C over at Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Sanity tagged me with this meme.
1. Once you are tagged, link back to the person who tagged you.
2. Post THE RULES on your blog.
3. Post 7 weird or random facts about yourself on your blog.
4. Tag 7 people and link to them.
5. Comment on their blog to let them know they have been tagged.
Um... Are you sure you want me to write SEVEN things??? Given that I tend to be verbose, I would grab a cup of coffee and make yourself comfortable, because this might take a while.
1. I'm a direct descendant of Chief Justice John Marshall. I did a term paper on him for one of my undergrad classes, and in the USD Law Library I found a collection of his private letters. It was so cool to sit and read letters written by this long lost relative of mine to and from Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.
2. My favorite candy is orange sticks (milk chocolate on the outside with orange jelly stuff on the inside). It's the thing I most look forward to when I dump out the contents of my stocking on Christmas morning. The flavors of orange and chocolate together are just sooooo good. I also love the Mocha Valencia (orange flavored mocha) at Starbucks.
3. As if it wasn't obvious that I love food and my life seems to revolve around the search for good food, good restaurants, and good service. One of my Sailors pointed out to me that whenever I give somebody directions or try to describe a geographic location, I always use restaurants as landmarks. It was on the midwatch one night on deployment. We were bored and reminiscing about some of the places we looked forward to going when we got back home. One of my guys said, "Have you noticed all the landmarks you use to describe geographic locations are restaurants, sir? You'll say, 'Go down highway XYZ past the Wokery (best Chinese place around), hang a left at that little red wooden shack with the awesome lobster rolls, and it's down there across the street from the Indian place."
4. For most of the 7th and 8th grade I was on crutches due to a series of surgical procedures on my legs. I had my first surgery in the summer before I started 7th grade. My dad was Navy and we had just moved to San Diego that summer, so I was a new kid starting at a new junior high school... on crutches. So while all the popular kids were skateboarding or surfing, I stayed home and played on my computer. Do you think that may have had an influence on why I was a nerd in high school and I'm still such a computer geek today?
5. International travel is one of my favorite experiences in life. I was always envious of my Dad getting to visit so many foreign countries in the Navy. The first time I got to leave the country was when I went to Japan with my mom when I was 7 years old. We had hosted several Japanese exchange students, and so my mom took me on a trip to go visit several of our exchange students and their families, and we got to tour all over Japan.
I was blessed with parents that raised me to be pretty independent and gave me a pretty long leash. They allowed me to go on my first unaccompanied plane trip when I was 8 years old to go visit my grandparents in Colorado. After I got scuba certified when I was 14, I went on several one and two-day trips down into Baja California, Mexico to go scuba diving with complete strangers from a dive shop in San Diego. After my dad retired from the Navy and we moved to Oregon, I used to go on weekend trips from Portland out to the Oregon coast (~3 or 4 hour drive) to go scuba diving off Newport and Tillamook. In high school, I got to travel alone by air to Canada (EXPO '86 in Vancouver), to Japan, to Korea, and to England. It was a deal I had with my parents - maintain good grades and get to fly someplace in the summertime. In the first three cases, I flew alone and then stayed with friends who lived there, and in the England case it was with an organized exchange program, so I was never on total independent ops while I was on the ground. Still, I know a lot of my friends' parents were nowhere near as trusting and would never have allowed them to go on those trips like I did. I know many of my high school classmates in Oregon had never left the COUNTY much less the STATE much less the COUNTRY before.
Since I joined the Navy... whoa... I mean, that's one of the reasons why I joined the Navy and why I've stayed in the Navy was to see the world. I've been to Norway, Florida (hey, leaving your homeport of Groton to go to Fort Lauderdale in February is AWESOME), Puerto Rico (dozens of times), Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, the Suez Canal, France, Gibraltar, Japan (a few times), Korea (several times), Okinawa (I know, part of Japan, but it's separated a bit), Guam (too many times to count), Australia, Saipan, Hawaii (a couple of times for port calls before actually being stationed here), Canada, Alaska, England, Spain, Portugal, the Panama Canal. Oh, and I'm a bluenose and an emerald shellback.
Okay, enough with #5 already. I guess that was a little bit TMI for a "random fact" huh?
6. I love Gilbert and Sullivan. My favorite song is the "Modern Major General" song from The Pirates of Penzance. My grandparents instilled in me an appreciation for classical music and performing arts. They would take me to musicals, ballets, and plays growing up, and they were big fans of Gilbert & Sullivan. I actually went to a performing arts school near LA for 3rd through 6th grade. One day not long after I started 3rd grade there, I was walking along and heard a familiar tune from a classroom down the hall. They were singing, "We sail the ocean blue, in our saucy ships of beauty, we are sober men and true, and attentive to our duty..." from HMS Pinafore. I walked down the hall and peeked in the door. The teacher saw me and asked what I wanted. I told her I knew the song and I was looking to see who was singing it. She gasped, "You KNOW this song?!?!" I don't know if it's possible for a 3rd grader to be drafted, but I soon found myself as a member of Mrs. K's school chorus preparing for a big Gilbert & Sullivan show at Cal State Dominguez Hills. (Aside: I later got to play the kid in The King and I - "Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect, and whistle a happy tune, so no one will suspect - I'm afraid...").
Last spring back in Norfolk, I was really excited when the Norfolk opera house was putting on a kids' show of Pirates of Penzance. It was a kids' day at the opera, and they had lots of kids activities set up on the grass in front of the opera house. I don't know if my kids got much out of it, but it brought me great joy to share that with my boys. (Except I missed my favorite song because YS had to go pee RIGHT at that moment...)
7. My hero or the person I have most admired in my life is my Grandpa Ernie. Man, if you thought I wrote too much for #5 and #6 above, I better just stop here for the night and save this for another blog post. (Heck, I coulda written a whole blog post just on topics 5 and 6!) I just hope that I can teach my kids half as much as Grandpa Ernie has taught me, and I hope someday my kids and someday my grandkids will look up to me as much as I look up to my Grandpa. I regret that in the busy life of parenting and navy life that I lead now that I have not been good at keeping in touch with Grandpa as an adult, but he had such a profound impact on my upbringing that he is always in the back of my mind. I think of Grandpa when I sing Gilbert & Sullivan songs to my boys in the bathtub, when I take my boys hiking, when I try to get my boys to appreciate foreign cultures, languages, or foods, when I help ES to learn the planets in the solar system and the Greek Gods the planets were named for, when we go to a science museum, when we launch rockets, when we see the Blue Angels... Like I said, I could be here all night if I started writing about my Grandpa. I'm sorry I don't do a better job of keeping in touch, Grandpa, but you are always on my mind.
Wrap-Up: I'm still pretty new to blogging. I think most of the other blogs I read are people who have been around awhile and already done this meme before, so I can't come up with seven people to tag. I will tag One Crazy Adventure, The A Team, and Black Shoe though, since I couldn't find any blog posts with "7 random facts" or "tag" or "meme" in them.