Feb 232015
 
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While discretion may be the better part of valor, and it will probably save your marriage more than once, that self editing is not cantankerous.

In previous lessons you learned to say what you think and say it when you feel it.  This lesson is really no different, just a re-iteration of what should be an ingrained part of your cantankerousness already.

Say what is on your mind and damn the consequences.

America has been proven time and time again to be a great place to live.  We have a fantastic Constitution that guarantees Citizens the right to free speech.  That has been taken to extremes in the past but it is still a a core value for Americans.

While there are several states that still strive to limit the freedom of speech that Federal law guarantees, the truth is, the pandering, mealy mouthed politicians of this country are trying to play both sides against the middle and make this country a bunch of poofy, we can all get along if we don’t talk to each other mean sissies.

Face it, you are going to piss someone off in your lifetime.  Not everyone is going to like you.  You will not be friends with everyone.  You may be likeable and people will like you, or at least tolerate you but not everyone will.  There are people I can’t stand to be around so I don’t associate with them.

The problem comes when you are trying to use this self editing to change your intent or position to try and get everyone to like you.  It can’t be done.  It is much better to come out and say what you need to say and risk offending people.  It will either work out or it won’t.  Either way it will feed your cantankerousness.

Sure, you may get in trouble, you may even go to jail, but you are still true to your new cantankerous self.  The constitution guarantees it, cantakerousness demands it, but it is still hard to get over that social block that has been beaten into us by our mothers to be nice.  Get over it.  it will be ok.

I would like to quote John Adams or George Washington here, but I can’t think of anything appropriate so I will settle for Denis Leary.  “Life sucks, get a helmet.”  That should sum it up nicely.  Quit editing yourself and say what you think.

Unless of course it will endanger your marriage or send you to federal prison for what promises to be the “longest night of your life” (Shawshank Redemption, look it up) then, discretion is the better part of valor.

Soldier on good people,

Justin

Justin

Justin is the young Coot with a Cantankerous Soul who continues to be educated by older, more cootish Ralph and Bob. His Cantankerosity is his own.

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Feb 232015
 
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Being Cantankerous is not easy.

I it not easy being a Cantankerous Old Coot. You might think that all you need to learn is how to be rude and obnoxious. You would be very wrong. It is a way of life- a way of seeing the world and when you become a master, there are many skills that come into play. One that you might never think about is your facial expressions. Sometimes a look is all that a Coot will need to establish effective communication. In every case a facial expression can add that finishing touch that signals you really mean what you say.

People don’t want straight talk

These days, so many people are superficial. They aren’t serious. Their statements are tentative or joking. People just don’t expect you to lay the truth on them. They look closely to see if you are kidding. They don’t want to deal with the truth. They don’t want to deal with you if you are telling the truth and they will go to any length to delude themselves about your intent. If they think that you are kidding, then they can shrug away your statement and move on, skating away from a confrontation either with you or the truth you have just laid on them. Don’t make it easy for them. You fail as a cantankerous old coot if you let this happen. Your facial expression is the clincher.

Lets Review the Lessons so far

Lets take a minute and review the lessons so far. In Lesson 1, we learned to let your feelings out freeing you to be real. Lesson 2 reminded us all that what other people think is unimportant. You don’t have time for worrying about whatever silliness is keeping them awake at night. Lesson 3 reminded us that polite is just an excuse for lying. Finally Lesson 4 emphasized that immediate response is important. Don’t hold back or reserve your first thoughts. Just let her rip. The importance for Lesson 5, Let your Face show you mean it is that unless you get Lesson 5, you can blow off all the other lessons. Your words may tell the world what you really think and blow away any pretensions from your companions but if you don’t reinforce this with your facial expression, everything you worked for is lost. Break a smile and people will think you are kidding or being playful. Keep your expression neutral and they can interpret your statement as a misstatement.

