Exploding Egg

It’s my flag, too

(Wrote this for my Facebook last night and figured I’d share it here as well)

Guess what. I’m a liberal. And I’m not even remotely ashamed of it. Why should I be?

Do I love this country? Not blindly. I love what we’re supposed to be, but we haven’t achieved yet. And conversely I’m disgusted by what 9-11 turned us into.


We’re paranoid. We take jabs at each other without listening. I don’t think either side, politically, has much respect for the other anymore. We’re all just standing around pointing fingers at each other, distracted while our government goes rogue.

And I think we forget, on the Internet, on the big scale, that we’re all just people, mostly good. Never perfect. If we stop shouting at each other we might learn something useful.

We’re supposed to be the good guys, we’re supposed to live to a moral ideal, yet we’ve killed countless innocents in senseless wars while burying our heads in the sand.

Do I blame soldiers for that? Hell no. Do I blame us for not paying attention? Somewhat.
Blind flag waving scares me. Blind support of our military scares me too. Not the soldiers, but the Pentagon. The people telling soldiers to fire missiles at other countries because our targeting is so great that surely no civilians will be harmed.

What we hear is often so far from the truth its sickening. And it’s easier to believe the lies than to admit that we’ve lost our moral high ground. That we’re not what we’re supposed to be.
We need to have calm rational discussions, to look at what science and the rest of the world is telling us. To realize we’re all equal. There’s no difference between one person or another, anywhere on the globe.

Is creating a safe world where that can happen unrealistic? Perhaps.

But it’s worth striving for.

That’s why I’m a liberal.

Should I pack up and leave this country because I don’t love the flag? Guess what, it’s MY FLAG TOO. And it’s MY COUNTRY TOO.


August 29, 2013 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stars and Dinosaurs

So I have this habit of asking everybody I come across to tell me their favorite dinosaur. I’ve even gotten a couple of famous folks to answer me.

I figured I’d do a post that I’ll keep updating whenever I get a new response.

Here’s what I have so far:

Michael Rooker (Actor, replied during a phone interview): “Megalodon’s a good one. That’s always very impressive. When you go to the science museum and you walk through that huge mouth. It’s impressive.” (Megalodon actually popped up after the dinosaurs – from 28 million to 1.5 million years ago – but sharks have been around for 450 million years so I’m gonna let him run with it. He also told me he’s fond of giant sloths and saber tooth tigers, which lived 33 million to 9,000 years ago.)



Megalodon jaw

Megalodon jaw

Michael Rooker as Merle Dixon on The Walking Dead

Michael Rooker as Merle Dixon on The Walking Dead

C. Thomas Howell (Actor, replied on Twitter): “I’m going with the Pteranodon to answer your question! ;)”


C. Thomas Howell

Thomas Gibson (Actor, replied on Twitter):  “It would be a toss up between the adorable Micropachycephalosaurus, or, of course, the Bambiraptor…not kidding!”





Thomas Gibson

Joe Mantegna (Actor, replied in a Criminal Minds chat): “David Rossi….T Rex….what else!”

T. rex

Joe Mantegna

Jason O’Mara (Actor, replied on Twitter): “That was a ‘Nykoaptor’ My fave : ) RT @explodingegg:@jason_omara You gonna make good on telling us what your favorite dinosaur is tonight?” (Nykoraptor actually isn’t a real dinosaur. It’s a created dino on the show Terra Nova)




Jason O’Mara

Mercedes Rose (Actor, replied in person while filming Black Eyed Kids film): “Is velociraptor really one? Those would be my favorites because they’re really scary.”


Mercedes Rose

Haunted Sunshine Girl (real name withheld due to stalker issues) (Actor, replied in person while filming Black Eyed Kids film): “What are those ones with the armored heads and that shovel tail? I think they’re really cool. Their heads are really square looking.” (I’m thinking she means Euoplocephus)


Haunted Sunshine Girl

Lou Diamond Phillips (Actor, replied on Twitter): “I’m gonna go with Triceratops.”


Lou Diamond Phillips

Michael Cudlitz (Actor, replied on Twitter): “GINKO. (tree)” (technically not a dinosaur, but I’m gonna let him run with it.)

