Getting To Know Your Nerd: Part II

What’s tbe number one thing that’s relatively easy to do (no climbing Mt. Everest) that you haven’t done?
First, let’s get one thing straight. The only way you’d ever find me on Everest or any other mountain summit is because someone shot me and drug my corpse up there. Climbing mountains and skiing down them just doesn’t trip my trigger.

But what haven’t I done that’s relatively easy? I’ve never learned to play the harp, and I really want to. I want to learn how to play one of those big, classical harps. I don’t think it’d be all that hard for me since, from what I’ve seen, they have much in common with a piano. I really think that, given a couple of months, I could become pretty decent on that thing. The reason I haven’t is quite simple, have you seen how much one of those friggin’ things cost?

Do you believe that eyes are the windows to the soul?
Sorry, this may sound a bit unromantic, but I think more than anything, one’s passions are the windows to the soul. What one does tells us far more about them than their eyes ever could. How often did we get to see the eyes of Ray Charles or Roy Orbison? Yet would you say these people lacked soul? Hell, Ray Charles is the very definition of soul.

If you look in my eyes, I really have no idea what you’ll see. They’re kind of greyish and probably just a tad bloodshot. Would they tell you about my music? Would they speak of my art and writing? Would they say anything about the two wonderful children I have which I absolutely do not deserve? I don’t think they would. So instead of looking deep into my eyes why don’t you instead come over, have a beer, I’ll play some music and we can watch my kids dance.

Why did you start working in a library?
Honestly? It was an accident. When I graduated high school I was a fully trained professional theatre technician. I specialized in stage carpentry, follow spot, and fly gallery. My aspirations were to do nothing but that and to eventually become a stage manager somewhere which would support me through college because, by then, I knew I wanted to be a historian.

But stage techs only work when there’s a show in town which might only be two or three times a month. It’s good money, but you can starve to death on it. So I needed to find steadier work. My dad worked as a facilities maintenance guy at the local library since I was three years old, so I practically grew up in a library. They needed someone to put books away and I needed a steadier paycheque, so I applied. The lady who interviewed me and became my boss had known me since I was a small child, but she hired me because I was the most qualified and gave the best interview.

I wasn’t supposed to like it. It was just supposed to be a job.

My inner geek was intrigued. Here was a use for these computers I loved so much. A good friend of mine was the IT manager for the library, and soon I was helping him with minor issues and network concerns. As the library upgraded their software, I got to see what a new world this library tech could be as things got connected to this growing thing called the Internet.

I was hooked. Specifically I got hooked on library circulation and technology. Fortunately, a lot of new technology is geared toward circulation. So as the years went on I did two things, I learned as much as I possibly could about library technology and I tried to figure out ways to make it work in the circulation department. I’m still doing that, and probably always will be.

How many blogs do you have?
I have four personal sites that I manage on my own. My personal blog where I write about anything that’s interesting to me at any given time is called Distant Early Warning. I named it after a song by a progressive rock band called Rush. When I was moving to Arizona, I drove the U-Haul while my wife and father in law drove our car. Since the U-Haul didn’t have anything in the way of a CD player, I put a small CD boombox in the front seat and listened to Rush albums all the way from Washington to Arizona. It was kind of an experience.

Probably my best known blog is Dioecism Squared. Dioecism as a word refers to a species where compatible sexual organs are found on different members of the same species, usually what we’d call male and female. While this may seem like it’d be true of most organisms, it’s not always the case. There are types of snails who can change their gender and be male or female. Some creatures reproduce asexually, so there’s no need for a sexual organ. Anyway, as you might be able to figure out from the all the talking about sex and sexual organs, the blog itself is about sex, the adult entertainment industry, and pornography in general.

