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November 27th, 2015
06:51 pm
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Wednesday Hodgepodge: 25-27 November 2015
The Wednesday Hodgepodge appears courtesy of From This Side of the Pond.

1.What's something you wish you knew how to do, but feel like it's too late to learn?

Play guitar.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm a piano player, and I love playing the instrument.   But I've always been a bit jealous of guitar players, because the guitar is so much more portable than a piano.   I'm sure I could learn; my musical background would be more than sufficient to get started.   But I simply don't have the time to go through all the months (years?) of playing guitar when you don't sound good at all because you're still learning.

2. Your least favorite thing to shop for? Why?

Um.   I would normally say "automobiles"; I hate the slimyness of the entire process.   But the last three cars we've bought have been under "fixed price discount" programs, which mostly eliminate most of the slime.

So ... I guess anything else that has to be "sold" rather than "bought".   Insurance is probably the first example that comes to mind.

3. How has the celebration of Thanksgiving today changed from when you were growing up?

I can remember getting up early to watch the parades on TV.  The parades are still there, but I haven't watched them for years.  As for the celebration itself, not much has changed, other than the fact that as a married man I have two different sets of parents to satisfy (usually in alternate years).

4. What's something that when other people see it, reminds them of you? Explain.

I'm not sure ... I don't get a lot of that.   Though for at least a little bit of time, I had people telling me that I look like Jamie Hyneman (from Mythbusters).   I've actually started curating my mustache, partially to encourage the comparison, and partially because it looks cool.

5. If you could guest star in a TV show, what would it be and why?

There's not a lot of episodic television I'm watching these days, so it's hard for me to pick something from that genre.  Maybe a guest judge on a reality competition show ... purely because of the ego trip to be considered an "expert" on something, I guess.

6. Have you ever farmed or spent any time on a farm? Are there farm stands in your little corner of the world and do you make it a point to shop there? If so, what item do you particularly like to buy from a roadside stand or farm shop?

I've always lived in fairly suburban areas.   However, my dear wife grew up on a 92-acre farm in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, so I get to visit that farm from time to time.   We don't have a lot of farm stands around, though we do like to frequent them when we can.   In particular, we like fresh sweet corn in summertime.

7. What's something you've experienced recently that made you feel a sense of awe or wonder?

Last week, we had our first snowfall of the season in Michigan, and it was significant --- 8-10 inches in our area.   Of course, it's 60 degree right now, so the snow is gone.   But that first drive outside in the snow was wonder-filled: such beauty.   It caught me a bit by surprise this year.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

About a month ago, I started getting notices from Facebook regarding its new "On This Day" feature, where you get to see your posts from this day in previous years.   I've started looking at them pretty consistently.

You know what I've observed?   I complain a lot about my job.   And I have been for many, many, many years.   To be fair, some (much?  most?  all?) of it is justified.

But I'm not going anywhere.  This job is what it is.   I'm going to have to find a way to find joy in the job, even if the job conspires to suck all the joy out of it.   Because I don't want to turn into one of those cynical old grumpy professors I look at and sneer at ... and am probably starting to become like.

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November 23rd, 2015
04:49 pm
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Wednesday Hodgepodge: 18-23 November 2015
Okay, I'm really late with this one ...

1. What's surprised you most about your life, or about life in general?

I don't know that I'm surprised about anything.   I would have to have an expectation in order to be surprised, and I guess I don't really have any expectations about how things should be --- at least personally.

2. Among others, these ten words were added to the Oxford English Dictionary this year...awesomesauce, beer o'clock, brain fart, buttdial, cat cafe (apparently this is a real thing), fatberg (gross-read the definition here), fat shame, hangry, Mx (gender neutral), and skippable.
Your thoughts? In looking over the list, which word do you find most ridiculous? Which word would you never in a million years say out loud? Which word would you be most likely to use in conversation?

Ridiculous?   Probably the only one I'd remotely call ridiculous is "beer o'clock" .... but as a teetotaler, I'm hardly objective there.

Never say out loud?   Again, "beer o'clock", since it's never that time in my house.

Most likely to use?   I've used "brain fart" many times.