Ginkgo, a tree that’s been around since at least the Permian, 270 million years ago

Michael Cudlitz

Brian Dietzen (Actor, replied on Twitter): “I’m gonna go with my son’s favorite, T-Rex, and my favorite, plesiosaur. (Love the Loch Ness Monster!)”

T. rex


Brian Dietzen

Darren Dalton (Actor, replied on Twitter): “I’d have to go with the Postosuchus. Badass of his time! Bring it on, T-Rex!!!”


Darren Dalton

Rick Dunkle (Writer, replied on Twitter): “Brontosaurus!”


Rick Dunkle

Ed Asner (Actor, replied on in a phone interview with me): “How can you resist Tyrannosaurus Rex? I’m also intrigued by Triceratops. I’d like to see how he’d (T. rex would) survive (trying to eat) a triceratops. They have a lot of plating.”

T. Rex


Ed Asner

Mikhael Ricks (NFL Tight End/Wide Receiver 1998-2004, replied on Twitter to a request by my friend @LouisahT): “Stegosaurus.”


Mikhael Ricks

Dayne Johnson (Makeup Artist, Makeup Department Head, Criminal Minds): “Since joe has the T rex, ill go with my second favorite.. Triceratops.”


Dayne Johnson

Tom Arnold (Actor, comedian, replied on Twitter): “T-Rex because they found true happiness in their 4th marriages.”

T. rex

Tom Arnold

Looks like there’s more cool dinosaur information on this Tumblr, but I can’t vouch for whether the answers are real or not: http://whatsyourfavoritedinosaur.tumblr.com/

December 15, 2011 Posted by | Criminal Minds, Musings, Science, Southland, Terra Nova, The Walking Dead | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

An old friend, gone, and a lesson to be more forgiving

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future. ~Paul Boese

One of the more interesting things about the rise of the Internet and social networking sites is that it makes it much easier to find friends from the past, assuming you want to reconnect.

But sometimes you find out things that really set you back and make you stop and think.

I’m talking about an old friend, Sam Rhinelander, who I had a falling out with after my first go-around in college back around 1989.

Sam Rhinelander

Sam was a very good friend in high school. We were in the same grade, both sort of outsiders — me because I just didn’t really fit in and him because he lived in Roxbury and commuted out to the suburbs to attend Lexington High School.

We were both musicians. He played the saxophone, I played guitar. I wrote a musical in my senior year and wrote a part into it specifically for him. In it he was sort of ethereal character that roamed in and out of the action, making commentary on the various characters — which was a bit like our real life outsider roles.

One time we got a bunch of T shirt paint and designed a bunch of shirts to sell at the Patriot’s Day parade in Boston. One was a really evil looking sketch of Ronald McDonald with the title “Eat Shit.”

T shirt making

I think it was the only one we sold. But the venture became quite a joke between us.

After high school we both went to Berklee Pool of Mucus (School of Music) in Boston together for a semester. I hated it. I’m not sure what his impression of it was but he continued after I dropped out.

We remained good friends that semester, but at the end we had an argument and I became so angry with him that I decided the friendship was over. And while I had good reason at the time, “over” can be a very strong word.

After that I had a career as a computer repair technician, then went to New Mexico to college and to my 15 year career as a journalist.

The Prom, Sam, me, and my date, Steve

Sam tracked me down, twice, and left messages on my phone. But though about 8 years had passed since our fight the first time he called, and about 12 had passed by the second, I still wasn’t ready to talk to him again. I didn’t call him back.

I wish I had.

I remember the second call. He told me he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Times were tough but he seemed to be hanging in there. But I was still mad. And I should have let it go and talked to him.

Now, almost 20 years since we last spoke, I’ve discovered it’s too late.

I started looking for him a few years back. I decided I really did want to talk to him again. I guess we never really forgot each other.

And through looking around online recently I found him. Sort of.

I found his death record.