Since I’m a librarian and completely into how technology and libraries can work together, I’ve got a library and information culture blog called Not All Bits. The name comes from a quote by one of my biggest heroes, Carl Sagan. He once said “All of the books in the world contain no more information than is broadcast as video in a single large American city in a single year. Not all bits have equal value.” With the huge amount of information on the Internet, televisions (some of which are now connected to the Internet), DVD players (some of which are also connected to the Net), video games (ditto), and beyond, it’s interesting to see what people give value to in terms of where they get their information from and how it shapes them. More than anything else, that’s what that blog is about.

My fourth site really isn’t so much a blog, even though it runs on WordPress. It’s called Hyperlinked History and it’s really the site where I put up my history shows. See, I’m working on two shows right now. The first, Hyperlinked History is a show about the surprising connections between historical events and their effects on the present and the future. The other show is still in process and I hope to debut it very soon. It’s called Historionics and it’s about the history in our entertainment, like the true history behind a story in a video game. Or what really happened with the Inglorious Basterds. So like I said, that’s not so much a blog as it is just a website you can go to to watch my shows.

I’m also a fairly regular contributor to LISNews, the Librarian and Information Science website.

How do you find all your NSFW links?
I get a lot of stuff from a lot of different places actually. I’m a huge fan of places like 4chan and 7chan. These websites are truly a sort of Internet underground where people unafraid of images and language might go to see what other people are doing. Both of these sites are examples of image boards, something started by another hero of mind, Nishimura Hiroyuki. He created something wonderful in Japan called 2channel. It was something different, a site where people could post images and comments and they could do so with complete anonymity. No need to create an account, just upload a picture and make your comment. Websites in America started doing the same and 4chan and 7chan are only two of many.

Beyond that, my RSS reader contains somewhere around 50 different feeds from various sites who post some rather fine pornography. Thanks to the wonders of RSS, I typically read through a couple hundred sites per day (not all of them pornographic) all from the comfort of Google Reader. Other things come to me through serendipity and still others come from friends. (Yes I have friends who send me porn.)

Usenet is also a major source of good things for my NSFW blog. For all the nerds old enough to remember, there’s this part of the Internet called Usenet where you can read “news” like an old school bulletin board system. Usenet has lots of specialty groups for images and multimedia. There’s tonnes of content and good things there, you just have to know where to look.

What’s a belief that you once held when you were younger that you have since reversed, if any?
At one point, I believed in God, and that’s God with a capital G. I went to Sunday schools and youth groups and all of that stuff. I want to make it clear that I wasn’t going because I was forced, indeed I can’t remember my parents ever going to church except for the occasional wedding or something. No, this was of my own volition and mostly related to a social need. Some of my good friends were Christians, so I decided to try hanging out with them in their own environment.

It was when I started to witness and experience the basic ignorance inherent in most, if not all, religions that I started really examining my beliefs. One preacher or pastor disagreed with another. One pastor actively discouraged people from reading the Bible, ostensibly because of “issues arising from interpretation.” In other words, you might learn something that contradicted what he said. They spoke against evolution, which made no sense to me since, being a naive kid, I saw no conflict with a creator and taking time to create something. I wrote music, but it took time. I could draw something, but time passed while I did. The act of creation took time, didn’t it?

“No, God just flipped a switch.”

“But what of all the evidence that says…”

“Now you’re speaking like an unbeliever, you shouldn’t talk like that.”

“But if He just flipped a switch, then why did it take seven days? Why didn’t he just do it all at once?”

“Shhhh…”

So I read the Bible, cover to cover, and I learned a lot. Indeed, I learned far more than any of the church authorities seemed to know.

Then along came other doctrines like homophobia, racism, misogyny, and an overarching sense of vileness that if you weren’t a Christian, then fuck you. Actually it went beyond that because most churches believe not only that non-believers were scum, but if you believed but weren’t part of my church, then fuck you too. The misogyny was the biggest surprise because I saw it coming from women too.

