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5 Things

We recently got "tagged" by some friends in the blogosphere to respond to the chain mail-style 5 Things You Don't Know About Me. Below are answers submitted by many of the members of the Worldchanging team...

Alex Steffen
1. I'm a bad household environmentalist. I sometimes don't recycle, I use paper plates when entertaining large groups and even though I take a cloth bag with me to the store, I don't really care about paper versus plastic. I have, however, gone without owning a car for years at a time. Oh, and I buy organic...
2. I have long planned to write an essay titled Curriculum Vitae, in which I would detail all the crazy plans I've made but never followed through on. At various times in my life I was convinced I would be a successful novelist, architect, filmmaker and professional athlete. At various other points I've made serious plans to, among other things, ride motorcycles from Mongolia to Afghanistan; to convert a freighter into a floating arts community and sustainability demonstration project; to launch a citizen's initiative creating the elected office of City Fool; and to spend five years apprenticing myself to master craftsmen in ten different fields. I actually started and ran an arts grant-making foundation, a small but ahead-of-its-time magazine and a proto-blog distributed via email called Seattle Politics Today. I've probably spent years of my life daydreaming about things I might do. I regret nothing.
3. Well, actually, I regret ever having folded my clothes. Folding clothes fills me with a dread sense of passing time and my own end approaching. It is time stolen from my life, never to be returned. For some reason, past girlfriends have been less than completely understanding of this philosophical position. I am currently experimenting with a hamper system which will remove from me forever the duty of putting any item of clothing away. I'll post about my progress.
4. Spiders are my Room 101 fear. Even the thought of being in a dark, enclosed space full of spiders gives me the shakes.
5. I grew up on communes. I read the The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth instead of Spiderman and Superman, and spent a lot of time hanging out with the kids of Berkeley professors, black radicals and Turkish sufis. The whole thing left me with an inexplicable love of whale song and Tolkien and an abiding distaste for whole wheat pasta and carob.

Sarah Rich
1. when I was little I did competitive synchronized swimming and had to put knox gelatin in my hair to keep it in a perfect bun, and waterproof makeup. That was followed by years in stage makeup as a singer and performer, an activity that afforded me an entirely separate and simultaneous life outside of school, and a fair bit of international travel.
2. I used to work as a Production Assistant for the Food Network and as a raw food chef in the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive. Needless to say, the Food Network has yet to do a show about raw food.
3. I hate garlic
4. I used to have a recurring nightmare in which there was someone talking to me incredibly slowly (and that was the scary part) -- so slowly that it made me completely insane and I'd wake up in a sweat with my heart pounding. I consider this an explanation for why I do everything at high-speed and am chronically early.
5. My dream job (besides the one I currently have) is to be a professional modern dancer.

Tessa Levine-Sauerhoff
1. I used to be a flamenco dancer - I still have the castanets
2. Barbara Striesand filmed a movie in my house
3. I wish that I were a cheese maker -- I eat cheese every day - it's my absolute favorite food.
4. I'm blessed with brachydactylia
5. I play classical piano - have my whole life.

Jon Lebkowsky
1. In a past life or first career, I worked in poverty programs for a state agency.
2. I was an English major and never thought I would be anything but a writer or editor.
3. I didn't work directly with computer technology until I was in my thirties.
4. I worked for a high-end typographer as a proofreader as a side job for several years to learn more about typography and publication design.
5. The night after my first grandson was born, I was at a Sonic Youth concert. (Mark Frauenfelder gave me the nickname "Sonic Grandpa.")

Dawn Danby
1. I was once a trained classical vocalist. I was on a path to become an opera singer. When I imagined the number of hours I would have to spend singing scales in little white rooms, I quit and went to art school.
2. I know way more about dermatology and the complexities of women's health medicine than you'd think. It's the family business, basically.
3. I didn't go to school in english until high school. Until then, I was in a series of French-Canadian schools in which english books were contraband material, hidden and coveted.
4. I was allergic to all science fiction and country music my whole life. Living in Austin, Texas, somehow cured me of this. I blame the heat, Patsy Cline, and the miscellaneous weirdos I met at neighbourhood parties.
5. At age 15 I went on exchange to a little public school in the French Alps. By accident I found myself at an elementary school, in a program for the top junior ski racers in the country, and had five top-ranked roommates. For some reason we all just ran with this, so I became a sort of giantess Canadian mascot with a funny accent, too old and too slow and too tall to pose a threat. I came back in the best shape of my life.