Sam and I at a high school graduation party

This is all the information I could get:

Name: Samuel C. Rhinelander
Date of Birth: Sunday July 27, 1969
Date of Death: Tuesday May 04, 2004
Est. Age at death: 34 years, 9 months, 7 days
Last known residence:
City: Charlottesville; Monticello
County: Charlottesville City (Albemarle County)
State: Virginia
ZIP Code: 22902
Latitude: 38.0250
Longitude: -78.4761
Confirmation: Verified
Social Security details:
State of Issue: Maine
Number: 004-74-5658

The missing bit of information here — the cause of death — has been eating away at me since I first discovered this a few weeks ago. I know his mother is dead. I know his father wasn’t in the picture, although I can’t remember if he was dead or not. And I just hope Sam didn’t die alone and miserable from such a horrible disease.

I tried to contact the county clerk in Virginia to get the information, but they told me it’s confidential. I asked some old friends if they knew anything about his death, but it seems I wasn’t the only one that lost touch with Sam.

So, I’m pretty much stuck wondering what happened, and hoping that at least he went peacefully and things worked out for him. I’m also hoping the death record is a mistake and he’ll track me down again and give me a call. But I found it, verified, in more than one place, so that may be wishful thinking.

It’s also disturbing that he died in 2004 and I’ve only just learned about it. In some ways I’m mourning what could have been, but wasn’t.

Looking back on it now I wish I had been more forgiving. I wish I had picked up the phone and talked to him. But I didn’t. So all I can do now is remember the lesson for the future, and try to not make the same mistake.

If anybody knows what happened, I’d love to find out.

Sam with our high school yearbook

And even if we don’t know — lets drink a toast to Sam. I hope you’re in a better place, buddy, wherever that may be!


September 1, 2010 Posted by | Musings | , | 23 Comments

Musings: An American’s Thoughts On World Cup Soccer

So as a typical American (United States of American, that is) I have to say I grew up never really knowing a heck of a lot about soccer. For us, the game is a sport for children. They play it in elementary school as an after-school activity — used sometimes as preparation until, if they’re boys, they are big enough to strap on the football pads or tall enough to start playing basketball.

Soccer is generally only seen as a breeding ground for our version of football’s kickers.

That said, though, personally I’ve never really had anything against the sport. I think part of the reason folks for the United States don’t know much about it is that we really haven’t been exposed to it at the professional level.

My cat, Tao, is enjoying her first exposure to the World Cup

TV stations don’t like to air it, because the game has two 45-minute chunks that can’t be interrupted with commercials. Football, baseball and basketball, on the other hand, all have TV time outs and plenty of breaks so that stations can make more money off of them.

The soccer that we do see tends to be at the lower end of professional. The best players in the world play mostly in overseas leagues. If we wanted to follow the English Premier League on TV, watching live games would be tricky because of the time difference. That’s true of any of the European leagues. And as most sports fans will tell you, it’s not nearly as fun to watch a taped game as it is a live one.

The time difference is a bit of a problem for us when watching this year’s World Cup in Africa, but one small hope of the game catching on is that the last game of the night there occurs, for us, at the same morning time on the weekends that our early U.S. football games generally air in the fall. So there’s at least a little more of a comfort factor in watching it.

I’m impressed that ESPN has dedicated itself to covering the World Cup this year, as well. In the past, they’ve only aired a few games. This year, they’re airing all of them live. That helps, as well, because we get a much more full picture of the competition and all the intricate stories inside each game.

It’s also nice to see the United States competing well in the opening round — despite mystifying referee calls.

In sports in the United States, referees have to explain their calls — or at least describe what they were calling. We like instant replay and reviews because we feel it makes the games more fair. The cloak and dagger of soccer referees, who apparently don’t have to explain themselves, is a very odd concept for us.

Our games also usually end with a distinct winner and loser. The notion of all that running around to end in a tie doesn’t go over so well — and I’m not sure most people here understand how the whole point for games system works.

I do love how the English Premier League is set up with promotion and relegation. At the end of the season the top league’s three lowest teams are demoted to the second tier league (think minor league baseball) and the second tier league’s top three teams are promoted to the Premier League. And the same happens in their second and third tier leagues.

Tim Howard, an goalkeeper for the U.S. team who plays for Everton in the English Premier League

That gives teams in all parts of the country hope to play at the top level. I’d love to see something like that set up here — for U.S. soccer or even baseball.

