It’s the small ones really

Share one of the best gifts you’ve ever received.

“Your desk is interesting.” “My kids love start wars and Legos too.” Those are polite ways that people tell me that my desk at work looks like a childs desk would. My desk is full of pop figures and Lego structures that, I built all by myself.

I sometime mention that every thing on my desk, other than the actual work equipment is a gift. I have gotten gifts from family members and colleges and they have been evicted from my home office of the years and now reside at work. I love receiving gifts I can look at them and tell you who got that gift for me and when. I can look at the gift and know that at that time in life they were thinking of me.

For my birthday last year my wife bought me and her tickets to see the Beyond Van Gogh experience. The experience was pretty incredible and we truly enjoyed ourselves.

This was one of the best gifts I have received. Not because I am a big Van Gogh fan. I do admire the talent and think that it was tragic that he could not overcome his mental illness. His bother seemed to try and help but still Van Gogh’s story ended in tragedy and should not have played out that way. No one should be to ashamed to ask for help mental health is just health.

The gift was special and amazing because it was time with my favorite person doing something new and unique. If the experience is near you you should visit it was pretty incredible.

Time spent with my wife is some of the best times I have ever had. Family matters and the best gifts I have ever received are those experiences with my family.

You remind me of Lenny Kravitz

Tell us about your favorite pair of shoes, and where they’ve taken you.

One of the best jobs I had was working for Hugo Boss in the IT department. The house has some amazing clothes, great designs quality stuff and I got a pretty great discount. I would wear my Hugo Boss suit to work with a pair of Hugo Boss trainers or sneakers.

I eventually meet my wife at Hugo Boss she still works there but I do not. IN IT the mantra “You have to move out to move up”, has seemed true for my career. My wife worked in a different department however we would see each other at lunch and of course we carpooled together to and from campus. There was a sample sale one year while I worked there and at the sale there was a pair of amazing red trainers that I had to have. I bought the shoes and wore them so often that they were worn out and not salvageable after about three years. I wore those red shoes with my suits and sweatpants. I wore the shoes outside of work and I even wore those shoes to church.

I love wearing sneakers with my suits it is a trend that still hasn’t died for me, but the red shoes did die. I put the red shoes in the recycle bin about 2 years ago. One year at a Hugo Boss holiday party my director approached me and my future wife and mentioned how me wearing sneakers with suits reminded her of the singer Lenny Kravitz. I love Lenny Kravitz! He is so cool, his music and style are amazing. If I had any doubts about wearing athletic shoes with dress clothes they where all washed away by that compliment. Later that year as a gift my wife gave me a bobblehead in my own likeness. I was in a suit and holding my ipad and on my feet.. You guessed it those red trainers!

17 years old

Are you patriotic? What does being patriotic mean to you?

I joined the United States military at the age of seventeen. When I turned 18 I left Cleveland Ohio for US Army Basic Training. My enlistment in the army was only three years and I spent every year in a different dessert in a different country.

I joined the Army for a bunch of different reasons, I was avoiding college, I wanted to see the world and I felt like it was the patriotic thing to do. Patriotism for me was the love of the idea of the United States over the actual United States.

Ideally the United States allows every person the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I believe that the declaration of independence makes it clear that these rights, life,liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are unalienable. Because they are unalienable they cannot be given away or taken by any government. Growing up I loved the idea the the United States government would work to preserve these rights for everyone.

After leaving home I watched many people even citizens of the United States get denied these rights under the cloak of patriotism. Xenophobia and racism sit behind patriotism with groups like the Oath Keepers and the Liberators. These groups are part of what is being called the patriot movement but they do not believe in life. liberty and the pursuit for justice for all. The idea of the United States was and is still poorly executed but is one of inclusivity. Everyone has these rights no matter what the color of their skin is and what their heritigat. The Patriot movement is exclusive and will not afford these rights to people based on their race, religion or sex. The current patriot movement is shameful and sadly very unpatriotic.


The hate from the Patriot movement has bleed over to mainstream politics and into the political parties and their actions. There is nothing patriotic about banning people from travel based on their religion or race however this happened in 2017 for three months and was done under the guise of protection. This is not patriotic at all it is the opposite of the great idea that the United States was founded on however it was not the first time that the idea of the United States was perverted.

