I would have to say that my main hobby is the one that is the most obvious...COMPUTERS!!!
Computers and just about everything related to them. I held an interest in them for some time before they became an essential part of the American household, dating back to my very first computer, the Commodore Vic-20. <Thanks for buying that starter system for me way back when, mom!> Back in the day, this machine was state-of-the art. It had a whopping 3K of RAM available upon bootup (follow the link in this sentence to see that it is 3,583 bytes; NOT the *giga* or *tera*bytes that we commonly refer to today). Total memory in the Vic-20 was a meager 25K. It was capable of displaying eight colors on a screen that could display 22 characters of text per line and 25 lines per page on a regular television screen. Amazingly, there were some pretty entertaining games available for it. The Vic-20 was preloaded with the BASIC programming language, which led me to many hours of programming in efforts to design useful computer programs, as well as to customize programs and games written by others. Oh, what a glorious machine that was! Technically, the Atari 2600 was really my first computer, but the Vic could do much more than simply accept game cartridges. Of course, technology has progressed exponentially since then! I moved up from the Vic to a Commodore 64, which looked pretty much the same, but had 38K available memory (64K total) and displayed 40 characters of text per line and about 30 lines per page/screen, doubled the available colors to sixteen and had a radical sound chip (for its day, anyway). I still have a functioning C-64! It hasn't seen any power cycles in years, but one of these days I will fire it up just to reminisce.
It was on the Commodore 64 that my first endeavor at helping others with computers began. I ran a BBS (Bulletin Board System) on the C-64 for several years during high school. For those not familiar with the term, BBS's served a similar role to that served by Internet message rooms today. Of course, you must be aware that the technology then was practically primitive compared to what is available today. Essentially, it was a "server" connected via phone that allowed one user at a time to login, transfer files, read and send messages and send and receive email (which was limited strictly to posting private messages to other users on the same BBS or "board"). Those of you who were online way back then will undoubtedly get a snicker out of my loose appropriation of the term "server" here!
The BBS, named "Hackerdom" and based in Tempe, Arizona, was a community BBS attracting all ranges of Commodore 64 enthusiasts from beginners to experts and was successful in establishing a warm atmosphere in which everyone could mingle. Back then, it was run at a paltry 300 BPS (Bits Per Second) when 2400 BPS modems were just coming out and 1200 BPS was the most common speed available. For comparison, the average computer user today who uses a 56K fax/modem to surf the Internet is typically sending and receiving data at approximately 52,800 BPS (a whopping 17,500 percent improvement over the 300 bps in about 14 years)!!! Of course, broadband connections, such as cable modems and DSL, leave even the 56K modems in the dust. My, how far we've come in such a short time!
I have registered the domain name (Hackerdom.net) in hopes of eventually re-establishing the community that was started, catering to a much vaster audience than metro-Phoenix. Please visit Hackerdom.net and share any ideas that you may have! I am seeking partners who can help this idea materialize.
I also enjoy travel and have been fortunate enough to have had many more opportunities to do so in recent years. I have only begun to travel internationally on a regular basis and, since 2001, I have been striving to visit at least one far away destination each year. Even domestically, there are a lot of places I have never been yet. However, I do love to experience different places, cultures and people. I seem to have discovered that the more I travel, the more hunger I have to see things I have not seen before! Please feel free to visit my Photo page, where I have posted some of my favorite travel pictures. Some favorite destinations of mine include (in no particular order): San Francisco, Sedona Arizona, New York, Washington D.C., London England, Toronto, Philadelphia, the Iguazu Falls which straddle the Argentine/Brazilian border, Las Vegas and Ensenada Mexico. I especially enjoy learning about the history of the places I travel to, as each place seems to have some fascinating tidbit of history to it. Of course, my absolute favorite destination is right here in sunny San Diego (where else?)!
As far as interests go, I have many. I enjoy playing volleyball, reading, listening to music (going to concerts, too), watching my favorite teams play (San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, and Phoenix Suns) laughing, hiking, traveling, sight-seeing, driving the open road, eating a nice hearty steak and unwinding at the end of a long day. I like watching the major sports: football, hockey, baseball, and basketball and have been developing a taste for soccer whenever the World Cup matches come around. I enjoy an occasional competitive game to play (anything from poker to Trivial Pursuit). Sometimes, a solo video game is in order (my favorites are Civilization and Pirates). I also love taking on creative projects, like.....designing a web page! Since you have seen so much of my page, I would welcome your comments about it!
