FAQ stands for "Frequently Asked Questions."
I used to have a RAQ—"Rarely Asked Quentions"—because I got neither enough visitors nor enough questions to put up a FAQ, so a RAQ had to do. However, recently I have received more questions, etc., so I figured it was time to change this to a FAQ. This FAQ simply consists of useless data about yours truly.
This FAQ contains so-called "public-domain" information about me—you know, stuff that is easy to obtain if you are the sick sort of individual who stalks others... but I digress. Beyond that, it includes information that, while not as easily available, is stuff I would gladly tell you if you asked. I will not post things such as my Social Security Number, my drivers licence number, my passport number, etc.
Nah. As I stated above, all this information is freely available and/or of little use to marketing types and stalkers. This FAQ is much less personal than many other such pages you’ll find online—I’m not going to bare my soul for all to see. If this is too much for you, you can always leave.
Without giving out addresses and such:
Not too many places; here’s the list:
This just explains the type of work I’ve done:
I’ve also managed to not get jobs. For example, Burger King rejected me, and Dairy Queen wouldn’t even give me an interview (either time that I applied). I had to turn down a cushy bell-boy job in McCall, Idaho one summer because of a trip to Rhode Island. As you can see, I’ve held very few jobs—none of them “real”... that’s why I’m still in school!
I had a happy childhood. No, really, I did. I know, this is hard to believe. Almost every personal page out there tells you of personal tragedy and how the author’s life was f**ked up until s/he left home, found god, started taking medication, etc. In contrast, my parents were good to me, and my life has been rather easy. Of course, there is a down-side to all this. For example, many of the f**ked up people I read about and/or know have really interesting—if rather strange—families (for those who know me—think Tennessee). As a result, my life hasn’t been as interesting as those of some people I know. I’ll just have to live with it.
As for school itself, I liked it and I did well in it—after all, American schools aren’t that difficult (though neither are German schools, truth be told). I had to go through speech therapy for a while because I’d knocked out my four front teeth when I was four, and the new ones started growing in when I was in the 1st grade. My favorite grade was probably the 4th. I rarely got into trouble, but there were a few occasions... (if you ask nicely, I’ll tell you). Since I was the ‘big’ kid in school, no one ever picked on me. I have never been in a fight, although I came pretty close once (the 5th and 6th grade classes tried to set one up for me once...), and I had a perfect attendance record through many of my years in school. Yes, I was—and am—a total and complete nerd/geek (evidence: voted most academic by my high school class).
I didn’t play sports as a child until the 4th grade, when I started playing soccer at school. In the 5th grade I joined a team. I also played basketball that year (and in the 8th grade). One summer was spent playing tennis, but not much ever came out of it. I also spent a summer on a swim team—I still have the ribbons and such somewhere. I mostly did the butterfly and medley races. In the 8th grade I also did track and field—I started with the discus and 400m race; I moved up to the discus, shot-put, and 200m race. In Germany in high school I played for a local soccer club—the best team I had every played with up to that point. After high school I went to Rhode Island to compete in the World Scholar Athelete Games; I have yet to play with a better team (regarding both the players and the team as a whole). Unfortunately, I don’t keep in touch with anybody from that group anymore.
At one point I was a Cub Scout, and later, a Boy Scout. I even went to camp one summer in McCall, Idaho. I used to enjoy it, even though while I was a Cub Scout our Den Mother was an absolute bitch (she picked on me because I had asthma). After a while in the Boy Scouts (evil organization that it is), I realized 1) our Troup wasn’t doing anything worthwhile (no leadership) and 2) I really didn’t believe in the institution itself (not that it doesn’t do some good things...)—so I quit. Back around the 1st grade I also started playing the piano. And no, I never practiced. Or at least not much. I was able to get by as it was, but in retrospect, I feel like an absolute ass—I love playing the piano, and I realize now how far I could have come if I’d actually put some effort into it. In the 6th grade I joined the school orchestra (for which the funding was eliminated the next year), where I played the violin. I switched to the viola a year later and took private lessons for a few years. And yes, I wish I had worked harder at that as well.
