Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I rarely participate in memes, but this one's been going around the UCF: 25 random facts about yourself. I've kind of liked the answers and I'm at at least as random as Michelle, and probably twice as crazy as anyone in the UCF, excepting Jim, so here goes:

My surname is Prussian.

I have both Scotts (Clan Munro) and Irish (Brady) in my background, as befits a true Southerner, but that mix in combination with Prussian is truly unholy.

One of my distant ancestors was a Brit in New Amsterdam, and was jailed briefly by the Dutch for shooting his neighbor’s dog when the dog dug up his garden.

I have ancestors who served on both sides of both the Revolution and the Civil War.

When I was 5 I wanted to be a “stinky ol’ farmer”, as my grandfather the farmer put it.

I had my first taste of chewing tobacco when I was 5. Same grandfather. He “forgot” to tell me to spit. I swallowed. I have not had a chew since. o.O

I had my first taste of beer around the same time. It was Pabst Blue Ribbon. I didn’t drink beer again until I was 25. My grandfather may have been a farmer, but when it came to keeping kids away from temptations, he wasn’t stupid. :D

I was a very poor student my first two years in high school, because I had idiots whom I did not respect for teachers, but I got my act together the second two years enough to finish in the top 7. My SAT score beat the valedictorian's by over 150 points, and I was the only National Merit Scholar in the county the year I graduated.

I have a letter of commendation from Komsomol. It was for serving in the Stroiotryady. On the stroiotryad I laid bricks and roofed an apartment building in Moscow.

I have been detained by the KGB twice*. It was in Gorbachev’s USSR, so I was not too scared. (Yeah, right.)

I was in the middle of this.

I have never been south of the equator.

When I was a child, I frequently flew in helicopters piloted by both US Army and ARVN veterans.

My father was a meteorologist.

My father’s poor health strongly colors my memories of my childhood. He had a rare heart condition known as Tetralogy of Fallot. Complications from it killed him when I was 20.

I still miss him. He was the strongest person I ever knew. Even late in his life when he’d turn blue from lack of oxygen after a dozen steps, he never stooped to getting a handicapped parking permit. That was for really handicapped people.

I was a bang-up student in college, and finished my 4-year degree with a 4-year certificate in the translation of technical Russian in 3 years. I missed having my father see me graduate by 6 months.

I have pretty long ear hair for my age. If I forget to trim it, certain people in my life are likely to ask me “what are you, a dog?”.

I still bite my nails. This led to some pretty nasty tastes in Organic Chemistry.

I don’t think I work hard enough.

My biggest regret in life is not having served in uniform.

The place where I’ve lived that I miss the most is Tokyo.

The place I’d most like to live next is Singapore.

When I retire, I want to buy a farm in Loudoun County, VA.

When I die, I will be buried in Virginia, in a cemetery full of Confederate Soldiers named “Union Cemetery”. I think that’s fitting.

*Ol’ Tank’s going to have a field day with that one :D


Ilya said...

I know quite a few "foreigners" who have better stories about their time in the USSR than I do. Must be the function of me having left when I was a relatively young man.

John the Scientist said...

Well, Ilya, it was also that your family had a support network for things you needed. The word dostat' has no good translation in English that picks up all the connotations of the Russian experience. We foreigners had to catch as catch can, and if we didn't want to get screwed by the CPSU and the lousy exchange rate, that meant dealing with the mafia. And our dress and mannerisms usually made us stand out as foreign, too, which made for interesting times.

I got good at imitating Russian mannerisms and dress, so when I started speaking people were often surprised that I was "ne nash". It certainly cut down on the pestering by gypsies.

Random Michelle K said...

I don't think you're anywhere *near* as random as me!

Have you *seen* the crap spilling out for my brain recently?!

John the Scientist said...

Well, Michelle, a lot of the random crap spilling from my brain is not suitable for publication on the net. For various reasons. :p

Random Michelle K said...

Hey, that doesn't stop ME does it?!

John the Scientist said...

So, you're saying you want to know the real story behind the KGB detentions? Fat chance.


Get enough beers in me when I visit Morgantown, and I might tell you about the time I was involuntarily drafted as a translator by the Moscow City Police, and about the other time I got screwed by one of the Deputy mayors of Moscow, though.

And I might even tell you about that thing in that bar overseas. Given Eric's advice to me, THAT'S never going on the Net.


Random Michelle K said...

But those aren't *random* things John!

Those are just things you've done!

Jim Wright said...

He “forgot” to tell me to spit. I swallowed.

Must. Not. Comment.

Must. Not. Comment.

John the Scientist said...

You'd better not.