Cooper: Advice to the shopworn

Some of you, probably all of you, will be surprised that readers ask me for advice on occasion. I take these questions seriously because I take seriously that someone would reach out to me for the answers to life’s questions.

Some of you, probably all of you, will be surprised that readers ask me for advice on occasion. I take these questions seriously because I take seriously that someone would reach out to me for the answers to life’s questions.

Therefore, I ponder them in quiet moments of deep thought in order to give it my utmost attention to not only the question but the underlying issues that have brought this person to my email account.

It is in this spirit I am providing a sample of the questions and my answers and invite you to submit questions (see email address below), especially those that deal with the dilemmas of our time, except anything to do with computers.

Desperation was the case in my first example in which the writer wondered if he needed to escape to Outer Mongolia in order to avoid the situation.


Dear B.D. Cooper,

We have to go to (grandson’s) pre-school graduation ceremony. Am I just cynical or is that something that is legitimate?  A pre-school graduation? Do we have to buy a graduation gift? What do we get? Legos? Something from Batman or Star Wars? Has the whole world gone crazy? Does that mean we have to go to a graduation ceremony every time the school year ends? Or can I just buy a one-way ticket to Outer Mongolia?

Signed, Gift Shop Shocked Grandpa


Dear Gift Shop Shocked Grandpa,

Yes, the world has gone crazy and you have to give a gift now and every year until your grandson graduates from high school. It should be at least $1,000 — which would mean you will have given him $14,000 by the time he graduates. If invested wisely and Congress actually votes on something that will spur the economy, he will have at least enough for his first semester in college.

That’s being a good grandpa, so stay home and suck it up.

B.D. Cooper


My next example is a question I received from one of the most erudite of my readers. The question has been slightly edited due to space constraints and possible copyright infringement. (In other words, he really should be writing this column instead of me.)


Dear B.D. Cooper,

So the question before us is how do you engage those people that oppose school bonds and levies, deny the climate change is a problem, want (only) strong men to be in government, and yet dislike government intrusion into their affairs, unless it concerns bathrooms?

Signed, Serious Thinker


Dear Serious Thinker,

Really, Serious Thinker, must you make these people sound crazy? You have pinned your wily mind to the essence of one of the issues of our time. The “strong man” (could be a woman but don’t count on it unless you live in the UK) and supporters are able to withstand the pressure of conflicting but equal ideas by picking one and ignoring others. Many of us in this group are unencumbered by the need to weigh differing points of view because there are none but ours.

Many others of us are plagued by an integrity of thought that will not allow us to dismiss the ambiguity inherent in most conflicting but equal ideas surrounding an issue. We delve in, weigh differing factors and attempt to make a whole in reaching resolution. We believe to do anything else is to disown our own capacity to successfully adjust to the pressures of our ever-changing world. In doing so, we are often seen as weak and indecisive.

Voluntary engagement is not likely when there is no chemistry. Arranged engagements that lead to an arranged marriage typically end in divorce unless one party gives in and up.

In other words, Serious Thinker, they just aren’t into you.

B.D. Cooper


The next query for this day comes from someone who has either worn out some coils of his thought processes or is misplacing his confidence in this advice-giver.


Dear B.D. Cooper,

When both teams pray during timeouts, is God forced to choose?

Signed, Just Wondering


Dear Just Wondering,

It depends on whether or not the winning team is praying for rain because the crops are dying.


And to conclude:


Dear B.D. Cooper,

What did you do with the money?

Signed, Old Enough to Remember


Dear Old Enough to Remember,

But too old to remember it was D.B. Cooper.

Signing off, B.D. Cooper



Bertha D. Cooper is retired from a 40-plus year career as a health care administrator focusing on the delivery system as a whole. She still does occasional consulting. She is a featured columnist at the Sequim Gazette. Reach her at