Posts Tagged ‘humor’


What Are Words For?

July 2, 2008

In the words of Missing Persons (band from the 1980s), what are words for? They serve many purposes, but the one I chose to write about today is this: some words are just fun to say! And they may make people smile when they listen to you.

Using an extremely informal, unscientific poll on Twitter today, I asked some of my tweeps what their favorite words to say are. In a Wordle, they are:

Words that are lots of fun to say

So, what are some of your favorite words? Comment below, and I’ll add to the Wordle later this week.

And in case you haven’t seen “Words” by Missing Persons, have fun!


Humorous Quotations About Listening, Part Three

March 9, 2008

As International Listening Awareness Month (sponsored by the International Listening Association) progresses, let’s take some time to enjoy several humorous quotations about listening. This posting is part three of a three-part series.

Congress is so strange. A man gets up to speak and says nothing, nobody listens and then everybody disagrees. — Will Rogers

Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening. — Dorothy Sarnoff

Marge, it takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen. — Homer Simpson

Isn’t it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists? — Kelvin Throop III

A good listener is a good talker with a sore throat. — Katharine Whitehorn

The true male has never yet walked
Who liked to listen when his mate talked. — Anna Wickhaur

My friend Bob is a radio DJ, and when he walks under a bridge, you can’t hear him talk. — Steven Wright

See parts one and two of this series.


Humorous Quotations About Listening, Part Two

March 6, 2008

As International Listening Awareness Month (sponsored by the International Listening Association) progresses, let’s take some time to enjoy several humorous quotations about listening. This posting is part two of a three-part series.

The older I grow the more I listen to people who don’t talk much. — Germain G. Glien

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously. — Hubert Humphrey

One advantage of talking to yourself is that you know at least somebody’s listening. — Franklin P. Jones

The opposite of talking is not listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.— Fran Lebowitz

If you want to know how your girl will treat you after marriage, just listen to her talking to her little brother. — Sam Levenson

The difference between listening to a radio sermon and going to church. . . is almost like the difference between calling your girl on the phone and spending an evening with her. — Dwight L. Moody

Boredom is having to listen to someone talk about himself when I want to talk about me. — Tom Paciorek

An intellectual snob is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture and not think of The Lone Ranger. — Dan Rather

And now listen to some Out to Lunch Jokes from Katey, a second-grader

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Humorous Quotations About Listening, Part One

March 5, 2008

Now that March has arrived, it is  International Listening Awareness Month (sponsored by the International Listening Association); let’s take some time to enjoy several humorous quotations about listening. This posting is part one of a three-part series.

History repeats itself because no one listens the first time. — Anonymous

Conversation: a vocal competition in which the one who is catching his breath is called the listener. — Anonymous

“You know, it’s at times like this when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young!” “Why, what did she tell you?” “I don’t know, I didn’t listen!” — Douglas Adams

My wife says I never listen to her. At least I think that’s what she said. — Anonymous

If you want your spouse to listen and pay strict attention to every word you say, talk in your sleep.— Anonymous

It’s my job to talk and yours to listen, but please, let me know if you finish before I do. — Anonymous

Women like silent men. They think they’re listening. — Marcel Archard

To understand this important story, you have to understand how the telephone company works. Your telephone is connected to a local computer, which is in turn connected to a regional computer, which is in turn connected to a loudspeaker the size of a garbage truck on the lawn of Edna A. Bargewater of Lawrence, Kan. Whenever you talk on the phone, your local computer listens in. If it suspects you’re going to discuss an intimate topic, it notifies the computer above it, which listens in and decides whether to alert the one above it, until finally, if you really humiliate yourself, maybe break down in tears and tell your closest friend about a sordid incident from your past involving a seedy motel, a neighbor’s spouse, an entire religious order, a garden hose and six quarts of tapioca pudding, the top computer feeds your conversation into Edna’s loudspeaker, and she and her friends come out on the porch to listen and drink gin and laugh themselves silly. What Women Want: To be loved, to be listened to, to be desired, to be respected, to be needed, to be trusted, and sometimes, just to be held. What Men Want: Tickets for the world series.— Dave Barry 

Bore, n.: A person who talks when you wish him to listen. — Ambrose Bierce

An actor’s a guy who if you ain’t talkin’ about him, ain’t listening. — Marlon Brando

It’s a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn’t want to hear. — Dick Cavett

I’ll defend to the death your right to say that, but I never said I’d listen to it! — Tom Galloway


How to Fail a Class (Without Really Trying)

January 19, 2008

Now that winter semester is well on its way, I took some time to reminisce about all the ways that students can do well in my classes. But instead of sharing those with you today, I’ll instead offer the flip-side: what you should do if your goal is to FAIL a class. I promise you that I’ve had a student at one time or another who has done every one of these things. Luckily, there is no one student who has done all of them . . . yet. (Please don’t take this as a challenge ) )


  1. Think of the assignment guidelines provided by your professor as mere suggestions, not requirements for success.
  2. Consider each assignment as discrete entities. Don’t apply the constructive criticism you’ve received from your previous assignment to your next one.
  3. Since Microsoft Word will catch all your mistakes (grammar, APA style, Associated Press style, etc.), there’s no need to proofread your assignments before turning them in.
  4. Plagiarize often and flagrantly. After all, your professor won’t think to check the Internet (or other sources) to see if you’ve copied anything.
  5. Reading homework assignments before the class when they will be discussed? Why bother?


