What Value Are Tongue-Twisters?

"The Epitome Of Femininity" The picture is of model, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, taken on Feb. 9, 1999 by Marion Curtis.

What are tongue-twisters? Generally, tongue-twisters are phrases that are sensical, but difficult to articulate.

What value are tongue-twisters? Well, if we want to improve articulation, then saying something that is difficult to articulate should be helpful. Saying tongue twisters to improve articulation is analogous to lifting weights to improve strength.

Colin Firth: “She sifted seven thick-stalked thistles through a strong thick sieve.”

Tongue-twisters were brought to the forefront recently when The King’s Speech won the 2011 Academy Award for best picture and Colin Firth won as best actor for his role as Prince Albert, who became King George VI. In the movie, as well as in real-life, Firth’s character used tongue-twisters as part of his therapy to overcome a stammer. Here’s a tongue-twister that was used in the therapy for Prince Albert. “She sifted seven thick-stalked thistles through a strong thick sieve.” Does that seem like fun? :-)

Before going any further into the search for the value of tongue-twister, let’s have some fun with them. Besides fun, we can also help ourselves become better at articulating while saying them. Fun articulating to improve articulation! Wow!

Here are a few short ones to warm us up.

Great Greek Grapes!


Red lorry, yellow lorry

Unique New York

Greek grapes

The epitome of femininity

Which wristwatches are Swiss wristwatches?

Supposedly, the toughest little tongue-twister in the english language is:

“the sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.”

What do you think?

Some well-known tongue-twisters are “short poems.”

The skunk thunk the stump stunk!


A skunk sat on a stump and thunk the stump stunk, but the stump thunk the skunk stunk.

Imagine an imaginary menagerie manager imagining managing an imaginary menagerie.

She stood on the balcony, inexplicably mimicking him hiccoughing, and amicably welcoming him home.

Some can be a little “dirty.”

I slit the sheet, the sheet I slit; and on the slitted sheet I sit.

One smart fellow; he felt smart. Two smart fellows; they felt smart. Three smart fellows; they all felt smart.

Some “well-known ones” are from longer poems.

She sells seashells by the seashore. The shells she sells are surely seashells. So if she sells shells on the seashore, I'm sure she sells seashore shells. (Painting is by Renoir - By The Seashore)


Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled peppers?
If Peter Piper Picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
If a woodchuck could chuck wood?
He would chuck, he would, as much as he could,
And chuck as much as a woodchuck would
If a woodchuck could chuck wood.

Mr. See owned a saw.
And Mr. Soar owned a seesaw.
Now, See’s saw sawed Soar’s seesaw
Before Soar saw See,
Which made Soar sore.
Had Soar seen See’s saw
Before See sawed Soar’s seesaw,
See’s saw would not have sawed
Soar’s seesaw.
So See’s saw sawed Soar’s seesaw.
But it was sad to see Soar so sore
just because See’s saw sawed
Soar’s seesaw. 

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck If a woodchuck could chuck wood?


What value, besides helping us improve articulation, are tongue-twisters? I can think of three good possibilities that could be useful when there is no pressing need to improve articulation.

Teaching poetry to children is one value of tongue-twisters. They serve as attention grabbers and help children to keep their focus on the lesson.

When learning another language, tongue-twisters may help. They force the mind to concentrate on pronunciation.

Perhaps the greatest value is having fun with language.” Learning is a joyous and fulfilling experience. Tongue-twisters can make it “funner.” (more fun:-)

How about a tongue-twisting comment from you?

Is “Incorrect” English Ever Correct English?

Is this incorrect English?

I sent the following e-mail to some friends and relatives that contained a joke of which the humor was based on the way someone spelled and pronounced a name. The joke was sent to me by someone I knew only by name. My e-mail to my friends and relatives was designed to encourage a response to the joke that focused on the importance of using “correct English” and provided different points of view for this posting.

The English Royal Navy Flag. (Is this correct English?:-)

First, here’s the e-mail I sent with the joke.


How To Pronounce Le-a

Hello All,

I received the following recently and was wondering what you thought of it. I have been thinking about doing a blog posting on “Is ‘Incorrect’ English Ever Correct English?”

