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25 Things About Me (and about damn time...) - Peter Hentges

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March 10th, 2009

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11:59 pm - 25 Things About Me (and about damn time...)

Rules [as interpreted by me from the ancient scrolls]: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 things, facts, habits or goals about you. (Unless you’ve already done this.) At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If you don't know how to make a Note or how to tag people, you can ask me or you can just skip it.

25 Things About Me

  1. I am surprised and was a bit miffed that it's taken this long for someone to tag me for this thing. Is it because you all know all about me already? Is it because you think I'm boring? Then I got over myself and figured it was because you figured I had enough on my plate already without being bothered by silly 'net meme things. This is likely to be an interesting diversion, however, so I'm taking it up.
  2. My earliest memory is from the 1969 moon landing. I have a clear memory of sitting in front of a grainy black and white television image of a man making that first step on to the moon. I would have been a little over two at the time. I have no idea if this memory is based in reality or if it is something that I've manufactured over the years of having seen that and similar images. Either way, I hold on to it as something special in my life.
  3. I learned to read when I was three or four years old. This happened because my family lived in Corpus Christi, Texas at the time. My brother, two years older than I, would be going into first grade the following year and Texas had no kindergarten. So my mother called up her sister, a first grade teacher, and asked what a first-grader needed to know before starting school. She proceeded to teach my brother those things and I, being a typical younger brother, wanted to do everything my older brother did, so I learned too.
  4. When I was young, I had platinum blonde hair. My skin was so fair that I had to wear a t-shirt to go swimming, lest I get crazy sunburned. I wonder sometimes, if this contributed to my bookishness as a child or if it kept me from forming an early bond with the outdoors that others must enjoy. I seem to have suffered no long-term ill-effects, however, as I now enjoy time spent out-of-doors, though I do still need maximum-power sunscreen.
  5. I've worn glasses since I was at least five years old. Every school picture of me, therefore, has me wearing glasses. Without my glasses, I can see clearly for a distance of approximately four inches. Beyond that, things get increasingly blurry. I can still make out shapes and colors and do a fairly remarkable job of navigating through even unfamiliar terrain if necessary. My vision gets a bit better if I squint, but for the driver's license exam I can't even make out that the figures they show me are "Es," much less which direction they point.
  6. I think that my early intellectual development was balanced by a slower physical development. That is, I think I was a "late bloomer." When I went to my 11-year high-school class reunion, the man I remembered as the captain of the sports teams and as being taller than me was as surprised as I was that I then had an inch or two on him. I wonder if this will translate into a delay in further aging, of if I've now sort of caught up with where I'm supposed to be.
  7. I'm learning to program for the iPhone. It's been an interesting process as it's quite different from any other sort of technical pursuit that I've attempted. My goal in doing so is to make nifty little programs that people like enough to turn it into a passive income stream. Something to supplement whatever I end up doing full-time that also gives me something creative that I enjoy and something that gives me a reason to work with people I like.
  8. I think that if I had no other influences upon my sleep schedule, that I would end up sleeping on a crepuscular schedule. That is, I find myself most sleepy at time around dawn and dusk and quite happily awake and active either during the day or at night. Of course, things like work, loved ones, pets, interests and the like keep my schedule more fluid than that. Then there's also my narcolepsy, which makes me quite happy to have a nap pretty much whenever. I love naps.
  9. I started an absolutely dreadful fantasy novel in high school. It was all about my D&D characters and the adventures they were going to have. I don't have it any longer or I would dig it out and quote you some of what are assuredly humorous passages. I still think there is some fiction in me that's going to make it into print sooner or later. It just doesn't feel ripe yet. Or perhaps I haven't tended it enough to let it grow.
  10. My favorite author is Ursula K. Le Guin. I have read a great deal of what she has written and like nearly all of it. Of late, I find her command of story to be extraordinary. Where earlier works, even those lauded with awards, may have been uneven or lacking in one area or another, her dedication to her craft shows handsomely in her most recent works. Or maybe I'm looking at it with a more experienced eye. Either way, she astounds me and gives me something to aspire to with those story seeds that I'm harboring.
