5 for 5

Don pegged me in the head with this one.

The purpose of this meme is to get people talking about their passion in life. It’s called the 5/5 meme. Five questions, then pass it to five people. "Expertise" could be your profession, hobby, or area of intense interest.

Name your area of expertise/interest:
OK, so the thing is that I do a lot of different things, and I tend to throw myself into new areas with extreme vigor and enthusiasm. Last summer, for example, I decided that I needed to watch more skateboard videos and so I watched a lot of skateboard videos and researched the history of them and so on and so forth. I'm probably best known for my activities in improvisational theater, but I'm also a photographer and a graphics technology specialist/network analyst (i.e. computer guy) and a filmmaker and a graphic designer and a (new) marathoner and juggler and so on and so forth. I think the overriding story of my life has been to constantly try new things. I realize that's not quite the "I like ponys!" response this meme to trying to elicit, but I'm going with it.

How did you become interested in it?
My dad was an electrical engineer by day and a photographer on the weekends, so I've always had that close influence of knowing that people could have multiple skills -- you know, that you didn't have to be just a fireman or a forest ranger or whatever sort of simplistic career path a kid thinks one might go on. And my mom was always teaching me skills and crafts -- I learned to cook and bake and sew and garden and we made puppets and all sorts of crafts. So I think I've always just believed that, pretty much, if you saw something you thought was cool, you could learn how to do it.

How did you learn to do it?
I was about to say, "it depends on which skill you're talking about" but then I realized that (and Shaun is going to laugh at this one) there actually is a common answer -- I read a lot of books. It really is my default solution to any problem. When I decided to run the Chicago Marathon, did I sign up for for one of those big training groups? Nope, I bought a book.

Who has been your biggest influence?
Besides my mom and dad (as mentioned above) I think my biggest influence for multi-disciplinarism (like that? I just made it up) was all the sci-fi I read as a kid. The heroes of the juvenile sci-fi of that era were always jack-of-all-trades. There's even this list that Lazarus Long, the hero of several Robert Heinlein books, gives that's all the things a well-rounded person should be able to do. Oh, here, I found it:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

What would you teach people about it?
It's OK to try and fail. I'm not saying I'm awesome at everything I do. But I'd rather try something and discover it's not for me (or that I suck terribly at it), than just never attempt it in the first place.

I now peg in the head Katie, Christopher, Erica, Noah, and Lawrence.