The last straw was the youth pastor who said that new age music was the music of Satan. Keep in mind, I’m a musician and a new age composer and I have been since I was in my teens. New age music is evil? So Yanni, Shadowfax, Suzanne Ciani, Vangelis, Deep Forest, and Enigma are evil? And since I play, compose, and enjoy this kind of music too, I am also, therefore, evil?

Fuck you. Fuck you, you ignorant son of a bitch. You don’t even know what you’re talking about. I can’t find a single goddamn passage in the entire Bible that said new age music is evil. Indeed, the Bible really doesn’t categorize any music in any meaningful way. So, in the end, you stupid fuckers are just making this shit up, aren’t you? And if you’re making that shit up, who knows what else you’re making up? Gays are bad? Who says so? The same book in the Bible that gives instructions for the selling of slaves? Sex is dirty? But what of the Song of Solomon and all those begats? There are shitloads of begats in your Book, so someone was doing some heavy fucking.

So I left. I tried other religions before finally deciding that there is one thing I can count on, and have counted on, to direct me and help me in my times of need: Science. When I had a bleeding episode as a kid, the very episode I was diagnosed as a hemophiliac – God didn’t save me, science did. When a friend of mine in high school got cancer and went through radiation treatments and chemotherapy and is now cancer free it wasn’t God who killed the cancer. No it was chemotherapy and radiation treatments, two practical things wrestled by humans from the laws of nature through experiment, skeptical observation, and years of testing.

What belief did I once hold that I’ve since reversed? Well, I used to be a Christian but now I’m a human. You know, you grow.

If you weren’t doing what you are doing, what would you be doing?
You know, I’ve thought about that and I can only come to one conclusion: If I wasn’t working directly in library circulation, I’d be working for some kind of company that made technology solutions for library circulation. For instance, we’ve got this spectacular machine made by FKI Logistex that takes items, checks them in, and sorts them into bins. In the 16 years I’ve worked in library circulation, it’s the first labour saving machine I’ve ever seen that actually saves labour.

The company that makes it is based in Aarhus, Denmark. Their techs, salespeople, project managers, and consultants go all over the world talking to libraries and librarians to see what they can do to help them. Of course they’re also looking to make a boatload of cash because this machine may be a lot of things but cheap isn’t one of them. They’re well paid, certainly better than I am. They’re also handling another aspect of what I love, which is library technology. It’d be an interesting job.

Is there anyone you would kill in a heartbeat if you were guaranteed to get away with it?
Not really. I know that’s not a very interesting answer but I abhor real life violence. I have no issues with fantasy violence. When it comes to video games, I’ve killed more people than any historical criminal. I’ve shot civilians, military people, and yes I’ve even killed women and scientists. All of them were the creations of a computer and the mind of a video game designer. I’ve got nothing against fantasy violence like you see in horror movies or action flicks. That stuff doesn’t bother me at all because I know that after Jason Vorhees hacked that woman apart, the director called CUT! and she got up and got ready for her next scene. I know I didn’t kill that scientist in Half Life 2 because, when I loaded the game from a checkpoint, the scientist came back and I chose not to shoot him that time. I know that I didn’t kill any innocent people in Modern Warfare 2 because after I was done hosing down an airport with an automatic weapon, they came back when I reset the game. Indeed, they were wearing the same outfits.

None of that stuff matters to me because it’s not real.

Have you ever seen the real effects of a .45 caliber bullet on a human torso? Have you ever seen the damage done by a .50 caliber round on a person’s head? Have you seen the victim of a stabbing? Have you ever really looked at a crime scene?

I have. At one point I was thinking about becoming a CSI and this was long before CSI made it a cool occupation to have. So in college I looked at crime scene photos, real people who died real deaths and usually they spent their last moments experiencing real fear and real agony. These people, regardless of who they were, were someone’s sons or daughters. They were someone’s best friend. At one point, they were just a cute, cuddly little baby toddling around a room and playing with a toy. And there they laid, on the floor, throat opened by the razor of a serial rapist and murder.

Kill someone? To be honest, I doubt I could.

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