It is rare that I get to ask 20 Questions to someone that I really know very little about at all… This week is one of those amazing rarities… I know Tom Gehrke only via the twitters and our shared enjoyment of a few podcasts, so this opportunity is a great one to get to know someone new. We all love befriending someone new, right? Things I know of Tom… he has a job in IT, I know he is a gamer (watched a Twitch stream of him playing some Destiny a while ago), I know he has some Photoshop chops, and I know he is a genuinely affable fellow. These are things I know by interacting with him on twitter (@tomgehrke… follow and enjoy)
Anyway… here we go:
As I have mentioned in previous 20 Questions, I love maps and hearing about people’s geographic stories. I will use myself as an example. I was born outside of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Moved to Montgomery, Alabama when I was 3. Grew up in Birmingham, Alabama until I went to college in Kent, Ohio. There I met my future wife and moved down to Columbus, Ohio where I have lived ever since. Question 1: What is your geographic story?
Affable, eh? I like that!
So you jumped right in with a simple question that has a long-ish answer. Here goes…
I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii where my father, who was in the US Air Force, was stationed. Unfortunately, I remember nothing of having lived there since it was but a year later that my dad’s enlistment time was over we moved back to where he had grown up; the southern suburbs of Chicago.
At the age of 7 we moved to Maryland. A few years later we moved to Virginia. Then on to New Jersey for my formative teen years. (Which should explain a lot about me.)
I spent a couple of summers of my teen years in northern Italy where my mom was from.
My senior year of high school found us back in the suburbs of Chicago. I then split my time between there and Pensacola, Florida for three semesters of college.
When I decided that college wasn’t for me, I ended up in eastern Tennessee where I got a temp job in Oak Ridge. A permanent position was offered to me if I moved to Paducah, Kentucky. I took that job and I’ve been here for the past 21 years.
I think that covers it.
Air Force Brats unite! Tinker AFB to Maxwell AFB, then my dad went into the Alabama Air National Guard and we moved to Birmingham. You have seen some places and lived in a few. Question 2: If you could live anywhere, where would you live, and would that place be different than where you would want to go on vacation?
I’ve actually given this question quite a bit of thought this year since I’m looking to relocate. When my wife and I compiled the list of places they were either beach or desert spots. So, obviously, sand is a critical component!
Basically, I’d love to live somewhere in the American southwest. No allergies. Warmth. (OK. Heat.) No grass. No snow (unless you go to a mountain). Something completely different from everywhere I’ve lived in the past.
Living on a beach would be nice, but I’ll reserve that for my vacation spot. Even Paradise might become tedious if you lived there all the time. Hawaii or any other island destination would be my ideal relaxation location.
Amusingly, right after answering question #1, I found out that I may already have an addendum. My wife has a job offer in Milwaukee that we will be pursuing. Wrong direction! Story of my life.
That is definitely the wrong direction from sand and heat. So, it is time for what everyone is waiting for… Question 3: Cake or Pie, which kind specifically and why?
As anyone who follows me on Twitter probably knows, the answer is Pie. Cake is fine and like cake, but given a choice, I’ll take a good fruit pie every time.
Pies tend to be not as sweet as cake and there is a wider variety in texture. Pies can be sweet, sour or savory. Pie is the perfect delivery mechanism for whatever filling you can imagine. It’s perfect!
I’m sorry. What was I saying? Oh. Which kind in particular. That’s a tough one. I’ll go with nice peach pie, though.
Mmmm… Peach pie…
OK! Better turn things over back to you before I drool myself to death. (I’m sure it’s a thing!)
I too am a pie-guy… mainly now since I have to be gluten free and gluten free cakes are crazy heavy… but I often defer my pie eating to cheesecake… which can easily be made sans gluten. Peach pie is a particularly southern delicacy, and both Virginia and Tennessee are both a little far north for that to be a pervasive choice there. Question 4: Where did you run into peach pie? that is oddly specific, and I can almost guarantee you that the only people who even know of peach pie have spent some amount of time in or adjacent to Georgia … (you will stop drooling when I tell you to. My blog, my rules.)
Drooling stopped. For now…
I may have picked up the peach pie habit in Tennessee where Atlanta was a mere 3-4 hour drive away.
However, the habit actually formed here in Kentucky. There was a local eating establishment known for their baked goods. They had a peach pie on the menu. Every year for my birthday, instead of a cake, I got that pie.
Unfortunately they closed this past year and I did not get my pie. Thank you for opening up an old wound.