Ethan Zuckerman
1. I ran for President of the United States in 1988. I was 15 years old at the time. I found a book called “Everyone for President? at the local library book sale and thought the author had a great point: while you can’t serve as President until you’re 35, there’s nothing to prohibit you from running. So I filed the forms included with the book and more or less forgot about it, until a local journalist started researching presidential candidates who didn’t have a chance of getting elected and interviewed me for the Danbury, CT newspaper. It was a great lesson in PR, and taught me that no one takes the promises of politicians seriously - I promised to run every four years until I was electable as a way of calling attention to the absurdity of the “35 year old? rule, but I never ran again, and no one ever called me on breaking my promise.
2. I’ve never applied for a job. Not a real one, at least. My first job out of grad school was at Tripod, where I got hired because I knew HTML and was willing to work for stock options. I co-founded both Geekcorps and Global Voices, so didn’t have to apply for positions there. (And the Berkman Center doesn’t count as a “job?. It’s far too much fun to be a job.) I’m entirely capable of envisioning a life where I never apply for a job…
3. I’d be very happy as a 1950s New England housewife. My hero growing up was my maternal grandmother, who was an absolute dynamo, working full-time into her 60s as well as mothering and grandmothering a brood of children. I wanted to do whatever she did - cooking, sewing, knitting - and she never put any activites off limits due to gender preconceptions. As a result, I cook really well, sew competently, and could probably remember how to knit if I could take needles onto airplanes. And I can darn socks, even if I generally choose not to.
4. I didn’t study African history. Or technology. A friend was introducing me at an academic talk a few weeks ago and tried to give my academic background to the audience before realizing he had no idea what I’d actually studied. I spent my college career studying continental philosophy (mostly Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein) and African music (which is what got me to Africa in the first place.) The geekery began as a way to make beer money while in college and has gradually expanded to dominate my whole life.
5. My main regret in life is that I’m not a better woodworker. I make functional but ugly furniture and have great ambitions of making prettier furniture someday. Or at least buying lots more powertools so I can dream about making pretty furniture with fewer excuses.

Gil Friend
1. Performed -- as a dancer -- at Carnegie Hall (folk dance troupe, if you must know, and still a dancin' fool at the drop of a hat)
2. Rolled an open-top roadster and walked away without a scratch (last time I've ever been in a car without a seatbelt on)
3. Been in the "sustainability" -- a/k/a green a/k/a appropriate technology -- game since 1972 (Buckminster Fuller's "World Game" -- back when it was a intensive, month-long design charrette for the planet -- is what turned my life)
4. Responsible for several US firsts (or darn near firsts): green roof/rooftop farm (1974), large urban composting program (1976), progressive peace propaganda on mainstream television (1982), regional material flow analysis (1997)
5. Living on email since 1979 (cofounded PeaceNet in 1983), but traded electrons, media and work in general on Saturdays for sabbath observance and close-reading Torah study eight years ago

Geoff Manaugh
1. I’m scared of flying.
2. I once lived in Albany, NY, where I drank a lot of beer, watched Ronin for some reason about fifty or sixty times, and copyedited academic books about Jacques Derrida and Paul de Man. I drove an SUV, which got broken into twice in one month.
3. In 1996, I traveled through Europe with Allen Ginsberg. We performed our poetry together on stage in Prague and, in Paris, we met Jacques Chirac, the President of France; when I shook Chirac’s hand, I was holding three shoplifted books in my other hand, including a copy of Maurice Blanchot’s The Writing of the Disaster. I was 20 years old. Allen and I also performed at New York’s Knitting Factory together, and I once received a postcard from Bono. I can prove all of this.
4. My favorite film is Roberto Succo, directed by Cédric Kahn. It was never released in the US, despite being so hilariously great that I’m actually smiling as I type this. The very words “Roberto Succo? make me grin. It’s about an Italian serial killer.
5. I’m more or less obsessed with weight-lifting, but I don’t tell anyone this. People seem to think, incorrectly, that weight-lifting is symptomatic of our culture’s descent into a kind of hyper-sexualized narcissism, whereas it is actually a form of anthropological self-exploration not at all unlike other forms of body modification, including piercing, branding, and tattoos. If it’s not weird for some guy to put a bolt through his nose, than it’s not weird for me to pick up pieces of iron, repeatedly, until I look different. We’re both just taking control of our own bodies. Yukio Mishima knew this, and he wrote a really great book about it – but then he formed a private army and disemboweled himself in public.

