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Greg Gagliardi's 

Progressive Revelations


Greg Gagliardi is a writer, humorist, speaker and teacher.  He has been teaching and advising Eastside, a nationally recognized school newspaper, at Cherry Hill East since 2000.  His Twitter following grew as a result of his then-weekly column, "Progressive Revelations," as well as through his observations and commentary over the past 20 years.  He is NJ state director of the Journalism Education Association and president of the Garden State Scholastic Press Association.

In addition to his various writing and teaching endeavors, Greg is a social media marketer.  Contact him to discuss how he can promote your business, however large or small, at info@progressiverevelations.com.

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Correction
I am not actually correcting anything.  Occasionally, though, I like to cross things out.




Wed, 06 Sep 2017 19:18:00 +0000


Don't Say This On Day One
I recognize that some U.S. states began school a couple of weeks ago, but for those of us in the Northeast -- the states that follow the motto, "Yo, no school till after Labor Day" -- school has not yet begun.  I will be starting my 18th year teaching, so I know firsthand how much anticipation is involved with the first day of school: What should I wear?  Will people like me?  What if someone steals my lunch and eats it? And those are just faculty concerns; for students, the list extends even further.

I would like to help students nationwide when it comes to first day etiquette, more specifically what they should not say to their teachers on the first day of school:

1. "Can I just take a picture of everything you have on the board?"
Translation: "Can I just take the easy way out right now, as well as for the rest of the year?"

Granted, the process of putting pen to paper is a difficult one, ranking right up there with opening a bag of chips or interpreting the hands of a clock. But your phone is not intended to take a picture of notes on the board, it's intended to take selfies and to catch families of geese crossing the road. Remember that always.

2. "Can I go to the bathroom?"
Translation: "Can I walk around and stall time?"

No one wants to see an accident occur, as it could be an unwanted life-altering moment for everyone involved.  But when you ask to go to the bathroom every day at the same point into a class period, that's about as suspicious as, well, asking to go to the bathroom at the same point every class period. And, of course, the correct terminology is "May I go the bathroom?" anyway.  This is interchangeable with "Shall I go to the bathroom if it's something that I require at the given moment?"

3. "Will we be tested on this?"
Translation: "Do I need to pay attention?"

Life is not all about tests.  Well, technically, now that I think about it, it is.  There are so many tests in life.  But that doesn't mean that you should verbalize this thought, because holding in this question is, in reality, also a test.

4. "Do you offer extra credit?"
Translation: "Since I don't intend to do the assigned work, is there something I can do to compensate, like make a poster of irrelevant things?"

Here's some extra credit: "Good job with that question."  I'll give you credit for that one, except not really.  Don't worry about extra credit until you first worry about credit.  That is why there are so many commercials about checking your credit score online and how bad credit can negatively impact your life.  After graduation, bill collectors won't give you extra credit; they'll simply give you an incessant number of phone calls with automated voice mails.

If students keep these questions in mind -- and literally keep them there rather than asking them -- the start of the school year will be successful for everyone. And as far as the fear of a stolen lunch goes, just pack really bad lunches and you'll never have to worrry...

But I digress.



Mon, 04 Sep 2017 21:17:00 +0000


A Conversation With My Car
I moved on from this car a year later.  Looking back, maybe this is why...

A Conversation with My Car
April 9, 2013

I really need to move on from the car that I've had for quite some time, but like a loyal friend, I refuse to let go.  In the past three months, though, my car has caused me to get major repairs to parts of the car that I didn't know existed until I brought it to a repair shop.  It is quite possible, in fact, that these parts were made up by the repairmen -- a sort of practical joke that is funny only to people who understand cars.  For example, I needed to get a new belt that connects my accelerator to my engine.  A belt, really?  Totally sounds made up...

Just recently, I had to get a new fuel pump.  There is no way that is a real thing either...

I just wish I had a way of knowing what my car really needed.  Like a good psychologist talking to a person in need of help, I have to dig beneath the surface to see what is really wrong, not what someone thinks is wrong because this so-called "belt" was burned or this fuel pump -- again, totally not a real thing -- is no longer pumping.  I would begin by telling my car that everything will be okay and that I will not judge it or look at it any differently if it shares its problems with me.  I would also apologize for not giving it a name and for referring to it as, well, "it."  Then the deep part of the discussion would begin...

Me: Seriously, car, can you knock it off and just work?

Car: Please, boy, you did not just say that to me.

Okay, so this approach probably would not work.  I would need to calm down first and gently stroke the car's ego.

Me: You are amazing, car, I just want to tell you that.  Even when something goes wrong, you are the best.

Car: Thanks.  For addressing me so nicely, I will now talk to you.

Me: I'm here to help, car.  I really do want what is best for both of us.