3. Do you like gravy? Is there a food you'd rather not eat unless it comes with gravy? Do you make your own or buy the canned or store-made variety? Turkey and gravy, sausage gravy, mashed potatoes and gravy, country ham and red eye gravy, biscuits and chocolate gravy, pot roast and gravy...which one on the list is your favorite?

It has to be a good kind of gravy.   The gravy that Mom used to make never quite worked for me, so it's never been a sauce that I've sought out.   On the other hand, I had some mashed potatoes and gravy at KFC a few weeks ago, and that reminded me how good gravy can be if it's treated like a food in its own right.

Of those listed ... probably turkey and gravy.   But I've never heard of "biscuits and chocolate gravy": what is that?   Because ... chocolate ...

4. Do you have a plan? Do you need a plan? Have you ever had a plan fall into a trillion pieces? Explain.

A plan for what?   I generally like to plan lots of things, but I'm increasingly in positions where plans don't really do much good.

5. November 19 is National Play Monopoly Day. Do you own the original or some version of the game? Do you enjoy playing Monopoly? How likely is it you'll play a game of Monopoly on November 19th? Ever been to Atlantic City? Ever taken a ride on a railroad? Is parking in your town free? Last thing you took a chance on?

I'm sure we've got a copy someplace in the basement, because everyone does.   I haven't played it for years.   Somewhere online I read that the chief problem with the game is that the end of the game is too long and drawn out ... you know you're about to lose for about 30 minutes before it actually happens, which is pretty miserable for the loser.   Other board games give a much better sense of hope to "losing" players for far longer.

Never been to Atlantic City.   I've ridden Amtrak a few times.   Parking in Fenton is mostly free, thanks.   Take a chance?   A lot of geocaching is like that :) .

6. A song you like that has the word (or some form of the word) thanks in the title, lyrics, or meaning?

Well, if you'll let me talk themes, I'll use this one.   The word "thanks" isn't in the lyrics, but it's there.

7. In keeping with this month's theme of gratitude....what is something you're taking for granted that when you stop and think about it, you're grateful for?

My job.   As much as I complain about it (and I do complain about it a lot), I have it much better than I am willing to admit.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Since Thursday night, I've been in a week-long hiatus between grading spells.   The midterms are finally over and graded ... and the big projects don't starting coming in until Thanksgiving eve.   I'm enjoying the break ... because it won't last long.

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November 11th, 2015
11:00 am
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Wednesday Hodgepodge: 11 November 2015
The Wednesday Hodgepodge is courtesy of From This Side of the Pond.

1. In two or three sentences tell us what Veteran's Day means to you?

To be brutally honest ... it means more to me in theory than in practice.

In theory, I appreciate the freedoms that I enjoy because of the service of our veterans to all of us.

In practice ... Veteran's Day is another day at work, at church, and at home, doing the stuff I always do.

In theory, that's exactly what our armed forces fought for: the ability to live ordinary lives without fear.

In practice, I wish that there was more of an impact on my life today from Veteran's Day than the fact that I won't get postal mail and can't go to the bank.

2. What's your favorite film with a patriotic theme woven into the storyline?

3. Flu shot-yes or no? If you answered no, do you plan to get a flu shot? If not, why not? Have you ever had the flu?

I haven't gotten one yet, and I need to.   We had the flu as a household once (mom, dad, and baby), and it was the most horrific weekend I've ever had.   Every year since then, I've gotten a flu shot.

4. I've seen lots of people posting pictures of their Christmas trees up and decorated. Many stores have had Christmas on display since well before Halloween. Red cups are back at Starbucks, sans the holiday decor, and that has some people up in arms. What are your thoughts on all the holiday ruckus this second week of November?

Regarding the Starbucks kerfuffle, Nate Lake has expressed my thoughts more eloquently than I.

Regarding the more general question of the earlyness of Christmas displays, I've written a long essay on that topic.

5. What 'critter' are you most afraid of encountering unexpectedly? Why that one?

Hornets.  They tend to hide in guardrails and lampposts where I'm looking for geocaches.  :)

6. Do you like building things? What's the last thing you 'built'?

I think I would, if I had more experience with it.   Most of the things I "build" are virtual -- documents, assignments, grading sheets.   At times I wish I had skills in carpentry just to build little knick-knacks for the sheer pleasure of it.

