Arbeit macht nicht frei, but it does pay the bills.
I do intend to get back to those who played along with the interview (I've read a LOT of great answers, and appreciate the candor and thoughtfulness you've put into your responses) and will get to you as soon as I can get a better handle on everything I'm dealing with here.
In the meantime ...
4. You are granted access to a device like the one in The Matrix that allows you to upload skills/knowledge straight into your brain. You are told you are allowed to select five skills/abilities to be uploaded. What do you choose? Why?
Wow. This question was far tougher to answer than I originally thought ... but my choices would be as follows:
- Metalsmithing (focus on forging Japanese swords) - as a Shinkendo student, I've wielded my instructor's thousand-year-old katana during training and used it for classic test cuts on soaked tatame rice mats. The complete history of that particular blade is unknown, but given the notches along its cutting surface, it is almost certain to have been in battle and severed its share of heads.
Imagine being able to craft a tool so well-made that it can still function for its intended purpose over a thousand years after you created it. There's a sense of ephemeralness with most things in my life - a sense most pronounced in environments like computer classes (where you know 95% of what you've learned will be rendered obsolete within three years). To command expert-level skills in crafting something so timeless would be a welcome contrast.
- Chinese Linguistics (focus on calligraphy) - Like many first-generation immigrants, my language ability stalled around the time I moved to the US and my functioning Mandarin vocabulary is about at the third-grade level. Most people of similar Chinese ability speak with heavy, Americanized accents - but for whatever reason, I can use what limited Mandarin I know with nearly no accent. This has the effect of deceptively inflating Mandarin-speaking strangers' perceptions of my language ability (since accents are generally a reliable indicator of vocabulary level), and in nearly every initial conversation will be a moment when I hear some version of:
"Ai-yah! You don't know what [X] means?!"
My written Chinese (never strong to begin with) has deteriorated to the point where most of it looks like the scrawlings of a retarded Chinese chimp with arthritis. Of all the things attendant to being fully functional in my native language, I'd consider the ability able to wield a mao bi to write classic Chinese calligraphy to be the most gratifying.
- Ballroom Dancing - There is a certain grace and elegance of professional dancers that carries forth in their everyday comportment that I admire greatly. Dancing heightens your awareness of body dynamics - both your own and your partner, and that has benefits that carry beyond the dance floor as well.
- Close-up Magic - The purest, most ruthless form of magic is close-up sleight-of-hand. Big-budget television magicians enjoy the benefits of camera tricks and other gaffs, but the close-up artist can only rely on nerve, dexterity and knowledge of perception psychology to execute his tricks. Masters of the craft like the terrifyingly competent Jamy Ian Swiss are absolutely mesmerizing to watch in action, and I'd love to be able to command even a fraction of that level of prestigitation.
- Fully-Functional Memory - My crippling propensity to lose valuables and forget appointments (how I managed to function before the dawn of PDAs is something a mystery to me) has plagued me as long as I can remember. It's embarrassing to be in the twilight of my twenties and still not have my act together as far as being internally organized about my life the way others seem to do so effortlessly.
Hope you know me a little better now. :) Will get to everyone's Q5s as soon as I can.
Ta for now.