Questionnaire 9.

Here’s another twofer. The first batch comes from a website called Marc and Angel Hack Life:

THESE QUESTIONS HAVE NO RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWERS. BECAUSE SOMETIMES ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS IS THE ANSWER.

1. HOW OLD WOULD YOU BE IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW HOW OLD YOU ARE? My current age. Not knowing one’s age does not affect one’s age. How old would I guess I am if I didn’t know my age? Probably 35.

2. WHICH IS WORSE, FAILING OR NEVER TRYING? This depends on what failing entails. Failing at bungee-jumping or skydiving or Russian roulette is probably worse than never trying any of the three. But assuming we’re talking about less life-threatening activities, then never trying is generally worse.

3. IF LIFE IS SO SHORT, WHY DO WE DO SO MANY THINGS WE DON’T LIKE AND LIKE SO MANY THINGS WE DON’T DO? I had a fascinating discussion with a high school classmate about this sort of thing just yesterday. But the economist in my brain just kicked in and here’s a possible answer: diminishing marginal returns. The more often you repeat an activity, the less additional utility/happiness/satisfaction/whatever each repetition will bring you. Sooner or later, the repeated activity brings less marginal utility than you would get from the things you haven’t done.

4. WHEN IT’S ALL SAID AND DONE, WILL YOU HAVE SAID MORE THAN YOU’VE DONE? Certainly. I don’t talk much.

5. WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU’D MOST LIKE TO CHANGE ABOUT THE WORLD? I’d like people to truly internalize the golden rule, the silver rule, the zero aggression principle, whatever you’d like to call it.

6. IF HAPPINESS WAS THE NATIONAL CURRENCY, WHAT KIND OF WORK WOULD MAKE YOU RICH? This is a stupid question. Happiness is currency, so I can trade away my happiness for…? Or am I not supposed to think that much about it? I’d be a professional wanderer, righting wrongs wherever I travelled, like the Hulk or the A-Team.

7. ARE YOU DOING WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN, OR ARE YOU SETTLING FOR WHAT YOU ARE DOING? I believe in what I’m doing, but I also believe it could be better.

8. IF THE AVERAGE HUMAN LIFE SPAN WAS 40 YEARS, HOW WOULD YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE DIFFERENTLY? Frankly? No differently. I’d just assume I was bringing the average up, and live as if I were going to die at age 128 as planned.

9. TO WHAT DEGREE HAVE YOU ACTUALLY CONTROLLED THE COURSE YOUR LIFE HAS TAKEN? Not as much as I’d like, but more than I think most folks can say.

10. ARE YOU MORE WORRIED ABOUT DOING THINGS RIGHT, OR DOING THE RIGHT THINGS? Doing the right things.

11. YOU’RE HAVING LUNCH WITH THREE PEOPLE YOU RESPECT AND ADMIRE. THEY ALL START CRITICIZING A CLOSE FRIEND OF YOURS, NOT KNOWING SHE IS YOUR FRIEND. THE CRITICISM IS DISTASTEFUL AND UNJUSTIFIED. WHAT DO YOU DO? I correct them until they beg for mercy. Don’t be wrong around me.

12. IF YOU COULD OFFER A NEWBORN CHILD ONLY ONE PIECE OF ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? “There is always more to the story.”

13. WOULD YOU BREAK THE LAW TO SAVE A LOVED ONE? Depends on the law, depends on what I’d be saving them from, and it depends on whether they deserve whatever I’d be saving them from.

14. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN INSANITY WHERE YOU LATER SAW CREATIVITY? Yes, and the other way around.

15. WHAT’S SOMETHING YOU KNOW YOU DO DIFFERENTLY THAN MOST PEOPLE? Think.

16. HOW COME THE THINGS THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY DON’T MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY? Because, as a wise man once said, “Everyone is stupid except me.”