7. In keeping with this month's theme of gratitude...what are you most grateful for that brings beauty to your daily life?

My wife.   This artist portrays the wonders of the everyday beauty of marriage.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I am weighed down by sixty midterm exams (for two courses); nothing I do allows me to get them graded.   It's going to be a very long Saturday at this rate.  *sigh*

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November 4th, 2015
09:42 pm
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Wednesday Hodgepodge: 4 November 2015
The Wednesday Hodgepodge is courtesy of From This Side of the Pond.

1. Besides Thanksgiving, something you're looking forward to on your November calendar?

I'll be traveling to Indianapolis in late November to attend my first AP Computer Science one-day workshop as an observer.   If all goes well, I'll be giving one of my own workshops later in the spring.

2.  If I gave you a thank you card right now who would you send it to and why?

There's a colleague at work who never fails to encourage me.   In a workplace that has a tendeny to chew people up and spit them out, she always finds ways (tangible and intangible) to reach out to me and let me know that I'm important and valuable.

3. Of the breads listed, which one's your favorite...bagel, cinnamon, sourdough, garlic, banana, biscuit, pita, Naan, or plain old fashioned white bread?

Cinnamon bread.   Just about anything is better with cinnamon.

4. What's something you have in abundance? Is that a good thing?

I could go in so many directions with this.   So I'll pick two.

The abundance of belly fat I carry around is not a good thing.   The abundance of love I have from my daughter is an amazing thing.

5. November 5th is National Love Your Red Hair Day. Are there any redheads in your family? Who's your favorite redhead?

I have a cousin with red hair, but that's about it.   Favorite redheads?   Um ... Scarlett Johansson, perhaps?

6.  The travel website Busbud recently calculated the most Instagrammed spot in every state. Go here to see what made the list where you live. Are you happy with your state's #1? If not what do you think should be the most photographed spot in your state? Have you snapped a photo there? If you live outside the USA answer as it relates to your state, city or province.

For Michigan, #1 is the Silver Lake Sand Dunes.   I've never been there.   I'm not sure what "ought" to be Michigan's #1; some of the more picturesque spots in the state are the Mackinac Bridge or just about anyplace on Mackinac Island.

7. I'm going to try to have something related to gratitude in this spot each week during the month of November. Here's this week's question-
What's something you've learned about yourself this year that you're grateful for?

I think I'll go back to something I blogged about much earlier this year.   "My people" are the men and women involved with the AP Computer Science A course and exam, chiefly represented in my world by those involved with the annual APCS Reading (i.e. grading session).  It's only in recent years that I've started to view myself as a "regular" in that world; I've never wanted to assume that I'd be invited every year, even when they started to invite me to be a part of the leadership.  This year, a number of people said things to me that showed me that, well, I'm a "thing"; I have a reputation (a good one!), and people remember more about me than just what I do during the work day.

Some days, it is just about enough to be loved.   And I am grateful for that love.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I get a whole daddy-daughter weekend with my oldest daughter this weekend here at home.   It's going to be extremely low-key.   We might get some good take-out and chill with some movies at home.   I'm hoping we have a blast.

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October 28th, 2015
02:45 pm
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Wednesday Hodgepodge: 28 October 2015
The Wednesday Hodgepodge is courtesy of From This Side of The Pond.

1. Are you comfortable with silence? If you're home alone, do you like silence or do you need regular background noise? Do you seek out times and places to be silent? What's your favorite place to find silence/be silent?

There are times when I am comfortable with silence ... largely, though, I'm not.   I tend to need background noise, but something that I can actively control.   I need to find more times of silence.

2. October 28th is National Chocolate Day. Can't let that go by without a mention now, can we? Will you celebrate? How? Let's say you can have one of the following right this very minute... a cup of hot chocolate, a strawberry dipped in chocolate, a bowl of plain chocolate ice cream, or a slice of chocolate pie...what's your pleasure?

I'm horribly overweight, so ... no, I won't be going diving into a pool of chocolate today.   Strawberry dipped in chocolate.   (Fruit is good for you, right?)