Since the beginning of the founding of the United States patriotism was perverted to wage war on the indigenous people of North America. There have been 1,500 attacks on Native Americans by the United States government and countless crimes committed against the native American people. The genocide and total disregard was also cloaked in patriotism but that was not in line with life. liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.

I like to believe that I am a patriot not because I served in the US Military but because I believe and support the idea that every person in the whole world deserves life, liberty, and to pursue happiness. I support everyone’s right to freedom no matter what that a living beings, race, sex or religion is. Being a patriot is understanding how great your nation should and can be if it has good core principles and lives up to those principles.

All of my Dung Beetle

It is Feb 10 2023 here in the United States and very soon (in four days), most of the country will celebrate in some shape or fashion St. Valentines day. Saint Valentine was a priest who was beaten and beheaded by the Roman state for his crimes. It was against the law for Roman soldiers to get married however, saint Valentine broke the law and conducted the marriage ceremonies for the soldiers. While imprisoned saint Valentine fell in love with the jailers daughter and wrote her a secret love note signed from your Valentine. This is why we pass notes to this day.

Saint Valentine believed in the power of love and the heart. Did you know that Egyptians believed that the heart was the part of the body where the soul and intellect of a person resided? It’s true when Egyptians were mummified all the organs but the heart were removed the heart stayed with the body. When the goddess Ma’at took the person to the afterlife she would weigh the heart against the feather of truth and if the heart was mean or heavy the soul was punished. Egyptians represent the heart as a dung beetle or scarab.

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When we love someone and marry them we pledge our heart to them meaning intellect soul and all of who we are. Everyday we should work to make this persons life better for them with all of who we are. When I think about love and the heart I cannot help but imagine the song that was the soundtrack of the movie starring Johnny Depp. The movie was Don Juan DeMarco and the song was Have you Ever Really Loved a Woman by Bryan Adams.

In the song Bryan Adams sings about how loving a woman involves giving up everything for that person and working for that person and basically giving your heart or your dung beetle to that person. The movie involved a man named Don Juan who was a prolific lover and being treated by a therapist for an over active imagination.

Maybe the best Valentine we can give today is a dung beetle on a secret note.

We just walk all over it

It can take 500 to 1,000 years for one inch of topsoil (the upper layer of soil containing the most organic matter and microorganisms) to form through the interaction of bedrock, climate, topography, and living organisms. 

Top soil or dirt is the most important thing in and on the world and we as a species just walk all over it. Because of its importance soil conservation should be one of the top priorities in the world. Even though soil conservation is paramount to a healthy world little attention has been given to this. In the United States the dust bowl happened in the 1930s and currently the United States is enduring another massive drought. There has been some reprieve but soil health in the western states is at an all time low.

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There are ways to prevent soil erosion and promote soil health. No till farming is a practice that makes for healthy soil and is becoming more widely accepted in the agriculture community. No till farming with cover crops is preferable to no till farming with herbicides. Another major change has to take place at the grocery store and restaurants. Animal based protein is consumed at an average of 174 animals per year. Each animal damages the environment when breed and raised for consumption. A diet without animal based protein is another way that anyone can help the soil.

The name earth means ground or dirt or soil. As a steward of the Earth humans should work to protect what we walk on everyday. Humanities most valuable asset is not money, housing, or a robust stock market it is a happy and health earth. The sooner we learn as a society that this should be a priority the quicker we can get on track to a happy healthy world.

Started with a red paper clip

If you are ever in Saskatchewan Canada visit the Paperclip Cottage Cafe . If the food is half as good as the story concerning the cafes origin you are in for a real treat.

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Kyle Macdonald look at a red paperclip on his desk and thought about the game he played in school called, “Bigger and Better”. In the game you would trade up for items that were bigger and better. Kyle put the red paper clip onCraigslist in an effort to trade up and in one year and fourteen trades later Kyle had a house. You probably guessed it but that house is now teh Paper Clip Cafe in Saskatchewan Canada.

I am not going to spend this blog retelling the trades, however you should watch the Ted Talk with Kyle in it. He retells the trades in great detail and during the talk he has pictures of people from each trade. I like two things about this story most first is the humble beginnings and second is the pictures.

