10 Random…

Facts About Paul

While most of the people who visit this site know me pretty well and are basically here for updates in terms of events, it occurs to me that not everyone here is as familiar with who I am. Therefore I am beginning a new series of entries to this page which may or may not help new friends or strangers understand what makes me me. These are ten completely random facts about yours truly.
Last updated July 2004

  1. I think the sound and feel of dry leaves crunching under feet is the most satisfying thing, ever.
  2. Sometimes people mistake me for quiet and shy. Actually I’m rather talkative, but I’m socially awkward so I prefer to observe new situations carefully until I’m completely comfortable.
  3. I was a complete geek through most of school, but I didn’t really get picked on all that much—mostly because I seemed so quiet and shy that people ignored me.
  4. I never took the SAT.
  5. I’m not a morning person, but my favorite time of day is early, just before and just after the sun rises.
  6. There is very little about creative works that I don’t find endlessly fascinating: Art, music, photography, writing; I enjoy consuming and creating, whether or not I’m any good.
  7. I have one major phobia, but to this day I can’t properly describe or define what causes it to kick in. It has something to do with underwater landscapes and wildlife (aquariums are not my bag of tea, certainly) but I don’t know where it comes from or what specifically freaks me out. It’s a purely visual fear, I know that. Closing my eyes makes it go away.
  8. I struggle occasionally to fall asleep or get tired at the right times. Stress may play a big role in these periods. Whatever the cause, it’s only a problem until I get to sleep. I almost always sleep very soundly and deeply.
  9. My biggest pet peeve is not being able to dry my hands after I wash them. My second biggest peeve is people who don’t put shopping carts in their designated spaces when they’re done with them, choosing to leave them at random places around the parking lot instead.
  10. I don’t have a single favorite food. I like all kinds of dishes and love trying new things. I’m not a huge fan of sweet things as a general rule and desserts don’t really excite me too much; I prefer main and side dishes with interesting flavors. The closest I could probably come to a favorite food is really more like a meal: I like almost everything about breakfast.

Facts About ironSoap

Last updated July 2004

  1. The name ironSoap doesn’t mean anything, and was originally spelled simply ‘ironsoap’. It comes from a Photoshop test I did several years ago which turned out looking like a bar of metal soap. I added an embossed phrase ‘ironsoap’ on it and it ended up being the logo for a very early version of the site.
  2. The official spelling/capitalization of ironSoap is lower-case ‘i’ and upper-case ‘S’. There is no real reason for this aside from aesthetic and practically no one besides me spells it right, which doesn’t bother me. The style originally came from the practice in programming of spelling variable names that are multi-word without spaces and new words capitalized like, “theOriginalValue.” I thought it looked cool and offered some suggestion that the term was actually two words so people didn’t think it was irons-oap or something. The practice in programming is commonly called Camel Case.
  3. ironSoap averages about 18,000 words per month and has been updated more or less constantly since December 2001. The estimated total words written here through July 2004 is 500,000.
  4. In an early incarnation, ironSoap was a tech support site for new computer users interested in learning programming and Unix systems administration.
  5. In an average month ironSoap welcomes around 1,100 unique visitors and serves up about 140,000 KB of data.
  6. Originally, Nikki and I were to be the only members of the cast to use our real names. Later a few people with web presences of their own began to be referred to by their actual names.
  7. The site has been massively overhauled four times, once from the tech support version to the current journal-based format, one redesign focused on streamlining some of the original pages which didn’t get much attention once to clean up the code and add room for new features.
  8. The most recent update incorporated WordPress blog-style software into the main page/archives and allowed for automatic RSS generation, comments and online post editing.
  9. Each significant minor change earns a point revision and ironSoap is currently on version 5.1.
  10. The motto of ironSoap is “A critically engaging exercise in pointless tedium,” which appears in the meta tags at the top of the page. For the most part, only search engines see the motto although it has occasionally appeared in logos and certain design elements.

Things I’m Proud Of

Last Updated August 2010

  1. My marriage.
  2. My wife.
  3. My daughter.
  4. I’ve never broken a bone or had stitches.
  5. The way my Last.fm profile (and weekly top 5) suggest accurately that I listen to a wide variety of music and musical styles.
  6. I’ve been maintaining ironSoap.org for nearly ten years.
  7. I change my mind a lot, and have it changed for me.
  8. I’m a very safe driver.
  9. I don’t have a whole lot of attachment to material possessions.
  10. I still read books.

25 Things

This is reprinted from Facebook. I put it together in response to the 25 Things meme that was floating around early in 2009 and figured it had a contextual permanent home here.