I do what I can. There is a local store here in Columbus called “Just Pies” Just Pies only sells pies, and I do loves me some pie. Unfortunately a while ago I realized that I am gluten intolerant, and can no longer partake in anything from Just Pies…. Not even their pumpkin chiffon pie this holiday season…. We all have pain, Tom. We all have pain…
Question 5: So what non-typical food do you have to avoid at all costs just because you don’t like it? For me it is coconut… that shit can go to the tropical hell from whence it came.
Ouch! I’m here for you, man! Hang in there.
You know what? I cannot think of a single food that I have to avoid. I am probably one of the least picky eaters ever. I guess there are foods that I prefer not to eat, but if I were at a dinner party and something showed up in front of me, I would have no problems choking it down.
Best I can come up with is something called “hot tea” that was anything but tea.
The first winter I lived in the South I was offered a cup of “hot tea” which I accepted. Instead of tea, it was some boiled concoction of fruit juices and spices with nary a tea leaf to be found. I prefer my juice to be cold.
Of course, I dutifully drank it, but from that moment on I always ask for a list of ingredients.
Wow, “hot tea” sounds terrible, and I am from the south…. There are not many places in the south that serve any form of hot tea. Most tea there is Sweet Tea overflowing with ice. This is, in my opinion, an abomination. It takes the bitterness of tea and tries to mask it with the sickly sweet of a sugar syrup. Practiced manufacturers of Sweet Tea will heat the tea to just under boiling in order to super saturate the solution with as much sugar as possible. That sweet lady making the sweet tea may not understand the chemistry behind it, but she can dissolve a pound of sugar into a 8 oz glass of tea.
So, Question 6: What was the first PC/console Game that grabbed you and made you realize that computer gaming was a thing and, more importantly, that it was a thing of which you absolutely must participate?
F-22 Lightning 3, a combat flight game released in 1999 that offered an online, multi-player option. I joined a “squadron” and my callsign was “Shadowman”.
Not only did that grab me as far as gaming was concerned, it pulled me into a world where one did not have to play solo. The idea that one could sit at home and be one part of a greater whole was particularly attractive to me. Finding a place where my weaknesses could be offset by a teammate and vice versa.
I like to think of myself as a team player.
I don’t like people that much, but I love playing games with my friends. The first game where this happened for me was Diablo where some friends would port a computer to a friend’s house and then have a LAN party. I would be the warrior, and my 2 best friends would be the sorcerer and the rogue… The guy who played the rogue often shot us in the back “accidentally.” He collected many ears…. we then all eventually connected to the Internets and would use the Battlenet to connect for Diablo II. We graduated to the original Ghost Recon where I made a Ronald McDonald mod for the Ghosts. It was amazing. We were all versions of the Clown of the Fast Foods killing badguys. For our grad school and post doc we did World of Warcraft for a while… Now we are all old and do not game together every Friday night. I am lonely and have no friends now.
Question 7: Will you be my friend, and if so, what game would we play?
Silly Scott. If you look deeply within yourself you will see that we’ve been friends all along.
My current game of choice is Destiny on the Xbox One where I play along with several Chatrealmers.
But I’m not picky. Any game we both share at least a moderate interest in will work. Particularly if you mod it to include Ronald McDonald. Clowns live in a dark world and fast-food clowns most of all.
I will try to dig up some screenshots of the mod… it was sooo long ago though… So much fun to play, and so many bad fast food cliches and puns. I don’t know how many times I typed “you want fries with that?” after a headshot. (all traces of that mod are gone... )
Good. we are now, and have for a long time been friends. I am relegated to an Xbox 360, of which my boy plays the most games. I would need some longform PvE gameplay to get me up to speed with the more recent combat systems. Controllers are not my friends. The boy is pretty darn good with Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare. He loves it. I have been thinking about that Shadows of Mordor thing… but I am gun shy of the time commitment to finish.
Question 8: What do you think the next big innovation is gaming is going to be?
This is a tough one. I’m going to say… Artificial Intelligence. AIs in games have gotten better in recent years, but there is still room for improvement. I think that soon you won’t be able to tell if the person you’re playing against or interacting with is a real person or not.
At least that’s the best I can come up with so that’s what I’m going with.
I’ll take it. I think that the AI in the games right now is definitely becoming better and better. This will be a largely transparent effect in the games though. The AI getting smarter will be truly interesting when the algorithm starts causing the AI characters to start doing irrational emotion based decisions… that will be truly scary.
I think the next big thing will be parabolic displays for near immersion. Small DLP mounted behind the player with retractable drapery screens to extend around the primary display screen. Instant mech cockpit, etc… It would mainly be for PC gamers because most PC gamers are relatively close to their displays. Console gaming happens on a couch 10 feet away from a larger display.