One, maybe the only, advantage of being unemployed due to the bad economy right now, is that I’ve been able to watch the World Cup and learn more about soccer — mostly from my European friends.

It’s the world’s game, and I think we should as a country be more interested in it. We often think the rest of the world hates us as a country, which I think can make us a little insulated — and soccer in its own way could be an entry point of discussion for people from the United States to talk to people in other countries and perhaps not feel so set apart from the rest of the world.

Of course, there are other angles of the differences between our sports that have popped into my mind as I watch the World Cup. The size of players is one of them.

Players in sports in the U.S. tend to be huge. Not always fat huge, but steroid-pumped giants, certainly. Our football players are pretty much short and small if they’re 6’2″ and muscular. Many of them are stocky and 6’6″ or so. And basketball players also fit that mold — taller and taller. Even baseball players are big guys here, in a sport where they don’t necessarily need to be huge.

Soccer players, on the other hand, or rugby players or cricket players or what have you — the sports of other countries — they tend to be normal-looking guys. They’re fit, muscular, but they look like regular guys you might see walking down the street.

Aerobically, they have to be more fit than those in many other sports. That’s a lot of running around without breaks.

I’m not really sure why in the U.S. we prefer our sports stars to be giants. But I think it’s sort of nice to see international superstar soccer players that look like normal human beings.

The sports leagues that operate in the U.S. — for football, basketball, baseball and hockey — tend to have the best players in the world. And in soccer, I don’t think we’ll be able to get that here, although Major League Soccer is trying its best at it. It’s nice to watch the U.S. team in the World Cup, because it does have some of the world’s best players on it. Many of them players we’ve never heard of here.

Landon Donovan, a midfielder on the U.S. team who plays Major League Soccer for the Los Angeles Galaxy

Will the World Cup finally crack the barrier that the U.S. has had against soccer? I’m not sure it will. But I think very slowly there are signs that its popularity is growing.

Folks are talking about it in the U.S. — I’ve noticed people who in prior years didn’t even know what the World Cup was now know what’s going on in the games thus far. And that’s hopeful.

And seeing college-aged kids jumping around in the streets of Portland cheering for Germany is also a positive sign.

A Germany fan displays his World Cup enthusiasm on the streets of Portland

Will the wall come down completely? Maybe not this year, but I think eventually it will. Perhaps in the next cup when it’s in our general time zone.

But at the very least, this World Cup seems to be exaggerating the cracks between us and other countries. It’s the start of a discussion, and I hope we start to take advantage of that.


Update: By the way, my cat really wants to play soccer for one of these teams:

June 21, 2010 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Musings: Share a Little Air With History

You might have heard the myth that we’ve all shared the same molecules of air with each other and with prominent figures in history — like Gandhi, Lincoln, Genghis Khan or Richard Simmons.

Well, as luck would have it, the myth is true.

It's highly likely that you have about 227 air molecules from this guy in your lungs right now.

Going with my trend of using the Internet to follow up on every idiotic thought that comes to mind, I just came across an uber-nerdy explanation of why the breath theory is true — so I thought I’d pass it on.

It’s here on Newsvine.com:

The Odds That You’ll Breathe a Single Molecule of Air That Once Traveled Through the Lungs of Jesus.

The author calculates how many air molecules we have in our lungs, compares them with the number of air molecules out there in the atmosphere and takes into account atmospheric mixing — bringing us to the reason why we’re all breathing the same air as Richard Simmons.

Let’s try to simplify it even more:

Each breath we take is about 6 liters of air, which contains about 16,100,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules of gas (that’s 161 sextillion for those of you playing at home).

The story looks at Jesus, who was about 32 when he died. And in that period of time, it estimates that he inhaled about 32,500,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules of air (or 325 decillion)

Overall, there are about 112,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules of gas in our atmosphere (or 11.2 quattuordecillion particles).

Those molecules get mixed up every year, through wind, chemical interactions, the frequency of airplane flights, etc.

So what are the odds that you’re sharing the air molecules of Richard Simmons — or somebody hunkier like Thomas Gibson or Jeremy Northam — right now?

