I am enjoying the meme on Facebook “25 Random Things About Me”. Writing 10 things about you that people may or may not know is pretty easy, but getting to 25 is much more difficult. Here are the 25 I came up with:
1. By day I work as the EVP of Engineering and Operations for LiveWorld which runs online communities, social networks for the likes of HBO, eBay, A&E, History Channel, NBA, Mini Cooper, J&J, Kimberly Clark, etc. I have been there 12+ years. We used to be TalkCity.com.
3. I started programming just after Christmas of 1979 when my best friend’s rich aunt gave him an Apple ][ computer. If not for that I might have gone to Berkeley as a Physics major.
4. My wife and I met at college (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) in beautiful (sarcasm) Troy New York. We have been married for 27 years and have two kids: Mike and Liz who are in college as a film major and marketing major respectively.
5. The hardest physical job I have had was the one week I spent after freshman year of college making 20,000 gallon wooden wine tanks at Monterey Vineyards in Gilroy. This is the only job I every worked on with my brother Eric. I do, strangely enough, volunteer building concrete houses in Mexico annually (13 trips), carrying tons of cement by hand in buckets. Normally the most aerobic part of my job is fast typing.
6. I have just the one older brother. My parents are still living in the house I moved into at 3 years of age in Salinas, California.
7. I was born in Wadsworth, Ohio and my best friend from elementary school in California (David McCray) was coincidentally also born there and delivered by the same doctor.
8. I used to be a ventriloquist although the last time I remember performing was elementary school. My cousins were still talking about it when I saw them recently.
9. I have (or rather had) 42 first cousins. My dad came from a family of 6 kids in Colorado and my mom came from a family of 7 kids in Wisconsin. My most distant cousins geographically are from Australia. Two of my three Aussie cousins have lived with us. One for 1 month and one for 2 years.
10. My mom’s family tree is confusing because a) her mother was one of 16 b) she married a widower with 5 kids c) one of her younger brother’s married the widower’s daughter (my mom’s half sister and now her aunt) d) another brother and sister married into the family and the sister married the son of my mom’s sister/aunt. We figured out at one family reunion that these cousins were first cousins, first cousins once removed and second cousins all at the same time.
11. If you watch an old episode of Rick Steve’s travel show called “Royal London” you will see me explain how the whispering gallery works in St Paul’s London. We ran into him and his two person crew while we were there. Coincidently the last time we were at St Pauls we were interviewed for a series on Discovery Channel about the human body, but I have not seen that series air.
12. One of the ways that my wife and I got to know each other was doing a late night (1-4am Sunday morning) radio show on WRPI with the Christian group we were members of. It is the only radio host experience I have.
13. I have been on 5 continents. I have seen the coast of South America from the Caribbean. I have not seen Antarctica.
14. I worked on Apple’s Newton although I was not on the Newton team per say. I wrote the email application and one had business cards (ok I still have most of them) that say “Newton Mailman”. I worked for Apple’s Online Services which also created AppleLink (before my time) and eWorld (I managed the Mac and Windows clients also).
15. I have worked in two startup companies. The first was Momenta and it failed in spectacular fashion. We put a product (a pen based computer with a Smalltalk operating environment) on the cover of Byte magazine, PC Magazine in Germany, Personal Computing, etc and then ran out of money. My second startup is still alive after 12+ years but went from 4 employees to 256 to 15 to around 70-80. It was a dot com that managed not to die.
16. I have performed in musicals in community theatre (at our church) in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Littlest Angel (The Gatekeeper), Beauty and the Beast (Lumiere), Fiddler on the Roof, Anne of Green Gables (Mathew), You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown (shaved my beard to play Linus), Cinderella (the King), Children of Eden (Father) and Mashuganas. My favorite review was when the local paper described my 40ish self as “30ish”. I think they may have said nice things about my performance as well.
17. I also write songs, mostly about my faith. I do play guitar but I am not really a musician.
18. I love photography, mostly travel photography. I don’t usually buy souvenirs, but I do drive my family and travel companions crazy taking pictures. Some of my photos I have made into travel posters in my online store.
19. I am a TV addict. If it is on in the room I will watch it. At least with Tivo I am not just watching what is on. To get things done I leave the room.
20. I hate not knowing things and I have a good memory. I love history, science, technology, etc. I am a font of useless knowledge. My wife assures me that “I heard that” and “I learned that” are not synonymous for most people. Names I have a harder time remembering.
21. I like studying languages and have studied German, French, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Russian, Mandarin, Swahili and Turkish. I only speak English fluently (when sufficiently caffeinated), but can get by in Spanish. In most of the other languages I can still remember how to say “I don’t speak your language very well”. You would be surprised how far that gets you. I can spell better in a few other languages than I can in English, but I swear this language was broken when I found it.
22. I grew up being told I was a picky eater and then found later on that I like a lot more things than my parents do, but I like more spicy and bold flavors than they do. I love Indian, Mexican, Greek, Turkish, Italian and French food in particular. I did grow up eating fish 3 times a week. Fish I don’t care for. I don’t like bitter tastes so I have never developed a taste for either coffee or beer. I do enjoy wine and as a programmer I get my caffeination from tea and Diet Coke.
23. Perhaps not coincidentally according to my doctor’s height vs weight chart I am, at 6 foot 3 inches, too short, but I am working on it.
24. I volunteer with Correctional Institute Chaplancy teaching a bible study on Tuesday nights in San Jose’s juvenile hall in a lock down unit for violent offenders. I know more gang members and murders than the average person.
25. I can clap with one hand.