17. WHAT ONE THING HAVE YOU NOT DONE THAT YOU REALLY WANT TO DO? WHAT’S HOLDING YOU BACK? Retire. Actually, that’s not true, technically I retired at age 28.

18. ARE YOU HOLDING ONTO SOMETHING YOU NEED TO LET GO OF? Knowing a bit about the mind, I assume so. And God help whoever it falls on when I drop it.

19. IF YOU HAD TO MOVE TO A STATE OR COUNTRY BESIDES THE ONE YOU CURRENTLY LIVE IN, WHERE WOULD YOU MOVE AND WHY? There’s always Chicagoland, for countless reasons. I could see living in Virginia again; I have several friends in the area and it has four seasons, unlike a certain town in a certain state I could mention but won’t. Another country? Maybe New Zealand. I hear good things.

20. DO YOU PUSH THE ELEVATOR BUTTON MORE THAN ONCE? DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE IT MAKES THE ELEVATOR FASTER? Yes. I don’t think it makes the elevator move faster, but I do think it helps to make sure I pressed the button hard enough.

21. WOULD YOU RATHER BE A WORRIED GENIUS OR A JOYFUL SIMPLETON? Worried genius. I’d be able to figure out how to be happier, but a joyful simpleton is stuck on stupid. Of course, he wouldn’t necessarily care.

22. WHY ARE YOU, YOU? What else could I possibly be?

23. HAVE YOU BEEN THE KIND OF FRIEND YOU WANT AS A FRIEND? Probably not, since I don’t hand gobs of cash and prizes to my friends.

24. WHICH IS WORSE, WHEN A GOOD FRIEND MOVES AWAY, OR LOSING TOUCH WITH A GOOD FRIEND WHO LIVES RIGHT NEAR YOU? Losing touch with a blah blah blah. It’s tough.

25. WHAT ARE YOU MOST GRATEFUL FOR? My longest-tenured friends.

26. WOULD YOU RATHER LOSE ALL OF YOUR OLD MEMORIES, OR NEVER BE ABLE TO MAKE NEW ONES? I’ve seen dementia up close. I’ll take amnesia.

27. IS IT POSSIBLE TO KNOW THE TRUTH WITHOUT CHALLENGING IT FIRST? Yes, but I don’t think it’s possible to know that you know it without challenging it first.

28. HAS YOUR GREATEST FEAR EVER COME TRUE? Nope.

29. DO YOU REMEMBER THAT TIME 5 YEARS AGO WHEN YOU WERE EXTREMELY UPSET? DOES IT REALLY MATTER NOW? I was upset five years ago? You kept a calendar?

30. WHAT IS YOUR HAPPIEST CHILDHOOD MEMORY? WHAT MAKES IT SO SPECIAL? For the sake of this question let’s limit “childhood” to “elementary school age.” It was seeing my grandfather walk in the door the night he and Gram moved to Jacksonville. It was as exciting as finding out that your favorite rock star or athlete or Transformer was moving in around the corner.

31. AT WHAT TIME IN YOUR RECENT PAST HAVE YOU FELT MOST PASSIONATE AND ALIVE? No comment. The Republic would fall.

32. IF NOT NOW, THEN WHEN? When you least expect it.

33. IF YOU HAVEN’T ACHIEVED IT YET, WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE? The cost of achieving it. Should I turn off the economist for these sorts of questions?

34. HAVE YOU EVER BEEN WITH SOMEONE, SAID NOTHING, AND WALKED AWAY FEELING LIKE YOU JUST HAD THE BEST CONVERSATION EVER? Yes, though not often.

35. WHY DO RELIGIONS THAT SUPPORT LOVE CAUSE SO MANY WARS? Because the other religions are wrong.

36. IS IT POSSIBLE TO KNOW, WITHOUT A DOUBT, WHAT IS GOOD AND WHAT IS EVIL? There are situations in which the distinction is undoubtedly certain.

