Radagast tagged your host with a blogosphere meme titled "Five Things You Didn't Know About Me". While it hasn't been SC's habit to follow up on such things ([or to write much of anything in the last year -- ed.]), and Radagast did the gracious thing by disclaiming any offense if it wasn't taken up, an interesting twist suggested itself to SC almost immediately. Rather than merely passing along 5 items of random trivia about myself, how about 5 items of random trivia about myself that would specifically be amusing to people on my blogroll? They may consider themselves thereby so tagged, with of course no obligation to respond. Without further ado:
- For Neal Whitman: When Mrs. SC was a medical student, and we had been married only about 5 months (but dating for 5 years), one night when she was having a rough time of things, I asked her what I could do to cheer her up. She said, "Make me a pumpkin pie". I had never done anything of the sort in my life, and she had never asked me to do anything like that. Nevertheless, I proceeded to pull out my copy of "The Joy of Cooking", went and bought the necessary ingredients, and made the pie (including crust) completely from scratch. Without using a food processor. (Oh, how I hated using the knives to cut butter into the bowl of flour.) It was only afterward that a stunned Mrs. SC told me that she hadn't actually expected me to do anything of the sort.
- For Heidi Harley (in honor of her first post; haven't seen much about cheese since, but one can hope): When I went to Spain for a month as a high school student, I fell in love with Manchego cheese, which the host family I stayed with introduced me to. On my last day in the country, I went to a grocery store and purchased an enormous wheel of the stuff to take home. Not having correctly calculated the amount of free space in my suitcase, I had to talk a classmate into taking home some of my clothing for me.
- For The Tensor: In 7th grade, I took my first Spanish class. Because I went to a school that had been constructed on an emergency basis to hold the overflow from a rapidly-expanding junior high (which I attended for 8th grade), all of my classes were rather weak on discipline. While I actually liked my Spanish teacher a lot, times when paying attention was going to make a difference were few and far between. Therefore, I proceeded to read the entire series of Frank Herbert-penned Dune novels (the prequels not existing yet), which I checked out of the school library, while holding them under my desk during class sessions. Fortunately, I hadn't hit my critical age yet (not that I knew this at the time), and still managed to pick up Spanish fluently enough that I could understand TV newscasts by the end of the year.
- For Claire Bowern: In 1996, my family took a trip to Japan, China and Hong Kong late in the summer. I had begun to seriously consider the idea of a linguistics major after transferring from Harvey Mudd College to Claremont McKenna that summer, and had taken a copy of Akmajian et al. with me as reading on the plane trip over. When we reached Hong Kong, and spent some time shopping, it crossed my mind that a MiniDisc recorder would be a great tool for fieldwork, and so I bought one. Unfortunately, it hadn't occurred to me to consider the voltage it would run on (the AC adapter was set up for the Japanese 100 V standard), and so when I ended up taking a fieldwork course the following spring, on the Bantu language Kimeru, I did so with a conventional cassette recorder.
- For Mark Liberman: Once I had made the decision to be a linguist, I was inspired by my experience with OS/2's included VoiceType to aim for specializing in phonetics, with the goal of doing work in speech recognition. One thing from said experience that convinced me I might be able to help make improvements was the fact that I spent 4 hours trying to train my copy to understand my voice, which struck me as representing considerable room for improvement. It was running on a Pentium/75 laptop with 8 MB of RAM. When I finally got it trained, I dictated an e-mail to a number of my friends bragging about the fact that I had just dictated an e-mail to them. One of them sent back a reply guessing (correctly) that it probably took them a lot less time to reply by typing than it had for me to get the thing set up just so I could dictate a few lines. And then correct the errors that it still made by typing anyway. It took me several years to change my mind about phonetics (which wasn't even so much a matter of me changing my mind as a series of career decisions that all seemed to make sense at the time but that ended up leading me away), but I never dictated another e-mail again after getting that one.