Seven Little Things

I like things that come in 7s. From the earliest days of the Christian faith, the number 7 represented perfection. 7 days in a week, 7 sacraments in the Church, and lists of 7 virtues are some places the number comes up. The secular world has followed right along – there are 7 seas, 7 Liter Fords, 7-Up and 7-11 stores. And good old DuPont No. 7 Auto Polish.

Fellow blogger Herb (at The Haps With Herb) came up with a list of 7 topics that called for 7 answers to 7 questions. Or is it seven answers to seven questions? Herb did not make the perfection connection, and perhaps that would be a stretch here too. At least for those of you who know me.

Once upon a time, this would have come under the category of those pesky blogging “awards” that were kind of like chain letters. You know – I got this award that made me answer some questions and now I am awarding it to you so that you have to do the same thing. But it is not an unwelcome pain if I feel like doing it on my own. Herb, by the way, kindly recognized this blog as one he enjoys and I would like to reciprocate by saying that I enjoy his writing too.

But this isn’t an award, but a topic on its own, that now comes under the heading of “It is a busy time of year and my frazzled brain is having trouble finding a good topic for this week.” So, with a hat tip to good ol’ Herb, lets have a look at the following 7s. Or Sevens. I should add that these lists are in no particular order, other than the order I thought of them in. Re-ordering them would take much more thought and time, something that is scarce this week. So, without further ado:

Name Seven:

Things That Scare Me
Things (Not People) I like Most
Things I Might Like To Do Before I Die
Things I Can Do
Things I Can’t Do

Books I Love
Things I Say Most

Seven Things That Scare Me:

  1. Unexpected loud noises. This should be no mystery and I’ll bet several of you share this one with me.
  2. Those moments in horror movies. You know those moments. When something happens and you jump in your seat and yell “Gaaaaaa!” or something like that. Maybe this (and the one above) are more “startle” than “scare”, but I think they count.
  3. Young people (and not-young people, for that matter) who seem to lack any kind of understanding of or appreciation for our Constitution and its Bill of Rights. It separates us from about everyone else in the world kids, so don’t be too eager to throw it out.
  4. Potato soup like my mother used to make. It would have scared you too.
  5. Mob violence. Not like “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse” but genuine, out of control people on a rampage of attack and destruction. Well, maybe both of them scare me.
  6. Rats. There should be no explanation necessary.
  7. Losing those I love.

Seven things I Like Most:

  1. Old jazz music. But you already knew this.
  2. Ice cream. Good ice cream, at least. There are few things more pleasing than good ice cream.
  3. Cool old cars. Don’t ask me to name the coolest seven – that list changes almost daily.
  4. A well-made cocktail. I only enjoy these maybe once a week or so, if that often. This is one of those areas where less is more – the less I indulge the more I appreciate them. I suspect the opposite would be true too.
  5. The feeling when all of my day’s work is done and I get to relax.
  6. A medium-rare filet mignon with a baked potato slathered in butter and sour cream. To clarify, the butter and sour cream is on the potato, not the steak. The steak just needs some salt and pepper. And maybe some sautéed mushrooms. We mustn’t neglect our vegetables.
  7. The company of those I love.

Seven Things I Might Like To Do Before I Die:

  1. Visit Rome. The one in Italy, of course. There is a Rome City in Indiana, but I have already been there. And why do some cities feel the need to add “City” to their name? Of course it’s a city – what else could it be?
  2. Learn how to weld. I love fixing things, and who can fix more things better than someone who has the equipment and skills to weld?
  3. Own a Studebaker. The welding will come in handy because they rust like crazy.
  4. Finish reading the batch of 50 classic books I got through a subscription in the 1980’s. I am probably 40% through them. I could get greedy and say that I want to finish the rest of the books I have not gotten to, as well. There are more of them than there should be.
  5. Lose 30 pounds. Or even 20. Do I hear 10?
  6. Write a book – maybe a novel.
  7. Pass on some of the skills and knowledge I have picked up along the way to children and grandchildren.