Many of you, over the past few years, have expressed to me your feelings and/or thoughts regarding this. Sometimes you have criticized, made fun, joked, snarled, laughed, etc.

I’m wondering if you have any strong feelings about the “incorrect use of English.”

Please share, if you care.  :-)


The Joke

How would you pronounce this child’s name? “Le-a”

"If they 'axe' you, tell them you're a hammer!"


Leah??        NO 
       Lee – A??            NOPE 
        Lay – a??             NO 
        Lei??                    Guess Again.  

This child attends a school in Detroit, MI.. Her mother is irate because everyone is getting her name wrong.  It’s pronounced “Ledasha”, When the Mother was asked about the pronunciation of the name, she said, “the dash don’t be silent.”  

SO, if you see something come across your desk like this please remember to pronounce the dash.   If they axe you why, tell them the dash don’t be silent.


OK, I’m sure you can see an element of sensitivity in the joke. Some of my friends immediately said that the joke was from a racist. Of course, they thought that since the child attends school in Detroit, MI and “ask” was pronounced as “axe,” that a reasonable implication is the mother and child are black. I’m not sure that is a fair implication, but I do see the possibility. Having stated that, there was a hidden reason for me to ask my friends and relatives for a response.

Is this correct English?

You see, I’m guilty of purposely using incorrect English for the title of my blog. I have chosen to name this blog R2 Thoughts 4U and I know the title is not “correct English.” Or, is it?

As you might imagine, I have a reason for the title this blog. Let me explain. “R2” is for Ron Rogers. “Thoughts” are what I focus on when writing for the blog. “4” has two different meanings. First, the “4” is for “for.” :-) Second, the “4” is for the cardinal number four. How am I using it as the cardinal number four, you asked? Well, the “thoughts” I am expressing in the blog are presented in four ways: questions, possible answers to the questions, hyper-text links, and pictures. Therefore, R2 Thoughts 4U means that Ron Rogers is presenting thoughts in four different ways for you!

What did "astronaut" mean in 1940?

I think the mother in the joke and I are guilty of the same incorrect use of the English language. That is assuming we are incorrectly using the language. Perhaps we are simply using the language in a creative way.:-)

In 1940, what did the word “astronaut” mean? In 1950, what did the word “software” mean? In 1960, what did “e-mail” mean? In 1970, what did “AIDS” mean? In 1980, what did “www” mean? In 1990, what did “blog” mean? And how do you pronounce, Web 2.0? I’ll bet you say “web 2 point oh” and not “web 2 and zero tenths.”  Ok, ok, I’m sure you see my point. We are constantly inventing new “words” and new ways to write and pronounce words. Perhaps R2 Thoughts 4U and Le-a are examples.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that my maternal grandfather pronounced “ask” as “axe.” No, he wasn’t black, but a white man who immigrated from Copenhagen, Denmark and spoke with a strong Danish accent. He also spoke incorrect English (i.e. the dash don’t be silent). If the joke had used the word father instead of mother and if my mother’s name was Le-a instead of Lola, then it could have been about my family. :-)

How about a creative comment.

What’s Easy In The Big Easy?


Note to reader: All pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them and many words/phrases are linked to other sites, therefore allowing you an easy way to find more relevant information.

What’s easy in the Big Easy? My wife and I spent three days and nights in New Orleans recently. While there, I couldn’t get out of my mind the words “Big Easy” and how/why it describes New Orleans. So, I went on a search for easy in the Big EasyThis post is meant to be an easy-going semi-pictorial web log of our easy visit to the Big Easy. :-)

What's Easy In The Big Easy? Well, it's easy to get an alcoholic drink. :-)

Why is New Orleans called the Big Easy? This is an euphemism for New Orleans, like the Crescent City, that is attributed to Betty Guillaud, a gossip columnist for the Times Picayune. She coined the euphemism in the ’70s as a term of endearment and an answer to the then I Love New York City hype. Guillaud proclaimed: “If it’s the Big Apple for New York, then New Orleans is the ‘Big Easy,’ where everything is slower, simpler and easy-going.”

The Big Easy offers many balconies for easy viewing of the Big Easy. Here's my lovely wife "easily" celebrating Mardi Gras the day after Fat Tuesday.