Katie Kurtz
1. When I was 18, I was in one of those national health surveys. So around 1991 if you heard anything like, "the average American 18 year-old female" is this or that or whatever – I was one of those averages.
2. I spent a summer interning at NPR's "All Things Considered" in Washington DC with Linda Wertheimer, Robert Siegel, Corey Flintoff, et al.
3. In my early twenties, I had a brief stint working as a cook. The first gig was a live-in situation with a couple in La Jolla, CA (the husband was one of Nixon's press secretaries) and the second was at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, CO.
4. I'm in "Pirate Radio USA," a documentary by Jeff Pearson and Mary Jones about the low power FM movement in the mid-nineties.
5. I've competed in the 3-Day Novel Writing twice. The first time my manuscript, "Who the Arsonist Loves" received an honorable mention! I have dreams that someday Jake Gyllenhall will star in the movie adaptation...

Jonathan Greenblatt
1. I worked a number of jobs in high school and college but my runaway favorite was as an umpire for the 1989 Little League World Champions from my hometown, Trumbull, Connecticut. Most notable alumni was Chris Drury who went on to enjoy a successful career as a professional hockey player in the NHL.
2. During a 1993 visit to Pakistan as a member of the Clinton Administration, I broke bread with a hard-core Islamic fundamentalist and a member of the Jamaat e-Islami party. Suffice to say, he was not a big fan of the US and we didnt schedule a follow-up meeting.
3. My favorite food is probably breakfast cereal.
4. As an undergrad at Tufts University, I ran a freeform radio show for three years on WMFO, Tufts community radio station, almost always in an overnight timeslot between 12am - 6am.
5. I am a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan who tried to name my first son Nomar, though my won prevailed and his name is Ilan. In October 2004, I took a redeye flight across the country to spend all day standing in the cold rain on Landsdowne Street and catch a three minute glimpse of the world championship parade. Undoubtedly one of the best days of my life.

Emily Gertz
1. I studied Russian for a semester in the Soviet Union, in Moscow. (Yes, the Soviet Union, not Russia).
2. I've driven across the United States, coast to coast, three times.
3. I know how to ride a horse.
4. I know how to shoot a handgun (and once had a concealed handgun permit.)

David Zaks
1. My all-time favorite dessert is 'hot fudge ice cream pie' which made its debut in the Bon Appetit issue of my birth month. Chocolate apricot torte takes a close second.
2. My first job (not counting the lemonade stand when I was 6) was to build Lego models that were used in holiday mall exhibits.
3. I recently had my bathroom painted the color "synergy."
4. I am 'bi-polar.' I have been to both the Arctic and the Antarctic.
5. I have a *huge* baseball and hockey card collection that is patiently waiting for its value to increase.

Hana Loftus
1. I once had a full-blown argument with my dad about the best method for making home-made mayonnaise.
2. My fantasy life goal is to become the first female commentator on Test Match Special
3. I went to full-time boarding music school aged 8-10 and thought I was a child prodigy (yuck).
4. I was told I would fail my first year of architecture school. I didn't.
5. My guilty musical pleasure is Britney Spears.

Chad Monfreda
1. Just last week I moved to Montpellier, France.
2. My ancestry is 1/2 Italian, 1/4 French, and 1/ 4 Polish.
3. I hail from the town that birthed Mary and her Little Lamb.
4. In 2nd grade, I won first place in a drawing competition by deliberately playing up rainbows and happiness in crayon. I then promptly exchanged the award certificate at the school book fair for a coloring book on the world's most venomous snakes.
5. I refuse to say anything bad about Jägermeister.

Micki Krimmel
1. I used to want to be an actor. I really found myself in theatre in High School. I spent more time after school working on plays than I did doing almost anything else. Once I had a little bit of experience directing, I realized acting was not for me. So I went to film school where I made mostly experimental stuff… And that somehow, led me to the internet. I know, it makes total sense.
2. I am in An Inconvient Truth. I worked at Participant Productions when that film was in production and we got to watch Al Gore’s presentation when it was being filmed in Los Angeles. So there’s a great big close up of me in the first few minutes of the film. And I look like I’m thinking really really hard.
3. My best job ever was working as a Production Assistant on Mystic River. Clint Eastwood’s movies are notorious for being really well-produced. He works with the same team on every project and the crew has really become a family. The set runs like a machine and the atmosphere is really respectful and fun.
4. I had my jaw broken and re-aligned as part of my orthodontics when I was 19. I was on a liquid diet for 3 weeks during the summer between my Freshman and Sophomore years of college. This was my only major surgery or broken bone. I’ve never really had a major injury. I’m kind a curious about it.
5. My curiosity around injuries is really more of an obession with the human body, blood, surgery, gore and death. I love thinking about the human body as a machine and I am endlessly fascinated with the fact that we can just dig in there, take stuff out, move things around and heal people. Perhaps I’m in the wrong line of work?

