Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The Slavoj Test

Over at Tim Blair's, there's a list of 32 personal questions.

Now since transsexuals are constantly being accused of being narcissistic, I thought I'd indulge in narcissism for a change. So rather than making a post of any great worth and moment, I decided to try answering the questions myself. This is pure self-indulgence, as I intend to come back to this post in a few years and use it to try to figure out how I was thinking, back there in distant 2008.

Oh yes, some readers might find it interesting too. Not so much for what my answers might be, though they may give some insight into the author's personality, but by using it as a tool to examine themselves. I invite any other bloggers to take the same test.

1. When were you happiest?
The day my son was born.

2. What is your greatest fear?
That I might screw up in my work and let someone die. In my line of work, safety-critical engineering, this is not an unreasonable fear.

3. What is your earliest memory?
The taste of the california redwood blocks my uncle gave me, and being bathed in the kitchen sink. I would have been about 2.

4. Which living person do you most admire, and why?
Too many to name, many of whom you've never heard of. People who circumstances not of their own making brought to the ultimate in degradation, and who came back, and now help others so they're spared the same thing.

5. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
So many, it's difficult to choose. Arrogance. Being blind to my own faults.

6. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Arrogance. Being blind to their own faults.

7. What was your most embarrassing moment?
Apart from answering this question? I was once called in as a "hired gun" capital-E Expert to help Centrelink with their computer system. The computer I was given had a floppy disk drive installed vertically, and could I insert the disk I needed? Nope. It was obviously broken, as happens sometimes. Then someone suggested I flip the disk upside-down... ooops.

8. Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
Genital Reconstruction Surgery. $22,000 including all costs.

9. What is your most treasured possession?
A german lady's pocket watch, rudely inscribed "LCpl David Brain, Thiepval 23rd September 1916". My grandfather was a sniper in WW I, and had just had a 3-day duel in no-man's land with an enemy counterpart. He managed to win, and as orders dictated, went in to make sure the enemy was dead. The enemy sniper had had his shoulder shattered, and was lying, dying in a crater. No-one knew he was there. My grandfather summoned a german stretcher party - had the enemy only been lightly wounded, he would have bayonetted him instead - and in gratitude, the german gave my grandfather the watch he'd been given by his fiance, "for good luck". It worked, it has several dents from splinters, and as it was in my grandfather's breast pocket, may have saved his life as well.

10. What makes you depressed?
Injustice to others I can do nothing about.

11. What do you most dislike about your appearance?

My ribcage. 45" on a 5'6" frame. Ewwww.

12. What is your most unappealing habit?
Making foetid puns.

13. What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?
Xena, warrior princess. If I can lose some weight.

14. What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Blogging when I should be doing work on my PhD.

15. What do you owe your parents?
Everything. Bill payable to one Andrew Edward Brain, my son.

16. To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
When I was being bullied rather severely by several gangs, one of the biggest who had hurt me worst was walking near my house. I came up behind and attacked, then when he was on the ground, deliberately broke his collarbone. Just so he wouldn't hurt me any more. I was only 8. But he was only 10, just a small boy. He didn't deserve that. I'm truly sorry, and I wish I could apologise to him.

17. What does love feel like?
Fizzy. Tingly. Like being in Free Fall. Snuggly. Comfy. Warm.

18. What or who is the love of your life?
The woman I married and the mother of my child. I just wish we were of opposite sexes, or at least, lesbian.

19. What is your favourite smell?
My son when he snuggles up next to me in the morning.

20. Have you ever said ‘I love you’ and not meant it?

21. Which living person do you most despise, and why?
Despise... TV evangelists and others who con well-meaning people out of their money, and often perpetrate bigotry and hatred. And spammers.

22. What is the worst job you’ve done?
Cassandra at a Deathmarch Software project, doomed to fail.

23. What has been your biggest disappointment?
Not being able to have another child.

24. If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I'd go back and get my father to have his heart condition checked out before it was too late. And I'd get myself a second X chromosome in lieu of the Y one. Except then my son wouldn't exist. I might have other children, but not him. So best not.

25. If you could go back in time, where would you go?

If I could be an observer, and not change anything due to a temporal Butterfly effect... to the Library of Alexandria before it's destruction. With a digital camera, to copy the contents.

26. How do you relax?
A nice hot bath.

27. How often do you have sex?
As often as I can fit it in. (see answer #12)

28. What is the closest you’ve come to death?
Holding the hand of my father as he died, and promising to look after my sister and my mother. In terms of personal extinction, having meningo-encephalitis at age 21.

29. What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Having a billion dollars, so I could give it away to people who really need it. That would make me feel unbearably smug. So smug I'd probably vanish in a black hole of smugness. Especially since I'd do it anonymously, so no-one knew but me.

30. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Fathering a child, despite odds so remote, they're incalculable. My endocrine system barely qualifies as human.

31. What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Be kind.

32. Tell us a secret.
Not possible, for then it wouldn't be a secret, would it? I have a clearance, I don't discuss such things, no, not even in jest. Those who say don't know, and those who know don't say.


Jackie said...

So, spontaneously turning into a woman wasn't that embarrasing, huh? I would have thought it would be - not that it's anything to be ashamed of, but it is rather unusual (in primates, but not in some species) and probably hard to explain.

That was a very interesting story about your dad's watch. I was most struck that he could give the wounded sniper over to the other side's medics with no one being shot. I get the impression that that doesn't happen anymore.

Zoe Brain said...

It was my grandfather - and in the closing days of the battle of the Somme. He was in the 9th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters.

The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive, fought from July to November 1916, was among the largest battles of the First World War. With more than 1.5 million casualties, it is also one of the bloodiest military operations recorded.
The battle is best remembered for its first day, 1 July 1916, on which the British suffered 57,470 casualties, including 19,240 dead—the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army.

There's a photo of a British stretcher party taken at the same time, September 1916, at Thiepval, over at Wikipedia.

As you can see, anyone in a crater or trench would be invisible. It was the custom to stick up a rifle with a helmet on at the edge to signal stretcher parties to come out and pick up the wounded.

There were so many of them, on both sides. Not dozens, not hundreds, but hundreds of thousands.