It’s easy to walk in the Big Easy, especially if you are near the French Quarter.

It's easy to walk in the French Quarter in the morning.

It’s easy to walk because the streets are too narrow for much traffic.

It's easy to walk in the French Quarter in the afternoon.

It’s easy to walk UNLESS there’s a lot of foot traffic – very common in the evening.

It's NOT as easy to walk in the French Quarter at night! :-)

The streetcar is a nice, convenient and easy way to see the Big Easy.

It's easy to see many of the sights using the St. Charles streetcar.

The Big Easy has lots of good restaurants located in buildings with great architecture and easy to get to. Commander’s Palace, a nice restaurant in the Garden District, is very popular for its food and ambience.

It's easy to visit the premier restaurant, Commander's Place, in the Garden District.

The Big Easy seldom buries its dead! They can’t dig deep enough without “hitting” water and therefore, literally have Cities Of The Dead.

It's easy to find a place to NOT be buried.

Some of the beautiful houses in the Garden District are popular with celebrities.

It's easy to find where celebrities live - for example, this is Sandra Bullock's house.

The Big Easy is cultural and academic!

It's easy to find a major park (Audubon Park) across the street from two major universities (Tulane and Loyola).

Art is everywhere in the Big Easy!

It's easy to find women in the park. :-)

The Big Easy is the “Big Ending” of one of the biggest rivers in the world – The Mississippi. The river literally runs through it!

It's easy to see the big easy Mississippi.

Besides being a major port for ocean-going vessels, it also has big riverboats.

It's easy to find a big boat to float the Mississippi.

The Big Easy isn’t a gamble for a good time, but you can gamble.:-)

It's easy to lose money in the Big Easy! :-)

The Big Easy is a great place to tour.

It's easy to people watch.

The Big Easy is known for it coffee shops that serve chicory coffee and beignets. Cafe du Monde was established in 1862 and is very popular.

It's easy to find good coffee and beignets in the Big Easy.

The Big Easy tends to provide good service to visitors.

It's easy to get good service in Cafe du Monde.

Jackson Square, in which sits the St. Louis Cathedral, is a popular spot for tourists in the Big Easy.

It's easy to look at the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral.

The Big Easy always has great jazz performances. Jeremy Davenport, from University City, MO, is featured at The Ritz-Carlton on the edge of the French Quarter.

It's easy to find a University City jazz musician (Jeremy Davenport) with a lounge named after him in the Big Easy Ritz.

In the Big Easy, jazz is not only played, but also performed. :-) Here’s Jeremy Davenport with his current band in his lounge at the Ritz.

It's easy to attend a free jazz performance by Jeremy Davenport.

Many restaurants in the Big Easy offer second floor balcony seating. It’s a great place to have a Po’ Boy and people watch.

It's easy to eat Po-Boys sandwiches on the balcony at a river-view cafe.

The Big Easy is known for its Cajun and Zydeco culture. Is easy to find the music of the culture performed.

It's easy to find a Cajun/Zydeco live band performance.

In the French Quarter of the Big Easy there seems to be a parade a day. There are parades for special days and many second line parades.

It's always easy to find a parade.

The people of the Big Easy called Katrina what they thought she was and then slipped back into their big easy lives. :-)

It's easy to see what the Big Easy thinks of Katrina. :-)

So, what’s easy in the Big Easy? Now, that’s an easy question! Look above. :-)

May I Amuse Your Mind With Mind-Musings?

A Mind-Musing: "Imagine having no imagination!"

Do you enjoy mind-musings? Perhaps, you might want to know what mind-musings are. You see, I’ve received quite a few e-mails during the past two years that have had in their titles the hyphenated word, “mind-musing(s).

I did a post last November, where I asked the question: “Do You Like Paraprosdokian Statements? A paraprosdokian statement is a statement(s) where the latter part of the statement(s) is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. Many of the mind-musings I’ve read are either paraprosdokian or “close” to it.

