The Great Interview Experiment, Part II

In January of this year, Neil Kramer @ Citizen of the Month started The Great Interview Experiment where he would interview a random blogger and then that blogger would interview another blogger — and so on, with the interviews being published on either the interviewee’s blog and/or the interviewer’s blog. I came across this through an online friend, Caitlin, in New York.

After at least one failed attempt at trying to set up a previous interview, earlier this month I interviewed astrogirl426 from the blog Notes from the Bunker. The interview can be found here.

Now this past week Followthatdog from the blog From Stage Dives to Station Wagons interviewed me. What follows are her questions and my answers:

General Bloggy Questions

1. You have five blogs covering various aspects of your life.  Which blog did you start first, or did you begin with a plan to have a multi-blog approach?  And what brought you to begin blogging in the first place?

The blog that I began first was Just A (Running) Fool on Oct. 27, 2005 to chronicle my journey toward reaching a marathon by the time I’m 40. I’ll be 40 on June 9 next year, with my first marathon scheduled for June 6, God’s Country Marathon. For more on all five blogs, visit with feeds to all four other blogs on left sidebar.

I think it was my wife who brought me to blogging and also my sister, who both started blogs before I did. Both are still going strong.

2. How would you describe your level of commitment to your blogs?  How often do you post and how much time do you spend working on each post?  What is the criteria you use for adding a blog to your blog roll?  How do your family and friends react to your blogs?

My level of commitment to my blogs, plural, is not always consistent, but on individual blogs is good, depending on the week. My strongest blog so far has been my book blog: Just A (Reading) Fool, with the readership growing there by leaps and bounds. I try to post once a day on at least one of blogs, if not more on all of the blogs. A couple of my family, such as my wife and sister, already are bloggers, but most everyone just rolls their eyes, especially my parents when I put up a post about them going off about talking ants and a big, honking lot of pasta salad.

Blogroll: on my main blog an unfinished person in an unfinished universe, I include the ones I consistently follow in my Google Reader, and anyone who asks to be included, who considers themselves an unfinished person in this unfinished universe. On my book blog,I don’t have a blog roll, because there are too many good book bloggers out there so I’ve put them all the ones I’ve encountered (and am continuing to encounter) on a bookmark on I provide the link to it on my sidebar. On Journeying with the Saints, I’ve included the few other “devotional” bloggers I’ve encountered in my journeys. On my humor or rambling blog, Unfinished Rambling(s), I have many of the bloggers whom I’ve discovered through on my blogroll. However, I’m working on making that a little more consistent and am considering doing something similar to what VE’s Fantastical Nonsense does on his sidebar, although I haven’t implemented it yet.

About the Great Interview Experiment

What was your motivation for participating in the Great Interview Experiment?  Is there a specific goal you have as a result of participating?

I happened across Neil’s blog and the experiment through a friend of mine on SparkPeople, and thought it looked like a great social experiment. So why not? No specific goal, other than connect to other bloggers like yourself.

About Unfinished Person

Your blog’s name is taken from a quote by Dr. George Sheehan, “Each one of us is an unfinished person in an unfinished universe.”  What parts of you do you consider the most “unfinished”?

Um, all of them, body, mind and soul and as I say that part of us that doesn’t fit as neatly into the body/mind/soul paradigm. I believe none of us will truly be finished until we are…uh…finished.

About just a (running) fool

Before announcing your intentions to run an marathon by the age of 40, what was your level of fitness and what kind of exercise did you do?  Was this something you’d considered doing before, or was it a moment of inspiration?  In your recent posts it it seems that your motivation for the marathon has greatly diminished but I didn’t read any explanation.  Any idea why?

Before: My level of fitness was nil. I hadn’t run or done any consistent exercise since high school when I was a member of the cross country team (pictures here). I was a couch potato and worked in a sedentary job where I ate at McDonald’s all the time. After ballooning up to 280 pounds (I’m 5-foot-6), I decided enough was enough and started with Weight Watchers. When that only got me so far, I took up running. I didn’t want to be Mr. Potato Head anymore, and I’m not now.

I don’t know why I’ve experienced the lack of motivation recently, but today after a long layoff, I finally got out for run. It was too beautiful of a day where I live in northcentral Pennsylvania not to run.

