Twenty-Five Things About Me

Given the amount of time I’ve been poking at this list, I can hardly call them “random” things. Given my feeling about the pressures involved in “tagging” people, I’m skipping that part, but please feel free to post your own such list if it sounds like fun. Dunno where this started, I’ve been seeing it more on Facebook than on Livejournal, but it gets around.

  1. I always kind of enjoyed school. Highschool was probably helped
    because I was getting seriously involved in photography, and learning
    to program computers and then getting a job doing it for Carleton when
    I was 15, so I was kept fairly busy. It may have helped that I was
    bigger than most people through most of this; though I did not notice
    people around me being picked on physically much at all.
  2. Everything I’ve ever been paid for doing, I learned on my own.
    (Software development, photography, handgun self-defense training;
    that last required certification courses as well). This is not to say
    that people didn’t help me, teach me things, at various times, of
    course, and I also learned huge amounts from various books. Perhaps a
    better phrase is “outside of class”. I’ve even taken some courses on
    programming, after I’d been doing it for more than 5 years.
  3. After an evaluation by a school psychologist, I was started into
    school a year early.
  4. Every girl-friend I’ve had after I got into SF fandom I either found
    in SF fandom, or dragged into SF fandom at least to the point of
    attending a convention. It doesn’t appear to have stuck with any of
    the ones I dragged in, however.
  5. I almost had a second major in film in college. I took lots of production courses, the screen-writing course, and some analysis courses. Since then I’ve worked on the video coverage of the 1976 Worldcon in Kansas City, and Will Shetterly’s attempt at making a 16mm feature film of Emma’s War for the Oaks. I was assistant camera operator, and second-unit director and camera operator for some of the fight sequences.
  6. I have made three Atlantic crossings by ship. The return trip from
    the first one was by propellor-driven airplane. I don’t remember
    where-all we stopped to refuel. (This was in 1959).
  7. I have never had or trained for a pilot’s license or a ham radio
  8. I thought about ways to construct plastic Lenses (ala Doc Smith) in
    shop class, but was aware that without the Arisians to guarantee the
    integrity of the wearers (and augment their powers), they wouldn’t be
    very practical.
  9. My favorite math class in college would have to be the Foundations of
    Math course I took. We were told that foundations specialists had the
    highest insanity rate of all job categories. I wonder if that
    included chess players?
  10. The first computer I programmed was an IBM 1620. It had 20,000 decimal digits of magnetic core memory, but no disk
  11. I applied to two colleges, and got into both. I went to Carleton; the
    other one was Stanford. I was never worried about getting into
    Carleton; I wrote software for their admissions office, so their
    applicant pool was my test data, and I knew where I stood compared to
    the other people they accepted.
  12. I first got a driver’s license when I was 22. This was fairly shortly
    before I bought my first car.
  13. I had no religious upgringing. My father did some traveling to
    lecture on agnosticism in the 1960s. If any of my grandparents had
    religious beliefs, they never mentioned them to me, and I never saw
    them go to church or anything. (However, my closest grandparent was
    1500 miles away.)
  14. My current house has been continuously online via broadband of some
    sort since 1996 (originally, via ISDN). The house before that was in
    a neighborhood that never did get ISDN, so I couldn’t have a
    connection there, so instead I had a co-located server at
    (which was a swap for my being their Usenet news admin).
  15. I am the heir to the Dyer Baronetcy (of Tottenham), created in 1678
    (the current baronet is a distinguished mathematician, Peter
    Swinnerton-Dyer). This will not be record-setting, but I’m a big enough excursion from the direct line of descent to be somewhat notable. I’ve tested a couple of places that offered to tell me what my coat of arms was, and none of them have noticed.
  16. I have about 70,000 image files, nearly all of images I took myself,
    on my home file-server. (There are multiple copies, often three, of
    all the GOOD images, and often two even of the mediocre ones if it’s
    included in my snapshot album.)
  17. I had something of a run-in with my 9th grade shop teacher because he
    couldn’t understand the algebra I used to transform the formula for
    board-feet that he gave us. Which I had learned in 8th grade algebra.
  18. I have attended every Minicon held since I started going to them, in
    1973. I haven’t found pictures from the first couple, though, and may
    not even have any. I’ve probably worked on every one since the third
    at least a little bit (I’ve gone as far as being chairman or on the
    exec for a few, and Pamela and I were guests at one).
  19. I own a 5-foot flexible 5/8″ drill bit.
  20. I discovered spicy Chinese food at the Village Wok in 1975, and
    shortly took to cooking it myself. Jumbo Gai Ding! And my favorite,
    ginger onion beef! Mrs. Chiang’s Szechuan Cookbook is my
    favorite book on the topic.
  21. I got seduced into eating raw fish by the tuna sashimi appetizer at
    Legal Seafoods (mmmm, tuna and soy and wasabi!). I eventually
    progressed to eating a wider variety of raw fish, with rice, at Shiro
    in Berlin MA, while we were living out there. They appear to still be in
  22. I have not had any living grandparents since 1983. The last one was
    my English grandfather.
  23. I was once asked by the teacher who ran the highschool computer lab
    if I’d given any help to one student on the homework assignment (I
    wasn’t in the course myself). Turns out our prime numbers program was
    half as many lines of code as anybody elses. (There was no reason I
    shouldn’t give moderate help on homework assignments; I did quite a
    lot of informal tutoring in math and computer programming in
  24. I’ve been actively involved in science fiction fandom since attending
    my first convention in 1972 (the Worldcon in LA). I’ve been in apas,
    been a club officer, and worked on conventions. I’ve contributed
    photos to some fanzines, but haven’t published articles or published
    my own fanzine. I also gave Minn-StF its domain name and first web
  25. I’ve flown in a Comet, a VC-10, a Caravelle, a 707, a DC-8, Lockheed Constellation, and I believe an Electra, and of course many DC-3s, and many more modern airplanes. I haven’t yet ridden in a Boeing 777 or any of the bigger Airbus planes.

