Friday, May 7, 2010


I stumbled upon a couple of interesting facts regarding the brain today and couldn’t resist sharing them with my readers, along with my appropriate marks and remarks.

First, the human brain supposedly has around 70,000 thoughts on an average day. As I was thinking about that, a number of thoughts occurred to me.

One was to determine how many thoughts per second that would work out to be. Sixty seconds per minute. Sixty minutes per hour. Twenty-four hours per day. That breaks down to approximately 1-1/4 thoughts per second. Awake or asleep, that brain of yours is cranking out more than a thought per second. I’m making no judgment as to the worth of those thoughts, but I think I can safely say that the overwhelming majority of them are not worth remembering. Especially since, well, we don’t remember them.

And the ones we do remember? Yeah, those are not particularly that good either.

Another thought I had about so much thinking, was how they managed to arrive at that number. And I imagined a scenario like this.

Bob walks into The Brain Research on American’s with Independent Noesis Place (or The BRAIN Place).

“Hi Doc,” he says.

The Doctor, with two extra digits on each hand and a rather large forehead with a wickedly receding hairline replies, “Hi Bob. Ready to get started?”

“You betcha Doc. Let’s do it.”

“Alrighty Bob. In three. Two. One. Go!”

“There’s one. There’s another one. No, wait, there were two at once then. And I just had four or five while I was talking. Four. No, Five. Definitely Five. And there’s one. Another one. Another one. Whoops. Two back then. Now six. Another one. Anoth…”

“Oh crap, Bob. I lost count. We’ll have to start over. Ready? And, go!”

“That’s one. Ditto. Another one. Ooh, three at once. Two more. Oops. Missed a couple. Now another one.”

“Sorry, Bob. Lost count again. Let’s do it again. And ready? Go!”

And so it went. Hour after hour. Day after day. Until after the research money was about to dry up and they still hadn’t come to an accurate count. So between the two of them, they just guessed about 70,000, never really bothering to do any corresponding math.

I’m not saying it did happen that way, but my brain likes that story much better than one with a bunch of techno-babble and science stuff. I mean really. First you have to define what a thought is, then come up with the means to measure it. It’s so much easier to imagine Bob and the Doc just going at it.

The second interesting fact I stumbled upon regarding the brain, was that the average brain produces enough energy to light up a 25-watt bulb.

Of course, the first thing I thought of after reading that was, “Heck, I know people who can’t light a candle, much less a 25-watt light bulb.”

So let’s revisit The BRAIN Place to imagine how that discovery was made.

Again, Bob walks into the Doc’s office. Suddenly the lights go out and they’re trapped in pitch black darkness. (Of course, it was darkness, because one does not get thrown into pitch black lightness, silly.)

The Doc stumbles around disoriented in the darkness. A thought occurs to him. “Maybe if I change the light bulb, it won’t be so dark in here.” (I said it was a thought. Not necessarily a good one.)

He picks up a 25-watt bulb, and still disoriented, begins to screw it into what he thinks is the socket.

It flickers a bit then shines brightly.

It was only then that the Doc realized he had screwed it into Bob’s ear, making a connection to his brain.

Or they could have measured the energy that zips and zaps inside our heads and compared it to a light bulb and found it was similar.

But I like my story better.

So remember these tidbits the next time someone says to you, “A penny for your thoughts.”

Ask them if that’s for a minute’s worth of thoughts or the day’s? A minute will cost them 75-cents. The day’s worth will run them $700.

At least, I think my math is right.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


We were discussing the finer points of making great first impressions when my friend, Clay, brought up an unusual consideration.


“What?” a number of us said, almost in unison. “Cars?”

“Absolutely,” he said. “Look, anyone can clean up and dress up to make a good face-to-face impression. But look at the cars they drive up with, and you can tell a lot about the care and concern they may likely bring to a new job.”

Clay was a vice president of personnel and was actively involved in the interviewing process for hiring managers.

“I had one candidate who dressed sharp, looked right, and spoke well,” he continued. “I was ready to put him at the top of the list. After the interview I walked with him out to the parking lot and watched what car he got into. It was a late-model sedan, but it was speckled with bird crap, covered in dust, and the back seat was covered with fast-food wrappers. And on his bumper was a legalize cocaine sticker. Within seconds, he didn’t just drop to the bottom of the list, he dropped off.”

Clay went on to give a number of other examples of how the condition of the candidate’s vehicle raised or lowered his position on the hiring list.

My favorite story of his was the individual who, immediately after his interview, had been placed in the “middle of the pack” by Clay as a potential manager. His resume was good and he interviewed well enough. He had been out of work for about six months, but did not sound desperate. Clay described his clothes as old-ish but noticeably clean. His white shirt was freshly dry-cleaned and starched, and gave his general appearance a very sharp look, despite the age of his suit. His shoes were clean and polished. He gave a good enough first impression but nothing stellar.

