Sunday, January 26, 2014

Updated Humor Short

Read or reread the updated account of two ol' classics of the ol' west on the Humor Shorts page. Scroll down to the story "Two Likely Friends" for some history.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

8 days for Success

Your success is accomplishing what matters most to you. Here are some things we can all think about while reaching for those goals.

Day 4 of 8

We all have warm fuzzy daydreams about where we want to be in our lives.

It's important to know the difference between a daydream and a real path to success. A daydream stops at just that until actual action is taken for it to become reality. A daydreamer can hate their job or their current position in life and name specific ways in which it should or it could be better. Anyone can do that.

It takes the motivated mind and body to turn those fantastic visions into specific manageable goals to reach in order to make the dreams a reality. As cliche as all this sounds, it is true that real results you can bask in come only from hard work.

Motivational moment: Many visions for a better life stem from the want of more freedom. There is an area of your life that is holding you back from what you really want, and there is a way to eliminate that force working against you. Make it your priority to break free.

Waste no time and get on it.

Friday, January 24, 2014

8 Days for Success

Your success is accomplishing what matters most to you. Here are some things we can all think about while reaching for those goals.

Day 3 of 8

Change is coming, don't resist.

Depending on how you read that, it could mean different things. Someone might see "is" and think it's meant as a fortune message saying their hard times are about over. It could mean that. But I'm not a fortune teller, so that is not what it's supposed to mean. It's as objective and as "just-the-facts" as I can say it.

Changes will come in your personal life and in your career. It's in human nature and it's in nature itself. Change is coming no matter what. Think of how change affects people who use it to their advantage. A surfer or skier sees change in every wave and every bend, and they ride it the way they're supposed to. And they grow stronger because of it.

A success oriented person realizes the outside changes and is not afraid to adapt. If you're currently considering yourself successful, change can mean bad news, but it doesn't have to. If you're currently considering yourself unsuccessful, change can mean anything, but you need to focus on how change can bring you good fortune.

Motivational moment: Think about what changes you see over your horizon, and how they will affect you. Start a plan now to use those changes to your advantage. Instead of change causing anxiety, figure out how change can be fun.

Waste no time and get on it.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

8 Days for Success

Your success is accomplishing what matters most to you. Here are some things we can all think about while reaching for those goals.

Day 2 of 8

Greatness does not doubt itself.

On the road to success, don't be slowed by hanging up ideas because of doubt. If you're immersed in what you're truly passionate about and you have ideas to take to new levels, follow your instinct. Your gut will usually not steer you wrong even when outside pressures or ideas say otherwise.

Acknowledge any areas of weakness you might have and be willing to accept that you might make mistakes. It's a scary thought, but use any wrong moves to charge forward optimistically knowing that you can use that knowledge to become even stronger.

Motivational moment: Some forces, whether right or wrong, have the power to charge forward, whether in one swift surge, or in steady trickle, like the source of a stream. Why not you? Find your way of moving forward.

Waste no time and get  on it.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

8 Days for Success

Your success is accomplishing what matters most to you. Here are some things we can all think about while reaching for those goals.

Day 1 of 8

Don't be limited by forces outside your control.

What is somebody else's fault, really, when it come to you reaching your goals?

  • The economy: We don't get to choose which economy to achieve our goals in. Approach your goals using a plan to overcome whatever obstacles hinder you. Know that people have risen from worse backgrounds.
  • Your boss: A narrow-minded boss who enjoys having the last word feels like a suffocating weight. Don't let the rejections from a boss deter you from taking risks, learning new skills, and becoming the best in your field, or becoming better than your boss could have ever hoped for, or can afford.
  • Your field: Some industries are more difficult than others to rise to the top, or even earn a sustainable living. The times are changing for a lot of fields and I've got news. The times are always changing and successful people throughout the world's history have learned to not only adapt with changes, but used creative ways to stay ahead of the curve.
Anything worth doing in this life has its challenges. The harder the work, the more glorious the satisfaction. Those forces "outside your control" may actually be within your power to make a difference.

