1. I almost missed out on an internship at IBM research in Silicon Valley because I was a morphine addict. Well, that’s what they tried to tell me anyway, when their doctor called and told me I failed the drug test due to high levels of morphine that indicated addiction. Having never had morphine in my life I was puzzled, and I asked her how many morphine addicts are working on PhDs at top-ten computer science departments. She admitted this was unlikely and asked me what I ate the night before the test, which (after a week of memory-dredging with my girlfriend) turned out be some poppy-seed muffins. I was cleared to work.
  2. I was once mentioned in the same newspaper article as Derek Jeter (Hall of Fame shortstop for the New York Yankees). Not for my athletic prowess of course. It turns out he was awarded an honorary degree from Siena at the same graduation where I spoke as that year’s winner of the college’s award for teaching excellence. But it still impresses some baseball fans.
  3.  Carjacked by a Friar? After meeting for drinks, my wife and I left Newton Plaza in separate cars. I then ran into Fr. Dennis Tamburello and offered him a ride back to campus. As my wife’s car drove by her eyes grew wide and she called me on my cell phone, whispering “Scott, there’s someone in your car! Are you OK? Are you being carjacked?”. It didn’t take long to reassure her that the dangerous days of Franciscan carjacking gangs were long over. But it pays to be careful.
  4. In college I almost majored in history, and I’m still very interested in medieval history in particular. Many things we think important now started then or were big issues then as well – the modern college/university education system, conflicts between religious and secular views of the world, etc., and many interesting and long-influential people flourished then (including St. Francis). When I travel I try to visit places that can make it “come alive” and I read about it frequently as well. We can clearly learn a lot by understanding how people in the past managed issues similar to those we face today.
  5. The 3rd floor of Roger Bacon Hall has long been notorious for temperature extremes. Having reported excess heat while teaching in RB304 for several weeks, to no avail, I gave up and taught class in bathing shorts, t-shirt, and flip flops. I also brought in a 6-foot tall inflatable palm tree and a blender to serve pina coladas* to the students and reduce their core temperature. The room was 93 degrees in February. The best part of this is that the dean walked by the room when I was doing this. I offered her a drink too and by the next week the temperature was down considerably.  *(no rum, sorry, didn’t want to test the limits of tenure)
  6.  For the “it’s a small world” book that somebody must be writing: On the first day of CSIS110 a few years ago, when learning students’ names, I came across one whose last name is Ellsworth; we had never met. I asked him if he had any ancestors who were from Ohio or who were polar explorers. When he said yes, I told him his ancestor’s snowshoes were hanging above my fireplace and I offered to return them. This of course was a surprise to the student – once he picked his jaw up off the floor I told him that my mother-in-law had liberated the snowshoes from the Ellsworth’s barn (they were next-door neighbors) and later given them to us. They remain in our living room, along with a biography of Lincoln Ellsworth given to us by the student’s father when he graduated.
  7.  Another “it’s a Small world” entry: My wife and I were born and grew up 2500 miles apart and met in grad school (geographically in between our hometowns). After knowing each other a few weeks, we were able to determine that my wife’s aunt was my junior high librarian. Even stranger, my wife’s mother grew up in the house that my dad’s boss still lives in. We visited him and the house last month.
  8.  The US military has a bugler shortage, so as a trumpet player I often volunteer to play taps at military funerals. The families and friends very much appreciate a live version rather than the recorded version they would otherwise get (unless the deceased had a high rank). Another way I’ve described this is that I go to strangers’ funerals and make people cry. But it’s for a good cause.
  9.  One of my favorite things to do when I’m not teaching is playing ice hockey, which I’ve done since I was young, but never in a very organized way. As a professor, I’m always thinking about the job and better ways to do it – turning that off is difficult, but when you’re on the ice and you spend one second thinking of something other than what’s happening in the game, you will pay the price by getting run over or hit by a puck or watching a goal go in. So it’s a good way to shift gears for a while. It’s also a great sport played by a lot of wonderful people who share an appreciation for its beauty and challenge. Besides, where else can I knock down a NY state trooper without getting arrested for it? (He was in my way, and we laughed about it afterward.)
  10.  Sometimes, in order to do the job right, you have to deviate from what’s typically useful and simply make things happen. When Roger Bacon Hall was being renovated a couple decades ago, the only record of some of the plans and promises that were made was on a set of architectural drawings that were on my desk (in the current Colbeth Hall, then called Numbers Place). Several other important, and difficult to replace, documents were on my desk as well (I was department chair at the time). An overzealous janitor decided to throw out everything on my desk. When I came into the office, I looked all around the building, then called facilities and was told the garbage had already been placed in the college’s giant trash compactor. I told them not to start it, and spent the next hour inside it, where I found what I was looking for. We managed to dry (don’t ask) and salvage it and all was well. I went home early to take a shower.