Sunday Stealing: Nell Stokes


Before I get to this week’s Sunday Stealing, something hyperlocal, curious, and time-sensitive. There is an exhibit called “Nell Stokes: Stories of an Education Advocate” at the Albany Institute of History and Art, an entity my wife and I have supported financially. The exhibit was mounted by Lacey Wilson on December 19, 2023, and was scheduled to be up until December 2024. (Here’s an interview with Lacey from January.)

However, by chance, Nell, a local treasure, learned on May 19, 2024, that the exhibit will be taken down in a few days (i.e., tomorrow, May 26.) She posted about it on her Facebook page and received questions on why it was being removed five months in when twelve months was promised. She believes, and I agree, that it should stay up as promised until December, and we need to know, if not, why not. 

Her request to you is to call Diane Shewchuk at 518.463.4478, Ex 441, and ask the Question.  

And now back to our regular quiz

1. Have you ever been stung or bitten by an animal?

I’ve been stung by bees, or probably wasps. While my dog, an Alaskan husky, bit me when I was a kid, it was the fact that my parents (probably my father) thought it was no big deal until Lucky Stubbs bit one of the pastor’s daughters, that really irritated me. Only then he gave him to one of his co-workers who had more property to allow the dog to roam. 

2. Do you have a favorite bird? Do you feed the birds at your house or park?

Of the ones I never see: ostriches, penguins. In the I’ve seen them category: blue jays, cardinals, et al. And eagles. Frankly, if it weren’t for neighborhood standards, I’d never mow the lawn so the creatures could forage. BTW, the question reminds me of the song My Conviction from the musical Hair. 

Specifically: “There is a peculiar notionThat elegant plumageAnd fine feathersAre not proper for the maleWhen actuallyThat is the way things are in most species”

3. What is the last thing you said to somebody before replying to this email?

To the Daughter: “Take the Zyrtec first.”

I remember sleep

4. How do you get yourself ready to sleep at night?

This probably requires its own blogpost. Short answer: there’s no consistent pattern in terms of when I go to bed, or how long I’m off my computer, or whether I watch television first. Usually, I watch a recorded episode of JEOPARDY, because I get teases on my phone which reveal TMI. I have what they call bad sleep hygiene, and it’s gotten worse in the last several months. I do take a battery of Rx pills and brush my teeth.   

5. When was the last time you wrote a proper letter?

“Proper” is an interesting term. I did write a Christmas letter at the end of the year and even snail-mailed it to several people who had sent me cards over the past two or three years.

6. What is the worst injury you have ever sustained?

Our contenders: June 1972 – I was getting out of a car when it was rear-ended. I spent a day and a half in the hospital, then six weeks in physical therapy.  1994 – I tore the left meniscus sliding down a mountain in Utah. 2009 – I broke a rib while on my bicycle, trying to avoid a car. We’ll go with the knee, which troubles me to this day.

7. If you could choose your career based strictly on what you think would be fun instead of your qualifications/salary/etc., what would it be?

I wish I had been a public librarian rather than working in a closed environment.

An alternate Earth

8. You can live on another planet, which one and why?

There’s probably a planet somewhere in the universe that has to have a similar ecosystem as Earth. Maybe the people there haven’t mucked up the environment as much as we have.

9. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Strawberry. There was a place in my college town, New Paltz, where I’d have a sundae, and it’d be strawberry ice cream and strawberry sauce.

10. What do you think of tattoos? Do you have any?

I’ve mellowed on tattoos. From not liking them at all to finding some quite appealing, though usually not the full-body jobs. But I’m never getting one.

11. Are you very active or do you prefer to just relax in your free time?

I don’t have any free time.  Some items sit on my to-do list for months while more pressing items muscle their way onto my calendar. This is related to my bad sleep patterns. Maybe when my wife retires. 

12. If you could bring back one TV show that was cancelled, which one would you bring back?

There are plenty of shows. But a lot of reboots, even with the same cast, they are lesser efforts.  Murphy Brown was a prime example.

No surprise 

13. Do you prefer to watch movies in the theater or in the comfort of your own home?

In the cinema. I simply have no patience/discipline to watch a movie at home and watch it in the way it was meant to be viewed, which is straight through.

14. If you opened a restaurant, what kind of food would you serve?

First, I would never open a restaurant; it is way too much of a hassle. That said, something like Sabor a Campo, which is “an eat-in buffet, carry-out style restaurant, specializing in value-driven multicultural foods, and set in a relaxed, homey, and familial environment.”

15. What do you think is a common thing that is shared between countries despite language barriers? 

Most people just want to be left alone to work, raise and feed their families, with respect, civility, and peace.  

