My Favorite School Subjects

Periodic table of the chemical elements Españo...

Periodic table of the chemical elements Español: Tabla periódica de los elementos Suomi: Alkuaineiden jaksollinen järjestelmä (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was in grade school, I liked every subject I studied.  I think it was because they were the basics, and as such, were introductory.  Like I said previously, I love learning, and in grade school everything was new.  But even back then, I could tell what subjects I preferred.

Once I got to middle school, and especially high school, those preferences became much more pronounced and developed into my favorites.

Math

By far, my most favorite subject was math.  It just made sense to me.  The beauty of math is that the more you learned, the more it lead to new ideas and the next level.  If I forgot a particular idea, all I needed to do was go back to the last step, then build upon it to get to the next step.  That’s what was so beautiful about math – everything builds upon the more basic concepts.  This love of math grew with each subsequent level.  From the basics of addition, subtraction, to algebra, to geometry, to calculus, to Boolean algebra, to analytical geometry, to statistics, and on and on.  Guess what was my favorite type of question on a math test.  Most people think I’m crazy when I tell them this, but it is a word problem.  My love of mathematics, I believe, is what underpins the rest of my favorite subjects.

Physics

Physics is awesome because, to me at least, it takes my most favorite subject, math, and applies it to the real world.  From classical Newtonian mechanics, to quantum mechanics, to heat transfer – just like math, the next concept builds upon the last, all the way back to the basics.  Sure, you had to learn some basic concepts first, but once you had those down, it was all a logical progression from there.  What physics showed me was that, no matter how confusing the world around me, it could always be reduced to an equation, or a series of equations.  And equations can be solved.  That was very comforting to me in my adolescence.

Chemistry

Another subject that takes math and applies it to the real world.  Similar to physics, you had to understand the basics before you could advance.  Chemistry, in my humble opinion at least, has more basics to learn than physics.  Nonetheless, each new concept in chemistry builds upon the last.  And what is the most beautiful concept and structure in chemistry?  The Periodic Table of The Elements.  How awesome it is that the basic elements of matter can be sorted into a logical, structured table like that!

Conclusion

What does this say about me?  Well, besides that I’m quite the oddball, that is.  What it tells me is that I have an analytic brain, that logic factors heavily into my thinking, and that I’m not a typical person.  But then, I’ve said as much before in previous posts anyway.

How about you?  What were your favorite subjects in school?  Were you a math and science admirer (read: geek) like me?

This post is for the September Back To School Blog Challenge, hosted by Matt Conlon on Join Something.

September Back To School Blog Challenge

Labor Day

swimming pool

swimming pool (Photo credit: freefotouk)

In the US, Labor Day is the first Monday in September.  It is also considered the last “official” day of summer by schoolchildren and most adults because, not only is it the third day of a three-day weekend, but also the first day of the school year usually starts some time during the week of Labor Day.

Labor Day, therefore, is the Last Hurrah of summer vacation.  Many families I know take this opportunity to go away for the weekend.  In my hometown, that usually means the Jersey shore.  For me, when I was growing up, if we weren’t at the shore, I would spend the entire weekend in my parents’ swimming pool.

Of course, that’s where I would usually be for the rest of the summer anyway.  In the morning, I’d wake up, eat breakfast, then get into the pool.  Around noon, I’d get out of the pool, eat lunch, then jump back in the pool.  Then, I’d get out for dinner, then jump back in the pool.  Finally, I’d get out of the pool, shower, put on my pajamas, and go to bed.

Now that I’ve grown up, got married, and have children of my own, Labor Day means something different.  My wife’s job and mine don’t often afford us the time to vacation.  But, what we have been doing, fairly consistently, for the last several years is have a relaxing family day.  I like to fire up the grill and put on some burgers, hot dogs, steaks, or whatever.  I like to grill anything that will go over the charcoal, especially since I have all day to do it.  We also do other things around the house, like put away picnic tables, chairs, the little pool, and other summer items that won’t really be used any more.

But, largely, the best part about days like these, for me at least, is having a chance to spend the day with my wife and daughters.

How about you?  Did you have any Labor Day traditions growing up?  Are your traditions different now?

This post is for the September Back To School Blog Challenge, hosted by Matt Conlon on Join Something.

September Back To School Blog Challenge

Back-To-School Shopping

Melbourne old GPO postal hall converted to a s...

