Josh (desh) wrote,
Josh
desh

100 things about me meme

Eh, might as well.


1. I was once elected judge. Well, ok, I was actually elected Judge Of Election, which is quite different. I won with one vote, because I wrote myself in. Then the chair of the Political Science Department at Duke blogged about me. I resigned after half a year and one election (out of 8).

2. Another interesting job I had since college was teaching assistant at a court reporting school. My job was, essentially, to read transcripts from court cases aloud at very specific speeds. (100 words per minute is so painfully slow that it's hard to do, 160 and 180 are close to natural, and 200 and 225 can get a bit hard to read, though it's not hard to speak extemporaneously at that speed.) I didn't learn steno (the shorthand with those weird machines that court reporters use), but I learned enough about it that I can explain it.

3. I'm never going to finish this meme if I keep posting things that long.

4. I first heard of the internet, or any sort of online network thing, when my old next door neighbor Brian got Prodigy. He invited me over and showed me the up-to-date Phillies score ON HIS COMPUTER. He was known to lie on occasion, and I was SURE this was a hoax of some sort. This was probably around 1991 or 1992.

5. Sometime after that, it occured to me that I'd seen my dad use a modem before. I remember sitting quietly on the floor of his home office once, watching over his shoulder as he typed green letters onto a black screen, and then he stopped typing but more words kept appearing.

6. I don't drink caffeine usually. This isn't a hard-and-fast policy, but I prefer not needing it. I might have a soda once every 6 weeks or so.

7. I was diagnosed as ADD as a teenager. I suspect the reality is that I'm just on the ADD side of the line, but it's really close and I wouldn't have been diagnosed by many other doctors.

8. No medication ever worked. I tried 3 things: Ritalin, Wellbutrin, and Adderall. Two of them (I think the first two) didn't do a thing. The third one dried out my mouth and almost entirely eliminated my desire to sleep. My mom was worried I'd get addicted and she stole the pills away from me, even though I agreed with her at that point that I should stop taking them.

9. I probably could have also been diagnosed as dyslexic or as having Asperger's at some point. My current thinking is that I don't have (and have never had) those two things, but barely.

10. I was in therapy for about half of the first 18 years of my life. I haven't been since.

11. I kind of miss it.

12. My first kiss, depending on what sort of kiss you count, was either right before I turned 17, or when I was 17.

13. I'm still friends with both of those people.

14. My last kiss was awhile ago.

15. When I was in elementary school, a couple of neighbors I was friends with were trying to convince me that my first kiss was actually with some older neighbor girl, when I was about 4, on my front lawn. I have an awful memory for people, and didn't even know who the person they were talking about was. But I have a pretty bad memory for events too, and to this day, I don't know if the kiss ever happened. (Or what her name was.)

16. My two best friends growing up (those neighbors) were a white girl and a black boy. We were such a show of diversity.

17. The girl was born about 2 months before me. The boy was born 6 days after me. A lot of my good friends the first 10 years of my life were extremely close in age to me. (There was someone 3 days older, 1 day younger, and 3 days younger. The 2-month thing was quite an aberration.)

18. I played in a community basketball league a bit when I was around 10.

19. After one of my basketball games once, I asked my mom if I was allowed to be friends with a black boy on my team. This says something bad about society, I think, that I accepted a race difference unquestioningly when I was 2, but felt I had to ask about it when I was 10. (For the record, my mom said yes, absolutely, though we never really became friends.)

20. My second-and-third-grade teacher (my elementary school was big on combined-grade classrooms, and on keeping kids in the same class for both of the combined years) was one of the most influential people in my young life. He's now the principal of an elementary school in Providence, RI. I visited him once about 3 years ago, and he still remembered me. I really want to have lunch with him sometime, but I've only been to Providence once since then and he was out of town.

21. I don't drink. Never have, unless you count sips of wine for religious reasons or sips of other beverages offered to me by my dad when I was much younger.

22. I don't smoke anything. The smell of cigarette smoke is quite offensive to me, and sometimes makes me feel ill. Though if I were ever to decide to partake recreationally in some controlled substance, marijuana is probably more likely than alcohol or cigarettes.

