This should not be taken as a sign of narcissism. I enjoy reading the bios of other bloggers, and I’m assuming I am not unique. So, it is for the benefit of other curious folks that I offer this collection of personal trivia.
I’m Shamus Young, a 34 year old software engineer and a happily married father of 3. I’m a Christian, although some might find me a bit unorthodox. In my free time I tend to play videogames, watch %Anime, play D&D, and write software of dubious value. I also tend to write about these things here.
You can probably extrapolate the rest by just looking around the site. I’m a stereotypical nerd. I’m also the author of this Cyberpunk novel.
Ten useless facts about myself:
1. I’m a chronic asthmatic.
This means that I must constantly take drugs to keep the airways of my lungs from swelling up and suffocating me. Most asthmatics have drugs that they take at regular intervals (once or twice a day) to prevent attacks. In addition most have an inhaler, which they huff on to fend off an attack once it’s started. I have lived this way since childhood. I’ve had numerous attacks in my life that would have been fatal if I didn’t get to the hospital. The asthma affected my life a great deal, keeping me from being too active and making me constantly sick. I ALWAYS had my inhaler with me, and was paranoid about forgetting it. The medicines have improved over the decades, reducing the severity of the side-effects they inflicted, reducing the dosage frequency, and reducing the total number of different medications needed, but my life was always a struggle to keep breathing without too many side-effects.
Then in 2002 I managed to get some new drugs (Singulair and Advair) and my life underwent a massive change. I used to have several asthma attacks a week. I have not had one in over a year. I don’t carry my inhaler anymore. In fact, I’m not even sure where it is at the moment. I can exercise like normal people. I can do manual labor. The new drugs don’t have any severe side effects.
You know some people are always railing about “evil pharmaceutical companies”? Those people crack me up.
2. I can’t grow a beard.
I’m not sure why. I started growing chin fuzz at about the same age as everyone else, but it never developed beyond that. I might be able to grow a goatee, but it would be rather sparse and uneven. All of the men in my family are quite hairy and able to grow big bushy beards at will, and posess plenty of chest hair, but not me.
My great-great grandmother was a sioux indian. Perhaps my beardlessness is a result of my (admittedly minor) Sioux heritage? A side-effect of all the asthma medicine I took during my formative years? Just a fluke? Who knows.
I wish I could grow a beard. I’d look good in a beard.
3. I was the first male in my family who did not serve in the military.
My grandfather served in the army in WWII, was a POW, got a purple heart. His son – my father – served in the Marines. My mom’s brothers both served. One was in the air force and then went on to work as an engineer on the Apollo program. Most of my various cousins served as well. Some were career, some just served a four-year stretch. Some were officers. Most were enlisted. One served in the first Gulf war.
Once I graduated from High School (1990) I went to the recruiter’s office. I knew that asthmatics couldn’t serve, but I thought they might have some sort of… I don’t know… desk job or something? Sure, I can’t fight, but I can polish shoes and file paperwork with the best of them! Then I was told (although I already suspected) that no, there isn’t any “Army-lite”. I couldn’t get in at all. Took about thirty seconds, and it was all over. Next thing I knew I was outside with a new 1991 Be All You Can Be calendar and no idea what to do with myself.
4. I don’t have a degree.
This is uncommon (but not unheard of) for people in my line of work. I went to business school in Pittsburgh for a year. It was a very expensive and didn’t teach me anything useful. Most of what I was learning (such as COBOL and RPG) was already obsolete, and the stuff that wasn’t obsolete was stuff I already knew. So I dropped out.
5. I met my wife at McDonalds.
We both worked there. She was a senior in high school, and I was a loser who’d given up on business school and was still flipping burgers with no real career in sight. She invited me to her prom. We dated until she finished five years of college, and got married the month after she graduated. (Which was in January. Who gets married in January? I did. At least it’s easy to rent the hall at that time of year.)
January of 2007 will mark our tenth aniversary.
6. I’m a political radical
I keep this to myself mostly. I’m very deeply distrustful of government. This isn’t that radical on the blog end of the internet, although compared to the general population (you know, the voters and whatnot) I’m a real wierdo.
I spend my time reading various libertarian / anarchist blogs, although I steer clear of the subject here. There are lots of places to go to have that particular debate, and so there is no reason to turn this place into yet another arena for the commies vs individualists pit fight. As recently as 2000 I was still calling myself a Republican, although with many misgivings and qualifiers. I’ve since been cured of that, and if I were to really cut loose and tell you what I thought of the people who work to wield power over us it would scorch your ears.
But we’re all friends here, so let’s talk about something else…
7. I’ve known what I wanted to do for a living since before I was 10.
Ask the average teenager, “what do you want to do with your life?” and you will get shrugs and mumbles. Not me. Since the moment I became aware of computers I knew my purpose. From childhood on I have continually worked towards my goal of understanding the arcane languages spoken by computers. I never really wanted to do anything else. I have spent the last couple of decades tapping away at the keyboard, learning how to speak to the machine that I might bend it to my will.
It’s a good gig.
8. I work from home
I’ve had to make some financial sacrifces to get to this point, but the tradeoff is easily worth it. I can’t imagine working in an office again. I don’t throw away an hour or two of each day in commute. I don’t have to wear and maintain a wardrobe of uncomfortable dress clothes which only serve to distract the wearer by being hot & itchy. I control my own workspace, which means I can have a huge desk, an office with a window, a stable machine, a good chair, and a lighting arrangement which will avoid glare. None of these would be things I could control if I worked in a cubicle. I save a lot of money by not needing to constantly buy gas for a commute, eat out, or maintain a second family car.
This arrangement did not come cheap, and doesn’t quite pay for itself, but I think it’s worth it.
9. I don’t watch TV.
This used to be kind of unique, but is becoming more common these days. We don’t have cable TV. I have no idea what is on or what is popular. Once in a while I’ll rent some TV shows through Netflix, but it usually leaves me cold and wishing I’d spent my time some other way.
10. I’m a massive introvert.
I get edgy when I’m in a place with lots of people around. I need very little human interaction to keep me going. For a while before I was married I lived alone and worked in my home. I would sometimes go for several days without speaking to another person. I’d be at the grocery store and try to bid the cashier a nice day, only to find my voice was rusty. I could go for weeks without having a real conversation. I was alone all the time, and someone else actually had to point out to me that this was not normal.
This is not to say that I don’t like people or dislike spending time with them. Introverted does not mean shy or antisocial. I’m pretty easygoing and get along with nearly everyone. I’m happy to spend time with friends as they drop by. I’m always glad to see my family. I just have almost no drive to go out and seek interaction with others.
(And as my wife reminds me below: At one point I forgot to pay the phone bill and the phone was disconnected. Took me a week to notice.)
Stop Asking Me to Play Dark Souls!
An unhinged rant where I maybe slightly over-reacted to the water torture of Souls evangelism.
The Mistakes DOOM Didn't Make
How did this game avoid all the usual stupidity that ruins remakes of classic titles?
There are two major schools of thought about how you should write software. Here's what they are and why people argue about it.
What Does a Robot Want?
No, self-aware robots aren't going to turn on us, Skynet-style. Not unless we designed them to.
The Death of Half-Life
Valve still hasn't admitted it, but the Half-Life franchise is dead. So what made these games so popular anyway?