Drowning in Dumbknuckles

If you listen closely, you’ll find them everywhere.  Wild Dumbknuckles are mingling about forwarding ideas that wouldn’t make sense even if the world was run by Dr. Seuss.  You hear their ideas and you groan.  Their opinions make you lose faith in the human race.  It’s enough to make you wonder how they get dressed and find their way to work.

Please be advised…none of the following Dumbknuckle Exhibits are made up.  Each is true.

Dumbknuckle  Exhibit #1 – In an effort to dumb (I mean drum) up attendance at one of Murfreesboro’s indoor pools, the assistant aquatics coordinator had an idea for a “Goldfish Rush.” 

The event was to release about two hundred small goldfish into the pool and let a mob of children jump in to catch them.  This could only play out two ways: in the first stage no one would catch a gold fish because it is impossible for children to catch fish with their hands.  The second stage begins once the chlorine and other chemicals kill the fish, filling your net would be no problem.

Any volunteers for cleaning the filters?

Dumbknuckle Exhibit #2 – I’m sitting across the table from another lifeguard.  She’s in college and is an active member of her sorority.  She has a problem so she came to me for advice.

“Mr. T, what should I do?  I’m trying to limit the number of calories that I ingest but I also want to drink tonight.  I’m hungry too.  Should I go to my dorm and make supper or should I just save my calories for drinking tonight?  I really can’t do both.”

I look up from my computer.  “You’re asking me if you should skip the nutritious meal because you need the spare calories for alcohol?”  My face twisted a bit.  “Hmmm, while I’m thinking about it…did you know that yours is supposed to be the first generation that will fail to outlive the previous generation.  Anyway, it ultimately doesn’t matter what I say.  You’re drinking tonight aren’t you?”

She flashes a big grin and slowly nods.

Dumbknuckle Exhibit #3- I’m sitting in the guard room immediately after the pool closes.  Guards are getting their things together and talking about the coming summer.  Andre has family in Russia and is talking to me about going back to visit them soon. 

Anne pipes in, “Andre, are you really going back to Russia?  Could I ask you to grab something for me?”

“Sure, I suppose but I don’t really have a lot of room.  It would have to be very small.”

“Oh, it’s small.”  She flashes a smile.  “I need you to bring me back some dirt.  About a Ziploc bag full will be fine.  It’s for my collection.”

I could smell Dumbknuckle in the air.  “Your collection?  Anne, what are you talking about?”

“Well, I collect dirt from everywhere I go.  I’ve got a baby jar full of dirt from about thirty-nine states and three countries.  If I could get some dirt from Russia, that would be really cool.”

Stunned silence holds sway while Andre and I struggle to comprehend.  I’m imagining a shelf loaded with small jars of brown and black soil all marked with masking tape.  Immediately below, Anne is bent over a “Dusty’s Guide to Soil Values – September ’09.”  She’s ing over rare Bohemian mud.

Finally, I chime in, “Yea, and you know where the best dirt in Russia is don’t you?”

Anne and Andre ask the same question at the same time the only difference – confusion on Andre’s face and excitement on Anne’s.  “Where’s the best dirt in Russia?”

“Well, everyone knows the best dirt in Russia is at Chernobyl.”


Love has serious side effects.  That’s what they don’t tell you.  There are aches, pains, and obsessive thoughts that overcome you when a strong infatuation never comes to bloom.  All of us have stored enormous amounts of dreams in another hoping they are making a similar investment.  Juvenile love, of course, almost always fails and any strong feelings you have stored up come crashing on top of your head.  When this happens expect tears, ridiculous overtures, and angst ridden love letters.

When Melissa taught high school, she would sometimes run into these letters.  After all, who could concentrate on biology when your one true love is thinking about going to prom with someone else?  For some reason she kept one and I got a hold of it.

Hellooooooo, DodoEggs.com!!

Remember, this is an ACTUAL Letter.  We don’t know all the details (thankfully) but they aren’t necessary.  Just let the writer’s powerful torment overtake you.  My additions are in parenthesis otherwise it’s all Stephen. 

My Dearest Lori, 

For two years I have chased after you (even when you were chasing Eugene).  Unfortunately nothing became of it, but as I sit here waiting to leave for summer vacation and with college on the horizon I realized how much you really mean to me.  I have loved you for a long time (like, since puberty).  All the girls I dated never worked (made out with me), and now I can say I know why (acne).  In the back of my mind I was trying to make myself believe that I didn’t need you, which almost worked.  I know now that I do need you badly.  Too little, too late, huh?

