Courtesy of Rory:

Are we losing the art of listening in comparison to simply hearing?

We surely are. I tell my kids often that best practice is listening to understand instead of listening to respond. Too many people listen to someone talking, just itching to jump back in with their own argument. Very little progress happens when people hear somebody’s words without truly trying to understand them.

How often do you openly discuss with friends or here in WP with your readership topics that make you feel uncomfortable or may be taboo or stigma laden?

Pretty darn often! Here on the blog I’ll talk politics, gun violence, women’s rights, racism, social justice – it’s been a medley of wait, what? kinda stuff. All of that is fair game with our friends, too, since I find I grow a lot more when I talk about the hard stuff.

Do you think that these discussions should be freely discussed and written about more?

Absolutely. We’ve gotten nowhere by sweeping things under the rug – the problems are still there, and often they’re getting worse. Mushrooms might thrive in darkness but I say everything else belongs out in the light.

Did you have a nickname as a child and if so, what was it [or what is it now]?

As a kid they called me Gags (a shortened version of my last name). It sounds gross now but it was a term of endearment at the time.

Why is there still ‘stuff’ we simply just don’t understand despite our progressive world?

I think we can chalk this one up to being human. We’re an imperfect people who will always struggle to understand the world around us regardless of how advanced our society seems.

Would you rather double your height or lose half your weight?  (In response to last week’s double your weight, half your height query). Suggestion by Leslie – Swot8

Halving my weight would land me in the hospital so I’d have to settle for becoming a freakishly tall human being. Of course if my weight stays the same then that would probably land me in the hospital, too, so this is looking like damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

What is your most essential kitchen tool? (Can be a person you know. For the non-cooks in the crowd). Courtesy of Roger Shipp

Definitely my knives. I’ve got some gadgety things I love, and I have no idea how I’d make that life changing salsa without my food processor, but if I have to pick just one essential tool? The set of Wüsthof knives we bought a couple of years ago. It’s amazing what a difference a variety of sharp, quality knives make while cooking.

Who is one blogger you really admire and why?

I really admire Joey over at Joeyfully Stated. She’s funny and gritty and smart as a whip, and there are days her blog posts make me laugh until I tinkle. Plus she’s a kickass wife and mom and somehow gets my crazy.

Sparks from a Combustible Mind hosts Share Your World.