Bad Advice for Everyone

Disclaimer: Do NOT follow any of the advice in this blog post.  Bad idea.  Bad, bad idea.  If you should choose to follow any of the advice in this blog post, on your own head be it.

I owe the idea for this to my very funny friend, all around good guy Brian Robinson, who I interviewed here.  He posted on Facebook the challenge to ask him anything, and he would respond with bad advice.  I asked him whether it would be better to sell my three semi-decent vehicles and put the money into one nice car, continue patching them up with duct tape and superglue, or just buy a good bicycle and lots of bus passes?  He responded that I should sell all of them and invest in avocados.

So, to keep the chain going, some bad advice given in response to questions my Facebook friends have supplied:

Q: What’s the best way to stay connected with friends you haven’t seen in many years?

A: Start a blog about them and pay a lot for advertising. Tell all kinds of scandalous untruths about them from way back when. They’ll look you up and you’ll both have a good laugh about it and happily renew your friendship.

Q: What’s the best way to change a tire on a car, on a dirt road with no jack, a hundred miles from anywhere?

A: If the flat is on the right side, get up as much speed as possible on the three remaining wheels and abruptly turn sharply to the right. With a little luck the car will flip over and you can then access the flat with no problem. Make sure to get the spare out of the trunk BEFORE trying this.

Q: What’s the best way to get my husband to quit snoring?

A: Stuff a sock in his mouth.

Q: What’s the best way to find a new job?

A: Get a big piece of poster board and write, in large letters, “Value Adder.” Decorate it with lots of happy stickers and bright colors. Find a busy downtown area where you can encounter plenty of business people and walk around with your sign while loudly singing “I’m A Little Teapot.” When you catch someone’s eye, buttonhole them and tell them how much value you can add to their organization. You’ll be employed by lunchtime. (Be sure to dress professionally.)

Q: What is the best way to bathe a cat?

A: The important thing is to catch the cat by surprise. Wait until the feline is sleeping somewhere. Fill the bathtub halfway with warm, soapy water, nonchalantly whistling like you’re going to take a bath yourself. Then, shrieking like an attacking Highland Scot fighting for his homeland, grab the cat and sprint like mad for the bathroom. Halfway in the door, release the cat, allowing its momentum to carry it all the way into the tub. Continuing to bellow (or loudly singing Def Leppard classic rock if that more strikes your fancy), grab the scrubby loofah you’ve secreted by the side of the tub and plunge your arm again and again into the mass of bubbles until you have a firm grip on pretty much any substantial part of the cat’s anatomy. Proceed to apply the loofah vigorously to the cat.

After all this, with any luck the cat will be hyperventilating, half-drowned, and near-comatose with panic, so you can now rinse it off and gently dry it at your leisure. Have fun!

 

Billy Graham–Advice for, Well, Everyone

Billy Graham, so sources say, died yesterday.  Dr. Graham claims otherwise.  To quote him:

Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead.  Don’t you believe a word of it.  I shall be more alive than I am now.  I will just have changed my address.  I will have gone into the presence of God.

I normally like to do these pretend interviews as though the interviewee and I are having an actual conversation, and I’m using their recorded words as their answers.  Not doing that this time.  Dr. Graham’s graduation to Heaven is too new, too fresh, and it feels disrespectful.  But I’d wanted to share some of his wisdom:

“I feel sorry for the man who has never known the bracing thrill of taking a stand and sticking to it fearlessly. Moral courage has rewards that timidity can never imagine. Like a shot of adrenaline, it floods the spirit with vitality.”

“What is the greatest surprise you have found about life?” a university student asked me several years ago. “The brevity of it,” I replied without hesitation. … Time moves so quickly, and no matter who we are or what we have done, the time will come when our lives will be over. As Jesus said, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4).

“My home is in Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.”

And, as he neared the end of his earthly travels, he shared this:

No, I don’t know the future, but I do know this: the best is yet to be! Heaven awaits us, and that will be far, far more glorious than anything we can ever imagine. I know that soon my life will be over. I thank God for it, and for all He has given me in this life. But I look forward to Heaven. I look forward to the reunion with friends and loved ones who have gone on before. I look forward to Heaven’s freedom from sorrow and pain. I also look forward to serving God in ways we can’t begin to imagine, for the Bible makes it clear that Heaven is not a place of idleness. And most of all, I look forward to seeing Christ and bowing before Him in praise and gratitude for all He has done for us, and for using me on this earth by His grace—just as I am.

