D'Glenn (dglenn) wrote,

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One Hundred Things

I wasn't going to do this because it seemed like just another narcissistic/exhibitionist LiveJournal exercise, and goodness knows I'll have plenty of opportunities to play that game, usually in smaller, more manageable pieces. But then I read a few of my friends' "100 things" posts, and realized how cool it was to learn a bunch of new things about them, and started thinking that maybe there's some merit to this meme after all.

Well, I found it harder than I expected to be. I kept getting stuck and not being able to come up with things that aren't already common knowledge about myself. And also, I found it an interesting exercise for getting me to notice some things about myself, so now I'm glad I did this. But it did take me four days.

  1. I first tried to learn piano years before I was introduced to recorder and xylophone, and probably about a decade before I first touched a guitar. I still don't play piano.
  2. I do own a piano, a Fender-Rhodes electric piano that I find useful for composing and arranging even though I can't really play much on it.
  3. I was much more interested in banjo than guitar, until my family got a guitar. I still don't play banjo, either.
  4. I own a harmonica but I don't know where it is.
  5. I speak almost no Greek -- a few phrases in modern Greek and a tiny bit more of ancient Greek (bits of the Oddesey are familiar, and I can make sense of some fragments of the Bible, and I recognize Greek roots of English words all over the place) -- but there's still something reassuring about seeing street signs and billboards in Greek. I had no idea I felt that way until I visited Toronto and found myself reacting to the environment in the Greek part of town. It just felt right somehow. Comforting.
  6. Similarly, I didn't know I felt strongly about Greek / Middle Eastern food until the first year a Persian food vendor showed up at Pennsic. (Mostly the same as Greek food with a few of the names changed.)
  7. I cannot remember what it was like to not know how to read English, though I do have an extremely fuzzy ten-second memory of learning my alphabet with the sandpaper letters in Montessori. I don't really remember reading not being extremely easy.
  8. I also cannot remember what it was like to not know the Greek alphabet, though I remember the fact of having had to learn it. And I remember thinking that lowercase lambda is a really nifty shape for a letter.
  9. And I can't remember how old I was when my father taught me to count in binary and convert back and forth between binary and decimal. I think he taught me octal at about the same time, but I'm pretty sure he waited a year or so to teach me hexadecimal. I think he was more comfortable in octal than in hex himself.
  10. I do remember teaching binary to my classmates sometime before fourth-grade age. When we were supposed to learn base-5, my reaction was, "Oh, like octal but with five instead of eight -- doesn't everybody know this?"
  11. I do recall fragments of my father's teaching me to read an IBM 80-column punch card (including letters and punctuation), though I don't remember how old I was the first time he showed me.
  12. I was on television as a child. (When I was very small, my class was televised. I don't remember being aware of any cameras, but I do recall watching my classmates on television when I stayed home sick.)
  13. I learned to swim reasonably young. The first stroke my mother showed me was the dogpaddle, followed by the "keep your head out of the water" variation of the breast stroke. I quickly adapted that into the "at the bottom of the pool" version of the breast stroke because I found underwater more interesting than the surface. I don't know how old I was, but I'm pretty sure I was less than three feet tall (based on what part of the pool I remember standing on tiptoe in).
  14. Drowning is about the most horrid death I can imagine, because water has been my friend for so long, and having water kill me would feel like a betrayal.
  15. I flunked beginner swimming lessons three times because I cannot do the Australian Crawl, nor float in place on my back. Fortunately I was permitted to take advanced-beginner and intermediate lessons anyhow, each of which I aced. I still can't do the crawl, despite understanding the mechanics of it just fine.
  16. The first time I remember kissing a girl on the lips, She and I were about six. And yes, I was crazy about her.
  17. I haven't been able to completely express in words the reasons that I became a vegetarian, only various bits and pieces of the reasons.
  18. My senior project in high school was on hypnosis, and that was when I learned to hypnotize people. (I'm not especially good at it, but I can do it. I succeed about as often as a professional fails.)
  19. I used to write very small. Some classmates and I held contests to see who could print legibly in the tiniest letters. We got our printing so small that we had to re-sharpen our pencils for each word in order to make lines fine enough. One of my seventh-grade teachers insisted that I write larger, and that was when my handwriting started getting really messy. (I think my handwriting may finally be improving again though.)
