Personal Information and Interests
Well, as conservative as I may be on the technical side, some folks have accused me of being rather flamboyant with my signature as seen to the left. And, before you ask -- no, I haven't been to that school that bank presidents attend to learn to sign checks in a manner that would be difficult to forge. The signature has developed from many iterations over many years all the way back to junior high school. Maybe it's a California thing ...
I was born on August 27th, 1953 in Los Angeles, CA. My parents moved us to West Covina, CA when I was very young. My sister and I attended parochial school there through my sixth grade and her fourth grade. Like most people, I still consider this town that I grew up in my "home town" even though I've only been back for a visit twice in forty some-odd years.
The summer before I started junior high school, my father decided that he needed to move back to his "home town" where he grew up. So, we packed the family up and traveled "back east" to West College Corner, IN. College Corner is a little town that sits right on the border of Indiana and Ohio whose main claims to fame are that the center court line for the high school gymnasium sits right on the state line and that it is a little extension town right up the road from Oxford, OH -- home of Miami University of Ohio.
We ended up in Oxford where I attended Stewart junior high, Talawanda high, and Miami University. Although I had once attempted to play the accordion as a young boy, it was in Oxford -- my junior year in high school -- where I really got interested in music. A friend of mine was in a band, invited me to one of the rehearsals, and after looking around I decided that I wanted to learn to play the drums.
Drumming almost seemed to come naturally for me. My mother used to like to kid me about how I would bang on tables, chairs, pots, pans -- nearly anything -- until I got my first set of drums. That first set was a red sparkle set of Ludwigs with snare, bass, one mounted tom and one floor tom. That set got me into my first "garage band" which played a few high school gigs and such around Oxford.
Southwest Ohio has produced a number of "name" musical acts and I felt very fortunate that my senior year social studies teacher was the wife of Bill Albaugh -- the drummer for the Lemon Pipers. At that point Bill had decided that he was done with the music business and wanted to get rid of his set which was a silver sparkle set of Ludwigs with snare, bass, two mounted toms, and one floor tom. My dad bought them for me and, boy, was I full of myself setting up for gigs around town with fibre cases that had the name Lemon Pipers stenciled on the outside.
In 1975 I was in a band that finally decided to try and do something with itself. The band was called Jabberwocky and we did some Yes, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, King Crimson, and the like. None of the local agents would have anything to do with us so we decided that a change was in order. We changed the band's name to RoundAbout (to maintain a little of our heritage), started playing popular, top-40 style music, and entered the local club circuit.
You might remember that this was the time when disco was popular and drummers were playing those see-through drums. Since we were trying to "do something with ourselves" I decided that I needed a new set of drums. So I went into debt and bought a blue Vistalite set of Ludwigs with snare, double bass, three mounted toms, and two floor toms. I took up about a third of the stage but, at the time, it was impressive looking.
Somewhere between the accordion and the drums I had a fascination with electronics. I took the only electronics course my high school offered and I became the electronics lab assistant one year. I read quite a bit and scanned the local magazine racks for electronic periodicals.
I believe it was in 1967 that I saw an issue of Popular Electronics that had a construction article for a completely electronic musical instrument called a Theremin. This rather unique instrument has neither strings nor keyboard. You don't strum it nor do you blow through it. Instead it has two antennae which, as you move your hands around, produces different volumes and tones. The Theremin has been used by movie studios and radio stations for years to produce sound effects for, typically, science fiction-type shows. But it has also been used seriously in many different styles of music, from classical to rock 'n roll, since its invention in 1918.
The electronics magazine article had an address for a company that sold the parts for a Theremin in a kit which I ordered, built, and played around with for several years. I had even considered looking into the possibility of using my cymbals as the antennae to play the Theremin as part of my drum solo. Maybe someday ...
I still enjoy playing music but my "professional" career has kept me from trying to do anything seriously. So I still enjoy playing along with music from my early days -- groups like Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Tower of Power, Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Chicago, and others. But there is one band that I enjoy listening to and playing along with more than any other; to this day my favorite band of all; and, in my opinion, one of the best American rock bands of all time: Grand Funk Railroad.
I met my wife, Judy, while I was in the in a little club that she frequented in a suburb of Cincinnati. We married in 1977 and have two children -- Mark (born in 1978) and Mindy (born in 1981). And, yes, we named them that way on purpose. Judy likes to tell the story of how she went into labor during the evening after watching an episode of Mork and Mindy. She says she laughed so hysterically that she induced the labor that night. She wanted to name the boy Mork -- but I refused to "curse" him in that way. And, Mindy's name is Mindy -- not Melinda. So, there you have it: Judy, Mark and Mindy.
I used to read a lot of science fiction. I am not a Heinlein fanatic but I continually re-read his classic novel Stranger in a Strange Land once every year or three. I think that it would make a great, three-part movie and I even contacted his widow, Virginia Heinlein, to find out that Paramount held the option on the movie rights. I have been trying to find out if anything is in the works for literally years.
Heinlein's Stranger ... is, of course, where I found the word grok.
I have also enjoyed the Dune series by Frank Herbert. I think that I have read all but the last book. This series is a truly classic work and a great, in my opinion, piece of literature. For fun, I liked the work of Larry Niven. His "Known Space Series" -- including the classic Ringworld -- was fun, interesting, and entertaining. Along the same lines with a completely different twist and topic I also enjoyed Phillip Jose Farmer's "Riverworld Series." I believe I have also read almost every one of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan novels.