Question 9: Fill in the blanks: I find that I am mostly _______________. Others find that I am mostly _______________.
Let's see... I find that I am mostly often joking. Others find that I am mostly serious all the time.
This is probably more so true in real life versus online where you don't see my intense, "straight man" stare.
So the “intense ‘straight man’ stare” is what puts you over the edge? Interesting. Most people I have found have the exact opposite for how they feel they are mostly and how they think most people perceive them. This is becoming an odd truth for humanity that I am gleaning with a sample size of about 20.
Question 10: How many observations are necessary for me to make sweeping generalizations about humanity with impunity?
Based on what I see in general on the Internet, the answer to that is zero.
Good point there.
Considering that last point, let’s get real here… Questions 11: Do you think the greater connectivity afforded by the Internet has 1) increased the cross-pollination of ideas and dissemination of ideas or 2) increased the ability of like minds to close themselves off in digital walled gardens more and Balkanized ideologies more. Is the Internet akin to a higher tide raises all boats or is the Internet crabs in a pot pulling each other down?
I’m not sure I take those as A/B options. I think the Internet is akin to a higher tide raises all boats… including boats I don’t like.
Some boats contain people who are of like mind and aren’t interested in the sharing of ideas. Some boats contain the other kind of people.
When I describe my views on technologies, I tend to stress that it’s a tool. Like any good tool, it increases output. A pulley, for instance, allows a person to lift more than they normally would be able to. The Internet is the same. People are people. The Internet just allows them to be more people-y. If that makes any sense.
Not sure if that exactly answered the question. I’m sure you’ll let me know, though. ;)
I kind of put you in a spot to pick, but I think it is clearly a mixture of the two thoughts. There is a tendency for trolling and Balkanization of thought, but the predominant movement, I think, is the elevation of everyone. It really is the higher tide raising all the boats. I feel really positive about the Internet and how people interact with it, and how people will interact with it…. which leads to Question 12: So… um… Artificial Intelligence, you think it will be the downfall of the human race or will it be the beginning of a new age of enlightenment?
Again, the answer is probably somewhere in the middle, but I tend to look at it positively. So I’ll go with “new age of enlightenment”. While people way smarter than I am have gone on the record to say how dangerous AI will be, I have a more optimistic view. Let’s call it cautious optimism.
There is danger with any new technology. I don’t believe we should be so scared of a potential uncertain outcome that we should not pursue it; walking forward with eyes wide open, of course.
That said, an advanced AI has many potential upsides. Getting the answers to questions we haven’t even thought to ask yet? It’s like Google Now or Siri but orders of magnitude better by not being boxed in by being boxed in by canned searches and narrow trigger areas.
Then a science-fiction level AI would bring intelligence with a perspective very different from our own. Imagine having a real conversation with an entity having completely different wants or needs. It has the potential to be very enlightening.
Or scary. That’s fair too.
I tend to think that overall AI will be a benefit for society. The doom and gloom that some feel is coming I feel has a small chance of coming to fruition. I think it is something that should be considered and thought about, but I do not feel that AI will be a detriment to humanity… Holy cripes, I think I am an optimist. How the hell did that happen?
When I played soccer as a kid, I would put on my uniform in a very specific sequence for LUCK!, but in reality it was a ritual that I did to get myself in the proper mental space to play the game. Question 13: Do you have any phobias, superstitions, or rituals?
Rituals maybe. But not in the sense that I think it helps prepare me for something. It’s more obsessive compulsive than anything. I don’t think I’m full-blown OCD because not doing a thing does not cause me too much pain. Possibly I’m just eccentric.
I eat one thing at a time. I start with the thing I like the least and end with the thing I like the most. I don’t mind if my food touches and I’m perfectly fine with foods designed to be mixed.
If I’m eating while watching TV or a movie, I won’t touch my food until the show actually starts. So if I get popcorn at a theater, the bag/bucket will sit there through the advertisements and movie previews/trailers until the main feature starts.
When I get a new CD/DVD/Blu-ray I quickly unwrap it and spin the disc in the package until the label is correctly orientated. I also remove the anti-theft stickers.
I alphabetize my books, comics, movies, etc.
And I’m sure many more little behaviors that people surely find charmingly strange.
Alrighty then. I completely understand most of these. The not eating movie food until the movie starts is not on my radar at all. I will devour most food prior to the feature, usually by the 3rd trailer I am done.
Question 14: Speaking of eating… What do you crave at 9 or 10 at night? Is it typically sweet or salty?
