They can be awkward. Often I take the easy way out and talk about my job as a computer specialist doing hardware, software, databases and web applications for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. We're sort of the Centers for Disease Control for non-human species.
But I am not my job. I've also worked as a dishwasher, waiter, laborer, carpenter, truck driver, clerk and secretary and have picked apples, avocados and pole beans. Some of the more interesting occupations were summer camp counselor, circuit board designer, automotive test driver, and preschool teacher, but they just occupied time; they did not define me and I have never introduced myself as a paper-cutter or Laundromat operator.
The normal bio info is often adequate for cocktail parties. I'm 41, married and have two kids. We all live in a passive solar, earth-bermed house on an acre north of town where I enjoy building stone patios, paths and walls. And though I feel incredibly lucky with my place in life, I hate to present such a suburban image so I usually don't talk about my family or yard.
Introductions can be about hobbies. I ski and hike and like many web-surfers, I'm an information junkie, reading two daily papers, 10 weekly computer journals, and 20 or more other publications such as Utne Reader and Backwoods Home Magazine or membership newsletters from organizations such as the Nature Conservancy or the Libertarian Party. Hobbies with credentials are music, writing and mathematics. I recently received a B.S. in math from CSU after 15 years. I've sold essays, stories and articles to various places including the High Country News and Christian Science Monitor. I've played the banjo for 25 years in various folk-rock bands and now jam weekly at Avo's to keep my fingers in shape.
But a person is not a collection of adjectives. The inner portion, the essence of a human, is the soul which I cannot define. I am fascinated by both religion and science and believe physics and cosmology demonstrate not just logic and experience but also intuition and spirituality. And the way major mathematical discoveries appear in conjunction with religious prophets seems more than coincidence. The 6th century B.C. saw Zoroaster, Buddha, Confucius and Lao Tzu along with Pythagoras--perhaps the first theoretical mathematician. Islam and Algebra grew up together. The Protestants and Sikhs appeared with the Calculus.
But I don't rely on math for my religion. While raised a Christian, I've investigated many churches and have decided the Baha'i's offer the latest truth. I'm currently reading Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah to help me feel faith instead of merely understand it and maybe figure out why I have not yet joined the church. That's who I am at this time.
I'm not sure what topics I'll explore in this column. I believe most issues have more than just the two sides chosen for dramatic journalism or simplistic politics. And even 2-sided issues have at least five points of view: His, Hers, His view of Her position, Her view of His position, and the overall truth of both sides.
I plan to examine the underlying assumptions of stories, rumors, and studies but will probably spew opinions and ideas about almost anything. My goal will be to provide well-written thought-provoking columns.
Starting next week.