Monday, January 15, 2007

Five Things (Plus One)

Tagged... sigh. Ok, here goes.

1 - I tend to take things literally. So, for instance, if I'm supposed to write five things you don't know about me, and I don't know who you are, well, that's a bit of a puzzle. To be safe, I'd have to come up with five things nobody knows, and to do that, I'd probably have to list five things I'd rather stayed that way. So, I'll settle for five things you (generally) (might) not know about me.

One more example: when I was in Kindergarten, the class was creating a recipe book to give to our parents for Christmas - "Everybody can put their favorite recipe in," says the teacher. So I go home, get my favorite recipe from mom, and bring it back. "No, you have to tell me the recipe," says the teacher. I was confused and upset - there was no way I could memorize my favorite whole recipe (I'm still not a big fan of memorization). In the end, I didn't end up putting anything in the book. Still, I took one home, wrapped it up, and put in under the Christmas tree. Come Christmas day, mom opened the book, and I took a look, curious to see what my fellow classmates had come up with - how come they could all memorize recipes and I couldn't? Alas, the whole book was filled with stuff like "Cold cereal: first pour the cereal in the bowl. Then add milk. I like mine with sugar." That's when I knew I wasn't quite like the other kids.

(Hey that wasn't so bad, one down already!)

2 - I came very close to dual majoring in history at college. I'm fascinated by the grand spectacle of our collective human story, and the ways in which it spins differently at different times, depending on who's doing the telling. Did you know, for instance, that one of the oldest pieces of writing (cuneiform tablets found in Egypt), are a letter from a father to his son, scolding him for hanging around in the marketplace instead of doing his chores? Nowadays, I satisfy my history urge with lectures from the Teaching Company - I have about 80 courses so far, which I mostly listen to on the way to and from work.

3 - I (mostly) taught myself how to program. Sure, having a dad in the field certainly helped. Back when games like Asteroids and Pac-Man were popular in the arcades, I'd hang around with a notebook and write down what the levels looked like, how the scoring worked, and what the main characters were. Our computer had a character-based moniter, and using peek and poke commands in BASIC, you could change what character was displayed where - I'd choose appropriate characters for whatever game I was working on (the @ symbol usually stood for a character, but <> worked great for the space ship in Defender), and code up the logic and maps for the various levels. Once I had as much of the game implemented as I understood, I'd move on to the next one. I wrote about a dozen of these - not because I'd really play them, but because I liked the task of recreating them. One of my original games was called ROTMA (Revenge Of The Mutated Androids). It was a top-level puzzle adventure, with forced perspective (so you could throw grenades in an arc, even though you were looking top-down). Why did the androids want revenge, and who mutated them? I still don't know...

4 - I dislike political parties. Mostly because they reduce complex decisions to 5 second sound bites and taking sides. They may be an unavoidable part of our political system, but that doesn't mean I have to like them.

5 - Coke or Pepsi? Given a choice, I'll probably pick whichever one I've had less of recently. Too much of the same thing leads to taste fatigue, and I prefer a bit of variety.

And just to be different, I'll add a bonus sixth item in place of tagging any others...

6 - My favorite color is green. Favorite things are not one of my favorite things, and I generally don't cater much to picking favorites (see #5). Still, after being pestered enough at school and home with questions like "What's your favorite color?" I decided that picking one was an easier out than complaining, so I picked green more or less at random. After so many years of sticking with that choice, I can now definitely say green is my favorite color (whatever that means).