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January 11th, 2011

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06:36 pm
Interview meme from promiseoftin:

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.

(21 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2011 02:43 am (UTC)
those were kind of interesting.

i dare you to ask me five questions interesting enough that i'll actually post the answers.
[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2011 02:59 am (UTC)
I would love some questions from you.

I don't remember if you remember that I too have a fear of water, though yours seems more intense than mine =| I recently (last year) trained myself to hold my head up in the rain, something I discovered I was subconcously avoiding at all costs. But with some reassurance from myself, I actually challenged myself to overcome that fear. It was a great moment of triumph for me, even if it's something most people can do without even thinking. At some point, I'm going to try and actually get to a point where I can apply the shower directly to my face (I still cannot do this no matter how I try or how convincing I am that it's just water).

And yeah, I suppose if I had the choice between those two powers, I'd probably take time travel... but flight would be freaking awesome too.
[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2011 10:15 am (UTC)
(Questions will come later, I promise. I want to make sure they're good ones. I'm acutely aware of the last time this meme occurred, so you're first on my list.)

I don't remember if you remember that I too have a fear of water, though yours seems more intense than mine

I do remember talking about it with you. I believe it was at the hotel for the XKCD meetup in LA.

Your description seemed similar and it reminded me of a 60 Minutes segment that my mom and sister saw. It featured a kid whose mother was trying to bathe him. He ran into his room, put on a raincoat, and hid under the kitchen table, gripping the leg of the table for all his worth.

That reminded both of them of me. I never saw the segment, but if I recall correctly, the kid was experiencing some syndrome in which he was super-sensitive to touch and water apparently triggered that.

I'm mostly OK these days with it -- I trained myself to deal with rain and to get into hot tubs and the shallow end of pools without freaking out about it.

Still -- every so often, a drop will fall onto one of those magic bits of me -- behind my ears or on the back of my neck -- and my whole system goes into fight-or-flight before I can get a handle on things.

Maybe someday I'll conquer it, but not today.

but flight would be freaking awesome too.

I think part of the reason I wouldn't enjoy the power of flight as much is that I see it in the same light as driving a car. It's a mental exercise to build something capable of flight, a mental discipline to understand the physical forces acting on the vehicle, and a physical discipline to manipulate the vehicle effectively under those constraints to achieve your goals.

I love intellectual challenges. I'd hate to lose one like that.

(Note: This is why I'll be sad if we ever develop auto-drive cars)
[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2011 05:53 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't ever trust an auto drive car myself... electronics are known for bugs, blue sccreening, and all sorts of stuff that could kill you if you're not paying attention...
[User Picture]
Date:January 16th, 2011 03:36 pm (UTC)
1) What is your earliest memory?
2) If you seceded from the United States along with your friends and were recognized by the IOC, who would make your nation's Olympic team and what events would they take?
3) In what ways would you like your life to change in 15 years?
4) Describe a particular "A-ha!" moment -- one of those points where something was explained to you or you realized something by way of experiment that caused an epiphany.
5) When everything around you is going wrong, what makes you think that everything is going to be all right?
[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2011 03:02 am (UTC)
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.


How did I not know this about you, oh bubbly one?

EDIT: Although actually, come to think of it, me too! My dad used to have to wrap me tightly in a towel and dunk whilst my mother scrubbed my hair and my brother watched with haunted eyes.

Ask me, ask me, ask me!

Edited at 2011-01-12 03:04 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2011 10:04 am (UTC)
How did I not know this about you, oh bubbly one?

I see it as the kryptonite to my normally calm, unflappably rational self. As a result, I usually keep it closely guarded.

The only time I can remember actually losing control & committing physical harm on someone in my adult life was a direct result of this: a guy resting his foot on my ass while I was bent over a hot tub handing someone a drink.

Funny joke, ha ha. I'm sorry to report that he didn't see this particular failing on my part (or the resultant broken nose) to be terribly amusing.