Motivational moment: Think about what challenge seems the most unattainable, and imagine standing on top of the obstacle knowing that it is no longer holding you back.
Waste no time and get on it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Humor Short

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It’s a shameless act to ask people out on the street for their money, and the only way to make up for it is if you actually trick them into handing over some money.

But my boss and I disapprove of this, still. “That’s why I opened my own business,” he said. “But I guess I’m just too proud to ask for money.”

From where we stood on the corner slinging hotdogs and asking for people’s money, we could see Homeless Huey begging people for their hard earned coin. Or “gas money” as my boss Pete put it.

Pete always compared money to gasoline prices. He watched gas prices all day and always knew how much it cost in case anybody asked him. And as the price of gas went up, my pay went up.

“You’re going to need this raise,” he’d say. “Or soon I’ll be hearing from you saying, ‘I can’t afford to come into work today because gas is too high’.” He’d look at me and shake his head in disbelief of what I might say.

That was another thing. He could always work calculations in his head faster than anybody I knew. On payday he would hand me my earnings and say something like, “You could get halfway to Holland with that.” His comparisons would be slightly off sometimes, but that’s probably because he calculated so fast.

We did especially well in tips one day and he handed me a little bonus and said, “This here oughtta get you across the Mississippi.”

Again, he was wrong, but I didn’t let it bother me because it rarely affected what I actually did with the money. I wasn’t going across the Mississippi; I was just going to pay some bills. On those occasions that I was going to drive somewhere all I had to do was mention it and he would look across the street at the price of gas and figure, “You’ll never make it halfway there, kid. Not with what I pay you.” And then he’d spot me some cash from the company’s funds.

He always had extra money, he said, because we worked a hotdog stand and people were always hungry. “And they always will be hungry,” Pete said. “The business model is a foolproof scheme. We don’t gotta be too savvy and business will always come our way.”

That’s why, with a buck being so easy to make, he despised seeing Huey’s handouts. “You won’t catch me out there asking for people’s gas money. That is unless I trade a hotdog for it.”

Pete, on his high horse, turned hotdogs into a commodity that people were willing to pay good gas money for. “Don’t use cheap carney tricks to grab people’s attention. Simply make conversation and hotdogs practically sell themselves, sometimes.”

He’d say, “You could get three or four hotdogs for the measly price of a gallon of gas. That’s enough to feed the wife, the kids and the mistress.”

Some people would get offended and say, “Mistress?”

“Woah, buddy,” he’d shrug in defense. “You’ve come to the wrong street corner for that. We only sell hotdogs.”

Pete never meant any harm by his words. He just liked to make conversation was all. Say a customer would leave a tip. Pete might peer into the jar and say, “Ha! I couldn’t even drive myself to the bus stop with that amount.” Or if it was good, he’d say, “Thanks! This is enough to get me to the park. I was going there after work anyway.”

But sometimes he’d have most of the conversation in his head which left his customer confused or embarrassed. “Ha!” He’d blush. “Why would you want to send me over there?” And he’d give a nod of his chin in some direction.

Sales started to slip that summer. We knew something in the business model had to change but we weren’t sure what. My boss had identified the problem when gas prices went through the roof. “People are spending too much on gas,” he said. “I can’t blame them since people need gas to survive.”

When walk up business got really slow, he handed me my pay and said, “I’m sorry, this isn’t even enough to get you through two states.”

I hadn’t a clue which states he was referring to and again, it didn’t matter.

One day he got to thinking out loud and he concluded that there were more important things than gas. “A person needs food too,” he said. “Sorry I can’t give you a little extra gas money this month, but here are a couple hotdogs to take home.”

Actually, gas prices did start to take a toll on my finances, so I took the hotdogs. And this is how I knew I was pinched for cash because I was grateful for the hotdogs and I hate hotdogs.

