25 Random Things About Me You May Not Know

My friend Lafayette posted a list of "25 Random Things" about him this morning. (I'd link, but it's Facebook.) When he was done, Lafayette "tagged" 25 people, challenging them to do the same.

Normally I don't go in for that sort of thing, but I thought I'd give it a shot. However, I am writing this Intro after finishing the list, and I should warn you that I was not entirely successful in my original plan to keep to Bullet Point length. On top of that, after I wrote the list I realized I needed to make a few footnotes. Then some of the Footnotes needed footnotes....

To be honest, I have no idea if you will find this interesting, as I did when I read Lafayette's list. I found it interesting, but it was about me! All I can say is that I tried really hard to keep things interesting throughout, and to reward readers who persevere. (Maybe there should be a badge.)

And with that,

25 Random Things About Hyperion That Almost Nobody Knows (or in many cases would ever want to)

1. One time I could not remember the name of BJ's daughter on M*A*S*H1 and I got so obsessed that I spent 19 straight hours -- refusing to sleep or even eat -- until I figured it out. Sadly, this is not the only time I have done this.

2. I can bend my right pinkie all the way back to lie flat against the back of my hand.

3. I am physically uncomfortable watching TV if I know the Volume Level isn't on a prime number.2

4. I am a pretty good singer, but the "least best" in my ridiculously gifted family. That said, every so often, briefly, for only a few seconds even, I accidentally slip into some key that has never been done before, a new harmony that totally blows the harmony we have now away. I sometimes dream about figuring out how to sustain that.

5. Much more often, I slip into a key that has never been done before because I suck at harmony. Sometimes I think I have the harmony and then I listen to myself and I'm not even on a tune!

6. I take unbelievable pride at being the best in the world at relatively unimportant things!

If your best time in Intermediate Minesweeper is 88 seconds, chances are no one ever praised you for your "cat-like" reflexes

7. Speaking of which, there was a time in college when I became the best Minesweeper player who ever lived.3 On an old computer with a grainy scratchy mouse and a lumpy mouse-pad, I got 1 Second on beginner (that was luck, but I got 2 Seconds legitimately several times), an unheard of 11 Seconds on Intermediate and -- you might want to sit down for this -- 31 Seconds on Advanced. Those were real non-cheating times. I felt like Luke going for the Death Star; I just "knew" where not only the bombs were, but also the squares that open up big chunks of real estate.

8. I got to a point where I was playing Minesweeper six hours a day, and I started dreaming about it constantly. The dreams were not of me playing Minesweeper, but somehow of Minesweeper's Essence.4 That sounds stupid, but I know of no other way to explain it. I think it is because of these dreams that I somehow discovered the Matrix of the game, and didn't have to do the simple math calculations we all use to eliminate squares.

9. My entire '95 Minesweeper run lasted less than four weeks, and I must have played the game 100,000 times. That entire time I never knew you could click on the yellow frowny face to start over without going up to Menu --> New Game.

When you start playing Minesweeper you are terrified of hitting a bomb, and you go as slow as possible. That first game of Minesweeper can give you a heart attack! Once you get into the flow, though, you realize it's all about the reps. Most games will find bombs early on, before big holes open up, so why waste time getting there? I would guess that a good Minesweeper player can get -- assuming nothing opens up -- 15 new games started in 10 seconds. You literally open the game and click as fast as you can all over until you either hit a bomb or open up a swath of free space. Once you open up your swath, you slow down just enough to be aware of the numbers as you move on. You can mark where bombs are, but you're never going to set any records if you do that.5

