Nievie, Nievie, Nicknack

Nievie, nievie, nicknack,
Which hand will ye tak’?
Tak’ the right, or tak’ the wrang,
I’ll beguile ye, if I can.

Ah, the old shell game or a round of three card monte. Scammers have always been out there and will always be. The beggar child asking you to buy a gallon of milk, the millionaire Nigerian prince who needs you to rescue him, the woman in town for a business conference who has run out of gasoline, the Craiglist overpayment and refund, the IRS calling to tell you that you have a warrant out for your arrest, and the current favorite – fake news. You’ve got to have your wits about you. Did you know there is a Foundation for Critical Thinking? There are also tons of logic puzzles, lateral thinking puzzles, brainteasers, and other resources out there that encourage you to exercise your brain in new ways. Investing five minutes a day is time well spent.

Verdict: Write this rhyme on a deck of blank playing cards and use it to teach a lesson to people gullible enough to still fall for these scams. Continue reading →

13,000 Hours in the Mountains: Whose Mountain Is It Anyway?

A big cat family roams Alaska Hill. Their presence has been been confirmed. At first, the evidence was inconclusive: sounds of an animal splashing around in the creek at the bottom of the hill and a barely visible tail near the sound of a branch snapping in the dark. Perhaps a murderous mountain lion, but perhaps a charming bobcat. Then, a cache was discovered near a neighbor’s propane tank. And then a spate of sightings around the area of the cache: the momma coming up a driveway, the cub disappearing into the woods, the duo crossing the road.

I have an unjustified feeling of certainty that I will be the feline’s victim. Much the way people panic when they see a gun, I’m certain, now that several people on my street have seen the beast (and its offspring), that it’s going to eat me, my dog, or both of us. Guns are all around; we simply aren’t aware of them because the owners have concealed carry permits, emphasis on concealed. The mountain lion has always been around but its territory is enormous and it’s mainly active at night. Logic often goes out the window when confronted visually with something you don’t like. I’ve hiked these woods many times with only my trusty but useless dog for protection. Now, suddenly, the caves and pits pockmarking the land terrify me, although my rational brain knows nothing has actually changed. Continue reading →