Posted by: Dan | October 4, 2006

An “about me” meme


I’ve been tagged with one of those memes, this time by the Neurophilosopher, and it involves listing 9 things about myself, so here goes…

  1. Greatest influence – I find it hard to name one person who’s influenced me the most in my life without being cliche, because it would of course be my parents, and perhaps my dad in particular. I think that as far as personal interests go, I really am my father’s son. This is perhaps most apparent (to those of you who only know me through the blog, and can’t compare the similarity in our mannerisms) in our interest in birds and in books about various aspects of nature. Perhaps this early connection with naturalism can also be connected to my favorite book of all time: Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. I’m not sure how to express it as a psychologist might, but I know that these are major foundations for my values – all of which were decidedly of a conservative/centrist Democrat stance (at the time, although now such views are considered far left, go figure).

    As such, both of my parents’ views of the world have also very much influenced my outlook, in ways that I’m not even very conscious of, other than my habits of enjoying the natural world. And they’ve always supported my academic endeavors very strongly, with my interest in science being mine alone in the family (my parents didn’t go to college) – I attribute my interests in science and research to my own curious inquiries, as well as the encouragement of them and a half a dozen teachers and professors over the years, and chance connections that draw my interests this way or that.

  2. I was born and raised in Montgomery County in Pennsylvania, in a Pennsylvania Dutch community, and my family traces its roots to German immigrants who left the Rhineland region between 1710 and 1740. Mostly, we were farmers up until the early 20th Century.
  3. I am an atheist – my family and I are still members of the church that has served us for generations, and my grandmother remains very active there, but my parents less, and myself almost not at all. It’s tradition and part of the community, but most of my family recognizes that the Pastor’s sermons are somewhere in the realm of metaphor and myth.
  4. I’m not widely traveled, but for reasons relating to my better half, I’ve visited the Mediterranean island country of Cyprus a couple times in the last two years, and am in the beginning stages of moving there for a couple more years in late 2007. I think this will be a good experience for me – broadening my horizons and experiences outside of the US, and helping me to appreciate how good we have it here in the US, as well as becoming closer to my girlfriend’s family, who live there.
  5. I’ve been keeping a “life-list” for birding since 2004, and birdwatching the most during late Spring when the North-bound migrants are passing through. So, my life-list total is still pretty low, at about 220 – but I need to recount this on a list that includes birds I’ve seen in both North America and Cyprus.
  6. As you might notice, I have a very negative view of the United States these days – I love my country, it’s who I am, and I of course would probably not have as good a life if I’d grown up elsewhere in the world – but I don’t like empirialism, hegemony, bible-thumping fundamentalist/creationist/idiots, a society where wealth-makes-right, or what modern America has become in general.
  7. My girlfriend is also a researcher, studying marine biology and oceanography (which I find fascinating). Specifically, she studied Northern Right Whales a bit in undergrad, did her Master’s studying the effects of sonar and other anthropogenic noise on sea turtle behavior, and is currently studying the effects of climate change on nutrients in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean, as well as a few side projects involving remote-sensing of underwater noise in marine habitats. I’d enjoy having her contribute to the blogosphere, but she’s not so interested.
  8. Perhaps my favorite extracurricular activity these days, that I don’t mention on the blog, is running with a quasi-athletic group called the Hash House Harriers, which is an irreverant group of wankers that likes a nice mix of running, cheap beer and various other shenanigans. “Hashers” can be most easily identified by the raucous calls of “On-On” as the search for a trail to the beer, and is the source of the “Hashfish” at the top of the post. It’s a roaring good time.
  9. And I’ll leave the last one open, in case I think of something else that might be interesting to share – because, well, I can’t think of what else I’d like to say about myself.

I’m not going to tag anyone, but I’ll link to anyone who wants in on the meme and sends me the “hat-tip.”



  1. I’m wondering if you’ve read Konrad Lorenz’s fantastic book, “King Solomon’s Ring,” and whether or not you you know about this blog.

  2. Whoops! The link doesn’t work.

  3. Yep, I’m familiar with 10,000 Birds, and will be hosting one of the upcoming I and the Bird carnivals, right around the time that I’ll be hosting Encephalon, actually. It’s a great hub for finding bird blogs.

    The book I wasn’t familiar with though – the reviews on Amazon intrigue me though, so much so that I wonder why I haven’t heard of it till before. I’ll have to peruse it the next time I stop by Borders. Have you read it?

  4. My father-in-law has an old copy that I’ve dipped into occasionally. I don’t actually know if it’s still in print, but if it is, you won’t be disappointed if you buy it.

    I’m sure you know that, together with Niko Tinbergen, Lorenz is the father of ethology. It was he who discovered the phenomenon of imprinting, whereby newly-hatched birds take the first living thing they see to be their mother! There’s an adorable and very famous photograph of Lorenz being followed by a gaggle of goose chicks.

    The bits of King Solomon’s Ring that I have read contain wonderful descriptions of Lorenz’s work. One part that sticks in my mind is a very funny passage about one of the birds Lorenz kept causing havoc around the house.

    Regarding carnivals, Encephalon is on Monday and so far I’ve had a nice round figure of submissions – zero! Submissions for recent editions have been dwindling, and if this carries on, the carnival will be no more. I’d really appreciate it if you could post a little something urging people to submit!

  5. Yeah, I have a paper that I was tossing around, and thinking of blogging on. I’ll contribute that to Encephalon.

    And thanks for the thoughts on King Solomon’s Ring – I’m adding that to my list of books that I want to read!


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