  20. Consequently, when I need to write extra-neatly, I write smaller than usual. In college I used to get two or three lines of notes per line of narrow-rule paper when I could afford to slow down enough.
  21. I am constantly disappointed by not being able to find narrow-ruled paper these days (college-ruled is just enough larger to fail to satisfy me).
  22. Though I shaved my chin for several months in 1980, I have never shaved my upper lip.
  23. I have shaved my legs, but not recently.
  24. I think penes (or "penises" if you prefer) are inherently silly.
  25. Words formed by sticking a Greek root and a Latin root together often annoy me.
  26. I'm less secure about my artistic ability than I often appear, especially my composing and songwriting. I do feel pretty good about musical performance most of the time, but I'm still often slightly startled when someone tells me I write well, and I'm always worried that my photographs aren't going to be good enough (for some value of "good enough").
  27. I'm shy. This shouldn't qualify as a "thing you probably don't know" about me, but many of the people who do know it don't believe it. I'm less shy than I was five years ago, which in turn is less shy than ten years before that, but mostly I've just learned coping strategies so as to not appear as shy.
  28. One of my heroes is Odysseus, because he visited many lands, met many people, and learned their ways. But my shyness holds me back from emulating him. (Well, that and my not having a shipload of soldiers under my command and a god seriously pissed off at me, but those aren't the point here...)
  29. Related to #27, I hate making phone calls. I really hate calling strangers or organizations.
  30. When I could still afford a subscription to Scientific American I used to enjoy going through the table of contents and noting which headlines would've sounded like science fiction a year earlier.
  31. As a child, I wanted to grow up to be a scientist so I could discover a cure for diabetes. Or a race car driver. (My father was diabetic.)
  32. In high school I had dreams of eventually earning multiple PhDs. As it worked out, I never finished my BS.
  33. In eighth grade I was already looking forward to being allowed to take calculus in twelfth grade.
  34. My Montessori teacher worried that she had not done enough to prepare me for later mathematics. In fact, all the way through first year algebra I kept noticing parallels to things I remembered from Montessori.
  35. I learn things most quickly when I'm teaching them at the same time. This probably explains part of my being so good at math in high school. Once I got a reputation for being good at math, other students came to me for help. Helping them with the homework I'd forgotten to do, or teaching them the concepts from the previous day that hadn't yet completely gelled for me, gave me an extra chance to have it all make sense to me. When I went to college, I had to learn to study on my own again, because I didn't already have that reputation there.
  36. On more than one occasion I've taught or explained things that I didn't know at all before I started teaching them. It felt like I was pulling the knowledge out of the air, but I figure I was probably just interpolating and extrapolating like mad on a just-barely-subconscious level. When I've gone back to check afterwards, what I've taught has been correct. So whatever the trick, it works. The one time I did it completely consciously, I was being paid to instruct new users on a pile of Macintosh software I'd never seen before. That time I was aware that most of my answers came from thinking, "Well the Macintosh way of doing this would be to put it under this menu, and that looks like a reasonable name for it, so I bet if we do this..." and the rest were from staying a few pages ahead in the manual.
  37. I find Reverse Polish Notation calculators much easier to use than algebraic-notation ones.
  38. It's possible to put me into a trance-like state by stroking my skin the right way.
  39. (Some folks already know this...) Since high school or college, I've wanted to play electric washtub bass in a rock band. I've got an idea how to build an electric washtub bass, but I haven't gotten around to testing it. Something about the juxtaposition of washtub and rock really appeals to me.
  40. My second band was called "Jason and the Breakfast Sandwiches Without Ham". We composed a couple of pieces (I think one was called "Penguin Arising from the Depths") and rehearsed a bit but never got out of the dorm.
  41. I don't think my first band ever had a name, and it accomplished even less. We were going to be a punk band -- our guitarist was not able to sound "dirty" enough, and I couldn't sound angry enough on vocals. But I did spend a lot of time practicing "Brand New Cadillac" by The Clash, trying to get my voice to sound right.
  42. I wasn't the leader of either band.
  43. I don't try to be a matchmaker, but I've somehow wound up putting several long-term couples together anyhow, including at least two marriages.
