PJ Silver is in the Chat Room

Age: “I’m 64 years old. Not really, but when I say that, people think I look really, really good for my age.”

Occupation: Executive director of the Blount County Education Foundation

Family: Single. two daughters, Sherri, 20, and Jacki, 21.

What was your first paying job?

“I spent two weeks hand-dying Easter eggs for a company that sold them to Kroger for folks to busy (or lazy) to color their own.”

If you could do one impulsive thing, unrestricted by cost, what would it be?

“Retire and then try odd jobs to see what it’s like. I would be a barista at a coffee shop in a bookstore. I would serve frozen drinks at a Tiki bar in Key West. I would guide tourists on snorkeling tours of the coast of Dominica or Aruba.”

What’s your favorite television or movie quote?

‘”That’s what she said,’ by Steve Carell on The Office.”

What are you guilty of?

“More and more I am becoming less and less guilty, or at least feeling less guilty about it.”

What is one thing you have always wanted to do but haven’t?

“See Jimmy Buffett live in concert and drive 100 mph with the windows or top down and music blaring.”

Do you think there is life on other planets?

“In our galaxy? Almost certainly not. However, this is one huge universe and our knowledge of it is so extremely limited. When we look at distant galaxies, we see them as they were millions (even billions) of years ago, which is hardly up-to-date information. On top of that, we don’t even know about all of the life on this planet and discover new life forms constantly! Life on other, more distant, planets seems to me to be a very real possibility.”

What is your favorite material possession?

“Pictures of my grandmothers. My most serious, no-nonsense great grandmother skipping through a field; her mother reading the paper with a gentle face; my favorite grandmother, looking all the part a movie star, dressed for a high school dance; the grandmother I was named after who died before I was born, standing proudly in her kitchen. They gifted me my legacy.”

What are you reading currently?

“A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.”

Who has been the most influential person in the 20th century?

“For me: Rosa Parks. For the U.S.: Franklin D Roosevelt and for the world: Thich Nhat Hahn.”

What is one word others often use to describe you and why?

“I hope they say I am compassionate.”

When you were 5 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?

“A scientist. Turns out scientists need to be strong in math, which I am not.”

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would like artichokes and seafood. I would stop aging. And I would exercise but since I try to avoid sweating, that’s not likely.

What is your passion?

“Knowledge. I am the most curious person I know. Unfortunately, my retention of information isn’t what I wish it were. I learn, I forget. I learn, I forget. Ad infinitum.”

With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?

“I could sit for hours with Al Pacino, talking, listening, eating bread and drinking wine. He is a masterful actor with a down-to-earth personality.”

What do you hate?

“Unforgivable to me is prejudice. It comes in many forms and is an aspect inherent in the human condition we should each work to eliminate within ourselves.”

What is your all-time favorite movie?

“Just one? Impossible: The Godfather Part I, Apocalypse Now, Groundhog Day, The Big Lebowski, Napoleon Dynamite, Lost in Translation and almost any film made by Knoxville’s own: Quentin Tarantino (The Kill Bill’s are incredible!).”

What is the best book you’ve ever read?

“Eat, Pray, Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert.”

Would you travel in space?

“Lately, I live for adrenaline. I would fly the shuttle if they would let me.”

If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?

“Any October of recent years, each of which I spent traveling the islands of the Caribbean. It’s not very creative, I know, but life was so difficult even a hundred years ago and I very much appreciate hot showers, washing machines, electric ovens, computers, cell phones, cars and so forth. Send me back in time just a bit…to luxury and adventure.”

What character in a book or movie would you most like to be?

“Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web. She was cheerful, friendly, hopeful. She was also realistic about her impending death. She is a beautiful example of how to accept life on life’s terms and pass that serenity along to others.”

What is the best present you ever received in a box?

“My 220 million year old crinoid fossil. I enjoy collecting fossils and rock and mineral formations.”

Who is your hero?

“Hiro from Heroes and Dwight Schrute from The Office.”

What’s your favorite all time song?

“‘One Love’ by Bob Marley.”

What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?

“If you can’t say anything nice, be vague.”

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