What Wile E. Coyote, Red Pandas, and U2 All Have in Common: They Still Haven’t Found What They’re Looking For

Ultimately, Bugs Bunny got on my nerves. He was obnoxious and dressed up like a woman too much. The reason I watched his show was to see Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner. After a while, I realized that the coyote would never catch the roadrunner. But I didn’t care. Just like hiding Wilson’s face on Home Improvement, and Alf never getting to actually eat the Tanner family’s cat, and never really knowing if Pat was a man or woman, I still tuned in, if nothing else, to see all the creative ways the legacy continued.

With each viewing of the coyote and the roadrunner, I became aware of more and more logistical issues with the concept. For example, where did the coyote get the money to buy all those Acme products? Instead of ordering Acme products, why didn’t he just order some Omaha Steaks instead? Or a bus ticket out of Arizona? Surely as long as he’s been trying to capture the roadrunner (since 1949), as much energy as he’s spent and effort used, he could have ran to Phoenix by that point and just bought a Tex-Mex burrito.

But ultimately, the coyote’s instincts caused him to chase the roadrunner. It reminds me of a couple years ago when I visited the Nashville Zoo. That’s when I discovered the Red Panda (a distant Asian cousin of the raccoon), which has in turn become one of my favorite animals. I was drawn to this strange friend of Teddy Ruxpin because of its looks alone. Charming little fella.

When I saw him he was crouching, creeping along a log. The exhibit sign said that Red Pandas spend 12 to 15 hours a day looking for food. I starting laughing and couldn’t stop. Knowing that the zoo keepers surely fed him on a routine schedule, still he continued to look for food. Simply his animal instincts.

It’s not easy, being a citizen of the freest and most resourceful country in the world.  Having to fight off urges to obtain more material possessions because of the subconscious motto that excess is best.  For many, that’s what “the pursuit of happiness” means.  Despite all we have, despite our daily feeding, somehow like Wile E. Coyote, the Red Panda, and U2, we still haven’t found what we’re looking for.

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on red pandas, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog”:

dad from day one

Bad Deeds for Good People: Finishing Up for Others

We are often naturally drawn to do the wrong thing, but for those who struggle with being bad, I’m throwing in my two cents to help you get started.

It’s common knowledge that serving others is important.  And we all would like to consider ourselves each as a “good person”.   As plenty of nearly washed-out celebrity guests have stated on the annoying/inspirational TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, “it’s important to be involved in something bigger than yourself”.  True.

But what if you’re too good of a person?  What if you spend all your free time volunteering, you give away all your extra income, and you never say about bad thing about or to anyone?  What if you have come to the conclusion you should participate in some “bad deeds” to balance things out?

The problem is, since you are, as we’ve established, a good person, you don’t want to do too bad of a deed which would permanently  damage your reputation.  I am working on collection of slightly bad things you can do, so people won’t be inclined to call you a “goody two shoes” or sarcastically call you a saint, or resentfully acknowledge that you put them to shame.

The first bad deed on my list: Finish up a consumable product that a stranger is taking too long on.

Yesterday I was at the Seattle’s Best coffee shop at Borders and there was this middle-aged woman and her grown son, both catching up over $4 frozen coffees.  I had been sitting across the room from them for over an hour.  Yet still, the lady had about an inch of frozen coffee remaining in her cup.

Bad deed opportunity: A person could have ran over to her table, reached out and picked up the coffee, and proclaimed, “I’m drinking this!”  The bad deed doer would then stay standing there in front of the woman and her son and take the time to finish the drink.  Afterwards, the bad deed doer would say, “Mmm… that was good.”

This bad deed would also work well if you were at a steak house: Finish up the last few A-1 drenched bites for the person sitting at the table behind you.  Then say, “Look, now you don’t need a doggie bag.”

Like It, Love It, Gotta Have It Vs. I’ve Already Got One, Thanks

Fighting the urge to the live by the new American motto: If it ain’t broke, get another one anyway.

Like it? Love it? Gotta have it!

I can almost remember a time when I was a kid, where it was normal to really really want something for a long time and then when I would finally get it, my heart was content.  The newly obtained item gave my heart rest, and I was happy, as any kid should be.  Whether it was a new Nintendo game like Super Mario Bros. 2, or a bicycle, or a rare Ninja Turtle action figure like Splinter, April O’Neil, or Ray Fillet, I got what I had wanted for so long.  And funny enough, I never wanted a replacement after I received my prized possession.

But somewhere along the way, whether or not we can blame it on “typical capitalist American behavior” or the mindset of Generation X (I just barely made the cut- it’s anyone born between 1961 and 1981), it became normal to want a “new one” though the old one still works just fine.  Maybe just an innocent desire to keep things fresh.  Or maybe a potentially dangerous pattern.

My Italian grandfather was one of the most influential people of my lifetime.  Having grown up in an orphanage in Kenosha, Wisconsin (his mother died when he was young, and there were 12 kids in the family), he lived a minimalist lifestyle, only spending his money on his few children and grandchildren.  Hardly ever buying a new (used) car, new clothes, or new furniture.  Never buying anything name brand.

This way of thinking definitely shows up in my everyday life.  My wife jokes that I have more clothes and shoes than she does.  And it’s true.  Because I don’t get rid of them unless they’re literally rotted.  Like my old red running shoes I have delegated to only use for walking and riding my mountain bike on my lunch break.