  11. When I found science fiction fandom after coming to college, it felt like coming home. Not only were these people a lot like me, they seemed to actually like me! And they were doing such fun things! What really hooked me, though was the music. I can't really say why, because I didn't have a particularly strong connection to music that I recognized before that. But when the song came around on the guitar and everybody sang along, I was hooked. It was exactly where I wanted to be and exactly like I wanted to feel. The rest of it came along later, but the music is still the center of that part of my family.
  12. I am insanely jealous of my friends who play guitar. If I could do half of what they could, I'd be happy. I studied music as a child, learning to play the trumpet and french horn. So I know just enough to recognize when something cool has happened and I played in school bands enough to know about listening to the rest of the group so you know what's going on with the whole piece. But I can't lead a song yet and don't have an instrument as versatile as a guitar that I can play well. So I have undertaken a 40-year plan to become an 80-year-old blues guitarist. Nearing the end of year two of this plan, I can report that I believe I can play the blues guitar at least as well as your average two-year-old.
  13. I would really like to have a job on the ISS. I don't have the scientist skills that would make me a good person to be there, but I think that my skills and knowledge of human-machine interfacing would be of some value. I can't relocate for work but still think now and again, that going to work on a project for the space station would be exciting and interesting.
  14. I was born in South Carolina and have lived in five states. Rhode Island, Texas, California and Minnesota, in addition to my birth state. Of the places I've lived, I like San Diego and Minneapolis best. I've put down roots here in Minneapolis and don't imagine that I'll live elsewhere for the foreseeable future. I used to travel and visit friends and relatives more than I do currently and I miss doing so. I particularly miss my friends in Seattle and the SF Bay area and there are others I've never visited on the east coast that I would like to. Internationally, I've visited Canada, England, Scotland, Belgium, Spain, Norway, and India, that I recall. I would happily return to any of them and have many other places I'd like to visit.
  15. I live with and care for a woman with several chronic illnesses. The big ones are COPD, MS, and diabetes. We got together after I bumped into her at a bus stop near my apartment after meeting her at a science fiction convention. She's transformed my life in ways I never expected. I think I'd probably be a sad, lonely, bitter man if it wasn't for her efforts; if I was alive at all. People sometimes ask me why I stay with her, given the difficulties. I don't think I've ever understood that question.
  16. I really came to love the birthday parties that I threw at Minicon all those years back. It all started when I was running Parties and the Tor party had some champagne left over that they donated to the Dead Dog Party. That night happened to coincide with my birthday, so I wandered the consuite offering champagne to my friends for my birthday. The following year and for several thereafter, I bought myself a chocolate cake, some champagne and threw myself a party. After a childhood of shyness, dreading having people sing happy birthday to me, it was empowering to take on throwing those parties for myself. I miss those parties and need to find something to do for my birthday again.
  17. I love big dogs. I currently have two Bernese Mountain Dogs who weigh in at a total of about 150 pounds. If I had my way, I'd have a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, a breed that regularly tops 100 pounds per individual. Newfoundlands, Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Mastiffs. I love them all. This surprises me a bit because all while I was growing up we had little dogs, Dachshunds, specifically. I've got nothing against little dogs, mind you, I just feel more companionship with larger dogs.
  18. I was over 25 years of age before I knew that I had an uncle named Kenneth. He was my mom's oldest brother and he died near his high school graduation in a tragic hunting accident. I think it speaks volumes for how my family operates that the subject of a dead uncle just never came up in all that time. Likewise, I have a cousin and an aunt who I am 99% certain are lesbians. No one talks about it. At least no one says anything negative about them, they just don't talk about their sexuality at all. In a way, it's kind of like how I'd like all such discussions to happen; we talk about them as people without the sexuality getting in the way. On the other hand, it seems like I'm cooperating in hiding a "dirty little secret" that isn't something that should be hidden. Thankfully, the partners of these women are also treated decently in the family.
