|1966 - 1976
When I was growing up, the world was about 100 miles big. It extended from Imperial Valley's El Centro to San Diego. There were no personal computers. Just typewriters. There were two fonts, Elite and Pica. My Dad had a miserable commute, 14 miles from El Centro to Brawley. Well, of course we had to move closer to his work. Who could bear a 25 minute commute? Oh, the humanity.
The one thing that the world will never ever be able to take away from Imperial Valley is the Valley's Special Quesadillas . I want my last meal to be a Special Quesadilla. You can get good ones at Celia's. They were invented by Maria Olazabal, the lady bullfighter who operated the Mt. Signal Cafe.
The biggest treat was our yearly vacation to San Diego on the other side of the world. It was excruciating to sit in that car, and ride along Highway 8 for almost two whole hours. Once we made it to San Diego, the big reward was a Tano (shaved ice) on Mission Beach. If I was lucky, Dad and I might find an opportunity to rent a little sail boat and head out into the bay. When we went to the beach, Dad would take off swimming directly out into the ocean, and not return for half an hour. The man was a god.
After the 4th grade, my parents sent me to school in Mexicali, Mexico, to repeat the 3rd and 4th grades again. In Spanish. Oh, sure, I know what my parents wanted me to get out of it. Spanish. What they didn't count on was the fact that missing socializing with peers in the 5th and 6th grade lead to a huge culture shock when I returned to America in the 7th grade. The girls were tall. And the boys were mean. I didn't belong. Adolescence sucks.
|1981 - 1985||
Horror stories of "swirlies" at the local public high school convinced my parents to send me to a private high school, VMHS. I was the typical quiet and studious type. By the time I was a Junior, and still not flirting much with the girls, one of the Seniors, Anna Maria made it her responsibility to loosen me up. She taught me how to handle a tease, and became my porn supplier.
Anna Maria's lessons must have worked. I was the only Junior boy to be invited by a Senior chick to Grad Night at Disneyland. Disneyland! Wow! The world was getting to be bigger than 100 miles.
Cassie (Cassandra) Peterson and I played tons of chess during lunch at VMHS. She was another Senior. I was so cool. Well, except for the TON of zits that bombarded my face in one year.
1984 was a keystone year in my life. Apple unveiled the Macintosh. I had to have one. I already had an Apple II+. I was a master AppleSoft Basic programmer. PEEKing and POKEing with the best of 'em. I still remember this standard short delay:
You see, it takes computers about 4 seconds to count from zero to a thousand. (Not anymore, not by a long shot.)
Another turning point in 1984 was the broadcast of Robotech. The writers were communicating directly to me. I loved this stuff. I was hooked. I had to know more about the Carl Macek and Ahmed Agrama team.
By the time I was a Senior, I caught something of a clue, and skipped out on a handful of classes. There's more to life than sitting in class watching the paint dry.
|Summer of 1985
||My best friend in High School,
Val Jamora had a couple of babe sisters. They were way out
of my league, but that didn't matter. One of them, Aleta, went to
UCSB, and she was so cool. I decided to check out
UCSB for summer school before my Freshman year.
What an initiation.
Randy Carson and Aleta Jamora introduced me to the summertime Isla Vista lifestyle while Aleta and I took a Greek Mythology class at UCSB. I was so very hooked!
|1985 - 1989||When I was a freshman at UCSB, some of the engineers had computers, and the
early adapters had modems. You could dial in to the engineering computer at 300 bps or so, and download with kermit(tm).
But it only successfully did 7-bit ASCII transfers. I wanted to transfer pictures and stuff, so I had
to write my own 8-bit encoding file transfer protocol.
The coolest BBS in Santa Barbara was the Bowhead Whale bulletin board. One of the most knowledgable posters to the Bowhead whale was Gurglekat. "Gurglekat." He had the best handle ever, and kept it through his employment at Apple.
My roommate for my first two years of college, Karnig Ohannessian somehow became worshipped by my suitemates for his understated coolness. Whenever they saw him, they had to let loose with exuberant shouts of "Ging!" We all loved it, even if it slightly frighted us.
