100 Things, mostly about me

Blogging is primarily about prolonging adolescent narcissism. That being the case, I’ve decided to spend an entire post talking about my favorite topic, me. This works out well for you, the reader, since I happen to be a fascinating and utterly important person.

With apologies to TAN for the idea, here are 100 things, mostly about me.

  1. I started playing the piano because I couldn’t stand the fact that my brother could do something I couldn’t do.
  2. I’ve voted in every election for which I was eligible to vote, excluding a few local city elections.
  3. I lived in the same house growing up – my parents never moved.
  4. The longest I’ve ever spent sitting in one place doing the same thing was 48 hours. It was a video game. Morrowind.
  5. I really don’t like technology. I view it as a necessary evil that stands in between me, and the things I love to do.
  6. In order of preference: whiskey, beer, wine.
  7. I cheated my way into the state science fair. Not in the usual, have your parents help you way, but in the “elaborately faked the entire experiment” way.
  8. I am an Eagle scout.
  9. Give me any substance, and I can probably find a way to set it on fire (see #6, #8).
  10. I was introduced to Tower of Power by a guy named Rosy, after which I listened to them for 3 years straight.
  11. If I don’t know the answer to something, my first instinct is to bluff. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve learned to overcome that impulse.
  12. I was adopted as an newborn, and raised by wolves. Ok, they weren’t wolves, but they were fundamentalists.
  13. I regularly claim to have read books that I’ve really only skimmed.
  14. I love new foods. I’m willing to try almost anything once.
  15. I don’t like listening to most jazz. I’d much rather play it than listen to it.
  16. In high school, I once very publicly made out with a girl that I knew was using me to get back at her ex-boyfriend. I didn’t care. I liked the kissing. This is really funny if you think about it – I can’t think of a worse person to use for your jealousy-inducing schemes than a chess-playing drum major.
  17. Oh yeah, I was the drum major in our high school marching band.
  18. My bloodlines are Irish, and my family lines are Norwegian. (see #12. and probably also #6.)
  19. I’ve camped in over 50 national parks. As a kid we used to drive in a big green van all summer long, just camping and fighting, camping and fighting.
  20. I can calculate gas mileage in my head to 2 decimal points. My dad used to make us do it when we stopped for gas.
  21. I went to college at APU because I didn’t have the grades to go anywhere else. Back in the day, with a high SAT score and a 2.2 GPA, you could still get in.
  22. The movie “Amadeus” was a significant event in my young musical development. For the first time I realized that music could help me with the ladies.
  23. I can’t do small talk. My one trick for surviving social situations is to constantly ask questions about the other person. They either find me fascinating, or they fake their own death until I wander away.
  24. In order of preference: B3, electric guitar, drums, bass, rhodes, piano, woodwinds.
  25. Corey Witt is the fastest friend I’ve ever made. 30 seconds after I met him, we were practically making out.
  26. I bought my first car for $50. It was a Chevy van. I bought it from the police chief of Camarillo, who was also one of the leaders in our boy scout troop.
  27. I’ve only been in two serious romantic relationships in my life. The first was an unmitigated train-wreck, from beginning to end. The second seems to be working out.
  28. I prefer to be contrary in debates. I’ll defend a position I don’t really believe just to be on the other side.
  29. I constantly joke about how advanced my daughter Sophia is, but the truth is, I really do think she’s a freekin’ genius.
  30. Sometimes, when students come by my office just to hang out, I just want them to go away and leave me alone. It’s hard to hide when you have a window in your door.
  31. There’s a growth under the skin on my back that I’ve been ignoring for 9 months.
  32. The two musical projects that have made me the most money are also the two that I’m the most embarrassed of.
  33. My 7th grade teacher died the summer after we were in his class. He spent summers on a commercial fishing boat in Alaska, his boat capsized, and he died of hypothermia. He was 30. I had nightmares my whole 8th grade year.
  34. I’m not very good at directing vocalists.