  19. Despite my love of travel, I'm kind of a home-body. Without outside interaction, I'd probably stay at home, puttering about on the computer, playing with my dogs, watching movies, reading, cooking, and the like for weeks on end. It probably comes from moving around so much as a kid, having everything I know uprooted and shipped half-way across the country. I like having my place in the world, even if it isn't necessarily a physical place. I like knowing people and knowing where I stand with them. I like it when friends come by and I like bumping into people I know wandering the streets and skyways.
  20. For a good chunk of time I was a regular at Sherlock's Home, a local brewpub that is no longer in business. I had a group of people there that I saw every Wednesday and came to know a little. I got invited to special parties thrown by the owners. Every week when I came in, the bartender started pulling my pint before I sat down. Man, that was a great feeling. If you ever have the chance, become a regular somewhere. Go someplace at a regular, order the same thing every time, get to know your servers and tip them well. It's a bit like buying friends, but it can be the start of a wonderful friendship.
  21. While I tend to be shy and retiring by nature, there is one venue in which this has never been the case. When I work a booth at a game convention, I'm gregarious, talkative ... pushy even. I have a great time cajoling passers-by to see what we have to offer in the booth. I love running little demos of the games, or giving the canned spiel of what they're about. I like taking money and giving change. I like that people I know have a place they can find me and I like that friends that I hadn't had any contact with for the year prior can still find me, recognize me by the beard and sport coat (and, it used to be, my long braid), and start up that friendship all over again. I may just be a filthy huckster at heart.
  22. Throughout high school, despite living in a small northern-Minnesota town where there was literally nothing else to do, I did not drink alcohol. A few sips here and there, but I just really didn't like the taste of the stuff. I've become, somewhat ironically, a beer and whiskey snob as I've grown older. I know far more than is probably healthy about what goes into making beer and whiskey and I now enjoy the complexities of flavors and aromas they present. I've learned a little about wine, but not nearly enough to be a snob about it. My drink of choice is single-malt scotch but I enjoy Irish whiskeys and bourbons as well. Surprisingly, I drink very little when I'm home. It's a social thing for me so if I'm not seeing friends, I'll go weeks or even months without a drink.
  23. I play go, a board game rooted in China and Japan, sporadically. I am a half-decent amateur player, able to hold my own against quite a number of opponents if I'm playing regularly. If I don't play for a while, I fall into bad patterns and it takes a while to remember what I'm doing. I didn't like chess because my older brother was always better than me. I also didn't like that you had to memorize all those openings. Go has similar opening patterns but they tend to be simpler and more flexible. The strength I bring to the game is a calmness of mind and a willingness to play for the big picture. I will sacrifice small pieces of territory early to build influence that overwhelms my opponent in the end. I like the symmetry of this and the balance. I like the idea of yielding to build strength and of how attacking can make you weaker. There's a lot of philosophy in go.
  24. I believe I am evolutionarily predisposed to survive the cold. This makes it particularly miserable for me to be out in the cold if I'm not properly prepared or if I have to be so for great lengths of time. You see, the advantage evolution has given me is that the blood retreats from my extremities very quickly if they get cold. So I might be the guy to lose fingers or toes, but I'll be the last one to freeze to death! When I return to the warmth, the blood floods back into my distressed extremities quickly, causing my fingers to swell somewhat painfully. I am, understandably, reluctant to spend any length of time in the cold if I can avoid it.
  25. We reach the end of this list and I add an important note. I'm currently fighting to keep the house Ericka and I live in. Some recent good news (details coming in a bit) make this more likely and the extreme, unexpected generosity of friends and strangers make me very hopeful. Keep an eye out, though, as we'll be setting up some auction items in the next week. While we're out of the deepest part of the woods, we're not out of danger. Keep an eye on accessiblehouse and thank you to everyone that has helped so far. Whether it was with a job tip, a financial contribution or just your thoughts and prayers, you've made a big difference in my life and that's not something I forget.

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