I’ll close with one of my favorite sayings from Dr. Graham, one I quote on a regular basis:

“It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.”

Thank you for your life, Dr. Graham, and all glory be to the God Who did such great things through you.  God bless, friends.

 

And Yet More Advice…..

—Look both ways before crossing the street.  If you see something coming, stopping would be sensible.

—If you’re having a medical or relational problem, mention it on social media.  You’ll be inundated with wise counsel.  Try all of it.

—If you pull a pen out of a jar and it doesn’t write, stick it back in to try again next time.  It’s good to give things another chance.

—Reading the instructions first is a good idea only if you plan to follow them.

—The two most important things to know for the DIY electrician are a) where the fusebox is and b)when to call for a professional.

—When a small child says he or she needs to go to the bathroom, it’s generally much safer to give the benefit of the doubt.

—You can’t go wrong waving at babies or admiring pets.

—Believe everything you read on the Internet.  Except for this.

 

Hope all’s well out there, friends, and God bless.

 

Shel Silverstein–Advice for Doing the Dishes

I’d like to welcome to the blog the late Shel Silverstein, one of my all-time favorite poets.  Mr. Silverstein, it’s an honor to have you with us.
Please, call me Uncle Shelby.

Thank you, Uncle Shelby.  May I mention that I’m a huge fan of your work, and anybody wanting to see more of it could look here.

Can I ask you what’s in your refrigerator?
There’s a Polar Bear
In our Frigidaire –
He likes it ’cause it’s cold in there.

Thank you, and good luck with that.  How would someone go about being friends with you?
I know a way to stay friends forever,
There’s really nothing to it,
I tell you what to do,
And you do it.

Um, okay.  Have you ever found any magic in the world?
All the magic I have known, I’ve had to make myself.

What do you think about impossibilities?
Just ’cause somethin’ ain’t been done
Don’t mean it can’t be did…

Fair enough.  What would you suggest as sensible behavior for birds and worms?
Oh, if you’re a bird, be an early bird
And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.
If you’re a bird, be an early early bird–
But if you’re a worm, sleep late.

….right.  What would you like people to say about you?
Tell me I’m clever, Tell me I’m kind, Tell me I’m talented, Tell me I’m cute, Tell me I’m sensitive, Graceful and wise, Tell me I’m perfect – But tell me the truth.

Gotcha.  Can I ask you to offer some advice for drying the dishes?
If you have to dry the dishes
(Such an awful boring chore)
If you have to dry the dishes
(‘Stead of going to the store)
If you have to dry the dishes
And you drop one on the floor
Maybe they won’t let you
Dry the dishes anymore.

Well, that’s one way to look at it.  Shel, or Uncle Shelby if you prefer, thank you so much for bringing so much joy and laughter into the world during your time here.
Although I cannot see your face,
As you flip these poems awhile,
Somewhere from some far off place
I hear you laughing, and I smile.

And may that indeed be so.  Hope all’s well out there, friends, and God bless.

Elizabeth Busey–Advice for Finding Beauty In Your Backyard

I’d like to welcome Elizabeth Busey to the blog. Thanks for being with us. Can you tell us what you do with your time?
I am an artist, specifically a printmaker. I studied government in college and got a master’s degree in public administration, but when I was caring for my two children at home, I discovered art. After my younger child was in first grade, I began taking classes at Indiana University, and now have a printing press in my basement. I have been making prints now for about ten years, and of course trying to find homes for some of them.

How old are you, and where do you live?
I JUST turned fifty, and I live in Bloomington, Indiana.

Where can we find you on the internet?
You can see my artwork and read my blog at elizabethbusey.com

I love your blog, and spent way too much time playing around it. What would your favorite meal be?
Pacific Coast salmon, freshly caught and smoked over an alder wood fire.
(We try to create this in the Midwest with flash frozen salmon from the Farmer’s Market, but it really tastes best when prepared in the Pacific Northwest.) Complete with cranberry relish and some sort of fancy green salad.