  44. In junior high school, I used to fall asleep at night praying for God to change me in my sleep so that I would be a girl when I woke up. Some mornings I was afraid to check, because I didn't want to face the disappointment if I was still a boy.
  45. In high school I used to suffer a peculiar waking apnea most mornings. I would get up, dress, brush my hair, and at some point realize that it had been a couple of minutes since the last time I'd taken a breath. The first few times it sort of freaked me out, but there was no discomfort or dizziness -- it wasn't that I couldn't breathe, just that I wasn't breathing. After a while I learned that if I ignored it, I'd start breathing again half a minute or a minute after noticing that I'd stopped (for a total of one to three and a half minutes without a breath). This would happen every day for about a month, then not happen for a while, then start again.
  46. What happened in #45 was the opposite of the athsma attacks I suffered a little younger (official diagnosis "nearly athsmatic", IIRC, but knowing what I now know about athsma, I think that phrasing was just to keep me from being pulled out of sports). I remember struggling for each breath, afraid that the muscles in my chest were just going to get too tired to draw the next one, lacking the strength to call out to my parents for help, convinced that I would die before morning. Sometimes my parents would hear my breathing and come help. Sometimes they didn't. Somehow when morning rolled around and I wasn't dead after all, I convinced myself that complaining too much about something that hadn't actually killed me would be "making too much of a fuss, to get attention", so I downplayed the fear.
  47. My favourite cheese is halloumi. (Hmm. That always looks wrong in this alphabet.) But just try finding that in most grocery stores in the US.
  48. I really like coloured lights.
  49. I don't think of my life as being all that exciting or fascinating; I just think of it as not staying boring for too long at a stretch. I've got all these cool stories of adventures and exeriences and larger-than-life friends, and I get to do fun stuff like play music on stage, but I experience my life in real time -- the hours of sleeping, cooking, writing email, working, doing laundry, driving, shopping, etc. It sounds much more exciting when someone asks me about the things I do and have done, and I just describe the interesting bits. It's not until I see others' reactions to hearing about my life that I remember that I've fit more than my share of cool stories into the time I've been on Earth so far. But that still doesn't mean that every day it's exciting to be me, which is the impression I think some people get.
  50. Yes, even that part vibrates.
  51. I love Ethiopian food, and Indian food. And pizza.
  52. I had a lot of nicknames in college. At one point my friends and I counted over thirty nicknames or variations on my name that people often called me. That was where I started being called "D'Glenn" or "DaGlenn", from people saying "D. Glenn" quickly.
  53. One of my college nicknames was "Captain Video" because some people thought I knew too much about Saturday morning cartoons. I didn't know as many cartoons as some of the other folks around, but I had strong opinions about the ones I knew. (I don't like it when they decrease the frame rate, fail to synchronize characters' mouths with the dialogue, or make the background absolutely static as though you're watching a play shot with one fixed camera instead of a movie.)
  54. Another college nickname was "Moonunit", which many of you already know. That one actually persisted for a while after college.
  55. I had a doppelganger in College, except that neither of us (nor any of our friends) thought we looked at all alike. Strangers, acquaintances, and even his professors constantly got us confused. For the first half of my first semester, many people didn't even realize there were two of us. We got some priceless double-takes when people saw us sitting together for the first time. He was the one who gave me the nickname "Moonunit".
  56. The fastest I've ever driven is about 130 MPH (as timed by counting the tenth-of-a-mile markers I was passing).
  57. When learning a new instrument that's not too similar to ones I already play (e.g. this wouldn't apply to a fretted stringed instrument), the first tunes I try to pick out on it are usually Christmas carols or "Simple Gifts", because those are some of the tunes I've known the longest, and I can see the sheet music in my head, to try to make the correspondence between fingering and notes connect. When picking up a new instrument that has a lot in common with instruments I already play, I usually start with Playford tunes or something medieval.
  58. The song I worked on the longest to learn to sing it on pitch consistently is "The Quest", words by Kipling, music by Fish. I'm probably way out of practice now, but I used to sing it to myself over and over and over when I was printing training manuals, working on getting all the intervals right. I'm still not happy with my voice, or with my pitch accuracy, but working on "The Quest" for several months made a huge improvement. Then again, that was twenty years ago, and I've not done as much work on my voice as I should since then. Maybe that'll have to be my second New Year resolution, after "see my friends face-to-face more often".
