitors who come to your front door. We have people who want to mow our lawn, shovel our driveway, put new windows in, add a new roof, fertilize our lawn, construct a new room, contribute to their cause, or buy their products. It happens over and over. But, look at it in a different way. Think of these occurrences as opportunities to practice ducking. Be polite, of course, but be firm. Don’t apologize. Don’t allow unwanted front-door solicitors to take your time. Dispense with them as quickly and efficiently as you can.

One of the things I found, and you may have, too, that the more you accomplish, the more your accomplishments become known, the more likely it is that you will be asked to do more. The old cliche, "If you want something done, ask a busy person," applies here. Rather than shy away from being active, or trying to avoid having your accomplishments become known, the simple solution is to know when to duck—and duck effectively!

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At Pick Your Brain: Grow Yourself, the essay, "5 Ways to Escape Overwhelm," by Kat Eden suggests that you take a day off for evaluation, cut back your wish list, control your daily list, and accept failure as a good thing. Eden says, "Don’t forget that stress is supposed to be a positive thing—it challenges us, drives us to achieve and conquer."

At zenhabits, the essay, "The Essential Time-Saving Guide for Busy People," offers ten excellent "Tips for Work," six "Time-saving Computer Tips," and fourteen "Tips for Home."

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Copyright October, 2013, by And Then Some Publishing LLC

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Quotations by Richard L. Weaver II

Beliefs are silent guides to your actions.

Boredom has many root causes, but you can eliminate it by activating your strengths, bolstering your sense of self-worth, and doing things that have meaning.

By giving up the security of a dull, monotonous, repetitive life, you take a chance at increasing your sense of wholeness---a life that is committed, positive, dedicated, and unconditional.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

And Then Some News

The first paragraph of Thursday's essay, "Knowing when to duck," reads as follows:

It was totally unexpected. There was no warning and no way to predict it. Saundra Hybels, the former co-author of my college textbook, Communicating Effectively 10e (McGraw-Hill, 2012)---she died unexpectedly in 1999—called me one day in 1972 and asked if I would be interested in writing a textbook with her. In retrospect, saying "yes" to her question was one of the most important responses I made in my professional life.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Succeeding when you’re supposed to fail: The 6 enduring principles of high achievement

By Ron Brafman

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

The eleven pages of notes (pp. 181-191) should really be called "Further Readings," not notes, because that is precisely what they are.

This is an easy, fun, quick book to read. It is well-written and full of interesting examples. Also, the way Brafman incorporates research throughout the book is both enlightening and informative.

Basically, this is a motivational book. If, for any reason, you are facing adversity in your life, you will find this book helpful.

If you want to know why some people who face adversity come out stronger because of it, or why some people who succeeded but were not supposed to now live their lives differently, or how you can stay strong when everything around you tries to pull you down, read this book.

Brafman is a working/practicing psychologist who holds a Ph.D. in psychology and has taught university courses in personality and personal growth.

His explanation of the differences between "externals" and "internals" was well explained; the discussion of the importance of having an even-tempered disposition was insightful (and how general temperaments, for the most part, follow individuals throughout their lives), and his discussion of the value of humor in boosting success and its role as an anxiety shield (how it protects people from the intensity of stress), was enlightening.

The author’s specific advice (pp. 164-167) is practical: 1) Shift the focus back to you, 2) Search out meaning, 3) Stay calm, 4) Stay the course, 5) Give yourself a break, 6) Don’t be afraid to use humor, 7) Be on the lookout for satellites (those who seem interested in you, or seem reliable, respectful, and willing to challenge you), and 8) Allow yourself to become inspired. This is useful advice.

There is advice, too, for employees (pp. 167-170), and for children (pp. 170-176) as well.

 Whether readers consider any of Brafman's advice "new," is not as relevant to me (for most of it is quite well known), as the contribution he makes to people's well-being.  Yes, this is a motivational book; however, it offers useful advice and can certainly lead some people out of adversity.  Besides, it's a fun read.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Humor

I have been in many places, but I've never been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can't go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone.

I've also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there.

I have, however, been in Sane. They don't have an airport; you have to be driven there. I have made several trips there, thanks to my children, friends, family and work.

I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I'm not too much on physical activity anymore.

I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often.

I've been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.

Sometimes I'm in Capable, and I go there more often as I'm getting older.

One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age I need all the stimuli I can get!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A thing of beauty

Often when we think of things of beauty we think of artwork, sculpture, musical compositions, or products we have created. And there is no doubt that within each of these categories and many more, there are truly things of beauty. Nature itself offers such a variety of objects and scenes. I remember, for example, going to a hosta and lily show at the Toledo Arboretum some time ago, and while touring one of the inside show areas I could not believe the overwhelming beauty of the show pieces displayed for competition.

My sister-in-law is an artist, and we have a mounted Wood Duck that she did as an exhibit in our living room. We have a chalk drawing she did of all the members of her side of our family including each of us. Every piece or project she has completed is breathtakingly beautiful.

There is so much beauty surrounding us all the time if we just take a moment to see and appreciate it.

I left the house at around 4 a.m. the other morning to begin my jog, and when I opened the front door, the fresh, crisp, clean morning air greeted me, and I had to stop, take a deep breath, close my eyes, and just appreciate the aroma, freshness, and ambience.

There are so many other situations that have the same effect on me.

When I designed a shed to house all of our grilling equipment from a design my older son gave me (in a book of things you could make from 2 x 4s), all the parts had to be cut first and only then could the shed be constructed. So, you do the measuring, make the cuts, lay out all of the parts and then attach them together. I not only found beauty in the final product—a useful, helpful, worthwhile storage place—but I loved the way all the parts came together so precisely and accurately.