Chances are good that you're sharing air with this guy

You're also probably sharing air with these two

Doing the math, the writer of the story found that if you divide the total number of air particles inhaled by Jesus in his lifetime by the total number of particles in the atmosphere, you get a 1 in 3,450,000,000,000 chance of any one of those particle entering your lungs at any given time.

But if that sounds like a long shot, remember that those are the odds for just one air molecule — and you have 16,100,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules in your lungs right now.

So if you run the odds for all of the molecules in your lungs right now — it turns out that you just inhaled 4,685,100,000,000 molecules (or about 4.685 trillion) that were once within Jesus’ lungs over his lifetime.

And even if you trap 99 percent of the air molecules that Jesus or Richard Simmons has inhaled in their lifetimes — doing the math it still turns out there are at least four of those molecules in our lungs at any given time.

If you shrink it down further, it appears we each have about 227 air molecules from a single breath by Jesus or whoever.

As the author of the story says:

“The reality is that the odds of breathing a single molecule of air that once passed through the lungs of Jesus, even in a single one of your breaths, is near certainty. The odds of encountering even one of those molecules within your entire lifetime is even more certain.”

So be happy, my friends. Because in some really weird cosmic way you just made out with Rudolph Valentino, Jeremy Northam, that guy you had a crush on in high school, and well, unfortunately, with Richard Simmons.

And don’t worry, you straight guys out there — for you that means sharing air with Farrah Fawcett, or some other sexy women you like to drool over.

All you guys (well all of us, actually) are also sharing air with Farrah Fawcett

What does this mean? Nothing really. But hey, you’re the one that just made out with me — I hope you enjoyed it.


May 12, 2010 Posted by | Musings, Science | , | 2 Comments

Oregon: A Trip To Lincoln City Beach

I’ve always been an ocean worshiper. There’s something about that vast expanse of water and waves that just feels, on an almost elemental level, like home to me.

Perhaps that’s because millions of years ago, our distant ancestors first evolved there and only later crawled up on land. Perhaps that’s because for ancient humans, the ocean always meant an abundant food source was nearby.

Or perhaps that’s just because the ocean is, well, cool.

Waves hit mussel-covered rocks on the Oregon shore

Since college I’ve done this sort of goofy thing, paying respect to that elemental force, by pouring libation to Poseidon whenever I get to the coast.

And that grounding energy that comes from the ocean is part of the reason I moved here.

Several years ago, I got a reward back from Poseidon for my respect to that force.

I was in San Diego, covering a conference, and I sneaked out onto some rocks in the harbor by the city to give Poseidon his due — a little red wine. Visitors aren’t supposed to go out on those rocks, but I couldn’t reach the water without risking it.

As I poured the wine and looked around, I suddenly noticed hundreds of brightly colored crabs surrounding me — they had crawled up on the rocks and were just everywhere.

It was so fundamentally cool, sort of like the ocean recognized my worship of it and encouraged me to continue.

Water creeps up on shore between rocks at Lincoln City Beach

Flash forward 12 or so years, and I’m still pouring libation.

Do I think Poseidon is a real guy that’s going to bless me or something? Probably not. But I do believe in paying respect to the idea of him, or to whatever it is that the water brings out in me.

Sunday was my first beach trip since I moved to Portland about two weeks ago. My friend Leo, his wife Korie and their son Max were nice enough to bring me with them to one of their favorite spots, Lincoln City Beach.

It’s a rocky beach, great for agate hunting and for finding interesting creatures in tide pools. Walk a little bit in either direction, and you get back to normal sand without much rock.

But the rocks are a great attraction — teeming with all sorts of life, including this crab that ended up being quite the unwilling tourist attraction for the day:

Leo holds up his new friend

Being the sarcastic carnivore that I am, I couldn’t help but look at this guy and think about eating him for dinner — perhaps with some of the mussels that covered the nearby rocks.

Mussel coated rocks at Lincoln City Beach

Should I feel bad about seeing these wonders of nature and thinking they’d be tasty? I don’t really. I eat things like them all the time. It just brings home the reality that we, most of us anyway, have to kill other animals so that we can live healthy lives.