I used to draw a lot—that lasted up until college, and I’m trying to get back into it. I used to have a rather vivid and creative imagination. It’s gone now. Reading was—and still is—one of my favorite activities, and around the 6th grade I started writing. A lot. Mostly fiction (I’ve never been good at keeping journals). I decided back then that I wanted to become a writer when I grew up. Once I got into G/T (Gifted and Talented) I started programming—mostly BASIC and LOGO. I played with my friends at school (few as they were) and some of the neighbor kids in our subdivision. We also had sheep, rabbits and cows (in addition to the cats and dogs), and a nice garden and orchard; time was spent taking care of the animals and tending the vegetables and such (let me tell you about nursing baby calves at 6am when it’s 35 below...).
After graduating from college, I went on to graduate school. Logical enough step. Now I have my M.A. in German Literature. So what? you ask. I agree with you. There are no jobs for people like me, so I’ll continue and get my Ph.D. (I hope), and be even less employable than I am now. In any case, I love literature, I love learning, and I love teaching. I still want to become a writer, but I’ve done so little writing recently that it’s going to take a while to get back into it and get my prose back up to a reasonable level of quality. In any case, I doubt I’ll ever become a “real” writer, but one can dream ... right?
Adolescence and college were good to and for me. I went abroad as an exchange student in high school, and I went on two study abroad programs in college. If you are in high school or college, think about doing it (if you haven’t already), and if you are a parent with kids of the right age, think about encouraging them to get involved with study abroad and/or youth exchange. In college I also got to pursue fencing (for a short time)—a wonderful sport. Highly recommended.
I started using computers back in 1983 (3rd grade), but I never had access to a modem or anything like that. In the spring of 1992 I went to CeBIT in Hannover, Germany, and saw lots of neat computer “stuff.” Then, in the fall of ’92 (back in Idaho) I got online (doing work for a teacher at first), mostly just sending and receiving e-mail. In the spring of ’93 I got my own account; I was an intern at the Idaho Legislature and I was working for the Learning Links network (in coordination with Idaho Public Television) as a sort of “internet journalist.” Four of us covered the goings-on at the legislature and posted reports to Learning Links. In the fall of ’93 I went to college, got a college e-mail account, and had direct access to the Internet (via a shell account) for the first time. I never really got into MUDs and such (some of my friends did), but I was (still am) rather fond of TALK and PHONE. I read some news groups and such on occasion, and I enjoyed browing with GOPHER, but I hadn’t gotten involved with the Web at all—not until sophomore year when I used Mosaic and Netscape in the computer labs (let’s not forget Cello!). Then during my junior year I went abroad to Europe and used the Internet to keep in contact with my friends from college—it kept the phone bills low. In the spring of ’96 I wrote my first—rather lame—home-page (it stated: “This page is currently under deconstruction”). Back at school the next fall I got an ethernet connection in my dorm room, and had Netscape on my old 486. Oh yeah. That’s when I made my first “real” attempt at a home page (the next spring I went to a frames layout, which I later ditched). I also picked up my free account at GeoCities (evil, evil, evil). I’ve been in Madison since August of ’97. Pomona cancelled my account, since I was no longer a student there. I rewrote my site and renamed it “Helicon” at that point. It went through further revisions in the spring of ’98, and in May of ’99 I renamed the site (catalyst) and made slight adjustments; at that point I settled on the layout you see now. Simple and hopefully rather clear.
Perhaps, though I am reluctant to attempt to explain “my personality” in any great detail (e-mailing me is a great way to get more information), but I’ll throw out a few adjectives and other parts of speech:
It’s probably easier to deal with things in which I do not believe:
In contrast, I do believe:
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I am a graduate student. All we do is work, work, work ... So, for “work” I am supposed to read a lot, research my papers, participate in my seminars, etc. As for real work, I was on fellowship for two years, I then taught for two years, had a project assistantship for two years, and returned to teaching. I also do computer work. But it’s hardly a real job.
I’m a graduate student—I don’t have a life. I waste a lot of time online, mostly browsing and occasionally chatting with friends. When I’m not online, I like curling up with a good (even a mediocre) book—generally fiction, often sci-fi/fantasy, occasionally math/computer/science-oriented. I almost always have a CD or ogg files playing—I can’t live without music. If I’m at my computer, I might even be updating this site. I often write miscellaneous pages, such as for friends’ birthdays, etc. I am the president of MadLUG, the local Linux users group. I don’t get out much—a little sun could do me good ...
Read the rest of this site—that will give you some information. I doubt you’re terribly interested in me (there are more interesting personal pages out there), but if there is something you’re dying to know, you can always contact me and ask. Marketing types, spammers, etc., need not apply. However, if you’re hiring, please get in touch with me—especially if you’re paying a lot. Stalking me would not be a good idea.