I see there’s a new final question:

15. If money were no object what would you do for your next birthday?? 

Right now, I have no idea. It’s in the middle of my wife’s work year and my daughter’s school year. Under the right circumstances, I’d travel somewhere I’ve never been, maybe Ireland and Nigeria.

Compassion, Int’l: Sunday Stealing


This week’s Sunday Stealing is Compassion, Int’l, which refers to this organization. What the quiz has to do with the entity, I am uncertain.

1. Do you ever have funny dreams at night?
If by “funny,” they mean weird, strange, bizarre, then yeah. And I can have them when I take a 30-minute nap. I remember them for a time but forget them if I don’t write them down. That said, one recent one involved my late father.

Just last night, I played handball, two on two, but we played with full-sized cars that bounced instead of balls. (I used to play racquetball regularly from 1983-2010.)

2. If you could make a law for your country, what would it be?
A salary ratio so that the rich don’t continue to get richer.

3. What would you do if you were invisible for a day?
I’d sneak into some corporate entity and sneak out their documents proving their culpability in, e.g., polluting the air or water or creating other risks for people and/or animals. Then I’d leak ’em to the press. (Or should I post them on my blog first? Hmmm.)

4. If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be?
Elon Musk. And I’d give away 90% of his/my money to worthy entities feeding the hungry, fighting disease et al.

5. What would you like to change about yourself?
I want to eliminate some pain.

6. What is your daily routine?
Currently: I get up, post my blog to Facebook, do Wordle, Dordle, Quordle, and Octotordle, vote for my niece Rebecca Jade in five categories, vote for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame candidates, and check my email. Weigh myself, and take my blood pressure and pulse. Feed the cats, then feed myself. Then it depends.
7. What would your perfect day be like? What would you be doing?
Seeing a movie at a cinema, watching a play, or singing in the choir, and then getting a massage.

8. How old were you when you learned to read?
IDK. I don’t recall not reading.

9. What is the most interesting thing you know?
I don’t know that it’s INTERESTING, but I know all of the US Presidents, in order and year of inauguration

10 What makes you nervous?
Being late to take a plane or train.

11. What is your favourite flower?
Tulips. It’s an Albany thing.

12. Have you ever ridden on a horse or any other animal?
Yes, on June 9, 1975, I rode a horse. It was the day after I had my first hangover. Not recommended.

13. What time do you go to bed?
11 p.m., or maybe later if I have projects to finish.

14. What time do you get up?
7:15 a.m., when the cats want to be fed.

15. What is something that is always in your refrigerator?
Eggs, 1% milk, cottage cheese, grapes, and apples.

December Questions for Sunday Stealing

french revolution

December questionsHere are some December Questions for Sunday Stealing.

1. My plans for December 

I’m happy that the church choir is singing in person again regularly. We did sing in late 2021, but it was sporadic; half the choir sang one week, then just the soloists, then the other half, then the soloists. It wasn’t easy to get a musical rhythm. We all did sing on Christmas Eve.

2. How energized I feel at this point in the year. 

It’s cold, and it’s darker for longer. But it’s not awful.

3. The best things about the holiday season 

Music. Singing it, listening to it. BTW, my bud fillyjonk linked to a great piece by the Monkees!

4. Something that changed my perspective on life 

The whole year has been a series of Plan B moments.

5. What I seem to get the most comments about 

Evidently, I am a very expressive singer. Even strangers have commented on it. 

6. The changes I’ve made to my style 

I have no style. Or, more correctly, I don’t care about style to be concerned enough to change it.

7. What gets in the way of my success 


The fourth estate

8. News sources I trust the most 

I look at LOTS of sources, even ones I don’t particularly trust. It helps inform me how people with different, even, IMO bizarre, thoughts about the world get their ideas. 

9. Fictional characters that would easily fit into my life 

I thought that certain iterations of Peter Parker, the seeming schlub who is unappreciated, would be a friend.

10. My relationship with spirituality 

You’re almost certainly wrong if you think you’ve got it figured out. Mainline churches have liturgies that repeat every three years because one should be taking something new from the stories.

Of course, in my Bible group, we often comment that we’d like to see our pastors tackle some particularly odious passages. We’re in the middle of 2 Kings, some ferocious stuff. 

11. How I feel when I’m being retrospective 

Depends. Sometimes it is with great appreciation that I have good friends, some of whom I’ve known for half a century or longer. Other times it is with regret that I didn’t deal with someone better. 

Artificial intelligence

12. My thoughts on AI technology 

I went to DeepAI and used the prompt, “The french revolution was good.” Here’s the result:

the french revolution was good, I wish I could have played," says the former striker. "You don't go into Spain believing you can go there and play there but I think maybe that was the case.