  1. Don’t bother to check your grades in WebCT Vista, even though they’re posted in there throughout the semester. And don’t bother to keep your graded papers to doublecheck the grade’s accuracy.
  2. If you have a concern about your grade, wait until the last week of class to ask your professor for ideas on how to raise it.
  3. Ask in class every day, “Can we get extra credit for this?” Or, when or if extra credit is offered, turn it down. It won’t make that much difference in your final grade anyway.
  4. If you’re pretty sure you won’t pass the class (or get the grade you’re hoping for) before the Withdraw Date, go ahead and stay in the class anyway, but just don’t bother showing up anymore.

WebCT Vista

  1. Wait until five minutes before an assignment is due on WebCT Vista before trying to log in to submit it.
  2. When there’s a discussion question posted on WebCT Vista, don’t answer it. Or answer it superficially with one or two sentences. Or say, “I totally agree with what Kyle said in his response.”

Classroom Decorum

  1. When in a class in a PC lab, check your Facebook or e-mail, or surf the web, while class is in session, even if your professor has said that it’s time to turn all monitors off.
  2. Wait until you get to your classroom to consider printing something that is needed for class that day.
  3. Be the first one to answer every question in class, every time. (I will tend to call this student Horshack, either behind or in front of his or her back.)
  4. Attend class only when you feel like it, and be sure that others know you have better things you could be doing with your time.


  1. Don’t check your e-mail for messages from your professor. Or mark your professor’s e-mail as that of a known spammer, so his or her messages automatically are delivered into your bulk mail or spam folder.
  2. When you’re confused, assume that you’re the only one, so don’t ask for clarification or explanation.
  3. Avoid your professor’s office at all costs.
  4. Only discuss grade-related information with your professor. Or even better, only talk to your professor to ask, “Did we talk about anything important in class the last time we met? I wasn’t here.”
  5. Don’t listen, and that means don’t listen to your professor, your classmates, your advisor . . . What you think and feel is way more important.

Creative Commons License
How to Fail a Class by Barbara Nixon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.


10 Ways to Show You Are NOT Listening

December 10, 2007

In previous Listening Matters posts, you’ve read about 10 Ways Educators Can Listen Better to Their Students and 10 Reasons Parents Must Become Effective Listeners. Today, I have for you something that’s a bit more tongue-in-cheek. Daryl Vander Kooi, Ed.D., a former executive board member of the International Listening Association, shares with us a sampling of ways that he’s experienced people not listening.

  1. GO AHEAD; DO THE SAME THING. Continue to do as you were. Don’t stop, ask “what,” or walk over to see what the other person wanted.
  2. SLEEP. If you feel too self-conscious about sleeping during a meeting, at least let your eyes glaze. Remember to prop your head with your hand so that it does jerk you around when you do nod off.
  3. FAKE ATTENTION. See if you can master the art of having your head nod affirmatively without it becoming regular and expected.
  4. ADJUST THE VOLUME. Make a clear, unobtrusive gesture that you are turning your hearing aid volume down or your iPod volume up.
  5. SMILE EVEN WHEN YOU DISAGREE. Smile. Make it look like you agree with the speaker, when he knows that you do not.
  6. CHANGE THE CHANNEL. When your spouse, brother, sister, parent, or friend begins a conversation about the television program that’s on, change the channel.
  7. READ. When your spouse is hinting at a conversation, say, “Just a minute.” Go to the restroom and read Sports Illustrated or Everyday with Rachael Ray. Maybe your spouse will forget.
  8. USE E-MAIL. If you want to avoid some subjects while still maintaining a superficial contact, forward as many e-mail junk stories as possible beginning each with “Mom, I just loved this one.” And be sure to never check out the validity of the stories at
  9. CHANGE THE SUBJECT. Act as though you misunderstood; say, “Oh, I’m sorry, but I thought you asked me something else,” and then continue with what you thought.
  10. DON’T. One of the best ways to convince others that you are not listening is to not listen.

— Daryl Vander Kooi, Ed.D., Professor Emeritus, Dordt College

What other ways have you experienced people not listening to you? It’s unfortunate, but I bet we can double this list . . .