8 Random Things
Walrus tagged me, so here are 8 random facts that you may or may not know about me, in no particular order:
1. I once had a steer named Gizmo. In fact, Gizmo was the first steer I ever bought with my own money and raised myself (OK, so my sister and I actually split the cost). I bought him when he was 3 days old, for a whopping 75 bucks, I think, fed him for about a year and then… Um, I can’t remember if I sold him or if we ate him. Either way Gizmo became hamburger. Prior to Gizmo, I had named several other farm animals “Mikey.”
Update: Gizmo was not a steer when I bought him, of course. So Gizmo also has the distinction of being the first creature I’ve ever castrated. Fascinating, I know.
2. When I was a kid, I spent an unhealthy amount of time making up secret alphabets full of weird symbols and writing everything in my personal secret code. Honestly, I wasn’t a spy or anything. Just weird.
Update: I wish I still had those writings. I have no idea what I wrote about, but I was clearly up to something.
3. I used to really, really want a gun so I could be a hunter. Then one time I shot a bluebird sitting on top of a fence post with my Crossman pellet gun. Watching it flap helplessly to the ground, I promptly began to cry, and I cried the entire time while I buried it. The horror was just too much. I never wanted to shoot anything again.
Update: Yes, I’m a pussy.
4. Still, I wanted to go to the Air Force Academy and be a pilot. I don’t think it occurred to me that it meant I might have to shoot things, specifically people. I even recall writing to John Glenn, who was a Senator from Ohio, to request his recommendation to the academy. I can’t remember now whether I got a recommendation or not, but I had changed my mind by the start of my senior year.
Update: I’m pretty sure I got the recommendation. I think I changed my mind because I heard they make you do push-ups.
5. My first computer was a Commodore VIC-20, given to me by my parents for Christmas 1981. C’mon, a whopping 5K of RAM! My second computer was of course a Commodore 64, with an unimaginable 64K of RAM. And I loved Commodore so much that I even convinced my mom to split the cost of an Amiga when it was introduced.
Update: I didn’t see an IBM PC until I went to college.
6. I taught myself 6502 assembly language from some little paperback book that cost $8 at an Electronics Boutique store in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus is a couple hours drive from the farm, so a trip to Electronics Boutique was a real geek treat. I couldn’t afford an assembler, so I wrote my programs out on paper and manually converted the assembly code to decimal values that could be POKEd into memory. That, my friends, is programming.
Update: I eventually got an assembler when Compute!’s Gazette magazine published the code for one. I spent days typing it in. What a bitch!
7. I was on Safety Patrol in 5th and 6th grades. There was only one reason to be on Safety Patrol (aside from the cool orange belt and shiny badge), and that was the annual Safety Patrol field trip to Washington, D.C. I took along a little Kodak 110 camera that I bought at Fisher’s Big Wheel especially for the trip, and I remember being so blown away by the photos. I took those? I kept those photos in their own little drawer and took them out over and over and over to look at them. That, as I recall, was the start of my love of photography although it was really another 15 years before I took it up as a hobby.
Update: I wish I still had those pictures! There was one in particular — a shot of the soldiers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier — that sticks in my mind.
8. I was a vegetarian for about 6 years in my 20s. I became a vegetarian for a girl. Shameful, I know. Being a vegetarian wasn’t really so bad except for the incessant corned beef sandwich cravings.
Update: I eventually broke the spell by treating myself to a Gruben sandwich from Grum’s sub shop in Cleveland Heights. Highly recommended!