Saturday, January 26, 2013

MBT3 Or The Birth of Chops and Scrappy

Recently Erin and I made some new friends with Jonathan and Sarah.  You may remember them as the first couple to appear in the Holiday Meal video.  Besides the Holiday Meal, we've had them over for a couple dinner and talked quite excessively about our Michigan Brewery Tours we go on each MLK day weekend.  As they heard more and more about it, you could sense that they were waiting for an invite.

It was a real pleasure to have Jonathan and Sarah along not only because they shared our love of beer and adventure, but because it would add a second female to the crew and we would have some people to consistently split some hotel and gas costs with.  Almost everyone on MBT has a nickname, however, and we never came up with anything.  So, Erin and I dub them Chops and Scrappy.  It may not stick, but it is worth a shot.

On a usual Friday, I begin getting antsy at the office between 3:45 and 4:00.  At 4:19 (which is the approximate volume of a unit sphere), the department's "Fluid Dynamics Seminar" meets at the Dukum Inn.  On the Friday of MBT, I had to wait until 11:15pm before my first beer at 3 Floyds in Munster, IN.  It closes down at 2am, so we were able to have ample time to enjoy our first night.  I enjoyed a pint of Sand Pebbles, Zombie Dust (which according to Beer Advocate is the 7th best beer in the world), Arctic Panzer Wolf, and a Blot Out the Sun Stout.

Once we had broke our fast at The Commander restaurant in Munster Saturday morning, we drove to Battle Creek, MI for lunch and beers at Arcadia Brewing Company.  Erin and I split a salad and a quesadilla.  I enjoyed an ESB, a Skye High Rye, and a shorty of a London Porter.

Our afternoon was spent at Bells in Kalamazoo.  That was where we met the New York (or eastern) contingent of our group.  Since I brought two corny kegs for Brian to take home, he told me to put a few beers on his tab which I happily obliged.  I remember trying a Kal-Haven, Red Nose ESB, and The Wild One.  You may be wondering why I did not have Hopslam or Two-Hearted Ale since these are some of my favorites.  I can get those at home.  The ones I mentioned are specialty beers that can only be had on tap.

To end Saturday evening we made our way to the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange which surprised me in two ways.  I imagined something a lot more like the stock exchange with the prices of beer moving across a screen, but it was a solid TV screen that was updated every 15 minutes.  Given that small and minor let down, the place was a lot more immaculate and larger than I had expected.  I split a vegetarian lasagna with Erin and had a few drinks the only one of which I remember was Lagunitas Sucks.  That turned out to be one of my favorites for the entire weekend.

I'm very glad Erin was driving to Ann Arbor the next morning since it gave me another hour and a half to remain very still and sleep off the adventures from the previous day.  By the time we arrived at Jolly Pumpkin for lunch, I was almost tip-top.  The La Roja was a brilliant beginning to my Sunday (Chops ordered one as well).  This is an American Wild Ale (just like The Wild One from Bells) which I will be tenaciously seeking from now on.  A Smashed Chick Pea Panini along with a draft of Maracaibo Especial topped off the lunch with excellence.

The afternoon was spent at Dragonmead in Warren.  They had a World Beer Cup Silver Award winning beer called The Ring of Fire.  It was a cream ale brewed with jalapeno, Serrano, and habenero peppers. It was by far the best chili beer I had ever tasted.  After checking in at the hotel, we got a taxi to Kuhnhenn where we ordered take-out Thai that was so good my mouth watered while writing this sentence.  I hyped up their DRIPA too much I think.  Although delicious and an exceptional beer, it didn't quite match my expectations.  The Creme Brule Stout and their American IPA were also good enough to remember and write down.  Kuhnhenn closed at 10pm, so we closed our Sunday night down a little early.

At our hotel, Brian offered his room up for some Euchre and more beer.  His room was in the hotel next door.  After another beer and several rounds of Euchre, I grew very tired and went upstairs to knock on 332 which was the room in the wrong hotel.  Hopefully, nobody was occupying that room at the time.  I finally realized my mistake and went next door.

