Late night in a dark room beard.only way to get a good shot...go negative.

And so it ends, another year of beard growing. We grew some beards, we raised some cash, we made what difference we could. Thank you all for this year and the 5 previous...keep growing strong.



A "fictional" beard.

I've consumed a lot of fiction lately. Also some non-fiction (that Steve Jobs biography is massive). I've come to a point where I am simultaneously consuming multiple forms of fiction at the same time. Digital books via the Kindle app on my iPad/iPhone, digital comics via the Comixology app on the iPad, dead tree books, and audiobooks via my Audible subscription that gets me a new book every month (plus the New York Times audio edition).

I find that my preferences tend to vary widely depending on my current mood. Lately, I've been all about the audiobooks. I've, meanwhile, supplemented with comics (mostly out of a need to keep reading and deleting so I don't fill my iPad), and I've even been reading dead tree books again after avoiding them for over a year (a parent of a student bought my classroom the Hunger Games trilogy so I'm trying to read them before I put them on the self for the kids to mangle). But I've only really been eager for the audiobooks in the last few weeks. Before that I was really into the dead tree book.

I'm trying to sort out why my mood moves. I think part of it has to do with what's convenient. Digital is more handy than dead tree. Like cameras, the best book you have is the one you have with you when you need it. I also have my phone with me, and often my iPad, carrying a novel is cumbersome. But then why, a few weeks ago was I all about the dead tree book? And why am I less engaged by comics right now and Kindle books even less?

Engagement. It's all about engagement. I was engaged in the Hunger Games book. All my students have read it and I wanted to see how it compared to the movie, which I'd already read. It's the least handy reading method I have, but it hooked my interest. Kindle books that I have available just aren't grabbing me and I haven't felt compelled to seek them out despite them being the easiest to read.

Audiobooks, however...I get one a month which causes me to be selective, I can zoom through them in 2-3 days, and I can listen while on a walk, washing dishes, driving the car, and at the gym. Engagement and convenience all in one.

What engages you? What books should I be seeking out and in which format?

And what's more, what's it going to take to make breast cancer a fiction? I know where to start...that little "$$" symbol up there where you can sponsor my beard.



Hey...it's a "Full" Beard. :-)

Today I realize I am full.

The first, and most obvious fullness I have is of the stomach variety. Today is Thanksgiving here in the USofA and I ate a good meal at a local restaurant...that's right, I didn't cook. I have the unfortunate situation wherein I don't get to dine with family anymore. We live 19 hours away and it's just not worth the effort of making the drive for the short number of days that we have off...especially since we're headed that direction in less than month anyway. And yet, I'm full of Thankfulness as well. Thankful for all the things in my life that make it all work.

I've also come to a realization that when it comes to GRE prep...I'm pretty full there too. There are a handful of math concepts that I still don't get/remember, but I've picked up more and more. I'm still going to work on it every night if just to stay in practice, but I'm less worried about it now. I'm going to do what I'm going to do. I also find that I'm losing some ground in verbal (these questions tend to be things you either know or don't...you can't increase your vocabulary quickly and easily with short term studying, it's years of experiencing life and being a reader that'll do that. And I'm scoring higher in the math these days than I am on the verbal. So that's good...well, good for my overall, now I guess I'm a little worried about my verbal, since that's a score they'll actually be looking at.

Lastly, I'm full of appreciation for all those who have sponsored beards around here so far this year. There's still a few more days to sponsor and I'm fearful without some key participants we may not meet our goal this year, but what we're doing it great and the efforts of all here is something to be thankful for.

What are you thankful for?



Zoom in on the beard to make it seem bigger.

Thanksgiving break started today. I was very productive but also managed to spend hours on the non-GRE studying apps on my iPad while also listen to audiobooks for nearly 5 hours and watching the kids...an active day AND a relaxing one...how'd that happen?



An eye full of beard.

I'm continuing to focus all my free time on studying for the GRE after taking the weekend off. I'm seeing improvement. I started at about 50% overall I'm now at about 62% and I feel like I know the mistakes I'm making on almost all of the questions I get wrong...except polynomials and quadratic equations.

Couple weeks left.

You know where I want see more improvement? Sponsorships. I can cure breast cancer alone folks.



Revolutionary Beard

I've spent the last few weeks teaching 7th grade students about the French Revolution. We talk about all sorts of things well beyond the actual events of the revolution itself. We examine major themes as to the role of class divisions, the wealth gap, and the ideas of the Enlightenment and the impact all these things had towards bringing about one of the messiest and most influential revolutions in human history.

