Back Behind the Mic — Maybe

I find myself in a new city, in a new house, by myself, blind and just me and Oliver — my guide dog. Getting back behind the mic is an option that hasn’t changed. I’ll be podcasting more often and plan to talk about how to get along blind when experience does not serve very well. I know how to live blind but know little to nothing about doing it by myself. It is an unexpected adventure, but an adventure nonetheless. Perhaps you will want to stop by now and then to take the journey with me.


I can say, with all candor, I have never been tempted to initiate or participate in a petition drive. Sure, there have been many situations and conditions I have disliked and some I have disliked intensely. Even so, the petition thing never popped into my conscious thought processes. Today is the day that all changed.

Why does the year start in January? I know; it’s when the bowl games are and it wouldn’t work having them other than at the end of the football season. That’s fine if you happen to live where January doesn’t bring ice and snow; but for the rest of us, football in January is silly. You’re right, there are domes and the like, but that only works for the handful of communities with their own domes. Since we don’t have one, football should be confined to September and maybe October but never after Halloween.

Ok, football is definitely not a good enough reason to have the year start in the middle of the winter. Then, what about parades? Need I say it? Parades in January are even sillier than football. Were it not for those bowl games, I doubt anyone would plan a parade when a blizzard is as likely as a sunny day. Yes, there is California and Florida is there too. Arizona and Hawaii are options as well. Good for them. They can have all the parades in January they please; but please stop acting like the rest of us should think majorettes in short skirts makes sense when the temp is nearing zero.

There’s also the calendar thing where, I suppose, this deal about the year starting in January began. There are other calendars but we are stuck with this year–starts–in–January nonsense. I just can’t believe we had choices and picked this one. Twelve choices and we chose the middle of the winter. Go figure, since I sure can’t.

That brings me to the point of my petition. It’s New Year’s Eve. NYE was made for partying. Is there a worse possible time for NYE than in the midst of the ice and snow? I think not. Barbecue is out, unless you are satisfied with someone else’s barbecue. Firing up the grill and throwing on some ribs is another one of those silly things when you have to wear a snow suit. Drinks around the pool are similarly out. No, I’m not going to explain. If you don’t get it, you may be one of those idiots who got us into this year–starting–in–January silliness to start with.

Just consider this. Let’s start the year in April. Instead of football, we would have baseball, a much more civil sport. Odds are we could have a parade without freezing, and barbecue and drinks around the pool would be doable, although even then, a dip in the pool would be out, except for the few who had already had too many drinks around the pool.

Everything is politics. I’ve heard that and maybe even knew it. My first petition and compromise is the only way to consensus. It boiled down to this. April is often too cold and it can snow then too. July and August are too hot; and no one would be around for NYE anyway, since most are on vacation.

It comes down to June 15. The weather is nearly perfect; school is out, Daylight Savings Time is there to improve the NYE party; it’s a good time for another holiday and a day off work. Barbecue is fine; drinks around the pool are refreshing; and the pool is there even for the non–liquor–challenged.

No, the year does not have to start on the first day of some month. It can start when we say it starts; and I say it starts on June 15. If you agree – and I am sure you do – please indicate your interest in joining my petition. I’m not clear about exactly how you do that but have confidence you will let me know. I also am not clear about who, if anyone, will be in a position to act on our petition but hope to figure that out next year, whenever that starts.


Although it’s usually not the wrong choice to stand up, speek up, shut up and sitdown, it’s worth considering if this may be the time to just shut up and sit down. We’ve all heard about the benefits of being able to speek well, but just because you can speek well doesn’t mean you should. Let’s give some thought to the benefits of keeping our mouths shut.

For example, Will Rogers pointed out what seems obvious but is frequently ignored. He said, “Never miss a good chance to shut up.” Austin O’Malley knew the chief benefit of silence, “If you keep your mouth shut you will never put your foot in it.”

Earl Wilson also had a useful take on whether to speek or shut up. He put the point this way, “If you wouldn’t write it and sign it, don’t say it.” I think that perspective is way too limiting but does hold a grain of truth. Perhaps Arnot L Sheppard Jr. had a more doable caution, “Isn’t it surprising how many things, if not said immediately, seem not worth saying ten minutes from now?” There is a Spanish Proverb that I suspect goes Sheppard one step better. It gives us this advice, “Don’t speak unless you can improve on the silence.”

Okay, you get it and so do I. When we are tempted to speek up, we should first consider listening instead. We don’t want to be one of those people Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was referring to when he said, “People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order so they’ll have good voice boxes in case there’s ever anything really meaningful to say.” I think James Lendall Basford was making the same point when he said, “Many talk as easily as they breathe, and with quite as little thought.”

What I need to remember and perhaps you will also think worth filing away comes from someone who’s name I have forgotten. I hope it is enough to admit that I didn’t say it first but wish I had. The keeper tells us, “The difference between a smart man and a wise man is that a smart man knows what to say, a wise man knows whether or not to say it.” Dorothy Nevill also had advice for us about when to speek and when to just shut up. She said, “The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

It’s like Hermann Hesse warned, “Everything becomes a little different as soon as it is spoken out loud.” The popular Anonymous also spoke up here, “Even a fish wouldn’t get into trouble if he kept his mouth shut;” and “Foolishness always results when the tongue outraces the brain.” Ira Gassen joind the chorus with this, “Be careful of your thoughts; they may become words at any moment;” and Karl Popper added, “It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood.”

I suspect it’s close to or perhaps time to just shut up and sit down, or at least wrap this up. I’m reminding myself what Maurice Switzer told us, “It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” We might all do well to remember that his point also applies to writing, blogging and even to podcasting.

So let me leave you with this advice from Horace, “Once a word has been allowed to escape, it cannot be recalled;” so let’s agree to follow the advice of our friend Anonymous, “Keep your words soft and tender because tomorrow you may have to eat them.”

Now you know so there you go.