The long journey home started after brunch in Warren.  We broke up the drive with a great lunch at the Fiddler's Hearth in South Bend.  I had a Monk's Cafe and a Hopslam from the tap.  We ordered Welsh Rarebit for the table and Erin and I split a Pear and Walnut Salad and some English style Indian Curry  We dropped off Chops and Scrappy in Macon, and got back to Kirksville a little before 1 in the morning.  It was a great MBT3, and has us looking forward to MBT4.  

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Whale's Vagina - 2013

Erin and I had quite the journey on Tuesday, January 8, once we arrived at the airport in San Diego (which according to Ron Burgandy, is German for a whale's vagina).  It began with making a decision on how to get to our hotel.  Anyone in their sane mind takes a cab to the hotel if there is no shuttle available.  Of course, I opted for the more adventurous bus ride. Stone Brewery in Escondido was our only destination of the evening.  However, the challenge was to get there without renting a car or taking a cab, because both of these options were too expensive for our budget.  

After dumping our stuff off at the Hilton in the Historic Gaslamp Quarter, we caught the green route trolley to the Fashion Valley stop.  Here, we waited several minutes for the 20 bus to Del Lago, except that it didn't go  all the way to Del Lago.  Well short of Del Lago, the bus driver told us to get off and follow the other people to another stop if we wanted to continue.  Another several minutes, and another bus 20 (this one I guess to take us the rest of the way) picked us up.  What seemed like forever passed before we arrived in Del Lago.  

It was painful watching the time tick by, knowing that every second that passed was another second that couldn't be spent at Stone, and would have to be matched on the return journey home.  Luckily, in Del Lago, there was a quick transfer to the 350 bus, that took us to the main station in Escondido.  This was the last bus that was on our list of instructions, but once we hopped on and asked the bus driver, he informed us that we would have to transfer to the 353 in Escondido station.  That took another 10 minutes.  Bus 353 finally put us on the door step of Stone's World Bistro & Gardens.  However, we only had 2 hours before the last 353 would be going the other direction.  

Erin and her Ruination
With the money saved through the use of San Diego and the surrounding area's transportation system, we splurged on dinner.  We ordered the Grilled Peach Arugula Salad, the Garlic, Chedder, and Stone Ruination IPA soup, and some Fried Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan Cheese from this amazing menu just for the appetizers.  I had a Stone Smoked Porter while Erin drank a shorty of Stone IPA.  For our entrees, Erin had the Artisanal Sausage Platter and I had the Wild Mushrooms over Penne dish.  I enjoyed that over an Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale from Stone.  For dessert, we ordered the Smoked Oregon Blue Cheese & Jalapeno Tart.  With dessert, Erin indulged herself with her favorite Ruination IPA.  It was a good thing she did, because the long adventure home was long and cold with nothing but a bed to look forward to.  

On Wednesday, after the morning session at the Joint Mathematical Meetings (yes, I did actually go to the conference everyday), we had lunch at Monkey Paw.  A graduate school friend and colleague, Nathan Carter, joined us for lunch.  We walked about a mile to get to Monkey Paw, and arrived 20 minutes before they opened.  That was enough time to snap these few shots outside.  Indoors, we found there were only two Monkey Paw brews on tap (along with several guest beers).  We tried both of them, the Bekantan Farmhouse Ale and the Sweet Georgia Brown.  I enjoyed them both with some wings and a salad.  

After a very mundane afternoon session at the JMM, we decided to travel to Ocean Beach and eat at Pizza Port.  This is a fantastic brewery which has four locations (fifth coming soon) and a bottle shop.  It is very unique in that each new location begins a new brewery brewing different beers, but keeps the same great tasting menu.  We ordered a sampler of 8 of the Ocean Beach beer selection and two small pizzas that we shared: the Garlic Veggie Pizza and the Pizza Vallarta.  We finished the evening off at The Beer Co. back in downtown San Diego.  Here you can see our sampler of 8 with Pleepleus.  

Pleepleus and his Pizza Port Beer Sampler

Erin had to bid me farewell on Thursday morning to return to work in Kirksville.  I hooked up with my graduate school colleague and friend Greg Lyng for lunch and beer at The Hopping Pig.  Erin had got a quick taste of this the afternoon before (while I was at a conference), so I wanted to check it out.  This was one of my favorite places, and is one that I would frequent a lot if I lived in San Diego.  It was small and cozy, with a small plate menu and about 24 great beers on tap.  During our 2 hour lunch, I had some Organic Greens and three drafts, one of which was a 90 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head.

