Cumber: (v) to hinder or hamper

Pellets of energy.

Think about it.

I know some folks believe that human beings are good, and others insist that we are naturally evil.

This has not been my finding. I would be hard pressed to describe the human race as good, and equally distraught to characterize them as only devious.

Actually, every single day, each one of us is bestowed pellets of energy. Energy doesn’t come with character specifications. It is neither hellish nor celestial.

It’s just energy.

And because it’s energy, it can be useful, and it can also be squandered.

Every morning when I rise, I yearn for my pellets of energy. I’m careful not to make too many promises, just in case I turn into an asshole between breakfast and lunch.

But I am fully aware that my value to other folks lies in realizing that if I don’t use my pellets of energy well, I’m just hanging around cumbering the Earth.

We don’t use the word “cumber” anymore.

It’s an Old English term, often associated with Biblical quotes.

But it fascinates me that we struggle for longevity without demanding that it be accompanied with purpose.

There has to be something more than gardening.

We can’t expect to sustain value merely from arriving on time to our doctor appointments.

And for the younger crowd, simply passing a test does not qualify anyone for superb consideration.

I don’t want to cumber the Earth. I don’t want my family to be ashamed of themselves because they wistfully wonder when I’m finally going to croak.

I want myself—and hopefully everyone else—to be fully aware of why I still hang around and notice the by-products of my hanging.

I do not want to cumber your life.

I do not want to cumber the Earth, filling it with carbon dioxide instead of sucking some of it back out.

I do not want my friends to feel responsibility to me today because of what I did yesterday.

I do not want to cumber the ground, the Earth, my surroundings, my loved ones or the cosmos.

I would like to take my pellets of energy and turn them into goodness instead of mediocrity or darkness.

What shall we do with these pellets of energy?

Get ready—it’s coming around again tomorrow.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C


dictionary with letter A

Anatomy: (n) — the branch of science concerned with the bodily structure of humans, animals and other living creatures, especially as revealed by dissection.

“To thine own self be true.”

I think the quote is attributed to Shakespeare.

Pursuing that path of candor, let me tell you that I often do a terrible job keeping up with my own anatomy.

For a season in my life, I went to the doctor regularly, as good Americans should do. It is also the only passage of time when I went to the hospital, took tons of medication and became overly concerned about my mortality.

It is also my understanding that normal people go to the dentist every six months for a good check-up. Fearing your condemnation, I must honestly inform you that I go to the dentist if I have a toothache.

It’s not that I fail to respect the complexity or fragile nature of my human anatomy. I am fully aware that disease, conditions and difficulties can arise without my knowing it from merely peering in the mirror. Cancer can even be growing in my body at this moment without me having placed an order or granting permission.

It’s just that I’ve reached a certain age … where I’ve reached a certain age.

What I mean is that in some ways I have exceeded my expectation for longevity, believing at one time that by now I certainly would have taken the “Great Leap” into the abyss.

But I haven’t.

And I do know that I don’t want to spend the rest of my life discussing medications, consulting with my doctor or going onto web sites to track my symptoms.

What do I want from my anatomy? What do I desire my body to do for me?

1. Respond to my actions.

If I eat a double pepperoni pizza, my body is allowed to have revulsion over the concept. But if I eat well, I certainly anticipate quid pro quo.

2. Help me to exercise sufficiently for a man my age without believing that a shot of testosterone will turn me into a twenty-five-year-old male stud.

3. Be so kind as to warn me before killing me.

Yes, if my body would just send an eviction notice, giving me thirty days to “raise the rent,” I would greatly appreciate that.

4. Help me learn how to do “me” better.

I’m not telling you I will never go to a doctor. But case in point: upon arriving at a car dealership, it is very difficult to leave with your old vehicle without somebody trying to either replace it or update it.

The same is true with medicine. They are good at what they do, so they find things wrong with us.

It’s just that if it isn’t a “sickness unto death,” well … maybe I don’t need to know.



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Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix


Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAerobics: (n) vigorous exercises such as swimming or walking, designed to strengthen the heart or lungs.

  • I don’t.
  • I should.
  • I would if I could.
  • I could if I would.
  • I think about it.
  • I agree.
  • I laugh.
  • I’m curious.
  • I tried it.
  • I didn’t like it.
  • I didn’t exactly try it.
  • I kinda liked it.
  • I felt better afterwards.
  • I felt worse in the morning.
  • I think it costs money.
  • I think I’m broke.
  • There’s a program for free.
  • I pretended I didn’t hear that.
  • I’ve watched it on TV.
  • I’ve even made fun of it.
  • I’m convinced I’m the exception.
  • I guess I’m exceptionally convinced.

I am, of course, talking about aerobics.