Melbourne old GPO postal hall converted to a shopping mall complex. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This time of year always meant one huge thing to me as a child – back to school!  I loved, loved, loved going to school.  But, back to school meant…

Back-To-School Shopping!

Shopping is the one thing I hated about going back to school.  My mom would take my brother and me shopping.

Shopping for clothes.

Shopping for shoes.

Shopping for lunchboxes and thermoses.

Shopping for pencils, and pens, and copybooks, and rulers, and scissors, and…

On and on and on.  The preparation for school started in late July and lasted for, well, forever!  At least, to a young boy it seemed it did.  It was at this time that I developed what I would call my mall headache, which I still get today.  It’s a headache that has a particular feel to it, and I only get it in a mall.

This aversion to shopping of mine continues to this day.  I can’t stand going into a store for more than five minutes.  Even if it’s for something that I like, I have to do my best to get in, get what I want or need, and get the heck out.  Now, there are some things I can stand to browse for a little longer.  Books, computers and accessories, food, and office supplies are awesome to look at.  But, even then, once I have my fill, I’m ready to get whatever it is I came for and/or found and leave posthaste.

I know I’m not alone in my shopping aversion.  I know plenty of people (mostly other guys) who try to set a new speed record when they shop.  Perhaps there’s something on the Y-chromosome that makes us that way.  Perhaps it has to do with evolution.  I can see that – when hunting some huge animal, the less time you’re outside the cave and in the wild, the less chance you’ll end up in some predator’s stomach.

How about you?  Does the mere thought of shopping make you cringe?  Or are you more like the shopaholic, who can spend hours comparing a hundred different items for the perfect fit and/or the perfect deal?

This post is for the September Back To School Blog Challenge, hosted by Matt Conlon on Join Something.

September Back To School Blog Challenge

The Joy Of School

A depiction of the world's oldest continually ...

A depiction of the world’s oldest continually operating university, the University of Bologna, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was of school age, which is approximately 5 to 18 years in the US, I loved going to school.  Does that make me weird?  Well, for the typical child in the US, it does.  I remember being the only one who couldn’t wait to start school, who couldn’t wait for Monday, and couldn’t wait for the summer to end.  I enjoyed learning new things; indeed, I still do.  Also, and this is when I will sound arrogant, I enjoyed showing how smart I was.

Yes – I was your typical little nerd.  Some (myself included) would argue that I still am that little nerd, but that’s not the point of my post.

September meant that I could get back to what I enjoyed – learning, acquiring new knowledge, and learning to apply that knowledge.  Sometimes that application was only what I could answer on a test, at least in my (then) young lifetime, but that was fine by me.  I managed to get great marks in school.

I learned quickly that I was, shall we say, unique in that regard.  My classmates hated school, and made sure I knew that I was different than them.  But… that’s a story for another time.

Nonetheless, I loved school, loved learning, and still do.

How about you – did you love school, as I did?  Or were you more like my classmates?

 

Edit: I neglected to mention that this post is for the September Back To School Blog Challenge, hosted by Matt Conlon on Join Something.

September Back To School Blog Challenge

I’m On Fire! – The Blog On Fire Award

That’s right – I’m on fire!  Of course, that sounds like something a man who calls himself BeefGriller would say, doesn’t it?  Or, perhaps, a Bruce Springsteen fan would say it.  But, no, in this case I’m saying it because I was nominated by blogger Nicole Michelle for the Blog On Fire Award.  This is the first blog award that I’ve received and accepted.  (I was nominated by another wonderful person, but I’ve yet to accept it formally – I can’t fulfill the requirements just yet.)

Nicole Michelle’s nomination is an honor for me, and very humbling – I’m not the most regular blogger, despite my desire to be.  But, that’s perhaps a story for another time.

While reading her post about the award, I found that she was nominated by Ashleigh of Beauty Still Remains.  Well, this lead to me tracing the award nomination back through the ages.  Why?  I guess because I’m sort of OCD like that.  Do you know what I learned?  Two things:

  1. At some point, the image of the award itself changed from that on the left to that on the right.  Why?  I don’t know – I didn’t find any explanation for that.  For completeness’ sake, I’ve posted both.
  2. Some of the folks made it difficult for me to find their nomination and/or their nominees.  That’s why I stopped after eight generations or so back.

The rules for accepting the Blog On Fire Award are simple:

  1. List eight things about yourself.
  2. Nominate other blogs for the award.

Fairly simple, I think.