Remember that wherever you end up you’ll always have me to turn to (I really, really, really like you!) for you and I it is too late I know that (not really but I want you to call me up and so this is the tactic I’m trying).  I couldn’t leave without saying this one way or another.

You know how you always said nothing seemed to bother me most of the time and how I always made you smile?  (If you didn’t say that you should have.)  Well, the only reason I acted that way was because I didn’t want you to know how scared and childlike I really was (you like men in diapers…I mean sensitive men right?).

You did something to me that I hate you for, you reminded me that I was weak about several things (spiders…cottage cheese…acne cream).  I can’t leave without asking the question that’s been on my mind for months so here goes…Could you have ever married a guy like me?  (Remember, I really, really like you.  Look, I can’t say it any stronger!)  I wanted so much to spend the rest of my life with you.  I will always love you (Call me now!).

When it gets dark in your world don’t be frightened.  Welcome the darkness, embrace it, for in the darkness is where I’ll be (I don’t even know what I’m talking about any more), watching, loving, and protecting you (but, you know, not in the stalker type of way).  Don’t fear the night, nor what lives therein for I’m there to protect you and give you light (unless you file a restraining order).

Love Stephen  That’s with a PH not a V you stupid she-devil!  (Ok, Matt added that last part.)

DumbKnuckle – Lesson 6

The “Dumbknuckle Ideal” is a train of thinking that fails to consider possible flaws in any given idea.  The “Ideal” shines a bright spotlight on a few select positives allowing everything else to fall into shadow.  For example, moving to a different country right before tax day sounds like a good way to avoid taxes and see the world but…

Let’s not forget Murphy’s Law, “If something can go wrong it will.” And the ever-complimentary Teply’s Law, “There’s more that will go wrong than you can believe.

During my college experience, I was assigned observations and practicum at different public schools.  The placement I remember better than any other was a school that was built following the “Open Space Model.” 

Here’s a brief description from http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/2302/Open-Classroom-Schools.html.  Anything in parenthesis was added later by the staff at DodoEggs.com. 

This is the type of hoo-ha I had to read to become an educator.  WOW, did I waste my opportunity for a college education.

“In the mid-1960s (don’t trust any “idea” from this decade.  I’m warning you) Americans visited the English infant schools, which promoted self-determination. These elementary schools advocated “informal” (read chaotic) or “open” (they still mean chaotic) education and the “integrated day.”  (Not sure what that means.)  The “integrated day” (ok, here it is) refers to an interdisciplinary approach in which content from various subjects is woven and presented in a hands-on, problem-solving context (Sounds good Mr. Egghead.  Now you try teaching this way.). Educators from several continents adapted and applied these concepts in new open space or open plan facilities.

The open classroom school generally had an architectural configuration of large pods (caveronous enclosed spaces) containing six to twelve classrooms, each with an outside access and no interior walls (You read that right.  NO WALLS!). Children were not assigned individual desks; they sat in cooperative small groups (mobs) at tables. Teachers usually defined their workspace by their arrangements of bookshelves and cabinets (and let’s not forget cubical partitions stolen from their spouce’s office). The lack of hallways meant more space was available for instructional use (Yes, and if we don’t bother to make roads we’d have more land to farm!). The outside accesses and lack of walls allowed for greater accessibility (They left out noice and airborne objects.  A typo I’m sure.). These design changes also resulted in a more efficient use of energy at a time when energy was becoming more costly (??????).

The changes in the internal structure of the pod (sounds kind of sci-fi) accommodated changes in the philosophical approach taken by educators. Without traditional rooms, teachers could redefine the nature of their role (too many jokes here…sarcasm overload…try to control myself). The teacher shifted from the dispenser of knowledge to the facilitator of learning (what was wrong with dispensing knowledge?). Teachers were no longer isolated from each other. They were better able to confer and plan (shout over each other). Learning became an activity that was child centered rather than teacher-oriented. Standard grade-level skill checklists were set aside and the differences in individual needs provided the rationale for the curricula (In other words, teach to each student.  THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH THIRTY KIDS!  Students’ progress was not based on rankings, which define success in a competitive context (you know, like real life – we would hate to give competive, hardworking kids an edge.); instead, evaluation of progress was reported in terms of the individual’s achievement in relation to growth from previous levels and the individual’s initiative and responsibility as demonstrated in academic and related arts areas (cows tell each other the same thing before taking another bite of grass.)