"The pressure is intense at training because you've got to do everything you can to be successful, because in Spain these days a lot of people do that work and do everything you can to get yourself in top form. So I don't know why we haven't worked hard for some time but definitely the feeling has changed for me.

"The pressure on you in training is intense. I have to go out there and play every minute of any game and try to stay mentally sharp. It's nice to be back at home and feel calm in training or off in the dressing room after all these years."

I find some AI art interesting, but other pieces are rather creepy.

This gets into a whole series of philosophical questions about intellectual property. Plus, what is… knowledge/art/writing/creativity?

13. The odd/weird things I do when nobody else is around 

I don’t think it’s all that odd. I talk to myself, especially when I’m writing. It helps me think. 

14. What do I do when I can’t sleep 

Get up and play Wordle. Read newspapers. 

15. The winter/holiday season tasks I enjoy 

I like buying presents for people who are easy to buy for, such as my daughter. Conversely, my wife is terrible to shop for because she doesn’t hint well.  

My occupation, formerly, obscurely


brainexplorerThe next item in the Prompt Book is “What is your occupation? Explain in the most obscure way possible.” I’m going with my most recent one, prior to retirement.

I was an explorer. Early on, I was attracted to exploring. I guess you’d say that I was discoverer-adjacent, or maybe a voyager without the training.

As an explorer, I had this big machete, which I would use to chop down trees, bundle some of the branches, and ship them off to those in need.

Strange thing, though. The forests got thicker. Much thicker. Some of the trees were accessible to everyone, stooped over so that almost anyone could take the branches they needed. This was, in theory, a wonderful thing. The democratization of exploration. Some people assumed that my job wouldn’t be needed anymore.

But then the forest became overgrown. It became more and more difficult to discern which branches were useful, and which were actually just leafy thorns. Now I wasn’t needed to access the low-hanging branches. But my expertise was useful to make sure the branches I did chop were of sufficient quality for the task at hand. That machete became quite necessary.


Next question. “You discover that there is a poltergeist in your house. How has it been haunting you?”

It has been interrupting my sleep. The damn thing then reminds me of all of the things I did that I should not have, and all the things I didn’t do that I should have. In the former category, if you’ve ever felt aggrieved by something I did, there’s about a 90% chance that I remember it, and an 81% likelihood that I feel bad about it.

It has led to long stretches of insomnia. I’ve needed to eat nothing after about 7 pm and get really exhausted in order to sleep six hours in a row.

Z is for zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz (sleep)

When children don’t fall into a regular pattern of sleep, parents aren’t sleeping much either.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.. oh, phooey…

This is true: I am writing this at 2:30 a.m. a couple weeks ago. I went to sleep, but woke up.

This time, I know it’s because I ate too late. I realize, from experience, that me eating after 7 p.m. is a recipe for nocturnal interruptus.

To put me back to sleep – which usually works for me – I got up and just looked for sleep-related articles, all from the CBS News This Morning program, just to show how significant the topic is.

How lack of sleep affects health and tips for a good night’s rest – October 11, 2017

It’s “frightening” how few young people get enough sleep, expert says – June 25, 2018

New data suggests lack of sleep early in life can raise the risk of heart disease later. Research in the journal Pediatrics connects insufficient sleep in young teens to cardiac risk factors, including high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, and obesity.

In the book “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams,” published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster (a division of CBS), Matthew Walker says sleep is underestimated as a means for preventing disease.

“For example, even if you’re getting eight hours but are waking up many more times throughout the night or you’re not getting that deep sleep, what we’ve discovered recently is that deep sleep provides the very best form of natural blood pressure medication that you could ever wish for.”

Parents are hiring coaches to get their babies to sleep better – December 1, 2018

New parents face a host of challenges, but one of the most common is dealing with sleep issues. When children don’t fall into a regular pattern of sleep, parents aren’t sleeping much either.

A recent study in the journal Pediatrics found that at six months old, only 43 percent of babies were sleeping 8-hour stretches and at 12 months old, only about 57 percent.

To train their infants to sleep when they do wake in the night, some parents won’t go to their baby’s crib, or may delay feeding. But for others, it is too difficult to ignore the crying.

Also, I heard about Bose Sleepbuds which cost about $250, a bit pricey. Here are some reviews:
New York Times – “tech probably isn’t my solution”
Engadget – helpful but needs improvement (4 stars out of 5)
Techradar – (4 stars out of 5)
Tom’s Guide – They Ruined My Sleep (2 stars out of 5)
PC Magazine (3 stars out of 5)
390 customers on Amazon reviewed it. 5 star 35%, 4 star 16%, 3 star 11%, 2 star 15%, 1 star 23%

AMAZINGLY, 40 minutes of reading about sleeping has made me tired again and… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

For ABC Wednesday

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