Jan 242007

“Dr Bob” Swart of the Netherlands and Jesper Hogstrom of the Borland/DevCo/CodeGear Delphi ECO team have both “tagged” me in this little game of prod-the-next-guy-into-blogging-about-themselves, so I guess I’d better hop to it before any more prods arrive in my inbox.

Five things you probably didn’t know about me:

1. I bought the farm.  Literally.  14.7 acres of rolling orchards, pastures, and redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  I had pretty much given up on looking for a new house to “trade up” to from my old house in Scotts Valley.  Then one sunny Sunday morning in March 2005, I was toodling around on one of my favorite hill climb roads in the area when a realtor’s For Sale / Open House sign went zipping by at the orchard.  (The locals refer to the property as “the orchard” because it’s the only spot of sunshine on the 4 mile, 2000 ft forested climb from valley to ridge.  Makes giving directions easy:  Just drive till you reach the sunshine!)

Curiosity got the better of me, so I turned around and went back to take a look.  “Nothing to worry about!” I chuckled.  “I’m not looking for a house, and I probably couldn’t afford this anyway!”  I was a goner before I had even parked the car.  Everything was in bloom.  And there were so many everythings.  Every time I turned around, I found another “bonus”  (the good kind).  Hey, a backup generator!  How cute.  (rub the dust off the spec panel) A 10 kilowatt generator.  Holy crap!  Hey! A nice workshop setup in the separate garage/barn.  (rub the dust off the electrical panel) With 220v, 100amp electric service.  Holy crap!  And so on.

It was priced way outside my comfort zone.  But if you crunched the numbers just so, and held it to the light at a certain angle, it just might work.  Much crunching, soul searching, and sleepless nights followed.  The only way to pull it off was to go “all in”.  Everything.  No reserves.

Anyway, there’s a half hour long story here.  To make a long story short, I decided the property was worth the sacrifices necessary to get it.  I went all in, and haven’t looked back.

One unforeseen side effect of all that was:  Once you make the leap to change something fundamental in your life, there’s no going back to complacency.  You begin questioning everything with renewed perspective and courage.  And that’s a large part of how I came to leave my relatively secure position at Borland a few months later for the wilds of the unknown.

2. I’m married.  Try not to look so surprised.  Or disappointed.  Or whatever that look is.  My lovely wife and I exchanged vows in a small garden ceremony in my grandmother’s backyard in May 2006.  We honeymooned on safari on the Serengeti Plains in Africa in February 2006.  Pay no mind to the point that the honeymoon preceded the wedding.  Why is time always such a linear concept with you people? ;>

3. I travel.  I’ve traveled a bit, and not just for work.  Europe, of course – Neuschwanstein and Schwangau castles, Munich, Amsterdam, etc.  Newfoundland (round trip from California by car:  11,000 miles).  Spelunking in Australia.  Snowboarding in New Zealand (in August!).  Iditarod dogsledding in Nome, Alaska (as a well-wisher, not a contestant).  Serengeti Plains, Africa.  Robert Baden-Powell’s grave, Kenya.  Point Wild, Antarctica.  Shackleton’s grave, South Georgia Island.  Santiago, Chile.  Port Stanley, Falkland Islands.  Tokyo.  Singapore.

Places I’d like to see/go: Trans Siberian railway. Central China. Tibet.  Machu Picchu, Peru. The headwaters of the Amazon. Scandinavia.  Greece. Santorini. Italy (various). Morocco. Fiji, or Tahiti. Corfu. Malta. Madagascar. Thailand. The Louvre. Dubai. The Orkneys and Shetland Islands.  Iceland.  The Azores.

Let’s see…  figuring a minimum of 1 week at each location, that should keep us busy and fully indebted for at least the next 20 years or so.

It’s a good thing my wife enjoys traveling, too!

4. I’m a crossword nut.  I love the dual logic and vocabulary challenge (and punny clues) of crossword puzzles.  And I don’t mean the Dell or PennyPress crap.  Go for the good stuff in Games Magazine or the NYT.  I always work the puzzles (in ink) in the in-flight magazine (Delta switched to licensing Games Magazine puzzles a few years ago.  Yay!), and I’m particularly smug if I can get it finished before takeoff.  If someone has butchered the puzzle in the magazine in my seat, I will ask the flight attendant for a fresh copy.

I’ve been called a sudoku fiend, too, but sudoku rapidly lost its luster for me once I figured out the rule set and how to visualize the “exclusion masks” to see what positions are still available for a number.  Sudoku exercises only logic, whereas crosswords can actually expand your vocabulary and general knowledge.

Actually I guess I should own up to being a pretty voracious gamer in general.  Competitive, strategy stuff – cards, boardgames, computer games.  Not so much role playing games like Magic: The Gathering or Everquest.  More like Hearts (yes I count cards), Quiddler, Settlers of Cataan, Twilight Imperium.  Anyone remember Infocom?  Starcross, Zork, Leather Goddesses of Phobos?

5. Mach 2.1, baby.  1440 miles per hour at 55 thousand feet is my career best (thus far).  I mention this just to irritate Nick Hodges.

It is now with great glee that I pass the tagging torch to Brian Long, Chuck Jazdzewski, David Lock, Brad Abrams, and Siebe “Inky” Tolsma.  Tag, you’re it!


This post was originally published on my MSDN blog while I was at Microsoft.