  59. I do have a "type", a set of features I find especially attractive in a woman, but I habitually dodge the question when someone asks me what "my type" is. I do this because "my type" describes which strangers I'm likely to have the most trouble not staring at but doesn't have very much to do with whom I fall in love with. Only one of my ex-lovers has matched the description (though several have had one or two attributes), and I figure there's never been any point in putting the information out there where a future lover will see it and feel inadequate. (Honestly, the question has most often come from women I was romantically involved with when they asked, and it's much safer to deflect the conversation to what I like about them than where my eye would be drawn if we weren't together. Once I'm involved with someone, I'm much more interested in looking at her than at strangers anyhow. I still notice others, but I get more of a thrill looking at my partner.)
    59a This doesn't get a whole number to itself because I'm pretty sure it's not in the "things you probably don't know" category: What is important to make a woman attractive to me is that we communicate well. She has to be smart, interested in just enough of the same things that we understand each others' metaphors and slang, interested in communicating, and someone I feel safe opening up to. Eye candy makes a brief diversion; mind candy holds my attention. (Though I certainly don't complain when both show up in the same package.)
  60. I have not met many visually ugly people. I've met more-attractive and less-attractive people, but not many I could call ugly. The only examples I can call to mind this instant were seriously sick or injured, and they might have looked a whole lot better when they were well. But I've probably met other examples and forgotten about them.
  61. I have several friends more beautiful than the supermodels and superstar actresses I hear people drooling over. And most of those gorgeous friends are probably scratching their heads wondering whom I'm talking about, because they don't see it themselves.
  62. I've never entirely understood fantasizing about a distant celebrity. People I've met, whose personalities I know, are much more interesting to fantasize about.
  63. I would much rather read dirty stories than look at dirty pictures.
  64. When I do read dirty stories, the quality of the writing matters far more than the particular actions described. I've gotten off on well-written stories about acts I would find disgusting in real life, and I've been bored to tears by stories about things I know I enjoy doing.
  65. My favourite spice for the past several months has been basil. (N.b.: The way I and several of my friends cook, garlic is not a spice; it is a vegetable.)
  66. I have difficulty saying what my favourite thing of a category is, because my favourite often changes with mood or context. I can say that my favourite colour is blue, that my favourite season is autumn, or that my favourite carbonated soft drink is malta (no, not Cel-Ray celery soda, but that does make top five list), but my favourite song changes from hour to hour, and I wouldn't know where to start choosing my favourite city, favourite instrument, favourite food, or favourite genre of music.
  67. The first song I remember being my favourite song was "Downtown" (Petula Clark). I'm not sure what my favourite song is now.
  68. I played varsity soccer in high school. I was a fullback. Usually left. I thought (and still think) that my coaches (I also played junior varsity before that) were exactly right in putting me at that position, considering both my weaknesses and my strengths. And my attitude and inclination. I still think of myself as a soccer player even though I haven't kicked a ball in fifteen years or more. I also played intramural soccer in college, and wound up designing/coaching our team's defense. I designed a defense that did not rely on the halfbacks one whit (we had three fullbacks), and we got scored on only once or twice in two seasons.
  69. I also played intramural floor hockey and basketball in college. I knew nothing about floor/street/ice hockey before I got talked into joining a friend's team. I wound up holding a left-handed stick right-handed and using my backhand whenever possible, because that was how I had the most accuracy. (Come to think of it, my backhand is more accurate than my forehand in table tennis as well ... but that's not saying much.)
  70. I have played field hockey. Four times, IIRC. It's far more frightening than football or floor hockey. I'll explain that later if it isn't obvious.
  71. As a child, I tried to start a backyard four-man tackle football league.
  72. I used to love chess, though I was never more than basically competent at it. (Either that, or I was playing against people who were really good.) Now I prefer Othello (aka Reversi) and backgammon. Once in a while I have a hankering for a game of chess, but I haven't played in ages.