I happened upon the Science Fiction Andromeda bookstore in Santa Barbara and discovered that my revered Robotech animation was actually a bastardization of an even greater work of art. I had to know more. I joined the local C/FO, (which renamed itself the SB3A) and discovered anime (Japanese animation). At the time, the only way for Americans to watch anime was to have a contact in Japan who would mail you copies of shows they recorded, and if you didn't have such a friend, you had to deal with an nth-generation VHS copy of the show you wanted. Nothing was subtitled or dubbed, you had to read a synopsis before or during the showing. In the summer after my Freshman year, I joined a tour of Japan with other anime enthusiasts from the C/FO organization. It was the Japanimation '86 tour, the first of its kind. I made friends with Jan Scott-Frazier and Joy West on that trip.
About Japanimation '86, Fred Patten wrote,
When the first anime fandom group tour to Japan, "Japanimation '86", was organized by Ladera Travel Service in Los Angeles (one of its travel agents, [Robin Schindler], was an anime fan), thirty of us from all over North America gathered in L.A. for a flight to two weeks in mid- to late August 1986 in Tokyo, ending up for the last couple of days in Osaka for the 1986 Japanese National Science Fiction Convention, Daicon V. You may be sure that I was one of the first to sign up for it. Ladera Travel had a hard time convincing the Japanese tourist agencies with which it worked that this tour did NOT want to visit the usual tourist sites, but Tokyo's animation studios!
NetHack almost single-handedly ruined my relationship with my first serious girlfriend. She never understood my having to battle the wizard of Yendor while on the phone with her. Long distance. On her nickel.
I would make a weekly bicycle trip from UCSB to downtown Santa Barbara, and my reward for making it would be a scoop of Junior Mints blended in Cookies 'n Cream ice cream at Hobson's.
|1990 - 2000
Once I graduated from UCSB, I got a job with Ford Aerospace
in San Jose, and quickly learned that government contracts can turn otherwise bright engineers into
zombie lifers. These workers just arrive at work, put in their time, get their paycheck and leave.
It was too depressing, so I had to leave.
My next job was at an internet company called Wollongong. "Hey! An internet company in 1993, suweeet," you might be thinking. Not quite. Wollongong was still programming LPR Servers and TN terminals when this little upstart Andreesen, or something, was implemented one of the first web browsers.
One of my favorite breaks in the early '90s was to go to cinema Hong Kong at the Towne Theater in Cupertino.
I became an avid sport rock climber because there's easy access to short sandstone routes in the Castle Rock area near Saratoga. (My favorite being the vastly overlooked Bridwell Bolt Route, too close to the crowded Goat rock.) A gym called "Planet Granite" opening up 10 minutes from where I worked made climbing even more accessible.
I also fell in with a 30-something volleyball gang, the anchor of which was the most gregarious, hospitable man I'll probably ever know, Paul McCartney (no, not that Paul McCartney), which met in the park every weekend. Depending on who would show, rousing games of jungle ball or good volleyball would occur. As I began to lose interest in volleyball, I was invited to a game at City Beach (which has really grippy floors), the local indoor volleyball gym, and I dislocated my kneecap during a bad landing. Ouch!
Now for some unsolicited layman medical advice (meaning, take caution): One of the biggest lessons I've learned from that fall is that if you get a dislocated kneecap, get someone to reduce it (pop it back in) right away if you can. Don't wait for an ambulance or paramedic. First straighten the leg back out, and have someone push the kneecap back into its slot at the end of the femur.
|2000 - 2002
As a bachelor, I'd lived a pretty selfish life. When a hot new video game came out, I'd spend up to 20 to 30
hours a week finishing it. At that rate, few games lasted 3 weeks. (Of course, that was after working, dating,
climbing and playing volleyball.) Let's not get into comics, TV, and movies. Hey, I said I was selfish. Sleep
was usually the necessity to be sacrified.
But, dating eventually turned to commitment and marriage. And soon after that, fatherhood! Now, there's nothing more precious to me than my wife and daughter. My leisure time is a little more restricted. (As of this writing, it's taken me a month to get 100 pages into the first Harry Potter book. I guess that's about 3 pages a night before I fall asleep.) Let's just say that I've played my last RPG for a long time (FFX on the PS2).
Soon, I'll write something about emerging from my consumerist euphoria (I thought I was so cool by appreciating all these works of art by other artists), and trying my hand at creating some kinetic art.