As the role of the teacher changed, methods of instructional delivery were necessarily challenged. Traditional instruction involved discrete (as in focused and structured, two words the auther doesn’t use) subject areas with generalized class expectations for performance. The open space philosophy altered the format of instruction. Classes were replaced with interest centers, which offered topical activities. Center choices promoted the discovery method, a precedent to constructivism (This sounds wonderful to everyone who has never taught before). Learners were prompted to explore and develop their own connections in order to promote concept development and the scientific method. Students moved among the centers largely by choice and often without specific schedules (Chaos!  Children cannot do this!  And if they could, it would take teachers six hours of planning a day to create five or six interest centers!) 

Class composition was reminiscent of the one-room schoolhouse. Teachers arranged flexible multi-age grouping within the interest centers. Mindful of individual needs, teachers were challenged to maintain fluid group membership (and keep thier magic wands polished and fully loaded with magic glitter). In this manner, they could naturally develop a disposition towards diversity and citizenship (the first draft said math and reading but they were reaplaced by more important goals). In some open classroom schools, homerooms or “family groups” (??????????) were not configured by grade level. A class may have contained five students at each level, kindergarten through fourth grade. Each year, five would enter, and five would graduate. The stability of relationships over a number of years allowed a different social dynamic (math and reading…math and reading…repeat after me…math and reading). The homeroom was designed to reflect the cooperative nature of learning. Over time the teacher could develop a richer knowledge of each student and serve as a long-term counselor and mentor.

The construction of open classroom schools declined by the mid-1970s (the drugs wore off). Concerns about noise and distraction encouraged educators to return to a traditional approach (and utopia dies..sniff, sniff). Although the open classroom movement lost popularity, certain aspects of its philosophy and methods were reshaped and used. Many open-space facilities have been remodeled with the addition of inside walls, or become magnet programs, which have located technology labs and computer stations conveniently in the open spaces (well, we’ve got to do something with these buildings!).  Research has indicated that the open classroom approach may not have significantly improved learning, but it certainly did not impede achievement(then why stop building them?). Additional research suggested that children in open classroom programs did score higher than traditional classroom students in self-concept, attitudes towards school, and creativity (math, reading, science, social studies…all absent from this list).

DumbKnuckle – Lesson 5

Welcome to your fifth lesson in our detailed study of the amazingly profound yet confusingly quirky, wild Dumbknuckle.  Our study thus far, has taught us that Dumbknuckles can come from any quarter.  They show a remarkable ability to confound any environment.  Dumbknuckle logic can seem a bit counter intuitive to the unaware and truth be known, even experts have no idea how to explain it. 

Today, you will get the chance to taste and experience the tangy sensations of rancid logic.

Scenario Five

At the high school where Mrs. Teply first taught, the students were asked the following question for the school newspaper. 

“Should marijuana be legalized?”

Please keep in mind three of these responses are actual answers.  Two are made up.  Your assignment is to determine which are which.

*Nick Wollwart a freshman replied, “Yes, because it helps cancer patients.  But they should make it expensive so only cancer patients can afford it.” (Only rich people get cancer!  Wait, it gets better.)

*ChiefDodo at DodoEggs.com stated, “Filling your body with smoke and your mind with chemicals is what all the cool kids are doing, so let’s not.”  (This kid was defiantly not cool.)

*Jenna Jennason a senior said, “Yes, everybody will get along.  Less problems occur from marijuana than from alcohol.  It would be good for business.”  (Only one of those thoughts were valid.  Guess which one.)

*Eugene a writer at DodoEggs.com remarked, “Can you come back later?  I’m busy filling out my application to ChickenPoop.com ”

*Lauren Leelan a senior quipped, “Yes, it’ll bring the violence down, and it helps people when they don’t feel good.  God made pot; man made beer.  Who do you trust?”  (Yes, in the original Old Testament manuscripts Moses wrote about fresh doobies falling from the sky along with manna.)

Dumbknuckle – Lesson 4

Congratulations!  You’ve now completed three lessons and the abstract concepts of the DumbKnuckle may be starting to take hold but don’t get too confident.  Sometimes DumbKnucles aren’t belligerent just confounding.  Your interaction with them will have you scratching your head for days or months after you’ve entered the afterlife.   

Remember that it isn’t always distinct plumage that identifies the wild DumbKnuckle.  (Although anything paisley is usually a good sign.)  It is a person’s behavior that marks a well thought human from the mind splitting actions of the DumbKnuckle.  As we speak, there’s a one with a pyramid scheme, time-share, or ticket to a professional wrestling event just waiting to find you.

Scenario Four

The school day was over and I was enjoying the flushing sound of middle school students exiting the building.    