23. I do gamble. I lost $100 at a craps table in Atlantic City this weekend, in fact. I joke that gambling is my one vice, though I gamble much less than those who can legitimately call their gambling a vice.

24. Brian's (see #4) younger sister broke my finger for me once. I think Brian and I were wrestling (as boys do), and she came in and threatened to stomp on my hand for some reason. I told her not to because she'd break my finger. But she did it anyway, and I was right. I can still faintly see a blood spot under the skin of my finger that was caused by that.

25. I've never broken any bones bigger than that. I can't remember if I've broken other fingers at various points or not.

26. I'm a weather nerd. I used to want to be a meteorologist. I can tell you off the top of my head that the winter of 1990-1991 was the warmest on record in Philadelphia at the time, or that the temperature hit 103 degrees in mid-July 1995, or that the snowstorm we had in January 1996 hit 30.7 inches in Philly. I don't know exact figures as well for more recent years, but I still love the stuff.

27. My parents are divorced. They haven't lived together since I was about 2. My dad remarried in May 1988. I have two older step brothers, who I'm not particularly close with, but I see them every year on Christmas at least.

28. My stepfamily is Catholic. The rest of both sides of my family are Jewish.

29. I'm a practicing Jew. My parents largely aren't, though my mom sometimes goes to synagogue for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and goes to our family seder for Passover, and both parents fast on Yom Kippur and eat matzah on Passover and stuff. I don't think my dad has participated in any communal or family Jewish practice of any sort in many years.

30. I started keeping kosher gradually. The last time I had bacon was in 1999. The last cheeseburger I had was in 2002, which was the last time I had dairy and meat at the same time. The last time I (deliberately) had dairy within 3 hours after eating meat, and the last time I had meat that wasn't certified kosher, were a few years later.

31. I still eat vegetarian food in non-kosher restaurants and vegetarian packaged food that's not certified kosher, I eat off of plates and out of pots that don't keep dairy and meat separate (even meat, as long as I can verify that no dairy was used in the preparation and that the meat is certified kosher), and I don't even have separate dishes in my (mom's) home. To some people, this would mean that I don't "really" keep kosher. I disagree with those people.

32. I keep Shabbat. To me, this means that I don't spend money, "use electricity" (cause electric things to happen, though I can benefit from, e.g., lights that are already on or on a timer), write, cook, travel, or do a few other things from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday. I also usually don't "carry in public" (a complicated definition), though I break that one sometimes. I also go to synagogue once or twice on most Shabbats, and say certain prayers with my meal, though some people do those things on non-Shabbat days too.

33. I started keeping Shabbat gradually too. I first did at a couple "shabbatons" (gathering over Shabbat) for my grade in high school. I first started caring about Shabbat regularly in 2001 when I transferred to Penn, I first started making Shabbat something I care about for the full 25 hours almost every week in 2002 or 2003, and I gradually adjusted the details of how I practice Shabbat in the few years after that.

34. There are probably some things I do on Shabbat that would cause some people to say I "don't really observe Shabbat". I disagree with those people too.

35. The communal, practical, and cultural aspects of Judaism are more important to me than the philosophical and theological ones, though those matter a lot too.

36. I went to a Jewish day school from 6th through 12th grade (with an exception that I'll get to). I ended up leaving my old school because it wasn't working out for me socially, but I ended up going to that new school in particular because I so liked after-school Hebrew School.

37. I was kicked out of that school for failing Hebrew class in the first semester of 10th grade. I knew the grammar well enough that the teacher (the only non-Israeli Hebrew teacher) would occasionally ask me to confirm that she was teaching a grammar lesson right. But my vocab was awful, my comprehension speed was worse, and I never did any homework. To this day, I think the school bears as much responsibility as I do that I failed that class.

38. For a year after that, I went to the local public school. I didn't like it there, with the exception of about 4 people, two of whom were teachers. I was probably clinically depressed for part of that year. I went back to my original high school when they readmitted me halfway through 11th grade.

39. I never did do much homework, and it always caused me trouble. I don't know why it was such an issue for me. The only time it wasn't was in my first 4 trimesters at Drexel, when I worked my ass off because I wanted to transfer to Penn.