This brings us to Lesson 5

Lesson 5 is vital because your expression must support and reinforce everything you have learned so far. It must be stern and serious. It can run the gamut of emotions from scowl to downright contempt. It must take no prisoners, leave no stone unturned and be so controlled that no one can have any doubt that you mean exactly what you are saying. Lesson 5 is the hardest lesson because no matter how well you learn the other lessons, we are so controlled by the urge to be nice that almost without thinking our facial expressions will try to make nice. As with most every thing in life, practice makes perfect so observe yourself in the mirror and find your weaknesses. Maybe your eyes twinkle or your mouth just can’t help curling up in a Mona Lisa smile. Whatever they are, find them and get them under control.

Ralph

Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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Feb 232015
 
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Newer readers may not have noticed that there is an instructive dimension to Cantankerous Old Coots. Early on Justin and I created a series of Cantankerous Old Coots Lessons designed to help fledgling Coots perfect their cantankerosity. Starting with Lesson 1 “Let it out” up to Lesson 21 “Cantankerosity lasts” we provided direction to COC wannabees. We even established Cantankerous Old Coots University with an ebook containing augmented versions of lessons 1 through 5. It was a glorious vision. We would help create a more perfect world by communicating the COC vision as stated in our manifesto and help spread the COC message to the initiated..

Coots in action

We imagined that COC would wake up hundreds of sleepwalkers from the boring tedium that is 21st century life. We were certain that slowly- over time- our readership would grow and more Coots would join with us to spread the spirit of cantankerosity. We were wrong.

COC gets read but as far as we can tell, no one wants to join the ranks, take the lessons seriously and move into serious cantankerosity. Our most popular post continues to be Coots Lesson 13 “Same to you.” a thoughtful and timeless lesson from Justin about standing up for yourself. It isn’t clear to us why this lesson resonates so well with our readers but as we struggle to understand our reader’s thinking we wonder why their pleasure with Lesson 13 doesn’t cause them to check out Lesson 12 or even Lesson 14.

Then I get it. Our readers are indeed Cantankerous Old Coots. They can’t be bothered with the effort required to locate those other lessons just like Justin and I can’t be bothered with creating a web page with links to all the lessons. This is the most encouraging news we’ve had in months because it means that we are finding Coots and Coot wannabees out in the blogosphere. They have found COC and appreciate the message and like good Coots, they are not willing to waste any time or effort to make us feel better. They have a mission to improve their quality of their lives. Improving the quality of our lives here at COC, not so much.

We clearly didn’t connect all the dots when we developed our business model here at COC. We talked a cantankerous game but measured our results using ordinary standards. What this suggests is that more people might enjoy the COC Lessons if we got off our double-wide asses and created an index of those lessons with convenient links. Being user friendly and customer service focused is not generally the prime directive here at COC This is going to take some time to sort out. Stay tuned.

 

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Ralph

Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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Feb 232015
 
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Coots Lesson #4: Say It When You Feel It.

We don’t Worry.

Are you one of those people who worry about being “politically correct”?  Do you always think out what you want to say before you say it?  Do you get home later and say to yourself “I should have said….”

Well then this lesson is for you.  In the pursuit of Cantankerousness, there is not much room for political correctness.  As Ralph has so eloquently said in the past, polite is a euphemism for a lie.  This is the same for the political correctness BS that is so prevalent in our society.

Let It Out!

There is way too much self editing these days.  Too many times we have to stop our tongues so that we don’t offend people.  Well that is over and done with.  In the continuous pursuit of being a better person I now believe that the best thing to do is just say what comes to your mind.

Lose that internal filter that clogs up with what you “should” say, and just say what you mean.  It may anger people but shooting straight is the best way to deal with society as a whole.  Keep your lies and your equivocations; quit pandering to people who don’t really mean anything to you.

Don’t keep it bottled up.

If the time is right to give any said SOB the MapQuest directions to Hell, so be it.  Tell people what you think right then and there.  If you keep it bottled up you will probably end up killing someone.  While that may seem attractive at the time, it will only land you in jail and keep you from voting or owning a gun.  Telling people what you think right then won’t land you in jail most of the time.  Slander is another post altogether.

