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Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from any direction. (a cowboy’s advice) On Thinking Days and cowboy talk…

Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from any direction. (a cowboy’s advice)

On Thinking Days and cowboy talk …

One day I asked a cub scout if he could describe thinking. His reply was as good as it gets. “Thinking is when your head keeps talking even though your mouth is shut.”

We were at a Scout-Guide Thinking Day service; it was 1982.

They’re still at it, encouraging young people to think for themselves. That is surely a novel idea in a world where thinking is … well, where is it?

How-to gurus are coming at us from every form of media on the planet with TV and the ‘net in the forefront, according to them, negating the need to think for they will lead us to Nirvana in all things. The printed word was once their gospel, and we probably accepted more than our share of it. Well, except for a few things such as a “Wet Paint” sign. People will read that scientists say there are 50,012,234,001 stars, planets, and other space stuff in a galaxy, and we accept the number as exact, but we’ll still have to stick their finger in the paint to see if the sign was right.

Today’s gospel emanates from TV gurus and Google and nary a discouraging word is sung, or heard.

An old cowboy, one of those rare fellows who has yet to be Googled or gurued, sets it down as clear as crystal, succinctly too. No spinning required! “Always drink upstream from the herd.”

Separating the wheat from the chaff is easier when you’ve got someone like a common-sense cowboy nearby, and, if we applied the Girl-Scout Thinking Day to every day.

Now I’m probably not so wise as those guru guys, but “think for yourself” was Grandpa’s guru advice, and it’s still hanging in there as the best.

The cowboy put it this way: “The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with watches you from the mirror every morning.”

All of this is set down as a possible antidote to becoming an entry in Wendy Northcutt’s Darwin Awards. She’s published three so far, and she says her books are the creative answer to the question, “To be or not to be?”

Entry into the Darwin Awards is something to be avoided at all cost. You have to die to get listed, and die as a result of a stupid action on your part. She does thank you for improving the gene pool for the rest of us.

The cowboy has a Guide to Life, perhaps useful to avoid a Darwin Award:

1) Don’t squat with your spurs on.

2) Do not corner something you know is meaner than you.

3) When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.

4) Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.

5) Drownin’ your sorrows only irrigates them.

6) Meanness just don’t happen overnight.

7) Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.

8) You can educate a fool, but you can’t make him think.

9) It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.

10) Saddle your horse before sassin’ the boss.

11) Remember, silence is sometimes the best answer.

Empty barrels make the most noise.

A cowboy cheechako…

Meanwhile back at the ranch: more than anything, Bob wanted to be a cowpoke. A rancher pitied the lad, decided to hire him and give him a chance.

“This,” he said, showing him a rope, “is a lariat. We use it to catch cows.”

“I see,” said Bob, trying to seem knowledgeable as he examined the lariat.

“And what do you use for bait?”

Corn grows pretty high in cowboy country. Time to heed #11.

Lightning does the work, thunder takes the credit.

A tip of the hat to Girl Guides and Boy Scouts on their Thinking Day. Another to Yukon troops celebrating Scouting’s centennial. I hope you’re successful in getting everyone to put their thinking cap on every day, not just one.

A skookum tip of the hat to the Canada Winter Games people. Those opening ceremonies were as fine an introduction to North of 60 as we’ve had in a long, long time, and friends from Outside have e-mailed to say so.

Global warming really hasn’t missed us even if all we’ve got between us and Old Man Winter is a Japanese proverb, which promises, “One kind word can warm three winter months.”

There’s enough kind words about the Games roaming around town already to warm next winter, and they’re not even half finished.

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