These 2018 Midterms Are Tests Because They Will Be Hard

2018 midterms, Senate, House of Representatives, primaries, Democrats, Republicans
Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) is a Democratic hoping to unseat a Republican Senator this year. Specifically, he’s running against Sen. Ted Cruz in the general election. Here, O’Rourke can be seen at an event held for the 2016 President’s Leadership Council hosted by Inter-American Dialogue. Image via Flickr by Inter-American Dialogue. Some Rights Reserved.

The 2018 midterm elections are already underway, so I’d thought I’d keep a record of what has happened so far. I’d been thinking about doing something like this before, but my schedule was out of whack and I already passed up a chance to do something similar for 2016. Anyhoo, let’s take a look at the midterms from state to state and see how things are shaping up.

Note: I will need some time to catch up, but there have only been primaries in 10 states held so far. This post will be updated.

Continue reading “These 2018 Midterms Are Tests Because They Will Be Hard”


Are You Still Following News of the Russia Probe?

Russia probe, Donald Trump, James Comey
Did this guy somehow collude with Russia? I don’t know, but something’s off …

On April 24, I started a two-post series in which I discussed my overall view of the Russia probe that is currently dominating headlines in the United States. While I said I felt that the probe was a distraction (in terms of its focus), I felt there needed to be an investigation in order to finish vetting Donald Trump and some of his cohorts.

Now, while I might disagree with this probe’s focus, it has turned up some interesting events I could not ignore or refrain from sharing. Also, there have been some recent developments in regards to how this entire probe and suspicions are being reported.

That said, let’s discuss what this probe is about and how I plan to cover it.

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Famous Sayings #165 — ‘Bad Hair Day’

September 29, 2019

I’m having a bad hair day.

Image by Bruce Guenter via Flickr. Some Rights Reserved.

When I chose this phrase for this week’s installment of Famous Sayings, I didn’t know what to expect. Sometimes, when I choose a famous phrase or term, there is little to go on and I might end up choosing another phrase or term to research at the last minute. Fortunately, this was not the case for “bad hair day.”

I first heard the term “bad hair day” in the 1990s, but from what I was able to find, this phrase is much older than people think. The phrase also has a second meaning that I was unaware of.

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Famous Sayings #164 — ‘Crash Course’

September 23, 2019

In order to land this plane, you’re going to need to take a crash course in Piloting 101.

crash course, online, classroom, emergencies, famous sayings, learning

This week we’re going to look at another term that pertains to education.

What Is a Crash Course?

A crash course is a quick way for someone to learn about a complex topic. Since the course attempts to tackle a lot of material in a short amount of time, the sessions involved are very intensive. Someone may take the course in preparation for a test or as part of their training (Dictionary.com).

A crash course may take part in a regular classroom setting, but this term has been applied more to online learning of late. Often, crash courses can take the forms of videos (which are most likely uploaded to YouTube), but the phrase comes from real-life situations. Sometimes, in real classrooms, a teacher may give her students a “crash course” in a related topic in order to establish context for the main topic. Other times, students may take place in courses purely dedicated to breaking down complex topics — albeit in a relatively short time, like weeks or a few months.

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Famous Sayings #163 — ‘Grammar Nazi’

September 15, 2019

Forum User 1: I think a recession is about to hit months sooner than the so-called experts will admit.

Forum User 2: You don’t know what your talking about.

Forum User 1: *You’re*

Forum User 2: Stop being such a grammar nazi.

grammar nazi, nazi, grammar, spelling, obsessive, oppressive, stickler, famous sayings
A College Humor video about a Grammar Nazi once showed how trivial grammar disputes can be at times.

I chose to investigate this term because school is in session for many students (although for some, it started way back in August). To be honest, though, any person who fits a certain description could be called a grammar nazi, regardless of their status or education level. However, there are people who wish to see that term to be retired.

As many of us know, the term X nazi has been used to describe people who are obsessive, either in a negative context or jokingly. For example, there was a Seinfeld character called the Soup Nazi because he enforced strict rules of etiquette for customers who stood in line for the best soup in the world and when the customers broke his rules, he would kick them out of line and declare, “No soup for you!” Another example is Miranda Bailey, (ironically) an African American character on Greys Anatomy, who was referred to as a Nazi because she was tough on new interns.

Despite the humorous implications of the word Nazi, the term is deemed offensive by many linguists, historians, and anyone who cares deeply about the history of real Nazis. With that in mind, let’s look at the meaning of the term “grammar nazi,” as well as its history and whether we should use alternative terms to describe certain grammar lovers.