So, what are mind-musings? In this case, they are statements that amuse or muse the mind and MAY be paraprosdokian. And, how do you know if your mind has been amused or mused? Well, only if you have been pleasurably occupied or thoughtfully detained. I hope these do just that – occupy your mind in a pleasurable manner OR detain you in a thoughtful way. :-)

Here are some of the “mind-musings.” Enjoy!

I planted some bird seed. A bird came up. Now I don't know what to feed it.

I planted some bird seed.  A bird came up.  Now I don’t know what to feed it.

I had amnesia once — or twice.

Why can’t we park on a parkway?

I went to San Francisco.  I found someone’s heart. Now what?

Protons have mass?  I didn’t even know they were Catholic.

All I ask is a chance to prove that money can’t make me happy.

If the world was a logical place, men would be the ones who ride horses side-saddle.

What is a “free” gift?  Aren’t all gifts free?

They told me I was gullible and I believed them.

Teach a child to be polite and courteous in the home and, when he grows up, he’ll never be able to merge his car onto the freeway.

My weight is perfect for my height -- which varies.


Experience is the thing you have left when everything else is gone.

One nice thing about egotists:  they don’t talk about other people.

My weight is perfect for my height — which varies.

I used to be indecisive.  Now I’m not sure.

The cost of living hasn’t affected its popularity..

How can there be self-help “groups”?

If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

Show me a man with both feet firmly on the ground, and I’ll show you a man who can’t get his pants off.

Is it my imagination, or do buffalo wings taste like chicken?

Imagine having no imagination!

Do You Need Some Good Ideas For How To Be Successful In An Academic Classroom?


Do You Need Some Good Ideas For How To Be Successful In An Academic Classroom?

PREFACE: Though, I don’t think I’m necessarily some outstanding “guru” on how to guarantee success for students in a classroom, I do think the fact that I’m a retired school teacher who has thought and taught a great deal regarding this subject, gives some validity to my “expertise.” Wow, what a long sentence! :-)

The photograph shows Lady Bird Johnson, the First Lady, reading to children enrolled in Project Head Start at Kemper School in Washington, DC.

The photograph shows Lady Bird Johnson, the First Lady, reading to children enrolled in Project Head Start at Kemper School in Washington, DC. 03/19/1966


Recently, there has been a lot of media coverage about teachers, schools and/or education. Most of the coverage has been about financing education and changing the way teachers are valued. At least, that’s the way I view it. Jon Stewart, on the Daily Show, did a spoof on the subject. Stewart, in a sarcastic manner, demonstrated how those responsible for teaching young Americans are valued as compared to Wall Street.

So, America seems to be in a big debate about how to improve education by getting rid of bad teachers, decrease teachers’ benefits and cut-back on job security. I’m not going to enter the debate, but instead, provide some ideas on how to be successful in the classroom.

The following ideas directly address the student who is taking a class taught by a teacher. As schools cut teachers, cut pay for teachers and cut courses offered, the teachers will undoubtedly have less time and incentive to individually work with each student. Hopefully,  The Dozen Ideas For Classroom Success that I have listed below will help the student to learn how to learn in a classroom. Feel free to share and please do care for those that help our children learn.

The Dozen Ideas For Classroom Success

Become an active learner. Be prepared to work ideas into your thinking by ACTIVE reading, writing, speaking, and listening.


1) Make sure you thoroughly understand the requirements of the course, how it will be taught, and what will be expected of you. After reading the syllabus, etc. and actively listening to the explanations your instructor gives regarding the course of study, ask questions about the grading policy and for advice on how best to prepare for the class.

2) Become an active learner. Be prepared to work ideas into your thinking by ACTIVE reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

3) As you study the subject taught in your course, think of it as a form of thinking. (For example, in a History class, one of your main goals should be to think historically.)

4) Become a questioner. Engage yourself in lectures, discussions, reading, listening, and all other mental activities of the class by asking questions. Questions reflect an active mind. Your questions do not need to be asked orally and do not need to be answered by anyone other than you. If you don’t ask questions, you will probably not discover what you do and do not know.

Think of yourself as a team member trying to practice the thinking exemplified by your instructor.

5) Look for interconnections. The content of any class is always a SYSTEM of interconnected ideas, never a random list of things to memorize. Don’t memorize like a parrot. Study like a detective, always relating new learning to previous learning.