It was also great fun to watch 5-year-old Max playing in the waves — doing what kids do best: Enjoying the day with a completely Zen-like ecstasy:

It was an unusually sunny day, which kept the sand warm so that after playing in the freezing water Max could be properly insulated by his Mom:

Korie tucked Max into a blanket of sand

The other cool thing about this beach is that you can drive right up onto the shore with all your beach equipment.

Visitors park on the sand at Lincoln City Beach

Of course, it’s a pretty steep ride and you risk getting stuck if you come down in the wrong vehicle.

But watching people do that is part of the mischievous fun of this particular beach.

This guy looks like he's just asking for trouble

Fortunately the beach-goes are also pretty friendly and known to help the inevitable few that do get stuck in the sand.

So, with the salt air in my lungs and my body still tired — but in a good exercise kind of way — I have to say it was a just a wonderful day.

I’ll leave you with my favorite shot of Max and one last video of watching the waves. But don’t worry, there will be plenty more beach trips to come. I promise.

Max, checking out a tide pool


May 10, 2010 Posted by | Musings, Portland | , , | 4 Comments

A Little Taoist Wisdom Before The Move

As my big life-altering move from Albuquerque to Portland rapidly approaches, I’m finally starting to lose my sustaining sense of disbelief and grab hold of the reality of change.

Practically, adjusting to that that means packing, getting the cats ready, filling out change of address forms and all that stuff. Emotionally, it means finding a way to steel myself so I can leave my old life and leap into the new one.

This move is going to be a really good thing for me, but I’ve never been one that adjusts easily to change. So I’m looking for ways to mellow myself out — and the best way for me is usually leafing through books on Taoism.

So tonight, as I ponder my Friday road trip to Portland, I flipped to a passage called “Road” in Everyday Tao by Deng Ming-Dao. I think it’s pretty appropriate, so I thought I’d pass it along:

“Everything we do in life forms a road. Our life span, our aging, our career, our endeavors, our relationships — all of these form a sequence that becomes the road we walk.

When we walk along a road, we should not regret another road not taken. Those who are mature accept this. We cannot travel on one path while walking another. If we go to one destination, then it is inevitable that we will miss others.

It is tempting to linger upon regrets and suppositions, especially when times are unhappy. Maybe we could have been more famous or richer. Maybe we could have done more as we grew older. But it is far better to remember that we make our own road one day at a time. If we have been fully involved with our own lives and have been making our own decisions, there is no reason for regret.

As we grow older, it becomes critical to fulfill what we find important. The more we understand our goals, the more we can properly gauge how close we are to them. That gives us a very powerful understanding.

The road each of us walks is our own personal Tao. All the principles we use in following universal Tao are also applicable to our personal one. Just as there is only one great Tao, so too is there only one Tao for us — our Tao. To be true to that, to be sure in that, is never to be separated from the essence of wisdom.”


April 17, 2010 Posted by | Musings | 3 Comments

Myers Briggs Personality Fun

I’ve always been fascinated by schematics and other little tidbits of information that can help me understand other people and what makes them tick.

A while ago I tossed up this post on the whole left-brain right-face, right-brain left-face thing — which is sort of a quick and dirty way to assess whether somebody is more technical or creative.

A bigger and more well-known schematic, however, is the Myers Briggs test, which breaks people down into 16 basic types, depending on whether they’re introverted or extroverted, intuitive or sensing, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving.

If you take the Myers Briggs test, you’ll end up with a four-letter description of your personality type, like INFJ, which is mine.

You can take the test yourself here at HumanMetrics to find your own type, if you’re interested.

The words behind the four letter designation sound a little vague, but I’ll tell you what they mean, generally:

Introvert or Extrovert: This one is fairly self-explanatory. Introverts tend to prefer small social settings or being alone, tend to think things out before saying anything and need time by themselves to recharge their energy. Extroverts like big social settings with lots of people, tend to think out loud and need social stimulus to recharge their energy.

Intuitive or Sensing: Intuitive people tend to be more focused on the big picture, on thinking about what might happen in the distant future and on concepts rather than facts. Sensing people tend to be more focused on the here and now, on thinking about what details are necessary in the short term to make something happen and on facts rather than on big picture concepts.