Typically sweet. The dessert I probably skipped at dinner because it’s not healthy. So basically “pie” is the answer (see question #3). It’s why I try not to keep any convenient sweets around.
I am a sucker for salty chips kind of snacks late at night… mid afternoon is when I have to fight the need for sugar-based snacks… and the morning… and the middle of the night… and right after lunch, and … ugh. I really like sugary stuff, what of it?
Question 15: Is your primary vocation, your job, fulfilling or is it merely a means to getting a benefits package and a paycheck?
Unfortunately, it’s just a paycheck. I made the mistake that so many have made and got suckered into a management position. Then as others left, my role expanded to fill those responsibilities.
If I could roll back the clock about 5 years and go back to when I was coding or working with databases or managing servers, I would do it in a heartbeat.
In fact, if you know of anything… preferably in the south-west… no? My quest continues then.
I am currently acquiring a paycheck as well. Well… the paycheck and full time state benefits. I am also in the process of getting a degree in User Experience Design… hopefully the employment switch will change soonish…
Question 16: So, what is your passion? What is it that you cannot help but do?
I love to code, but I’ve been out of that game for a few years and I’m afraid I’m falling too far behind.
I also love to draw/paint/design, but I’m too chicken to try to make a living doing that. That sounds too much like working for myself and I’m trying to get out of management.
Ah, but managing yourself is not like true management. Coding is definitely an industry that requires constant learning. Code changes and evolves so fast, I always marvel at people who can code. That type of algorithmic thinking is outside of my wheelhouse. I understand the flow chart of how programs work, the skeletal nature and process diagram, the map of a program, if you will, but I am horrible at routines and subroutines. I need to change that somewhat iffens I want to be employable in this new economy.
Question 17: Is there a question that you expected me to ask or were hoping I would ask, but I haven’t?
Not really. I try not to have expectations and I’ve learned to not hope for things (because I just might get them).
I’m probably just more relieved at this point that you’ve not asked potentially embarrassing questions like “where were you and what were you doing during the day of November 22nd, 1963”.
I don’t try to break conspiracy theories on this blog. Just inane questions that lead nowhere. Ah, my dreaded question, the question that usually leads to uncomfortable truths about nothing consequential. The shoe is now on the other foot. The student has become the master, Question 18: Do you have any questions for me?
Yes! Where were you on the day of… no… wait…
Why does your FAQ not have 20 questions and answers? You only have 15 there. Seems like a bit of a double standard.
In part that was just an excuse to post a link to your FAQ, which really answers most of the questions I’d have likely asked otherwise.
The initial idea was to get 20 Questions in the FAQ… I could only come up with 15. If you have any questions for the FAQ let me know and I will gladly add them. It is very difficult to ask yourself 20 questions on any specific topic, even if that topic is one that is broad like 20 Questions Tuesday. You will dry up on questions and answers that you feel would be compelling to the casual observer around 11 or so. Then you can force a few more. What I need are a few sets of new voices to round out those last 5.
Question 19: What are you taking from these 20 Questions that you did not bring in with you?
Maybe not what you’re looking for, but I feel as if I know you a little better now. I’ve read quite a few of these that you’ve done and I really enjoy that it’s very much a two-way street. Obviously I have no problems sharing. Anyone who follows me on Twitter probably wishes I were a bit more… selective in my posts. But this was a great opportunity to have a conversation with you, find out what we have in common and just “chat” in a way that we can’t on the aforementioned Twitter.
Well, that is kind of the point. I feel that it is absolutely necessary for me to share with whomever I am asking questions because this process needs to be a give and take process. I have found over time with these 20 Questions Tuesdays that when I do not give back and interact, the answers I get suffer. Plus, I ain’t got nothing to hide. I have really enjoyed this and am really excited to know you better now.
Question 20: What is next for you? Be as grounded or philosophical, concrete or vague, and/or short-term or long-term as you want to be.
My goals for 2015 are to brush up on my coding skills, continue to pursue artistic endeavors, get more involved in the podcasting scene and hope that somehow those come together to create an employment opportunity that I can be truly passionate about.
We shall see!
Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Well this was absolutely delightful, and now I have a new friend I have never met, and that is awesome. Everyone should see what Tom is up to by following everything he is doing. That can happen by looking at his twitter feed, his flickr pool, and his about me page. Do it! The pics in this post are all his, and they are all great.
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve
All is good
I think it is awesome that I have an interview on Christmas week
Better than the absolutely nothing I will most likely have next week
I have 3 drawings left to switch out on my work shelves to replace all the 2013 pics
Have a holly jolly christmas
the best time of the year
oh, by golly have a holly jolly christmas
Have a great week everyone!