  73. I do have a favourite tea: Earl Grey.
  74. I have broken bones five times that I know about for sure, and one more that I'm not sure about. (It was a toe, and the school nurse said that the treatment would be the same whether an X-ray showed a break or not, so there was no point in doing the X-ray.) On the other hand, my ankles seem to be somewhat sprain-resistant. (I think I sprained an ankle once, but I've escaped a great many situations where those around me couldn't understand how I managed to not sprain my ankle.)
  75. I am good at dodgeball. Or at least I was the last time I checked.
  76. I have relatives on at least three continents, and in six countries that I can think of. I never see most of them.
  77. I was baptized Greek Orthodox.
  78. I don't dislike my first name; I just like teasing the people who don't know what the 'D' stands for. (Stock answer: "Da One And Only".) Going by my middle name was just a way to avoid the potential confusion from having the same name as my father, and it's what I've always been used to calling myself.
  79. As a child, I used to get lost in the dictionary: I'd look up a word, and something in the etymology would catch my eye, so I'd look up something else, and flipping pages on the way to that I'd see a completely unrelated interesting-looking word that I'd want to investigate, and the definition would remind me of something I'd meant to look up days ago but hadn't gotten around to, and so on, and so on, and suddenly forty five minutes had passed. Eventually I learned to go find a comfy spot on the couch before opening the dictionary. I'm sure lots of people reading this did similar things, but it's not something that comes up in conversation often.
  80. I can't stand Dewey Decimal. Library of Congress shelf numbers are familiar and comfortable.
  81. It bugs me to hear "kilogram" used as a unit of weight even though I know that it's technically correct. (My dictionary lists "the weight of one kilogram of mass in standard gravity" as the second definition.) When I think of weight, I think of either pounds or newtons. But if you say something "masses ninety kilograms" instead of "weighs", I'm happy. Similarly, it bothers me to hear the "weight" of a spacecraft described, since its weight depends on its location. Tell me its mass instead.
  82. I make really good vegetarian chili.
  83. Twenty years ago I aspired to become a computer programmer for the CIA or NSA and play with a Cray. (I did apply to NSA once, but didn't get a job.)
  84. Many of the things I like either straddle categories or combine them. E.g. J.S. Bach who some call one of the last early music composers and others consider one of the first classical composers. Or Mannheim Steamroller, a fusion of classical, jazz, and rock. "Gilmore Girls", which isn't quite a sitcom but isn't quite not one either (it's closer to being a sitcom than "Boston Public", a drama with enough humour and absurdity to be mistaken for a comedy by some folks who then complained it was too serious, but it's still part soap-opera, part drama, part commentary on relationships, and not quite safely in the situation comedy box). Even my computing environment, which involves using Windows and MacOS mostly to manage the telnet and X sessions through which I access Linux and UNIX.
  85. Two of the best known names in the open-source / hacker community, I think of first by the instruments they play and then by their work with computers. (Because I met them musically first, before finding out what else they did.)
  86. The next instrument I learn is likely to be the Celtic harp. I've been wanting one for several years, and each time a friend lets me play one, I'm a tiny bit better at it.
  87. Something I've told several people, but there's always somebody surprised to hear it: if sex reassignment surgery could give me a functioning womb, unlike today's technology, it would be a lot easier for me to figure out whether that's the direction I want to go. If there were an operation that would not just change my geometry, but actually make it possible for me to bear a child, I'd lie to the pshrinks if I had to do so to get approved for it. The miracle of being able to carry a child into the world is one component of my "Venus envy".
  88. I use a mouse right-handed despite being left-handed. I did try it on the left first, and was surprised to find I had more control with my right hand (and also, I'm slightly faster at typing one-handed with my left, so it made sense for my right to be the one off the keys). But I do wish I had a keyboard with the numeric keypad on the left.
  89. My first exposure to anything with a typewriter style keyboard was a completely mechanical typewriter -- something I'm guessing I share with about half of the people reading this.
  90. My first exposure to a calculator was an electromechanical one. It was my father's, and my siblings and I used to enjoy playing with it. I especially loved setting up long multiplication problems and watching it chugchugchug its way through all the steps. That sucker was loud. (What I'm talking about is basically the same as the old crank-operated calculators, but with an electric motor instead of the lever.)