  35. While finishing my master’s degree, I took a post-graduate reading course in systematic ethics. It was the only time in my life that I sat in a class and thought, “I’m the dumbest person in this room. I actually might not have the raw mental horse-power to get through this with a passing grade.”
  36. I still believe that if I ever give it an honest shake, I can make a career as a singer-songwriter.
  37. You have to go three steps removed from my immediate family before you’ll find anyone who has been divorced. I’m proud of that, even though I don’t have anything to do with it.
  38. I hated youth group. It was a continuation of the social humiliation of high-school, but with some Jesus sprinkled in.
  39. I grew up believing that losing your virginity before marriage was just about the biggest sin any child could commit. In order of severity, it was above assault and battery, just below murder, tied with smoking.
  40. The patio at the Getty might be my favorite place in the world. We’ll see if that’s still true when we get back from Rome this summer.
  41. My senior year of college, I co-led a small group with Jud Shelton. It was one of the best creative partnerships I’ve ever had.
  42. My first jazz gig was for $20 and all the coffee you could drink. I had 12 espresso shots in two hours, and didn’t sleep for a week.
  43. I have a little crush on Susan Sarandon.
  44. I can’t tell if I have a massive inferiority complex that I overcompensate for with false ego, or if I’m a raging ego-maniac who masks it with false humility. Either way, I’m pretty much a disaster.
  45. I think I might have been born 20 years too late. I would have liked to have been a musician in the 70s.
  46. I find most post-WW2 visual art to be pretentious.
  47. My depression usually manifests as insomnia.
  48. I’ve written 9 books. And by written, I mean I started the forward and dedication, and then left it at that.
  49. I have a criminal record that was expunged when I turned 18.
  50. I take baths. Very, very hot baths.
  51. Jeans and a black T-shirt is pretty much my uniform.
  52. My blood type is O-negative. That makes me a universal donor. Anyone can drink my blood.
  53. The movie Philadelphia, the scene where Tom Hanks is explaining the aria to, I dunno, some other character? That was the first time I understood why people love opera.
  54. I listen to Public Radio, but I’ve never become a financial supporter. It’s a political thing. They can’t manage to get that condescending tone out of their voice whenever they talk about conservatives.
  55. The rehearsal dinner for our wedding was one of the most wonderful nights of my life. We are blessed with great friends, who also happen to be witty and engaging public speakers. This makes for a perfect rehearsal dinner.
  56. Anytime I’m about to call myself a fan of something, I stop and think about Ash his all-consuming love of U2, and then I don’t call myself a fan.
  57. I still get nervous every single time I walk through the door into my classroom to teach.
  58. I once struck out in T-ball. Do you know how bad you have to suck to strike out in T-ball? Three swings and I couldn’t hit a stationary target two feet in front of me. This was a pivotal moment in my sports career.
  59. I make up quotes, then attribute them to Benjamin Franklin, because it sounds more true if he said it.
  60. My mother is a nurse, and my father was a high school math teacher, and they own a million-dollar home, with no debt. I don’t think there will ever be another time in history when that will be possible.
  61. When my jeans don’t fit, I blame the dryer. I don’t think that’s the appliance that’s responsible, though. I think it’s the fridge.
  62. Age 21 was a good year for me. I think I came into possession of my own mind at age 21.
  63. Decorative styles, in order of preference: Shaker, Japanese modern, Restoration Hardware.
  64. When Gretchen was pregnant with Sophia, I sold my character in a text-based online role-playing game for $600, and bought a video camera and a nursery rocking chair. You might think it’s crazy that someone would pay me $600 for a character in a game with no graphics, but you have to keep in mind that it was a high-level archer / mage team with a complete set of elvish armor.
  65. I think most people who go to college shouldn’t. This is doubly true for graduate school.
  66. Jeff Buckley’s version of “Broken Hallelujah” might be the perfect recording.
  67. It’s hard for my to explain how important JP Moreland was to my rediscovered faith. I listened to him give a 2 hour lecture on the Kalaam Cosmological Argument for the existence of a creator, and I decided that night to go to graduate school and get a degree in theology.