10. Speaking of Minesweeper -- I'm such a hater! -- I think I just figured something out. I got into Sudokus before the "craze" hit, and I loved them. I got my mom into them, and she loved them more than I did, and would infuriatingly do them in the actual paper, rather than writing down a copy first so we both could do it. Anyway, like anyone, I wasn't super good at first, but I got better once I saw how it worked, and it got so that the 1-Stars (on Mondays) didn't present any challenge whatsoever unless I timed myself. (I used to try to beat a minute.) 5-Stars remained half-hour affairs (and occasionally that 4-Star that will pop up and is inexplicably harder than a 5-Star), and still challenging. Then, one day something "clicked," as I was doing a 5-Star, and I finished it in just a few minutes. It was so easy I thought it must be random, and indeed, the next time a 5-Star came up I was unable to reproduce the same results. However, a few days later the "click" came again, and I realized you didn't have to do the elimination steps so far out. There was a pattern, and you really didn't have to count at all. This sounds stupid even writing, but I swear it's like Minesweeper. In some way that I can't begin to even describe -- let alone explain -- you "sense" where the bombs are or where the numbers will slide in. It's like the Matrix, man! I wonder if anyone has ever looked into this.6

11. I stopped doing Sudokus soon after my discovery, because there was no challenge anymore. Now I like to do one every 6 months, because without the "reps" I lose whatever higher-level pattern-recognition my brain was sensing. 5-Stars still don't present much of a challenge, but it's decent fun, like how you'll watch ten minutes of Still Standing every once in awhile and really enjoy it; but knowing that if you suddenly started watching religiously you would soon light yourself on fire.7

12. I have never played "video games," but I do play a lot of relatively simple computer games. I love competitive games in general, but obviously that's not the reason, since computer games are usually so solitary. (No pun intended.) I think -- actually, I'm virtually certain -- that my enjoyment of simple computer games is because they allow my brain to enter an almost delta-state and think about other things. I hardly pay the least bit of attention to the games as I am playing them, but somehow the repetitive act of the game frees up my brain to...I don't know....Free associate?8

14. When I lived in Canada I used to update my blog on my FreeCell stats. I should be ashamed but it's too stupid to even feel shame. Anyone who goes for stats (Winning %) knows that it takes longer and longer to improve as you go along, but terrifyingly quick to fall. Let's say you have played 100 games, and have won 75%. (That's pretty good. I would put the Mendoza Line
9 at 50% and the "Good" line at 66.7%.) If you win the next 25 games in a row, you only move up to 80%. However, if you were to lose 10 games in a row, you drop to 68%. It's the simplest of math--ratios, but it seems unfair, doesn't it?

14. You may noticed I have #14 twice. This is because I had no #13. No, I'm not superstitious, in the conventional "fear of 13" way, but I don't think highly of 13. In fact, I go so far as to say that 13 is not a prime number and 14 is, even though that defies the laws of Primes that you think you know. What's even more inexplicable is that I am absolutely positive that this is true, even if it doesn't make sense. (More on that another time.) 14 is one of my two favorite numbers, and although later in life this would have a lot to do with its numerical factors (and other "factors), initially it was because I wore #14 on the only good soccer team I ever played for. (In my defense--and why am I defending myself on such an absurd point?--I have had many numbers on different teams. I think the love of #14 was that I was mentally able to glimpse -- not understand, but glimpse -- how special 14 was.10)

15. Speaking of soccer, it's the only sport where I was always terrible. I was so big so young, and this helped for many sports, like football and basketball, but in soccer my size never gave me any advantage. I think I played 3 or maybe 4 years of soccer, and in all that time I only ever scored one goal, when I wore #14 and played for the Pumas; the 10th goal in a 10-0 blowout over some team in Canby, Oregon.12

16. I was born on December 31, and the sports league was set up on a January 1 cut-off for age. (Remind me some time to go into Gladwell14 on that.) Anyway, I was huge for my age, and people often had a hard time believing I was so young. That Puma team (where I had the #14) was an all-star team, really, and how I got on was a mystery. (I think I signed up late.) I would almost never play until late in the game as a defensive player. So one time this team lost to us like 8-1, and EVEN THOUGH I ONLY PLAYED THE LAST THREE MINUTES, the opposing coach saw his opportunity. Coming up to me after the game he rudely demanded how old I was, and when my birthday was. Because it turned out I was one day too old to be in the league, that coach got a forfeit,15 the only game the Pumas lost in like three seasons. Everyone was mad, because it wasn't even like I was some Danny Almonte15.5 ringer pretending to be three years younger. I was one day too old, and I was awful!