37. IF YOU JUST WON A MILLION DOLLARS, WOULD YOU QUIT YOUR JOB? Not immediately. I’d at least finish the school year before figuring out what do to next.

38. WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE LESS WORK TO DO, OR MORE WORK YOU ACTUALLY ENJOY DOING? More work that I actually enjoy doing.

39. DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE LIVED THIS DAY A HUNDRED TIMES BEFORE? Maybe not a hundred times, but many times.

40. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU MARCHED INTO THE DARK WITH ONLY THE SOFT GLOW OF AN IDEA YOU STRONGLY BELIEVED IN? I don’t know.

41. IF YOU KNEW THAT EVERYONE YOU KNOW WAS GOING TO DIE TOMORROW, WHO WOULD YOU VISIT TODAY? Since many of them read this, I choose not to pick favorites.

42. WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO REDUCE YOUR LIFE EXPECTANCY BY 10 YEARS TO BECOME EXTREMELY ATTRACTIVE OR FAMOUS? My life expectancy? Sure. My life span? I’d have to know what it is. I might be willing to die at the ripe young age of 118 if– wait a minute. I would like to challenge a particular premise of the question.

43. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING ALIVE AND TRULY LIVING? The latter means enjoying the former and is a subset of the former.

44. WHEN IS IT TIME TO STOP CALCULATING RISK AND REWARDS, AND JUST GO AHEAD AND DO WHAT YOU KNOW IS RIGHT? False dichotomy. Doing what you know is right is part of the reward. I also enjoy deconstructing “the ends justify the means” because the means and their consequences are part of the ends.

45. IF WE LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKES, WHY ARE WE ALWAYS SO AFRAID TO MAKE A MISTAKE? Because some mistakes hurt, you dumbass.

46. WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY IF YOU KNEW NOBODY WOULD JUDGE YOU? Not pay my bills.

47. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU NOTICED THE SOUND OF YOUR OWN BREATHING? I actually notice it quite often. I enjoy breathing, and expect to do so for some time.

48. WHAT DO YOU LOVE? HAVE ANY OF YOUR RECENT ACTIONS OPENLY EXPRESSED THIS LOVE? I love playing soccer. I have, in fact, recently openly professed my love of playing soccer. However, I have not acted in a way that expresses said love of playing soccer.

49. IN 5 YEARS FROM NOW, WILL YOU REMEMBER WHAT YOU DID YESTERDAY? WHAT ABOUT THE DAY BEFORE THAT? OR THE DAY BEFORE THAT? Yes, yes, no. I won’t remember the precise dates, but I’ll remember the events.

50. DECISIONS ARE BEING MADE RIGHT NOW. THE QUESTION IS: ARE YOU MAKING THEM FOR YOURSELF, OR ARE YOU LETTING OTHERS MAKE THEM FOR YOU? Yes.

I don’t know where the next batch came from; it appears to have made the rounds. It’s not quite as deep as the previous questionnaire. I’ve edited some of the questions for propriety’s sake.

1. YOU CAN PRESS A BUTTON THAT WILL MAKE ANY ONE PERSON EXPLODE. WHO WOULD YOU BLOW UP? Vladimir Putin.

2. YOU CAN FLIP A SWITCH THAT WILL WIPE ANY BAND OR MUSICAL ARTIST OUT OF EXISTENCE. WHICH ONE WILL IT BE? Because most radios, phonographs, CD players, cassette decks, and electronic media devices already come with an OFF switch, which serves virtually the same purpose as your hypothetical switch (i.e., not having to hear the music), this seems wasteful. I’d rather have the flexibility assigned to the button in the previous question so that– wait, never mind. I choose Madonna. It’s time for her to stop.

3. WHO WOULD YOU REALLY LIKE TO JUST PUNCH IN THE FACE? Without having them cease to exist? My old buddy Lego. I think a punch in the face might be therapeutic.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CHEESE? Bocconcini.