After the last one left the building, I ambled back into my room and over the beaten body of the educational ideal.  I saw it riddled with pencils and pens.  Bleeding words from the science text all over my floor, I could only shake my head and plan for it’s survival tomorrow. 

“Mr. Teply! Mr. Tutter’s little boy is here.  Come say hello.”

I walked into the hallway and coming down the hall was my coworker pushing a three-wheeled stroller with his son strapped inside.  Most of the female teachers had already gathered around.  They were waving, smiling, and speaking in voices almost three and a half octaves higher than normal.

Meandering up, I offered, “You know ladies, I’ll bet the boy can hear lower tones as well.”

“Shut up, Mr. Teply.  We’re showing excitement over little Josh’s arrival.”

I went to one knee and waved at the child.  Josh was almost two and really didn’t care about anything except the bit of chocolate he was haphazardly smearing around but not necessarily in his mouth.

Then my expression hardened.  Josh’s hair was a mess, his shirt had at least two different stains, his nose was covered with crusty, dried snot, and in the duct of his left eye was a goober almost the size of a dime.

Mr. Tutter was showing his little boy around and it was hard to see the kid past the mess. 

Question #1- Multiple Choice
The best compliment I could offer would have been…
A. (falsetto) Yea, I could just clean you up.  Yes, I could.
B.  If I had a daughter the same age and a jumbo container of wet wipes…
C. Finally, a baby that’s not caught up in being cute all the time!
D. It takes most kids all day to work up this kind of mess!

Question #2- Multiple Choice
An appropriate departing comment would have been…
A. You’ve got a real angel there!  One with just a heavenly hint of mucus.
B. Hey!  Next time you change his diaper, try cleaning the other end too!
C. Eye boogers normally fall out by 10 but you’ve hung onto that one all day!
D. My grandmother would have run him through a car wash already.

Question #3- True or False
 Mr. Tutter didn’t clean Josh up because his son could “ooze” no wrong.

Question #4- True or False
 Josh’s daycare is at the Centers for Disease Control.

Question #5- True or False
 If Mr. Tutter sees fit to show off his kid when Josh is a mess…then the Tutter home and car must look like the seventh level of Hell.

DumbKnuckle – Lesson 3

Our study of the wild DumbKnuckle continues.  With two lessons completed, you may think you’ve become competent enough to discuss the wild DumbKnuckle in casual conversation.  You would be wrong…and ugly. 

Allow me to explain.  The wild DumbKnuckle is far craftier than you realize.  Its ability to camouflage and infiltrate normal everyday social groups is alarming.  Their attacks are so varied that you may not be able catch it in time. 

DumbKnuckles believe that what they enjoy equates to what everyone else finds enjoyable.  The only problem is you haven’t discovered how fun it is.  They’re here to show you…by force if necessary.

I was visiting the new guy in the dorm…

“So,” he began.  “What do you do for entertainment?”

I gestured to his computer.  “Well, I’ve got one of these in my room and I’m afraid I spend too much time on it.  I need to quit and do something more useful like figuring out what language girls speak.”  (Forced laugh)

“Really?  You like video games?  Have you played Rage of Empires?”

“Yea, I played it once but I really didn’t care for it.  Stratagy games that run all the time and don’t take turns make me go cross-eyed with frustration.  In fact, I’m pretty sure the computers in Purgatory would be loaded with those games.”

He interrupted me.  “Wait, you haven’t seen the new expansion, combo, gold edition, up grade pack.”  With a quickstep and one well-aimed index finder, his computer was booting.  “Let me show you.”

I tried to escape but it was too late.  An invisible force closed the door and slid a chair under my hindquarters.  Before I could come up with a valid excuse (classes hadn’t started yet, my family was in another state, no cell phones, fire alarm was out of reach), he was showing me the best strategy for beating back the Huns.

Now try the following questions.

1) As I sat glued to the chair, my mind was occupied with what thought?

A) I don’t give a @$%^# about this $#^^3%^ game!
B) My fortune cookies are never right!  “Make new friends” it says!
C) I was right about purgatory.
D) Holy cow!  This guy hasn’t cleaned his ears in weeks!

True or False
2)  To keep me from tying to find a way out of his dorm room, my host should offer me a small plate of nuts, cheeses, cold cuts, ginger ale, and a moist wipe.

3) A better way to make friends than shoving your interests down their throat is to offer them an amazing ways to make money from home.

4)  Slouching, drooling, and a glazed look would have been considered rude.

5) I should have excused myself by claiming to need a restroom…in Labrador.