Thursday afternoon I got in touch with my childhood friend Pepper, who I hadn't seen since I was 15.  He works in La Jolla and lives in Encinitas.  Since he knew I liked Pizza Port, he suggested the Solana Beach location and I was all about a second round.  I took a Coaster from San Diego which got me to Pizza Port at 5:10pm ahead of Pep.  I ordered a Seaside Stout, which was a gold medal winner at the GABF in 2011.  Pep arrived when I was halfway through my Swami's IPA.  He ordered a beer and we sat and talked for about an hour before we decided to get a pizza.  I think we settled for a medium Pizza Monterey.  He only had 3 slices and made me eat the 5th.  Sometime before 8pm we decided to call it a night.  I caught the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner back to San Diego for $12 and got some sleep.

Me and Pepper after 20 years

As soon as I got in, I got off the train and walked straight to The Yard House to meet colleagues Scott and Tom (also there for the JMM).  This place had 130 beers on tap.  I had a sampler of 3 shorties before we walked back to our hotels to call it a night.

Friday was my busiest day at the JMM, and I got the most out of the conference.  By 5:45 I was ready to have some fun, and was glad that Scott wanted to join me on an adventure to the north part of San Diego.  He met me outside my hotel around 6:30 and I talked him into hopping on the 2 bus to go to Toronado.  This place was similar in a way to The Hopping Pig with an offering of small plates, an amazing beer selection, and a small and cozy atmosphere.  If it were close to where I lived, it would definitely be a place I would frequent.  The 2 bus then took us back toward downtown with a quick stop at Hamiltons Tavern.  This was too small and too popular of a place for Scott and I at that moment in our lives.  It was very crowded and made us feel old.  We had a beer anyway.  At an earlier and less crowded hour, this place would have been a blast.  Scott and I capped the night off with a few beers back at The Yard House for our second night in a row.

Before my flight on Saturday I had breakfast at The Mission, which is one of the best 25 breakfast spots in the country according to USA Today.  I definitely thought it was a great end to my trip.  The coffee and breakfast selection was amazing.  I only wished Erin and I had found it while she was here!

The JMM will be back San Diego, probably in 5 years.  So will I.  See you then.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Aspirations for 2013

Much of the latter part of 2012 was spent digesting everything I could read about the presidential elections.  It was quite depressing watching many of my friends and family soak up all of the fiction, never distinguishing between it and the facts, nor fully understanding what is truly important to them.  I will not pretend I had it all figured out, but I did do my research.  In 2013, I will continue to do my research and try my best to let data and facts influence my opinions and decisions more that I let my emotions.  No matter what, emotion will always play a role in decision making (see Jonah Lehrer's How We Decide).  But my goal for 2013 is to make several decisions that go against my emotion, especially when rational thought dictates that I do so.

Ever since I acquired a smartphone, it has become to dominate my life.  A too common scene has it right in front of my face as I'm looking up trivial information, while I try and defend my actions by thinking of it as learning.  Although I will continue to use it a great deal for news, e-mailing, phone calls, and texting, I would like to make a tenacious effort at using it much less to check Facebook, to answer and check e-mail the very moment it comes in, and for using it to answer every question brought up in a social setting.  I will remind myself that if it truly is worth knowing, I'll look it up the next time I'm on the internet reading the news or something.

When I was typing up my Reflections on 2012, I noticed much was missing from my blog in 2012.  I neglected to write anything about my Canada fishing trip that I went on in May, or of the second annual Michigan Brewery Trip that I went on the week after Boston.  I also didn't write about the weekend I had with friends down at the Lake of the Ozarks where we took some really cool Zombie pictures of ourselves.  It will be too difficult for me to write about the week to week goings on in my life, but at the very least, I want to blog about every trip on which I embark.  That will be a continuing demand I will place on myself, not just one for 2013.

During winter break, Erin and I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives.  I've seen documentaries similar to this before, but what really made this one stick for me was the presentation and discussion of the data.  If any of you know me, I need data and facts before I form an opinion or make a decision on anything.  What was very surprising to me is how long ago this data was collected and when this information was found out, and how long the human race (especially Americans) have completely ignored it.  In 2013, I will move toward a Forks Over Knives diet.  Erin and I enjoy all kinds of food and travel too much to fully commit to a vegan lifestyle.  But, within our household as it pertains to us (not our guests), we will follow this type of diet. My goal is to not have to take Crestor anymore.

