I’m sure that by now all of you have heard about the latest “chain letter” circulating about the blogosphere. It sounds suspiciously like bloggers patting each other on the back. To wit, I’ve been “tagged” by Evan Yares. On principle, and just because I like to be contrary, I refuse to pass this one on, but I’ll go part of the way since there is some redeeming social value to the premise. The five:
- I was a difficult child. I ran away from home routinely before I started Kindergarten. I still have memories of the summer just before my third birthday of almost daily forays with my dog “Shep” into the woods adjacent to my parents’ property. Sometimes, after a dispute with my parents, I would take off deep into the woods plotting revenge. One day, after some altercation or other, I narrowly escaped my whip-wielding mother by diving under a barbed wire fence and racing into the woods before she could catch up. My mother spent hours searching for me, and finally spotted me hiding under some brambles. After rounding me up and taking me back home, mom tied me with a rope to a post outside our workshop until my father came home from work. When my father came home, he didn’t have the heart to punish me further.
- I was raised Amish. When I was 12, I installed a battery operated radio tuner in my basement workshop, and wired the output through a hidden network of wires (that included our hot water heating pipes as one side of the circuit) into a recessed wall outlet beside my bed so that I could listen to the radio discreetly from my bed through a small earpiece. Later I did something similar when my parents bought my first horse and buggy, by hiding the guts of a portable stereo under the seat.
- Amish children are expected to quit school after the 8th grade and begin working (traditionally on the family farm, although farming is becoming less common these days). I chose to continue my education by going on to high school while working evenings and summers to support myself. For this, I was ridiculed and called names in school, and my parents caught a lot of flack from their church elders for my actions (which they had very little control over). I chose not to go on to college after graduating in the top 5 of my class in high school.
- My first full time job was as a brick mason, following in my father’s footsteps. I did masonary and other construction work the last two summers of high school, and full time for a year or so after I graduated. One day a family friend called to ask if I would be interested in a “computer job” programming a CNC punch press. The company had unceremoniously fired the previous programmer and had nobody with the skills to replace him. My interview went something like “Do you know anything about computers?” “Yes.” “Can you start tomorrow?” It was at that company where I discovered AutoCAD, and the rest, as they say, is history.
- A few years ago, I played poker on a show broadcast across the United States on Fox SportsNet. The show was sponsored by UltimateBet.net, an online poker site. The winner received 10 thousand dollars and a chance to play again for 200 thousand dollars. I got there by beating several thousand other players in a series of online tournaments. I placed third out of the six finalists at the table, so I walked away with nothing more than an all expense paid (and lavish) weekend in Los Angeles, not to mention the satisfaction of knowing my kids got to watch me on national TV.