25 Random Things About Me

Posted on Facebook, 21 January 2009, in a slightly shorter form (with a few minor updates since then).

  1. I do not have a tattoo. Nor do I want one.

  2. I once sat next to Hans Gmoser on a flight from Calgary to Vancouver, when I was about 17 years old. While waiting to board, I had read an article about him in Ski Canada magazine. Hans Gmoser invented helicopter skiing. We talked for ten minutes, but he never invited me for a free week of heli-skiing. Darn. + +

  3. I have won first place in the rengay poetry contest sponsored by the Haiku Poets of Northern California at least seven times. Rengay is a kind of linked, collaborative poetry.

  4. I’m a closet fan of books by Sophie Kinsella, Sue Townsend, Richard Bach, Og Mandino, Douglas Adams, Raymond Briggs, Douglas Hofstadter, Louise Rennison, Raymond Smullyan, and (lately) Greg Heffley. Also books by John Cage, which fascinate me, but for some reason I never actually read any of Cage’s books.

  5. I have an original manuscript of poetry by Buckminster Fuller, given to my architect father when our family lived in Kumasi, Ghana (Bucky’s studies of Ashanti-tribe domed huts influenced his geodesic dome invention). I have no idea if the manuscript I have is published or not (it’s in a box somewhere).

  6. My grandfather, a medical doctor, was fluent in Arabic as well as English, and could also get by pretty well in French and German and several other languages. That language gene sure never rubbed off on me.

  7. I’d like to try skydiving.

  8. I helped to edit the first For Dummies computer book, DOS For Dummies, for its second edition. I’ve edited 200+ trade books, mostly on computer subjects, but also herbal medicine, soldering, plywood manufacturing, jazz, poetry, children’s literature, animation, and more.

  9. One of my haiku (in English) once appeared on the back of a can of Itoen tea, available at vending machines throughout Japan for a year.

  10. Anthony Hopkins once tapped me on the shoulder when I was lined up to buy tickets for an Andres Segovia classical guitar concert at the Barbican Center in London. This was before Silence of the Lambs. We talked about music for ten minutes. I didn’t let on that I knew who he was until after I got my tickets. I said “It was a pleasure to talk with you, Mr. Hopkins,” and he blushed.

  11. I have individually catalogued every single one of my 1,200+ vinyl records, 1,000+ CDs, and 12,000+ books. [My book total works out to acquiring an average of at least one book a day for every day of every year for the last 30 years straight. Who knew?!?]

  12. If you ever want to talk for hours about really awesome electric guitar solos, I’m your guy. I’m thinking of starting a blog.

  13. I have amassed a large database of what I have termed “déjà-ku”—haiku poems that are remarkably similar to others, whether plagiarism, cryptomnesia, allusion, parody, homage, or just being on a highly similar topic (because haiku are so short, it is an occupational hazard of haiku poets that they would repeat each other with some regularity if they have similar experiences).

  14. My great-grandfather captained a fleet of fishing boats out of Hull, England, but was Danish and had family in the Faroe Islands (a Danish protectorate in the North Sea, north of Scotland and east of Iceland). My mother’s mother was born in Copenhagen, but the rest of the family came from England.

  15. I would love to visit Easter Island (I once met Thor Heyerdahl, who wrote about the island’s moai, or statues, and sailed raft boats across the Atlantic and Pacific). And while I’m at it, I’d like to visit Galapagos, too.

  16. I collect the books of Andy Goldsworthy, an inspiring environmental artist, whose work I’ve been aware of (through my architect dad) since the mid 1970s.

  17. I used to be a ski patroller and instructor. I used to be a lifeguard, too, back when I had only 5.3 percent body fat. Ha! +

  18. The license plate for the Commer Highwayman motorhome that our family owned around 1973, in England, was KTW 866J. Why do I remember that? Six of us travelled around Europe for two long summers and also spent a month in Scotland in that vehicle, just a bit larger than a VW bus. +

  19. I worked in a sawmill for one week. One week was enough. I couldn’t keep up.

  20. In 1999 I won the most recent and probably last printed edition of the complete Encyclopedia Britannica (valued at $1,200) as first prize in a haiku contest.