17. I was thrown off the team -- which relieved the coach to no end -- since he no longer had to worry about playing time for someone so bad. I was upset about how the whole thing went down, but secretly I was relieved. I don't think I admitted it then--or even realized it--but I always hated soccer, and after that forfeit game I never stepped onto a soccer field again. I do miss that uniform, though.

18. It just occurs to me now, but I would bet that -- other than the meet-cute of me and #14 -- the real reason I miss that #14 uniform is because it was the only time in my life I got a uniform that fit and looked just like everyone else's. I was forever stuck with too-small uniforms or else different colors and designs because they had to go find an old high school uniform to give a 10 year old giant.17

[INTERJECTION - I have been humming along writing these Random Facts and having a grand old time, and it just occurred to me that Lafayette's entire list is under 500 words, while mine is....more. I will try to make these shorter.]

19. I was 5'2" at the end of 5th Grade, taller than everyone, but not horrifically so. By the beginning of 6th grade (less than three months later), I was 5'9". By the beginning of 7th Grade I was 6'4", and by the beginning of 8th Grade I was 6'5". (The last inch and change took about two years, when I finally stopped growing. You know, until the "Reverse Skate.")

20. I'm not sure of the progression, but by 7th Grade I wore size 15 shoes.

21. "Reverse Skate" just brought back a flood of memories. I was TERRIBLE with the girls in grade school (and Jr. High, and to a lesser (or greater) extent, in high school). My friend Josh Ingalls always had half the girls alive in love with him, including the unheard of feat of dating the most beautiful sixth grader of all time, Keri Driesel -- WHO WORE SWEATERS LIKE LAURA DANKER18 -- while Josh was still in the 4th Grade!!!!!! However, for reasons that will never be fully explained or understood, I turned into Rudolph Valentino21 at the skating rink. Josh Ingalls couldn't get a girl to ask someone to ask someone if he liked her (the sign of true love), while one time -- and I swear this on the greatest concession-stand food of all time, soft pretzels, that this is true -- this psycho aggressive girl chased me all afternoon long and finally chased me into the boys' bathroom!22 I must have been about 10 or 11 -- young enough to still understand the "Universal Immutable Truth that Girls are 100% Pure Evil and No Foolin'," but old enough to not be able to ever stop thinking about these horrible horrible Satan-Spawned Creatures of Darkness. (That was bitter, even for me! Bad memories...)

22. Time for another Reverse Skate. I forgot to mention that my latest FreeCell foray has been exceptional. Early on I had a 33-game-in-a-row run. When that ended, I had 32 losses for 84% (175 out of 207.) I decided to not "throw any games away" with carelessness and see how many in a row I could win. A Lou Gehrig-like 433 straight victories later, I was at 95% (608 - 32). It took me until 800 games to get to 96%. By 1067 games I finally made it to 97% and it wasn't until 1600 games that I got to 98%. More important than climbing the charts, I STILL HAD NOT LOST A GAME IN MY STREAK. It also dawned on me that this monumental achievement -- not only 98%, but actually playing 1600 games, and getting that % up to 99%. In other words, my 1393 game winning streak was chump change. I would have to win AN ADDITIONAL 1600 GAMES IN A ROW to get to 99%. The amazing thing is that I tried.

(I didn't fail. I haven't lost another game yet, a record of 2241 out of 2273; 2066 in a row. However, I have only played ten games in the last year, and at this point it is beyond improbably that I would play the 900+ games left, let alone win them all.)

23. It just occurred to me that my Iron-man FreeCell winning streak is more impressive than my Hussein Bolt-esque Minesweeper numbers, if only for the sheer amount of time I had to be perfect. In Minesweeper, you might hit a bomb in 950 games out of 1000. Of the 50 victories, three dozen of them will be too slow to matter, and maybe 14 of them (wink!) will challenge your record. It's still a great feat, but falls short of the sustained excellence of the FreeCell. Or maybe I'm wrong. (How much farther would your opinion of me fall if you knew that I would relish the opportunity to spend 4-6 hours one night in a Denny's or IHOP vigorously and scholastically debating and figuring out just which feat was better?23)

