|What is your most memorable childhood experience?||One day I came into the classroom and it smelled like cigarette smoke. The front of the room had the weirdest assortment of tubes, pipes and other miscellaneous scientific instruments. It looked like what you'd see on a mad scientist's desk in a movie.
Our teacher informed us that we'd be studying the "Destructive Distillation of Organic Substances" this week. He put an entire pack of cigarettes into one part of the machine and put a fire under it.
The tubes and pipes were set up so that every byproduct of the cigarettes was captured in a separate tube. He explained every aspect of what was going on and the chemical composition of all the substances that were accumulating.
I saw some tubes turn yellow and others fill with disgusting black goo. And all the while we were taking notes on observations.
This has stuck with me all these years because I thought it was the most intelligent method of discussing smoking with children that I've ever seen. He didn't lecture us about how smoking was bad, he just took a pack of cigarettes, broke it down into all of the chemicals it's composed of right in front of us and explained what they were.|
|What immediate family member do you closely identify with and why?||I grew up with a brother who was nine years older than me. He was my hero, and by default was often my babysitter.
We'd travel around together, doing what brothers do. From as early as I can remember, we would go out and walk around town. He'd take me to the corner store and spoil me with candy and root beer and have the girls from his high school fawn on me (and, by extension, him as well, now that I think about it). He'd take me to the mall and give me a dollar to play with ...until I'd cry that I wasted the whole thing on the claw machine - at which point he spent $5 on getting me a stuffed bear.
He is my world, and there are countless stories on top of the ones that I can remember. My parents tell me that every night, when I was around five, he and I would sit down after supper and watch a re-run of the Simpsons. I was obviously too young to understand anything, but I'd howl with laughter whenever he did...I was just happy to laugh along with my brother. The point is that he spent the time and showed me a lot of love, which made me the person that I am today.|
|What character traits do you admire in an individual?||Intelligence and curiosity are big for me. I love when people show some interest in the stuff I care about. I do try to reciprocate; I get involved in my friends' hobbies and activities and support them as much as I can. And I appreciate the fact that even though someone is not a nerdy type they'll read some stuff on "sciencedaily.com" or "physorg.com" just to talk to me about articles on there.
That said, I don't expect all my friends to have the same interests. That would be very boring. Instead I like someone who is genuinely curious. Airheads are huge turnoffs. The most important thing is that they not be judgmental. I don't mind criticism that is justified, but I refuse to deal with close-minded people.|
|What is the funniest thing ever to happen to you?||My childhood friend James was kind of a jerk. He repeatedly committed really inconsiderate acts. When I was about 12 years old, we got really into paintball. Unfortunately, my family was quite frugal, and I didn't have any allowance yet, so I could not afford to buy my own gun. Our other friend, Drew, did have a gun. This left us with two guns and three players, so we played a game called "Hunted", where two hunters would track and shoot the person without the gun. (Thinking back, this was a pretty twisted game). Anyway, it was Drew's turn to be the prey, so both James and I were after him. We finally found him, and proceeded to chase and shoot him. The situation worked out where Drew was about 60 feet away from me, and James was about half that, putting him directly in between the two of us. I got a little excited and proceeded to empty my entire hopper full of paintballs, hitting James about 10-15 times in the back as he screamed at me "You're hitting me, you idiot!" I wasn't trying to hit him, but it did feel good. Every time I think back on this, I burst out laughing.|
|If time and money were not an issue, where would you travel and why?||Outer space. As Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell said, "You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that, you son of a bitch.""|
|When and if you ever have children, what would you like to pass on to them?||Use your childhood to find things that you are really passionate about. Don't be stingy; try everything that you can get your hands on. Once you have some things, do them more. And then some more. And then try more new things.
Go to school and LEARN. Don't sit there and mess around during class. Learn about all those basic things that you have to learn in high school, then go to college and study those things that you really want to study. If you are actually passionate about them, you will LOVE learning more about them.
Take many opportunities to practice whatever it is you are passionate about. What if there are no opportunities? Then make them. Start a club; find other people who are also interested in what you enjoy. Get to know them and become friends with them. Do things together.
Remember, you only fail when you don't learn from the experience.
Once you know enough and have done enough, find some way to do what you love for money. If it doesn't exist, then make it. The internet can pay people for doing ridiculous things.
You have plenty of time in this world. Don't worry about doing too much. Worry about doing too little.|