You live in one of the loveliest parts of the U.S. I've visited (though I was sad not to be able to meet you then!) What's your favorite thing about Durham? Your least favorite thing?
Thank you! We've lived in Durham for almost thirty years now, and there are lots of things about the city that I love. There are some lovely old tree-lined neighborhoods near Duke, excellent restaurants, the Durham Performing Arts Center, the Nasher Museum, and Duke Gardens. The location in the middle of North Carolina means that we're about equally close to the Atlantic beaches and the Appalachian Mountains, both of which we enjoy.
My least favorite thing about Durham is that it has a bad (and exaggerated) reputation in the area. There are some tough neighborhoods and there has been gang related crime, both of which make other folks say things like "I would never go to Durham".
You're sitting in your favourite chair in your home - please describe what you see.
Behind me is a print of a detail from one of the Chartres Cathedral windows. To my left is a small oval wooden table. A little farther to my left is the sofa, on which my wife is sitting, typing on her computer. Beyond the sofa are the dining and kitchen areas. Directly in front of me are the French doors onto our porch (and our cat is probably knocking to come in). To my right is a set of bookcases, which came from my in-laws' house a few years ago.
I'm honored to have been invited to be one of your inquisi...I mean questioners. I know that you spent a good deal of time in France as a student. Is there any chance we get to hear about it here?
My parents were college faculty, so we had the chance to go on sabbaticals to different places every seven years or so. When I was about ten, we spent half a year in Zurich, Switzerland. Though I very much enjoyed the time there, I spoke hardly any German, and felt that I hadn't really gotten as much out of that trip as I could have done, so I decided to learn a foreign language. At my high school, one could take either Latin or French, so I chose French. I took it all through high school and decided to major in it in college.
I took my junior year as a student at the Universite Paul Valery, Montpellier, France. We had a week of acclimation in Paris, then took the train south to Montpellier. Before arriving in Montpellier, I had no idea that there was such a thing as a southern French accent, nor that anyone could talk that fast!
During the month of September, before courses started, we took an intensive course in French language and culture, during which we took several side trips. I remember visiting the Pont du Gard near Nimes, St. Guilhelm du Desert and Carcassonne fondly.
We were enrolled as students in the university, not in a separate program for foreigners. I took Linguistics, Russian, Medieval Music, regional Classical (Greco-Roman) History, and a computer programming course. (The programming course was my only formal training in computers, and it was taught without the benefit of actually USING a computer.)
I used some of my savings to buy an old Mobylette moped, which I used to ride into town from the dorms, and later to ride from Montpellier up to Poitiers. (I'd wanted to get as far as Tours and the Loire valley, but decided that the traffic I was running into was too much, so turned back.) On the way, I stopped in Carcassonne, Albi, Cahors, Bergerac and Angouleme.
What do you do for a living? And, if there were no barriers in the world and we could all do just what we please, would you still be in this field? In other words, is it a vocation, or just a job?
I work as a systems administrator for a private software company. I started working here a year after graduating from college, and have been here ever since. I have been very fortunate to stay with the same employer for almost 30 years, doing work that is both challenging and rewarding. But no, I don't think that it's my vocation. I don't live to work, I work to live.
Your profile says that you are the "father of three great kids". How would your children describe you?
I should let them answer that. I hope that they would describe me as interested in them as people, involved and encouraging. I hope they would not describe me as spoiling them or giving them everything they want.
What do you find frustrating as a parent? Rewarding?
Watching them grow up has been both a joy and a challenge. A joy because they're turning out to be really nice people (and no, I'm not biased at all), and a challenge because there's a point at which the parent has to let them make mistakes that he wishes they could avoid.
You've stated that you are a "happy husband". What's the secret to a happy marriage?
I don't think that there is *a* secret to a happy marriage. I think that many things contribute to a happy and lasting marriage. In no particular order, they include listening to your spouse, making time to be with her, being able to laugh with her, being aware that "being in love" and loving are different things, allowing her space to grow and be her own person.
guitargoddess, Bruyere, and BxBarracuda
When in your life did you become involved in music? What made you choose the bassoon and when did you start it up? What is the range of your musical knowledge and how did you acquire your musical knowledge?
I grew up in a musical family. My parents both sang, mom plays piano, my sister and brother both took piano lessons. I started to take piano about sixth grade, and stopped almost immediately. When I started high school, many of my friends were part of the band, so I was hanging about the band room a lot. The director asked me why I wasn't in the band. "Well, I've thought about playing oboe." He thought for a little "How about bassoon? It's just like an oboe only bigger." I've been playing it going on 35 years since.
I think that the town I grew up in was a very favorable one for music. One of my neighbors had been concertmaster for the Met before he retired and taught at the college. (Once they were away for a vacation and we were allowed to store his violin and his collection of bows. The standing instructions were "If the house burns down, GET THE VIOLIN FIRST!") The college orchestra was open to some community members, both high schoolers and adults, as well as the college students and music faculty. During my time with the orchestra, we played a concert in New York City's Town Hall. I also joined a renaissance music group at the college, and learned to play recorder. I own three recorders: a soprano, an alto, and a tenor.
As far as the bass guitar goes, who are some musicians you admire, and are any of them known to play Rock n' Roll? If I had to guess, I might think Walter Becker could make that list.
My musical influences, other than those already mentioned, are many and varied - I grew up listening to classical music, Gilbert and Sullivan, Flanders and Swann, Tom Leherer, some dixieland jazz, some folk music (both US and Celtic) and, of course, whatever was on the radio. I listen to a little more jazz now than then, but it's still pretty much the same mix.
What type of music do you play, in general?
I play mostly on worship teams at church or retreats. I don't pretend to be very advanced as a bass player - I call myself a root-whacker (When the root of the chord comes along, whack it!)
Where is your favorite place to hear live classical music that is local, and what is your favorite place you have ever listened to a performance?
Sadly, I haven't been to as many concerts as I would prefer. UNC and Duke both have very good music programs, which I've been able to attend from time to time.
I remember coming back from a performance of "Don Giovanni" years and years ago. What I mostly remember, though, is the snow in the headlights of our car driving home, and a vague impression of gilding and red velvet from the inside of the theater.
You've edited in Music for quite a while. Has this experience expanded (or shrunk) your musical taste? How?
I don't think that it's changed my taste all that much, though I am impressed with how wide the range of musical tastes are that get expressed in quizzes. We get quizzes on every facet of music.
You seem to have done some of the earliest Team Quizzes. Many believe your team (Quiz Makers Guild) was the first to do a team quiz. Would you by chance have the answer to the question of what was the first of the QMG team quizzes that went online, how the idea came about, as well as how the ideas for the team quizzes you lead came about?
I think that either Leau or Bruyere would know better than I do how the first quizzes came to be. The first Guild quizzes predate my joining that group, so I'm just guessing how they came about. I think that the process then was pretty much what it is now - one of the guild members proposes a topic, and either they or another member agree to shepherd it through going online.
Some editors on the site seem to stick mostly to quiz editing while others are more involved in other areas of the site too. Are there any other aspects of the site aside from quiz editing that you really enjoy, perhaps a particular game that you like playing regularly?
I probably spend about half to 2/3 of my FT time playing quizzes. I play the team hero game fairly often, and usually look at the newest quizzes to see if there are any that appeal.
Where and with whom would your ideal picnic be, and what would be in the picnic basket?
A really lovely picnic would be with my family at Niagara on the Lake, with good bread, cheese, a nice bottle of wine and fresh fruit - and probably a Frisbee to toss about before or after.
But I'd love to meet C. S. Lewis in a pub somewhere.
Thanks to all who took part.
FT Editor and Moderator