Car: That's all I ever wanted, too.  Well, that, and for you to maybe vacuum me every once in a while -- and maybe use the premium gas.

Me: I didn't think you were one of those snobby cars that needed premium.  I've been using regular in order to, you know, keep it real.

Car: Good call.  And that's a good reason for not vacuuming either.  Those pistachio shells give me identity and charm.

After about three hours of this small talk, I would hope that the car would be able to open up.  Maybe it will tell me that it's time to move on -- that we need to separate because it's what is best for the both of us.  Maybe the car will just need some time away from me.  Maybe I'm cramping its style.  These are diagnoses that people who work in auto shops will never give, partially because people would probably not be too happy to pay $600 to receive those words and partially because I don't think repair people really care enough to talk to cars the way that they should.  I think people who fix cars (and those who write about them) should pass psychology exams in order to receive proper certification.  In the meantime, I will search the Internet for help from complete strangers who answer questions in forums.  I'm sure it's what my car would want...

But I digress.




Sun, 27 Aug 2017 00:53:00 +0000


You Only live Once
I wrote this over five years ago, when people were saying, "YOLO" a lot.  I know some people who still say that, but those people are known as "dorks."  I don't know why they weren't dorks five years ago, too.

You Only Live Once
July 3, 2012

It's common knowledge that cats have nine lives, something that I have not been able to verify one way or the other considering how many cats look alike.  However, over the past few months, I've heard a lot that would tell me otherwise, in the form of four letters: YOLO...

YOLO could stand for a number of things.  It could, for example, stand for "Yaks originally landed offshore," which is an important way of informing people about the origin of yaks, regardless of whether that is true or not.  Or, it could stand for "Yard ornaments look outstanding," as a way of reminding everyone that one or two lawn gnomes, if placed properly, will do wonders for scaring away the local youth.  Finally, YOLO could stand for "Yawn often, laugh occasionally" to tell people that it is important to fake boredom during stand-up acts...

The more common meaning of YOLO, "You only live once," was probably said by thousands of people for thousands of years, going back to the days of stone tablets when cavemen would carve it into walls.  None of this matters, though, because it took the song "The Motto" by Canadian rapper Drake for Americans to see how wise this statement was.  In looking up the exact lyric -- "You only live once, that's the motto," followed by an expletive -- I see how eloquently stated those words are, especially when followed by the next line of wisdom: "We bout it every day, every day, every day."  Truthfully, I felt lost in life until I saw those words.  Now I want to join the rest of the world in using #YOLO at the end of every Tweet and in yelling the acronym out of my car window, especially while at red lights...

Knowing that I can only live once, thanks to Drake, there are a few things I now realize I need to do:

1. Come up with an acronym considerably better than YOLO.  This should not be difficult, as any random combination of letters should do the trick here, like KRFP.  People can come up with their own meanings for what those letters stand for, or they can wait for Drake or some other Canadian rapper to enlighten us at some point in the next decade.

2. Get my name mentioned in a Drake lyric.  Imagine how much deeper and wiser I will seem if someone as wise as Drake raps something about me, especially if followed by the words, "We bout it every day, every day, every day," and then I would join in the rap by yelling, "Yeah, that's right, that's right!"

3. Convince people that YOLO is actually "Rolo" mispelled.  Since Rolo are chocolate-covered caramels, which are so, like, 1983, eventually people will get tired of the word and go back to using other words and phrases that are equally as unwise, like "It is what it is." YOLO will then be retired until fifty years from now when people say to their grandchildren, "When I was your age, we knew we only lived once.  Nowadays people don't get that."

Once I accomplish all of the goals above, I will be ready to move on to my next life -- or at least the next stage of it -- as a Canadian rapper, when I will rap about all things Canadian, like bacon and the Canadian flag and bacon-covered flags and hockey. I'll be best known by the wise acronyms I create, like HELLO: "Hey everyone, let's love others." I look forward to the fan following...

But I digress.




Sun, 27 Aug 2017 00:47:00 +0000


Warped Speed
I wrote this column around ten years ago, and you know what?  Slow drivers are still pretty annoying.

Warped Speed:
October 30, 2007

I consider myself an average driver: I drive around ten miles over the speed limit and get annoyed by senior citizens who drive ten miles under.  Occasionally I will look at my speedometer just to confirm what I believe: "Yep, that person really is old," I sometimes tell myself. "Maybe I'll get lucky and she'll get pulled over by the 'slow police.'"

Unfortunately, the "slow police" doesn't exist, at least not yet. However, the only thing stopping this unit from existing is the fact that police forces all across the country do not want to pull slow people over.  It's just not exciting. And it's particularly not brag-worthy to go home after a long day of traffic work to say, "You should have seen it, honey.  This old guy was driving 20 and I somehow caught up to him and told him how slow he was driving and he fell asleep trying to find his registration.  So I yelled at him and he woke up.  It was crazy, I could have been killed."