  68. I scored a 1450 on my SATs. Just so you whipper-snappers know, that was back in the day, with the old SAT, back when 1450 really meant something.
  69. I once heard a worship leader describe the song “Shout to the Lord” as the new Amazing Grace. It made my stomach turn.
  70. I almost never go out of my way to listen to live music. I figure it it’s any good, it’ll eventually end up being played on MTV, and I’ll hear it during their Supa Jamz Remix Hour.
  71. I’m always mystified when people ask me, “How do you know that?” in response to some random piece of trivia I happen to know. Are there people out there who actually remember where all of their knowledge comes from? If so, they must be freekin’ geniuses.
  72. I still cringe when people around me use swear words. It’s a remnant of my conservative upbringing.
  73. Reading, in order of preference: science fiction, philosophy essays, historical fiction.
  74. I call myself an Evangelical Christian, but that might not mean what you think it means.
  75. I don’t have a sweet tooth. I would rather have something sour or salty, most of the time.
  76. I seem smarter than I really am when I’m chatting on IM, but it’s just because I’m really fast at googling.
  77. I was part of the beta-testing for Facebook, and was the first person with an apu.edu email account to sign-up.
  78. Writing for strings is one of my favorite things to do.
  79. At the beginning of this year, I deleted my myspace account. I don’t need that kind of pressure in my life.
  80. I think most people like talking about art more than they like experiencing it.
  81. I’ve never run a mile in my life.
  82. Our family didn’t have a television in the house until I was about 13.
  83. The mountains and the ocean form the quotation marks around my view of the world. I could never live in the mid-west.
  84. When I was younger, I used to ride my bike over the hill to the Catholic church, and sit in the back to pray, or play the piano if nobody else was in the sanctuary.
  85. I once played keyboards while wearing a pig-tailed wig and gingham dress on live television. It was for a Korean star-search type program, and I was in the house band.
  86. I can ski double-black-diamond runs without falling. As far as I can tell, this has zero potential as a crime-fighting superhero power.
  87. I picture the internet as a web of blue streams of light.
  88. At Ash’s bachelor party, I watched Hugh Hefner and his 7 bunnies step over the body of a drunk man who had just been tazered by the bouncers at The Barfly. It was a very LA moment.
  89. I became an Angel’s fan during their 2002 run-up to the world series.
  90. My parents kept a bookshelf of their old college textbooks right next to my bed when I was growing up. I fell asleep reading about things like economic theory.
  91. I learned a lot of what I know about how to be a man, a husband, and a father from my father-in-law.
  92. I have no allergies. At least, none that I’ve discovered. We’ll see if that’s still true when we get back from Rome.
  93. Writing parts for, in order of preference: altos, baritones, true basses, tenors, sopranos.
  94. A list of instruments that I have received money for playing professionally: piano and all manner of keyboards, saxophone, bassoon, electric bass, acoustic guitar, shaker, congas, voice, and accordion.
  95. I’ve never taken any illegal substance, but I would be curious to try marijuana, if it’s ever legalized. Like in Vegas or someplace.
  96. I believe that when the history of the United States is written in 500 years, there will be only 3 things that get discussed: our constitution, the civil rights movement, and Jazz.
  97. The most awkward meal of my life was sitting at a table across from Melissa Etheridge.
  98. I feel a little guilty about how easy my advancement in academic life has been. Don’t get me wrong, I believe I am qualified for my job, and I think I’m pretty good at it, but there are many people of whom that can be said, and most of them wait a lot longer than I have to find a full-time faculty position at a University. I owe Phil an enormous debt for his faith in me, and his belief that I’m the right person for my post. You all have no idea how big that guy’s guns are around this place. He could probably get Charles Manson an interview for the Professor of Ethics position, if he really tried.
  99. I am a mac fan-boy, and unashamed of it. It is beautiful technology.
  100. I rarely finish projects that I start, so I’m pretty proud of getting to #100. Beers all around! (but not for you APU students – when you drink it makes Baby Jesus cry. But when Professor Lee drinks, that’s perfectly fine, because … well, it just is. Deal with it.)