Seven Things I Can Do:

  1. I can diagnose and fix most things on my car. Whether I choose to do so is an entirely different question. My concrete garage floor is colder and harder than it was when I was younger.
  2. I can perceive color much better than most males.
  3. I can make home made ice cream that is pretty good.
  4. I can make you laugh (if you have anything even remotely approaching a sense of humor).
  5. I can tell a story without rambling. Usually. Or maybe just sometimes.
  6. I can appreciate almost any genre of music.
  7. I can wiggle my ears.

Seven Things I Can’t Do:

  1. I can’t keep a conversation going with someone else who can’t keep a conversation going. If you will hold up your end, we will do fine. If not, prepare for some awkward pauses.
  2. I can’t maintain a clean desk. Someone once told me a clean desk is a sign of a sick mind. My mental health is fabulous, by this measure.
  3. I can’t stop a book or a movie before I have finished it. Well, I can but I feel awful about it. “Finish what you start” was drummed into my psyche from a young age. Why yes, as a matter of fact my mother WAS of German ancestry. How did you know?
  4. I can’t see clearly more than eight inches in front of my face without my glasses. That works great for things within eight inches of my face. This is why I never took to contact lenses – I tried them once and only then did I realize how much time I spend looking at things within eight inches of my face.
  5. I can’t sleep late in the morning. It doesn’t matter what time I go to bed – I have a great internal alarm clock. Which is why I hate the twice-annual time change so much.
  6. I can’t stay awake late at night. This is a side effect of early rising. Or is this caused a lack of stamina? I think I’ll go with the first one. Also, this is a bit of a problem for one who is married to a night owl.
  7. I can’t function in the morning without coffee.

Seven Books I Love:

  1. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (Edmund Morris, 1979). I read this in college, and was a fabulous telling of a phenomenal life.
  2. Rome Sweet Home (Scott & Kimberly Hahn, 1993). This was the book that made me a Catholic.
  3. The Hunt For Red October (Tom Clancy, 1984). Clancy wrote quite a few good novels, but this was his first, his shortest, and I still think his best.
  4. Maverick – A Biography of Thomas Sowell (Jason Riley, 2021). Sowell is a national treasure. Some economists allow their politics to steer their economics. Sowell is not one of them – which is why I have so much respect for him.
  5. The Way The World Works – How Economies Fail And Succeed (Jude Wanniski, 1978). This was a read recommended by the best econ prof I had in college. Economics teaches a highly counter-intuitive way of looking at the world. Be careful – once you start thinking that way you will be miserable because of all of the people in positions of power and influence who don’t have a clue.
  6. The Old Man And The Sea (Ernest Hemingway, 1952). I read this in high school, and remember it as the first assigned reading that I enjoyed from front to back..
  7. Three Chords For Beauty’s Sake – The Life of Artie Shaw (Tom Nolan, 2010). I love a good bio. This is much like the TR book that started this list – a fascinating person whose story is told by a good storyteller.

Seven Things I Say Most:

  1. What were they thinking? We live in an age of hubris, where all kinds of ideas get traction. For awhile. “Hey, let’s let kids look at live-action X-rays of their feet in their new shoes!” “Hey, aluminum wire conducts electricity as well as copper and it’s a lot cheaper!” “Hey, let’s change the formula for Coca-Cola to make it taste more like Pepsi!” You get the idea.
  2. It seemed like a good idea at the time. This is a variation on the example above, but usually involves ideas that I came up with on my own.
  3. Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good. This can be a struggle.
  4. Wow! This can have many meanings, so it is very context-intensive. It could mean “This is delicious!” Or “That is an impressive accomplishment!” Or “That is absolutely the stupidest thing I have ever heard another human say!”
  5. I have a theory about that. I have lived long enough and thought about random things enough that I have theories about lots of things. I would use this as the subject for that book I want to write, but it would probably sell about five copies. One for me and four as gifts for everyone in my immediate family
  6. It needs more salt. There are very few foods that have ever been served to me that were too salty. The mashed potatoes at a formerly favorite restaurant were a memorable exception. Wow! (as in “Sweet leaping lizards, but that was salty!”)
  7. Found it! This one is usually preceded by a questions that starts with “Where’s the . . . ?” This may be related to my inability to keep a clean and orderly desk. This is different from one of my mother’s most common utterances – that began with a loud “WHERE’S MY . . . . ” and followed shortly thereafter with a much quieter “Oh.”