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Famous Sayings #162 — ‘Working My Fingers to the Bone’

September 1, 2019

I’ve been working my fingers to the bone the last few weeks, but no so you can spend all of my hard-earned money on DVDs.

Original image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Since Labor Day is tomorrow, I picked an idiom that has something to do with work. This famous phrase may sound a bit negative, but it is an exaggeration (at least for the most part).

What Does Someone Mean When They Say, ‘I Have Been Working My Fingers to the Bone’?

When someone works their fingers to the bone, they have been working extremely hard, especially for an extended period (“WORK YOUR”). Similar phrases include “work my tail off” (“Work my”) and “work your socks off” (“work your fingers”).

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Famous Sayings #161 — ‘Hardheaded Person’

August 25, 2019

I told you not to hang out with those kids because they’d get you in trouble. You’re hardheaded.

New York Comic Con 2015 - The Thing
You might say that The Thing (Ben Grimm) is hardheaded, but his entire body is hard. Image by by Rich.S. via Flickr. Some rights reserved.

This is the second Famous Sayings post in as many days, but it involves a term that is easy to understand, although the type of person it describes may be somewhat difficult.

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Famous Sayings #160 — ‘You Can’t Teach an Old Dog …’

August 24, 2019

I don’t think you can teach me how to use this new phone, son. I’m not use to this technology. As they say, ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’

you cant teach an old dog new tricks, famous sayings, proverb, you can teach an old dog new tricks, behaviors, habits, new skill, dog training
Image by Chiemsee2016 from Pixabay

Sorry for not having any Famous Sayings for the past week, so this is going to be the first of two in two days. This proverb might be much older than you’d expect, but the meaning of it is clear.

What Does ‘You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks’ Mean?

The adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” speaks to the notion that it is (nearly) impossible to move someone away from one way of thinking, to teach them a new skill, or get them to try a new method of doing things. Just like an old dog may be set in its ways, an older person or experienced person may be set in their ways. It’s also hard for anyone to take advice from someone who is younger than them, mainly due to pride.

Nowadays, when I think of this saying, I can apply it to something like computers and new technology. Younger people tend to pick up these things easily because they grew up around advanced technology (Wonderopolis). Also, younger people tend to be more adventurous and curious, so they will play around with their computers and gadgets more and discover more features of that technology and new ways of doing things with the technology.

Who Coined This Adage?

Various sources I consulted (including The Phrase Finder) pointed to John Fitzherbert’s 1534 book The Book of husbandry as being the earliest examples of the proverb in print. Here is a quote from the book:

… and he [a shepherd] muste teche his dogge to barke whan he wolde haue hym to ronne whan he wold haue hym, and to leue running when he wolde haue hym; or els he is nt a cunninge shepeherd. The dogge must lerne it, whan he is a whelpe, or els it will not be: for it is harde to make an olde dogge to stoupe.

[The word “stoupe” (stoop) meant that a dog would “put its nose to the ground to find a scent” in the 16th century.]

The proverb was later cited in a 1546 collection of proverbs by John Heywood.


According to a page on Know Your Phrase, the actual expression might have showed up in the 1700s. The following quote comes from Divers Proverbs (1721) by Nathan Baily:

An old Dog will learn no Tricks.

Can an Old Dog Learn New Tricks?

In a word, yes. This has been confirmed by psychologists, dog owners, and the MythBusters.


On MythBusters, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage once performed an experiment in which they tested the adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” In their experiment, they took two 7-year-old Alaskan malamutes, siblings named Bobo and Cece, because this breed of dog had a reputation for being particularly stubborn. After four days of training, the dogs were able to heel, sit, lie down, stay, and shake upon command. Thus the “myth” was busted.

Clever Dog Lab

In 2016, Stanley Coren discussed results of a scientific study that was part of a series of investigations carried out at the “Clever Dog Lab.” The purpose of the study was to see if old dogs could in fact learn new tricks and the results were positive overall.

The study, headed by Lisa Wallis, was conducted at the Messerli Research Institute at Vetmeduni Vienna (which is part of the University of Vienna) over the course of three years. The study involved 95 Border Collies of different ages, ranging from give months to 13 years old.

