Okay, I've been tagged by The Neurophilosopher (if you haven't been reading his blog, you should). I'm now going to write 9 things about myself, but I'm going to be a killjoy by not tagging 6 other persons.
Without further ado, here are 9 things you may not have known about me:
1. I am a secular Buddhist in the tradition of Stephen Batchelor. Eastern philosophies began to interest me about 5 years ago, with Buddhism in particular speaking to me in a very profound way. In addition to practicing mindfulness, I meditate daily.
2. I am now practicing Sivananda yoga, which is a variant of Hatha yoga (read my earlier post). I also jog regularly.
3. I have been a vegetarian for 4 years. I avoid meat for three primary reasons: ethical, environmental and health. I am not vegan, but it’s something I frequently consider. I do eat animal bi-products like cheese, milk and eggs (laid by free-run chickens), and I will eat fish (like Salmon) for health reasons (namely for omega 3).
4. I have a degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. My specialties were American history, totalitarianism, and 19th century science.
5. I am a classically trained pianist and I play at the grade 8 Conservatory level. Back in the early 90’s I was a beta tester for an electronic musical equipment manufacturer (synthesizers, effects processors, samplers, etc.). It was also during this time that I did some electronic music composition under the name Vor. I put together about 3 or 4 CDs – an accomplishment that I’m still very proud of. After university, during the mid 90s, I went to a community college and earned diplomas in recorded music production and digital audio editing. After graduation I worked at a recording studio for year creating high-end radio commercials. I’ve pretty much left the music industry behind me -- although I often get together with Simon Smith to jam and compose.
6. I am constantly listening to music. I love going to concerts and I closely follow the music scene. My most recent concerts include Joanna Newsom, Tool, Roger Waters, The Gathering, Fiery Furnaces, Mogwai and Porcupine Tree. And I’m a complete genre slut: I listen to classic rock, alternative rock, prog rock, post rock, psychedelia/space rock, adult alternative, alternative country, industrial, hip hop, trip hop, rap, jazz, blues, folk, neo-folk, electronic (and all subgenres), and metal (and all subgenres). I adore shows like Austin City Limits and NPR’s All Songs Considered. I don’t know what I’d do without the All Music Guide. I have over 10,000 MP3s on my hard-drive.
7. I’m a bit of a film buff. I adore classic films, particularly those by Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock. My favourite directors include Stanley Kubrick and the Cohen brothers. I also have a modest DVD collection of science fiction movies, including classics like Metropolis, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and THX 1138. I’m also a big fan of anime.
8. My maternal grandfather, who died last year, was a devout communist who participated as a high ranking party official during the Stalinization of Czechoslovakia back in the 1950s (in what is now Slovakia). Prior to this, during WWII, he was sent to a forced labour camp in Germany where he made munitions for the Nazis. My grandfather managed to survive the many bombings by the allies, and watched several of his comdrades get killed during these raids. He never really recovered from this trauma, leading to his dedication to Marxist philosophy and social policy. In 1968, shortly after the Soviet invasion, my mother escaped to Canada. As a result, he was blackmailed by the party and accused of raising the black flag against the communists. He was so upset he didn't speak to my mom for well over 10 years. He remained socially active until the very end of his life.
9. I enjoy gourmet cheese, quality red wine and micro-brewed beers. I have no problem dropping $20-$40 on cheeses like English stiltons, aged cheddars, and luscious bries. I adore cabernet sauvignons from California and South America. My favourite beers are lagers, particularly those from central European countries like Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Bonus: #10: I own Timothy Leary's copy of Philip Glass's Songs From Liquid Days.