There’s a process in the human experience in which information is either acknowledged, absorbed as truth and shipped off to the brain for storage in a cabinet, or else expelled from the emotions in a fitful desire for action.

Aerobics is one of those things that I know would be good for me and would improve my chances for longevity. But longevity seems so … well …long–when in the moment, I have the possibility of watching television with a side of chips and dip.

It’s the same way I feel about eternity. It’s really hard to get worked up about everlasting life when you have a two-hour window for watching television.

If they found a way to do aerobics without me knowing it–similar to peddling a bicycle while thinking that I’m relaxing and checking out a movie–that would be terrific. Until then I have to rely on my motivation, which, as I stated earlier, is greatly unfavorable to aerobics.

There are so many things that happen with aerobic exercise that are unpleasant. First of all, getting to your feet with the idea of movement. Secondly, taking things you would normally do slowly, but doing them fast, in order to sweat and raise your heart rate. (Don’t they usually give you medication when your heart races?? But now they want you to simulate one of the major symptoms of a heart attack…)

I guess it’s the mix of laziness, fear, aches, pains and feeling a bit foolish hopping about without the presence of hot coals at my feet.

By the way… did I say I admire it?



Words from Dic(tionary)

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A


Actuary: (n.) a person who compiles and analyzes statistics and uses them to calculate insurance risks and  premiums.

It looked like it was gonna be fun.

It was put out by one of those famous insurance companies as a kind of test balloon to help people understand their situation with life insurance, and also their own personal well-being and health. It was a quiz with twenty-five questions which you were supposed to answer truthfully, and after you submitted your answers, they would send you, within a very short time via email, the proposed date of your death, based on the information you provided.

It was probably quite ridiculous, but still seemed like a good way to kill an hour while I was waiting for the next piece of excitement to leap into my life. So I started answering the questions, being painfully honest, and within about fifteen minutes, I completed the quiz.

I followed the instructions carefully, submitted my conclusions, and about thirty minutes later, I received an automated-response email from the website, with my day and year of death.

Now, when I finished the test, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But what came back to me was a real surprise. Dare I say—a shocker?Because according to the results of my quiz and the actuary tables of this particular insurance company, I had been dead already for two years, three months and four days.

Thinking there had been some sort of error made in the transfer of material, I persisted by filling out the quiz one more time—with a little less candor. But this time I was nervous and hovered around my computer, waiting for the ding to ring my ongoing faith in some sort of longevity.

True to form, half an hour later, there was my response.

I had acquired five extra months through my lying.

This was several years ago. So I don’t put much faith in actuary tables or predictions on human lifespan. I guess it works this way: you keep taking deep breaths and moving forward until you’re not able to breathe anymore. At that point you will get the actual day and time of your death.

So in closing, I would not recommend that you take one of these tests unless you want to insert the data of an Olympic athlete.

For me, I will just wait and see if my eyes open in the morning, smile if they do—and realize that I cheated the computer out of one more day.


by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Abulia: (n.) an absence of willpower or an inability to act decisively, as a symptom of mental illness.

Did you notice that sneaky little chain of reasoning?

The dictionary just let us know that an absence of willpower is what causes indecision leading to a diagnosis of mental illness.

Does that scare anyone but me?

Sometimes the dictionary is very vindictive. It slides in a series of defining terms which are so narrow-minded and closely trimmed that one could actually feel intimidated or judged by the whole process.

To be blunt, I am OFTEN abulia. I DO lack willpower. Even though I am constantly trying to eat better, I refuse to lie and say that a salad or a bowl of vegetables is more scrumptious than an original recipe greasy thigh at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

It just isn’t.

Maybe the nutritious food is better for us, but it doesn’t win the “yummy” test.  So my willpower will sag upon occasion–but I never considered that it was due to the flaw of being indecisive. Truthfully, when I order barbecued ribs, it is very decisive and is initiated by a tremendous burst of food lust.

But I guess what the Old Dictionary means is that just an hour earlier, I probably gave an inspiring speech about my desire to rededicate myself to the abandonment of ribs, barbecued or otherwise, in the quest for better health and longevity.

But this final step is a KILLER. Is it really true that if I lack willpower, it means that I’m indecisive, which lends itself to conclude that I am suffering from mental illness? Is it possible that my restrictive diet will cause me to become a serial killer?

I will admit that I am occasionally crazed for a pizza “all the way,” but I really don’t think I would kill the delivery boy in my haste to snatch the box from his hands. Of course, I’ve never put myself in that situation, so who knows?

Abulia. Maybe it describes our political system: a lack of willpower to say no to special interest groups, lending itself to indecision and unwillingness to vote on certain issues, and thrusting to the forefront every kind of mental illness, deficiency and weirdness in our society.

I don’t know–maybe Old Dic got it right.

But I still think that occasionally desiring a thick, juicy steak does not mean that I have multiple personalities.