The test had three parts, all of which involved the dogs to using a touch screen (with their noses) to select pictures:

  • The first part of the test required each dog to touch the correct picture with its nose. There were a set of four pairs of pictures and whenever a dog chose the correct (“positive”) picture, they were rewarded with a treat. If they chose the incorrect (“negative”) image, they were given a timeout. The younger dogs did better than the older dogs during this part of the test; the young dogs only needed 18 trials to reach the criterion set by the people conducting the study (87% correct choices) while the older dogs needed 39 trials to reach the same criterion.
  • In the second part of the test, the researchers examined the dogs’ logical reasoning. Again, they were given four pairs of images to choose, but this time, there were four new images and four “negative” images from the last part of the test. Since the negative images didn’t reward anything before, logical reasoning would hold that the dogs should choose the new images and be rewarded. The older dogs performed better during this part of the experiment.
  • The third and last part of the test involved testing the dogs’ long-term memory. After at least six months, the dogs were invited back to do the same tasks as they did before. Nearly all the dogs passed the tests and there were no significant differences between the younger and older dogs.

Tips for Training Dogs

In a post for PetPlace, Dr. Nicholas Dodman wrote that it was not only possible to teach old dogs new tricks, but that doing so would be beneficial for dogs and owners. Dog owners need to have patience, use one-word commands, and use positive reinforcement. Owners should never punish their dogs for not obeying commands but use conditions for obeying commands and quickly reward the dogs’ obedience with treats to reinforce the good behavior.

Alina Jumabhoy reaffirmed this. In a blog post for Train Dogs and Puppies, she wrote about how it was certainly possible to teach an older dog new tricks. She stressed that it would be harder to do given the physical and mental limitations older dogs might have (like loss of hearing, loss of sight, less cognitive ability). However, she gave owners some tips to work around those limitations.

  • First of all, owners need to have patience when working with older dogs. The process of teaching older dogs will take longer than a process for puppies.
  • Owners should incorporate both verbal and visual cues for commands.
  • Owners should first go over the basic commands (like “Sit,” and “Stay) before teaching older dogs advanced tricks.
  • Some things owners can teach their dogs will be to walk backward, ring a bell, and tidy up. These tasks can keep an older dog active and the bell-ringing task serves the ultimate purpose of preventing accidents in the house when nature calls.

Dealing with Changing Dog Behaviors

In a blog post from La Vida Fresca, Margarat Nee wrote how dogs could change their habits and behaviors when they go older, especially in response to changing circumstances. To illustrate this point, she wrote about two dogs she had, Hesher and Vida. When Nee first had Vida, Hesher was the older dog and in order to vie for Nee’s attention, like jumping for the first time (he was 14 years old), finding new ways to interact with other dogs, and climbing into bed. When Vida got older (she was 12 at the time the blog post was published), she formed new eating habits and stopped doing some of the activities she used to do while the family lived in California (Nee had moved to New Hampshire by then).

At first, Vida’s change of eating habits concerned Nee, but Nee talked to a specialist named Gina Palmer. After Palmer reassured Nee, Nee learned to accept the changes in Vida’s behavior and to respond positively to them.

At the end of the post, Nee also wrote this:

And if I pulled out a clicker and some treats, she’d be more than happy to learn a new trick.

How Do You Use This Proverb?

Whenever I hear “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” I especially think about computers because there is a lot I don’t know and there is a lot certain family members don’t know.

Personally, I never really got into using the Internet until 10 years ago, so there was a lot I needed to know about being online. I was willing to learn enough to navigate the websites I use and to figure out how to find good sources for things. There is still much I need to know and my willingness to learn will determine how much I learn.

Now, when it comes to dealing with certain relatives, that can be a trying experience. I don’t want to bash my elders, but it can be very difficult to talk to older relatives about using the Internet. Those who are unfamiliar with it tend not to want to learn how to use it. The situation is even worse when those relatives don’t want to hear about the importance of making new passwords or finding ways to safely store those passwords.

I have tried to patiently explain some simple concepts, only to be yelled at. I’m also angry at this point, so this adds to my frustration. And to think … the person getting mad at me has lectured me in the past and other things, but they don’t want to learn how to do something that will help them in the long run. Maybe it’s just best for some people to stick to paper and for certain companies to accommodate people who don’t know how to Internet.

Let’s Review

In short, old dogs can learn new tricks. But just like older humans, it talks a longer time for older dogs to learn new things. The most important aspect is that someone is willing to learn.

Works Cited

“Can You Teach an Old Dog New Tricks?” Wonderopolis. Web. Retrieved 17 Aug 2019. <https://www.wonderopolis.org/wonder/can-you-teach-an-old-dog-new-tricks>.