Thinking or Feeling: Thinking people tend to be more strongly rooted in analytical thought, in mentally assessing a situation before acting and behaving in a somewhat methodical way. Feeling people tend to be more strongly rooted in their emotional lives, in wondering how everybody around them feels about a situation, and they can be known to listen to their hearts over their heads.

Judging and Perceiving: The final bit of the schematic breaks down a lot more simply than you might think. Ask yourself this question: Are you obsessively on time to things, or do you show up when you show up? If you’re obsessively on time and like to schedule things, you fall in the Judging category. If you don’t like anything to be scheduled and are usually late for appointments, you’re Perceiving.

I used to talk a lot about this stuff with an old professor of mine from the University of New Mexico, and one thing he said to me is of the four different categories, it’s actually the JP one that causes the most trouble — because pedantic Js get irritated when others don’t meet their time scales and flakey Ps don’t like people trying to make them fit into a time mold.

The thing about these descriptions is that all of us have a bit of every letter in our personalities. But each designation is a sliding scale — so a person might have a tendency to be more in the Feeling category than in Thinking, but they still have some Thinking aspects.

Part of the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, which is based on Myers Briggs, is a further reduction of the 16 types into four basic archetypes.

There’s a basic overview of them here at Keirsey.com

Basically the four break down into two-letter sequences from the Myers Briggs, which are SJ/SP and NT/NF.

Sometimes Myers Briggs types can slide around a little over your lifetime. The scales tend to move. But these four archetypes tend to remain the same across our evolution from child to adult to old age.

Knowing a little bit about them, if you’re able to make an assessment of somebody, can help you communicate more effectively with other people — at least it has helped me do that.

So here are the four archetypes:

The Keirsey site labels SJs as Guardians. They are detail oriented, practical, and are the sort of people that keep a society running. The Kiersey site says that “Guardians make up as much as 40 to 45 percent of the population, and a good thing, because they usually end up doing all the indispensable but thankless jobs the rest of us take for granted.” It includes a little description of them:

  • Guardians pride themselves on being dependable, helpful, and hard-working.
  • Guardians make loyal mates, responsible parents, and stabilizing leaders.
  • Guardians tend to be dutiful, cautious, humble, and focused on credentials and traditions.
  • Guardians are concerned citizens who trust authority, join groups, seek security, prize gratitude, and dream of meting out justice.

The site labels SPs as Artisans. It’s an archetype for people that are constantly in motion, constantly doing things — and their focus is most often on what’s in front of them, what’s happening right now. The Kiersey site says that “There are many Artisans, perhaps 30 to 35 percent of the population, which is good, because they create much of the beauty, grace, fun, and excitement the rest of us enjoy in life.” Their description:

  • Artisans tend to be fun-loving, optimistic, realistic, and focused on the here and now.
  • Artisans pride themselves on being unconventional, bold, and spontaneous.
  • Artisans make playful mates, creative parents, and troubleshooting leaders.
  • Artisans are excitable, trust their impulses, want to make a splash, seek stimulation, prize freedom, and dream of mastering action skills.

It labels the NFs as Idealists. It’s an archetype fascinated with big-picture thinking and concerned about the welfare of the world. They’re also focused on understanding others and what makes people tick. The Kiersey site says that “Idealists are relatively rare, making up no more than 15 to 20 percent of the population. But their ability to inspire people with their enthusiasm and their idealism has given them influence far beyond their numbers.” Their description:

  • Idealists are enthusiastic, they trust their intuition, yearn for romance, seek their true self, prize meaningful relationships, and dream of attaining wisdom.
  • Idealists pride themselves on being loving, kindhearted, and authentic.
  • Idealists tend to be giving, trusting, spiritual, and they are focused on personal journeys and human potentials.
  • Idealists make intense mates, nurturing parents, and inspirational leaders.

And it labels NTs as Rationals. They tend to be problem solvers, scientists aimed at understanding the world around them in big and small ways, and their interested in practical solutions but also in learning about the realities behind those solutions. The Kiersey site says that “Rationals are very scarce, comprising as little as 5 to 10 percent of the population. But because of their drive to unlock the secrets of nature, and to develop new technologies, they have done much to shape our world.” Their description:

  • Rationals tend to be pragmatic, skeptical, self-contained, and focused on problem-solving and systems analysis.
  • Rationals pride themselves on being ingenious, independent, and strong willed.
  • Rationals make reasonable mates, individualizing parents, and strategic leaders.
  • Rationals are even-tempered, they trust logic, yearn for achievement, seek knowledge, prize technology, and dream of understanding how the world works.

