Ask me--or other retirees “out to pasture” or “on the shelf”--and responses will be similar, if not identical. We’re flattered to be asked our opinion on almost any topic from most anybody at almost any time. Rarely do we hear, “What do you think?”

Sixteen years removed from a 40-year higher education career, I’m tickled when college-bound students--as well as their parents or grandparents--seek my counsel on majors likely to prepare graduates for good-paying jobs. Rather than admit their guesses are as good as mine, I advise them to contact my Uncle Mort.

Despite advancing years and without the benefit of--or perhaps spared from--education beyond the mid-high school years, he usually manages to come up with practical answers.


“For the longest time, I pushed study in postage and handling or tattoo removal,” he says. “But times they are a’changin’.”

For current queries, he offers different suggestions.

“Today, I’m recommending handgun holster design, as well as geriatric study to guide senior adults frustrated by ever-lengthening “coping lists.” He believes many “long of tooth” grow weary of falling behind in comprehension of so many new words--and initials--encountered daily.


On the topic of college, I recall the story of a basketball coach, new at a university, who was able to sign a prized player on the final day of late registration. The kid’s high school transcript was shaky, so the coach helped him with his class schedule, careful to include basket weaving.

Well, the coach made a big mistake on that course.

Soon, the youngster complained he had little chance to pass basket weaving. “I started out way behind,” he moaned. “There are only four students in the class, and the other three are Navajos. Besides that, the teacher is Native American, too--and she grades on the curve.”


Truth be told, the basket weaving story actually was “triggered” (no pun intended for readers who may have just gotten their open carry permits) by the news of a recent workshop in Dallas for--you guessed it--basket weavers.

Lest you think this news might best be swept under the rug, it simply wouldn’t be fair to the broom makers, who are included in the group. The art has survived across the centuries, and their products tell much about “how it was” hundreds of years ago.

We shouldn’t jump to conclusions--over brooms or not--about the current “whys” of basket weaving. Participants feel it is purposeful, relaxing and worthy of sharing with generations yet to come. Determined to seek out new weavers, they gathered 100 strong at the recent workshop.


They say they’ve heard the basket weaving jokes, particularly the common tag of “easy” college credit.

“Underwater basket weaving--unlike underwater ice skating--can be fun in the summer,” one panned.

A veteran of eight years as a basket weaving teacher claims it is not as easy as it looks. Enthusiasts meet in historical venues, community buildings, schools and churches.


Basket weaving attempted in silence might be a good thing. It has been said that before we open our mouths, we should consider whether our words are an improvement on silence.

Prominent people--particularly in the sports world--may charge lavishly for their utterances, perhaps by the word. They do so with product endorsements, and in many cases, substantial numbers of us would wish their heroes to remain silent. A current example is Peyton Manning, an exceptional quarterback who has guided two teams to Super Bowl victories. His remarks at game’s end clearly had financial implications. Wouldn’t one expect his quote, or something similar--”I’m gonna drink a lot of Budweiser tonight, I promise you that”--from a person with ownership in at least two beer distributorships?

Past Super Bowl winners have kept their post-game beverage choices under wraps. Usually, they’ve announced they’re “going to Disneyland.” With 112 million viewers of all ages hanging on every Super Bowl second television provides, Manning would have done well to avoid sharing such details. Reference to a pizza-stuffing night would have been preferable, and Papa John’s would have appreciated the plug for National Pizza Day, mere hours away.


Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Columns archived at, newbury blog.