As it is now, without a "slow police," policemen have the thrill of a three-second high-speed chase that leads to the speedster being pulled over and then showing all relevant documents.  What makes this exciting to policemen is that the person in the car very well may be a celebrity, pregnant or both.  Even when that is not the case, there is still the chance that the driver is an idiot who will attempt to speed away when the cop walks back to his or her police car to check out the situation.  After all, if the car went ten miles over the speed limit just ten minutes prior, what is stopping the driver from going ten miles over the zero-mile-an-hour speed limit that was put into place when the car was pulled over?

Unfortunately for traffic cops, their jobs are being replaced by units on the sides of random streets that serve as giant speedometers.  I would give a more specific name for such a device, except I can not find one online and George Bush doesn't return my calls anymore.  We've all seen these things: a giant number is displaced on the board so that a driver can see his or her speed upon passing by it.  Some may think, "Well, this is a great idea.  This way those without speedometers don't need to worry.  They just have to restrict themselves to driving on these very particular streets."  And that's a fine thought, one that ranks right up there with melting pudding pops to create pudding.  The reality is that, in our action-packed, reality show-driven society, these giant speedometers are purely used for entertainment purposes.  Earlier today, upon passing one, I saw that the car in front of me was going 34 miles per hour, which led me to want to go 35. When the giant speedometer showed me the "35," I yelled out, "In your face, you car in front of me!" and now my day has been a good one...

Tomorrow I plan to pull over before I reach the giant speedometer so that I can run by it and see my speed.  This could be important if I ever get invited to go a formal event and some formal person comes up to me and says, "Any idea of your speed?"  I would be able to answer this question...

The day after tomorrow I plan to stand by this giant speedometer as cars drive by so that I can point to their speeds.  If they go over the speed limit, I will yell at them as if I am the guardian of speed.  To add to the effect, I will wear a badge with the words "Speed Guardian" on it.  If they can read my badge, that means they are driving too slowly.  However, that also means that their vision is good, so they must not be old. If such occurs, I'll have to retire as Speed Guardian until I do further research about speedometers...

But I digress.

Sun, 27 Aug 2017 00:42:00 +0000


Just Driving Thru
I originally wrote this column over a decade ago.  I'm pretty sure nothing has changed.

Drive-Thru Madness:
June 25, 2002

Over the past few years, I've made numerous comments about everything being "express."  That includes express lanes, express mail, express shins -- whatever.  The point of all of these forms is to make lives faster and, therefore, easier.  However, such was not the case while I was waiting in a drive-thru at McDonald's this evening.  In fact, the experience has encouraged me to review the procedure in order to determine who should -- and should not -- be allowed to use this privilege:

First off, people need to know that the drive-thru is not the only option.  You know, there once was a time when customers actually had to park their cars and walk inside the restaurant in order to get food.  Ah, it was a novel concept (much like a book), ranking up there with trying on shoes before purchasing and using a microwave for something other than popcorn.  Nowadays, however, I think driving tests are replacing parallel parking with one's ability to use a drive-thru.  This is especially useful for those in the Midwest, where knowing how to parallel park is about as useful as knowing how to not eat corn.  Or something to that extent...

For those who refuse to walk into the actual restaurant -- perhaps due to fear of mass Grimaces -- please realize that any promises made regarding the drive-thru are false.  For example, I saw a sign this evening that read, "Help us to beat our one-hour record of 120 cars."  For those with a calculator on hand, you can verify that as two cars per minute, or perhaps three if your calculator was made in the Midwest.   My belief is that the record was established on a day when everyone just asked for complimentary napkins, because otherwise the employees can't come close to that pace.  In addition to the free napkins, it's possible that certain cars passed the window while on top of other cars, therefore doubling the number -- and providing a whole lot of laughs and memories in the process.  That reminds me, have you heard the one about the car on top of the other car?  Sure you have, a couple of sentences ago...

But let's move on.  In evaluating speed, we need to consider the customer factor as well.  I feel like every time I wait in the drive-thru, there is someone going through the process for the first time in his or her life.  This evening, the car in front of me talked to the person through the ordering receiver for three minutes.  In his hand was a menu of some sort, obviously not from McDonald's, and he was writing on it as he spoke.  This should not be allowed, not only because the process of "writing" could confuse the employee, but also because it drastically slows down the line of cars.  As it turned out, this person ended up with two Happy Meals.  I can only imagine how this long conversation resulted in this purchase:

Customer: Okay, so I am looking at a menu from a local seafood restaurant with much better food than yours.  If I were there, I would probably be ordering three lobsters, the scallops platter, and a bucket of chicken for the kids.  Do you have any of that?