Privilege Meme

(Bolded statements apply to me)

Father went to college
Father finished college
Mother went to college
Mother finished college
Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
Had more than 50 books in your childhood home

Had more than 500 books in your childhood home
Were read children’s books by a parent
Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18

But I paid for most of them myself, out of my programming job.

Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18

This is rather generational, and/or my parents were weird (okay, definitely “and”). I had a credit card before my parents did, because I needed it for business travel.

Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs*
Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs*

The meme came with the asterisks, I don’t know what they mean yet. Actually half my college costs were paid for as a fringe benefit of my father’s job, but attributing it to my parents seems fair enough.

Went to a private high school

This is bi-modal I think — the working class send a lot of kids to parochial schools, while upper-class send their kids to Phillips Exeter or whatever. Not me, either way.

Went to summer camp
Had a private tutor before you turned 18
Family vacations involved staying at hotels
Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18

Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
There was original art in your house when you were a child
Had a phone in your room before you turned 18

Generational, again; having phone extensions was a much bigger deal before the breakup of AT&T.

You and your family lived in a single family house
Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
You had your own room as a child

Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course

Somewhat generational I think; I don’t recall those as being something that was even talked about in the highschool I was in, and plenty of us went on to first-rate schools, we even had a Rhodes Scholar.

Had your own TV in your room in High School
Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College
Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16

I first flew across the Atlantic when I was 5.  The plane had propellers.

Went on a cruise with your family
Went on more than one cruise with your family

No cruises, but both sabbatical years in Europe that I accompanied my parents on, we made at least one of the Atlantic crossings by ship. That was 1958-59 and 1966-67, though, the ship was probably cheaper that first time, and the expensive thing was flying back in a hurry when my mother’s mother died.

Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family

Okay, so we knew I was from a privileged background. I’m surprised the meme doesn’t have more about travel, especially international travel, I thought that was one of the clearer dividing lines.

The thing is, my family didn’t have very much money. We were never short of money, that I knew of, certainly it never manifested as having to change plans or very meager Christmases or whatever. (Bear in mind that when I lived at home with my parents was from 1954 to 1977, and most of my remarks cover from when they bought the house my mother still lives in in 1963; it influences what some of these things mean). But we had a modest 1.5-story house, no air-conditioning, got some new furniture once in that period, kept cars 7-17 years and never had more than one, didn’t get a TV until 1962 and then it was an old small used B&W one, didn’t get “new outfits” every year (though as a growing child I certainly got a lot of new clothing), didn’t get a color TV while I lived at home, never had more than one phone extension, replaced the carpet in the living room once (boy did it need it), never had a boat or any other kind of recreational vehicle, never went to restaurants when we were at home, etc. My parents managed the money they had to do the things that were important to them (and saved a lot for retirement as well). Quantitatively (I haven’t been able to find much on average college professor salaries in the 1960s, so I’m going on memory), I believe we had less than union auto workers or many skilled blue-collar people had in terms of raw money; the big difference was how it was spent.