Friday, January 19, 2007

Five funny things about me

I decided to answer this meme, just because it's Friday. You be the judge about how funny (either strange, or ha-ha) they are, though I don't think they're quite at the level of the things on Susan's list.

(1) When I was around four years old, the kid across the street, Stevie Radle, and I decided it would be a good idea to lock ourselves out of my parents' house while they were out for a walk. I don't know why, but we thought this was a pretty fun game, at least until they came back. They hadn't brought any keys with them.

(2) During high school, I was an intern at the local university's planetarium. We put on shows, took visitors up to the observatory, and went down to the Connecticut shoreline at odd hours to view Halley's Comet. As a result, I got seriously interested in astronomy and, for a while, thought of majoring in it in college. Alas, I didn't care for the hard-core physics stuff, so that went by the wayside. I did, however, get to know constellations and their stories extremely well. I even pasted glow-in-the-dark stars in constellation patterns all over my bedroom ceiling. When the lights went out, the winter night sky - Orion, Taurus, Canis Major - came into view. Houseguests (like my grandmother) who slept in my bedroom after I moved out were kind of spooked by this.

(3) I have a weird photographic memory for books, titles, and cover art. Normally I only need to see a title/author combination once, even if it's just on a shelf at Borders, to have it register and stick. This information usually has no practical purpose, but it comes in handy for trivia contests or when people play the "I know it's by so-and-so and has a blue cover" game. It's also useful when I need to find a book on my shelves at home. Unfortunately, this ability doesn't extend to remembering people's names or faces. By the time a student's left the reference desk, even if I've been helping them for 15 minutes, I've already forgotten what they look like unless it's someone I've worked with a lot.

(4) I made some extra money one holiday season by working at a mall music store. They had a really bad selection of jazz, blues, and folk music, among other things. Not a surprise. I was a big folk music fan, and sometimes got into conversations with customers about our favorite groups. I'd even happily refer them to a store with a much wider choice of CDs if they had trouble finding what they wanted at the mall and didn't want to wait for a special order. A couple people asked me if my boss knew I was making referrals to their competitors. "Of course," I said, untruthfully. I didn't realize what a stroke of business genius this was, not having seen how it worked for Mr. Macy in Miracle on 34th Street yet.

(5) My first ever official publication was a humor piece called "Are You an Internet Nerd?", which got accepted to the Usenet group rec.humor.funny back in 1991, when I was in linguistics grad school. There are still copies floating around the web. I was real excited when the Electronic Frontier Foundation asked if they could reprint it in their online newsletter. Some of the references still make sense, amazingly.


  1. Anonymous10:04 PM

    Loved the Internet Quiz!

  2. Anonymous5:40 AM

    Wow, I can't believe you wrote an article about Internet nerd-dom all the way back in 1991 - I'm impressed! I'm absolutely certain I hadn't even heard of the Internet then.

  3. Yes, I'm a geek from way back... I got my first email account in '87 (Bitnet) which was my first year in undergrad. Just happened to be the right age, and enrolled at a technologically-aware university at the time.

    And thanks!

  4. Anonymous10:19 AM

    I like the quiz!
    I remember the distant days of Telnet and modems and the Joint Academic Network, and still occasionally read a few of the .rec newsgroups. I also remember when the company I worked for first got email. It only worked within the building, and the boss used to send a message and then walk down the corridor to make sure it had arrived.

  5. That's funny. That still happens at my workplace sometimes.

    It may be sort of ironic that I still use telnet and a modem. I don't like the web-based email system at EIU, so when I'm not at my desk (where I use Outlook) I telnet in and use Pine. And while I have a modem in my PC at home, it's hooked up with fax software, and that's how I send faxes out (mostly to publicity depts). I haven't been on Usenet in a long time though.

  6. Anonymous7:01 AM

    I'm such a nerd. I have five email addresses, two domains, two blogs, a LifeJournal, a website, a forum (plus being member of several) and a Photobucket accout; I can do HTML and CSS and am busy learning Java, and I've introduced email at my old job in 1993 (was the first to have it, lol) plus created our department's website back when you had to hand-encode every single HTML tag.

    But I still can't use a cell phone. Though that's due to the fact I don't friggin' care about the things. ;)

  7. Heh, yep. I can make calls on my cellphone but that's about it. And I still don't know how to program our VCR.

  8. Sarah, I worked at a planetarium too--way back in my youth--selling tickets and handling gift shop sales and covering projectionist duties during the film series. Consequently I knew how to turn the lights up and down. And I could also "turn on the stars" which gave me a feeling of great power.

    As a librarian, I know you'll share my joy at the opening/dedication of our new town library--which took place yesterday!

  9. Margaret, that's great news about your new town library!

    At the planetarium where I worked, I was mostly the little arrow that pointed out stars and outlined constellations. I did the narration once for one of the mythologically-based programs, but I'm a horrible storyteller (one big reason I don't write fiction) and it didn't come out real well.

  10. Sarah, I have that #3 thing, too. Only I can recall every face/name in my junior high school yearbook. I'm waiting to be in a convenience store when it's robbed, just so I can describe the culprit. At one point, I wanted to be one of those police artists, until I remembered that I hate cops.

  11. Yeah, probably not the best career choice then :)

    I can remember people from my high school and college yearbooks based on their photo, but when I'm at work, that ability vanishes. I even saw my across-the-street neighbor at the ref desk one evening (he was in an MA program here) and had no idea who he was, even after he came by and talked to me for a few minutes. I knew that he must know me, but I had no idea from where. Until about 10 minutes after he left, of course.