Friday, February 6, 2009

25 random things about me

This meme has been going around Facebook, and I finally succumbed. Here are 25 statements about me. Enjoy.

1. The 25th statement is false.

2. Sometimes I stand conspicuously in the Sexuality section at Barnes & Noble, in order to feel awkward and embarrassed. I occasionally like feeling voluntarily uncomfortable.

3. Every night I look up at the sky, and I name all the celestial bodies I can see. Sometimes I close my eyes and point to where I think things should be, and then open my eyes to see how well I did. I usually do pretty well.

4. If I ever hear "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys while in the car, I have to crank up the volume and sing at the top of my lungs.

5. I wanted to name our youngest son Archimedes, and call him Archie for short. My wife didn't go for it.

6. I have been baptized four times.

7. I once walked about 12 miles across the Japanese countryside in the middle of the night, alone. I made my way by following the stars.

8. I spent a summer developing web pages in a cabin in the middle of nowhere outside Red Cliff, Colorado. The cabin did not have electricity or running water. It was the best summer I've ever had.

9. I play tournament Scrabble, and am currently ranked as one of the top 250 players in North America.

10. I suspect that nearly every major decision I've made in my life has been because of a girl.

11. I love to laugh, and I love to make other people laugh. Most days, almost every word that comes out of my mouth is intended to be funny, even if only to myself.

12. I am a last-second sipper. Whenever I am leaving a restaurant, I have to take at least a few last-second sips of my drink before leaving. You never know where your next Diet Coke is going to come from.

13. In the last two years, my wife and I paid off about $44,000 in debt and have started building up an emergency fund. All we had to do was pay some attention to what we were doing with our money. We are now debt-free except for our house, and will never go back.

14. I call myself a Saganist because I think Carl Sagan expressed the most sensible and inspiring view of the universe, and our place in it, that I have ever heard. It's a shame I never read any of his work until relatively recently.

15. I own about 25 CDs from the Time-Life "Sounds of the Eighties" series. They just kept sending me CDs, and I just kept sending them money. And it was totally worth it.

16. Throughout my whole life, I've often suspected that I keep myself busy to avoid feeling empty.

17. I share too many intimate personal feelings in public forums.

18. On the McDonald's menus in Japan, the price for a "smile" is "free". So I ordered two of them. 「スマイルをふたつお願いします。」 The girl behind the counter was extremely confused. I think a lot of people thought I was a stupid gaijin.

19. Before I proposed to my wife, I asked her what her favorite dessert was. She said it was strawberry shortcake. But I didn't know how to make that, so I made her brownies instead. And I also bought her a blender. I am so romantic.

20. Back in 1996, I wrote a Java applet that ended up being published in a book called Teach Yourself Sunsoft Java Workshop in 21 Days. It was a somewhat crappy Minesweeper knock-off called "LimeSweeper". I haven't written anything in Java since then. I heard a rumor that Java has changed a little bit.

21. In 7th grade, I told my drafting teacher than when I grew up, I would eat pizza for every meal. He said I would get sick of it. In summer 2000, I proved him wrong when I ate Papa John's pepperoni every night for three months, and never got tired of it. I did gain a few pounds, though. Pizza is still my favorite food.

22. I subscribe to 32 podcasts and 220 blogs. That's way too many.

23. When I was a kid, I used to play video games all the time, but could never afford to buy any. Now that I have the money to buy video games, I don't have any time to play them. I often listen to video game music while working, so I can almost feel like I'm playing. Almost.

24. I hope the world will be better for my having been here. My ultimate goal in life is for those who knew me to say, "I'm glad I knew that guy. He made my life better." Most importantly, I hope my family thinks of me as a good dad and husband, and they know how much I love them.

25. The 1st statement is true.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A skeptical moment with my kids

About ten minutes ago, my 4-year old son was afraid to go in his room because the light was off. "There are ghosts in there!" he said. "I think ghosts are real!"

ghostI went in and turned on the light, and asked him why he believes ghosts are real. He said that one time, one of his toys fell off a shelf, and no one pushed it. It fell by itself, and that's why ghosts are real.

I explained that sometimes when you put toys on a shelf, they might stay there for a while, but if they're not secure, they might fall off by themselves. This doesn't mean ghosts aren't real, but I didn't think it had to be a ghost just because the toy fell by itself. Sometimes that just happens.

My 6-year old daughter walked in the room and joined us. My son continued, "But Dad, Berlin [the neighbor girl] said she thinks ghosts are real!" My daughter nodded her head, confirming the story.

"Well, you shouldn't believe something just because someone else believes it," I said. "You get to decide for yourself what you believe. I don't believe ghosts are real, but that doesn't mean you have to believe that, either. It's up to you to decide."

"Do you know how I decide what I believe?" I asked. They shook their heads. "I see if I can figure out what's really happening. And if I find an idea that explains everything I can see happening, then I tend to believe it. If I don't see any reason to believe something is really happening, then I don't tend to believe it."

girl shruggingThen my daughter said something that totally took me by surprise. "I don't know yet if I believe in ghosts or not." That was an excellent answer, and I told her so. My son wasn't convinced though. He still believes in ghosts, and that's okay.