DumbKnuckle – Lesson 2

Dumbknuckles can be found in almost any environment.  They are one of the most adaptive sub-species on the planet.  From pompous suits before a board meeting to porch sitting on a hot summer evening, you cannot predict the next dumbknuckle sighting.    
And remember your field assignments!  You must sight at least three dumbknuckles before our next class.  If you’re having trouble, try ecosystems where you can find fireworks with unsupervised kids, wine tasting, and terse exchanges regarding fantasy sports.   

If you’ve completed lesson one, you’re ready to move on to number two.

Scenario Two

The gyms I remember best were dirty places with a thick layer of rust and grim covering the bars and plates.  There weren’t too many windows but plenty of mirrors which you would only use in passing or if you were actually lifting something.  It was called “watching your form.”  The music came from second hand speakers or a boom box that had seen better days.

There was a machine against the far wall that no one really understood.  There was the standard pad and pulley but the pad was raised and facing one side.  I would have guessed it was an abdominal machine if there were a seat closer to the pad.  As it was, the only use I could have imagined was to rest your chest against the pad and bow at the hip.

A young kid had another idea.  After using much of the other equipment, he wandered over to the mystery machine.  He looked at it for a minute before placing his forehead against the pad and pushing it down with his neck. 

Everyone stopped what they were doing and stared.  The guy wouldn’t have known since the pad also covered his eyes.  With a grunt and teeth clenched, he worked his neck forward and back.  He was the center of attention until he finished his set, rubbed blood back into his forehead, and wandered off to the next weight machine.

 Question #1 – How would a neck as thick as a redwood impress the ladies?
A. It makes the nodding gesture, “That way” make her want to go “your” way.
B. A bulging neck turns girls on to giving hickeys.
C. A thicker neck makes getting thorns tattooed around your neck that much more practical.
D. Hey, a thicker neck means a deeper voice.

Question #2 – Circle the answer that best completes the sentence.

 The next muscle group this young man plans to work out would be his (ear wigglers / underarm hair follicles / self esteem estimators).

Question #3-Write a ten word essay describing your attitude toward the young man in this story.  Try using relevant prompts and comparisons such as…crash victim, better head banging, face plant, trophy mount, and making giraffes jealous.

DumbKnuckle – Lesson 1

Open an undergraduate catalogue and you’ll find a million classes on boring topics such as Global Warming and The Middle East – Differentiating 110 Degrees from 105 and The Canadian Revolution – Death Toll and Notable Battles. 

If there is room for these topics, then surly our institutions of inflated learning can offer graduate classes on subjects that truly matter.  In fact, every major’s requirements should bump Speech and Bowling for much more pertinent classes.  For example, Credit- Not The Same as Having Real Money and Slot Machine Math: Why 95% payback still means you lose.

I have even gone through the trouble to craft the curriculum to, Aspects and Behavior of the Wild Dumbknuckle.  If you didn’t know, a dumbknuckle is a sub-species of homo sapiens whose unique brain structure allows for erratic behavior.  Everyone should take this class!   

Until a major college subscribes to my course, I am offering it on-line for free.  All material is taken from real life.  You can submit your answers into the comment section below.

Test #1

Scenario- Matt is running in the park on a cool, fall afternoon.  He is running at his regular pace as he comes up on another man jogging at a slightly slower rate.  Matt says absolutely nothing as he passes the gentleman.  Within a few minutes, the distance between the two runners is such that when Matt turns a corner, he cannot see the slower jogger.

Rounding toward the front of the park Matt hears footsteps rapidly approaching from behind.  The other runner whips by Matt pointing skyward with a proud index finger in the “I’m number one” position.  To top off his performance, he stops at the park entrance and bows to Matt with the flourish of a Broadway performer.

Question #1- What was the other runner thinking?

A. Matt is a talent scout for the Bohemian Olympic Team
B. The runner wanted Matt to get a good look at his bald spot
C. “I won’t accept another participant’s ribbon!”
D. His 268 pound friend was watching from the bed of his pickup.

Question #2- After putting on such a dynamic display, the runner…
A. spent the next week reliving the glory over pork rinds and a milkshake.
B. contacting Hollywood screenwriters to write the movie.
C. imagining how fast he could run on three legs.
D. calling Matt and breathing heavily.

Question #3 – A sports broadcaster covering the event would have said,
A. “Looks like the crowd forgot to buy tickets to this one.”
B. “Look how well he runs with that extra weight!  Astounding!”
C. “We’re coming to you LIVE from the Extra Special Olympics.”
D.  “Next up for this athlete, Portugal’s Running of the Squirrels.”