He knew I didn’t like hotdogs but he also knew that he didn’t have anything else to offer me. So he started to talk up the hotdogs. He made them sound like the most tasty thing in the world and that anybody was happy to have one.

I should have seen the warning signs. When he started supplementing my pay with hotdogs, I should have known the company was in trouble. He respected me too much, I think, to keep trying to manipulate me into thinking the hotdogs were greater than they were.

He told me, straight up, that I was doing the company a favor by accepting some hotdogs as a form of payment and things would turn around soon. After a while, though, he quit asking me to take hotdogs as a favor and he just started paying me in hotdogs regularly. He’d hand me an envelope with maybe half my wages in cash and there’d just be some hotdogs stuffed in as well.

But gas prices continued to rise and so did the number of hotdogs he’d give me to take home. I protested when my fridge actually started filling up with hotdogs I couldn’t eat.

He told me that the hot dogs were like money and I called him a liar. “No, they really are,” he said. “Hotdogs are like money in that they need to be circulated to be of any value.” He asked me what good was my money if it just sat at home in the fridge. “You need to turn your money into something you use, like gas.”

And that made sense to me, but I didn’t understand the conversion rate. Pete couldn’t clear up the conversion confusion either.

One morning during a particularly low point in the sales slump, we opened with no cash in the register and, sure enough, the first customer had only double what he owed for his hotdogs “With all the trimmings,” he said. So I felt bad about treating a high spender with such unprofessionalism.

Pete counted at the money and handed the man a handful of hotdogs fresh out of the cooker.

“What is this?” The man asked. “I don’t want more hotdogs, certainly not ones without all the trimmings.”

“It’s your change,” Pete smiled.

The man, less than ecstatic, said, “Keep it.” And he tossed them back in the tip jar and left.

Pete and I looked at each other excited at the generosity. “Say!” Pete said. “We can use these to sell again.” And he put them back in the cooking pan.

He slapped the counter, excited about the ideas he had running through his head. “We’ve been short changing ourselves,” he said. He had this idea that if the man bought two hotdogs and he gave us double the money, instead of giving him two hotdogs in return, we gave him a whole handful. And in his generous tip of all his leftover hotdogs, did we not, in the long run, stand to profit from such a model?

“Indeed,” he said. “It goes back to the old proverb that a hotdog in the bucket is worth two in the wallet.” I wasn’t sure that he didn’t lose his mind until he went on to explain. “Truth be told, the hotdog currency has taken a hit during this gas crisis. Hotdogs are now worth more as a consumable than as a currency. People just aren’t investing in hotdogs the way they used to.”

He was right. I took my bag of hotdogs to the gas station in the same way I used to take my cash. I asked the clerk exactly what the conversion rate was and they didn’t sell me any gas that day. It was going to take a while to get used to spending hotdogs, which surprised me.

In the meantime, the slow business wasn’t helping. And the customers we did have, I found myself haggling over hotdog prices. What was once an easy dollar to make turned exhausting. I fell asleep at the cart for what couldn’t have been more than two hours when I awoke to the cart on blocks. All four wheels were stolen.

I don’t know if it was all just coincidence or if that particular incident was just the beginning domino in a string of bad luck the hotdog company faced. But shortly thereafter, we ran dry on ketchup and he didn’t have the funds to replace it. That’s where my creative problem solving nearly saved our business from the red. We took our last bottle and started mixing in mustard to make our ketchup last longer and keep up appearances. As we needed to mix more mustard in our patrons took a liking to the new flavor because we saw a small spike in sales when our mix was running around 50/50. Of course Huey was doing better than usual at collecting handouts and was buying a lot more hotdogs, but we wouldn’t attribute all our success to Huey’s good fortune. “It’s a matter of principle,” Pete always said.

Pete’s lawyer stopped by the stand one day. “Hello,” Pete exclaimed and introduced me. “This guy has enough gas money to go to Europe, and still have enough to pick up hitch...”

