March 19, 2004

You Asked, Jack Answers

Jack has answered your questions!

Click the extended for an entertaining, thoughtful interview.

An “About Me” page is curiously missing from your site, so let’s start with the basics: who is Jack? What is he all about?

Gee, you don’t believe in easing into things, do you? You just jump right into the deep end of the philosophy pool with a fundamental existential question. Who is Jack? That’s not an easy question to answer. As a matter of fact, I’ve been asking that question for at least three decades. Do *you* have any hints, because I sure could use them… I think if I knew what I was all about I wouldn’t write a weblog, or at least I wouldn’t have a blog category called “Personal”. What am I all about? The superficial facts are I’m a single man (divorced for 7 years) currently living in Austin, Texas (to be Grenoble, France for three years starting mid-April 2004) who is just trying to get by and enjoy life when and where possible. I have been called handsome and charming by many people, and I do not lack for friends. When I take the Meyers-Briggs personality tests, I always score smack-dab in the middle of the extrovert versus introvert scale. As a matter of fact, I tend to land in the middle of all four scales on that test, which makes sense in light of how I’ve been able to move into many different sub-cultures and communicate well with many different kinds of people. When I travel abroad I’m often mistaken for a native (well, in Mexico, Belgium, and France, but not in Japan, I don’t match the physical type there!!!). Despite my good life at times I teeter on the edge of becoming a burnout case, but I haven’t fallen off that cliff yet. By the way, I did do an “About Me” post once; it is “curiously missing” because I was too lazy to add a link to it on my main page.

How tall is he?

A little over 5’ 9”, but on a day I’m feeling tall I’m 5’ 10”. Want any more vital statistics like weight or shoe size?

How old is he?

As of October 2003, I’m 39, which means I’ll turn 40 on my first birthday as an expatriate. I plan to spend that October 24, 2004 in a distillery in Scotland drinking one of my favorite single malts

How educated is he?

Although most people I work with assume I have a PhD, and my thesis committee said I deserved one for my work, I have a Master of Science in Physics. When I distinguish an education from technical knowledge, I’m not as educated as I’d like to be. I wish I knew more about the fine arts and literature, but I do have a pretty good knowledge of history since reading it has been a hobby of mine.

What does he do for a living?

I work for a large semiconductor company doing research to figure out how to make integrated circuits even faster than they already are. I work with films that are 5 atoms thick on surfaces that are so smooth that a misplaced atom shows up as a bump in a transmission electron microscope. Sometimes I think of myself as a bricklayer who works with really teeny-tiny bricks.

Does he consider himself to be leftish or rightish in the political scheme of things?

Hmmm…. this third person question with a first person answer routine reads really strangely. To answer the question, though, I’m neither leftish nor rightish; I consider myself “centrish”. As with almost everything in my life, the full answer is very complex and nuanced (and there are some parts of my life you really, really, really don’t want to know about the complexity and the subtlety of the nuances, believe me). I’m a strong believer in the fundamental philosophy that motivated the founders at the Constitutional Convention. If this seems to be an incomplete answer, then read my blogs because I post plenty of political opinions on all three.

Okay, let’s kill the “he” stuff. Let’s talk about you. If you could pick your death, how would you go?

Hmmmm… well, I’ve always thought if I absolutely *have* to die one day, I’d like to die while saving someone’s life, perhaps in a blaze of glory typical of adolescent self-dramatization. However I die, though, I know that I’m one of those folks who will refuse to “go quietly into that dark night.”

If you had to vote for another blogger to be President of the United States, who would it be and why?

This one is tougher to answer than I thought it would be. Matt and John of Arrgghh!!! both spring to mind, but I think the best ticket would be Donnie with LeeAnn as Veep to keep Donnie from getting too serious when he goes off on one of his rants.

Why in the name of Britney Spears are you moving to France?

I work for a company that is in a three-way alliance with two European based firms to build a new semiconductor fab (factory) in France. This alliance includes research and development, and I was one of the research folks asked to go to France. Would you turn down a chance to live in Europe for three years with someone else picking up the tab, especially if you were a single guy?

Speaking of Britney, would you rather spend an evening with her or Madonna?