  1. I missed seeing a lot of movies in the 80s that my contemporaries recall through the forgiving lens of nostalgia, like John Hughes films or The Goonies. I’ve seen some of them since and found them to be largely forgettable or inane.
  2. I haven’t used any of the graphic design skills gained through formal training in my job for the last five years, and the skills that I use instead were almost exclusively self-taught. I don’t feel at all confident in these abilities.
  3. Despite every job I’ve held since I was 21 years old consisting of me sitting in front of a computer for a minimum of 8 hours per day, I’m a terrible typist who never learned how to touch-type.
  4. I am not as hard-working, observant, funny, humble, intelligent nor as kind as compliments I’ve received might suggest. I wish this wasn’t the case, and can’t decide if I’d rather be better at those things without any recognition or leave it the way it is.
  5. No one has ever complimented me on being particularly honest. As a kid I used to make up fantastic tales and weave them intricately to my friends and family. I justified it internally as being merely an expression of creativity, as opposed to being dishonest. People quickly learned to be skeptical of me, to the extent that I later had difficulty convincing them when I was in fact being truthful. I think I’ve mostly grown out of this, although I am still prone to exaggeration. For “comedic effect.”
  6. My biggest pet peeve is when people don’t return shopping carts to their designated locations. To me it is the epitome of laziness and casual disregard for others.
  7. My second pet peeve is one passed down from my father: I hate when there is no towel available to dry my hands after washing.
  8. My father is my all-time greatest hero.
  9. I had terrible nightmares as a kid and over-compensated by reading scary books and watching horror movies as I got older. Lately I’ve lost most of my appetite for that kind of entertainment, although I still love zombie stories.
  10. I’m a huge nerd. I work with computers, I still read comic books (ahem, “graphic novels”), I play too many video games, I enjoy complicated board games and wargames, I like role-playing games and science fiction, I attend gaming conventions and follow technology news. I have questionable social skills and identify most strongly with people whose interests align with my own (so, other nerds).
  11. It is less a matter of me being nerdy or uncoordinated and more a product of me being incredibly lazy that I don’t participate more in sports or outdoor activities, although I enjoy them very much. I also like spectator sports quite a bit, especially hockey and football. I even like watching soccer, although I can’t stand basketball because I think any game that values genetic physical characteristics as much or more than skill is inherently broken.
  12. I loathe superstition and silently judge people who engage in superstitious behavior.
  13. I’m skipping #13, though.
  14. I’m adventurous with food. I have a personal rule that I’ll try anything, once. Although I’m secretly glad that the rule hasn’t really been put to the test with certain dishes like balut or fafaru. Most of the time I try to order something from restaurants that I haven’t ordered before.
  15. Despite more or less hating cats growing up, partially due to a heavy allergy, my wife took in a stray early in our marriage and I’ve warmed to them considerably. I’m convinced I had no choice in the matter, and I take allergy medicine daily to compensate for our choice of animal companion.
  16. Sometimes people mistake me for being a shy, quiet person. The truth is I’m uncomfortable in certain social situations and am mostly content to listen and observe. When I do feel comfortable, everyone agrees that I talk way too much.
  17. Everything I know about being kind and selfless and loving, I learned from my mom. She was an incredible teacher and I regret that I wasn’t a better pupil.
  18. Though I’ve never been able to stick with musical training or practice enough to be proficient at it, and my attempts at songwriting have never matched the ideals in my head, I love music. Listening, playing, discovering, sharing and creating music feels like recharging my soul.
  19. I’m pretty cheesy and overly earnest. I use phrases like “recharging my soul” without the appropriate level of irony.
  20. I absolutely love life and take most of my principal delight in the tiny, insignificant details like walking through dry leaves in autumn so I can feel and hear the crunch, or getting to be the first person to put a knife into a freshly opened jar of peanut butter, or unexpected laughter.
  21. Because of this, I find sleep to be an annoyance that gets in the way of my ability to experience life. I truly enjoy the comforting sensation of sleep, but I prefer to stay up late and get up as early as I can convince my body. I spend a lot of time feeling exhausted.
  22. I’ve had “This is the Song That Never Ends” stuck in my head more or less continuously since 1991. Even when I get other tunes stuck in my head, I mentally replace the lyrics.
  23. I once misspelled “Land” in a spelling bee. I added an “e” at the end. I was in fourth grade. Spelling is still not my strong suit, but it has always bugged me when I find misspellings.
  24. Mostly I’m relieved about my male pattern baldness: It’s incredibly easy to maintain and functionally free (although I do purchase a new hair clipper once every two years or so) since I just shave my own head. But sometimes I miss being able to have weird hairstyles. I rocked a mullet through Junior High and had an un-spiked mohawk in high school. I would have liked to had hair long enough to dye it funky colors or something eventually. Mostly I regret that I spent most of the years when I had hair covering it with a baseball cap.
  25. The best part of any day is coming home and seeing my wife’s beautiful smile. Her love for me is inscrutable (see above) but I learned long ago to simply accept it and continue to do my best to deserve it.