The lawyer cut him off and started lecturing him on whatever he had used to pay his most recent installment. The lawyer said he couldn’t work for those types of payments, so he gave him a nickels worth of free advice. But Pete had no idea what a nickel was anymore. He had already started cutting hotdogs into little pieces and using that as change. The lawyer’s advice was to shut down the business.

Pete started lecturing the lawyer on how the price of hotdogs was about to skyrocket and what kind of business man would he be if he closed his cart on blocks right before the boom? But the lawyer wasn’t listening. Instead he was walking away slowly, doing things like checking his watch and awkwardly looking over his shoulder like someone might be waiting on him.

I didn’t really understand Pete’s lecture but I knew it was good because at the end I saw him do what I thought I’d never see anyone with so much hotdogs do.

He cried.

He clearly had some complex emotions that needed worked out and I knew I was the only one in town Pete really trusted. So as he started to open up I left in the same way the lawyer did. With Pete’s voice growing quieter in the distance I picked up speed.

I went home jobless but having gained wisdom from the experience. I opened the fridge full of hotdogs and knew I had to liquidate my assets. I started selling – selling all my goods for hot dogs. I kept only a change of clothes and a duffle bag to keep my hotdogs. I didn’t trust them in a bank. My attitude was if a bank didn’t want my hotdogs they couldn’t have them anyway.

It is a little overwhelming to be standing with such a large bag of so many profits. Here I stand, with a big bag of hotdogs I once never dreamt I’d be holding. The only thing that doesn’t add up is, with no car and no reason to worry about gas money, why do I feel so broke?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Humor Short

By Joe Pflueger

Let me take you to an enchanting forest where you could probably picture mythical beasts wondering around doing some stuff. It’s a great wilderness where one can look at the trees and envision a magnificent table or awe-inspiring two-by-fours being made. Beautiful, right?

But this story is of a beast you only thought was a myth. It’s about bears. To prove bears exist let’s look at the grizzly – scientific name: Ursus arctos horribilis.

Horribilis is Latin meaning “big ugly bear,” probably. We know little of the world of the big ugly bear. To help us understand we meet Fred, a big ugly biologist.

It was Fred who told me the bear was “mythical.” He said, “It’s a wonderful, magestical creature.” Ooh, magestical. “No, MAJESTIC.” Ooh, majestic.

I went back-and-forth on how I wanted to introduce you to the bear. I wondered, to myself, if I should introduce you the same way I was introduced, which was when I was young, being exposed to a cartoon of a bear singing and dancing in the woods. After viewing that shocking video, I said to myself, that could never happen.

Fred thinks maybe that is why I believed bears to be myth. Fred likes to introduce the bear by taking you to the source.

Watch Fred as he ambles along the hillside of prime bear habitat. Identify him by his furry beard and face. Just as a bear does, he overturns rocks and he searches their food sources to better understand their place in the wild. He holds his nose to the wind and catches our scent – as a bear would.

In one swift motion, Fred is on his hind legs and shows us his massive claws like those of an old man who has not clipped his claws, but only sharpened them. It’s not until he gives us this disappointed look, like we aren’t what he’s expecting, that we realize this is not Fred at all, but some class of an animal that we can’t be sure of.

Fred must be back at the office doing some science. By studying the bear – what it eats for instance – we gain important insights into its livelihood. Watching the bear eat, we can compare it, metaphorically, to ourselves. Since the bear eats about anything, if we were the bear, the world would be our all-day buffet.

Fred tells us that before human intervention: from the Arctic Ocean down to Mexico the great bear used to wonder aimlessly, but our modern ancestors were able to fix that. Now the bear wonders only in designated areas.

The grizzly of today survives only because we allow it and we can hold this fact over its head, kind of. The next time we come face-to-face with a grizzly we will taunt him with this historical fact and watch him clamor even though Fred says it’s not a good idea.

We have labeled the bear many things over the centuries from "caveman assassinator" to "tourist taste tester" and finally the "insane circus bear on his crazy ball." But the bear has always labeled us as a sort of “audacious” creature.