Thanks, and sounds great. Pet peeve?
When businesses, especially airlines or utility companies, say things like “We apologize for any inconvenience.” I’m pretty sure if they need to use the word apologize, people are already being inconvenienced. The use of “any inconvenience” implies that if I was just a little less sensitive or a little more flexible, then everything would be grand.

Favorite move?
“Four Weddings and a Funeral.” I actually purchased it on my Amazon account, so I can watch it anytime I am having a rough day. The first part always makes me laugh until I am crying, and then the funeral scene makes me cry all over again.

Tell us about your family? Any pets?
I have been married to my husband Tom for twenty-eight years. He was a fix-up date to my first sorority formal when I was a freshman. (Yes, I had to ask him…) We have two children, Hannah, 22 and Owen, 20. They are both college students at Indiana University, but for the sake of their development and our sanity, have apartments close to campus. We do see them from time to time when they raid the fridge for leftovers. We have two grey and white female cats from the animal shelter. They are great companions for me when I work at home in my studio and have learned not to jump up on the table with the ink (for the most part.)

One thing many people don’t know you can do?
I can create ventriloquist style bird calls. This was a very useful talent in elementary school, when I could torture substitute teachers. No one in my classes ever gave me away.

That’s funny. Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered?
My first job – the summer after I graduated from high school – was to work for the United States Park Service in their Youth Conservation Corps. We were responsible for the park land on the Virginia side of the C&O Canal. I had to arrive at work at 7:30 every morning in jeans, a polyester shirt, hiking boots and a hard hat – which made for very hot working conditions. I learned how to clear & build trails, pick up trash, and work with young people with varying emotional and intellectual abilities. It taught me persistence and patience, and gave me an appreciation for people who work outside doing manual labor.

Thank you much. In the “Advice for Everyone” section of the blog interview, I was inspired by some of the material on your own blog. Can you share with my readers how to find beauty in your own backyard?

If you were to ask people to give you an example of something beautiful, you might get some common answers. Morning Glory Pool in Yellowstone National Park might be mentioned, or perhaps Leonardo da Vinci’s painting Mona Lisa. Facebook and Instagram feeds are filled with famous or exotic examples of beauty, but actually beauty is something that anyone can experience anywhere.

Finding beauty is a spiritual or intentional practice. What makes experiencing beauty difficult in the everyday is the speed at which we lead our lives. Our need to multi-task and our fascination with all things media-related keep our brains from slowing down and becoming aware of what is truly all around us.

Humans are inherently visual creatures, so much of what we think of as beautiful comes from what we see. Practice looking with new eyes at your surroundings. Observe the patterning of bare branches against a moody sky. Or the patina of cracking paint on an old barn. Or maybe the soft, leathery folds of skin around an older person’s eyes.

In our visual search for beauty, technology can sometimes be an aid. Cameras on smartphones allow us to frame something so we can concentrate on it. Suddenly vegetables at the supermarket become a study about color, texture and abundance. Oil on wet pavement becomes a riotous colorful composition.  

You don’t have to focus on your visual system to seek beauty. When I want to listen to music or outdoor sounds, I will often close my eyes to concentrate on experiencing the beauty in sound. Whether it is a bird song, the rhythm of the local train or near silence punctuated by awakening insects, pausing to listen may reward you with a beautiful sound.

Don’t neglect your sense of touch, taste and smell either. Breakfast may afford you with many opportunities to find beauty. The aroma of the oils from your coffee heightens your awareness with rich, complicated notes. The bursting, tangy sweetness from the berries on your cereal or the pungent zing of cinnamon on your oatmeal are transcendent experiences worth celebrating, even if they are part of your daily routine. The silky smoothness of your shy cat’s fur is a reward for your hands. How often do you get to touch something beautiful?

Beauty can be created by artists, but anyone can find beauty at any time. The trick is to slow down, heighten your senses and notice things. Rainy winter days can be bleak and gloomy, but there are still raindrops clinging to dark branches that reflect the light. Beauty is yours, even in your own backyard.

