Sunday, January 7, 2007

Five Things You Don’t Know About Me

So Ken tagged me a while ago, but I’ve been chilling. Now I’m back in the saddle and ready to blog into 07. I’ll have more to say RSN (real soon now) about Yahoo. It's actually been somewhat amusing and illuminating watching the media frenzy from my unique perspective.

Anyway, here are five things you probably didn’t know about me!

1. I know a lot about gardening. For the past 20 years, my family has owned Flower King, a small flower shop in Livonia Michigan (between Detroit and Ann Arbor.)

Flower King opened when I was about 15, and my first job was doing demolition, painting, hammering, sweeping, etc. - literally helping to build the place. (My family has always rented out the florist component of the business, and run the outdoor/garden center.) Then (for subsequent summers up until I was about 23) I worked there... I got to know a lot about plants, running a business, and most importantly how to talk to people. The experience of working at Flower King helped make me who I am... Things I love about it:
  • intense hours (6am-10pm)
  • short, intense season (100 days)
  • intense physical labor (loading / unloading the trucks)
  • entrepreneurship (no one to delegate to)
  • family business (forged new aspects to my relationships with parents, uncle, siblings)
2. I am 50% WASP. Most people assume I’m 100% Jewish (given my name and the way I look), but I’m actually 50% genetically. My mom’s family (Grandma Thelma Jo Jones and Grandpa James Burris) are from places in Michigan like here and here,

and they drive pickup trucks and hunt, fish, work in auto plants, love Jesus and have names like Cotton, Woody, RJ, etc. My mom’s cousin (my second cousin) is Mark Farner, who was lead vocalist and guitarist for Grand Funk Railroad, the 70’s hard rock supergroup. We referred to him “Uncle Mark” (and due to his fame, his name came up a lot more than my other second cousins.) While this statement is oft-repeated and seldom true, I am in fact "one eighth Cherokee." My great-grandfather Abe Jones was full-blooded, and was driven from Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears. (Abe was "Uncle Mark's" grandfather, and also accounts for his Indian blood and tribal recognition.)


I have asthma. It was fairly intense as a child (I can remember being hospitalized twice and needing to get epinephrine shots and be placed in an oxygen tent.) It’s gotten milder and milder over the years, though it could still be triggered by a roomful of cats. I keep an over-the-counter inhaler around.

4. Like Sergey, I’m an ex-gymnast. In fact at one point my brother, sister and I held “Michigan State Champion” titles in our respective age groups and divisions.

My career ended when I was doing a double back pike dismount off the horizontal bar and ended up doing 1.5 flips and cracking my head on the bar. Ten stitches and a concussion later I was seriously rethinking my career in gymnastics. I still have a nasty scar. If I’d hit my neck as opposed to my head it could have been a lot worse. Apart from the risk and danger, gymnastics was an incredible sport for my mind and body. Deep core strength, flexibility, focus... It taught me a lot, and I’ve been coasting physically for a very long time on the foundation it gave me.

5. While at MIT I drove a 1980 Honda Civic with a “Fred Flintstone”

style hole in the driver’s side floorboard.
I bought this car from a friend for $50. I spray-painted it flat black, and then had a friend do stencils on it. The damn thing ran and ran and ran... I ended up giving it to my artist friend William who drove it even more! I was in Cambridge recently, and the junkyard where I salvaged an alternator for this beast has been made into condominiums. It used to be right here.

Ok, now I am tagging Marc, Lucas, Edward, Dave, and Caterina. Guessing if some of these folks haven't responded by now, they don't want to play... but I'll give them another push! It took me a couple tries!