  91. I don't feel like I know Huge Amounts Of Stuff -- I'm not usually all that aware of how many things I know until somebody asks me a question or I start explaining something and all this information tumbles out. It's kind of like how I forget what songs I know until someone requests one or something reminds me of one. I'll be able to think of maybe a half dozen songs I know, but once I get rolling, many more come out. That's how I am with general knowledge.
  92. The other reason I don't feel like I know Huge Amounts Of Stuff is that I hang out with people who know as much as I do, and frequently a lot more, and are as intelligent as I am or more. In my usual social context, most of the time my knowing something is unremarkable -- useful and possibly interesting if the person next to me doesn't know it, but not surprising to anyone. It doesn't seem like a lot of information until something happens to make me realize just how much is stuffed into my head.
  93. I do not have eidetic ("photographic") memory in the sense that I hear the term most often used (I do have certain images burned into my brain), but I sometimes find it useful to try to access information as though I did. I can't call up a detailed, readable image of a page of a book, for example, but I can sometimes call up a blurry one and remember that the fact I want is in the third paragraph and maybe use that as a trigger for remembering what the fact is.
  94. I am much closer to being able to call up mental images of sheet music than anything else one might "read", and occasionally do resort to "sight reading" a sheet of music in my head when trying to simultaneously remember a part I don't really have memorized, transpose it to another key, and play it on an instrument I don't usually use for that part. It does slow me down considerably to be doing all that conscious processing. This is how #57 works.
  95. I can sometimes reconstruct visual scenes to create an image-memory even though I can't just click the picture into my mind. It's sort of like watching the scene assemble itself piecemeal -- a large conifer fades into view on the left, then the grass between me and it takes on shape and colour, etc. ... I wonder whether this is true for most people. And now that I'm thinking of it, I also wonder whether the details fade in in the same order that I first noticed them when viewing the scene in real life.
  96. I also experience a curious sort of not-quite-synesthesia. I don't see an orange triangle when I hear a particular note, but I do get a sense of something "sounding orange" or "sounding blue" or "sounding tangy", and there's a sense of having gotten a visual or taste cue from my ears instead of my eyes or mouth (though my tongue does often feel like it's just finised tasting something when a taste cue comes in through a different sense). Or a colour from my tongue. Or a tactile impression of something distant, from my eyes. (This is distinct from the fibromyalgia related hyperacute hearing that turns many loud sounds into physical pain.) Is there a word for this? Or is this another kind of synesthesia, or maybe even normal? (I don't know how other people experience the world.) I don't experience this every moment, but it's often enough to be a typical aspect of my sensorium, not a freaky once-in-a-blue-moon event. Even if a sound isn't consciously registering as having a particular colour at the moment, if you were to ask me what colour the sound was, I could usually (but not always) answer. (The CPU fan in the Windows NT machine to my right, for example, is making a green sound. A bright, light green, something close to R:DA G:FC B:92, but more transparent. It didn't register as a colour until I picked it out of my environment to use as an example, at which point the colour of the sound became obvious. BTW, the sound of the power supply fan is red -- about the colour of chili powder.)
  97. I took mescaline once, more for education than recreation, a little over a decade and a half ago. I learned quite a bit, but have never felt the need to repeat the experiment. Most of what I learned was about how sensory input is processed. While I was tripping, I was fascinated by taking apart the hallucinations to figure out how each was produced, and was able to connect nearly all of them to real sensory inputs and figure out how that information was being perverted into the hallucinations. (I'm pretty sure the bugs crawling over everything -- which I willed to turn into itty bitty teensy weensy mice because I don't like bugs -- were actually blood cells moving across my retina.)
  98. I overanalyze. Oh, wait, that's not a "thing you probably didn't already know." Oh well; I'm running out of things my friends don't already know. (Though perhaps I should write a "100 things I think lots of my friends know but other people might not" post later?)
  99. It has taken me four days to compile this list.
  100. Donald.

I got stuck in the mid-twenties, then a day later I thought I'd run out of things in the low sixties, and again in the high seventies. But now I can go do something else.


  • QotD

    ( @unclebobmartin, on the future of programming ) deadjournal dreamwidth insanejournal

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    ( Henry Rollins, on listening to music ) dreamwidth deadjournal insanejournal

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    ( Edith Sitwell, on difference ) deadjournal dreamwidth

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