(16 of 99)

This is one final request for you to submit your questions for the end of year post. As my free gift to you in return for this small favor, I have written a special post demonstrating what the Ask Mark Anything post might look like if nobody submitted any questions. This post is below, and is my free gift, freely given to you free of charge in return for you simply asking a question. FREE!!!!!

DO NOT READ THIS FREE POST UNTIL YOU CLICK THE LINK AND SUBMIT A QUESTION. While I believe you want to do the right thing, if you choose not to, I will know and I will think poorly of you. And you will get fleas. If you are a dog you will get human- breath.

So click the link, ask an anonymous question (literally anything about happiness), submit it, and come right back here.  In case you are unsure, the link is




And now, as promised, your free gift post, entitled “What if nobody asked any questions?” which is itself a question. This post is the answer.

Thank you to all of you who read my request for your questions. While I appreciate you reading the request, I would have REALLY appreciated you asking some actual questions for me to answer. Luckily I am accustomed to this sort of interchange in my day job. Me, wrapping up class: “Okay, any questions?” My class: “Sorry, what?”  Me: “Do you have any questions?”  My class: “About what?”  Me, giving up: “See you next time.”   My class: “Next time for what?”  Me, gritting my teeth.   My class: “Will this be on the test?”

Like my students, you probably assumed that a) someone else would ask the question you had, which would eliminate the need to elevate your own heavy hand, or b) if nobody asked anything the teacher would give up and release you early, which is a common student myth (like a slot machine, this one does, very rarely, pay off, which just encourages students to try it again). BUT NO. And since you you are unwilling or unable or ill-equipped to ask a question, I have decided just to ask them for you, which has the advantage of insuring that I know the answers to everything that is asked….

WAIT! Late breaking news: a question has just arrived, and it is now, let’s see…..number one in the queue, so here we go:

Q: Were we supposed to submit something? Sincerely, a student.

All right, so back to my plan, which is to ask myself questions, give myself answers, and hopefully not wind up arguing with myself, which does happen.


Q: Whatever possessed you to start this project? Thanks, Mark.

A: Hi Mark. Thank you for that great question, and for being a faithful reader. It’s people like you, Mark, who make all this possible. Over the years I have done a variety of writing projects, including two small books, a summer of free-lance writing for an academic press, an email newsletter (a “blog” back before there were blogs and before “You’ve got mail” became a punchline), and countless depressingly dry academic papers published in an array of mediocre journals. The bottom line is I like writing, and it’s therapeutic for me. I’m also easily entertained.


Q: Follow-up: why choose happiness as a topic?

A. Great question, Mark. I like you more and more. We should do lunch. Today. As a topic, Happiness is pretty much universal: people want to be happy (or whatever term you prefer). This topic is broad enough that I can write on it, teach it, preach on it, conduct training on it, travel around and speak on it (not to Boise) and let it be the focus of my study and work for several years. Happiness is also something I have struggled at times to find, so a lot of what you read comes from my own explorations.


Q: Why does your site say that you will deliver 99 posts? That number seems pretty arbitrary and kind of stingy. Was it chosen for a logical reason? Signed, Anonymous.

A: Hi Anonymous. I have a pretty good idea who you are, probably John from Accounting, since you guys tend to be deeply troubled by questions like these. Keep in mind I could have offered 96.5451101 posts or something else designed to drive accountants crazy, so you should just be happy with what you’ve got. I didn’t want to make the project open-ended, since blogs tend to linger long after they should be disposed of, like some dating relationships, all dairy products, and American Idol. So I made a list of possible topics and figured I could get around 100 posts out of what I had. I didn’t want to over-reach so I scaled it back to 99 in case one of them didn’t pan out.


Q: Do you offer gift certificates for your blog? Hugs, a Christmas shopper.

A: You don’t actually understand what a blog is, do you?


Q: What is the key to a really useful/funny/entertaining blog post?

A: If I ever figure it out I’ll let you know.


Q: What should we expect in the coming year? Dan in Boise.

A: Dear Dan: you should expect winter weather brutal enough to blow squirrels out of trees and freeze chrome off a trailer hitch. Also interest rates will go up, and President Trump will….and….uh…sorry, lost my train of thought on that one. As far as the blog goes it will continue to look at philosophy, science, religion, behavior, and practical ways to find and keep happiness. Also I plan to open a branch office in Orlando, and while writing these posts I will earn gold status at Starbucks for the third year running. Dan: do us all (and yourself) a favor and move somewhere warmer, like Detroit.


Q: Sometimes I don’t understand parts of your posts. It seems like you’re trying to make a joke but I’m not sure. Am I missing out on something really funny or are you are just weird. With profound admiration, Ryan J. 

A: Probably both.


Q: Have you ever been in a bar fight? -Rex.

A. Not that I remember. But of course the first rule of fight club….


Q: Ryan J. here again. That last answer was one of those things I was talking about. Is that rule of the fighting club a literal thing, or a joke? With continuing admiration…

A: Ryan: Here is a different site that may suit your informational needs better than this blog: https://www.wikipedia.org/


Q: Mr Phillips, Sometimes your grammar is poor and you use run-on sentences. You also use an excess of parentheses and capitals, which some people find unnecessary, and I find to be a bad example for the children of today. -D. Umbridge

A: Yo D. Boise is currently hiring persnickety (spell check that!) English teachers: https://idaho.schoolspring.com/  Also please send me $14.95 for a gift certificate. ((((U! R! WELCOME!))))


Q: Mark-How do you decide when a post is long enough and stop writing?