25 Things About Me

Joanna Powell Colbert tagged me!

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are to write a blog with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you. If you don’t tag 25 people, no worries! It’s all for fun.

25 Things About Me

1. I played concert oboe daily through the end of graduate school, in band, orchestra, and musicals – as well as clarinet, saxophone, and recorder. Never could play the flute, even though it has the same fingering as the oboe – can’t get the hang of the mouthpiece! I hope to play wooden recorder in a medieval or renaissance music group when I retire.

2. I never could fit into high school. My crowd was an older group of hard-core stoners already out of school, and at the same time, I got straight A’s. Only two of us went to University, and we stayed good friends for 20 years.

3. My dorm at Caltech was a throwback to the 60s – free love and the Grateful Dead. Mixed with relativity, three-dimensional calculus, synthetic chemistry, and spectroscopy. O.o A quarter-hit of acid with your physics exam, anyone?

4. Somehow I survived all that and became a relatively normal person :D … but with a keen appreciation and enjoyment of the stranger things in life. I haven’t touched a drug since I graduated, and don’t care to. Except coffee :)

5. My early research days were doing spectroscopic research on the colors of gemstones and on Martian mineralogy. I can honestly say I am one of the few people in the world that has had a piece of Mars on my desk.

6. I was put on the environmental path by the extreme pollution of Boston at that time, which I had not previously encountered growing up in Seattle. Not to mention that the Martian space program was tanking both here and in the USSR and so there wasn’t much future in continuing research in that field. As it turned out, my chemistry and geology background were useful, and I moved to UCLA to finish out my doctorate.

7. I got involved in one of the first cleanup programs in US (and the world) to formally deal with contamination in rivers, harbors, and bays. This led to a job at the Washington State Department of Ecology, to teaching numerous training programs around the country, and finally enabled my consulting business.

8. I love working for myself. I’m not sure I could ever go back to a traditional employer. Because I work at home, having just the right home environment is very important to me – it’s not just a place I come home to at night.

9. I’m so happy for the internet – it has made my current career possible and provides all kinds of opportunities for earning extra income should the need ever arise. It makes me feel confident that I will never have to go back to traditional work or “retire” if I need to keep working. When I wrote my dissertation, I had to borrow one of the few portable computers in the department!! As an undergrad, PCs (as opposed to large centralized mainframes) were making their first appearances on campus.

10. My first real job was processing fish tickets (payroll) for fishermen in Seattle returning from Alaska, for Whitney-Fidalgo Seafoods. Each ticket showed how much of which fish were caught and where. This turns out to be pretty typical of Seattle – almost every family still had some tie to Alaska.

11. When I was growing up, my Mom did astrology, numerology, and past life regression and was very active in the New Age community. Like any kid, this eventually led to me having a kind of backlash toward New Age philosophy. I still can’t handle most of the “trappings” of New Age (crystals, angels, etc.) and find many of the beliefs hard to accept (as with most religions), though I have come to look for the value in all religions and philosophies and have become firmly agnostic.

12. I do, though, have a love of tarot cards. I think it was the images that originally drew me. I have long loved card systems of all kinds, as well as games, and philosophy, and tarot is all three. The structure and cycles represented by the archetypal images in the deck are fascinating. Forget fortune-telling – there are serious insights to be had. If you doubt it, ask, and I’ll tell you more about it.

13. It was probably inevitable, given the above, that I would become a Magic card collector at some point in the game’s early history. At that time I had a lot of disposable income, and began trading the cards on eBay. I bought out whole stores and repackaged and resold the cards, and assembled a near-mint collection of all the sets from the very beginning, along with many extremely rare promotional cards. I kept those sets and unique cards when I had sold off everything else. Later, when I became single, they were worth so much that they paid for half of the down-payment for my new house… bought by a Microsoft collector.

14. I married a college boyfriend and we had a good marriage for a long time – 17 years. In the end, communication, work, and other problems resulted in a parting of the ways, amicable. I am proud of the fact that we managed our dissolution without lawyers and without hard feelings.

15. I now do, among other things, mediations of divorces and child custody issues – and I know just how bad it could be! I also facilitate large interagency workgroups, generally in the environmental field. You’d be amazed how many environmentally beneficial projects are held up because agencies don’t agree or can’t get organized.

16. Most of my career, I worked on cleaning up contaminated sites, and developing programs to do so, including developing the numeric cleanup standards that determine what are safe levels of chemicals in the environment for fish, wildlife, and people eating fish. I’m transitioning out of this now, into more people-oriented work described above.

17. I do expert legal consulting on the effects of wood waste in the marine environment, among other weird specialized topics. One of my cases finally went to trial (most of them settle) two years ago. Let’s just say the timber industry is not fond of me.

18. One of my stranger income streams is reverse-outsourced from India – I freelance for an editorial firm there that edits scientific research articles for journal publication, written by scientists whose first language is not English. Most of my papers are by Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean, or Japanese authors who are required to publish in English. Can you imagine if you had to publish in Korean? Topics include medicine, genetics, biology, chemistry, crop research, geology, industrial science, and occasionally social research. So far, I’m finding the genetics ones the hardest – though I’m definitely updating my knowledge in some of these fields!

19. I’ve gotten very interested in sustainable food issues – taking it a step beyond recycling, buying organic, etc. I am working on buying more locally and growing my own vegetables, among other things.

20. I recently moved to a smaller house in Olympia, which is just the right size for me, is in a forested neighborhood, with neighbors that are all women~! (at least the adults). This is so good for me. I love Olympia and all the things to do here.

21. I have a cat named Sophie who’s a bit anti-social, though not with me. If you spend a lot of time here, she’ll love you too. She has a good memory, but is just careful who she gets involved with :D

22. I’ve always loved games, in every format – board games, card games, word games, puzzles, computer games. Yes, I even get lost in the world of MMORPs at times – mainly because it provides a way for me to spend real time with my brother and sister-in-law, two of my favorite people, who live in CA. I have a local board gaming group I hang out with in Tacoma, where I can really let my inner geek out :)

23. Cooking is another passion – though I am frustrated at the moment because the electric stove in my new house does not cook well. It’s never the same as gas to start with, and I am beginning to suspect it is also about 25 degrees under its stated heat. Nothing comes out right. I can’t wait to replace it with a gas one – but that requires running gas to the kitchen and is a project high on my list for the new year.

24. Late last summer I finally got to try out kayaking – there are many marinas in Olympia that rent kayaks, including one very near me. I loved it! I will be back on the water as soon as the weather allows, and hope to find someone to go with.

25. Last but not least… I’ve got two weeks at a condo in Puerto Vallarta each year, right in mid-town on the beach, high in the air with rafts of pelicans and frigatebirds sailing by. Puerto Vallarta has the best sunsets in the world, and the sound of the waves is so soothing that it puts me instantly to sleep. I was convinced to get it not least because i always come home so rested, even if I go and work on the balcony. Someday I hope to live in Latin America and am exploring my options year by year. :)


One thought on “25 Things About Me

  1. Kim says:

    Very interesting. Especially the reserve outsourcing–as a writer always looking for a way to make a living!

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