6) Think of your instructor as your coach. Think of yourself as a team member trying to practice the thinking exemplified by your instructor. For example, in a mathematics class, think of yourself as going out for the math team and your teacher as demonstrating how to prepare for the games (tests, assignments and other “math performances”).

7) Think about the textbook as the thinking of the authors. Your job is to think the thinking of the authors. For example, role play the authors frequently. Explain the main points of the text to another student, as if you were the author.

Think about the textbook as the thinking of the authors. Your job is to think the thinking of the authors.

8) Consider class time as a time in which you PRACTICE the content thinking being taught while using the fundamental concepts and principles of the course. Don’t sit back passively, waiting for knowledge to fall into your head like rain into a rain barrel. It won’t.

9) Figure out what study and learning skills you are NOT good at. Practice those skills whenever possible. Recognizing and correcting your weaknesses is a strength.

10) Frequently ask yourself: “Can I explain this to someone not in class?” (If not, then you haven’t learned it well enough.)

11) Routinely ask questions to fill in the missing pieces in your learning. Can you elaborate further on this? Can you give an example of that? If you don’t have examples, you are not connecting what you are learning to your life.

12) Learn to test your thinking using intellectual standards. “Am I being clear? Accurate? Precise? Relevant? Logical? Am I looking for what is most significant?”

These dozen ideas are worded in a way that directly applies to learning in an academic classroom. Having stated that, please consider using them for any mental endeavor that involves learning. For example, using the last idea of, “Learn to test your thinking using intellectual standards,” in everyday conversation can help make you a better communicator. Or, using idea 4), “Become a questioner,” will aid in keeping your mind active and engaged while solving everyday problems.

The dozen ideas are applicable, in general, to life-long learning. And, they are useful, whether you are learning for earning, OR yearning for learning! :-)

Do We Respect Disrespect?

First Lady Jackie Kennedy holding a silver encased coconut to her forehead in the Rajasthani mark of luck and RESPECT as she is welcomed at the Jaipur Airport during her tour of India in March 1962

In today’s world, are we respecting those that are disrespectful? As I watch our political leaders, I wonder if their followers are respecting the disrespect that many of them show toward those who disagree with them. Many commercials seem to have disrespect as their main theme. And, consider the many sitcoms that constantly display people being disrespectful to each other. Of course, when it comes to entertainment, a disrespectful scene is not necessarily bad. On the other hand, I think it’s very likely that we are now subjected, through television and movies, to more “disrespectfulness” than at any other time in history.

Did he respect disrespect?

Many seem to believe that our world is exactly like it was meant to be. They think we are learning essential lessons by challenging those who do not think/believe what they do. Is it essential to be disrespectful to those who are of a different religion, political party, country and/or social group in order for our world to be exactly like it was meant to be? I don’t think so!

I remember many times in my life when I was disrespectful to others and had no good reason for doing so. When I was in my teens, I was disrespectful to people who weren’t Catholics. Having been raised Catholic and frankly, not knowing more than ten people who weren’t Catholic, I respected others, including myself, who were disrespectful to non-Catholics. As a child, I was taught that the Catholic religion was the one true religion and all others were not to be respected. Of course, this thinking was done through the mind of a very young person. As I matured, that thinking changed. But, I think this personal example illustrates how, as a young person, I was respecting those that were disrespectful.

Who respects the disrespect shown Christ?

Should we respect those that are disrespectful? Historically, have we humans been as disrespectful to other humans as we are now? Yes, and I think we have been much worse. The difference between now and the distant past, is we aren’t as brutal as we used to be. At least, from my point of view, here in the middle of the United States, we are not close to being as extreme with our disrespectfulness.

For a historical perspective, consider how the Romans entertained themselves by watching animals eat live humans. Consider a man named Simon who, in the year 1345, said that England’s Edward had more right to the crown of France than Phillip. Simon was immediately executed in a most brutal manner – he was dismembered, first the limbs and then the head. During the time Shakespeare was writing his plays, it wasn’t unusual for people’s heads to be stuffed on pikes and displayed for all to see in order to keep the general public in line. Though these are extreme examples, they do illustrate that historically, some humans seemed to respect being disrespectful to others.