So there we are. Now I have 7 (or seven) days to come up with something for next week. Which I see will be Christmas eve-eve. Maybe Herb will have another idea for a quick and easy blog post next week.

COAL update: I think this was my childrens’ choice for favorite family car of all time.

19 thoughts on “Seven Little Things

  1. Wow! (in a good way) First, thanks for the shout-out, I certainly appreciate it. I laughed out loud when I read your examples of, “What were they thinking?” Because I was one of those silly people who hoarded as much of the Real Thing as I could when they announced that. It turned out to be one of the greatest marketing scams, er, schemes, in history.
    I also can wiggle my ears, much to the delight of young children. Great list. You are, of course, welcome to lift any idea or topic of mine at any time because I enjoy reading your take on things, even on those rare occasions that I am not in one hundred percent accord with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, here goes. In no particular order:

    Seven things that scare me:
    1 – Heights. Last time I was up the CN tower and the Empire State Building I was plastered against the wall as far as I could get from the window. I won’t go again.
    2 – Scary movies. I watched “Prince of Darkness” once and couldn’t sleep for a week.
    3 – Bears. I’ve had a couple of up close and personals with bears while camping, and although the bear wasn’t really interested in me it was quite alarming.
    4 – Exams. My exam marks always dragged me down in university, when I’m stressed I still have exam nightmares, 35 years after I graduated.
    5 – Watching Dad grow older. We just celebrated his 85th yesterday and he’s doing great, but the mental picture I have of him does not match reality.
    6 – Airplanes. Related to heights of course, and also claustrophobia and control issues. I love flight and I love planes, but I’m a nervous flier.
    7 – People who are so hot to take up arms against the tyranny of the government, but have never really been to other countries. They have no experience with actual tyranny and no idea of how good they’ve got it.

    Seven things I like most:
    1 – Guitars. As Mark Knopfler said “If you can play an instrument you’ll always have a friend”
    2 – My wife. Yes it’s a person and the obvious answer but she really is my best friend too.
    3 – Fixing things. I just love making things right, and welding really is the icing on the cake JP.
    4 – A nice cold beer on a really hot day
    5 – Paddling a canoe silently when the sun is just coming up and there’s mist on the lake
    6 – Old cars. Ever since I was 3 years old I gravitated towards old ones, don’t know why
    7 – Motorcycle trips. To be on your own with two wheels, finding the curviest way between point A and point B is total freedom.

    Seven Things I Might Like to do Before I Die:
    1 – Meet my grandchildren
    2 – Motorcycle trip to the western US, maybe retrace Robert Pirsig’s journey in ZAMM
    3 – Take a flight in the Texan Harvard WW2 trainer at the flying museum
    4 – Travel to the Netherlands with my children, show them where their grandparents were born
    5 – Hike the entire Bruce Trail (900km hiking trail that passes our town)
    6 – Really make a difference by helping someone. I think I’ve made a lot of little differences but a BIG difference.
    7 – Have a young kid who wants to learn about cars follow me around like I did with my uncles.