Some say you can tell an awful lot about a person by the movies and music they enjoy. I think that may be tough to assess in my case, because my tastes seem to run a very wide range. I guess you could say that the one thing you could pull from it is that I like to experience a lot of different things and feel like I am somehow missing out if I am not exposed to it all. The recurring theme in the movies is comedy. After reading this list, you will be certain that I love to laugh. As for the music, I have no idea what the common thread is. Here are my lists. Feel free to offer any opinions of your own as to what they mean.
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
A truly under-appreciated and much maligned classic. Full of laughs and tremendous one-liners. Favorite line: the dynamic duo to Socrates - "All we are is dust in the wind, dude!" But there are so many great lines to pick from. Runner-up: George Carlin - "The future is great. Bowling scores are way up; mini-golf scores are way down... and we have more excellent water slides than any other planet we communicate with." You have to love George Carlin acting as the voice of reason!
A must-see for any sales person. The ending really stinks, but any salesperson worth his or her salt, cannot possibly sit through it without many moments of recognition. Favorite line: Ben Affleck as the rah-rah broker recruiter - "Anyone who tells you that money is the root of all evil, doesn't <bleep>in' have any!"
How can you watch it and not get misty-eyed? Kate Winslet's character is one messed up lady that no guy should ever get mixed up with. However, when a woman is that mesmerizing, who cares? The fact that she is pretty well off-balance mentally can almost seem endearing.
most of the Star Trek series
Sci-fi at its best. "Wrath of Khan" was the pinnacle of science fiction. As for the "Voyage Home" installment, only a true Trekkie could enjoy that one. I have recently been able to tolerate that little misstep of a film, though. I also enjoyed the 2009 reboot of the series. The actors were so recognizable, you would swear that they were direct descendants of the original players. I am looking forward to see what they do with these characters in the coming years.
Another salesperson must-see. Some people say that it is goofy to call a sports movie a tear-jerker, but this one most certainly is! OK, so I teared up five minutes before everyone else, what of it? <laughing now> Forget about the whole "you complete me" speech, I was sniffling when our hero scored his big touchdown near the end and The Quan (that is to say, "everything") came together for Jerry and his player! Show me da $money$, ya know!?!
The third installment in the salesperson must-see troika (Boiler Room, Jerry Maguire and this one). These were the ultimate shady salespeople hawking questionable real-estate and the movie makes them all look bad in the end. During the first half of the film, though, these guys are inspiring! Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, even a young Alec Baldwin (this film has been around a while) - what a crew! Best line: Alec Baldwin as the hard-nosed executive looking to reinvigorate the sales force - "Put that down! Coffee is for closers!" You would have to see it to understand why that is such a great line.
Oh, the music! The soundtrack, alone, makes it worth watching. The story is icing on the cake.
One of the Coen brothers' finest movies, it was also among the early work (other Coen movies include Fargo and O Brother Where Art Thou). This non-stop laughing movie tells the tale of a man with a heavily checkered past (numerous convictions for robbery) hooking up with a highly decorated police officer. The happy couple wants a critter, but unfortunately is unable to have one of their own. So, upon hearing news of quintuplets being born to the Arizona family, they hatch a scheme to take one of the quints because, after all, the Arizona's probably have more than they can handle. What follows is a riotous series of run-ins with kinky bosses, escaped fugitives, inept law enforcement types and a well-cast Ty Cobb who plays the part of a baby hunter who, to quote the patriarch of the Arizona clan, "rides a motorbike, dresses like a rock star". A verbal description does not do this film justice, but I definitely consider it to be among the best comedies made. Some sample lines (so hard to pick a favorite): Ty Cobb's character while making a proposal to hunt down Mr. Arizona's kidnapped young one - "A cop couldn't find his butt if he had a bell on it. You wanna find an outlaw, you call an outlaw. You wanna find a Dunkin' Donuts, call a cop." / Prior to "releasing themselves on their own recognizance", the fugitive friends of the man with the heavily checkered past participated in a discussion group in jail as they attempted to rehabilitate. The leader of said group states that most men their age are settling down, raising kids and such and that they would not accept a life of crime and time as a substitute. Their reply to this statement - "Well, doc... sometimes a man has to put a career ahead of his family."