24. I'm sure there are people who have never lost FreeCell, and have played tens of thousands more games than I, so I can't be the best in the history of the World like I am in Minesweeper. But to continue the Reverse Skate for another song, here are five other things in which I am the best in the history of the world: Water-Bottle Ball, Naming things, the Compound-Non-Compound-Word Game (which ironically needs to have a better name), and Mattel Electronic Classic Football Game. (And obviously I am referring to the first version, God's version, where you couldn't go backwards. The second version was only enjoyed by Pimps, Pedophiles and People who actually insist that SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE deserved Best Picture over SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.24)

Real men only move in one direction

25. I planned from the beginning to do Breathing Ground for my 25th Random Fact, but then I realized it probably should be it's own column. (Or reality show!) Hmm.... Oh, I got it! I basically have zero ability in Art. I cannot draw to save my life, or paint or mold. I have never whittled or carved or crocheted, but I am certain I could not do those, either. Maybe I could cross-stitch! (But that's less "Art" than paint-by-numbers.) I am (one of) the world's greatest necklace makers, but we're talking "Art" art here. Like I said, terrible, but for some reason, if you give me a black Sharpie pen and a non-standard piece of paper (like the back of a small envelope), I can somehow create a really neat pattern. Probably wouldn't make it in the Louvre, but if you saw me do that instead of paying attention during a boring meeting, I bet you'd be plenty jealous.

Luckily, I'm totally the Bob Ross type. (Ooh: bonus fact!)