In July of 2013, I will take on an administrator role at Truman State as the chair of the newly formed statistics department.  In the first part of 2013, which is the last part of the 2012-2013 academic school year, I hope to learn much from everyone I can so that I can be a strong and efficient chair.  I also hope to continue improving my teaching by implementing techniques that will address some of the concerns I hear from my student evaluations.  I sincerely feel that this will be a very good year professionally for me.

Finally, within my personal life with Erin, I hope to improve and build upon the amazing relationship we already have.  I think we've both noticed ourselves get into too much of a routine, and have become very comfortable with it.  Earlier this week, I made an effort to break my routine and met her at the door when she arrived home from work.  I took some things out of her hands to help her get in the door, and then asked her how her day was and actively listened to what she had to say.  What she said was, "what is going on?  Did you do something bad?  You must want something.  Why are you acting so wierd?"  My goal for 2013 is to get to a point where she doesn't think something is up my sleeve when I do out of the ordinary nice things for her.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Reflections on 2012

There were explosions, and smoke was everywhere around us; you could smell the strong scent of sulfur.  It would appear to an alien looking down on the River Main that there was a war going on between the two sides, but they would be wrong.  It was now 2012 in Frankfurt, Germany, and Erin and I, along with her folks and step-brother, were on the last day of our trip to Europe.  The Joint Mathematical Meetings were in Boston a week later, which I went to alone.

I'm breaking these reflections into two parts.  The first part will be simply reflections on the places I've traveled.  The second part will be focused more on thoughts and feelings, and the things that I think and do that define my life.

Part I

On Martin Luther King Day, for the second straight year, we went on a Michigan Beer Tour.  The 2012 MBT always starts for us very late on Friday at 3 Floyd's Brewing in Munster, IN.  This is where we stop for the night before we drive on to Michigan on Saturday.  Our first stop was Bells in Kalamazoo.  We had lunch and several samples there before heading north to Holland for the night.  We went to New Holland Brewing Company and a few other bars.  Erin and I stayed at an awesome hotel that night called City Point, which was just a walk from the bars.

On Sunday, everyone was dragging, and worst of all Brian and Bill.  We left for Grand Rapids and were disappointed to find out Brewery Vivant was closed.  We had to settle for HopCat at that time in the afternoon. We spent enough time there to eat lunch, drink several beers, and get hungry again for dinner.  That was when we went to Founders for some amazing sandwiches.  The Pyramid Scheme was the final bar for Erin and me that night.  That bar had several beers from Shorts on tap, so we thought that would be best.

To celebrate my 35th birthday in 2012, we hit the town of St. Louis following a conference that Erin attended.  We visited Perennial Artisan Ales, where we sampled 8 of their delicious beers and salivated over their amazing looking menu (we had just eaten Sushi or we would have ordered something).  Our next stop was at Civil Life Brewery where we sampled only a few that we really wanted to try while playing backgammon and dining on provolone & prosciutto stuffed peppers with garlicky toasted bread.  Yummy.  Bailey's Range was one of our last stops since it had several St. Louis beers on tap.  We split a PB&J Buffalo Burger and a salad, as well as enjoyed several beers.  It was a nice celebration.

Early in April, we went to Rob and Holly's wedding in Bloomington, IN and it was one of the greatest nights of 2012, if not the best.  What a fun time.  You can read all about it here.  In mid April, I visited St. Louis again for a math conference.  I was along this time and stayed at the Moonrise Hotel.  It was a great area to stay and dine at in St. Louis and I really want to take Erin there sometime.  I really enjoyed the Pi Pizzaria, for both the pizza and the beer selection.

Once school let out for the summer, Erin and I went to Los Angelas for a wedding of her cousin's and to visit her good friend Jessica.  Some awesome highlights were hiking the Temescal Canyon Trail, had margaritas on the Venice Boardwalk while people watching, and got tickets to a Craig Ferguson show that aired at the end of July during the Olympics.  We also tried La Foile by New Belgium for the first time and fell in love with it a The Surly Goat.  You can read all about it here.   