Employee: We have Happy Meals.

Customer: Right, but what about the scallops?  I don't seem to see anything on your menu about those.  For future reference, let me take down some notes about what you think is similar to scallops.

Employee: We have Happy Meals.

Customer: Okay, let me write that down...  Okay, I got that.  And what about a mocha latte with whipped cream?  Can you get me one of those?  If not, let me know what you think is a suitable replacement and I will write that down.

Employee: We have Happy Meals.

Customer: Okay, thanks for all of your help.  I'll take...  ummmm...  how about two of those Happy Meals?  Those look good.  Now I just have to figure out what to buy for my son.

I'm just glad someone came out happy after all of this.  Meanwhile, I almost broke the one acceptable rule concerning drive-thru lines.  That's right -- I almost honked the horn.  Receiving a honk while ordering at a drive-thru is one of life's biggest embarrassments, almost as big as living in the Midwest...

Besides the speed of drive-thru windows, I have a problem with the location of the menu.  If you want to order effectively, you either need to have the menu memorized, or you need to have 20/20 vision.  On more than one occasion, I've found myself blurting out, "Extra Value Meal #2" simply because I couldn't take out my binoculars in time.  I'm sure the restaurants occasionally send an employee to check up on the menu, but hey -- there are a lot of words on that menu, and what fast-food employee lasts longer than three days?

Perhaps the biggest disappointment of every drive-thru is the encounter with the person behind the voice.  I think some people get their hopes up too much, thinking, "This could be the one," and meaning that it in terms of true love, not in terms of "This person will hand me my fries."  For a minute or two, there is that mystique of who the person really is behind the voice, and in most cases the results are unexpected.  Today, for example, not only did I change my mind concerning this woman, but she also dropped one of my quarters while handing me my change.  So that means I changed my mind  the same time as she forgot to mind my change.  Such is the drama of your typical drive-thru.  As for the comments about the Midwest, I am not sure where those came from…  possibly Kansas.

But I digress.

Sun, 27 Aug 2017 00:36:00 +0000


Nothing to see here.
Well, technically, there is something.

But not much.

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 21:27:00 +0000


All I Got Was This Snake
All I Got Was This Snake:
Originally published on July 18, 2006

---

As I write this I have a little snake on my shoulder.  It is kind of like a chip, but it is stuffed with cotton and would not taste good when placed in dip.  The snake is worth about a dollar, but I was lucky enough to only pay about twenty for it...

While at the boardwalk at Wildwood, NJ, this past weekend, I was labeled with my usual title as a sucker.  I am pretty sure that every boardwalk game has a picture of me on the wall that reads, "This guy will play your game, just acknowledge him."  On this particular evening, I was summoned from about 40 feet away...

"Hey you," someone yelled.  And of course I started to walk over.  After all, it was evident he knew me -- he even called me over by name...

But I didn't want to seem too eager to play his game, which consisted of throwing a softball into an angled plastic bucket, so I paused on my way over...

"You in the hat," he said. "I have an easy game for you."

And this was the clincher.  Not only did he know my name, but he somehow knew that I was wearing a hat.  It would not be right for me to ignore him -- I just had to play this game.  But only once...

He first began with the demonstration of how easy this game was: jumping over the ledge, grabbing a ball and throwing it lightly into the bucket.  "Now just do that two times in a row and you get an iPod," he said.

Granted, I already have an iPod.  But I did not win that iPod.  A won iPod would provide a ton of stories when people ask, "Hey, is that an iPod?" and I reply with "Yes, I won it in a game."  Perhaps this would grow into a tall tale so that three years from now, people would be asking me how I took over the world by throwing a softball into a bucket.  Or, better yet, how I took over a bucket by throwing a softball into the world.  Whatever the situation, I was ready for this game...

I missed my first shot but made the second, giving me hope that this was indeed possible.  Like any sucker, I gave him two more dollars, and then two more, until finally he began to negotiate:  "If you make one and your friend makes one, I'll give you both a prize," he said to me and my friend.  This, of course, entailed both of us giving two more dollars.  And to make a long story much shorter -- and to save myself from future embarrassment -- we were unsuccessful.  As I began to walk away, he handed me the stuffed snake that is currently on my shoulder.  He called it a consolation prize, perhaps because it is supposed to console me about why I lost twenty dollars to win something I already had.  But let's make it known right now that I won't fall for these scams anymore.  The next time I go to a boardwalk, I am not going to wear a hat.  That way, when someone refers to me as the guy in the hat, I can walk right by and say, "Hey, it's like you don't even know me," and I can proceed to spend twenty dollars on a boardwalk ice cream cone instead...

But I digress.

Tue, 09 May 2017 14:36:00 +0000
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