About Just A (Reading) Fool

You are a voracious reader judging by the list of books you have read and reviewed.  I didn’t notice any theme of content or genre, is there a specific criteria you use when selecting your reading material?

Short answer: Nope.

Longer answer: No, ma’am.

Slightly longer answer: Mostly I choose what I already own and those books which I haven’t read yet. I occasionally am influenced by what others recommend on book blogs.

About Journeying with the Saints

Given the religious background you described in your conversion story
, I found it interesting that you found your way to Catholicism.  What was it about the Catholic church that appealed to you?  Has your initial expectation of what conversion would mean held true?

With all of the scandals in the Catholic church, especially in the last couple of decades (not counting the Crusades, the myriad “bad” popes the Church has had), it may seem odd that anything about the Church appealed to me. However, what really drew me was the focus on Jesus, pure and simple, at least for me. Jesus is at the center of the faith, especially in the Eucharist, where we believe the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. From that, everything else flows. The Church leadership and laity, of course, are sometimes, although not always, flawed– as all are any of us who are humans. It’s that we’re still working toward being finished people, or being more finished than when we began. That’s what matters.

I’m not sure what I expected from conversion, except for a growing knowledge of the holy in all of life– and even though it sometimes is hard to see in a world full of war, poverty, etc., I think I’m more aware of it now– even in the midst of all of that.

All that said, if you think I’m a completely serious person, then you need to check out the site for what I call the alter ego to unfinishedperson: unfinishedrambler @ unfinished rambling(s). You’ve got to laugh too at yourself (and at others, naturally).


In more general life, because let’s face it, I’m a mommy blogger not a psychologist,  what is your best time saving tip? What three grocery items make you feel like  your cupboards are well stocked?  What phrase do you use too much either in speaking or writing?

Time saving tip? Hmmmm. Don’t sweat the small stuff? No? It’s all small stuff. I’m not very good on time management, to be honest. Even now, I’m pressed up against time, to finish this and then head off to a high school football game I have to cover for a newspaper.

Three grocery items: bread, milk, peanut butter. I mean, peanut butter, bread, milk. Bread and milk because live in the Northeast U.S. and when it snows, that’s what you have to get from the store.

Hmmmm. What phrase? Probably…hmmmm. Or ummm. I also use “also” too much and parenthetical remarks (although not in these answers as much as I normally do, hmmm).

Are you happy? And what does “happy” mean to you?

Right now, no. Getting a headache, but that’s just because I’m thinking about all the things I need to do before I head out the door.

Overall, though, yes.

To take completely out of context, from a Billy Joel song:

Things are okay with me these days
I got a good job, I got a good office
I got a new wife, got a new life
And the family is fine

Good job: Working at a bookstore, even if part-time. Good office: My home office with a window. New wife: Same “new” wife for last 12 years and only wife for me. New life: Every day.
Family: no children, but we got a cat Seamus, and that’s enough for us.

Meet astrogirl426 from Notes from the Bunker

In January of this year, Neil Kramer @ Citizen of the Month started The Great Interview Experiment where he would interview a random blogger and then that blogger would interview another blogger — and so on, with the interviews being published on either the interviewee’s blog and/or the interviewer’s blog. I came across this through an online friend, Caitlin, in New York.

After at least one failed attempt at trying to set up a previous interview, here is an interview with astrogirl426 from Notes from the Bunker. I’m still awaiting my closeup, though.

Here’s my interview with astrogirl426:

1. I looked back at your first post on why you started blogging and I quote “I consider it part of my New Year’s Resolutions to start doing things like this for myself to improve my mental, physical and spiritual self?” Well, has it done that? If so, how? if not, what has blogging done for you instead?

Well, there’s two sides to that. The positive side of it is that yes, blogging has definitely helped me in all those areas: by giving me a place to write about some of the things that are on my mind (and having regular readers of my blog tends to make me post pretty regularly, so I don’t lose them), by exposing me to people who will read what I’m writing and validate my feelings (or tell me I’m insane, which is at least as useful, if not more so), and by helping me feel like I’m a part of a bigger community.

The flip side of that is that blogging has also brought out my competitive side (“I can write better than him/her!”) as well as some of my esteem issues (“Is anyone reading my blog? Do they like it? I suck! I can’t write! What the hell was I thinking?”).

