Haven't seen this one in a while. I suppose it was just a matter of time until a real rock star/journalist to interviewed me.
(It shows -- probably the best questions I've ever been asked through this meme. They could be accidental, but she hit on a couple of winners.)
Drop a comment if you want me to come up with five questions for you.
1) What made you so interested in technology/computers?
My dad was a steam engineer and my mom was a HAM radio operator. My mom somehow caught wind of computers and told my dad. They both agreed that it'd be kinda fun, so off they went to get themselves a TRS-80 Model I. Family lore has it that my dad stayed up the whole night typing in a Star Trek game from a book of programs and then figuring out how to play it.
Yes, in those days, you had to type in a program in order to run it. And then you had to debug it -- the problems weren't always typos either. And if you liked it, then you saved it to a cassette tape.
That was three years before I was born. I have never lived in a house without a computer.
I'm told that I wrote my first program when I was 3. It was BASIC and it went something like this:
10 ? "testing4l"
20 GOTO 10.
Later, I modified it somewhat by adding a semicolon after the print and a space after my name, so that it more efficiently filled the screen.
For reasons I don't understand, neither one of my sisters really took to it. When the mail came, I was super excited when another copy of 80-Micro came out. They published all sorts of interesting things about the computers and tricks. Best of all, they published programs that other people had written and sent in.
I mentioned that occasionally there were errors in the programs. 80-Micro would print up a shirt for you if you sent in a correction or an improvement they liked. Somewhere in my parents' house is a box of T-shirts that are hopelessly too small for me.
It's hard to see in the picture I linked to above, but the keyboard was all sorts of goofy. + and : shared a key, * and ; shared a key, @ had its own key, 2 shared its key with ". TRS BASIC had its own weird bits -- ? was a shortcut for "PRINT". And yet, whenever I sit down in front of a TRS-80, all of that utter madness feels perfectly natural.
2) Your recommended method for a good night's sleep?
I have to be really dog sick to have any trouble sleeping. Generally, I get horizontal, close my eyes, and I'm out like a light. I'm pretty hard to wake up too. I have this goofy alarm clock that can't quite hold a frequency, so it ends up on top volume a mixture of half-white-noise, half-radio when the alarm goes off.
When I'm super tired, I sleep right through it.
This turned out to be an amazingly handy skill when I went to Burning Man.
3) What scares you most?
Of virtually all the classic fears, I have none. I don't freak out in tight spaces. I give talks in public readily. I hold spiders and snakes without hesitation.
And when I've faced my own demise, I've handled it sensibly. In fact, the last time I did, I made a joke to myself about it right before the event, so I would have died laughing.
A somewhat pleasant thought, if I say so myself.
There is one thing though. Water. I nearly drowned a couple of times when I was a kid and water still holds the power to put me into mindless fight or flight mode. Taking a shower is always a dicey concept and I'm very regimented about how that has to go down. I always need a towel over the shower bar. I generally have to wash my face and neck outside of the shower. It took me a long, long, long time to get to the point that I could wash my hair in the shower.
My mom used to call the neighbors to let them know when I was getting a bath because I'd scream bloody murder, run like hell, and struggle.
4) What's the oddest knickknack you own?
I passed this one straight off to my girlfriend. My ideas of normality are pretty warped.
Things she pointed out:
1) I have a picture of a strip of bacon, planting a bacon flag on the moon entitled "Planet Bacon".
2) A Kenny G record (actual vinyl) which Freezepop sent to me.
3) The box of Ataris in my closet.
This is to say nothing of my extensive collection of hats, game consoles, and computers. Or the X-Men arcade cabinet in my kitchen.
Or the 3-D marble labyrinth that the game night folks know as the "Escher ball".
Most of my life in one way or another is stuff. If I ever die (ha! I'll never die! I'M IMMORTAL!), then it'll be of some small comfort to know that my life will continue by way of my stuff -- anyone who cares about me at all knows that just about everything has some sort of a story or a project or some such and really should go to someone who will do something with it.
Seriously -- I'm a hopeless hoarder.
5) Would you rather have the power of flight or time travel? Why?
Time travel. One of my early loves was aircraft. For a while, I even considered going into aerospace. Designing and piloting an aircraft is far more exciting to me than the ability to leap up in the air with an "Up, up, and away!"
What would I do with time travel? First, I'd try to discover whether or not we live in a Minkowski block universe. Secondly, I'd go back in time, take control of Saudi oil fields in the early 1900s, and set up a multinational corporation to privatize space for the preservation of humanity.
That, alone, is a lifetime of work.