Thursday, July 19, 2007

8 Random Facts

Gee, thanks Bill. I see this isn't going to go away. Three times now, I've been tagged with the "Eight Random Facts meme" by other birding bloggers. I suppose I better come up with a list, but I'm not going to tag eight other bloggers. So, how about nothing birdy, for a change, huh?

1. I was born in Madison, Wisconsin on August 21st, 1966. At age six months, I was hospitalized with pneumonia. A brother my Dad never knew, Michael A. McDowell, died at age six months from pneumonia. My grandmother said it was a bad omen and a mistake to name me after him and thought I would surely die from the illness. My grandparents, all passed on, lived to be over 80, two over 90.

2. I used to be a serious rocker and have been to hundreds of shows. I've seen everything from U2, Peter Gabriel, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Don Henley, Robert Cray, Sting, to Nirvana, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, KMFDM, Iggy Pop, The Cure, R.E.M., Smashing Pumpkins, The Pixies and more. This is probably why I have tinnitus.

3. Prior to my employment with Eagle Optics, I spent 14 years in Information Technology for an insurance company based in Madison. It was a living I was happy to give up.

4. I once biked 100 miles in one day on a Trek 330. I presently own a Trek 2100 and biked 12 miles this morning before work. When I was 10 years old I wiped out going downhill on a gravel path on my bike. I hit a tree as I lost control, broke my nose, fractured my wrist and was knocked unconscious. My brother found me.

5. From the department of completely useless time wasting things kids do during summer vacation, when I was 12 years old I attempted to beat my record of 3,000 hops on a pogo stick, no-handed. With several neighbor kids looking on, somewhere in the 1,000's, the metal wore through the rubber end of the pogo stick, causing it to skid out from under me on the next bounce. I hit the concrete face-first and was knocked unconscious.

6. In the summer of 1990, I spent a month traveling all over Europe with a friend. Taking trains, planes, automobiles, trams, hydrofoils, steamers, hiking, etc., we backpacked it from Germany to Turkey and back. While we were in Turkey, Iraq invaded Kuwait, which made life sort of interesting for a few days before making off to the Greek Islands. From the top of the Swiss Alps, to Vienna, Rome, Ephesus and the Acropolis – it remains one of my most challenging, incredible and life defining experiences.

7. I collect fossils – trilobites, brachiopods, bivalves, cephalopods and more. When I was 25, I was climbing out of a quarry with a backpack full of fossils and became fear-struck about 60 feet from the bottom with about 15 feet to go from the top. Though I had taken rock-climbing classes at Boulders, I'm not sure why this happened. Gripping the cliff wall as tightly as I could, I waited around half an hour before continuing. This remains one of the all-time stupidest things I've ever done because I could have just walked out of the driveway entrance of the quarry.

8. One of the most memorable things anyone has ever said to me happened as I was showing kids from my neighborhood the planets through my telescope during a planetary conjunction. A girl, probably 6 or 7 years old, asked me all about Venus while looking at it through the telescope. When she was finished viewing it, she turned to me and said, "When I grow up I want to be just like you." I was speechless.

All images © 2007 Mike McDowell

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