3. How do you feel about blue jeans? Favorite thing in the world to wear or nope, don't own a single pair? How often do you wear blue jeans in a typical week? Do you own a blue jean jacket?

I wear blue jeans not infrequently ... being a male university professor means that I have a fair amount of liberty in what I wear (though I tend towards "business casual" more often than not).   Maybe a couple of times a week (counting the weekend)?

4. Are you superstitious? If so, in what way?

Nope.   Can't think of anything.

5. If you had to come up with a costume using only things you have on hand right now, what could you come up with?

This cowboy outfit usually works:

6. What scares you a little? What do you do when you feel scared?

Only a little?

Every trip into the classroom comes with a small twinge of fear.   Par for the course for an introvert.

7. Perhaps today will be the day I ______________________________.

... finally pay those bills sitting on the kitchen table.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

You know the problem with being an outright jerk in the workplace?   It's effective.   Months of working through channels, asking questions politely, begging for help ... gets you nothing.   Going bat-@#$! crazy in an email message to The Powers That Be?  Gets you everything you need, and more.

Guess what this teaches me about how to get work done?

[P.S.  I'm sure that's not unique to my workplace ...]

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October 22nd, 2015
07:12 pm
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Wednesday Hodgepodge: 21-22 October 2015

The Wednesday Hodgepodge is courtesy of From This Side of The Pond.

1. October 21, 2015 is Back to the Future Day. Did you see the movie? The sequels? In the second film, Doc takes Marty into the future to prevent Marty's future son from making a mistake. They leave 1985 and land on a 'skyway' on October 21st, 2015. So tell us, what were you doing in the fall of 1985?

I saw all three movies ... though I'm not sure whether in the theaters or via other means.

In the Fall of 1985 ... I was beginning my academic career at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.   (More on that later.)

2.  If time travel were possible, would you want to go to the future? The past?

Between the two ... I think I'd rather go to the past, and understand how we got here.   The future ... well, it might not be possible to understand how we got there.

3. We're not flying cars, but some of the technology imagined in the 80's film has indeed come to pass in real life 2015-flat screen TVs on the wall, tablets, fingerprint recognition, video conferencing, online banking, 3-D movies, motion controlled video games, drone cameras, and smart glasses (Google glass).  Do you worry technology is growing at a rate so fast we'll soon be unable to keep up with it's demands? Do you think the Internet does more harm than good?

I teach a course here at Kettering that discusses these ideas at length.   I subscribe more to a theory of "technological co-shaping": society shapes technology, which in turn shapes society.   No, I don't think we'll be unable to keep up with technology; cultures are self-correcting in that sense.   If we build something that overwhelms us, we'll either back off, or we'll build a way to cope.   As to the Internet ... no, I don't believe it does more harm than good.   The harm it does is substantial, but so is the good.

4. Your favorite dish prepared in a slow-cooker? Your favorite fast food?

I can't really say I've got a favorite slow-cooked dish.   As for fast food ... "favorite" is an odd word, I guess.   Lately, just about any sort of wrap (breakfast, lunch, dinner) is a go-to pick for me.

5. No time like the present, down time, face time, pressed for time, in the nick of time, make time, mark time, or just in time...which timely saying most relates to your life right now?

Pressed for time.   Too many things that need doing, too little time or motivation to get them done.

6. Tell us about a place you went as a child or younger person that's no longer there or is now something else. How does that make you feel?

My high school, Livonia Bentley, is now closed.   In fact, I was a part of the last graduating class from Bentley.   Years of declining enrollments in a baby-boomer bedroom community led to the need to close one of the four high schools on the district, and Bentley was the oldest facility.   Part of the building was razed ... some of the remaining parts are still around as a community center.   I haven't been back anytime recently ... but it feels a little odd that "I can't go home again".

7. Describe your comfort zone.

Knowing what's coming, and being prepared to handle it.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

As an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, I had the privilege of being a part of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship movement.   I learned so much from other Godly men and women about how to serve others for Kingdom purposes, as we struggled along together to hear what God had in store for us.

I was also an awkward young man, socially.  (I still am, to a certain extent.)   Especially when it came to romantic relationships.