    Seven Things I Can Do:
    1 – I can diagnose and fix machinery. Cars, aluminum smelter process equipment, hydraulics you name it. I built my engineering career on being able to quickly figure out why something wasn’t working.
    2 – I can listen. Having bad hearing means I have to listen carefully
    3 – I can lead worship. I can play guitar, and I can sing just enough to get everyone else singing.
    4 – I can navigate myself in the wilderness.
    5 – I can take charge when required. I’m normally a pretty quiet guy, but when the situation needs it I can step up.
    6 – I can stay awake and drive home when the rest of the family is sleeping in the car
    7 – I can climb a mountain. Small ones at least

    Seven things I can’t do:
    1 – Hear well, I’m deaf in my right ear and it has affected my life quite a bit
    2 – Find my phone when it’s ringing. Related to item 1, I can’t tell what direction sounds are coming from.
    3 – Keep a conversation going with someone else who can’t keep a conversation going. Oddly enough, I seem to be able to converse with JP just fine.
    4 – Sing. I’m a terrible singer, I wish I was at least passable.
    5 – Wiggle my ears. My Grandfather could, and he tried to teach us grandkids but I can’t do it.
    6 – Run. I injured my knee when I was 39 and that was it for running and jumping. A big loss when the kids were young.
    7 – Dance. Both my wife and I are so bad that when we got married there was no dance afterwards.

    Seven Books I Love:
    1 – Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert Pirsig, 1974). A philosophy textbook disguised as a novel about a motorcycle trip.
    2 – The Bible (God, ???) Yeah yeah, another obvious one, but my instruction book for life. Very clear in parts, less so in others. Proverbs 3:5-6
    3 – The Last Open Road (BS Levy, 1994) Coming of age fiction set in the sports car racing scene of the early 1950’s. Best of its genre, subsequent books of the series are less satisfying.
    4 – Sojourners (Arie Verduijn, 1981) My grandfather’s self published memoir. Born in 1910, he lived through depression, war, and emigration to Canada. Also includes family history back to the year 1500.
    5 – Busy Busy World (Richard Scarry, 1965) One of my childhood favourites, stories from around the world with charming animal characters and cool vehicles.
    6 – On the Road (Peter Egan, 2008) A collection of his road trip articles from Road & Track magazine, I always felt like he was talking directly to me.
    7 – The Vinyl Café Diaries (Stuart McLean, 2003) The late great Stuart McLean autographed our copy of this collection of short stories. He was a national treasure for his radio show and Christmas concert tours.

    Seven Things I Say Most:
    1 – “Really???” The answer usually is “Yes, really.” Drives some people nuts.
    2 – “I’m not the best guitar player, I’m the most prepared guitar player”
    3 – “Just state the obvious”. One of our friends once chided us that our stellar conversation was just stating the obvious. So now we do that even more intentionally and we never run out of things to talk about.
    4 – “If this was easy we wouldn’t have jobs.”
    5 – “What’s new and exciting?” Often not much..
    6 – “What was that again?” Related to poor hearing
    7 – “Meow” Code word for “I love you” in our family.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for these great contributions. I am really familiar with the can’t find the cell phone thing. Marianne doesn’t hear very well either and, like you, is not a stereo listener. She can hear her phone ringing but can’t get a good sense of which direction she needs to go to find it. It is one of those problems that isn’t apparent to most of the world, but which affects her (and me, by extension) a lot.

      As far as the conversation thing goes, I suspect that each of us can carry maybe 55% of the load in a conversation, so we can make it work, at least with the common areas of interests we share.

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  3. Very interesting answers JP….and Doug. Re tge car blog: “an experience where I got two for the price of one: a car and a handy vacuum for my wallet.” Haha! I think those big cars in boring “beige/tan” were all the rage then or that light gray color. It’s funny how colors go by decades – like all the white SUV’s and black trucks now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is one of my favorites among all your recent posts. In numerology, my life-path number is 7. Sevens have unique personality traits, and I have all or most of them. You can calculate your number using your birth date. I used to think this was pure hokum, but I’ve seen it be spot-on in too many cases. You can Google search it.

    Your answers to the 7 questions remind me of Andy Rooney. He also loved ice cream and hated loud noises, among other things.