There must have been some who respected his disrespectfulness.

Are we as disrespectful as we used to be? I think we aren’t as cruel/disrespectful, physically, but we are much more in our communication. You see, when we compare past generations with the present, we can easily see how much easier it is to communicate today. With the advent of the internet, television, radio, phone technology, social media, etc., we are now able to express are disrespect easier and faster to more and more people.

Today’s technology makes it easier for us to communicate in a disrespectful manner – much easier than when we didn’t have the speed and ease that it provides. Perhaps, the fact that it is easier to be disrespectful through communication is a good thing. How? Well it could be good in that it allows us to “vent” our negative feelings and therefore, instead of physical cruelty, we “only” use verbal cruelty. This is the only possible “good” I can imagine. :-(

I need to be disrespectful so I can get my food.

Do we, as a society, respect disrespect? Well, we used to and it was naturally wired in us to do so. You see, when we were more primitive and had to fight each other for a piece of food or territory, we were disrespectful by “attacking” others out of fear that something would be taken from us. Should we still try to overcome each other in order to assure our survival or should we develop an entirely new way of dealing with each other? In today’s world, don’t we need each other in order to survive?

For us to successfully overcome the many problems humanity is facing, whether social, political or environmental, we need to work together in a respectful manner. Working against each other, in what is usually a disrespectful situation, may have been necessary for our ancestors, but is counterproductive now.

Should we respect disrespect? NO!

Are Your Beliefs Changeable?

Do you think this represents a changeable belief?

I was once at a social gathering where I participated in a discussion about what beliefs are and whether a person should change what s/he believes. We weren’t long into the discussion before the topic of religion came to the forefront. Immediately, the discussion became more of an argument or debate. It seemed that introducing the topic of religion evoked a strong emotional response from almost everyone. This was especially true when I asked the question: “Do you ever change your beliefs?

How would you answer the question in the previous paragraph? I don’t know about you, but I immediately said: “Yes, of course I have and will change my beliefs.” The instant I said that, there was an unbelievable response and not all of it was positive. There were some, especially those who admitted they are religious, that said they believed what their religion “said” and they would never change their belief(s). One person even said: “I no longer believe what my religion taught me, but I still believe in my religion.” Frankly, I found that statement to be really confusing.

"I no longer believe what my religion taught me, but I still believe in my religion."

So, if you really think your belief isn’t true, then why would you not change it? If you really believe something is true, then why would you want to change that belief? In fact, if you really believe something is true, then how can you possibly change that belief without being untrue to yourself? Wouldn’t you end up betraying yourself?

Shakespeare, in his play, Hamlet, wrote: “To thine own self be true.As much as possible, I try to follow that motto. I think that what we believe should not be a fixed belief. We must be true to ourselves or end up living outside of reality. History is filled with examples of people not willing to change their beliefs in order to make what they believe fit reality. Examples like the “world is flat” and “the holocaust didn’t happen” come to my mind, as examples, immediately.

I know some people have very deep and fundamental beliefs that they profess they would die for. Often times, these beliefs have to do with fighting for country, family or religion. In general, I am not talking about these types of core beliefs. Although we never know for sure, beliefs that we would die for can usually only be verified during “battle.” Having stated that, many of our beliefs are not matters of life and death, per se, with so much depending upon the beliefs. For example, I used to believe in Santa Claus as a real live person who had the gift of being able to ride in a sleigh pulled by reindeer and deliver gifts to every home in the world. I no longer believe in a Santa Claus that has that ability. I changed by belief! :-)

"I'll change my beliefs!"


In summary, I think most of our beliefs must be assessed like any other part of our thinking. If a belief is working for us, by empowering us to be better people, then leave it alone. If it isn’t, then change the belief. There are many examples in history that reflect people who had beliefs that led to great success. Use those as a starting point and create a set of beliefs that makes you a better person. Simple, yes. Easy, no.

I believe a comment is in order. :-)

Really, Can Less Be More?

