Oct. 8th, 2011

When I was a kid, I didn't have a particularly good sense of balance, so I fell down a lot. Due to this, I got pretty good at controlling my falls so I didn't get injured. We went on a class trip to the state house, which has a sweeping spiral marble staircase. Sure enough, I slipped (with a little help from some bully) near the top. After a few stairs, I realized I had a choice. I could stop tumbling, or I could keep going. I figured it would be more impressive if I kept going. So I flailed down all three flights, ending up in a tangle of arms and legs at the bottom. The bully actually looked somewhat contrite.

Years later, in college, I was coming in out of the rain into a large lecture hall. Sure enough, I slipped on the stairs. Again, I figured I'd just go with it, and tumbled all they down, stopping when I got to the lectern. Whereupon I stood up, took a bow to scattered applause, and went to my seat.

My good friend [profile] maugorn would occasionally find himself confronted with some loser having a bad drug trip. So he'd offer them some "help". In a soothing voice, he'd start saying calming things:

Imagine you're in a pleasant meadow, the wind gently rippling the grass, the sun warm on your face. In the distance, you see a letter A. The letter A comes toward you (at this point, his voice would start to get louder and scarier). The A opens its mouth and it SHOWS YOU ITS SIX INCH LONG RAZOR SHARP STEEL FANGS!

When I was in high school, I'd write silly programs that would attempt to do crude animations by playing with the text characters on the screens. There was one that drew a "diving board" made of underscores, and the cursor would bounce up and down on it, and then fall through. Another made a boxy plane, labeled "747", shudder across the screen. All of these were available to the other students using the county's computer system. And all of them would proudly proclaim that they had been written by me.

A few years later, I was signing up for classes, and the woman at the registration desk paused in her task of busily keying in my information. She looked up at me, and asked "Are you THE John Rehwinkel?" This caught me off guard, as I was unaware of being famous at all, or anyone else with my name for that matter. So I asked her what she meant, and she explained that she remembered the name from the silly animations she'd seen on the computer at high school. It was a good feeling.

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