  21. I’m vegetarian. Have been all my life.

  22. I once hucked off a 35-foot cliff at Kirkwood ski area in California. No one took any photos.

  23. I helped inspire a friend of mine (who I once photographed jumping off a cornice at Mt. Hood) to spend a year skiing in Europe. He was killed in a climbing accident in France on November 22, just before the ski season started.

  24. I was named after Dylan Thomas (Dylan is my middle name). My son’s name is Thomas, but that's actually a coincidence (my wife picked the name). +

  25. I collect books on the topic of hope and also on play.

Do we have to stop at 25? This is fun.

  1. I was haiku editor for Haiku Journey, a computer game published by Hot Lava Games, now MumboJumbo, which contains 540 haiku by 45 poets, plus ten screens of information I wrote about the history and aesthetics of haiku that probably no one ever reads. Available at casual computer game download sites everywhere! +

  2. I used to judge photography competitions for the Northern California Council of Camera Clubs, and for years was a member (at the Masters level) of the Peninsula Camera Club.

  3. I’m a British citizen, and added Canadian citizenship as a teenager. I lived briefly in Manly, Australia (near Sydney), but did not become Australian. Also lived in Kumasi, Ghana, for a number of years, but didn't became Ghanaian either (although my sister was born there).

  4. The son of friends of my parents (I always thought he was a cousin of mine) used to have a Guinness World Record for keeping a soccer ball up in the air with his feet.

  5. For years I’ve been a contributing editor to Spring: The Journal of the E. E. Cummings Society, and have published a number of academic articles about E. E. Cummings (and yes, I’m capitalizing that correctly). +

  6. I met my wife Hiromi through an online chat room in 1997, talking about travel (she used to live in New Zealand), and our first date was on Valentine’s Day in 1998 (we went to Pigeon Point Lighthouse just north of Santa Cruz, California). She’s from Japan, but doesn’t have a lick of interest in haiku (she says it’s something that old people do). +

  7. I’m a member of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America, and once spent an afternoon studying the papers of Lewis Carroll at the Guildford Muniment Room in Guildford, Surrey (that’s in England, not British Columbia).

  8. I’m a fan of the artwork of M. C. Escher, and collect all the books I can on him and his art.

  9. I founded the Tanka Society of America in 2000, and served as its president through 2004.

  10. A few of my favourite musical interests are Marillion, Camel, and Klaatu (but don’t get me going on other favourites, or it could take hours).

  11. I love the serial comma, use em dashes properly when I can, and put only one space after punctuation. Maybe that has something to do with my collection of books on grammar, typography, and graphic design?

  12. I have a sweet tooth, and once ate an entire baking sheet of baklava that was left over from a party.

  13. I have been #1 on the racquetball ladders for Microsoft and for Redmond’s Pro Sports Club (apparently the world’s largest health club) numerous times. Racquetball equipment manufacturers have told me they would sponsor me if I would play in tournaments regularly (I have twice beaten the Washington state champion, but I think he had a hangover at least one of those times).

  14. My two kids both have Japanese middle names. Taiyo (my son Thomas’s middle name) means “sun” or “sunlight” and Sakura (my daughter Sarah’s middle name) means “cherry blossom.” +

  15. For several years I coedited a monthly newspaper column on haiku that appeared in a Japanese newspaper, Asahi Weekly.

  16. As a teenager, I wrote extensive travel journals on family trips to Scandinavia and Greece, trips that I’d like to repeat as an adult and compare to my journals (and my dad’s photographs) to see how the places have changed.

  17. My favourite numbers are 28 and 42. +

  18. I never met a Sudoku I didn’t like. Killer Sudoku? No problem.

  19. My photographs have appeared on the covers of several magazines (and no, I’m not referring to haiku magazines) and in several calendars.

  20. I once dislocated my thumb, but I have never broken a bone.

  21. I have never had a cavity. [Sigh . . . this is no longer true.]

  22. When I was a kid, I used to be a member of the British Overseas Airways Corporation Junior Jet Club, and amassed more than 150,000 miles on BOAC (now British Air). I still have a Neptune certificate from BOAC given to children for flying across the equator. + +

  23. I’ve been to every continent except South America and Antarctica (my parents have been to all the continents, though, including Antarctica).

  24. I can’t bear to toss out a perfectly beautiful stamp on an envelope received in the mail. But instead of being a stamp collector, these days I’m just a stamp accumulator.

  25. My favourite word is “hope.”