January 26, 2009

1 It was Erin
2 or 14
3 Originally the line read that while it was technically possible that someone else might equal my scores, no one could ever beat them. Then I realized that was crazy. Barring cheating, it ain't happening.
4 I would personally -- and cheerfully! -- strangle many orphans if I could have the glimmer of how to explain what I'm talking about when I say Minesweeper Essence. Sadly, this is becoming the norm for me and dreams. Not only do I feel like it's in a different language, but I feel like I would need an additional different language to explain the dream's language. Language isn't even the right word, and the very fact that I am forced to use "Language to approximate meaning infuriates me to no end.
5 Also, you should alternate between color and Black & White every few hours, so your eyes don't start missing detail.
6 I should do a whole column -- No: a serious of columns! -- on higher-level patterns. I would probably sound like a conspiracy nut, but what's really nuts is thinking we understand the first thing about how our made-up numbering system fits into the world.
7 Since I don't see how this will ever come up again, I have to tell you this one line I heard when I was watching five minutes of Still Standing. (Wait: before I tell you that, is it weird that there are literally scores of shows where I have never seen an entire episode, but I might semi-regularly watch five minutes here or there? If that's not just me, we should make a 5-10 minute list. Or 10-20 minute list for movies.) Where was I? Oh, screw it. I'll figure out a way to get the Still Standing line into a future column.
8 "Free Associate" is another pathetic attempt to describe what I'm actually thinking about. You'd never think I was good with the word-using, huh? And this time I can't blame secret Dream Language, but merely my inarticulation.
9 Sorry, dude, but if you live in America, you should already know what Mendoza Line is, and the foreign readers are smart enough to have looked it up immediately.
10 You give me ten minutes to start riffing on numbers -- especially Primes -- and what they can do, and I'll either have you shaking like you just had a hair's-breadth miss at 80 mph, or so turned on that the next time you replace bed-side nightstand batteries it will be for your TI-81.11
11 That's a calculator.
12 I put a footnote after "Canby, Oregon" because I assumed I would come up with a great joke about how awful Canby was/is. Sadly, even I have "off" paragraphs, and it's a mess to re-order superscript footnotes. Um...just to give you your money's worth...I once asked a Canby girl if I could "hold" her breast. No lie. I was in Canby at the time, so obviously my options were limited.
14 Malcolm Gladwell's new book "Outliers" has a section on the unintended consequences of arbitrary age cut-offs for sports.
15 Maybe it doesn't matter, but I will always believe that coach taught his kids terrible sportsmanship by taking the cheap forfeit when the violation had less than zero do do with the loss. I'm pretty sure that same man is now coaching High School Girls' Basketball in Texas.16
15.5 - The numbering is weird on this one because I realized it at the last second. See about Danny Almonte
16 Dude, just Google "Texas High School Girls Basketball." I'm not your friggin' maid.
17 I bet if I got in the right frame of mind I could write an entire column about the different uniforms I had to wear growing up that would make you so sad that you would immediately bake me cookies and offer oral pleasures, and not necessarily in that order.
18 I put a link but the author assumes you already know who Laura Danker is. Basically there is an amazing book that all girls AND BOYS should read when they are 11-12 called "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" by Judy Blume. In this book Laura Danker comes to sixth grade wearing suddenly wearing sweaters because she has "developed."19
19 Writing that explanation of Laura Danker -- I so want to read the book again now! -- I got this thought: Do Judy Blume's three masterpieces translate to Today's Youth? I read "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" and Superfudge" at least fifty times each, and on the humor alone they would hold up, right? What about Margaret? I love that book like I love taffy --and I'm a man who loves his Taffy!20 -- but I read the book around '86 (published in '70), and there were already pretty big plot-points that were completely antiquated. Since I don't think I have any 13 year old readers (at the 19th footnote, I'd be surprised if I had any readers left), I put the call out to any moms who recently had their daughters read Margaret.
20 Come on, people. It's time to step up your game. Having Footnotes is a privilege, not a right. The Taffy line is a direct quote from Mayor Adam West on Family Guy.
21 Rudolph Valentino - At this point, it's just easier.
22 She accused me of being scared, which I denied hotly, but in truth I was terrified. I can't believe I told a skating story and some how the Music Video Machine, Couples-Skate, and glow-in-the-dark bracelets from the egg machine got left out! Maybe the Skating Rink needs its own column, too.
23 My initial thought is that my friend Bear would be so all over it that he might fly in from Seattle to figure it out Right Now. However, Bear is a Video Game Prophet (he quit working at the Smithsonian at Harvard to go get another degree learning to make video games), and he might be so offended that I spend countless hours on the likes of FreeCell and not the likes of Final Fantasy DLCVI that he might refuse to participate. My next thought would be Koz, who lives in Atlanta, only 90 minutes away, but I have been back in Georgia for 25 months and he has never come visit me yet, so the odds are slim. Open Invitation, people. You come to my town and we'll go to Denny's and get our Grub on and our Sweet Tea on and we'll figure out which feat is actually better.
24 SAVING PRIVATE RYAN'S loss to SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE for Best Picture was the most egregious Oscar abomination since 1941 when CITIZEN KANE lost to HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY. Some people want to point out PULP FICTION in 1994, but they forget that THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION also came out that year, so the split mutes the impact. And don't write me to "disagree," not even for Comedy's sake, because I absolutely refuse to argue about this.
25 I know absolutely nothing about the trials and tribulations of the "Cross-stitch Art," but Kaida loves to cross-stitch, and this is the only way I can see if she's still reading without asking. See another great thing about this footnote is that anyone who sends me an angry email obviously didn't read down this far, which gives me the moral high ground! (Conversely, those who have made it through all 4100+ words to get to this point have all the moral high ground they will ever need.)Selah

Bob Ross would so help you with your Art


Anonymous said...

I just gave up 1/2 of my opportunity for a nap to gain "moral high ground".; but hey, I now know 25+ things about you to bring up cryptically during some future conversation.... :) have a good day Hype

Harriet :)

Anonymous said...

As per 14a...if you played 100 gamed and won 750 of thos games, I guess that would be pretty damn good!

Koz said...

Hey I met you at Mickey Ds in Columbus, isn't that considered a visit?

Also, the same thing happened to me in Sodoku. All of a sudden it just clicked and I could solve them with ease.

Anonymous said...

Little man: You are frighteningly self-involved far beyond general Aspergian levels. You will likely commit homicide rather than suicide, but certainly one or the other. To help you along that path: Do you have any hint how pedestrian your stultified intellect appears to us of IQ 162? No, you don't, more's the pity.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.