5. YOU CAN ONLY HAVE ONE KIND OF SANDWICH. EVERY SANDWICH INGREDIENT KNOWN TO HUMANKIND IS AT YOUR IMMEDIATE DISPOSAL. WHAT WOULD IT BE? Tough call. Either an Italian roast beef (mozzarella, bell peppers, wet) from Portillo’s or an Eat Me from the old Wired Café.

6. YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO [go on a date] WITH THE MOVIE-CELEBRITY OF YOUR CHOICE. WE ARE TALKING NO-STRINGS-ATTACHED [date] AND IT CAN ONLY HAPPEN ONCE (THEY WILL NEVER CALL YOU BACK). WHO IS IT? I must decline to answer, for picking one famous actress would doubtless make hundreds of other actresses homicidally jealous. Riots might ensue.

7. YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO [go on a date] WITH THE MUSIC-CELEBRITY OF YOUR CHOICE. SAME RULES AS ABOVE. WHO IS IT? See my response to #6.

8. NOW THAT YOU’VE [dated] TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE IN A ROW, YOU SEEM TO BE HAVING AN EXCELLENT DAY BECAUSE YOU JUST CAME ACROSS A HUNDRED-DOLLAR BILL ON THE SIDEWALK. HOLY [guacamole], A HUNDRED BUCKS! HOW ARE YOU GONNA SPEND IT? I’d throw out all my socks and buy new ones.

9. YOU JUST GOT A FREE PLANE TICKET TO ANYWHERE. YOU HAVE TO DEPART RIGHT NOW. WHERE ARE YOU GONNA GO? Italy.

10. UPON ARRIVAL TO THE AFOREMENTIONED LOCATION, YOU GET OFF THE PLANE AND DISCOVER ANOTHER HUNDRED-DOLLAR BILL. NOW THAT YOU ARE IN THE NEW LOCATION, WHERE ARE YOU GONNA GO TO SPEND THAT? The first decent-lookin’ restaurant I can find. Why, does Italy have other stuff?

11. AN ANGEL APPEARS OUT OF HEAVEN AND OFFERS YOU A LIFETIME SUPPLY OF THE ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE OF YOUR CHOICE. “BE BRAND-SPECIFIC” IT SAYS. MAN! WHAT ARE YOU GONNA SAY ABOUT THAT? EVEN IF YOU DON’T DRINK BOOZE THERE’S SOMETHING YOU CAN FIGURE OUT… SO WHAT’S IT GONNA BE? I’d somehow wrangle my own vineyard out of this, and therefore choose my own brand. Something red because I want to cook red sauce with it.

12. RUFUS APPEARS OUT OF NOWHERE WITH A TIME-TRAVELING PHONE BOOTH. YOU CAN GO ANYTIME IN THE PAST. WHAT TIME ARE YOU TRAVELING TO AND WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WHEN YOU GET THERE? I’d go back to the Constitutional Convention in Philly and make them ban slavery and tariffs. Lame, true, but you’d thank me if you, with your meager understanding of time-travel, quantum mechanics, and chronometric particle generation, knew how much I’d improved your reality.

13. YOU DISCOVER A BEAUTIFUL ISLAND UPON WHICH YOU MAY BUILD YOUR OWN SOCIETY. YOU MAKE THE RULES. WHAT IS THE FIRST RULE YOU PUT INTO PLACE? The silver rule.

14. YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO CREATE THE HALF-HOUR TV SHOW OF YOUR OWN DESIGN. WHAT IS IT CALLED AND WHAT’S THE PREMISE? I’d bring back Twin Peaks, throw it on HBO, and let Lynch go nuts.

15. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE EXPLETIVE? ‘Sblood. I don’t actually use it, but it’s my favorite.

16. ONE NIGHT YOU WAKE UP BECAUSE YOU HEARD A NOISE. YOU TURN ON THE LIGHT TO FIND THAT YOU ARE SURROUNDED BY MUMMIES. THE MUMMIES AREN’T REALLY DOING ANYTHING; THEY’RE JUST STANDING AROUND YOUR BED. WHAT DO YOU DO? Ignite them.

17. YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE, HOLY [frijoles]! YOU HAVE JUST ENOUGH TIME TO RUN IN THERE AND GRAB ONE INANIMATE OBJECT. DON’T WORRY YOUR LOVED ONES AND PETS HAVE ALREADY MADE IT OUT SAFELY. SO WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU’RE GOING TO SAVE FROM THAT BLAZING INFERNO? The lockbox with the secret codes inside.

18. THE ANGEL OF DEATH HAS DESCENDED UPON YOU. FORTUNATELY, THE ANGEL OF DEATH IS PRETTY COOL AND IN A GOOD MOOD, AND IT OFFERS YOU A HALF-HOUR TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT BEFORE YOU BITE IT. WHATCHA GONNA DO IN THAT HALF-HOUR? Feast in a great hall with friends and family, taking turns toasting each other.

19. YOU ACCIDENTALLY EAT SOME RADIOACTIVE VEGETABLES. THEY WERE GOOD, AND WHAT’S EVEN COOLER IS THAT THEY ENDOW YOU WITH THE SUPER-POWER OF YOUR CHOICE! WHAT’S IT GONNA BE? Just one? The “Zach Morris Time Out” from “Saved by the Bell.” I saw a video clip somewhere explaining why that was the best superpower ever.

20. YOU GOT KICKED OUT OF THE COUNTRY FOR BEING A TIME-TRAVELING HEATHEN WHO [dates] CELEBRITIES AND HAS SUPER-POWERS. BUT CHECK THIS OUT… YOU CAN MOVE TO ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD! WHAT COUNTRY ARE YOU GOING TO LIVE IN NOW? I’ll wander the Earth and use my superpowers to right wrongs.

21. YOU HAVE BEEN ETERNALLY BANNED FROM EVERY SINGLE BAR IN THE WORLD EXCEPT FOR ONE. WHICH ONE IS IT GONNA BE? It’s not worth even a second of my time to think about it. Just ban me from all of them.

22. HOPEFULLY YOU DIDN’T MENTION THIS IN THE SUPER-POWERS QUESTION…. IF YOU DID, THEN WE’LL JUST EXPAND ON THAT. CHECK IT OUT… SUDDENLY, YOU HAVE GAINED THE ABILITY TO FLOAT!!! WHOSE HOUSE ARE YOU GOING TO FLOAT TO FIRST, AND BE LIKE “DUDE LOOK AT ME I CAN FLOAT!”? Please try to ask literate questions in the future. I’d pick DFJ3, because he’d appreciate my newfound super-status the most.

23. THE CONSTANT ABSORPTION OF MAGICAL MOONBEAMS MIXED WITH THE RADIOACTIVE VEGETABLES YOU CONSUMED EARLIER HAS GIVEN YOU THE ABILITY TO RESURRECT THE DEAD FAMOUS-PERSON OF YOUR CHOICE. SO WHICH LATE CELEBRITY WILL YOU BRING BACK TO LIFE? Uncle Milt.

24. THE CELESTIAL GATES OF BEYOND HAVE OPENED, MUCH TO YOUR SURPRISE BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T THINK SUCH A THING EXISTED. DEATH APPEARS. AS IT TURNS OUT, DEATH IS ACTUALLY A PRETTY COOL ENTITY, AND HAPPENS TO BE IN A FANTASTIC MOOD. DEATH OFFERS TO RETURN THE FRIEND/FAMILY-MEMBER/PERSON/ETC. OF YOUR CHOICE TO THE LIVING WORLD. WHO WILL YOU BRING BACK? Gram. No offense to Grampa, but he didn’t know the recipes.

25. WHAT’S YOUR THEME SONG? I don’t have a theme song, but I’ll work on one.

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