Recently, I re-read a post from Pico Iyer’s contribution to the Happy Days blog on the New York Times. The post, as I see it, is about how frequently in life, “less is more.”  Mr. Iyer did a nice job of relating this concept to his personal life. He described how he viewed his life when he was in the corporate world and compared it to a much simpler time while in Japan. I think his essay is worth reading and I encourage all to do so. Having stated that, my intent here is not to review or summarize his post, but to borrow an idea of his – the use of Zeno’s Arrow Paradox – and discuss how it could be used as a metaphor for better understanding of our own lives.

Zeno of Elea was a Greek philosopher famous for posing so-called paradoxes which challenged mathematicians' view of the real world for many centuries.

First, let’s look at the arrow paradox. When an archer shoots an arrow, the arrow flies from the bow to the target. If we consider the flight of the arrow at any fixed time, such as a second after it left the bow, then for that instant the arrow is not moving. Consider that instant to be a “snapshot” of the arrow in flight. We, of course, could do this for any single instant. Therefore, motion is nothing more than a series of stillness! WHAT!!!! Viewing the arrow as always being still before it arrives at the target, means that from that point of view, it would never get there. It is always still. Is it? Hopefully, you can see the paradox.

I would like to use the paradox to illustrate how we often seem caught in the same scenario in our own life. Take, for example, getting and keeping a job. Many workers see themselves in a dead-end job with no hope of reaching the goal of _?__. You fill in the blank. Consider a relationship with a significant other. How many times have we observed or experienced a relationship where there was no progress, no excitement, no “newness” and it seemed that the goal of happiness could never be reached?

Let’s look a little deeper into happiness. I have heard many people say to others: “I just want you to be happy.”  Or, “It’s OK, just so you’re happy.” But, when have we heard a person say: “At this moment I have reached my goal of being happy?” The person’s “arrow” of striving for happiness has reached its target and now there’s nowhere else for the arrow to fly. You see, the flight of the arrow is the most important part of this metaphor – not the target. It’s the pursuit of happiness, not the attainment of happiness, that’s important.  It’s the journey, not the destination!

"Am I moving or not?"


So, what is the lesson in Zeno’s Paradox of the flying arrow? I think it’s in the flight of the arrow and how we, as humans, view life. We see our life in snapshots of moments. We enjoy and suffer in snapshots of time. We live our life in snapshots of experiences. The only target we ever will hit is our mortality. It’s not about the target, it’s all about the flight of the arrow!

Can less be more? It depends! Less focus on the end of life, results in living in the present and more life experiences. Less viewing life as “always still – no life,” leaves more of a dynamic living experience. Less time spent on thinking about the negative (sickness, unhappiness, worry, …), leaves more time to think about the positive (wellness, happiness, fulfillment, …)

Can less be more? YES!

Does Your Happiness Depend Upon Being Right?

Is it "right" if it makes him happy? :-)

I once had a conversation with a person who made the following statement: “For my own happiness, it’s important that people think I’m right.”

"For my own happiness, it's important that people think I'm right."

The statement made me pause and literally, step back. I think the person has his personal happiness tied directly to whether or not he is right. Later, in the conversation, I asked him if he would rather be right or happy? His response to that question was even more revealing. He said: “I am only happy when I think I’m right.” Please note that in this discussion, right means correct and has nothing to do with politics. :-)

The feeling that I got from this conversation is that he would go to almost any extreme to prove somebody wrong in order to make him right. He was willing to sacrifice a lot, such as relationships or respect, just to be right. I’m not sure if he realized that people who make others look bad generally make themselves disliked. I know that while we were talking, I got an “unlikable feeling” for him, which I think was a direct result from our conversation. Most likely, it stemmed from imagining how he was making others feel so he could be right.

"I will go to almost any extreme to prove somebody wrong in order to make me right."

I think, fundamentally, there is a choice here. Would you rather be right or happy? Now, I know that it is often very complex and not as simple as one or the other. Having stated that, “being right,” where one sees the world as one big competition and winning translates into the end result of right, as compared to happy, isn’t realistic. A person cannot, or at least should not, always expect to be right.

Life should not be a competition of who is right or wrong. Instead, I think it should be viewed as a cooperative endeavor where happiness is the end result. The best approach is for all of us to realize that everyone is on a learning curve. Cooperating instead of competing will help toward creating a world of contented and satisfied people instead of contented winners and unsatisfied losers. In my past profession, as a teacher, having my students focus on cooperation, instead of competition, generally allowed more and better learning for all.

