This is my part in an interview game, in which another blogger asks me 5 questions. Once I’ve answered here, anyone (yes, even you!) can leave a comment asking me to pose 5 questions to them. Complicated by the fact that I don’t have comments enabled (yet), so please just email me. sam [at] afongen [dot] com.

Today’s questions come courtesy of Tim McGuire over at Primate Brow Flash.

1. Who was the most influential person in your life?

I’ve been going over this a lot and keep coming back to my mom. So much of what I value in myself and that I hope to pass on to my kids was fostered by my mother.

2. Who was the strangest customer ever at the Roastery?

Every time I consider this question, all memories of the real weirdos run into a dark corner and hide.

It was probably Kaye the cat lady. She ran (runs?) a business taking care of people’s pets while they were out of town. She’s a great person and I liked her a lot, but spending a whole day dealing with attention-starved cats and dogs kinda took its toll on her ability for normal human interaction. She was a customer for six of the seven years I worked as a barista, so I got to watch a gradual shift. Kinda freaky.

Man, I hope she never reads this.

Actually, my strangest customers were not at the Roastery, they were at other coffee shops. The two guys at Espresso Extra on Grand Ave. who were dead ringers for Beavis and Butthead were a bit odd. At least until Butthead spread feces all over the bathroom walls one day. After that, “odd” wasn’t quite the word that I used to describe him.

3. When did you first realize you liked working with computers?

In a sense I always have. We first got a computer in the house when I was three years old so my dad could interact with the mainframe at work (this was the early & mid-seventies). I learned to read, type, and play blackjack all at the same time. I didn’t know that I’d want a job working with computers until sometime shortly after I realized that I did not in fact want a career in teaching. That was quite a blow, as I’d spent half my life expecting to be a teacher and wasn’t quite sure what to do next. At the time I had a temp job that included maintaining a few HTML pages for an HR department. I convinced the department to let me stick around a while longer to create a new web site for them, had a lot of fun doing that, and before long realized that hey! I can pay the bills doing my hobby!

4. If you could go back to grade school and do something differently, what would it be?

Almost all my memories of elementary school are of when I was wronged. My second grade teacher refusing to accept that “quake” is a real word. My fourth grade teacher accusing me of cheating on a spelling test. My fifth grade science teacher refusing to give me credit for a question on a test marked wrong, even when I brought in recent evidence as proof that I was right (the question had to do with the relative size of planets in our solar system. He insisted that we were being tested on what the textbook said, regardless of what scientists now knew to be true.) If I had to do it again, I would have stuck to my guns instead of capitulating and then stewing about it for decades.

On the other hand, then I’d probably have no memories of grade school whatsoever, except of the day in second grade I realized that I was already taller than my kindergarten teacher. That and lots of episodes of Kung Fu.

Man, was I a little smart aleck. I do not know how I managed never to get my ass kicked. Teased, but never beaten. At one point in 5th or 6th grade, after years of threats and teasing, the chief bully just finally hauled off and punched me in the gut. I was ready for it and just stared at him, unphased. He hit me again. My only reaction was to shake my head uncomprehendingly. He and his gang dealt with me with respect from then on, and I kinda wish that I’d provoked him into this years earlier. Might have made 3rd and 4th grade a bit more tolerable.

5. What do you think will bug your son the most about his parents when he is a young adult?

Wow. It’s funny, I never think about what Owen will be like as an adult, or even as a 5 year old.

I expect he’ll be most frustrated that despite the strength of our convictions, we do so very little to take action on those beliefs, just living our quiet little urban life. Kiara will bother him less in this regard than I will. She’s a better person than I am.