That Silly 8-Facts Thing

So that 8-facts thing is going around, and I got tagged. I’ve stalled long enough that everyone I read was already tagged, and I’m sure you’ve all seen it by now, so I’m not going to waste time repeating the rules or tagging anyone else.
1. One of my favorite things to do is cook. In fact, during grad school, when
I was particularly frustrated with my (then) advisor, I considered dropping out
of grad school and opening a restaurant.
2. It took three advisors for my to do my PhD. I started grad school with an offer
to work with one professor who did network protocol specification; by the end of my
first year, I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to keep working on that. I switched
to work with a theoretician on a strange computer architecture problem. He was a
total lunatic, and he really wasn’t interested in what I was working on – it was
work that he really wanted someone to do, but he didn’t really want to spend his time
thinking about it. Thank goodness, right around the time I became totally fed up,
the department hired a new faculty member, Lori Pollock, and within days of her
accepting the job, I was in her office asking her to be my advisor. I spend the next
four years working with her, and I still think she’s amazing. Best advisor ever!
(And I don’t even think she reads my blog!)
3. I can’t read maps. Not at all. They’re utterly meaningless to me. I’m a bit
learning disabled – I’ve got what’s called a perceptive impairment. One of the
problems that that’s caused me is the total inability to read maps, or catch balls.
4. I’m a musical instrument nut. I’ve got about 30 different tinwhistles, including
at least one in every key, two top-grade hand-made D whistles, and two giant low-D
whistles, two wooden flutes, 3 bamboo flutes, a magnificent selmer signature B-flat
clarinet, an old no-name A clarinet, 3 different antique albert clarinets,
a bluegrass banjo, and 2 Irish tenor banjos.
5. The first time I ever saw a real computer was in 6th grade. A classmate’s parent
brought it in to show my class. I was fascinated *instantly* by the idea of this thing
that I could teach to do math.
6. I like to build model airplanes out of paper. Not folded flying airplanes, but
very accurate, detailed scale models. For example, I’ve got a model of SpaceShipOne
which is about 5 inches long, made entirely of paper, down to the open landing gear
covers and struts.
7. I’m a huge fan of sculptor [Alexander Calder][calder]. Calder is best known for his
wonderful mobiles. The way that I discovered Calder was… the cover of my grad school
algorithms textbook. (My office mates and I just bought a replica of a Calder piece
to decorate our space.)
8. My wife and I got engaged one month to the day after we started dating. We didn’t
tell anyone except a few close friends for quite a while, because we didn’t think
her parents would accept it that quickly. We’d been friends for quite a while before
we started dating, but I’d never even considered asking her out, because she was
seeing someone else. Then she broke up with her ex-boyfriend, and showed up on my
doorstep the next morning, and pretty much never left.

0 thoughts on “That Silly 8-Facts Thing

  1. llewelly

    The way that I discovered Calder was… the cover of my grad school algorithms textbook.

    Would that be Introduction to Algorithms by Cormen, Leiserson, and Rivest? (Which definitely has a Calder sculpture on the cover.)
    It was my textbook in the first class I took at a university.

  2. usagi

    Mark, Just out of curiosity, do you also bake? I ask because I do & love it, but I can’t cook to save my life. Conversely, all the really good cooks I know (including my partner) either can’t bake or loath the process so much they don’t unless they absolutely have to.

  3. Susan B.

    Can we see pictures of the model of Spaceship One? My father was lucky enough to be a spectator at both launches, and he got some great pictures. It’s some pretty exciting technology!

  4. ParanoidMarvin

    usagi, I don’t know about Mark, but I love cooking, and I also like baking. You probably won’t catch me making triple mousse cakes or such stuff, but I love making bread, buns, and all sorts of baked cakes.
    However, cooking is usually more fun for me, since you can play with your food more. When you bake there is a sort of finality after you stuff whatever you’re doing into the oven.

  5. matt

    Ha! As soon as you mentioned Calder, I knew that textbook wouldn’t be far behind 🙂 For my part, I saw some of his sculptures long before owning the book, but that’s probably more a consequence of age than anything else.


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