So here is today’s homework: if somebody pisses you off, tell them.  Don’t just sit around and mutter, tell them off in a loud and clear voice that leaves no room for doubt.  Like our good friend Howard Beal did, stand up and say, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”  Don’t take it.  Give it.  You are well on your way to being a Cantankerous Old Coot.

Justin

Justin is the young Coot with a Cantankerous Soul who continues to be educated by older, more cootish Ralph and Bob. His Cantankerosity is his own.

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Feb 232015
 
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Which slow, out-of-shape, 100kg middle-aged gu...

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You are going to lose it eventually.

Maybe you still believe the old saw “use it or lose it”. If you do it means you are still a wet behind the ears spring chicken because when you get to be a Cantankerous OLD Coot you will know without any doubt that just using it is not enough. If you want to keep going like you always did just using it won’t work. You’ve got to use it like a madman just to stay where you are. And if you are trying to improve you will need to use it like two madmen.  How  crazy are you?

The old phrase is definitely a cliché.

You hear it so many times that it no longer carries much meaning day to day. Of course it is true up to a point. Lack of use will slow down almost anything: your brain, your muscles, your judgment, even your smile. Keep active. Keep moving. Don’t slow down. Don’t take it easy. Just keep on being active the way you always have and you will keep on going strong. That’s what they tell you but life is more complicated.

At least when you get past the  young and foolish stage say about 50. Maybe you remember the days when everything worked and nothing hurt- we call those the good old days. Back then it was easy to tell yourself that nothing will change and that you will keep going just like you are now forever. Then one day, the cold, wet mackerel slaps you down. You haven’t changed anything but suddenly it is hard to do things that used to be easy. It’s probably different for everybody. For me it was getting up from a chair and climbing stairs. For no identifiable reason suddenly those things were hard, really hard.

I made excuses. 

I went through all kinds of rationalizations about this. First I decided that it was just temporary. I had probably strained something and when it healed, I would be back to normal. After a few weeks with no progress, I abandoned that theory. I tried walking more but it didn’t help. I wasn’t improving. In fact, it was even harder getting myself our of a chair. At that point I was beginning to accept the inevitability of getting old, feeble and immobile. I was using it and still losing it. It felt really bad!

Sometimes the truth knocks on the door.

Purely by luck I was talking with a personal trainer at a social function and confessed my problem. He shrugged it off when I used age as an excuse.

“Core strength” he huffed. “You are losing core strength.

Then he really let me have it. “You are stooped over like an old man “ he told me “And you don’t have the muscle strength to lift your body any more. Give me six months and I can straighten it all out.”

Should I believe?

After that devastating conversation I dithered for a month or so but finally, in frustration, I gave in. I put myself into the hands of an expert. Here is what I learned.

Use it or loose it may be a good working philosophy when you are young. With a young healthy body, keeping active is enough to keep everything working right. When you get older, however, it it poor advice and sure to fail. When your body starts to decline, normal activity won’t keep it from declining further or even keep it where you are. Just to stay at your current state, you need to work like a madman.

These days, I’m working like a madman building core strength to get me back to normal abilities and it is helping. I’m better than I was six months ago but still a long way from ten years ago.

Core strength means crunches, push-ups and curls. And it means them every day.  These days, I’m working like a madman building core strength to get me back to normal abilities and it is helping. I’m better than I was six months ago but still a long way from ten years ago.

So for all Cantankerous OLD Coots out there today’s lesson is for you. Don’t expect the normal level of activity to keep you from loosing it. When you start getting old, the equation changes. It is no longer ‘use it or lose it’. You have to get realistic and pick your battle carefully. You need to chose what is important to you and be prepared to use it like a madman in order to keep your abilities from further decline and like two madmen if you want to get back to where you used to be.

Getting old is not for the faint at heart.

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Ralph

Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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