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Jim Huggins Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Jim Huggins" journal:

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April 14th, 2014
01:57 pm
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My Spring 2014 Manifesto: get some rest, dude!
Okay ... this blog entry is going to be long and self-absorbed.   Mostly, it's me thinking about my place in the world, personally and professionally.  If you want to bail out at this point, please do so ...

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Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

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October 12th, 2013
05:04 pm
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On the coming of Winter: a public challenge to you

As I sit here on this beautiful Fall afternoon, with just a slight chill in the air, I am reminded of the changing of the seasons and the upcoming arrival of winter.

Winter, for those of us who live in the northern US, is a long, cold, dark season.  And, not surprisingly, it often brings an accompanying change in mood ... especially for those of us who have lived through northern winters for most of our lives.  The dark and cold brings about a long season of whining and complaining, as folks yearn for the coming of summertime once again.

Mark Twain once said "everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it."  In recent years, this statement has come to my mind more than once.  We Northerners often view complaining about the weather as our birthright --- complaining about shoveling snow and defrosting cars and heating bills and precious little daylight is an ordinary part of life.  But complaining about the weather does nothing; it doesn't make it easier to endure, and it doesn't make it easier for anyone else to endure it, either.

As an evangelical Christian, it's also seemed terribly weird for me that Christians complain about the weather.  We read verses like "Every good and perfect gift is from above" (James 1:17).  We sing hymns like "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" that celebrate the seasons.  And then we read other verses like "Do everything without grumbling or arguing" (Phillipians 2:14) ... right before we leave church and complain about having to scrape the snow off our cars.  The cognitive dissonance hurts my brain.

So, last fall, I made a secret resolution.  I resolved that I wasn't going to complain about the winter.  It's not like I'm some hearty "winter warrior" who resolved to go running naked in the snow, or ride my snowmobile to work, or build the world's largest snow fort.   But I decided to choose not to complain about the cold and the dark and the snow.  And I decided not to join in when others complained about those same things.

I didn't do this to make a political statement, or a social statement --- or any sort of statement at all.  I didn't tell anyone I was doing this.  I simply decided to do this for my own benefit.

And you know what?  I had a better winter as a result.  It really wasn't that hard to stop complaining, and to "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  And because I wasn't complaining, I had a much better mood through the whole winter.  I spent my time outside enjoying the gifts given to me rather than focusing on the gifts I didn't have.

So, as I see the seasons changing once again, I have a challenge for you.

Join me.

Resolve this year not to complain about the cold weather.  Instead, resolve to give thanks for the weather that is provided for you.  Seek out the good in what you have, not in what you don't have.

I've created a Facebook Group called the Winter Anti-Griping Society (https://www.facebook.com/groups/winterags/) for those of you who would like to take the pledge with me.  Membership is open to anyone; feel free to invite others.  (I'd also love it if those of you with artistic and/or Facebook talents would volunteer to spruce up the group page.)

It's time to stop talking about the weather and do something about it.

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July 22nd, 2013
08:23 pm
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On the opening and closing of schools
Times in Michigan are interesting these days.  The state is balancing its budget; Detroit is filing for bankruptcy.  Lots of good news if you look for it; lots of bad news if you look for it.

Today's news was more in the "bad news" category.  The State of Michigan is closing the Buena Vista and Inkster school districts, due to financial distress.  Current students will be sent to surrounding districts. Read more...Collapse )

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December 18th, 2012
11:47 am
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On Christmas shopping and gender biases --- even for those of us who know better
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Current Location: Starbucks, Flint, MI
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

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10:40 am
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RadioLab: "What's Up, Doc"
What's Up, Doc? (from RadioLab)

RadioLab is one of my favorite podcasts.  Their programs range from modestly stimulating to absolute brilliance.  This is one of the latter.  It deals with a wonderful story about the life of Mel Blanc.  (I'd tell you more, but it would spoil the surprise.)

My wife does research dealing with the electrical signals in the human brain.  She tells me often: the more we learn about how the brain works, the more we discover we have absolutely no freaking idea how the human brain works.

"Fearfully and wonderfully made", indeed (Ps. 139:14).

Current Location: Starbucks, Flint, MI
Current Mood: impressedimpressed

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December 7th, 2012
09:55 am
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The science of waiting in line
What To Do When The Bus Doesn't Come (from NPR)

This is utterly fascinating.  Note the quotes about "occupied time":

The basic notion, says MIT researcher Richard Larson, is that time goes by if you are doing something — anything — that occupies you; even if that something is stabbing your finger onto plastic bubbles. "Occupied time" just feels shorter than "unoccupied time." People doing nothing in a line typically overestimate their wait by about 36 percent.

This explains some of the things I've read about queueing theory. 

Current Mood: impressedimpressed

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July 9th, 2012
02:37 pm
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Improbable Research » Blog Archive
This makes my head hurt just a bit ... is it ridiculous or brilliant?  Wait, let me ask my computer about it ...

The April Fools Turing Test

Current Mood: impressedimpressed

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June 15th, 2012
08:37 am
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On assessing risk
People are notoriously bad about assessing risk.  Consider this commentary:

And now, only one senior al Qaeda leader left - CNN.com

Here's the key passage for me:

"Lone wolves inspired by jihadist ideology have managed to kill a total of 17 Americans in the United States since 9/11, according to a tally maintained by the New America Foundation.

Meanwhile, 54 Americans are reported to be killed every year by lightning, according to the National Weather Service. In other words, to the average American, lightning is about 30 times more deadly than jihadist terrorism."

It's important to keep risk and threat in perspective. 

Current Mood: impressedimpressed

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June 14th, 2012
01:35 pm
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Students assigned to cheat on exam use doctored Little Brother cover and many other clever methods -
Students assigned to cheat on exam use doctored Little Brother cover and many other clever methods - Boing Boing

This is an utterly fascinating experiment.  It shows that security folks have to have a completely different mindset than normal folks.  How do you defend yourself against adversaries who, by definition, don't play by the rules?  You have to learn to play outside of the box ...

The presentation itself is a hoot as well ...

Current Mood: impressedimpressed

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May 17th, 2012
05:33 pm
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Iran threatens to sue Google for not labeling Persian Gulf - CNN.com

Iran threatens to sue Google for not labeling Persian Gulf - CNN.com

This article illustrates why geography is still important.  (Though I confess that I have a bit of T.S. Eliot running through my head ... "the naming of cats is a difficult matter" ....)

Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

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