Travolta is hilarious. I loved his civility as he had a calm conversation with the thug who had just unsuccessfully tried to jump him about how said thug made the transition from movie stuntwork to being a henchman. Gene Hackman is too funny to believe. Danny DeVito is a riot. Rene Russo is a babe. 'nuff said.
Three O'Clock High
Kind of an obscure movie about a high school kid who defines the phrase, 'being in the wrong place at the wrong time'. After being assigned by his journalism teacher to write a story for the school paper about the new kid with a psycho reputation, the main character has a chance encounter with his subject, who happens to be roughly twice the writer's size, in the restroom. His first attempt at an introduction / interview does not go so well as it ends with the psycho challenging the writer to a fight at the end of the school day after he slams the writer into the mirror, shattering it in the process. The movie follows the small kid through the day as he and his friends hatch scheme after failed scheme to try to dodge his inevitable fate. Nobody else I know seems to have heard of this one, but it is one of the funniest high school flicks I have seen and something that I am sure most of us can relate to in some form or another (if not for the attempts at avoiding a fight, then for attempts to avoid some looming doom).
Really tough to follow the story on the first trip, but another flick with spectacular one-liners. I loved the conversation in the diner when Jules (Samuel Jackson's character) informs Vincent (Travolta) that he has decided to retire from mob work and "walk the earth" like the guy from Kung Fu, traveling from town to town, meeting people and "getting in adventures". Vincent makes a snap judgment and tells his friend, quite plainly, that Jules has decided to become a bum. I just love the simplicity of that assessment!
Morbid and dark but every bit the classic! Favorite line: Christian Slater's psycho character commenting on a quote's worthiness for inclusion in a fake suicide note - "...I like it... it's got that, uh, 'What a cruel world, so let's toss ourselves in the abyss' type of ambience, huh?" Runner-up: Again, Mr. Slater - "This is Ohio. If you don't have a brewski in your hand, you might as well be wearing a dress." Plus, Winona Ryder - even if you are a kleptomaniac, I still love ya, babe (muah)!
Impossible to pick out one part. I believe that this was Tom Hanks' best comedy movie. It is a laugh-fest from beginning to end. If you have not seen this movie, what are you doing reading this?!? Go out and rent The 'Burbs!!
My fantasy as a teenager, which I am probably not alone in - to meet a gorgeous woman who would strive only to fulfill every desire. Of all the John Hughes films (which were *all* great!), this was the best of them all. As I grow older, I will eventually need to fast forward past the party-crasher scene with the motorcycle gang because it makes me laugh too hard and side-splitting laughter could be dangerous as I grow more fragile with age. Every time I see that part, I start rolling. "Is this your party? How come two unpopular <bleep>s like you, is having a party?"
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Yes, the title is risqué, but this was actually a mainstream movie based on a popular Broadway musical which, in turn, was based upon the true story of a brothel in Texas that was forced to shut down by a flamboyant television exposé personality. Starring Burt Reynolds (Sheriff Ed Earl - gotta love that name!) and Dolly Parton (the lovely madam, Miss Mona), with prominent roles for Jim Nabors (the bumbling deputy), Dom DeLuise (the televangelist-like personality who causes all the trouble), Charles Durning (the evasive poll-watching Governor of Texas) and others, this movie is a barrel of laughs. This one would probably not be included on the top 100 lists of many people, but it is pretty charming, has catchy tunes, is funny, and even manages to have a nice little love story in it. Dolly's rendition of her original song, "I Will Always Love You", still makes me well up (Whitney Houston totally stole her thunder for her version in The Bodyguard with Kevin Costner). As is sung in one of its more swinging numbers... "Just lots of good will / and maybe one small thrill / but there's nothin' dirty goin' on!"