2. You and your family live in a bunker in upper New York State. I’ve seen the picture (see first page of her blog). Why there and not a regular house? Are you granola-eating, tree-hugging freaks? [Note: I said this in jest because I figured from what I had read on her blog, astrogirl426 wouldn’t be offended. Luckily — Whew! — she wasn’t.]

We do live in a bunker. Technically, it’s a tetradecagon (the snotty way to say “14-sided shape”). Why? Why not a regular square house, like normal people? Why 14 sides, you freaks? Well, the answer is actually quite simple. The bunker is just the base for what will be, hopefully by next winter, a geodesic dome (a la Buckminster Fuller). Check out if you’re curious. “Why a dome home?,” I’m sure is your next question (or should be).

Well, I guess we just saw a picture of one online, and thought they looked pretty damn cool. They’re also great houses, for a variety of reasons (structural integrity, so if you live in an area that gets heavy snow or hurricanes they tend to stand up to such stressors better; they’re more efficient to cool and heat; and you’d probably be the only one of your friends to have one, so they’ve got a lot of cache in that department)

3. You mentioned as one of your favorite bloggers recently. Who are some of your other favorites, besides Neil, of course?

I don’t remember how I came across Neil’s blog originally; doubtless I was drawn there by a comment he left on someone else’s blog or by someone else mentioning him in their blog (that’s how I discovered most of my favorite blogs). Other than Neil’s incredible wit, devastating good looks, and phenomenal animal attraction (Side note to Neil: You’re welcome), he fit my requirements for a blog that I follow: He’s funny, he’s quick-witted, he’s intelligent, and he’s a good writer. He’s also a native New Yorker, which is always a good sign. Some of my other favorites (in no specific order) are: LookyDaddy (; sweet | salty (; finslippy (; Suburban Scrawl (; and Etc. Etcetera (

4. Back in July, you got a Phoenix tattoo. Why the Phoenix? What’s the significance? If you wrote about it, I might have missed it in my skimming. But if I didn’t, why the Phoenix?

Much as I LOATHE AND DETEST talking about myself (ooh, ow! Stop twisting my arm! Oh alright, alright!), I’ll do it, just for you and your readers. I got the Phoenix tattoo to symbolize the struggle I’ve gone through with depression, specifically a pretty rough patch earlier this year (not involving straitjackets, but there were some “nice places” that I got to visit, and not just in my mind), and the feeling I have now that I’m starting to come out of it. Anyone who suffers from depression or any other mental illness knows it’s a lifelong struggle, but I felt a few months ago like I had turned a corner in my battle with my personal demons, and I wanted to commemorate it. I’ve always wanted a tattoo, so it seemed appropriate to get it at the time. I happened across the Phoenix in my search for something symbolizing rebirth and change, and my lovely tattoo artist created it from out of his own head, and some images I brought him. Oh, yeah, and it’s a pretty kick-ass looking tat, too.

5. You wrote a post about wondering if you were crazy. That said, what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Hmmm, that’s a tough one. Not because I’ve done so much that’s (in the nonclinical sense) crazy, but because I actually haven’t. Besides, everyone has a different definition of crazy. For some people, it’s getting the aforementioned tattoo (“some people” being my parents), or riding with my friend on the back of his motorcycle, neither of which rank in my book. I guess the craziest thing I did was back in high school, when I went to Hawaii on a class trip and my friends and I picked up some Marines stationed down there, and hung out with them for a few days. See? I told you. Not crazy.

6. You were an extra in a movie recently. Maybe the obvious question, but I’ll ask it if Hollywood did a movie of your life, who would you want to star as you, if you had a choice in the casting?

Hmm, I’d probably want Sandra Bullock. Not necessarily because I think she’s very much like me, but she’s the kind of person I’d like others to think I’m like (it’s all about image management, baby!).

7. I notice on your blog that it’s free of frills — fancy layout and all that. Why do you choose not to decorate it more than you do even with a few more picture or graphics?

Well after reading your questions, I felt a little guilty for not making my blog look a little nicer. So I have since picked a slightly fancier template (oooh, colors! And boxes! Pretty…). But the simple truth is, I don’t know how. Anyone reading this who wants to offer free web design services (although I’m not sure how much customization Blogger allows), feel free to help!

To learn more about astrogirl426, visit her blog Notes from the Bunker.

To learn more about the Great Interview Experiment, visit Neil’s blog Citizen of the Month.