At the end of May I went on a fly in Canada fishing trip with dad, Lonnie (his best friend), and Don (his biking buddy).  It was a very long trip with just the four of us, and the weather never really cooperated.  We caught several fish and ate like fat kings for an entire week.  According to my records, I reeled in 170 fish that week most of which were walleye.

Summer for an academe is blissful.  It is playtime.  I spent a Saturday in early June riding my bike 60 miles in BRAMCO.  After completing the ride, I drove straight home to pick up my wife, whom had completely packed us and was waiting on the front porch, and drove out to Sever Lake in Hurdland, MO where we met our friends Gerrit, Kristi, and Rachel.  The lake isn't designed for camping, but we camped free nonetheless. Later in June, all of us had a weekend in my cousin's condos down at the Lake of the Ozarks.  We did some swimming off the docks, some fishing along the shore, and a lot of drinking.  While we partied a little at Frankie and Louie's, we took individual pictures of us acting as zombies.  They are classic.

Ragbrai consumed my mind for most of the month of July.  Not only was I riding a lot, but I was thinking of different themes for a video documentary that I wanted to create.  A week before Ragbrai, I competed in the Lake Geode Challenge, which was an Olympic distance triathlon just outside of Burlington.  It was ridiculously hilly, hot, and difficult.  I survived it somehow and so did our friends, Carla, Cherie, and Tony.  Carla, Cherie, Erin and I camped on the night before the triathlon and then decided to camp another night because we were too tired to pack up camp.

Ragbrai was brutally hot in 2012.  For the first three days, I decided to party a little bit and took video of me chugging a beer in every town.  That got expensive and tedious, and so I decided not to keep this up for the entire trip.  Ragbrai could best be enjoyed if you partnered up with one other person who was not only at your level of biking, but shared the same tastes for a fun time.  The second best way (I feel) is to ride alone and do whatever it is you want to do.  I left myself many notes for the 2013 ride and how I can get more enjoyment out of it.

The Great Taste of the Midwest is an extremely large beer festival in Madison every year, and Erin and I enjoyed our second annual with our friend Rob.  Rob got us a wrist-banding gig that requires us to put wristbands on people for 3 hours, only 1 of which intersects with the event itself.  We sacrifice 1 hour of the Great Taste for a free entry.  It is a great gig, and as long as we continue to volunteer each year, we will always have a spot.

An interesting coincidence occurred this year on Erin's 32nd birthday.  A geeky check that I made on Wolfram Alpha showed that on Erin's birthday, I would be exactly 13,000 days old.  We celebrated the day in Lawrence, KS with Gerrit, Kristi, and Rachel.  All of us slept and hung out at Trish and Joseph's place.  They were kind enough to take us all in so we wouldn't have to put up the money for hotels.  Nathan joined us for a dinner that Trish made and it was a good time.  Our friends were able to meet Erin's folks close up and personal.

The Great American Beer Festival was scheduled during Truman's Fall break in 2012, which coincides with our anniversary.  Erin planned a great trip to Colorado for us which involved a hike up the Flat Irons in Boulder, and visits to several breweries and eateries that were very good.  We spent a night in a cabin in Chataqua Park in Boulder, a night at the Armstrong Hotel in Fort Collins, and two nights right next to the convention center in Denver.  Erin was able to get us tickets to two different sessions at the festival which allowed us to taste all of the beer that we wanted to.  You can read all about our time here.

Over the summer, I came up with a crazy idea to write a stat song to the tune of Justin Timberlake's SexyBack, and then do a music video of it.  It was one of my 'wouldn't it be funny if' ideas.  I began to write the song, got about halfway done, and put it, and the idea, aside.  Sometime in November I decided that this idea was too big to pass up and I was going to make it happen.  Erin helped me shoot a large chunk of the shots on the first weekend of Thanksgiving Break.  During the last two weeks of school, I took shots of the students and the president of the university, and then put it all together.  This video will stand as one of my groundbreaking achievements.  It will happen again.  You can guarantee that.