Elizabeth, thank you very much, and thanks for being with us today. Take care and God bless.

Advice for Getting People to Do Interviews

Happy Monday, friends!

I owe you an interview, don’t I?

Sadly, I don’t have anyone for you today.  At this writing, I don’t have anyone for you for Thursday, either.

I have literally dozens of people who are supposedly working on interviews for me.  But, people get busy, and it’s the holiday season and things get shuffled to the back burner.  You know how it is.  And it’s not like I’m paying anybody–they’re doing this as a favor to me, and I hate to be a pest.

I’ll get back on the stick as far as gently poking and prodding, and I’ll continue to make sure something goes up on Mondays and Thursdays.  I appreciate you reading.

Take care and God bless.

Henry Styron–Advice for Dealing With the Creeping Crud

My mother doesn’t like the term “creeping crud” and wishes I wouldn’t use it.  I do believe, however, that it’s the correct medical terminology.

It’s my mother’s birthday, by the way, and may she have a very happy day today.  She wouldn’t want me to tell you that she’s eighty-eight today, and has she EVER had an eventful life.

But, back to the creeping crud.  Lots of people I know have had it, and it’s made it’s way around to me.

My wife said I looked terrible.  That hurt my feelings a little, so I took a selfie to prove her wrong.  (Oh, and I’m growing the beard back, by executive order, although I’ll grant you it doesn’t help the look much at this stage.)

So, what do you think, internet-land?  I’ll grant you I might look a little rough around the edges, but I personally think I’m still radiating vitality and chutzpah.

(General consensus thus far sadly seems to be siding with my wife.  Just goes to show you what people know.)

Okay, so, let’s shift to boldface here for the official question:

Henry, how do you deal with the creeping crud?

Um, try not to get it in the first place?  The fever and congestion aren’t much fun, and I’ve gotten even further behind on projects.

Hope you feel better soon, and thanks for being with us on the blog.  Hope all’s well out there, friends, and God bless.

Tammy Williamson–Advice for Problem Solvers

Welcome to the blog. Can you tell us your name and any nicknames?
Tammy Loescher Williamson.  Although not a nickname, my best name is Mom.

What do you do with your time?
For 25 years, I was a full-time stay at home mom. I guess I am retired from that job. I am currently a car driver for my school system. I transport kids with different circumstances to and from school.

What’s a challenge about child transportation? What’s a particular joy from it?
The challenging part of transporting children with special circumstances isn’t challenging in itself. It mostly comes from other people who might not drive safely and put my kids in danger. I love being the smiling face who greets them with a clean slate every morning and every afternoon. I can help the bad start to a day get better with some fun interaction and redirecting. I can also make the ride home after a long day at school refreshing.

How old are you, and where do you live?
I am proud to say that I am 51, but I don’t mind telling it because I don’t look it, yet. When I start looking my age, I am pretty sure it will really hurt my feelings. I live in Montpelier, Virginia.

Where can we find you on the internet?
I am a Facebooker. The place that people would get to know me best is my instagram accounts… tamalam1966, worship_in_color, and merrydoodledo.

What’s the most interesting place you’ve visited?
Cade’s Cove near Gatlinburg.

For someone who’s never heard of Cade’s Cove, tell us a little about it, and why you like it?
Cade’s Cove is in the Gatlinburg, Tennessee area. It is an 11-mile drive-through loop that is situated in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It allows visitors to see some of the structures that were used during the development of the National Park…old and interesting. The valley is breathtaking. When I am there, I am in my zone of happiness. The slow atmosphere there makes me feel relaxed and grateful. I can stop and just soak in the beauty and the simplicity of just being alive. I have precious memories from times there…and am now realizing that I am far overdue for a visit.

What would your favorite meal be?
My favorite meal is fried okra, mashed potatoes with gravy, really good fried chicken, speckled butterbeans with okra, summer squash, sliced tomatoes, and homemade biscuits.

Pet peeve?
People just not being nice for no particular reason

Favorite movie?
“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” I think most people have this secret life that they imagine they were actually living. They let life live them instead of the other way around. Many times, it takes some sort of serious crisis to bring the courage to bring that life to the surface. And, it is usually beautiful!

