Thursday, June 23, 2016

As Memes Go.....

I'm not exactly a great fan of memes.

The ones you find floating around Facebook and other social media outlets often tend to reduce a complex topic down to a few partially correct zingers. Or they misassign quotes* while passing them off as correct.

That said, there is a place for memes of the sort that are making the blogging rounds again, such as the Creative Blogger Award. They provide a means of peeling back the facade and revealing a bit about the blogger behind the site without forcing the blogger to shout "Look at MEEEEE!" any more than they have to.**

Before you smirk and say "what are blogs for, anyway, if not for expressing your narcissism?", consider that most of the bloggers I know aren't the classic extrovert personalities. They do all love something, whether it is gaming, writing, or something else, and they use blogging to share their love with the world in a (relatively) passive way.

Pewdiepie, we're not.

As much as I groaned about it when I received the Creative Blogger Award nomination from Ravanel Griffon of Ravalation last week, I didn't mind quite as much as I let on. It's not a series of Truth or Dare questions, or even Twenty Questions, but rather 5 facts about yourself.

That, I can do.


In no particular order, here are five facts about me that I'm pretty sure nobody in the blogosphere knows:

  • I once had a letter to Radio Austria International read on the air.

    I believe I may have mentioned once or twice that I do listen to shortwave radio, but my habits today aren't what they were back in the 90's and the 00's. Before the Web, I would get my international news from shortwave heavyweights such as the BBC World Service, Radio Deutche Welle, and Radio Nederland. Among the smaller players that beamed to North America, such as Radio Japan or Swiss Radio International, was Radio Austria International (or Radio Österreich International, ORF for short). Due to my work schedule, ORF's English Service was often the last program I'd listen to before bedtime, and they managed to pack in the news from Vienna as well as the program Report from Austria. One day, after listening to the news, I decided to send ORF a reception report as well as a comment on a story in the news --something I rarely did-- and a few weeks later I received a letter saying my letter was going to be read on the air. Sure enough, at the date specified, my letter was read on the air with a short comment from the presenter.

  • The letter suffered from water damage dating from
    the move into our current house, but here it is after some cleaning up.

    Sadly, Radio Austria International is now defunct, a victim of budget cuts and the changing methods of broadcasting news for nations worldwide.

  • I once had to type three lab reports in one night.

    This might not sound so bad until you realize that each lab report was 20 - 30 pages long. And that the only reason why I did it was because my save disk became corrupted, ruining my copies of my reports.

    I'm dating myself here, but I'd been using old word processor program WordStar to work on my lab reports, and saving the data on 5.25" floppy disks. (Kids, if don't know what 5.25" floppy disks are, Google it.) Anyway, I was working on cleaning up the reports before a presentation at my lab final exam when I tried saving, and I heard the familiar ka-chung of the floppy drive's gears screwing up. Sure enough, my data was corrupted.

    In a panic, I realized I had about seven hours to rewrite about 80 or so pages to turn in for a grade.

    To make a long story short, with a lot of effort, a lot of tea, and a lot of semi-insane muttering to myself, I finished the reports in time. And I even survived the presentation during the final, which I believe was due to my being so tired I really didn't care how I sounded, so I wasn't scared at all.
  • I am scared to death of needles.

    This isn't that much of a surprise, I suppose, since a lot of people don't like shots, but my personal reason why I could never do heroin centers around two specific incidents.

    The first one was a shot I received when I was 13 and I'd broken my collarbone at school. The needle that the doctor used to give me a shot of morphine prior to setting the bone was so large --about 0.25" diameter-- that I could see the hole at the end of the needle clearly. That terrified me, but because I was in such pain and was shoved down onto the table, I couldn't move as the glorified Morgul blade slowly moved in and punctured my shoulder.
    I feel for you, Frodo.

    The second incident happened when I was much older, and as part of a life insurance application a nurse was dispatched to my house to draw a blood sample. The process was supposed to be simple: draw some blood from a vein in my right arm. While the nurse prepped my arm, I looked away, gritted my teeth and waited for the needle. I felt the needle prick, and then a whole lot of extra, well, movement in my arm. "Does that hurt?" the nurse asked. I glanced over and saw her wiggling the needle in a wide arc while it was still puncturing my arm.

    "Uh....." I began, my brain not really registering what I was seeing.