It all started with a tiny paper clip but Kyle knew it would be big and was big. I assume he knew because he took pictures. As a kid we are often taught about consequentialism. The idea that no effort or actions are wasted and they all have consequence. This can be easy to forget especially when we fall into routines and do the same things everyday. The tasks become route and seem inconsequential but they are not. We would do well to consider the consequences of our mundane and route tasks. If a task is routine and consequential at work many efficient managers would find ways to automate and supervise the task. Supervision and not performance of the task should free up time for the employee to engage in tasks that are more complex and not quite routine. The tasks though never go away.

Realizing that every choice we make in life has consequences can seem pretty scary however a better way to handle this responsibility is to take a picture of each thing we do and celebrate our choices (as long as they are moral).

Every trade Kyle made was a chance to meet new people take pictures and celebrate. If you haven’t watch his Ted Talk it’s really good! Kyles enthusiasm is contagious. today at work home or play realize and celebrate the actions you are part of and have fun with it! Take pictures and enjoy the ride!!

Nuances and Novelties

“Let’s try to do this a different way”. The coaches reaches down and grabs the hockey stick from the player as they speak. The coach isn’t yelling or demanding they are simply suggesting and nudging the player to do something in way that they believe is more efficient, quicker and more powerful.

Our brains are incredible machines that compute, calculate and control complex systems all day long. Research into the brain has taken some major steps and is still being done everyday. So far it seems like the brain works through a series of connections and when we learn something new you create a new connection. More research shows that creating new connections makes for a happier and healthier brain. Lack of new connections may even cause the brain to slow down and bring on brain diseases.

Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Learning comes from doing. It is practice that is one of our best teachers. You learn to ride a bike better by riding the bike as opposed to reading the theory about riding a bike. What new thing did you do yesterday? What new things will you do today? Finding something new to do can become a little bit of a chore especially when we are in our routines. The best way to accomplish doing something new everyday then might be through adding the novelty to our routines.

Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn, and you will.

Vernon Howard

The world is a vast and amazing place and I am convinced that if a human spent everyday exploring the world they would run out of days before they ran out of places and things to explore. Now if someone lives long enough and was ambitious enough and did explore every place on earth I would challenge them to look up (especially at night), astronomers have discovered more than 3 200 stars with planets orbiting around them in our galaxy. There are probably 2 trillion galaxies in our observable universe.

My wife has told my eight year old niece on multiple occasions that “only boring people can become bored”. There is much truth to this adage.

To not be bored takes a person of action There is a pretty great Ted Talk about avoiding and dealing with boredom. Approaching everyday as a day to get new things done will help us be better more healthy people. Also imagine how much more exciting society will be if everyone is doing something new everyday.

We can’t even agree on this

In elementary school I was taught that, Polio was a deadly disease, that killed many and if you survived you usually ended up with a deformity. Then I was taught hat Jonas Salk discovered and deployed the world’s first Polio vaccination. I was taught that a vaccination delivered a vaccine and a vaccine was a “blueprint” of a disease and with that blueprint my bodies cells could learn and fight the disease.

I was in elementary school a long time ago, about 30 years ago. 30 Years passed and another pandemic faced the world. Covid 19. A vaccine was discovered and deployed, and there was a pocket of the United States that would not get vaccinated. 22% of the United States are unvaccinated from Covid 19.

There were 3 strains of polio and of the three 2 are eradicated and 1 is only present in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan and Afghanistan both face pockets of vaccine hesitancy. Currently there are three known strains of Covid 19 and they are all active. Polio vaccination rate in the United states is 92.5% right now. Polio vaccinations began in 1955 in the United States and the country was a little different then. Many believe that the reason Polio vaccines were more accepted than the Covid 19 vaccine was because the country as a whole had a deep respect for science.

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It is terrifying that the United States cannot agree on what should be basic science in an effort to save humanity. I am terrified because Covid 19 is one crisis of many that society will face and is facing. Humans are cooperative species and humans must cooperate with other humans in order to survive and thrive. If humans cannot cooperate enough to come to a 90%vaccination rate against Covid 19 what else will our species disagree on? Climate change, gun violence, the human rights of LGBTQ+, the human rights of people displaced from their country? Humans have to come together and form shared truths one of which is that vaccines are good for everyone and should be taken.