During my sophomore year, I finally realized that there was a young woman in InterVarsity to whom I was attracted.   Donna was a dear friend who was in my circle of friends that hung out together frequently.    Probably the only two people in our circle who didn't know that I had a crush on her were me and her.   But I eventually figured it out ... and then had to figure out what to do about it.

So I was thinking about all of this at some social event, being a little pensive, and Donna comes over and asks me "so, you seem distracted, what's going on?".   GULP.

Looking around at the large group of people making a huge amount of noise, I managed to blurt out "well, it's not something I feel comfortable talking about here".   So she invited me to come over to her dorm in a day or two and have breakfast and talk about it.

When I did show up for breakfast ... she was kind, she was supportive, and she was so sweet ... it almost made it harder to tell her, as it was clear she had no idea.   After coming right up to saying it and freezing up for a minute, I finally blurted out "I'm attracted to you", and the conversation moved on.   As I suspected, she wasn't expecting it, but she was extraordinarily gracious, and I had enough good sense to say "hey, no need to say anything right now".

About a month later, we had a follow-up conversation, where I got the "let's be friends" response --- which I'd kinda figured out by then.   But it was all good; I was afraid that professing my affection for her would screw up that friendship, and I was grateful that we could continue as good friends.

Unbenownst to me, somewhere in that time frame, Donna started dating a Godly gentleman who would eventually become her husband.   There was never any awkwardness or resentment there; I knew Paul, and was glad for the two of them.   We lost track of each other as the years passed; I was glad to reconnect with both them on Facebook a few years ago.

Yesterday, I got word that Donna passed away.  I still don't know the details; I hadn't heard of any illness, but not everyone broadcasts that sort of thing.

Today I'm grateful for a loving Christian woman who found a way to deal with a young man's awkward affections in a God-honoring way.   And I'm grateful for the knowledge that she's now in the presence of the Lord she served so faithfully.

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October 14th, 2015
02:23 pm
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Wednesday Hodgepodge: 14 October 2015
The Wednesday Hodgepodge is courtesy of From This Side of The Pond.

1. What's something that has recently 'tried your patience'?

I'm the assessment coordinator for my department.   When I have time to work on putting all the pieces together and write the reports, nobody will give me the data I need.   When I have all of the data I need, I don't have the time to write the reports.   Reports, by the way, that nobody reads, but everyone wants to know are written.  (I know.   I'm putting Easter Eggs in them.)

2. Do you think patience comes to us naturally or is it something you have to learn as you grow? On a scale of 1-10 generally how patient are you? (1=I blow up at the drop of a hat and 10=I've got all the time in the world).

A little of both.   We may start with a bit of a predisposition to patience, but it is a skill that can be encouraged.   I know I've gotten better at it over the years, as I've been exposed to more situations where it was required.

It's hard for me to put a number on it ... it varies over time, over the situation, and over the amount of sleep I've gotten.

3. Share about a time when you felt like you could fly. Or a time you wished you could fly. Or a time you felt like you were flying.

Ph.D. students undergo a rite of passage near the beginning of graduate school known as the "qualifying examination".   Think of it as the SAT/ACT on steroids.  You have to demonstrate a huge amount of knowledge in your field of study.  It's an exam that most graduate students spend months preparing to take, and it's a huge source of stress.

For a few days before my qualifying exams, I felt like I actually had all of that information in my head at one moment.   It was a remarkable feeling of clarity.   (It didn't last long.)

4. Your favorite song with the word fly in the title or lyrics, or your favorite song that relates to flying in some way?

5. What's in your fall picnic basket and where are we picnicking in your neck of the woods this time of year?

Don't really picnic anytime at all.  But if we've got to head out ... any woods I haven't found the geocaches in would be just fine, thank you :) .

6.  Carpentry, electrical, plumbing, landscaping...which skill would you most like to possess and how would you put that skill to use today?

Carpentry.   I feel like I have such a lack of the basic understandings of mechanics, and carpentry would probably assist me so much in just the ordinary stuff of household maintenance.   I feel really incompetent when it comes to that world.