Ugh… I want to know who asked THIS particular question. Do I have to have spend an evening with either? Britney is nice eye candy, but I doubt she would be very good at conversation from what I’ve read about her. As far as Madonna goes… Well, she’s an intelligent woman, but there are some twists in her mind that make me rather uneasy, and I really don’t care for her politics. Can I pick Sandra Bullock? She lives in Austin; I keep hoping I’ll run into her at Home Depot or the grocery store…

If you could pick Britney’s death, how would she go? When would she go?

Geez, what’s all this stuff about death??? Hell, there’s enough death in the world that fantasizing about Britney’s death seems pointless. I’d rather spend my time fantasizing about other things… and you can leave *what* to your imagination.

Which do you prefer--Mexican food or Italian food?

I’m sorely tempted to give an NC-17 rated answer here, given my dating history, but I’ll control that impulse. After dragging my mind out of the gutter, I can say that living in Austin, I’ve been able to have both Tex-Mex and REAL Mexican food, and I like both, but they are NOT the same. Since the immigrant population here is primarily from Mexico rather than from Europe, there’s a dearth of authentic Italian restaurants which is unfortunate because I do prefer Italian food. I’ve found that nothing is better than a hearty Italian meal (with a good red wine) preferably in the company of an intelligent woman.

You are going to spend the next 5 years in a well-ventilated hole in the ground. You can bring a CD player or a portable DVD player that won’t play CDs. Which do you choose?

A CD player. You can think while listening to music.

Which CDs or DVDs do you bring?

The entire Peter Gabriel and Elvis Costello catalogs. I’d also like the best of The Who, Sarah McLachlan’s last three albums, and the greatest hits collections of Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen. There’d be more I’d like to have, and I’m sorting through that now to take to France with me.

Why do you blog?

I started my first blog in January of 2003 when I thought I’d be moving to France in March of 2003. I’ve always loved to write, and after reading several other blogs, I discovered blogging was a good way to practice my writing, express opinions, and possibly change or at least influence minds.

Do any other bloggers influence you?

I read on MSNBC, got referred to InstaPundit from there, and then got referred to Gut Rumbles. After reading Rob and his rants (I’m glad to see he’s regained his center, by the way) it prompted me to continue my own blog but with a slightly different style. Now my main influences are:

Donnie is a definite influence, but then he and I started “We the People” together

Matt of Blackfive with whom I don’t always agree, but I respect

Mog who has an amazingly prodigious output that I don’t always agree with, but again is well worth reading.

Chris, The Noble Pundit, who has some very thought provoking posts.

Have any bloggers been helpful to you?

Beth, She Who Will Be Obeyed was the first to blogroll me, and Donnie has linked to me more often than anyone else and directed a significant fraction of what traffic I do have to my way.

Instapundit: over-rated?

I think he is a bit over-rated. I’d prefer fewer posts with more analysis from him, but I don’t see how he puts out the number of posts he does, even though they are so brief.

What is the most selfish thing you’ve ever done and do you regret it?

Regret is one of the anchors that dragged me into the Black Pit of Despair™, so I’m trying to discard all my regrets. I do still have a few things in my life I regret, but they are not selfish acts. There are a couple of women with whom I ended relationships for selfish reasons, but in the end those relationships would not have worked, so you could argue that the reasons may have been selfish but turned out OK in the end.

What is the most selfless thing you’ve ever done this week?

The most *selfless* thing I’ve done this week???? I’m *much* better at remembering how I’ve been selfish. I’m not sure I’ve really done anything selfless this week… I spend my time around very self-sufficient people, so there aren’t many opportunities to be selfless.

Posted by Jennifer at March 19, 2004 09:30 AM


Good questions, Jack... and great answers... us Libras gotta stick together, man...

Posted by: Eric at March 19, 2004 04:31 PM

Perfect reading for a a late Friday afternoon at work.

Thanks, Jack...I always knew you were a deep fellow, but damn!


Posted by: Donnie at March 19, 2004 04:52 PM

Excellent interview Jack. Unfortunately I can never think of questions to ask people, so none of the questions were mine. That's been true of every interview I knew I could submit questions for. Guess that's one reason why I never became a reporter.

Hope you really enjoy your time in Europe! I'm right with you on that one - if someone else was picking up the tab, I wouldn't mind living over there for a few years either!

Posted by: Teresa at March 19, 2004 08:50 PM

Fantastic interview. (I usually don't finish reading them because they bog down!)

Posted by: King of Fools at March 20, 2004 04:52 PM