“Can’t Teach Old Dog New Tricks.” Discovery Channel. Accessed via Web Archive. Retrieved 17 August 2019. <https://web.archive.org/web/20140710214020/http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/mythbusters-database/teach-old-dog-new-tricks.htm>.

Coren, Stanley. “You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks.” Psychology Today. 24 Feb 2016. Web. Retrieved 17 Aug 2019. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/canine-corner/201602/you-can-teach-old-dog-new-tricks>.

Dodman, Nicholas (Dr.). “Teaching Old Dogs News Tricks.” PetPlace. 10 Dec 2014. Web. Retrieved 17 Aug 2019. <http://www.petplace.com/dogs/teaching-old-dogs-new-tricks/page1.aspx>.

Jumabhoy, Alina. “Can You Teach an Old Dog New Tricks?” Train Dogs and Puppies. Web. Retrieved 17 Aug 2019. <https://traindogsandpuppies.com/blog/can-you-teach-an-old-dog-new-tricks/>.

Martin, Gary. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” The Phrase Finder. Web. Retrieved 17 Aug 2019. <https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/you-cant-teach-an-old-dog-new-tricks.html>.

McQuerrey, Lisa. “How to Teach an Old Dog New Tricks.” eHow. Accessed via Web Archive. Retrieved 17 Aug 2019. <https://web.archive.org/web/20170804094933/http://www.ehow.com/how_2066800_teach-old-dog-new-tricks.html>.

Seasick Steve. “Seasick Steve – You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks.” YouTube. Published 26 May 2011. Video. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5661DlLWV80>.

Various Authors. “You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks.” Wikipedia. Last Updated 23 Oct 2018. Web. Retrieved 17 Aug 2019. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Can%27t_Teach_an_Old_Dog_New_Tricks>.

You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks – Idiom (Or Proverb?). Q Language. 22 Nov 2012. Web. Retrieved 17 Aug 2019. <https://www.qlanguage.com.hk/you-cant-teach-an-old-dog-new-tricks/>.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks – Idioms by The Free Dictionary.” The Free Dictionary. Farlex, Inc. Web. Retrieved 17 Aug 2019. <https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/you+can%27t+teach+an+old+dog+new+tricks>.

“You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks – Phrase Meaning, Origins.” Know Your Phrase. Web. Retrieved 17 August 2019. <https://knowyourphrase.com/you-cant-teach-an-old-dog-new>.

“‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ Says who?” La Vida Fresca (The Art of Dog). 8 July 2012. Weblog. Retrieved 24 Aug 2019. <http://theartofdog.blogspot.sg/2012/07/you-cant-teach-old-dog-new-tricks-says.html>.

Famous Sayings #159 — ‘Back in the Day …’

August 11, 2019

Your father used to be a pretty good point guard back in the day.

Image by Oberholster Venita from Pixabay.

I first heard this well-known and commonly used idiom in the 1990s through a rap song by Ahmad called, well, “Back in the Day.”

If this was the first time you’ve heard the saying, too, you might guess that it originated in the 1990s. However, this phrase in its current meaning might be much older.

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Famous Sayings #158 — ‘Pull the Rug Out from Under …’

August 4, 2019

We have been working on this project for several months, but today, our manager pulled the rug out from under us by announcing that he would no longer secure any more funds for us.

pull the rug out, pull the rug out from under someone, famous sayings

This week’s Famous Saying is all about discomfort. It really hurts when someone pulls the rug out from under you, especially because such a situation leaves you with little recourse or time to respond adequately.

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Famous Sayings #157 — ‘Make My Day’

July 21, 2019

Go ahead. Make my day.

In 2012, Clint Eastwood made a reference to this line at the Republican National Convention, but that speech wasn’t remarkable because of that line. It was because he was talking to an empty chair.

That line is still beloved, though, because people dig one-liners. Another version of it has a positive connotation.

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Famous Sayings #156 — ‘Don’t Tread on Me’

July 14, 2019

As the flag says, ‘Don’t tread on me.’ If you try to attack me, I will strike, just like a rattlesnake.

Gadsden flag

This famous saying is somewhat controversial, based on who you ask because it has been connected to racists and reactionaries. However, the slogan dates back at least 245 years.

What Does ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ Mean?

In a general sense, the slogan “Don’t Tread on Me” serves as a warning to people who want to take advantage of someone else or violate their autonomy (Xavier). In short, the slogan means, “Would-be oppressors beware.” If someone tries to hurt someone else, that second person will fight back and won’t back down.

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