Your questions will come. I must consider, but I wanted to reply back quickly. 8)
[User Picture]
Date:January 16th, 2011 03:54 pm (UTC)
1) Picture your ideal bathtub. Now picture an endless supply of your favored bath oils, salts, perfumes, etc. What would you consider giving it all up for? Remember -- the devil's in the details.
2) You've traveled a bit. Who have you met that had it made? Tell us a bit, would you?
3) What the hell? Really. Just what the hell?
4) Using only the traits of fictional characters, how would you describe yourself? No sneaky using your own characters or characters other people have written with you in mind.
5) What proverbs (or quotations) have provided you with useful advice at various bits of your life?
[User Picture]
Date:January 16th, 2011 07:10 pm (UTC)
Wait, I have some clarifying sub-questions.

1. Do you mean, what would I consider giving up the bathtub for, or what would I consider giving up for the bathtub?

2. People who came from affluent backgrounds, or people who I felt jealous of in terms of their position in life, what they'd done, or what they were doing?

3. What the hell?

4 & 5 are perfectly clear. x
[User Picture]
Date:January 17th, 2011 01:59 am (UTC)
1) Let's say a supernatural figure appeared and started negotiating for a contract for said bathtub and bathtub-related products. You feel compelled to enter into negotiations -- this could be because:
a) you realize that the bastard could just steal it from you if he/she/it really wanted to, so you feel like you should get something out of it,
b) you've read enough Greek mythology to know that it's a really bad idea to hold on to something the Gods covet, or
c) said being is compelling you to do so. (In other words, saying "nothing" is not an option)

What would you negotiate for?

(I think that's the latter bit of emphasis, but I wanted to make sure that I wasn't unclear again. 8) )

2) A sportswriter (Dick Irvin) once met a successful hockey goaltender named Mike Richter. In his words:

As I looked at the relaxed young man sitting across from me dressed in his hockey underwear, a cup of coffee in his hand and a smile on his cherubic face, I thought to myself, "This guy's got it made!

It's more a measure of happiness than career or financial-related success, y'know?

3) Yes. What the hell?

Think of it as my special take on "Why?" as a prompt. It's mostly because I was horrified that the other four were somehow going to turn up short answers and I wanted something that was going to get an in-depth answer. 8)

If that's too vague, I can think of another question. I had one when I wrote that series last night and I considered making those 3a) and 3b), but for the aforementioned fear.
[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2011 03:27 am (UTC)
Sooo I take it you don't go swimming?
[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2011 10:05 am (UTC)
No, I super don't.

In general, I don't even like being around a pool.

Seems like a damn shame for someone who enjoys scantily-clad women as much as me, neh? 8)

(Questions will come later, I promise. I want to make sure they're good ones.)
[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2011 05:33 am (UTC)
Pick me! Pick me!
[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2011 06:42 am (UTC)
I second this motion.
[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2011 11:58 pm (UTC)
Hehe, thanks for the compliment, and the well-thought-out answers!
[User Picture]
Date:January 16th, 2011 03:56 pm (UTC)
You earned 'em.

Almost Famous, eh? Appropriate. 8) It's been a perennial entry in my netflix queue that I need to get around to.
[User Picture]
Date:January 16th, 2011 06:47 pm (UTC)
Hehe, yup, that's pretty much the movie that started it all for me with wanting to be a writer.
[User Picture]
Date:January 16th, 2011 07:14 pm (UTC)
If I could "like" this comment without adding an otherwise needless commentary on how much I feel like "high-fiving" you for writing this comment, I would... which makes me resent facebook for making me desire a less articulate response to something I want to high-five for being awesome :) x

Edited at 2011-01-16 07:15 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:January 16th, 2011 07:16 pm (UTC)
Oh my gosh, let's petition for a "high-five" button! :D
[User Picture]
Date:January 16th, 2011 07:21 pm (UTC)
Yes! A "high-five" and a "low-five" ! x
[User Picture]
Date:January 17th, 2011 02:22 am (UTC)
which makes me resent facebook for making me desire a less articulate response to something I want to high-five for being awesome

I never really saw the deviousness of the "like" button before this comment.

I always saw it as a way of saying something generically positive that wasn't going to continue a conversation. Simultaneously, it removes the pressure that what you're going to write is exactly what everyone else is going to write.

And yet, I wish more people responded on facebook in ways other than "like".

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