Eight Things About Me

Without further adieu, here are my eight things about myself:

  1. I’m kind of OCD about things.  For example, I will spend entirely too much effort trying to trace a blog award back.  But this OCD only seems to manifest for things that I actually care about or enjoy.  I suppose that’s where my geekiness shows.
  2. I was a lifeguard for two summers – 1987 and 1988.  I worked at a community association known as the Levittown Public Recreation Association.  The second summer I was an assistant manager at the Pinewood pool.
  3. Although my current career is in information technology, I received my degree in mechanical engineering.
  4. I am an adoptee.  My adoptive parents got me when I was five days old, so I know nothing about my birth parents.  I’m quite content with this, and have decided against finding or contacting them(for now at least).
  5. love spicy food!  My favorite hot sauce is Tabasco, but I started with Frank’s Red Hot, which is still one of my favorite.  When I go to a restaurant, I will always try their hottest food.  It turns out that, generally speaking, Americans are wimps when it comes to spicy food.
  6. I worked for 4-1/2 years at a school as the IT person.  While there, I also taught some classes.  It is the reason I have so much respect for teachers now.  I miss teaching very, very much, but that chapter of my life is written.
  7. I know many people, and am friendly with them, but I don’t give the title “Friend” lightly.  My friends are family to me, and I cherish them.
  8. I have very strong willpower, but I have to care about something to tap into it.  Does that mean I don’t really have strong willpower?  I don’t think so, but one could argue that.  Regardless, once I decide to do something and stick with it, it’s a done deal.

My Nominations

Here’s where I get to pass on the Blog On Fire Award to whom I think deserve it.  Oh, the power!

There you have it!  Thanks again to Nicole Michelle for the nomination.

Land Line Telephones

Recently, my wife and I upgraded my phone/television/Internet service.  Well, upgrade may not be the most accurate term, because we cut back on a lot of television channels that we never watched (how many channels dedicated to cooking does one really need, anyway?).  Since our three services are bundled, we got a “new” digital telephone service, with a whole lot of bells and whistles that we’ll never use anyway: Call Forwarding, Call Blocking by number, you know, stuff like that.

Telephone

Telephone (Photo credit: plenty.r.)

In the process of the upgrade, our voicemail with the phone company was reset, so to speak, and I had to reinitialize it.  OK, no problem.  Log into the website, click the FAQ, click the “Call my voicemail” button.  Really, all I wanted was to set up the voicemail – who’s idea was it to require a website logon?!  Anyway, I clicked the button, and my phone rang.  It was the voicemail lady, “Please enter your password, followed by the pound sign.”

Blah, blah, blah… I follow the prompts and hang up the phone.  Then the website prompts me for more setup options.  OK, at least I don’t have to listen to the voicemail lady tell me to press this number, or that symbol, or to speak the command in Ancash to continue.  Websites are generally the superior interface for these sorts of things.

Then, one of the options presented to me is something like Simultaneous Ring, which, despite sounding like a wedding-day custom, didn’t really appeal to me.  Its purpose is to ring another number at the same time someone calls your home number.  So, if someone were to call my home, it would ring at, say, my cell phone at the same time.  Without hesitation, I kept that feature disabled.  There is no way in God’s green Earth that I would want that.  The only people who call my home are pests who want to sell me something, pests who are asking for donations, and, especially here in the United States at this time of year, pests who want me to vote for them.

It was at this moment that it occurred to me – my home phone is pretty much useless now.  It has devolved into a marketing tool for other people!  Despite my registering on the Do Not Call List, I still get these calls.  Now, here’s the kicker, and the thing that really gets my goat: I’m paying for this – literally AND figuratively!  I use my cell phone for all my calls now.  My friends and family with whom I care to speak have my cell number.  Any time a phone call comes in to my land line, I let it go to voice mail for immediate screening.

Before I go off on a rant, which I’m really close to doing, I’ll close with a question to you, dear readers.  If you have a cell phone and a land line, do you use your land line for anything else other than a screening service?  Are the only folks, or a large majority of them, who call your land line those who want to sell something?  Would you cut the phone line permanently, if you haven’t already?

Let me know in the comments below.

The Wrong Pillow

Bed made with white bed linen. Four fluffy pil...

Recently, I stayed at a place that wasn’t my own.  It was only for one night, and I had been there before.  I will refrain from naming this place, mainly because I like to respect people’s privacy, but also because I’d rather not cause any static.  Not that what I’m about to say is a secret, or that it insults anyone.

Anyway, while I was there, I was reminded how important one’s pillow is, Continue reading