40. I've grown a beard twice in my life: in 1997 and in 2000. Both times were for the "omer", a period in the Jewish calendar often observed in ways resembling Jewish mourning practices. You don't really have to avoid shaving for weeks on end during the omer, but some people do, and I decided to do it then too. I didn't shave for about 4 and a half weeks both times. Not coincidentally, those two years were my first two springs since puberty when I wasn't at a Jewish school.

41. I don't like dogs. Never have. I tend to tolerate the bigger and calmer ones better.

42. About 6 days a week, every week, I have the same breakfast. I eat a bagel and cream cheese and drink orange juice. The OJ is Tropicana, without pulp, and I used to have a quart each day but now I'm down to a bit over a pint. The Cream Cheese is Philadelphia, the 1/3 Less Fat variety. The bagel used to always be plain, but...

43. When I was 13ish I spent a few weeks of my summer vacation working in the deli where my grandmom worked. I mainly sold bagels. Even though I was allowed to eat as many bagels as I wanted during the day, or order whatever I wanted from the kitchen, I tended to snack by eating the poppy and sesame seeds from the bottom of the bins. Since then I vastly prefer these two types of bagels (with poppy first) to any other kind.

44. For 5 summers during middle school and high school I went to a 3-week overnight educational camp that's not CTY. It was a great experience. I met some wonderful people there. I'm still friends with a bunch of them, including one who lives in Philly and is dating a high school friend of mine and who I therefore see all the time.

45. The majority of my friends are either people I was friends with in high school or people I met from various Jewish communities in the past 5 or so years. I have relatively few friends from college.

46. I didn't really do the college admissions process right. I ended up at Drexel due to a combination of my grades not being great and me not really looking into a lot of colleges and critically evaluating whether they'd work for me.

47. Even when I transferred to Penn, I didn't really think critically about it. It ended up being great for my Jewish growth, good enough socially, and mediocre in every other way.

48. Had I done it over again, I probably would've looked more at schools like Brown, Oberlin, and Wesleyan. I feel a bit guilty about never considering them in the first place.

49. I majored in Physics at Drexel, and switched to Math when I switched to Penn. I should've majored in Linguistics, but I had no way of knowing that before my senior year, so I don't feel guilty about that.

50. When I was about 8, I sleepwalked over to the steps, fell down them, and got a concussion. My mom was still awake and saw the whole thing. We got a pet gate to go across the top of the steps after that, on the theory that my subconscious couldn't open it but my conscious self could. But I've never sleepwalked again.

51. I have a lot of nagging health problems. It's very likely that none of them are serious, in the sense of being progressive and/or ever life-threatening. And they're certainly all less serious currently than the health problems that a bunch of my friends have had. But they're there nonetheless, and they nag nonetheless. I could easily list a half-dozen things I wish I could change about my body for reasons other than physical appearance.

52. I'm vaguely concerned that I'll forget my middle name one day due to it playing such a minor role in my life.

53. I worry a lot in general.

54. Toward the end of my first year of college, I was told by a friend I met that year that I was one of the most laid-back people she knew. I had been trying hard to be more laid-back at that point, and I guess it worked. No one who has met me at any other point in my life would possibly be able to say the same thing to me after knowing me for a year.

55. I almost died when I was 3 weeks old. I needed major surgery. I hate having to put this on intake forms at doctors' offices for the rest of my life, even though it's almost definitely not relevant to whatever sort of care I'm hoping to get there.

56. My earliest memory is sitting in a car as it went through a car wash.

57. I rarely remember my dreams.

58. When I do remember my dreams, they tend to be pretty boring. The prevailing theme in most of them is transportation, with a secondary theme of fantastic buildings and structures. I've been in (fictitious) train stations trying to figure out how to get places, I've been stuck outside bus stations with no money, I've hitchhiked, I've swam for ships that were pulling away from the dock, I've been on escalators that are quite fast and might launch you into the air at the bottom, I've been in buildings floating in the air, and so on. Trains, or really train stations, are the most common. I don't think I'm ever in charge of my own vehicle in these dreams.

