January 2, 2008
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8 random facts

Eight Things Meme, via Cathy Marshall.

  1. I took remedial reading from first through fourth grade. Our Gillingham class was actually quite strong, and I guess in lots of ways it was, for me, crucial. I'm still a slow reader.
  2. I played tight end. And 2B. Badly.
  3. I used to shoot very fast lasers at small molecules, and listen to the sound waves made by the fragments. First, you'd have a flash of ultraviolet light, and then you'd have a flash of visible light just a few picoseconds later; if the ultraviolet light created some exotic, short-lived molecular fragment that happened to absorb visible light, the fragment would absorb some of the second flash and make more noise. It worked surprisingly well.
  4. The great classicist Russell Meiggs once called a paper of mine "a plucky effort:" a much nicer compliment, in its way, than all those big numbers on science exams.
  5. My basement is full of machines I couldn't part with, until they became impossible to unload. Including an Ohio Scientific 6502 with 8K of RAM and a cassette drive, which cost about as much as today's iMac.
  6. I wrote a computer game, Wargle, that was a minor hit at Harvard in the 80's and was published by Hayden, back when Hayden was expected to be a Force in the software industry because they had distribution.
  7. My great grandfather stepped out of the house to pick up some milk one day, and nobody in the family knows where he went or what happened next.
  8. As a child, I was convinced that it was important to pay attention to airplanes you are on, lest they fall down. This conviction found its way into the psychiatric literature. But have you noticed how turbulence frequently accompanies tea and coffee service? They serve coffee and suddenly nobody is paying attention: instead, we have a lot of distracted people fiddling with their cream and sugar, and the plane begins to shake.