    Jude Wanniski’s son Andrew gave me a copy of The Way The World Works. His father apparently had major ideological pull in the Reagan administration, and his ideas seemed to be the positive way forward. I don’t know what happened, but the present administration seems to be running in the opposite direction from everything Wanniski advocated. Sadly, both Andrew and his father are dead now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Years ago I worked with someone who was really into numerology. I don’t know much about it, but looked up my birthdate number and it is a 6. The traits they say go with a 6 seem to fit me pretty well. The many ways of classifying/identifying human or personality characteristics are really interesting.

      How cool that you knew Jude Wanniski’s son. Wanniski had spent some time writing for the WSJ’s editorial page, and they were major promotors of what was then known as “supply side economics”. Many people don’t know that Ronald Reagan had been an econ major. He had the good fortune to graduate from college in 1932, which was before John Maynard Keynes’ theories took over the field for the following 40+ years. “Supply side” economics was little more than a polishing-up of “classical” (or pre-Keynes) economics, so Reagan’s comfort with the ideas was very understandable. I had the good fortune of being an econ major in a university where the econ department had a couple of profs who were adherents to the supply-side theories while these issues were playing out in national politics.

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  5. Well I learned a lot about you JP as a result of this post. Now I don’t know if I could create as extensive of a list as you or Doug D, but I’ll do one answer for each category … how’s that?
    Things That Scare Me: I am terrified of crawling bugs. I can deal with them outside (although those encounters are not pretty, like in the garage), but am paralyzed with fear to see a centipede or a spider in the house.

    ***
    Things (Not People) I like Most: Well I love to read, but, with the exception of long holiday weekends, that hobby kind of fizzled out in my fifth year of blogging when I finally had followers/commenters in the blogosphere. Between walking, blogging, photography and oh ya … work, I look forward to retirement when I might be able to enjoy reading like I once did. My boss will be 76 next March – I promised to ride off in the sunset with him, but I don’t want that to be years down the road. His father, a probate attorney, died with his boots on, going to the office every day at age 83, until being hospitalized for kidney failure due to diabetes and died soon thereafter. I want to enjoy my life before I’m too old to enjoy it and the world becomes much more fractured.

    ***
    Things I Might Like To Do Before I Die: I traveled a lot in my late 20s/early 30s, but circumstances at home with my father’s sudden departure, put an end to that pastime. I traveled alone on a big international trip every year, where I would go with a travel group I would hook up. I was booked to go to Rome on a Perillo tour in 1984 and canceled that trip due to the above circumstances. It remains on my bucket list, as does France (though I’ve forgotten most of the French I studied in college) and finally Alaska, before the icebergs melt away and it loses its beauty.

    ***
    Things I Can Do: Well I find it easy to talk to people, but as you say … sometimes you just can’t strike up a conversation or the conversation falls flat. Before I worked at the diner, I was very shy and I have said it was the best job I have ever had because I became much more gregarious during my tenure there.

    ***
    Things I Can’t Do: I could drive in ice and snow if forced to do so, like returning from Toronto after my grandmother’s funeral, a white-knuckle car trip on 02/01/86, when a blizzard kicked up about 50 miles into that 240-mile trip. That episode knocked a good five years off my life. I wish I felt more comfortable driving in Winter. My first year of driving, I slid on some ice, spun around three times in my VW Beetle and almost slid into a ditch. That tainted driving in Winter forevermore. I also don’t like to merge on the expressway … once a semi-truck came zooming to beat the car my friend and I were riding in, the car tilted sideways and I was sure we were going to crash into a cement embankment. I simply avoid these stressors, whether I’m deemed “a little old lady” or not.

    ***
    Books I Love: I prefer fiction to be honest. A subject has to very interesting to capture my attention if it is non-fiction. I read a lot about the British Monarchy after the Queen’s passing, things I never knew, despite growing up in Canada and being a Canadian citizen. I found those things fascinating. I have always been interested in the “RMS Titanic” and I do like books or articles about nature, but I prefer fiction as it is lighter.