Ted Rose
1. I’ve been insulted by Don Imus.
2. I live in Colorado but can’t stand winter.
3. I constructed an homage to Michael Dukakis outside my childhood bedroom.
4. I showed a picture of the homage to a stunned Dukakis years later.
5. I liked yellow-tinted sunglasses.

Seth Zuckerman
1. While growing up in Israel, I briefly belonged to a youth paramilitary organization (Gadna).
2. I'm an avid wild mushroom hunter.
3. When my son was born, I insisted on building his crib myself.
4. When starting out as a freelancer, I shared an office with a colleague and we listed our phone under "Objective Journalists for Social Change."
5. I nearly drove my then-girlfriend to break up with me when I repeatedly attempted to fix the train window in our compartment en route from Bilbao to Madrid. (It wouldn't roll down; she endured my mechanical insistence and is now my wife.)

Regine Debatty
1. There's a sticker on many of the objects in my flat. I'm trying to learn german. So there's "der Schreibtisch" on my desk, "der Dosenoeffner" on the tin opener, etc. I still have to figure out how to put these words together and make a sentence but at least my vocabulary is improving.
2. I'm quite obsessed with Dolores. It's on Rosa Luxemburg Strasse in Berlin. I go and eat something there nearly everyday.
3. I know a lot about strange sea creatures. When i was living in Luarca i spent hours at the CEPESMA.
4. I wish i could speak english with a Scottish accent.
5. I spend too much time reading crime stories, Minette Walters, Ian Rankin, P.D. James.

Leif Utne
1. I started college as a jazz flute major.
2. My father (whose name is Eric), once sent me around the world in eight days on five different airlines, using tickets issued in my middle name (Eric), so that he could get a whole mess of free flight coupons -- which he never used.
3. Backpacking around Scandinavia after graduating college, I spent nearly my last dollar on a nine-hour bus ride from Oslo to visit the tiny town of Utne, and learned upon arrival that my family doesn't come from there.
4. I was the only gringo in the Chilean delegation to the World Festival of Youth in Havana in 1997.
5. I once hiked the Inca Trail for four days, timing the trip to arrive at Machu Picchu on the morning of the fall equinox and watch the sunrise through the Sun Gate, only it was cloudy.

Josh Ellis
1. I once had a torsioned testicle, just like Doc Hammer from *The Venture Bros.*
2. I accidentally wandered into the Soviet Union once as a lad. I was not killed.
3. Jimmy Buffett's "Tales From Margaritaville" is one of my favorite books.
4. I spent much of my childhood on farms and living in rural areas.
5. I went to Space Camp.


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Wow - hope you fixed your nuts, Josh.

Posted by: Geoff Manaugh on 16 Jan 07

That was so silly! I can't believe I read the whole thing. Thank you all.

Posted by: Joanna Grist on 16 Jan 07

So, in the Worldchanging music video, will we get to see each of the contributors displaying one of their more esoteric talents? (Alex deftly tossing wadded clothing into a hamper; Sara in-sync with swimming; various and sundry modes of dancing; Ethan cooking...with powertools; Emily riding a horse and shooting a handgun; Hana perfecting mayonnaise; Micki thinking really hard; Regine accidentally speaking German with a Scottish accent; and misc. of you all singing backup.)

Oh, I think that has some promise!

Posted by: Jason Nicholas on 17 Jan 07

Austin's definitely good for curing country music allergies. Wouldn't know about sci fi though, since I've never been allergic to it...

Posted by: Stephen A. Fuqua on 17 Jan 07

Ethan, I'd so totally vote for you.

Posted by: Micki Krimmel on 17 Jan 07

Well, no wonder I feel so at home here... a confederation of weirdoes.

Posted by: David Foley on 17 Jan 07

Alex -

As an ashram kid, I feel you re: carob.

Posted by: Josh McHugh on 18 Jan 07



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