I see a bigger want and desire to come together in my childrens generation than mine so there is some hope for the future but I do not want to be part of the generation that could not even agree on the science of vaccination.

Infinite time

What books do you want to read?

The book, like dozens of others that sit on my shelves and stare at me was bought on the heels of a podcast suggesting that everyone read it. I have not read the book yet. The book sits there and mocks me.

When will you pick me up John? Why did you buy me if you didnt intend to read me? Crack my spine, bend my pages dive in.

I want to I really do the reviews for the book are high for the book. Some say that reading the book will enrich you as a person. Others call it a treat and a book for lovers of language. One reviewer calls the book mind altering and I truly want to read the book. I really do but this book was purchased and placed on my book shelf five years ago and hasn’t moved yet.

Right now I am on page 279 of the 326 page book titled “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals” by Hal herzog.I enjoy reading books while getting in my elliptical workout at the gym. I am enjoying my stroll through the Hal Herzog book. I have always been intrigued by the way humans and animals interact and now I can read about studies conducted regarding that interaction. I should finish this book before the end of January then I will grab another book from the shelf and start reading. Will I grab the book that has been sitting on my shelf for five years though? I don’t know. “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals” by Hal herzog, was an ideal size book to read while doing an elliptical workout. The book that looks at me and mocks me is 1100 pages long so not the ideal size to read while on the elliptical but it could be done. The book also deals with some pretty heavy issues like addiction, and depression but it is satire and dark comedy which I enjoy.

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In case you haven’t guessed, the book that I want to read and right now, it is book, not books. Is “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace. I know I am like three decades late to the trend of reading this book but I really want to read it now especially. I believe that if you see me next month at my local gym I will be the one awkwardly flipping through the 1100 page novel on the elliptical.

The book is 27 years old and is still getting rave reviews. The book has also gotten some awful reviews and I think part of wanting to read the book now is just to make my own informed opinion. Honestly five years ago I was put off reading the book because of the sheer size of the tome but now.. I think I am ready to climb the mountain one page at a time.

I will let you know, probably sometime later this year, what I think of the book. I am really looking forward to reading this one.

Why did we teach that

There is new software available it is called chatGPT and it is making some noise in the academic world. Some students are successfully using ChatGPT to write their essays. Teachers are upset and calling this cheating (which it is). There have been bans and some IT departments for school have worked to disable the use of ChatGPT on the schools WIFI (this works until the students go home).

Cheating is nothing new and the fight against cheating will continue to take place at schools all over the world. A university student at Princeton spent his spring break writing an application that spots essays written by ChatGPT as well as any other AI technology. This is a cat and mouse game the cheaters find a new way to cheat and the teachers catch on and stop one way then two new ways open up. The major difference about this new cheating, using the AI to write an essay, and the older cheating paying the nerd to do it is that AI is that the new AI is almost indistinguishable from human writing. ChatGPT has gotten that good yes.

Thinking about cheating and essay writing got me questioning AI technology and essay writing altogether. I began to wonder why teachers use essay writing at all? What is the purpose for having a student write an essay?

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When a student writes the essay they engage in critical thinking, they conduct research. Critical thinking is crucial in our daily lives and research is unavoidable. The better you are at both of these techniques the easier life will be for you. The debate rages on concerning whether or not essay writing is the best delivery method for teaching these techniques to students.

The reasons for teaching essay writing Critical thinking and research are important no doubt but is essay writing as important as it was once thought to be? Maybe teachers should write essays defending essay writing assignments. I love to ask what if? So if not an essay what should be used to teach critical thinking and research? Can the new delivery system be cheated as well? No doubt yes and cheaters will get better at cheating so I guess the real question is whta do teachers and professors prefer as a delivery system?

I am not good at writing and a slow reader however I love to do both, I imagine if I where a professor I would continue to assign essays and use the applications to check for cheating and plagiarism. Maybe as pennace for cheating I would assign a new task to the cheater. The cheater needs to write an essay explaining how the AI technology works and how they were caught. The paper will require research of the technology and critical thinking for answering the question.

Writing teaches critical thinking and is a way of engaging in what feels like intimate communication. For now most of the communication is with humans but maybe in the future our AI will engage us just a intimately as the humans do. If we cannot tell it is AI has the AI passed the Turing test?