Roberto Chinnici tagged me with "the five things you don't know about me meme" last night and now it is time for me to tag five bloggers of my own.

First, I should say that I made an attempt to find my tag ancestors.

Going six generations back from me, we get to Tim Bray. At 14th generation back, written only four days ago, we have the Green LA Girl, a champion consumer. At 16th generation, going back 6 days ago, we have someone getting tagged twice.

You can pursue this generational research on your own.

Now, here are five things about me you may not know:

1)    My first and second languages are Persian and Azeri dialect of Turkish.

English is only my third (and by extension, not my best) language. I still remember very clearly a time in my life when I knew or spoke no or very little English. My fourth language is Spanish and my fifth is German but of these two, I can only read and listen now. I speak them rather badly and only when I have absolutely no choice, e.g. when I have to talk to my four-year-old niece in Germany. I can also read and have a good understanding of Quranic Arabic although one can always make further improvements.

2)    I spent about 4 months in London when I was 14. I was registered in an English class near Tottenham Court Road station.

3)    My father was a founding partner in the largest advertising company active in Iran in the early 1960s and 1970s.

He helped found the company right before I was born. I left Iran for America when I had just turned 17 weeks after I had witnessed the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the installation of a provisional government. My father's advertising company was disbanded due to business losses after the revolution.

4)    I spent one year as a foreign scholar in the Heilongjiang province of China working for the Daqing Petroleum Institute in the town of Anda, very near the industrial city of Daqing. The closest major urban area was Harbin.

This was a wonderful year, and my wife and I made many good friends. During the winter months (-35 degrees), we ice-skated, visited friends and ate many types of delicious hot meals, and I had a chance to read Willard Quine's Mathematical Logic, Wallace Matson's History of Philosophy and Barbara Partee, Alice ter Meulen and Robert Wall's Mathematical Linguistics, among oher books. When we returned I was lucky to study classical Chinese philosophy at Berkeley with professor Kwong-loi Shun, who has since left Berkeley.

5)   I spent 17 years at various graduate schools obtaining advanced degrees in everything from engineering, to journalism, to management.

According to our common standards of the day, this seems like a waste of time, and perhaps, it was but so be it. Time past cannot be regained. That is the special thing about time, and there lies the asymmetry that it enjoys with respect to space. Hence, the focus of much of technology to make us mobile in space and the lack of attention to preservation, through time, of what matters.

In any case, during six of these years I had non-academic jobs at various corporations (building early web applications with DB connectivity, desiging satellite communications programming environments, prototyping platforms for submission and analysis of computational simulations for aircrafts, working as a lead on DARPA research projects, and then joining Java Software at Sun). The toughest technical topic at graduate school must have been Cohen's Forcing Theorem. Synhetic Organic Chemistry was probably the easiest (and funnest) topic in all the school work I ever did. It felt like playing chess.

Now, it is my turn to tag others.

I hereby tag Richard Veryard, Francois Orsini, Robin Wilton (who generously accepted a second tagging), Hinkmond Wong, Mohamed AbdelAziz, Rich Sharples, Bernt Johnsen and Richard Friedman.


Masood, <<five things about me you may not know>> I found this all very interesting. I've been thinking of something interesting of my own to comment here, but can't. Now I know why you are such a diverse and interesting person. Best, Ralph

Posted by Ralph Hannon on December 23, 2006 at 10:51 AM PST #

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