It’s true that I own over twenty pairs of shoes that still look less than a year old.  But most of them are indeed at least ten years old, in actuality.  Because I have certain shoes I wear only if I know I will be outside or if there’s a chance of  rain that day.  Those are my “outside shoes”.  By wearing them instead of my “inside shoes”, it keeps my newer shoes looking new.

While I’ll never be as frugal as my grandfather (who when my mom was a little girl, reused dried out paper towels multiple times before throwing them away) I subconsciously try to imitate his lifestyle.

I can’t see myself ever buying a brand new car, knowing that it loses thousands of dollars in value as soon as the first owner drives it off the lot.  And I can’t see buying a different car until my current one costs more to repair than it does to actually buy another used one.

Not that buying a new car is any kind of moral issue, or that going on a shopping spree for a new wardrobe is necessarily evil, though it’s probably not a wise decision if it involves a credit card (I’m a Dave Ramsey fanatic).  But for some of us, that strand of “gotta get a new one” serves as toxic acid in our DNA.

It gets tiring hearing of men leaving their wives for another woman.  That’s definitely a familiar theme this year already in the media.  And while some could say, “What does to me if matter if Tiger Woods or Jesse James cheats on his wife?  Why is that national news?”  Because it does matter.

Not because we’re nosey.  But because in some sense, the reflection of the lifestyles of celebrities causes a subconscious call-to-response for the rest of us:  “Hey look, it’s normal, he did it.”

We have to either say, “No way, that’s not for me.  No thanks!”  Or “Well, maybe that’s not so bad…”

It shouldn’t be that hard to be happy with what we’ve already got, even if it’s not perfect.  And really, that’s a mindset that is often difficult to accept and adopt: Near-perfect is as perfect as life can really get.

Is the grass really greener on the other side?  Yes, of course it is.  But the irony is this: You’re already standing on the other side.  Somebody’s else’s “other side”.

You’re already standing on the greener grass.

"I don't care how... I want it NOW!" -Veruca Salt

Manspeak, Volume 4: Stance

Man Mode: When men hang out with each other, it tends to involve competitive or action oriented activities like playing sports, hiking, running, watching sports on TV, and playing video games. The men are side by side. The activity itself is the focus; the social element of it is secondary. Eye contact is not important.

Woman Mode: When women hang out with each other, it tends to involve socially orientated activities like shopping, going out for coffee, attending their children’s school activities, and participating in various types of clubs (like book clubs, for example). The women are sitting and/or standing across from each other. The social element itself is the focus, the activity is secondary. Eye contact is important.

Opposites attract. But how do a man and a woman hang out together- in Man Mode or Woman Mode?

The Man Mode Approach: Obviously a man and woman who are constantly competing with each other and never looking at each other, more focused on something else other than each other, will not find any sort of genuine intimacy. But it could be a good way for them to hang out without crossing the line between friendship and romance. [failure]

The Woman Mode Approach: When a man is ready to cross that safe line of “just friends”, he plans a Woman Mode activity with the woman. One that involves an across-from-each-other instead of side-by-side sitting, emphasis on eye contact and conversation. It typically involves dinner. Dinner in a restaurant with low lighting. [success]

Why is it romantic to have to strain to read the menu? It’s not. But a dark environment causes a person’s eyes to dilate. When we look into another person’s eyes and the other person’s eyes are dilated, we tend to be attracted to the other person. The reason- when we are interested in something or someone, our eyes tend to dilate. So if we look into a person’s eyes that are dilated, we assume the other person is mutually attracted to us.
http://www.bodylanguageexpert.co.uk/what-do-dilated-pupils-mean.html

While compromising and meeting in the middle of issues is so important in sustaining a healthy romantic relationship, it does not apply to this specific situation. The answer isn’t to split the time spent 50/50 between Man Mode and Woman Mode. It’s pretty cut and dry: A man must convert to Woman Mode when he’s with a woman, otherwise he is conveying to her that he’s just looking for a buddy. Same thing with sustaining the romance. Otherwise she may end up feeling like he’s just not that into her.

In one of the greatest comedies of all time, Dumb and Dumber, there is a scene where Harry (Jeff Daniels) explains the reason for his recent break-up. Harry tells Lloyd (Jim Carrey) that his ex claimed he never listened to her and as he puts it, “some other stuff too but I wasn’t really paying attention”. There is a reason this example is so relatable and not too much of a stretch. Often when men are spending time with women, they forget to flip the Switch. The Switch from Man Mode to Woman Mode.

A man is focused on something already (anything on TV) and the women speaks. No response. Because the woman said something that didn’t relate to the current activity. Therefore breaking the rules of the Man Code. If she would have commented on the baseball game, she would have received an excited response. But instead, her words vanished into thin air. He is in Man Mode.

This is where it takes a deliberate awareness on the man’s part to keep in mind that he is in the same room with a woman. He has to make a very conscious effort to change over to Woman Mode. When he fails to flip the Switch, he ends up treating his object of affection like one of his buddies. Which causes his sweetheart to feel neglected.

Men are very focused creatures. So focused that it can be a little frustrating to get them to focus on something else. They have to be reminded sometimes they’re in Man Mode and that it’s time to switch to Woman Mode. If a man is interested in a woman, he will communicate and spend time with her in Woman Mode. Sometimes he forgets and temporarily slips back into Man Mode. It happens. He may need a gentle reminder every so often.

The Mode Communication Theory by Dr. Nick Shell:

Woman + Woman = Woman Mode
Man + Man = Man Mode
Man + Woman = Woman Mode

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

I love you man stance 2