During the weeks of study we get to look at how folks at the top of the wealth ladder received special privileges, paid less in taxes, had more access to better luxuries, and were exempt to some duties because of the benefits of their birth.

We also talked about how during the pre-revolutionary period 2% of the population controlled about 40% of the land...an equivalent of wealth in the era.

And speaking of the Enlightenment, Charles de Secondant the Baron de Montesquieu gave us the idea of three branches of government with separation of powers...but he also said that the whole system would fall apart when the legislative branch was more corrupt than the executive branch.

It occurs to me that one could argue that our privileged class is every bit as privileged as theirs, if not more so, based on wealth...which is statistically largely based on birth. 1% of America currently controls 60% of the wealth...a wider wealth gap that pre-revolutionary France. And based on opinion polls Congress is way more messed up than the Presidency according the most Americans.

So why are we worse off by comparison than pre-revolutionary France but we don't revolt? I suspect is has a lot to do with the fact that the poor in France were starving to death, uneducated, with no hope of bettering their situation. In the US today there's little risk of starvation, education is freely available (although not all people take equal advantage of the opportunity) and there is at least an illusion of hope of bettering your situation. Plus I think the quality of life scale has moved dramatically.

You know what has been revolutionary? The gains we've made in fighting breast cancer. Want to know the best way to do that? Sponsor this beard.



A thinner beard, perhaps?

I often have my doubts. Am I fit to take on the roles with which I aspire? I often wonder, but then know that I certainly won't be fit if I didn't work to achieve those aspirations.

Amongst other things, I aspire to become a PhD student and then Doctor Greiner. But I also aspire to be a good father and husband...it is primarily towards those goals that I spent the weekend not studying for my GRE. I have a few days off coming this week, I hope to make up for it.

I also aspire to make the world healthier, primarily though my own physical fitness. In the last 5ish weeks I've lost 16 pounds...I don't know if the pictures show it off well. I'm quite happy with this and still have a few more weeks before the weight loss challenge I'm in the midst of is over.

Another way I aspire to making the world healthier? Winning HoNoToGroABeMo. Why? Because I'd like to beat the heck out of this breast cancer thing.

The good news is, with Cmar and Jeffrey not in the game this year with their big last minute pushes...maybe I have a shot at this. The bad news is, those last minute pushes always brought it a good amount of cash that goes to an extremely worthy cause...so if you're out there, donors who used to give to Cmar and Jeffrey...I will humbly accept any and all donations in their stead.

It's the fit thing to do.



Gaming Beard

I missed another one...that's two in 6 years. I suck. It's game day and we're waiting for one more player to show up so here I am, posting while I grovel about having missed out on yesterday's post. I guess this is a sign of the year.

Can I be forgiven? Will I, of all days, today be approached with a trip in the Tardis wherein I can go back to post yesterday? It could happen...



Focused beard.

Today there's a lot of distractions in my world. My son got to sleep 30 minutes late because he was distracted with...you know, playing.

My wife was distracted from the big project she's been killing herself over by the frustration associated with the fact that she wasn't going to get enough done to turn it in early and get feedback to make sure she gets the grade she needs.

And I'm being all sorts of distracted while I've been focusing on studying for the GRE that I'm taking in a few weeks. I studied while also supervising a Science Olympiad team. I studied while my wife got out her frustrations by watching TV in the room next to where I studied. I studied despite the fact that I haven't solved a quadratic equation in over 15 years and all this slope stuff...ugh.

You know who else is not being distracted? Breast cancer researchers...but they need your help, and so does my beard...I'll let you do the math...and I'm pretty sure it's math you can handle.



Beard in the dark.

I've come to the realization that if I'm going to complete all my GRE practice questions I will have to do at least 60 a day each day between now and the test day...this is going to be tiring.

That said, I'm torn on where/if to focus my time.

On one hand I need to score well on Verbal, Writing, and Overall...Math specifically not a big deal.

On the other hand I'm scoring about 90% correct on the Verbal and about 50% on the Math...that's not going to equate to a very good Overall score. So do I focus on the Math to raise my Overall...or do I do a general study and not focus at all in hopes of strengthening my Verbal (which is more important) but bolstering my Math to keep the Overall boosted...what to do, what to do...

I know what you can do...while I'm taking all this time to study, you can sponsor my beard. It would be one less thing for me to think about and it would help put an end to breast cancer.