I find this helpful because there are some trains of thought or tangents I might go on that really only other NFs would find interesting. If I’m talking to one of my SP friends, on the other hand, I know I’ll probably bore them to death with that talk, but they’re great for playing around with quick witty conversation or when you need somebody handy to go camping with.

It’s also useful if you’re out there interviewing people because it can help you determine a line of questioning that will keep conversation flowing.

Anyway, there’s a lot more out there in Web land about the subject, but I thought I’d share it with you all because it really fascinates me.


April 16, 2010 Posted by | Musings | , , | 4 Comments

A Little Morning Brain Science

Personality schematics, like the Myers Briggs test, and brain studies have always fascinated me — I suppose because I want to know what makes people tick.

One subject I got on a long time ago, and I’m not sure exactly where from, is that people tend to favor one side of their face or the other when they speak or smile or interact. And the notion of being left faced or right faced can actually tell you something about a person.

Physiologically, the right side of the brain is wired to the left side of the body, and the left side is wired to the right side of the body.

Nobel Prize Winner Roger Sperry (1981) did a series of split-brain experiments in which he looked at what each side of the brain actually did, through a series of patients that had parts of their brains removed for one reason or another.

In one of his studies he found that the left brain was good at identifying objects but not at knowing what purpose they served, while the right brain was good at knowing what things were used for but not their names.

Further along, and several qualities were attached to each half, including:

Left Brain: Logic, language, mathematics, calculations, understanding details, fact based, forms strategies, practical.

Right Brain: Emotional, imaginative, intuitive, visual, musical, forward-thinking, understands symbols and philosophy, impetuous, takes risks.

The two sides are cross-linked, of course, and interact with each other. But the wiring varies — and along with many other factors can lead to the array of people out there who are artistic, analytical and everything in between.

So if you look out there at people you know, or at famous people, sometimes you can get an idea of how they think by looking at some images of their faces.

Ray Davies — lead singer of The Kinks and my longtime favorite musician, hero, icon, etc. — is extremely left faced, which you can see in his smile and seems to indicate he favors the creative, emotional and imaginative part of his brain. And you can tell from his work that it seems to be the case.

Ray Davies

If you look around, a lot of musicians, painters, writers and other creative types are also left faced and right brained.

Like Chuck Palahniuk, the writer, for instance.

Chuck Palahniuk

If you look at famous scientists, engineers or physicists, on the other hand, they tend to smile a lot more on the right side of their faces, which seems to indicate that logical, mathematical, fact-oriented type of thinking.

You can see J. Robert Oppenheimer seems to have favored that side of his face:

J. Robert Oppenheimer

So does Albert Einstein:

Albert Einstein

I’m noticing that actors, who I would have quickly lumped into the right brain, left face part of the equation, are actually a lot more varied — which makes me wonder if it has something to do with how they approach their craft.

Jeremy Northam, who I’ve recently been sort of fascinated with, appears to be more left brain, right faced:

Jeremy Northam

But Matt Damon, Boston hometown hero, appears to be more the other way around:

Matt Damon

I have no idea how either of these men approaches a role, but it would be interesting to see if Northam does a sort of analytical study of them first while Damon does more of an emotional approach.

Anyway, as a reporter talking to people I didn’t know I’d sometimes look at the left faced right faced thing to get a take on the best way to talk to somebody. Analytical types respond better to more focused, detailed questions while the artistic types are often better if you ask a less detailed question and let them approach it from a more emotional point of view.

It’s just a guide, of course — scientists can easily be left faced and artistic types can be right faced. But I found it helpful.

Anyway, it’s one of those things I’ve pondered a lot over the years, so I thought I’d share it.

If you’re wondering which way I fall, this image of me in my 20s is pretty telling:


Me in my 20s

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Hope you enjoyed it.


April 7, 2010 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , | 5 Comments