I have been very interested (and still am, after a fashion) in the psychology of Carl Gustav Jung. I have nothing against Freud, mind you, but Jung's work just seemed to make more sense to me. I have tried to read Jung in direct translation -- a task I found near impossible. But, I have found several other authors who have been able to interpret his work and make it more understandable to me.
And, I may be laughed off of the Internet for this one; I may be the only adult who has developed an unusual interest in this; or, I may simply be going through my second childhood -- I don't know. But, I have developed a fascination with Teletubbies! Someone call the loony-bin, quick! ;-)
In 1995, at the age of 42, I noticed that I had developed a small twitch in my right arm. I didn't give it much thought at the time as I had always had some sort of small tremor in my hands -- I thought it might be some little flare up of my normal shaking. But, when the twitch didn't go away and, in fact, started getting worse, I thought I had better look into it. After a number of visits to a number of different neurologists, I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Like all PWPs (people with Parkinson's), I have had quite a history with this dis-ease. And, to help other people understand and cope I have put together a personal history that describes my experiences. The page also contains some definitions, some links, and a few other items of interest.
A funny thing happened to me on a business trip in Cleveland, OH. For reasons still completely unknown to me I had, what is today classically referred to as, an out-of-body experience. For reasons that are too long to detail here this "experience" led me on a journey. This journey led me to a series of explorations with a sound technology called Hemi-Sync(tm) developed by a gentleman named Robert A. Monroe. Mr. Monroe set up a non-profit research and study center in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia which he aptly named The Monroe Institute. I was a member of the Institute from 1988 to 1998.
During my explorations, I found myself frequenting just about any book shop that I happened to stumble across. I remember the one in Minneapolis, MN in a little shopping plaza, next to the hotel I was staying at on yet another business trip, in a sort of out-of-the-way area just north of downtown. I still remember holding the strange little green covered book in my hands and the call it made to me to open it up and start reading. The book was entitled The Bodies of Man and was written by an English woman by the name of Annie Bessant and it discussed some of the concepts of a philosophical system known as Theosophy. I was a member of the Theosophical Society from 1989 to 1998. The American section is based in Wheaton, IL, has branches, lodges, and study groups all over the country, and calls itself The Theosophical Society in America.
Somewhere along the way I was able to sit down and watch a little afternoon television. In surfing through the cable channels, I ran across an interview with a lady by the name of Dr. Deborah Anapol, Ph.D. She was on, of all things, the Joan Rivers Show discussing her new book entitled Love Without Limits. This book, and the television interview itself, revolved around the concept of "responsible non-monogamy." Quite frankly, I found the topic fascinating and was able to get a copy of the book. I was surprised to learn that there is a large group of people that use the 'Net to chat and discuss this concept which is today referred to as Polyamory. In my travels, I have been able to meet and talk with some of these folks. They are "normal" in every way. They just have a very strong belief-system in this "alternative" life-style.
Although I am not currently in a club or group, I don't go to a park or a camp, I also have an interest in Naturism. One of my favorite and most truthful tag-lines is "If God had intended us to be naked we would be born that way." And, in a similar vein, I also have a great appreciation for the Century Project by Frank Cordelle. The Century project -- from the Project Statement -- "... is a chronological series of nude photographic portraits of women from the moment of birth through one hundred years of age ..." It is my opinion that the supreme being hit perfection when it made "woman," and I (as many have over time) enjoy visually appreciating (do you remember the 1968 "one-hit wonder" -- the O'Kaysions?) the many varied shapes and styles they come in. Century not only displays the beauty that is woman but each portrait also portrays a story that helps you to see more than just a naked lady. During the week of February 8 - 11, 2000, the Century Project was on display at McMasters University in conjunction with a presentation by Dr. Paul Rapoport of the School of Art, Drama & Music entitled Siting the Naked Body.
Everybody tries to stand out on the 'Net -- they try to do something that makes them stand out in the crowd. I am no exception. Since I started surfing the 'Net before the Web, and people couldn't see my flamboyant physical signature, I decided to try to come up with a distinctive electronic signature.
I have always enjoyed the "witty sayings" that some people use in their mail and news signatures but at the same time I have also enjoyed the creative attempts at "art" using only ASCII characters. But, I didn't enjoy the prospect of using the same old signature on every mail message or news item that I posted -- I didn't want people to get bored with me.
So, combining all three ideas into one, I came up with a program (a shell script) that I use to add both a "witty saying" and some ASCII "art" in a pseudo-random manner to the end of my posts. Since I use the UNIX vi editor to compose all of my messages, I use a special shell-escape technique to execute the program, generate the random signature, and read it into the message file that I am composing in vi.
I have included a sample of my "personal" signature below. If you ever get mail from me or read one of my USENET posts please note that the signature will look like a bunch of garbage unless it is displayed in a mono-spaced font such as Courier. And for you telnet folks -- don't worry -- it is also always less than 80 characters wide. The "witty saying" -- usually called a tag line -- (here, the line about Jimi Hendrix) and the "picture" -- usually called ASCII art -- (here, the picture of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh) -- are "generated" in a pseudo-random manner and should change with each post or note you read from me.
If you "read me," and the signature looks like a jumble of characters smashed together instead of something similar to what you see above, there is a way to "see" it the way that I intended! :-)
The data on the left is, of course, my contact information. But, the "thing" on the right is generically called "ASCII art." It is a "picture" of something using only the characters found on a typical keyboard.
By the way, the picture of Tigger was posted to the USENET newsgroup called alt.ascii-art by "Tigger" (Grace Sylvan).