Thursday, February 22, 2007

Six interesting facts about me

This is for Master Fob where he issued a challenge in his latest post to list six interesting facts about ourselves.
  1. I used to live in an antique store. When I was in 7th grade, my father opened an antique store. When I was in high school, he moved his store to a building that had a small apartment in the back. This is where I learned to play the keyboard. He had an old pump organ in the store. I would go out in the evenings and play it. Using a keyboard diagram, I figured out where middle C was. I then counted up and down and figured out what the other keys were. I already knew how to read music; so, using an old hymnal that he also had in the store (an old protestant hymnal, although I don't recall the exact denomination), I painstakingly learned to play "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful", note by note, and measure by measure. To this day, I can still play that song from memory.
  2. My first computer programs were written on punch cards. Although industry had pretty much moved beyond punch cards by the time I was in college, my school was kind of behind the times and had an old Control Data computer which used punch cards. I worked in the computer center, and it was my job to pick up the card decks in the computer lab, run them through the card reader, retrieve the printouts, and return them to the lab. I worked the night shift, so it wasn't very busy. I used my spare time to work on my own programming assignments (in FORTRAN). BTW, this school computer was a state of the art machine which filled a room and had a whooping 48K of memory (that's right, Kilobytes, not Megabytes or Gigabytes). It used the old magnetic core memory. There were 3 memory modules which were each the size of a large bookcase and had 16K each. The operator console used a modified IBM Selectric typewriter (the one with the ball). It also emitted all of these noises that sounded amazingly similar to R2D2. Each of the different input/output operations had their own sound they would make. The professional computer programmers for the school would often come into the computer room to listen to their programs run. They could tell if there was a problem with the code just by the sound it made while running.
  3. I worked in France for 3 months. A few years ago, an opportunity came up at work to go on a temporary assignment in France for 3 months. I was in Orlean, which is in the Loire Valley. I don't speak a word of French having taken German in school (and then only 1 year). It wasn't a problem at the office since everyone spoke English. But, it could sometimes be a problem evenings and weekends when I was out on my own. Often in restaurants, I would just point to something on the menu and hope that I didn't just order lambs brains (or something equally disgusting). BTW, did you know that the computer keyboard on French computers is different? Some of the letters are in different places on the keyboard, and you have to use the shift key to type in numbers. This can be a real problem for a touch typist like me. I was told that I could come home once during the 3 month period. Instead, I opted to bring my wife to France for 10 days while her mother stayed with our children back home.
  4. I like to get together with friends to play games. My favorite games are "Pig Pile" and "Dirty Uno". Pig Pile (not to be confused with "Pigmania" where you roll the pigs) is a mindless game, but it is fun. Dirty Uno is like regular Uno with some additional rules added: Swap Hands - whenever someone plays a '0' (zero) the players all pass their hand in whatever direction the play is going at the time. Magic Number - at the beginning of the game, all players count off 1, 2, 3, ..., this is their own personal wild card which they can play if they can't play anything else, although, they do not get to change the color. Stack - if a player plays a "Draw 2" or "Wild Draw 4" and the next player happens to have that card, they can play it and the player after them has to draw 4 (or 8). If that player also has the card then they can play it and the amount to be drawn goes up correspondingly. Stacking is only available for the player whose turn it is and the color of the "Draw 2" does not have to match. Match - if a player plays a card and you have the same exact card (color and number) then you can yell "Match" and play it even if it isn't your turn. Play then continues after the player that matched. If matching a "Draw 2" out of turn then the color also has to match. Finally, if a player can't play a card, they have to keep drawing until they can.
  5. I don't like being cold. I grew up in California. I moved to Texas after I was married with two children when my company transferred me here (23 years ago). I tell my wife that I'm content to live my life south of the Mason-Dixon line. I just don't like being cold. I once had an opportunity at work to transfer to Boulder, Colorado; but, I turned it down - too much white stuff in the winter. Even here in Texas it gets colder than I would like in the winter sometimes. Personally, I wouldn't mind moving to Florida; but, my wife (having grown up way North) says she could never live there because of the heat and humidity. So, where we live is a compromise. It's as far North as I'm willing to live and as far South as she is willing to live. I shiver during the winter and she melts during the summer. Fortunately, it never stays cold for long here. But, it sure does stay hot for long periods of time in the summer - what's up with that?
  6. I used to like giving my missionary companions back rubs. I guess I was seeking out some sort of physical contact even though I didn't admit to myself at the time that I was gay.


Foxx said...

I love that style of Uno. We called it Killer Uno in high school. We would play it with several Uno decks, and with 6-10 people. SO FUN!

Mormon Enigma said...

We keep a pile of about 3 UNO decks just for that purpose. To shuffle, we just spread them out on the table and have everybody swish them around. And, you're right, the more people the better. But, I've also found that some people are more fun to play with than others.