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for…..?
I could always use prayer for personal consistency in my pursuit of Christ

Tell us about your family?
I have been married for over 30 years…to the same man. I have three beautiful children…Jonathan is almost 25 and is living the life in California…Katie is 21 and is preparing to be a missionary (don’t know how that is going to look); she’s a modern day hippie who happens to love super heroes…Lynn-Lee is 13 and is a rules follower (won’t even go in the exit door); loves anything song and theater arts related; very creative and kind. My furbabies are Princess Yue (named after the character in the Last Airbender)…6 year old mutt and Rozy (pronounced Rozie…12 year old child chose the spelling) who is a beagle/Australian shepherd mix. And I must admit that I am still in mourning for the best dog ever created named Zipper…she will always take up a huge space in my heart.

Something most people don’t know you can do?
Most people don’t know that if I don’t know how to do something that I WILL FIGURE IT OUT

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
I can honestly say that I use all of my time in a way that makes me happy…now, I could use a few extra lifetimes to do all the things that I wish I had years to devote to learning.

Tell us some interesting things that aren’t already covered?
I suppose that I don’t think of myself as interesting as such…but I do a lot of things that people seem to want to know about…I have lots and lots and lots of random information in my head and I typically don’t know why I know that particular thing.

Just for fun, can you give us a few random facts?
Random facts…I don’t usually have them until they are needed for whatever reason. They pop into my thoughts because of the conversation or circumstances.

Is there a question you wish I’d asked you?
I would have loved it if you asked what makes me useful in this world. I’ll answer that with I am helpful, love the planet and try not to make it worse, write little blurbs that make people think, and bring light to dark places.

I’m going to ask you to give some advice to problem solvers. Give us a for instance–you’re faced with something you don’t know how to do. What steps do you take to get it figured out?
Problem-solving involves getting to know why there is a problem in the first place and if it is, indeed, an actual problem. Once the problem is identified, I think of what I need to do to rearrange the circumstances that are contributing to the problem. Pointing out possible solutions is ok but helping a person to come up with their own solution is fabulous. The thing about problem-solving is that every single one of us can have what we think is a problem and solve it in just as many ways…with success. And then, learning from that problem is the cherry on top.

Tammy, thanks for being with us on the blog. Take care and God bless.

 

Ann Landers–Advice for Grade Schoolers Wanting to Date

Hello, friends!  Actual interviews will be returning to “Advice for Everyone” this Thursday, November 16.  In the meantime, enjoy some words of wisdom from the queen of advice, Miss Ann Landers!

Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.

Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.

Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life and repeat to yourself, the most comforting words of all; this, too, shall pass.

Keep in mind that the true measure of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good.

Nobody gets to live life backward. Look ahead, that is where your future lies.

At every party there are two kinds of people – those who want to go home and those who don’t. The trouble is, they are usually married to each other.

Nobody ever drowned in his own sweat.

If you marry a man who cheats on his wife, you’ll be married to a man who cheats on his wife.

Television has proved that people will look at anything rather than each other.

Sensual pleasures have the fleeting brilliance of a comet; a happy marriage has the tranquility of a lovely sunset.

Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life and repeat to yourself, the most comforting words of all; this, too, shall pass.

At age 20, we worry about what people think of us.  At age 40, we don’t care what they think of us.  At age 60, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.

Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head.

Blessed are they who hold lively conversations with the helplessly mute, for they shall be called dentists.

Thank you much, Ann.  Could you share with us an actual letter you’ve received?

DEAR ANN LANDERS: I have just graduated from grade school, and the boy I like is in the Army. He has written that he will be home on leave soon, but my mother forbids me to see him. I tried to explain that we just want to see a movie and will be home early. Mother says I can’t go and that I am too young to know what I am doing. Please help me. — E.V.

DEAR E.V.: If you “just graduated from grade school,” you are about 13 years old, Chicken. Uncle Sam needs men — you don’t. Listen to your mother; she is right. And about that boyfriend — his brains must be AWOL.

Thank you for being with us, Ann (0r Mrs. Eppie Lederer, I should say.)  Friends, take care and God bless.