I put together a large number of lectures, speeches, and essays. I do the research, construct the outline, then write out the information word-for-word. There is a time when I arrive at a point that everything just "feels right," everything seems to be in place, and I get a sense of closure when I actually feel I have manufactured a thing of beauty—concise, focused, centered.

When I am searching for information, I will often find a quotation that perfectly and completely fits a situation. For example, right now, a quotation from Christopher Morley serves that purpose well: "In every man’s heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty." Perfect! Beautiful!

The question, then, becomes a simple one: What are those things that cause my pulse to shake, quiver, and tremble? It can happen in the strangest places.

A vibration of beauty occurred when I had completed a repair job of our snowblower. It was leaking gas, so I ordered a plastic gas tank, spent several hours removing the plastic top of the snowblower, then the plastic tubing that connected to the tank. The leak was actually in one of the tube connections. The tubing had split. It was a thing of beauty when I had it all re-assembled, pulled the starter handle, and the mower started in one pull, and it never leaked again.

When we lived in Hawaii it was truly unusual to have beauty all around us. We went to several botanical gardens, and the lush landscapes, brilliant flowers, and unusual plants startle the imagination—and yet it is all so real.

Traveling to Jasper and Banff (the Canadian Rockies) out among the mountains, every time you turn a corner in the road, a new, fresh postcard seems to present itself.

When we traveled in upstate New York, the AuSable Chasm is the spectacular gorge that has been cut by the River.

On each of our cruise adventures, we have been exposed to true things of beauty. On our very first cruise (February, 2000) it was the ship itself, the Grand Princess, that was the primary thing of beauty. We had never been so close to such a large ship much less onboard one. And all the amenities—the lobby and elevators, the carpeting throughout, the massive dining-room areas, and the cafeteria were sights to behold!

Our second cruise was to the Panama Canal on the Sun Princess with Edgar and Zella Willis, my wife’s parents (January-February, 2002). The Panama Canal is a thing of beauty, and it wasn’t just moving through the locks to Lake Gatun, it was all the information we received about how they worked, given to us over a loudspeaker while out on deck watching it all work.

Our third cruise, with Celebrity on a ship called the Zenith (February, 2005) was to the Southern Caribbean. First, it was our self-guided tour of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Second, our stops in St. Kitts, St. Thomas, Granada, and Barbados. This was our first trip with the Alambre Trio (a singing group from the Phillippines) who learned a song just for us: "All I Have to Do is Dream" to which we did the cha-cha. The Trio is a thing of beauty! After Barbados, we went to Saint Maarten and Saint Martin (same island, two countries), and Cocoa Key. When you travel by cruise ship, take excursions on the islands, the things of beauty you experience never cease.

Our fourth cruise, on Celebrity’s Horizon, to Bermuda (July, 2005). Since we’d ben to Bermuda previously, our thing of beauty on this cruise was, once again, the Alambre Trio.

Our fifth cruise was "The Great Rivers of Europe" with Grand Circle, and the storybook-like European towns (e.g., Passau, Regensberg, and Wertheim, Germany), the 66 locks we traversed, the Melk Abbey, and the sights along the rivers (the Danube, Main, and Rhine) were things of beauty.

Cruise #6, Alaska’s Inside Passage, offers things of beauty all along the route, just as our Mediterranean cruise (cruise #8) offered them at every port-of-call (Barcelona, the French Riviera, Florence, Rome, Greece, Istanbul, Mykonos, Snatorini, and Venice) and on each excursion. Our cruise #10 was similar—things of beauty at every stop: Bangkok, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Nha Trang, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taipei, Taiwan, Okinawa, Japan, Shanghai, China, and Beijing, China—almost more things of beauty than a single mind can digest and appreciate.

Every stop on cruise #11, our South American adventure, offered places of beauty including Rio de Janeiro, Montavideo, Uruguay, Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Falkland Islands, Cape Horn and the glaciers, Puenta Arenas, Chile, Valparaiso, Vina del Mar, and Santiago, Chile. We experienced extraordinary beauty, too, on our trip to the Normandy area of France and at Versailles and all the sites in and around Paris.

If your goal is to see and appreciate things of beauty, you can begin appreciating that which surrounds you everyday, but if you want an onslaught of such things, travel. You will quickly discover, once you assume this new perspective, is that beauty in things lies in the mind which contemplates them—a second quotation that is a thing of beauty!

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At HubPages , there is a wonderful essay, "Photography Tips—Finding Beauty in Mundane Things." four specific tips for finding beauty. The author begins this essay saying, "When I started my photography adventures after retirement, I would always go out to my garden and take pictures of almost anything that I find there. Since I have a very small garden, most of my pictures were that of flowers, insects, raindrops and anything that catches my fancy. However, during times that the rain is too heavy for raindrops photos, I would wander inside the house and look for something to focus my camera on. That’s when I learned to focus on mundane things and find beauty in them. So how do we find beauty in mundane things?"

At "ThinkSimpleNow" , the name of the essay is "How to Find Beauty in Life," and Jonathan Mead offers readers three ways for seeing things differently: 1) Practice Listening, 2) Practice Non-Judgment, and 2) Open Your Heart. There are nine tips for daily living, and Mead closes by saying: "It’s through space that air fills your lungs. It’s through space that your body moves. It’s through space in the vibration of the air that sound is heard. It’s in the gaps between veins that blood flows. Without the space between these letters, there would be no words for you to read -it would all be incoherent.

In this way, you realize something—Emptiness truly roars. Silence speaks. Space gives birth to form. It’s in the gaps that beauty is found."

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Copyright October, 2013, by And Then Some Publishing LLC