    "Ah, dammit, I went right through your vein. I'm going to have to use the other arm." She yanked the needle out, put it away, and grabbed a new needle and my left arm.

    After she was finished, my wife said something to the effect of "If you weren't scared of needles before, you definitely are now!"

    Gee, thanks.

  • I once owned a car that had a hole in the floor.


    The car was a 70s era Plymouth that had more rust on the body than actual metal, and one day I realized the the place where I'd been putting my left foot while driving felt, well, breezy. I checked out the place after I parked, and sure enough there was a heel-sized hole in the floor, with rust flakes all around. All that kept my foot from plunging through the floor and striking the pavement was the carpeting.

    And for the record, I just kind of kept driving the car, but just made sure that I put my left foot someplace else.
  • When I was a teen, my D&D collection was thrown out to save me from the fires of Hell.

    Yes, I'm a refugee of the Satanic Panic that gripped the U.S. back in the 80s. In those days, many parents blamed societal ills affecting their kids on heavy metal music and D&D. This belief was whipped up by the story of James Dallas Egbert III, who allegedly vanished into the steam tunnels underneath Michigan State University in 1979. The reality is more than a bit mundane, but the ordeal and others such as Patty Pulliam's Bothered about Dungeons and Dragons organization pushed D&D into that "SATAN IS COMING FOR YOUR KIDS!!!" mini-hysteria that gripped a lot of parents of that era.

    My parents were no exception.

    I trace my own problems with it to the time my family visited some in-laws of my aunts, who happened to be very much in the Pat Robertson fan club.*** Robertson was one of many televangelists who rode the Satanic Panic bandwagon, constantly warning about Satan's minions trying to get their claws on the American youth.

    While I was at the in-laws place, my brother and I were both separately brought before what I'd call a tribunal of my mom, the in-laws, and my aunt. And we were grilled over D&D for about 5 minutes. I don't recall anything particularly strange about it, but that afternoon it was declared in a family meeting that D&D was now forbidden as tools of the Devil, and the stuff was all collected and thrown out.

    Yes, this was from an actual Jack Chick comic called Dark
    Dungeons. And this was one of the milder forms of anti-D&D propaganda.
    From Geek and Sundry's How D&D Writers Fought the Satanic Panic of the 1980s

    No protests could sway them. Not even the obvious parallels with role playing games and acting helped, because my parents believed**** that acting, playing a role, is fine, but role playing is something else.

    Perhaps more than anything else, those years in the wilderness as far as RPGs are concerned shaped my viewpoint on what RPGs are and how they are played, as well as my views on how religion and power can be misused when people are afraid of something new.

    I had to wait until later --college-- before I really was able to embrace RPGs once more, and I've never looked back.

At this point, I'm supposed to nominate people for this award, but no fear to my reading list, I don't intend to do so. Many of them were nominated already, so there's no reason to re-nominate them. And besides, all good memes have to come to an end anyway.

*Or worse, simply make them up. John Oliver had a great piece on this.

**Admittedly, a running blog is one of the worst things for someone who is a) shy, b) an introvert or c) both to work on.

***If you don't know who Pat Robertson is, count yourself lucky. He's a televangelist who loves to appear during disasters --natural or man-made-- and claim that it is God's wrath that brought about the tragedy. If you Google "Pat Robertson nutty statements" you'll get an idea of what I mean.

****And they still believe it. They also think Harry Potter and the Rick Riordan books lure kids into Satanism, and I've chosen to ignore their disapproval when they see my kids reading Science Fiction and Fantasy novels. The irony is that my parents were the ones who got me into SF&F in the first place with television shows such as Lost in Space and Star Trek, and books such as Lord of the Rings and The Sword of Shannara.

EtA: Added a few links that I'd missed.


  1. Haha, I was wondering what the ORF logo was doing there, that is so cool! Incidentally, ORF actually stands for "Österreichischer Rundfunk" (Austrian broadcasting services) - as in: all our national television and radio - and has nothing to do with that show in particular. Fun fact though!

    1. I figured that out much much later (as in when I tried hunting down Radio Austria International after a couple of years' hiatus back in the late 2000s), but SWL listeners have used ORF interchangeably with Radio Austria International for so long that I left it like that. I should clean that up.

  2. I think facts from somebody's life are really interesting stuff. Thanks for these great five facts about you. I like about needles the most. I hope fans will appreciate it.