By Tor Norbye on Jan 06, 2007
The "5 Things Meme" is working its way around the internet, with people writing 5 things about themselves and then passing the baton to 5 others. Yep, exponential growth. I've been really busy with personal life recently but I'd better get this done before there's no-one left to tag! I've already been tagged by three different people (thanks Alexis, David and Todd) so I guess the signs of congestion are already becoming apparent!
It's hard for me to write 5 things that you don't know about me, because I know many of my readers listen to the Java Posse, and we frequently talk about our personal lives and our past there. You already know about my Dragon 32, Commodore 128 and Amiga 500 days, as well as my kids and hobbies like paragliding. Anyway, I think the following list should hopefully be new and entertaining:
- When I was 18, I came to the USA as an exchange student in high school in Kansas.
I joined the cross country running team, and the first week of school they had
a rally during a football game where the new team was introduced. The coach (who
was also a wrestling coach) introduced me to the home crowd as an exchange student
from Sweden! (If you're not a regular reader, I'm from Norway). Well, we have this
little national tiff between Norway and Sweden, telling "Swedish jokes" the way Americans
used to have Polack jokes. So, I promptly took one step forward, and proceeded to greet
the coach with the middle finger!
Yes, looking back at it, and having been immersed by American culture for the last sixteen (oh my, has it really been that long?) years, it sounds shocking to me that I'd do it, but hey, it was high school, it was impulsive, and meant as a joke.
Suffice it to say, the coach did not find this funny. I don't think Kansas wrestling coaches are the most receptive audience for such a greeting anyway, especially on home turf with the yearbook photographers standing by!
I convinced the coach that I was truly sorry and had not meant offense, and we patched up through the season. But at the end of the year, on the last running practice, the coaches had arranged a treasure hunt - we ran around the town, looking for clues and finding little gifts. My gift from the coach was a cutout of a hand, with the middle finger cut off at the middle, blood painted on, and the inscription "If you ever do that again..." !
- In high school they opened a local radio station in my home town. I immediately joined,
and had a lot of fun as a D.J., playing my favorite records, having callers call in and
asking them questions from quiz books, etc. I also occasionally ran the "reruns" of the
news episodes. One Saturday I came in, turned on the antenna, and started the most recent
rerun tape. I then pulled out my homework and started working on it. However, listening
to news while doing calculus is not easy, so as I so frequently did, I turned on a record
and turned down the volume of the live feed channel. It was actually Woodpeckers from Space
if I recall correctly! However, this time I had apparently
pulled the wrong control, because after 15 minutes, a friend of mine called the radio station
and told me something was horribly wrong - there was disco music playing on top of the
interview and nothing was legible! Ooops.
- I ran track as well. I was not good at it - though I did get a couple of regional titles.
One time, when I had travelled 4 hours away to an indoor track meet, one of the local
runners (who I knew was one of the best junior runners in Norway) came over and asked me
out of the blue (and as if he knew me) if I had been training much this winter. I said
something to the effect of "yeah, twice a week or so" to which he had a long good laugh. He
then told me he was bitter I had beaten him by 2/100s of a second in Japan the previous
fall! What was going on? It turns out I looked a LOT like another runner in Norway,
Vebjørn Rodal, who later went on to win the 800 meter dash in the Olympics in Atlanta '96.
At this time he was still a junior, but a top runner. Later that spring, I was running a race
in Oppdal, near his hometown, and he was present. When I ran the 800m dash, my coach
had been standing next to Vebjørn's coach, and his coach had said "I thought I had
told Vebjørn not to run this one!". I wish I had pictures of him and myself at that
age so you could be the judge yourself. Instead I'll give you a couple of pictures of him
later; I think the similarity is still there but obviously not as much. Those of you who
know me can be the judge:
- In 2000, I was in Norway for the summer when Bill Clinton was visiting the country.
One night my ex wife and I went out on the town, and walked by a restaurant with a crowd
outside of it. In the window we saw Bill Clinton and a group of people having dinner in an
otherwise empty restaurant. The were a number of guards in black suits hanging out by the door.
We asked if the restaurant was open for business - which it was, so we went in! We had drinks
at the bar (hey, this was an expensive restaurant!), and we were the only other people there!
When they were about to leave we decided we had to say something, so my ex wife went up
and after the introductions joked something along the lines of "Well, we're thinking of moving
to Norway now that Al didn't make it". (This was right after Al Gore had lost(?) the election.)
Bill Clinton came right back and said (and you've gotta read this with an Arkansas accent, especially
the "fight" word), "No, you've gotta stay and fight. Stay and fight!".
- I started graduate school at the Stanford University computer science department at the same time
that Larry Page (one of the two co-founders of Google) did. We took a number of the same classes,
and we both hung out in the HCI group on Fridays since they had a number of interesting
guest lecturers, research topics and discussion groups. We've both done well for ourselves, huh? (wink wink)
And now it's time to pass the baton. Since my fellow NetBeans and Creator engineers are already tagging each other, I'm going to try to branch it out in new directions: My brother and Sun Norway engineer (and OpenGrok developer) Trond Norbye, my fellow Java Posse members Joe and Dick, and JRuby developers Charles and Tom.