59. I didn't vote in the first election I could. It was a primary in 1999, and it was right before I moved to within the Philadelphia city limits for college. County Commissioner, and a few other positions, were probably up for election. I've never missed an election since.

60. I like musicals. The first I ever saw was Joseph and His Amazing etc., which is still one of my favorites. I also love Les Mis, and Jesus Christ Superstar, which was the last I worked on a production of.

61. I worked in theater from the school musical my senior year of high school until I graduated college. I mainly did sound, though for my last show I stage managed, technical-directed, and sort of faked my way through as master of electrics.

62. I never had any desire to be on stage. Even for our class plays in elementary school when I didn't have much of a choice in the matter.

63. During my two years at Drexel, I spent a lot of time working on DUST, the student tech crew that did audio setups for everything on campus except theater productions. I had a fantastic time working there, and changed a lot as a person during that time. I especially loved the three Spring Jam concerts I worked on (the last one being after I left Drexel).

64. I never did get paid for that last one. (Though I was backstage for Guster. That was cool.)

65. The first band I ever liked that wasn't at least somewhat geared toward kids was Queen. I heard "Under Pressure" on a mix tape made by one of my stepbrothers, and made my mom go out and buy me a tape with that song on it immediately. I still like them.

66. I started liking non-Queen adult music in 1995, the summer after 8th grade. It's mostly flyinbutrs's fault. We spent basically the entire summer on the phone with each other watching VH1.

67. For the past 8 years or so, I've had the same list of bands I'd give out when people asked my favorites, though the order's changed: They Might Be Giants, Live, Pearl Jam, Pink Floyd, Queen, and Billy Joel. Though I've definitely added The Decemberists to the list, and I think it might be time to remove Billy.

68. Really, though, the true list is a lot different now. I don't listen to harder rock nearly as much, preferring adult alternative and folk music. But I wouldn't be able to live without a couple albums from those bands.

69. The best bands I've ever seen live are They Might Be Giants, Reel Big Fish, Pearl Jam, and Eileen Ivers. They all really engage with the audience. I saw the first two in the same concert once, and I still haven't forgotten how amazing it was.

70. The first concert I ever went to was for Trout Fishing In America. The first concert I ever went to not geared for kids was TMBG in 1998. For some reason I didn't count that one for awhile, and the first non-TMBG concert not geared toward kids I went to was Pearl Jam later that year. The furthest I ever traveled just for a concert was to Long Island, 136 miles as the Googlemaps flies. I saw TMBG with Kelsey and then stayed over her house afterwards.

71. I used to wear a blue hooded sweatshirt and grey sweatpants every day that it was weather-appropriate. I think the particular color combination started around 9th grade, though I liked the sweat-style before that. It lasted for all of high school and most of college, at which point I started experimenting with colors (such as grey fleece tops and blue sweatpants). It's only in the past year or so that I wear non-sweatpants more often than sweatpants on days when I don't have to work and don't have to go to synagogue and it's too cold for shorts.

72. I'm currently wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt at work. Yesterday to work I wore a blueish-grey fleece top. The pants are a bit different than my old attire, though.

73. I still refuse to wear jeans. The last time I wore them was in 2001, for Halloween. And it was at least 2 years before that since I wore them for a normal occasion, even once.

74. I'm not usually superstitious per se, but I do silly things out of habit that seem superstitious. For example, I used to always have a 1992 penny and a 1994 penny in the right pocket of my winter coat. It wasn't a particular pair of pennies, but they had to be those years. (And often it was a particular pair, and it was neat that the copper rubbed off over time.) But if they were gone, I didn't really care too much, nor was I afraid of bad luck or something; I'd just replace them when I got a chance. And I don't know how it started; probably just some spare change I left there by mistake. I don't do it anymore, though maybe I should now that I've remembered it.

75. I wore a cap nearly every day from the start of 5th grade until the start of 12th grade. The particular choice of caps varied, but it was usually a Philly sports team, the Marlins, or the Nittany Lions.

76. I go shopping at the King of Prussia mall every year on the day after Thanksgiving. I haven't yet figured out how I'm doing that this year, as I have to work that day.

