I've been tagged to identify "seven random weird facts about me." Hmmm.
1. I was born on the day of the great East Coast Blackout, 9 November 1965. My parents always teased me that I was the cause of that rather traumatic event; on occasion, they would suggest that I had been delivered by aliens, and that the blackout was brought about by the spaceship. Uh, huh. As I understand it, the blackout began with a problem in the grid serving Niagara Falls, New York, which is where I was born. So, who knows, maybe it was my fault. Sorry.
2. My Mom and Dad were unaware that I share my birthdate with Martin Chemnitz. I also share my birthday with our good friend, Jane, who was also tagged to identify "seven random weird facts" about herself. How weird is that? Had I been born a day later, on the 10th of November, I would have been named "Martin," since my parents were aware of Martin Luther's birthdate.
3. When I was just a wee little lad, perhaps six or seven years of age, a babysitter had the bright idea of having me mow the lawn while my parents were out. We didn't own a power mower, but one of those old-fashioned push-mower things. Surely a very safe tool for a seven-year-old to use. The thing is, though, that the whirling exposed blades keep spinning even when you stop pushing, and they do an amazing job of cutting into seven-year-old fingers, if such appendages are so foolish as to find their way into the proximity of said blades. I still have a scar on the ring finger of my right hand from that interesting encounter.
4. The summer after I graduated from high school, I had major surgery to correct a massive underbite. This was following several years of prior orthodontia; such fun. I was under the knife for eight hours altogether, involving a bone graft from my hip, which was then molded behind my upper jaw to bring it forward into alignment with my lower jaw. I spent four days in intensive care, and then another week or more in a regular hospital room. My jaw was wired shut for a month, and I lost thirty-plus pounds. All of this just before heading off to my freshman year of college. We lived in McCook, Nebraska, at the time, but the surgery was done at the hospital in North Platte, a little more than an hour from home. My Mom and LaRena made the drive to see me every day, which was a great help once I was conscious and aware of their being there.
5. Backing up a bit, I was actually an athlete and a musician during high school. I wasn't a cool athlete, because I didn't play football and I sat the bench during basketball, but I did letter more than once in both cross country and track. I competed in various track and field events, but my first love and best event was the long jump; my personal best (I peaked in my junior year) was over twenty-two feet. That was fun. I also played the trombone in the band, but I didn't apply myself as conscientiously as I should have done. Too bad. There was one marching band trip to Worlds of Fun in Kansas City that I remember well; some of my bandmates were pretty wild. Oi. That was eye-opening. It was also on that trip that I first discovered how much I love roller-coasters.
6. It was during my senior year of college that I embarked upon my long-haired, freaky-person rock-n-roll phase. I wrote a mess of semi-Christian-rock songs, and I began learning how to play the bass guitar (sort of). My hair was down to my shoulders and even curly for a while. It was around that time that my friend, Joel, introduced me to Led Zeppelin and Judas Priest and Black Sabbath and that whole gamut of classic rock, which I still enjoy from time to time but don't listen to much anymore. Joel and I were an erstwhile band, "Jillian Switch," not that we ever performed anywhere, but we recorded a couple dozen songs that we wrote and worked up from scratch. I played the bass (basically), programmed the little drum machine, and did most of the singing (such as it was). It was great fun and quite a learning experience, but probably not the best stewardship of my time, treasures and talents at that point in my life, with a wife and new baby.
7. Then there's bowling and learning to drink beer. One of my fondest early childhood memories is going bowling with the youth group from church (or maybe it was my Dad's upper grade students at the Lutheran school where he was teaching). No, there wasn't any beer involved at that point; that comes later; just wait. I enjoyed that early experience and so have always had a special affection for bowling. I even bowled on the college team during my freshman year at Seward, which was great fun. On my vicarage at St. John Lutheran Church in Maple Grove, Minnesota, I participated in the congregation's bowling league and thoroughly enjoyed that experience, too. My Christmas present from LaRena that year was a bowling ball, engraved with "Vicar." I still have that ball and have been glad for the chance to use it again recently with our Emmaus Youth. Anyway, when I got back to Fort Wayne for my fourth year at the seminary, I joined several of my classmates in a local bowling league, and it was then and there that I first learned to drink beer. The other guys would buy a pitcher and pour me a glass, which I would manage to drink over the course of the evening. Ah, memories.
There you have it. Them's the facts. Not sure how random or weird they may be, but it's all true. I didn't even change any of the names.