"I only know that I know nothing"

Each of us must decide what we value. If we value winning above happiness, then how can we be happy when we lose? Oh, I know, we won’t lose! Now, is that realistic? No, but people who value winning, instead of general happiness, often won’t take chances for fear of failure. They will often make “lying” statements of, “I don’t know,” when they’re sure they do. Of course, no one knows everything, but a fear of failure will cause us to lie about what we know — the I don’t know syndrome often seen in children. Wow, that reminds of the classic statement of: “The only thing I know is that I don’t know.” I believe that is almost a Socratic Statement. :-)

This "right or happy" is just a matter of choice.



This “right or happy” is just a matter of choice. We need to decide for ourselves what kind of person we want to be. Hopefully we each choose to be one who chooses freely and is responsible for the choices. One who gives and takes freely and is responsible for the give and take. One who knows that between competing and cooperating, one is about being right and the other is about being happy! Of course, sometimes we can do both, but when we can’t, which one do you choose?

Is Information From The Internet Bad When Not Accurate?

When I "google," how can I determine the accuracy of the results?

Last year, I received an e-mail from my sister in which she forwarded something that was, supposedly, written by Andy Rooney. Here is an excerpt of what she sent.

“If  you will take the time to read these. I promise you’ll come away  with an enlightened perspective. The subjects covered affect us all on a daily basis: 

They’re  written by Andy Rooney , a man who has the gift of saying so much with so few words. Enjoy…….

I’ve  learned…. That the  best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

I’ve learned…. That when you’re in love, it shows.

I’ve learned…. That just one person saying to me, ‘You’ve made my day!’ makes my day.

I’ve  learned…. That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful  feelings in the world.

I’ve learned…. That being kind is more important than being right.

I’ve  learned…. That you  should never say no to a gift from a child.

I’ve learned…. That I can always pray for someone when I don’t have the strength to help him in some other way.

I’ve learned…. That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.

I’ve learned…. That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

I’ve learned…. That simple walks with my father around  the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.

I’ve learned…. That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

I’ve learned…. That we should be glad God doesn’t give us everything we ask for.


The entire message, attributed to Rooney, can be found here.

People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe." --Andy Rooney


I went to Snopes.com to see if they thought that Andy Rooney had written it. They said no, it was not written by Rooney. When I searched, through Google, using the following four words, “andy rooney i’ve learned,” I got close to one million hits. The first few pages of the search results were websites using what Rooney supposedly wrote or said as quoted above. Most said it was from Andy Rooney and even gave a bibliography of him. According to Snopes.com, it isn’t something he wrote or said.

If Andy Rooney didn’t write the message, is it good? If you think so, then I guess it is good for you. :-) But, what about the lack of accuracy regarding who wrote it?

Suppose someone incorrectly says something is from the Bible? Suppose someone incorrectly says something is from the written law of the land, for example, the United States Constitution? In cases like these, we are often less skeptical due to the mentioned source. In other words, we accept them and their message(s) because we respect the source. I think this is happening much more now due to the ease of getting information from the internet. The problem is, how do we determine the accuracy of the information we are getting through web-searches and/or social media?

How do I know it's accurate?

What we need is a way to assess the information we get. What should we use for our standards of assessment? The one standard that immediately comes to mind is “accuracy.” How do we determine accuracy? Well, I used “Snopes.com” for one reference to help determine accuracy. But, I am cognizant of the possibility that “Snopes.com” could be wrong. I think, if we are wanting to be more sure of the accuracy of information from the internet, we are going to have to find different unrelated sources that reflect the accuracy or inaccuracy of what we are checking.

In summary, I think the inaccuracy of something being attributed to Andy Rooney in the  above example doesn’t make the message bad, but it could have! We, as consumers of the information we find on the internet, should assume the responsibility of determining its accuracy, especially before using it or passing it on. The inaccurate information isn’t necessarily good or bad, but the person using inaccurate information as accurate isn’t doing any of us any good! :-(

What do you think; am I accurate? :-)

%d bloggers like this: