Hillary Dunham tagged me in one of her latest posts to name five things that I love. I usually ignore these types of lists, but since I have nothing better to write about on Black Friday, here goes:
1. Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg – Yes, the inventor of the printing press. Why? Because I love books! I didn’t read much outside of assigned literature during school, but about the beginning of graduate school I started reading. As I started focusing on a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering, my brain needed something non-technical to keep it fresh. The habit has stayed with me. I now have at least one book going at all times outside of what is required for work. I started out reading a lot of fiction. Some of my favorite fiction authors are John Irving, John Updike, and Kurt Vonnegut. Lately I have been reading a lot of non-fiction related to leadership, culture, and the Christian Faith in action. Magazines and other printed media that are shaping me right now are Good Magazine, Need, Fermi Words, Esquire, and the Catalyst Groupzines.
2. Earl Grey tea – I am a minority in the US in that I don’t drink coffee. I drink hot tea. My favorite is Earl Grey. I tried coffee one night in college preparing for an exam the next day, and my hand was shaking so bad that I could hardly read my hand writing. I decided I didn’t need that much of a jolt. There is just something very comforting about Earl Grey. When I was a kid I hard bad ear infections that hurt all the way down the Eustachian tube. My mom would fix me a cup of hot tea to make me feel better. I would drink the tea slowly and let is drain down the side of my throat that hurt. The hot liquid loosened the gunk up and always made me feel better. Now I’m just addicted to it like every other coffee drinker.
3. My black jacket – We all have a few items of clothing that just feel right when we wear them. For me it’s my black, zip up, polyester jacket. It’s the right length, the sleeves fit, Its perfect for most nights in the south (for the really cold nights I break out my black wool jacket). Other pieces of clothing that feel right: my red WILCO T-shirt, khaki colored denim cargo pants, Johnston and Murphy leather shoes, and THE red speedo bathing suit.
4. Mixed CDs (or iMixes thanks to iTunes) – I am that guy, the one that makes mixed CDs for different occasions and most of the time just for the heck of it. I started out making mixed tapes for my wife in high school (yes, we have been together that long). I am glad that I was able to introduce her to bands like The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Stone Roses, The Pixies, The Cure, and The Essence. Later, I started making my own mixes and sending them out to a few friends that I thought would enjoy them – kinda like the CDs in Spin or Paste Magazine. There is a real art in making a mix. I usually start with a theme and find music that fits. The lyrics, genre, tempo are all important – The music must fit together without having too many redundant songs in a row. I lost most of the CDs I made pre-iTunes, but my good friend, James D., still has most of them.
5. Teaching – I really enjoy teaching. I am a practicing Engineer by trade and only get to teach as a hobby. I was a tutor in the Engineering Department at Auburn all through undergrad, and I taught a few classes in the EE department in graduate school. Once I moved back to Huntsville, I started teaching at UAH as an adjunct professor in my “spare” time. I don’t have time to teach at the college level anymore, but I have found different outlets for me to teach. I get to educate customers at work, teach my children at home, lead a Sunday School Class of “30-somethings with kids”, work with my Reading Buddy at Terry Heights, mentor younger engineers at work, and lead the Youth on occasion. I love to sink into a new subject and figure out how to break it into coherent lessons. I love the excitement of getting up in front of a crowd and leading them through a lesson or presentation. I enjoy existing in the tension of conversations – knowing when to transition to the next subject or to let a conversation play itself out. Teaching may not be my career, but I do believe it is my vocation.
(Hillary, thanks… I’ll be sure to forward you the next email I get that says I will “burn in Hell if I don’t forward to twenty people in the next five minutes.”)