Action, laughter, a guy crashing through a high-rise window wall on a motorcycle and commandeering a helicopter that is already in flight, a villain with the perseverance and determination of Jason, Freddie Krueger, and a dozen other psychos *COMBINED*, Spanish one-liners spoken with an Austrian accent ("Aasta la veesta, babee!"). What could you possibly not like about this?!?
As I have traveled more, I have developed a strong liking for live theater. I try to catch plays or shows whenever I can and have enjoyed performances in New York (on and off-Broadway), Toronto, London, Los Angeles and San Diego. Among the shows I have seen, some of the ones I have most enjoyed are: The Lion King (Toronto - Princess of Wales Theatre), Mamma Mia (Toronto - Princess of Wales Theatre), Annie Get Your Gun (New York - Marquis on Broadway - with Tom Wopat and Crystal Bernard), The Boy from Oz (New York - Imperial Theatre - with Hugh Jackman), Bombay Dreams (London - Apollo Victoria Theatre) and The Producers (Los Angeles - Pantages Theater - with Martin Short and Jason Alexander). I hope to expand upon that list in the coming years as I believe that live theater provides a different but very engrossing escape that movies cannot deliver.
Eagles (any album, but especially "Desperado"
and "Hell Freezes Over") - Timeless, peerless. They were the Masters of
Country and Rock!
Matchbox 20 (or Twenty, whichever you prefer) - I love the first three albums they have put out so far and nearly every track on them.
Jimmy Buffett - Son of a Sailor and A Pirate Looks at Forty. To say nothing of Margaritaville!
ABBA - Yes, I admit a strong love of all things ABBA. I grew up on it. Brings back happy memories of simple times. Plus, the 70's jump suits are funny to look at and, in some strange way, cool - no matter how much fun is made of them.
Paul Simon - Graceland. Mesmerizing folk music.
Hootie and the Blowfish - Cracked Rearview. I cannot help but sing along.
U2 - Joshua Tree. This album seems to make everybody's favorites.
Gin Blossoms - Miserable New Experience. Hardly miserable, though.
Third Eye Blind - Heavy, yet audible. Pumping and rhythm, all at the same time.
Bob Marley - Any. Reggae is the ultimate relaxation and kickin' back music.
Guns 'n' Roses - Mostly the ballads, like Patience, Sweet Child of Mine, etc.
G.F. Handel - Messiah - Most beautiful music I have ever heard.
Snoop Doggy Dogg - Snoop takes rap to an altogether different level.
Nelly Furtado - I was surprised to find my toes tapping with a lot of her music. I had always considered her (prior to listening to her stuff) a bit of a chick-ish singer. I must admit, though, that her music always has a solid beat and a catchy chorus.
I enjoy meeting people who have a positive outlook on life and who have similar interests. It is a real drain to be around people who are victims of life - my euphemism for one who is consistently in a rut, despair, "down cycle" or is being wronged by somebody or something they have no control over. We all have our bumps, of course, but I firmly believe that life, with certain extreme exceptions, is what you make of it. It has always struck me how some people seem to have nothing but good luck and some attract nothing but bad. I hardly ever see much in between. Ninety-nine times out of one-hundred, if you ask me how I am doing, I will most likely say great, spectacular, wonderful or something else along those lines (and, no, I am not one of those people who throw out a "fine" and walk away). I feel that a positive outlook brings everything in line, creates good luck and has a funny way of making all of my days pleasant. I love meeting people with the same type of attitude. People who are masters of life, not victims of it! Hanging out, checking a movie and going out to eat or see a show are some of the things I like to do with 'em. The most important part is seeing and talking to friends on a regular basis.
I think continual learning is very important to a healthy outlook on life. Whether in a formal classroom setting or not, I find it crucial to always seek to expand my horizons and open my mind to more knowledge and experience. Some favorite subjects of mine include: history (especially the Roman period, but all history is fascinating to me), religion/philosophy, space-related stuff (astronomy and theories such as relativity, black holes and the like) and anything technological.
As busy and hectic as life often is, it is the people around you that makes it all worthwhile, right?
A favorite saying of mine is: "The important thing about your lot in life is whether you use it for building or for parking." This pretty well sums up my philosophy...