7. What's something you think is too expensive to justify buying lately?

I keep saying that I'm going to buy a kayak and the associated safety equipment so that I can head out and find aquatic geocaches.   I never do it.   Mostly it's because I haven't balanced my checkbook in months and I have other things I should do with that money first (like charitable donations).   But it's also hard for me to spend money on myself.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Second week of the new term.  Different schedule ... I thought I'd have more time to get stuff done with all my classes bunched together, but it's not working out that way.   *headdesk*

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October 8th, 2015
06:02 pm
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Wednesday Hodgepodge: 7-8 October 2015
Yeah, I'm late ...

The Wednesday Hodgepodge is courtesy of From This Side of The Pond.

1. It's October so let's get this out there first thing...have you jumped on the all-things-pumpkin bandwagon? How so?

I haven't jumped on, I haven't jumped off.   Of the types of food items I buy regularly, there just isn't anything that comes with pumpkin spice this season.   I enjoy the taste of pumpkin, though.

2.  "We have more power than will; and it is often by way of excuse to ourselves that we fancy things are impossible." Francois Duc De la Rochefoucauld
What's something you once thought impossible, but in hindsight see as more a matter of lack of will?

I'm not sure there's anything I think of as "impossible" (well, except for the mathematically impossible stuff I teach about).   For the most part, we can find a way to do anything we choose to do, and we can find an excuse to do anything we don't want to do.

3. The rose is America's National Flower, but every state also has its own (click here to see the list). Are you happy with yours? If you were in charge what would you declare your state's flower? If you're outside the U.S. what bloom would you like to see labeled as your country's national flower?

Michigan has the apple blossom as its flower.   It's a nice enough flower, I suppose.   I need to get out and appreciate nature more ... it's hard for me to have an opinion on the suitability of flowers.   There is a significant agricultural (and, specifically, apple-growing) component to the state of Michigan, of course, so the choice of the apple blossom is at least appropriate.

4. What have you lost interest in recently?

Honestly?   National politics.   As a red voter in an overwhelmingly blue district, it's hard for me to get excited about anything about national politics, because there's little I can do to affect it.

5. In your opinion, who's the best living musician?

Oh, golly ... I'm not sure I could even name someone.   I admire the composition skills of John Williams ... does that count?

6. S'mores-love 'em or no? Ever make them indoors? Last time you sat around an outdoor fire? Are making s'mores and sitting round a fire pit on your autumn bucket list? Do you have an autumn bucket list?

S'mores ... eh.   Awfully messy.   And, these days, it's not like I need the extra calories, even though all I seem to do is get larger and larger.   Don't really have an autumn bucket list.

7. Your favorite small town? Why?

Cedarville, Michigan ... because of the camping we do there every year, and the summer I spent working there long ago.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I can't be this tired only a week into the new semester ...

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September 30th, 2015
02:13 pm
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Wednesday Hodgepodge: 30 September 2015
The Wednesday Hodgepodge is courtesy of From This Side of The Pond.

1. Something on your October calendar that makes you smile?

Thursday night, my wife and I are attending a taping of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me in Ann Arbor.

2. Food for the soul or music for the soul...which camp are you in? Tell us why.

Right now, probably music for the soul.   I've always been a musician.   As for food, I love it ... but I'm overweight, and seemingly too busy to actually do anything about it.   Good food ends up just hurting me in the long run.

3. What are two or three things you've learned recently as the result of an online search?

Gosh, I don't know ... I spend my life online.   I learned that the population of Sioux Falls, SD, was 4.5% African-American in the 2010 census.

4. Share your favorite game day recipe. You can describe it, post the how-to, or add a link to the actual recipe.

I don't really make food for game-day.   But probably the most unique thing I'd do for that is a dip: one can of salsa, one package of cream cheese (softened), mixed together.   Makes an interesting dip.

5. What are your five essential steps for creating the perfect morning routine?

Five steps?   I'm lucky to get upright, stumble downstairs, and get out the door on time.

6. What small thing have you taken note of today?

I found a geocache.   It was pretty small.  :)

7. Sum up your September in seven words or less.

I am tired of all this stress.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I'm tired of spending my life reacting, instead of acting.   Hopefully, I can get a little bit ahead so I can start acting once again.