32 thoughts on “100 Things, mostly about me

  1. Morphea

    Ditto 11, 44, and 52. And I’m certainly NOT going to share my SAT score. Nah-ah. I’m already insecure about my intelligence. There’s a new SAT?

    You are fascinating, my dear. And now that you’ve done this on your blog and it’s not nearly as dorky as I thought it would be, I’m doing it on mine. Thanks for testing the murky dork waters for me, man.


  2. Stick

    Sheesh, I don’t think I know that many things about myself. Maybe June could do it for me.

    You suck at T-ball, but can ski double-black diamonds.

    And yeah, “Shout to the Lord” can go.

  3. Christy Semsen

    #65 ?!?

    I’m lost, but then again, I did not get a 1450 on my SATs OR grow up reading economics. In fact, I only learned how to spell economics after having to type it about 10,000 times this year in the UG Registrar.

  4. Karen

    # The mountains and the ocean form the quotation marks around my view of the world. I could never live in the mid-west.

    This is a beautiful image right here and makes me sad to live in TN. Although I do not miss the traffic or the smog and live next to a lake…

  5. Gretchen

    That was fun. I learned a lot about the man I’ve been married to for almost 8 years now. Stick, I bet you could think of things that June still doesn’t know.

    #43 yeah, still can’t believe that one
    #49 seriously, no one’s going to ask? :)
    #55 Amen
    #91 and now I’m crying

  6. Scott

    #30 – If you ever manage to get moved to an upstairs office, you’ll get a lot less foot traffic. You could try pushing for that. Or you could just cover the window.

    #32 – That’s what we call a cruel irony.

    #62 – Everyone’s still waiting for me on this one.

    #65 – No. Kidding. Totally in agreement. The bar of “higher” education is continually lowered so more people can pass through the factory unscathed. Thus, it goes the way of the SAT, in exchange for self-esteem.

    #74 – That’s inconceivable.

  7. michael lee Post author

    [quote comment="60362"]#65 ?!?[/quote]

    Yeah, this is a much longer answer than I can give in the comments section, and maybe I should write a post about it. Basically, I think college have become process oriented, and they view higher education as a system that you move students through. I think it functions more appropriately as a learning community, with peers and guides.

    Most 18-year-olds are not equipped to participate in a learning community, and really have no desire to. They want the process, the piece of paper, and the next step please.

  8. michael lee Post author

    [quote comment="60516"]
    #74 – That’s inconceivable.[/quote]

    What’s inconceivable? That I would call myself an evangelical, or that it might mean something other than what some people think?

  9. Scott

    Forgive me for reading the second half of #74 as a Princess Bride reference and responding accordingly. In truth, it’s quite conceivable.

  10. Faith Kathleen

    [quote post="1284"]I seem smarter than I really am when I’m chatting on IM, but it’s just because I’m really fast at googling.[/quote]

    So that’s your secret.

  11. corey

    “25. Corey Witt is the fastest friend I’ve ever made. 30 seconds after I met him, we were practically making out.”
    This is awfully nice of you to say. I felt the same way. I’ve never made a friend faster.

    “31. There’s a growth under the skin on my back that I’ve been ignoring for 9 months.”
    That’s actually your ass. Leave it be. It’s supposed to be there.

    “72. I still cringe when people around me use swear words. It’s a remnant of my conservative upbringing.”
    This makes me feel pretty bad, and makes number 25 a little more special. Thanks for your tolerance. For all of our kids’ sake, I’m working on my potty mouth.

  12. Paul

    The following are Paul and Grammy’s responses, as we read this post aloud driving home from a great week at June lake. No, I’m not driving and typing at the same time, and I don’t have satellite internet. This window just happened to be left open, and Grammy’s at the wheel. By the way, we just got all teary-eyed reading Gretchen’s post.

    4. (48 hour video game) Back in the Civil War (1984) we used to throw Chad and Carrie in bed and then play the original Zork for hours on our Atari 800. There was only text, so you had to use your imagination. We also flushed way too many quarters into Galaxian machines.

    7. (Science fair) I pretty much b-s’d my way through my undergraduate senior project, which had to do with attempting to alter a person’s perception of pitch by blasting them with a loud tone for a while and they playing a different one and seeing if it distorted their pitch perception (like where you stare at a red dot and then look at a white paper and see green). Whatever. About halfway through the project I decided it was totally pointless, but had to bluff my way through in order to graduate.

