The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination... The magic of myth and legend has come true in our time. One types the correct incantation on a keyboard, and a display screen comes to life, showing things that never were nor could be.
If geek cred was currency, I'd be able to buy out Bill Gates. I don't know how it happened. At first it was just
Monty Python quotes and the Klingon Dictionary... then it just sort of got out of hand.
Someone once described the last years of Generation X as "the kids who experienced an analog childhood and a digital adulthood." For me, that analog childhood ended with the end of 5th grade.
I wrote my first program on my grandmother's 8088 in BASIC. We got our first household PC when I was 12, and by 7th grade I was my junior high's de facto IT support. It was common in 7th and 8th grades for an office aide to pull me out of class so I could go resolve a network issue or fix a problem with Novell Netware account creation or settings. My first web page went online in 1996, written in Windows 95 Notepad and featuring way too many animated gifs. In my spare time I made a total conversion to Wolfenstein 3D that replaced the Nazi soldiers with Barney the Dinosaur, much to my little brother's dismay.
I ran a BBS (when the phone line was available) and eagerly grabbed each new issue of DFW Connection to browse the BBS listings for any new board that may have popped up. In my junior year of high school I took AP Computer Science, a course on the basics of C++. Simple stuff - Hello World, Fibonacci sequence, unit conversion. The final project was to make a game such as tic-tac-toe or guess-the-number. I turned in a 3d graphical space shooter. I decided that year that maybe I should think about doing this for a living.
I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. I went to my first Star Trek convention when I was 10, and now my brain space is filled to the brim with Star Trek minutiae instead of more useful information, like calculus. If it was just Star Trek, that would be bad enough, but later came the Star Wars expanded universe, then the world of Lord of the Rings, and then the Wheel of Time. It's not enough to read the books, I have to know about the worlds, their histories, their languages, the politics of millennia before and how it led to the events afterward. I also am a fan of alternate history novels, and post-apocalyptic survival fiction because, you know, you never know.
Growing up I was always fascinated by languages. I studied the Klingon Dictionary and audio CDs with fanboy fervor.
When I read Lord of the Rings in 7th grade, it opened up a new world of constructed languages, of which I still
dabble in Quenya. Throughout junior high and high school I studied 6 years of French, and in college I studied 5 years
of Japanese, including a year of study abroad at Kansai Gaidai university in Hirakata City, Japan (where I return as often as I can). I love grammar, syntax, phonology, and most of all, historical linguistics. I love the evolution of language, and if I ever meet a genie, one of my three wishes will be to know Proto-Indo-European.
While at UNT I joined the Anime Club. Unsatisfied with its poor reputation, I
decided to get involved and ran for office. As an officer, I helped reshape the Anime Club from a creepy collection of
12 misfits into a campus service organization with over 100 members per semester, with charity events, annual festivals
that draw hundreds of visitors to campus, and intramural sports teams. Once a campus pariah, UNT's Anime Club is now often
requested to represent UNT at local city events, at parent weekends, and is a staple at student orientations.
In 2007 I founded the Mu Epsilon Kappa Society, an alliance of university anime
and culture clubs which now has chapters at 26 colleges and universities in 10 states. Mu Epsilon Kappa participates in service projects,
community charity drives, hosts leadership and teambuilding panels, and provides content to anime conventions
all over the state.
In 2003 my D&D group decided that we wanted to try a non-magical campaign, and I volunteered to DM. Over a couple weeks'
time I created the World of Cerenth, a non-magical campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 (and later Pathfinder). 16 years later, dozens of
players have adventured through 10+ campaigns in the world, fleshing out its history, geography, and creating new sagas
and heroes - and hundreds of pages of content for the world sourcebook.
In January of 2013 I finally accomplished one of my dreams, finding a local class to learn the basics of blacksmithing. 8 courses and years later,
I've transitioned from total beginner to what I would call "not total beginner." I own and operate a forge and workshop with 3 other friends in Blue Ridge,
TX, and I am sometimes a volunteer blacksmith at the Farmers Branch Historical Park.
I played Amtgard at the Barony of Ironcloud in the Kingdom of the Emerald Hills in high school, but gave it up when I went to college. Finding a lack of good local options for hitting people with foam swords, I founded the Shire of the Arlac Woods, a local live-action combat roleplaying group. For several years we could be found in the North Texas Cross-Timbers battling with swords, axes, spears and bows - but a regional outbreak of West Nile virus put a hold on things, events were canceled, people moved on, which led to:
In 2015 I joined the Society for Creative Anachronism, a historical reenactment group that lives the Middle Ages "as they ought to have been," you know, without all the serfdom and diseases. In the Society I play a Svealander named Hákon jarnsmiðr, a blacksmith, adventurer, and sometimes-viking. What that means is that I dress in armor and get hit with sticks weekly. Hákon can be found in the Canton of Glaslyn in the Kingdom of Ansteorra.
From 1992-2002 I was an ardent MUD player, starting with Gemstone on the GEnie service. I also played a number of graphical MMOs
over the years, including Ultima Online, Everquest, Asheron's Call, and a 6-year stint in Dark Age of Camelot. In this time
I found myself enjoying Beta-testing new MMOs, and after I had a couple beta tests under my belt, I was usually able to get
in to the test for whatever new games were coming out. I tested dozens of MMOs from Shadowbane to World of Warcraft, and
had fun seeing the new features develop, spread, and evolve into MMO staples. After WoW was released, I decided that I just
didn't have time for it anymore, and hung up my beta-tester hat and closed all of my MMO accounts. I still like to
keep the occasional eye on the industry through blogs such as Scott Jennings' Broken Toys
and forums like Quarter to Three. To revisit my old MUD days and to
teach myself Visual Basic, I wrote a custom MUD engine in 2008-2009.
I think it's pretty well established that I'm a nerd of the first degree with this evidence alone. If that's not enough, I am also proficient in sewing, leatherworking, woodworking, model construction, PVC construction, trivia, I'm a board game geek (I built my own 3D Settlers of Catan tiles) and I love public speaking. Somehow, despite this, I managed to make a lot of good friends along the way.