But I ask the bear, who is audacious? The civilized man with a camera, luring animals with steak on a string, and other fancy gizmos like my mammoth-sized tazer; or the one who goes around acting like an animal all day?

Fred says to question the bear on trivial matters is pointless and that we should listen to the bear. What? Whenever Fred hears the cry of a bear, he responds with his best imitation in low bellows and grunts. I see no indication that the animal understands, but I think Fred thinks they appreciate the sentiment. Whatever, Fred. This leads me to question his legitimacy as a scientist.

Fred does all this for the bear, but what has the bear done for us? Aside from give us a life-long nemesis to fear.

Even today, the bear stands as a symbol of the wild parts of the world. In its shroud of dangerous spirits, the bear is glamorized. It is romanticized by human portrayals of the wild beast attacking and showing its aggressive nature.

I think we might portray romanticizing better if we drew a bear at a fine dining table. By the gentle glow of a fire we see the bear with a rose and a playful smile, which makes us nervous of its seductive ways. Maybe it’s the warm glass of wine, but we haven’t felt this romanced in a long time.

But that wouldn’t be the bear we know. Instead, the bear reminds us more of my aunt Hilda, who, like a bear, can sleep the winter blues away in a dark den where she can spend winter’s entirety for all we care, surviving off nothing but her fat reserves from an autumn of gorging.

Scientists do not disturb the bear for a fear, probably, the same way we fear disturbing Aunt Hilda’s winter slumber. They do not want to be met with a wild-eyed beast that is cranky from only being half-way through her months of sleep and she has a powerful morning breath.

The spring bear will emerge when she’s ready. She’ll wake from winter hibernation looking at us like we’re a T-bone and, on the side, a baked potato dripping with butter. What the bear doesn’t realize is that we’re not a T-bone – that was only our nickname in college. But she may realize the baked potato is real, and that’s our own fault. We shouldn’t carry butter slathered baked potatoes in bear country. This point is reiterated when the bear charges.

What people don’t realize is that nine-out-of-ten charges the bear is only joking. The bear sees how frightened we are then turns and laughs, satisfied. This, of course, angers us because nobody scares us in that way but our aunt, Hilda.

Grizzlies are content to joke charge, probably, because they will eat about anything in the woods, their favorite – a nice salmon, which they eat raw and without any regard for decency. If they tried eating like that at my mom’s table it would be my sister who would scold the bear, but the bear would never understand.

I guess the bear has it pretty good. All except the polar bear, maybe. It’s an animal that you’ve never seen equaled in its sheer content to live in a land of vast icescapes. Man needs more than ice. This major difference is probably why man and polar bear don’t get along. As far as we can see, the polar bear has nothing to look forward to. Socially, it has nothing going on.

In the polar bear’s struggle to maintain a foothold in this vast land of ice water you might be asking yourself, what makes the polar bear think it’s all worth it? But under closer observation, the polar can be seen on the ice, locked with a seal, in an epic game of peek-a-boo.

They are the largest of the bear family, so they have that going for them. But they have humans to thank. Their diet of people makes them big and gives them that shiny coat. It’s their will for maintaining good looks versus our will of turning up the heat in that cold wasteland. But when the ice is gone, the polar bear will be gone. We humans can adapt to change where the polar bear cannot. So I guess, in the end, we win.

It’s a harsh environment for bears to raise themselves in. For mating rights, adult males will fight and argue over who gets the first girl they see. After a brutal fight, to the victor goes his female prize. In reality, he won a girlfriend who reminds me of my aunt, Hilda, and that makes us shudder and want to close our eyes to the world of the bear.

With the curiosity of a child, the hairiness of a hobo and the claws of a mad woman, we have to tell ourselves: we’ll never understand the world of the bear.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The knight returned to his lord with some particularly unbelievable news, to which the lord responded, "Jest, for this knight, surly, does when he cometh before me with this news?"

To that, the knight responded, "Jest, I do not, and call on me not as Surly."