77. I've gone to, and camped at, the Philadelphia Folk Fest every August since 2000, though I had to leave around when the music kicked off in 2003 when my grandfather died. I have to miss most or all of it next summer, though, because...

78. I've gone to the National Havurah Committee's Summer Institute every August since 2002, though I'm sad this year because it takes place the same week as Folk Fest. That's the only thing about it that makes me sad, though.

79. My first week at Institute was the best week of my life. (So far.) My Last Cheeseburger (#30) was eaten about 2 hours after that Institute ended.

80. I once beat the entire original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game in the arcade. I was in Wildwood, NJ. My friend Eric played the whole time too, and a few other people jumped in on occasion in the other two spots. I was Donatello. It cost $6.25.

81. One of my favorite things to do in 3rd through 5th grade was to study and talk about video games, and watch other people play them. My entire life in 3rd grade seemed to be talking Dragon Warrior with my friend David, and watching him play it.

82. I haven't played an RPG in forever. FF9 is the newest one I've played, and Dragon Warrior 4 was the last one I attempted. I gave up on it about a year and a half ago.

83. Chrono Trigger is my favorite game of all time. FF6 is a close second. I cried when I played Chrono Cross, and not the good kind of crying. That's the best they could do???

84. I've been joking for years that I try to stay 5 years behind the video game industry to save money, but I think the reality is that I just don't care about video games much anymore. I've been strongly considering getting a PS2 for Katamari, though. And maybe FFX and Kingdom Hearts.

85. Square One TV was one of my favorite shows ever. It would still be on my list if I had any way to watch it now. Come on, DVDs!

86. Fred Barnett. There are a lot of two-digit numbers that I immediately associate with an Eagles player who wore that number. More often than not, if that happens, it's the player who wore that number in 1991.

87. Depending on how you define an all-nighter, I might have pulled my first one ever this past May. Or I might have on New Years 1998.

88. The longest paper I ever wrote was about 13 pages. It was the last homework assignment I had in college. I liveblogged it.

89. I always wrote papers out of order. I'd generally do the body, then the intro, then the conclusion, then the title. Not coincidentally, this is the last of the 100 things I'm writing.

90. I've been on 3 cruises in my life. The last was in 2001, for a week, which was not too much fun because I was too old for the teen program but too young for the casino. Before that was in 1997, for 4 nights, when I met one of the best friends I've ever had. (She and I have sort of lost touch in the past year or so. I'm quite sad about it.) Before that was just for a day, and I don't remember when it was.

91. I went on an amazing road trip in 2004, between when I got a job and when it was due to start (though it never did start). I went by myself from Philly to the DC area, to Fairmont WV, to Oberlin, to Toronto, to Montreal, to Boston, to Providence, to New Jersey, and back to Philly. I spent about 12 days on the road.

92. I went to Israel in 1996. I won a free trip as part of a science competition for 9th and 10th graders. (The competition continued in Israel, when I did awfully. But I was on Israeli TV for about 5 seconds!)

93. I've never been outside this time zone, except for 3 nights in Vegas in 2006 and the Israel trip.

94. I've never lived outside of the Philly area.

95. I rarely venture more than a couple dozen miles from Interstate 95. The only times I've been further than that for longer than 2 nights or so were my Vegas trip in 2006, the previously mentioned trips...and that might be it. But I've been on 95 in, um, 11 states?

96. Aside from 4 years at college, I've lived with my mom my whole life. I lived with my dad when they were still married (obviously), and spent a lot of time at his house after that, which gradually diminished until I never went there anymore about a dozen years later. (I still saw him; just not at his house.) He lived in the Philly area until I was 16, spent a year in North Carolina, and has been in North Jersey ever since.

97. Too many of my friends are too far away.

98. More often than not, I'm happy. Or at least content. Maybe not happy in a moment or whatever, but fundamentally OK with my life and how things are going.

99. Probably the most important thing about me is that I separate what I think is best for me from what I think is best for, or required of, other people. This is why I can be personally pretty conservative but politically liberal. The inability for other people to do the same, or to understand that I do it, creates bigger gulphs between me and others than almost anything else.

100. I spent all day on this. Don't tell my boss.
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