    8. (Eagle Scout). Grammy’s estimation of you just went up. She also wants to know if you finished your Spanish classes at APU. I did Cub Scouts, where I learned a game called “Bonschmeer,” which involved passing a ball to someone and then piling on him. Nine-year olds thought it was a great game. I thought the Boy Scouts looked like a bunch of hoods, so I never joined. Grammy did Girl Scouts when there was no equivalent to Eagle Scouts, since the girls were all supposed to be married by then.

    9. (Setting things on fire) I really loved blowing up my Revell models with firecrackers.

    12. (Adoption) We didn’t know that. Your parents chose well.

    13. (Skimming rather than reading). Grammy notes that most Christian and self-help books have an article’s worth of material expanded to 200 pages. She does the same thing as you. I am always reading about 10 books at once, because I have reading-ADD.

    16. (Making out to make ex-boyfriend jealous). I was once nearly set up on a blind date with Grammy when she was trying to get back at a guy who had dumped her. I got a hot tip and was waved off. Eight months later Grammy and I were cheerfully making out on our own recognizance, and it seems to have turned out well.

    25. (Corey Witt) TMI.

    29. (Sohpie’s intelligence) Of course she’s a genius. We know one when we see one.

    31. The growth under your skin sounds like a sebaceous cyst. I can remove it some time if you’d like, preferably before beer and barbecue.

    32. (Embarrassing but lucrative projects) We really need to know the story behind these. Did either of them involve “Magic Jewel Barbie”?

    38. (Youth group) Sounds like a familiar problem.

    40. (Getty) Actually the patio at the Getty is better than Rome. Grammy thinks that Venice is more romantic.

    43. Susan Sarandon?? Eewww. Grammy reminds you that she thought she was the sexy older woman in your life.

    44. (Inferiority or ego-maniac) Grammy says that you may wrestle with this for two more decades before you figure out that you’re pretty much okay, and always were. The sooner you realize it, the better.

    47.( Depression and insomnia) Join the club. There are meds for this, but sex often works just as well.

    48. What kinds of books have you started? Grammy and I both have sci-fi and fantasy projects stuck in a drawer somewhere.

    We just passed Velvet Elvis!! Ask Chad.

    49. (Criminal record) B-b-b-b-b-bad to the bone! Just kidding.

    53. (Opera) I’m still composing my post about Babywise, but in the meantime I have one already written about why opera drives me nuts.

    54. I don’t support public radio because their fundraising breaks during “Prairie Home Companion” drive me nuts. Like opera.

    55. Forget about being a fan of anyone except Jesus, Gretchen, Sophia and Peanut 2.

    58. (T-ball) We’re all artists rather than athletes (except Erica, who is both). We feel your pain.

    59. “People who live in grass houses shouldn’t stow thrones.” Benjamin Franklin.

    64. (Selling a video character for $600) Whoever paid you that money was an idiot, and you definitely got the better end of the deal.

    65. (Theology graduate school) Boy, do we feel dumb. We thought that the Kalaam Cosmological Argument involved elvish armor.

    68. 1450 on the SAT?? Way to go! Bet you can’t sell that for $600.

    71.(Random trivia) Have you tried out for Jeopardy yet? It’s a humbling experience, but the pay is good.

    72. (Swear words) Grammy says, “No shit! You’ll get over it.”

    73. Grammy wants to know who is your favorite sci-fi author. (What, you don’t like Christian fiction?)

    82. (No television until age 13) What was the first thing you watched? We got our first color TV when I was 13, and I thought I had gone to heaven.

    85. (Pig tailed wig and gingham dress on Korean television) So that’s why your family didn’t get a TV… Is this one of the two gigs you’re embarrassed about? If not, make that three.

    88. (Hugh Hefner at the Barfly) Here’s an arithmetic word problem: Hugh Hefner had seven bunnies. Hugh Hefner lost all of his money. How many bunnies were left?

    89. (Angels in 2002) I became a Dodger fan listening to Vin Scully on the radio in 1958. He’s still the best there is, the best there ever will be.

    90. (College textbooks next to the bed). We guess that explains the 1450 SAT and the trivia recall.

    94. (Making money playing all of those instruments) Grammy wants to know if the accordian gig was one of the two you were embarrassed about. If not, now you have four!

    95. (Trying marijuana) Grammy says, “Meet me next Friday night…” Juuust kidding.

    96. (Three things written about the U.S. in 500 years) Grammy says there will be a fourth – Bill and Monica. I would add a fifth – the pig-tailed wig and gingham dress.

    97. (Meal with Melissa Etheridge) What was awkward?

    98. (Academic position) See our response to number 44. Go forth and bloom. You’re in this position for a reason.

    99. (Mac fan-boy) Grammy reaffirms her delusional opinion that PCs are wonderful. Like opera, public radio fundraisers and the winds of Mojave, where we’re now getting gas, PCs drive me nuts, only worse.

    100. Congrats on a wonderful post. This kept us occupied for a couple of hours!

  13. Scott

    Oh yeah, when did the SAT change to the meaningless scores? I want to know if I should be proud of mine…

  14. Chad Sylvester

    Paul, regarding your #8, we always called that game “Smeer the Queer”. Your probably not allowed to call it that anymore. It sure was fun seeing if you could get rid of the ball fast enough to not get dog-piled, while still being “manly” enough to pick it.

  15. corey

    Paul n’ Grammy, while reading your comments, I scrolled between numbers 47 and 48. Having done that, it accidentally read:
    “There are meds for this but sex
    fantasy projects stuck in a drawer somewhere.”

    My first thought was, “jeez, I thought they were educated. That’s one hell of a sentence fragment.”
    My next thought was, “I’m not sure they should be sharing that with us.”
    My last thought was, “Dear Corey, you scrolled while reading and mixed two numbers together. You’re a dumbass.”

  16. michael lee Post author

    I feel like I should clarify #72 (the swear words) – I really only cringe at a few of the biggies, like F bombs. I myself have been known to color up my language, so I don’t want to come across as a hypocrite here.

    I think there are two things that really bug me about swear words. The first is when people use them intentionally for shock value, like their flaunting how little they care about what other people think about them. It’s sometimes the verbal equivalent of a high-school kid’s sneer.

    The second thing that bugs me is how unoriginal it is. Really? That’s the most creative use of language you can come up with to express your opinion?

    So, that’s all. Carry on, my friends, and please don’t feel awkward around me.

    Potty mouth.

  17. Paul

    The above-noted alternative name for “Bonschmeer” never made it to our Cub Scout den, and I’m happy to report that none of us would have understood what it meant. Let’s hear it for the Eisenhower administration.

    Regarding “sex fantasy projects,” glad to hear that the scrolling mechanism corrected itself. Was a PC involved?

    Regarding cuss words, I agree that overuse demonstrates lack of imagination, and that spewing for shock is both lame and disrespectful. On the other hand, I think it’s a misplacement of moral outrage to get too uptight about a well-timed expletive or two (as per Tony Campolo’s famous illustration at an APU chapel). It’s all about content, context and intent. I should add, however, that I don’t appreciate God and Jesus Christ being downgraded via profanity.

  18. Morphea

    I’m torn on the swearing subject, myself. I’m kind of a potty mouth (not kind of) myself, but don’t always like hearing it, and then I wonder how I sound, really, when I’m ‘expressing myself’. I do agree that overuse denotes lack of vocabulary and originality – the exception here being Jay and Silent Bob.

    I’m kinda sorta skirting around cleaning it up a bit. As a Joss Whedon fan I have ample fodder for borrowing original ways to express surprise or irritation. We’ll see.


  19. Phil Weiss

    Just read your 100 things. Thanks for #91 – that means a lot to me! #11 has caused me to pause and think back thru our “asking to marry Gretchen” discussion – might he have been bluffing with some of his replies to my questions I ask myself? I became reassured after reading # 27, 37, and 39. Then # 43 gave me pause, but I figure between Gretchen and myself, we can keep an eye on that. I do see some correlation between #81 and #61 however.

  20. Morphea

    Scott, I’m officially threadjacking Michael’s 100 to say: “You see, ScOtlas? I KNEW there was a reason (give or take 99) that I liked you.”


    P.S. Sorry, Michael. I already told you that you’re fascinating and that still stands.

  21. linda neubauer

    laughing out loud while the kids cook dinner…left over thanksgiving turkey in enchiladas (this probably only happens in california)
    …yeah, i need the ocean and mountains too

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