Better at knowing than at doing


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Better at knowing than at doing

By Bobby Neal Winters

I met a lady last Wednesday at the Campus Ministries center who asked me if I was still having a problem with slugs. Those who have occasion to peruse this space may remember I have mentioned from time to time the fact that I have slugs on my lawn and in my basement of the sort which bring to mind to some of the wilder imaginings of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Earlier this summer, my wife discovered three particularly large ones in the back yard we have chosen to name Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. These are truly slugs of biblical proportions.

When I told the lady that I did indeed still have slugs, she told me a way of getting rid of them. Her method is ingenious, cheap, and involves recycling, everything a method should be. It goes this way. Take a two-liter bottle of soda pop any kind will do and drink it, because you don’t need the pop, only the bottle. Now cut top of the bottle off between the very top and the part where it begins to be cylindrical. The idea is that when you have cut it, there will still be a little curve on it. Once you’ve removed the top, make a couple of cuts so that you can fold part of the top into the bottle and staple it there.

When you’ve done all of this, you’ve created what the experts call a “slug trap.” Slugs go in, but they don’t come out. The question might occur to you, “Why on earth would a slug want to go into a pop bottle?”

The answer is so they can get a product which has been cleverly marketed under the name Slug Bait. Slug Bait attracts and kills slugs. If all goes as planned, you will wind up with a two-liter bottle full of dead slugs, and, really, what more could you ask for?

The lady who told me about this says that she wraps the bottle up in a garbage bag because she finds it a bit disgusting.

I’ve not personally put her plan into action yet, though my wife currently has such a bottle in the basement. I’m afraid to put it into action with our outdoor slugs because I fear one of the smaller ones might get his head stuck in the bottle and get mad, and I don’t want to have to deal with a slug that big that is angry.

While I haven’t personally seen a slug that big, I have seen indirect evidence. I’ve got a three-inch-wide hose that allows water from my sump to be pumped out onto the grass and the flower bed. One morning I came out on my way to work and saw that it was covered with slime. In a moment of horror, I realized that the slugs in my lawn had been using this hose as a love-toy. Given the amount of slime present, I decided then and there this was one slug I did not want to see, especially with it committing such hideous carnal acts.

Then there were the dead pine trees that mysteriously went over in my backyard. They say a storm did it, but can we be sure it wasn’t rogue slugs on the warpath?

I suppose that I should question myself and look inward for a reason as to why I haven’t acted more proactively to get rid of these beasts, but I think I have an answer.

Some of my friends at the university are trying to get me to improve myself by reading long-haired books. The latest in the line is one named Nicomachean Ethics by a fellow named Aristotle. He’s not what I could call a real fun read, but he does make a point, here and there, if you can stick with him.

One thing he talks about is called “incontinence.” In spite of what you might think, this has nothing to do with using Depends. What he means by this is doing something because you feel like it when you know better. He calls it “incontinence”, but I call it “living.”

I know how to get rid of the slugs but I don’t do it. Somehow my feelings get in the way. It could be I feel some sort of pity for the creatures, or perhaps I’m just too lazy. I think I know which way my spouse would vote.
On the other hand, it might simply be a matter of time and priorities. Life might simply be to short to every thing that needs to be done, and I have to make a choice between tolerating loathsome, disgusting creatures and doing something like spending time with my children or reading Aristotle. As we only have our children borrowed and must take advantage of them while we can, the choice is between slugs and Aristotle. I have about the same chance with either of them.

(Bobby Winters is a professor of mathematics, writer, and speaker. You can contact him at or visit his webpage at
Kindest Regards, Okie!

One thing he talks about is called “incontinence.” In spite of what you might think, this has nothing to do with using Depends. What he means by this is doing something because you feel like it when you know better. He calls it “incontinence”, but I call it “living.”
I never dreamed I would find Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics associated with mutant slugs. :)

I understand too well about being better at knowing than at doing. Too often, I find I know better, and don't do.

"If I dood it, I get a whoopin'.

I dood it anyway!" :D

"The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak"