100 Things

  1. I decided at age 15 that I wanted to become an English teacher, so that I could help people free their minds.
  2. I’ve never looked back. I love being a teacher, and I can’t imagine myself with any other career.
  3. I’ve written four novels.
  4. I have one brother, named Mark.
  5. I’ve produced over fifteen albums, all released on my indie label, Ribonucleic Records.
  6. I love to play Go.
  7. I became a lifelong member of the East Timor solidarity community while I was in college.
  8. I am madly, passionately, euphorically in love with my wife Diane.
  9. When I was twelve years old, my father gave me a copy of AK Dewdney’s The Planiverse. It completely altered my conception of reality.
  10. My father died in 1992 at the age of 50. He and my mother are the best parents a child could have, filling my brother and me with love, guidance, and self-confidence.
  11. I was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida.
  12. I currently live in Madison, Wisconsin.
  13. I have written two brochures about international economic institutions (the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, etc).
  14. One of my favorite movies of all time is Barton Fink. I recently did lots of research and writing to make the Wikipedia article robust and informative, earning it a bronze Featured Article star.
  15. For many years, I ate a wretched diet and never exercised; yet my body remained lithe and svelte. My metabolism has since changed, but I refuse to change my diet or exercise.
  16. I have used Apple computers my entire life.
  17. The only time I wish I had a PC is when I look at all the cool games available for them that have no Mac counterpart.
  18. I am sometimes painfully chagrined by the level of obliviousness in some of my students. At times I weep for the future of our republic and planet.
  19. We used to own a dog with three legs named Eileen. I adopted her after she lost the leg and after she was so named. We now own a rambunctious pit bull named Tito.
  20. When I was in elementary school, the cool kids enticed me into climbing up the side of a fort, then dropped the rope to which I clung. I sprained my neck and hated them for years.
  21. When I was in middle school, I had the snot beaten out of me at a Public Enemy concert.
  22. Public Enemy remains one of my favorite music groups of all time.
  23. I am a feminist.
  24. I think capitalism is an unjust system of economic organization. I believe that any structure of economy must have as a fundamental guiding principle the basic well-being of all humans.
  25. I really like electronic music, especially SomaFM‘s Groove Salad.
  26. At restaurants, I tend to order the same thing on the menu every time. For instance: There is a Mexican restaurant in Gainesville called La Fiesta. I’ve been there many hundreds of times over the years, and I’ve only ever ordered one entrée.
  27. I drive a black 1998 Honda Civic.
  28. It is plastered on the back with many bumper stickers, including: “Resist Despair,” “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people,” and “Fight Racism.”
  29. In my classroom, I’ve established a project called “The Everything Web,” which guides students toward making connections between seemingly unrelated ideas and events.
  30. I play lots and lots of video games.
  31. I always buy the cheapest clothing I can find. I have better things to spend my money on.
  32. I hate plastic bottles.
  33. I believe that The Simpsons is the best show ever to appear on television.
  34. Futurama is also very excellent.
  35. Noam Chomsky is one of my heroes, yet when I was in my first year of college, I didn’t know who he was. Ergo, when my brother helped to arrange his speaking event in Gainesville, I missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet him.
  36. I am a student of Zen Buddhism. Bankei is my favorite voice from the ages.
  37. I try to meditate regularly; but instead of Zazen, I just lie on the ground (or my bed) and keep still for an hour or so. Sometimes I listen to ambient techno music.
  38. For several months in 2000, I was known at work as Max Power. The manager of the bookstore was named Eric, so confusion became inevitable. To make things simpler, I chose a pseudonym.
  39. Nonconformity by Nelson Algren is my favorite book about writing.
  40. In 1997, I spent one month in Brazil with my friend Corinna and her cousins. Sadly, the only Portuguese I learned was: “Nao faolo Portugaes.” I probably spelled some words wrong there.
  41. In elementary school, I performed in the talent show by lip-synching to “Daryl and Joe” by Run-DMC.
  42. In middle school, I performed in the talent show by lip-synching to “Cold Lampin’ with Flavor” by Public Enemy.
  43. In high school, I became Sophomore Class President after I kicked some rap lyrics for my speech.
  44. I didn’t do one single thing as Sophomore Class President.
  45. I listened to Enigma’s first album, MCMXC a.D., non-stop while reading the Amber novels by Roger Zelazny. As a result, I can’t hear that album without thinking of Amber and the struggles of its royal family.
  46. My buddy Jon Guy died six months after I met him in college. He used to come into my room, unannounced, and talk to me for hours about computers.
  47. January 1996 was a very bad month for me.
  48. Several years ago, my lady friend at the time and I were driving in the mountains of North Carolina and slipped on a tiny patch of ice. The telephone pole we hit was the only thing keeping us from going over a four foot cliff.
  49. I have shaved my head regularly since I was seventeen. The only time I let it grow was for my mother’s wedding.
  50. I once took some CDs to a shop in order to sell them so I could buy food for the week. The clerk told me I could get $25 in cash or $30 in trade. Unable to resist, I got two used CDs and bought $7 worth of ramen noodles.
  51. I perform a variety of Google ego searches at least twice a year.
  52. I frequently spout random Simpsons quotes during class. I enjoy hearing students recognize them. I adore hearing students spout appropriate rejoinders. This happens less and less frequently as time goes on.
  53. For years I have decorated the walls of my home with old calendar images (of authors and East Timor); memorabilia from political actions and public events; and clippings from the SkyMall catalogue.
  54. I wore braces for many years, but I never wore my retainer; as a result, I still have a gap in my front teeth and a bit of an overbite.
  55. I usually have one role-playing game active, either on my Mac or a home games console.
  56. The only painting I have ever sought out and purchased is Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” I would like to own Picasso’s “Guernica” at some point. (Of course I purchased a print of “The Scream,” not the original.)
  57. The only sport I have ever chosen to watch on television is soccer.
  58. I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, in Florida.
  59. I refrain from using swear words in my blog, because several students read it on a regular basis.
  60. I am horribly negligent in backing up my computer files.
  61. When I moved from Sarasota to Gainesville, Florida, the moving truck blew out the back right tire. The explosion came up through the floor of the cargo area — right at the spot where my stereo, computer, and television were resting without padding. All three were damaged beyond repair.
  62. My eye color is a strange mix of green, yellow and orange.
  63. Several years ago I purchased a complete set of The Works of Honoré de Balzac. It was the first set of Dusty Old Books I’d ever owned. I have since become something of a Balzac authority on Wikipedia. I even made a shrine to him.
  64. I have since acquired my grandfather’s collection of classical European texts.
  65. When I left my job at a mall bookstore, I hacked into the cash register and caused the phrase “Help stop US support for genocide in East Timor” to appear on receipts for half of a day. The manager was not amused.
  66. I have a very big ego. I have a goal of hearing at least one student each year tell me that I am their favorite teacher of all time.
  67. I like to spell colour with a U, just for the heck of it.
  68. When I quit working at Borders bookstore, I sent a letter to the CEO of the company, telling him that his holiday message “strikes me as insipid, hypocritical rat manure.” I detailed the fabulous profits Borders was making and contrasted it with the crappy pay we workers received, then challenged him to live on what we made.
  69. The CEO swiftly demanded that the manager find out if I was organizing a union at our store.
  70. In 1999, I served as Assistant US Coordinator for the International Federation for East Timor’s Observer Project.
  71. I graduated from New College wearing a T-shirt reading: “Help Stop US Support for Genocide in East Timor.”
  72. When I graduated from the University of Florida’s College of Education master’s program, I handed the president of the university a slip of paper announcing my solidarity with the school’s protesting custodial workers.
  73. Despite the alleged psychological harm it inflicts on students, I continue to grade papers with a red pen.
  74. For Halloween 2003 I dressed up as “Hal E. Burton,” and handed people notes that said “Thank you for the $87 billion.”
  75. I once got suckered in by a vanity press who insisted they were not a vanity press. I never sent them any money, but I did get my hopes up.
  76. I keep a copy of Elements of Style on my writing desk.
  77. I hate having broken skin (cuts, scrapes, scabs, etc).
  78. All my friends are having children, and they’re very cute. (The kids — my friends are cute too, but not as cute as the kids.)
  79. Future events weigh on my mind, regardless of how much I look forward to them. I suffer from severe temporal inertia; whatever I’m doing, I want to keep doing it forever.
  80. I revel in the use of expansive vocabulary, so long as the purpose is jocular and/or necessary.
  81. I hate when people use big words to make other people feel stupid or hide things.
  82. I used to go on AOL and argue with conservatives.
  83. In high school, I was a rabid fan of a local BBS called Dragon Keep. I spent many, many hours on DK. Sometimes we got together in person.
  84. I love donuts. One of the reasons I do my grocery shopping at the supermarket (instead of the co-op) is because of their delicious donuts.
  85. I grind my teeth a lot, usually without realizing it.
  86. I’m told I talk in my sleep.
  87. I bristle and lash out when my students use “gay” in a pejorative sense.
  88. I pride myself on being able to spell well. I enjoy having students ask me to spell a word, because I can usually do it without thinking and without pausing.
  89. I used to bring a boom box to elementary school and wander around the playground during recess listening to Twisted Sister’s album Stay Hungry.
  90. I’ve usually been one generation behind when it comes to video game systems. When everyone else had the NES, I had an Intellivision. When everyone else had the SuperNintendo, I had an NES. When everyone else had the N64, I had a SuperNintendo. When everyone else had a PlayStation, I had nothing. When everyone else had an XBox, I had a PlayStation. When everyone else got an XBox360, I had a PS2. I’ve finally caught up; today I own both an XBox360 and a PS3.
  91. I believe our society must undergo a nonviolent revolution in order to dispose of this unjust system of corporate domination, in concert with revolutions in gender relations, race relations, and a host of other social dynamics.
  92. I made my own folding Go board. It makes a nice thick resonant sound when a stone is placed.
  93. I sometimes make an unusual clicking sound with my tongue when I think.
  94. In high school, all the cool debate kids learned how to spin their pens around their thumbs. I could never figure it out, so I taught myself to flip my pen vertically. It looks cooler and frequently impresses my students. (Years later I learned how to spin it the other way, too.)
  95. I can see bits of myself in every student I have.
  96. I often listen to loud hip-hop music on the way to school.
  97. I’m decidedly unimpressed with most of the blogs and lists of 100 Things I read online.
  98. In my classroom, I use The Matrix as a cautionary example of why the students should not trust the machines to spellcheck their writing for them.
  99. Two novels that I enjoy that no one else has read are The Murmuring Coast by Portugal’s Lidia Jorge and Black Sunlight by Zimbabwe’s Dambudzo Marechera.
  100. Few things make me happier than hearing from someone who has read my writing.