    ***
    Things I Say Most: “Really?” Another is “gimme a break!” I am a newshound and since I don’t have cable TV (cancelled it in 2010) and I don’t subscribe to the daily newspaper, I listen to an all-news AM radio station. My eyes are barely open, my first cup of coffee not yet downed and I’ve already been disgusted by something on the international/national or local news. I feel sometimes if I shake my head anymore, it will surely roll off and onto the floor.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Me too JP. Right now I am headed out to run the car before the blizzard arrives. The generator has finally been fixed but I pulled my car out of the garage an d have a leak near the front tire which Google tells me might be a coolant leak – I’m not going anywhere in bad weather so it will stay put. Merry Christmas! t

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I like how the former Cadillac’s owner lost the sentimentality for his deceased wife’s car when faced with the premium bill. Yep, that’ll do it. I thought it was interesting you referred to the car as a sled … yes, they were that long. I can remember a Caddy being referred to as a boat as well. When I see the cars from this era at the annual classic cruise event that runs at the end of my street, I marvel how compact the luxury cars look these days. I think it might be the bumpers don’t you JP? No more of the shiny bumpers gracing the front and back of the car, just a streamlined bumper that morphed into the rest of the car body.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess it is all about what you are used to. I never thought of these as big, but then I owned one of the really, really big Cadillacs from the early 1960’s. However, most people much younger than me look at one of these and can’t help but remark at how huge it is – “You could land an airplane on that hood!” and that kind of thing. I do miss the chrome brightwork on modern cars. It can be overdone, but when done right it is quite elegant.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m about 7 days too late here, but I’ll echo Stephen above that this is one of my favorites among your blog posts. Oh, and I can wiggle my ears too, and I’m very proud that one of my daughters can as well.

    It’s impossible to read this and not think of equivalent answers for yourself – I don’t have time seven of each category, but here’s one for each:

    Thing That Scares Me: Driving in crosswinds. I love driving, in (just about) every situation, even unpleasant ones. Except heavy crosswinds. It’s scares the life out of me.

    Thing I like Most: Mountain scenery

    Thing I Might Like To Do Before I Die: Visit every county in the United States. I’ve been keeping track for about 25 years – there’s 3,143 counties in the US; so far I’ve been to just under half of them.

    Thing I Can Do: Public Speaking: It goes against all of my other personality traits because I’m generally very introverted, but I’ve always enjoyed public speaking. It’s helpful to enjoy something that most people seem to find terrifying.

    Thing I Can’t Do: Fix things. I’m terrible at everything mechanical, and this has only gotten worse with age. My father could design and build everything from a bird house to a suspension bridge – I inherited none of his abilities.

    Books I Love: Tough question because it’s a long list, but I recently finished an outstanding book called “Time Exposure,” an autobiography by photographer William Henry Jackson. He led a remarkable life, and wrote this book when he was in his 90s.

    Things I Say Most: I’ll conclude here with something that I USED TO say a lot… “What’s wrong?” For some reason, I’d often respond “What’s wrong” after someone said something. I’m not even sure why. At one point, I took a long car trip with a friend, and he started answering “Nothing Yet” whenever I asked “What’s wrong.” That was annoying – and that 2-day car trip ended my habit of saying that forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is no such thing as too late – I am glad you made the time to read and reply. And thanks for adding your contributions to the list.

      I don’t mind driving in crosswinds (although I can’t say that I like it either). What was really hair raising was trying to land a plane in a crosswind. While in the air you are crabbing into the wind, but when you hit the runway you have to be going straight. Make that change too early or too late and bad things happen.

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  8. I love how you chose “Visit Rome” in your third list instead of “Visit Italy” (as most people would say). If I had to choose just one city in Italy, I’d choose Rome every time while most others would not. Rome is perceived as a crumbling, old, dirty city when in fact it’s a treasure chest of art and architecture requiring much more time than people typically allow. I was blessed to spend a year of college in Rome and it still wasn’t enough time to appreciate all that it has to offer. Make sure you get to the Eternal City some day, JP, and give it the several days it deserves.

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