Friday, January 11, 2008

8 Things About Me

I don't do a lot of blogrolling and haven't been tagged yet in Jake's Oracle blogger game of tag. So I'll seize the initiative and post my 8 +/ 1 things anyway.

1. I'm Canadian, and in my time at Oracle have cycled through a special visa for Canadians, then the infamous H1-B, and finally a Green Card.

2. I come from the most recent, and relatively little known, part of Canada: the island of Newfoundland. This means I should by rights have a strong Irish-tinged accent. But for some reason I don't. Pity, as having an Australian, New Zealand, English, or even Welsh accent seems to be a plus at Oracle. :-) Still, I do spell honour, colour, and flavour the correct way. One of the things you can do on a slow day in Newfoundland, is drive down to the local lighthouse and take turns being the easternmost person in North America.

3. I am a pretty good tennis player. When Canada compiled its computerized tennis rankings in the mid-80s, I was in the top 100 national players, but only because they didn't have a very good ranking algorithm at first. I competed for Newfoundland in tennis in the 1985 Canada Games, and was also certified in Canada as a tennis coach. Most strategies that I employ in programming, business, and life trace back in some way to tennis.

4. On my first night in Toronto, I got lost driving at night, by coincidence right by the IBM lab where I would soon work. On my first trip to Berkeley, I got lost driving at night, by coincidence up in the hills a few blocks from where I now live.

5. I was in charge of all the Ada manuals at IBM for pretty much the whole time that IBM put out an Ada compiler. (Which makes designing and coding in PL/SQL feel like coming home.) My crunchiest deadline involved working 72 hours straight when the dates for 2 products fell into perfect alignment. My fondest accomplishment was learning REXX in one day to turn the Ada Language Reference from a plain vanilla text document into a complete hypertext system, after others estimated it as a 40-week project. My dullest piece of drudge work was a tie -- creating 24 separate disk labels and associated tracking paperwork for each one, for an early workstation compiler; and photostatting our original paper copy of the Ada Language Reference that we dug out of the archives for each release. I was assigned to Ada because it was listed on my resume, but in the "Programming Languages" course where I learned it, the DEC compiler didn't arrive in time, so I never actually used Ada for an assignment.

And today, Ada still is only a single word on my resume under "languages known"!

5b. I could go on for much longer about assembler than about Ada. :-)

5c. I also can write a sentence that uses both "FORTRAN" and "Fortran", correctly. Redoing all the IBM XL Fortran manuals was my favourite piece of writing.

6. I play the trombone, and have the stereotypical trombone player physique, temperament, and progression through different styles of facial hair. I didn't know any of that when they asked us in Grade 5 what instrument we wanted to play. I started playing in the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra while still in my high school band, skipping the usual step of the Youth Orchestra.

7. If you ask why I moved from Canada to the US, I can spin you a tale about a life-changing epiphany over Ethiopian food, a drunken New Year's Eve revelation, a rant about living in Toronto, or a lament about the metric system or Lotus Notes. Depends on which reason you would find most entertaining. Now that the Canadian dollar is on par with the US dollar, I might need to revise some of those tales.

8. I appeared on TV in Canada in "Reach for the Top", a high school quiz show where our school reached the national finals. I have not parlayed that experience into an appearance on Jeopardy!, although I have qualified twice for their contestant pool. Our Reach for the Top team practiced with homebrew buzzers designed by the future founder of Research in Motion.

1 comment:

Boneist said...

Ooh, a fellow trombonist!