Then they walked out to the parking lot.

“He got into a 15-year-old Ford,” Clay said. “It was cleaner and shinier than my two-year-old Lex. I stopped him before he drove off and asked where he had his car serviced. He told me he detailed it himself, and in that instant he rose to the top of my list.”

Clay ended up hiring him and, as it turns out, was one of his best hires ever.

Attention to detail. You never know what someone else is noticing, or how it can effect your life. Whether it’s a job interview, a first date or selling that faithful old clunker, you’re making an impression. Are you sure it’s the right one?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Thousands of helicopters landed in our back yard today.

Although we’re accustomed to seeing a lot during the annual event, today’s sighting was almost overwhelming. Mostly tan with some green ones thrown in, there were quite literally thousands that packed the landing site.

Oh, not the man-made helicopters. The seeds that fall from the maple trees, blown into an acrobatic frenzy at times, but mostly pirouetting gently into the soft blades of green grass.

When I was a kid, I would gather handfuls of them and throw them into the air, just to watch them spin back to the earth. The worries of the world didn’t matter. I lived in that moment, full of the wonder and joy of the annual spectacle.

And suddenly I found myself running around the back yard, gathering handful after handful of nature’s helicopters and throwing them by the hundreds back into the air to watch them flutter back to the earth.

For a moment again, I lost sight of the worries of the world and lived in that childlike innocence of joy.

Let us never forget to engage those moments, no matter how old or mature we get, or burdened by the things of this world. Throw up your arms, give a shout of “whoa” or “cool” and at least for a few minutes, jump in the jubilation of your youth.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


“How can you be so pretty but so stupid?” he asked.

I had just sat down and ordered my coffee when the guy in the booth behind me offered that pithy comment to his companion.

“I’m not stupid,” she said. “I just don’t think it’s so important.”

Since I was eavesdropping on their conversation, I didn’t really know about which subject they were conversing. But I was hoping to find out soon. Conflict is such an intriguing thing to observe.

“Not important,” he challenged. “That proves your stupid. Of course it’s important. I say it is important and you say it isn’t. If that doesn’t prove it is, then I don’t know what else to say.”

This guy's reasoning skills and logic were almost unbelievable. Except that I just heard it.

“Oh Rock,” she said. “Let’s just drop it. Are we still going to the movies tonight?”

His name is Rock, I thought. As in, dumb as a. How appropriate.

Their conversation veered off in small talk and I quickly lost interest in eavesdropping on them. I never did find out what it was that was so important, or maybe not. But I did realize a few things.

One. If you’re a moron, don’t try to prove you’re right by essentially saying, “because I said so.” You don't want people to think of you when they hear the old saying, “It’s better to be silent and thought a fool, than to open your mouth and prove it.” (Variations on this saying have been attributed to many people, from Aristotle to Galileo to Ben Franklin to Abe Lincoln, and others.)

Two. If you want to develop a strong and healthy relationship with your girlfriend (or boyfriend), try not to ask questions like, “How can you be so stupid?” It begs to be answered with something like, “Because I thought you’d appreciate conversation at your level.”

Three. If you’re going to use a nickname like Rock, try not to be as dumb as one. The jokes are just too easy. Instead, try something like Tenebrous. You’ll have a gladiator-sounding name and most people won’t know that your thinking process is dark and gloomy. It’s a win-win.

Monday, May 3, 2010



Her scream tore through the air, shrill and angry, shattering the din of traffic noise.

“Mom,” she screamed again, even angrier and louder. “My bike fell down. Come pick it up!”

Her mother’s plaintive voice called out, “Coming Princess, coming.”

“Hurry,” she said, still screaming, still angry and still loud. “I wanna go riding some more!”

“I’m coming honey,” her mother said, as she hurried to pick up her daughter’s bike.

“Why does it always take you so long,” her daughter asked rhetorically, the disgust dripping from her face like so much soured ice cream.

“Sorry Princess,” her mother said tiredly, “I was in the middle of something.”

“You’re always in the middle of something,” the angry little princess moaned, and rode off.

“Sorry Princess,” her mother quietly said again, more to herself than to anyone else, and headed back into the house.

I wondered what happened between the day her daughter was born and years later that turned her little girl into such a demanding demoness of darkness.

And I wondered if the mother had ever read the poem by Dorothy Law:

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn…
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight…
If a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive…
If a child lives with pity, he learns to feel sorry for himself…
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy…
If a child lives with jealousy, he learns to feel guilt…
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient…
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident…
If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative…
If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love…
If a child lives with honesty, he learns what truth is…
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice…
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith in himself and those about him…
If a child lives with friendliness, he learns the world is a nice place in which to live.
With what is your child living?