Chanticleer #23

I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up. 

Henry David Thoreau


January 1, 2001

“Chanticleer Calls”, a twice-monthly newsletter for discriminating readers, thinkers, feelers, speakers, listeners, and cogitators.

First, an explanation for Chanticleer’s second extended absence of the year. He’s found a rather intoxicatingly addictive sandbox to scratch in that has consumed most of his preceding two months.


As we begin the year of HAL, I thought it would be worthwhile for me personally to recount a few of my “lessons learned” over the past 12 months. Your mileage may vary.

  • Season as you go with chili.
  • Don’t take your jeans right out of the dryer and tuck them under your chin to fold. Especially if they have those metal rivets.
  • “If you can’t name it, you can’t use it.” – Helen Harkness
  • I’m learning not to underestimate myself.
  • I’m trying to not should on myself. (from Bruce Kodish and Dr. Albert Ellis)
  • From the play, ART: “If I’m who I am because I’m who I am and you’re who you are because you are who you are, then I’m who I am and you’re who you are. If, on the other hand, I’m who I am because you’re who you are, and if you’re who you are because I’m who I am, then I’m not who I am and you’re not who you are.” – Yasmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton
  • “Never do too well that which you don’t want to do again.” – Steve McGonigle
  • I’ve learned that more than anything else, I’m about making things better and not being constrained by convention.
  • It’s more appropriate to talk in terms of MEANINGS (plural) than MEANING (singular).
  • You can’t talk about MEANINGS without first talking about ME.
  • MEANING is not conveyed so much as it is suggested, then interpreted.
  • After visiting old Jerusalem, sacred place for three major world religions, I learned that the central question of religion is: “Which story do you believe?”
  • How something is presented can be as important as what is presented.
  • Half a cup of coffee is less likely to go cold than a full cup.
  • I learned I couldn’t drive around St. Louis using my favorite 20-year-old road atlas.
  • Even though the atlas had helped me navigate all over the country and carried a lot of sentimental value … if the roads change, the map has to be updated.
  • C. R. Jung: “There is no coming to consciousness without pain.”
  • The Eagles: “Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.”
  • One test is worth a thousand expert opinions. – sign in a test center office in Huntsville, Alabama
  • It’s not about what you do for a living …. it’s about what you do for a life.
  • Wendell Johnson: “To a mouse, cheese is cheese. That is why mouse traps are effective.”
  • College students and young adults only qualify for Learner’s Permits when it comes to driving yourself crazy. Once you reach the mid-30s, most of us have earned a full Commercial License –not only are we fully qualified to drive ourselves crazy, but we’re competent to drive other people crazy.
  • Sometimes order and technique make a difference. When washing your car windshield, there’s a reason why you squeegey from the top down.
  • “We give people what we want.” – Helen Harkness (applies to a multitude of applications)
  • I learned that – generally – you use which when there’s a comma, and that when there’s not, which I didn’t know before.
  • Life can be considered an extended experiment, in that there is no failure in the lab – only results.
  • Keep company with those who make you better.
  • BAKE and BROIL may result in the ‘same’ oven temperature, but they produce entirely different results.
  • My rules fit in my wallet. A lot of people have rules that fill libraries.
  • In 1801 we couldn’t have the “When does life begin?” debate that we have now because we know so much more now than we did then. In 2201, we’ll undoubtedly know much more that we know now, so we can expect the debate to change as our knowledge and understanding change.
  • I learned that the Internet has become pervasive when I overheard two 60-something women discussing their multiple Yahoo and Excite email accounts in a Denny’s coffee shop in South Bend, Indiana.
  • We all make our own measures, and we each measure with a different yardstick.
  • Abraham Maslow: “Our real guilt is not living up to our potential.”
  • Barbara Winter: “Go in the direction of your dreams, not your fears.”
  • I learned that we teach kids to become crazy like we are when I interviewed a high school kid for a Career Day exercise. Half of his resume dealt with band and his musical accomplishments and passions, but he said he was going to college to study engineering because “my dad’s an engineer and that’s how I can best support a family.”
  • At some point in your life, you have to start creating your own wisdom.
  • As you grow older and have more life experiences, you begin to understand that “some of the life commandments you learned growing up just don’t work anymore.” – Robert Babb
  • Single is not a 4-letter word.
  • Ralph W. Emerson: “The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. See the line from a sufficient distance, and it straightens itself to the average tendency. Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing.”
  • People don’t need expert opinions nearly as much as they need insightful listeners.
  • The presidential election was a good example of the notion that once you’re inside the margin of error, you’re entered “The Non-Sense Zone”. Be careful of the inherent fallacies that will befall you when you make the first cut with a chain saw, then attempt the second with a scalpel.
  • Einstein: “The problems that exist in the world cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them.”
  • If it’s “too close to call” … DON’T!
  • A lot of people need to learn how to be less literal. A hammer can be used for more than driving nails.
  • Wisdom from a friend’s daddy: “I wish I could buy her for what she’s worth and sell her for what she thinks she’s worth.”
  • And I’ve learned that I miss my mother more now than when she died four years ago. Part of it is due to the fact that I’ve recently become very aware of how much of me is due to her. Part of it is that I really regret she can’t see how my daughter has grown and developed and will all-too-soon graduate from high school. And part of it is because I still carry her admonishment to me as an 8th-grader that I wasn’t making the most of my natural abilities and talents.

Here’s to all you’ve learned in 2000, and to the lessons we’ll learn together in 2001 – the year of HAL.