10 things

Okay. Maggie tagged me and wants me to name 10 interesting things about myself. In turn, I’m tagging my friend Fred, who may be looking to procrastinate before his final review.
1. My favorite thing to ask people is, what’s the thing you know a lot about, that no one ever asks you about, or you don’t get a chance to talk about? I’ll strike up conversations with strangers in line at a bar to discuss this. The genesis of this question was at eTech in 2004. I was tired of discussing work and dotcom stuff with my very interesting and intelligent friends sitting around a table. This question yields many more interesting answers than the average work-related conversation. I’ve learned about the chemical composition of clays and glaze in attempting to get certain hues from the Ming Dynasty, about the Civil War, comics, stripping and stealing bikes, sex, geology, the feelings of the person I asked, the person’s family, airplanes. My answer? I know a lot about this question.
2. As a kid, I had a knack for getting media coverage. I reviewed movies on Twin Cities Today and then on Good Company, two talk shows of the 70s/80s in Minneapolis/St. Paul. (The people behind these shows are the same people who started HGTV). I was on the front page of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, reading Twas the Night Before Christmas. My brothers, friends and I were in the newspaper sending off a helium balloon with a note on it, ostensibly to welcome springtime. And I was part of a big spread in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about the Nova program, the gifted kids program I was in for grade school.
3. There are five languages I speak (or used to speak) fluently: German, French, Dutch, Italian and English. I’ve also learned some Yiddish and Japanese. I will learn Spanish next, and intend to become fluent in it as well.
4. Keller seems to be a theme in my Yale career. Last semester, I was a teaching assistant for Keller Easterling. This semester, I am a teaching fellow for Sean Keller.
5. I’m a classical guitarist, but I’m out of practice and fear playing for other people. I began teaching myself from guitar books my dad had when I was 6. For my 8th birthday, I got my own guitar and lessons. I played and sang “King of the Road” for my birthday party that year, missing the irony of it. I took lessons from Dave Lemay till I was 17 (with a several year break when I moved to the suburbs). Sadly, he died of a massive heart attack before I finished learning all the minor scales. Some of my favorite music is Catalan — Miguel Llobet and Fernando Sor. My favorite Llobet piece features a melody played in octave harmonics.
6. My interest in architecture used to surprise people in the dotcom world. The first time I asked the question in #1, my answer was architecture. People had no idea. But now, I’m attending architecture school and studying history and theory, and nobody’s really surprised about it anymore. I wonder whether people think it’s strange I’ve gone this route, but it made sense to me.
7. I’ve lived in 5 countries (US, Germany, Holland, France, Italy) and 12 cities (St.Paul/Minneapolis, Madison, Düsseldorf, Utrecht, Montpellier, Hoboken, San Francisco, Chicago, Ivrea, New Haven). In the US, all the cities I’ve lived in are in blue states.
8. When I lived in Montpellier, France, my friend Soonie and I got flashed, at about 3 a.m. when we were walking home. She laughed. I kicked him in the balls four times. He didn’t follow us. I guess it was effective.
9. I work and study in the best/worst piece of architecture, Paul Rudolph’s Art and Architecture building. It was immortalized on a postage stamp. Some people love it. Others hate it. I like it, but it’s in bad condition and will be a lot better when they incorporate air conditioning. Sadly, that’s after I graduate.
10. I wrote for the Onion’s AV Club when I was in college.