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September 26th, 2015
11:25 am
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Wednesday Hodgepodge: 23-26 September 2015
It's finals week.  I'm late.  :)

The Wednesday Hodgepodge is courtesy of From This Side of The Pond.

1. What have you 'fallen for' recently?

A couple of nights ago, I happened across some comedy barbershop quartet groups on Facebook ... and I can't seem to stop watching them.   I never sang barbershop, but I sang a lot in high school with the high school choirs (who sang acapella a bunch), and it brought back a lot of fine memories.   How I miss tight harmony ...

2. What's something you're 'squirreling away' for later?

I wish I could say there was anything I was really 'squirreling away'.   So much of what I seem to be doing right now is simply reacting to the moment in front of me.

3. How do you like your apples? Sweet? Tart? Crisp? Cooked? Apples are one of the superfoods for fall...how often do you eat an apple either plain or as part of a favorite recipe? What's your favorite variety?

I love cooked apples (in just about any form); I can't stand raw apples (in just about any form).   I don't know enough about varieties to be able to pick one.

4. According to Fodor's the ten best fall foliage trips in the US of A are-Aspen Colorado, The Catskills New York, The Berkshires Massachusetts, Columbia River Gorge Oregon, Green Mountain Byway Vermont, Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway New Mexico, Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, Upper Peninsula Michigan, Lake of the Ozarks Missouri, and Glacier National Park Montana. Which would you most like to visit this fall and why?

I don't really know of any of those places, other than Michigan's UP, of course.   By default, I'd pick that one, though I'm sure the others would be lovely.

5. The topic of legalizing marijuana was raised in the most recent televised political debate so let's wade in too. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia currently have laws legalizing marijuana in some form. Four states have legalize marijuana for recreational use. Your thoughts?

While generally I'm of a fairly libertarian mindset ... this one troubles me.   I understand, intellectually, that prohibitions on drug use mostly just encourage it and invite a criminal element into the picture.   At the same time, I've seen up-close how marijuana (legally or illegally obtained) has destroyed people's lives.

Michigan has legalized marijuana use for "medical use" only.   A friend of mine at church has a son who is now hopelessly addicted to marijuana because an enabler he knows got him diagnosed for "fatigue" (who isn't tired these days?) and got him a prescription for marijuana as an "approved treatment".   She had to kick him out of the house as a result, and he's smoking his life away.

The rationalist in me would say that he has the right to throw his life away like that, and we shouldn't deprive him of his right to do so.   The compassionate side of me looks at the disaster this kid has become, and the heartbreak in his mother, and can't stand sitting there and doing nothing.

And that hasn't changed much in 30 years.   A dear friend of mine in college had a roommate who did the same thing.  He was the nicest, straight-laced, moral kid you ever knew.   A couple of friends in the dorm got him to try smoking mariquana as a joke, and he never came down from the high --- he quit going to class, he started acting out against everyone, he became violent.  Eventually his dad had to come and physically remove him from campus.   I often wonder whatever happened to him.

I don't know how to balance out freedom of choice against the destructiveness of mind-altering drugs.   Force me to pick a side, and I'll vote to criminalize marijuana use, because I've seen how it destroys people.   But I have no good response to the rational arguments in favor of legalization.

6. Are you okay to watch a movie already in progress or do you need to always see it from the beginning? How about jumping into a TV series somewhere in the middle? Is that okay?

Normally, I need to start from the beginning.   Unless it's a movie/TV show I've seen before.

7. Thursday (September 24) is National Punctuation Day. What rule of punctuation trips you up most often? What rule of punctuation, when broken by someone else, bugs you the most?

I know it's a rule, but, dagnabbit, I can't deal with the rule that says that if you end a sentence with a quotation, the final punctuation mark of the sentence goes inside the quotation marks.   It just seems wrong.

For other people: it's the use of "its" versus "it's".

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I've just now started to see the feature on Facebook where it shows your posts on this date in previous years.   For whatever reason, all the posts I was seeing this week were awfully negative.   (Well, there is a correlation, as there's a particular event that used to occur this week that would set me off.)

But it's got me thinking about my social media presence.   Am I becoming that cranky old man who just complains about stuff all the time?   Why can't I "be content whatever the circumstances" (Philippians 4:11)?   Lord, have mercy ...

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