Following after Dean Alfar's interview game, Sean sent me a list of five questions. I've answered as honestly as I could, and with a little less levity than I thought I would have.
What it reveals of me, I leave to the readers to decide.
1. What, in your opinion, is the most difficult lesson to get anyone to learn? (Academic or otherwise.)
Humility. Pride is too much a part of our fallen nature that it rebels against any intimations of humility. And humility, unfortunately, is not a state that you can just decide be in; frequently, real humility comes from extraneous events beyond our control.
2. You've just been approached about the possibility of constructing a monument to yourself, in a public area where it will potentially be seen by a lot of people of various nationalities. You can have any area of land that you need, and have any amount of material, type of material, and skilled workforce that you want. What sort of monument would you construct? What would it look like? Why?
I've always had a certain fascination for the Face on Mars. Imagine that, baffling an audience a million miles away. Yes, I know, the scientific explanation is that it's really just a play of shadows on some naturally-formed hills and valleys, but still....
So that's what I think monuments for truly great people (or truly vain ones) should be. So big that you can't see them from up close. You have to go very high up to appreciate them.
But a monument to myself? Non sum dignus. Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomine tuo da gloriam.
3. What was your weakest class back when you were in school? Do you think that you've been able to improve on your skills in that academic class since then?
Math. I was pretty dismal at figures back in grade school, and that didn't really improve in high school. But once I was forced into engineering, I learned to love it. Calculus became puzzle exercises. Numerical methods lending themselves to computer implementation opened up new vistas.
Unfortunately, I don't get to use them much nowadays, so I've regressed somewhat.
4. What do you think is currently our best alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles? Why this option, above all other available options?
Bicycles! Bicycles! Bicycles!
Bicycles are efficient, non-polluting, and healthy. They're the fastest way around short of using a gasoline-powered vehicle. They can go places where cars can't. They're cheap. They can carry a load.
If it were up to me, we'd have generous bicycle lanes throughout the country. Islands would be connected to each other by bridges accessible to bicycles. We'd have bicycle hostels everywhere. Everyone would get a free bike, so there would never be any reason to steal one.
5. One day, you cut yourself off from your previous life and create a new identity for yourself: You delete all your previous e-mail accounts, you forge a new birth certificate, you cut up your credit cards, you get some new diplomas made. What's the new name you create for yourself, and why that name specifically?
Nic Snide. Mainly because it has a nice ring to it.
Nic Snide was my fictional alter ego back in high school and college. He first started as a cartoon character called "The not-so-great Nic." Later, he got the surname Snide, after Dee "Twisted Sister" Snyder (of "We're Not Gonna Take It" fame). Snide seemed like a fitting monicker for my naturally sarcastic manner.
Later, Nic Snide became a idiosyncratic janitor at a top-secret research lab. He just happened to have lost his memory but he would become super smart whenever a dangerous situation posed itself. He was the star of an unpublished novelette entitled "The Creature from the Toilet Bowl." (And with a title like that, no wonder it didn't get published.)
That ultimately gave way to "village idiot savant."
So... how does The Interview Game work?
1. If you want to participate, leave a comment below saying “interview me.”
2. I will respond by asking you five questions - each person’s will be different.
3. You will update your journal/blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.