We spent Thanksgiving day with Erin's folks down in Lawrence, and the Saturday following Thanksgiving we hosted our second annual Parent's Meal that we hope to continue.  We had our third annual Holiday Meal with friends on Saturday, December 15.  There were 10 of us around the table for yet another amazing meal from Erin.  She puts a lot of work and effort in these things.  We spent Christmas day with dad and Marilyn this year in Indianola.  We rented "Hope Springs" and "Premium Rush" for them to watch.  These were good enough movies that neither one of them fell asleep during the movies and they both liked them.  It was a successful pick!  On the day after Christmas, we did some shopping with mom at Kohl's in Ottumwa, and lunch with her at the Canteen, and then hung out with her and Uncle Gary at home where she cooked us a nice meal.

We brought in 2013 rather simply this time around by hanging out on the sofa together having some wine and watching movies and T.V. shows on Netflix instant.  I think I fell asleep on Erin's lap as she began her Harry Potter marathon which she finished the next day.

Part II

The Spring semester of 2012 was about to begin.  Toward the end of the Fall semester of 2011, I was in the process of creating my tenure portfolio.  This happened to be a very worthwhile venture for me.  I really needed to reflect on my time at Truman.  How was my teaching going?  How was my research going?  Was I making any contributions to the committees on which I served?  When I really evaluated these things by the numbers, I found that I was doing well.  If you know me very well, you will understand that doing well or good enough just doesn't do it for me.  I want to be exceptional, and that can be very difficult sometimes when you have as harsh a critic as myself.

Books and movies inspire me a great deal.  I must have watched "Limitless" during the Fall 2011 semester because it sparked a large interest in memory and how the mind worked.  I checked out "The Memory Book" by Harry Lorayne from the library and soaked it up, always thinking on how I could use these techniques to better myself in the classroom.  Professor Hector Avalos taught an Old Testament class in Religious Studies at Iowa State that I took long ago, and he was able to do role call from memory on the first day of class.  I've always remembered that and even wrote about how important it was to me in several reflections, but had never tried it or put it into practice in my own classroom.

On my first day of class, I did role call from memory in all of my classes.  Students responded very well to it, as I did long ago, and so I will continue this practice until I retire from teaching.  The techniques used were quite easy to pick up.  In order to use the techniques, you do need to develop a wild imagination.  The year was getting off to a great start.

At the end of the semester my brain was on ultra-super-drive.  Ideas kept flowing out of me and I couldn't write them down fast enough.  The combination of learning all kinds of new material and losing all kinds of weight by eating right and exercising a boatload must have had an influence on my behavior.  On the last day of each of my classes I delivered a powerful 5-6 minute speech that I just read from a paper.  In each of my classes, I dismissed them after applause.  It was the first time that it happened, and wouldn't be the last. 

At the end of January in 2011, I was tipping the scale at over 180 lbs.  Someone I play basketball with regularly poked my stomach and said, "It looks like triathlon season is over."  I knew it was true but I needed to hear it.  That was the best thing that he could have said to me.  I started going on a diet and exercising a little more and kept a detailed record of my weight during the months of February through May. I got down below 160 after implementing a new diet.  It was amazing!

During the end of 2011 and a major part of 2012 my leisure reading took a major turn to nonfiction.  For a long time now, I have realized that I have no faith and find anything metaphysical and non-measurable pointless to study or to which pay any heed.  I read the books God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, Breaking the Spell by Daniel Dennett, Godless by Dan Barker, and The End of Faith by Sam Harris.  These books provided many arguments of which I had not heard along with many that I already had made in my head.

I thirsted for more answers about the universe and read the books The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene and A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.  When my pallet yearned for more, I turned to sociology and psychology reading The Tipping Point and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, and What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite by Daniel DiSalvo.  All of these reads have provided much insight and much needed understanding of the world I live in and the feelings I've been having since I was a kid.

Since 2012 was an election year, I consumed myself with politics.  Although I paid quite a bit of attention in to the election year in 2008, it must not have been the right kind of attention, because by the time it came to vote I remember feeling very much uninformed.  Using sources such as and, and reading several news analysis articles, I was able to sift through much of the nonsense that inevitably surfaces in politics during an election year.  To the chagrin of my parents and much of my family, I have become extremely liberal in my views.  This is because it has become next to impossible for me to make data based decisions and rational and reasonable arguments in favor of anything conservative.  It has been a real enlightening and eye-opening year for me.

Now, what am I going to do in 2013?  That will be my next blog.