Hola, Amigos. I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya.
Where to start regarding the Purple Chez ("File:Prince symbol.svg")? I'm a native of south-central Pennsylvania. I was born in Harrisburg in the mid 60s and spent most of my formative years in the small town of Penbrook, which sits on the edge of Harrisburg and doesn't always feel like a small town. Still, I remember walking home from school for lunch (we didn't have a cafeteria until I was in third grade), going to the penny candy store, other small town stuff. I attended and graduated from Central Dauphin East High. I was never a "cool kid," although I was partially responsible for introducing hacky sack to East High. One of my best friends became a well-known activist. I was also friends with a somewhat famous musician who used to pull my chest hair in gym class. I was a hairy kid. I started college at Carnegie-Mellon University as an architecture major. Dropped out (as so many did), did my stint at HACC, and ultimately graduated from Lebanon Valley College with a degree in psychology. A few years later I earned a masters degree from Pitt. Pittsburgh remains, perhaps, my favorite city. Since late 1997 I've lived in Georgia, first in Demorest, most recently in the Athens area. I am one of the only people around who has never run into Michael Stipe on the street.
I've worked in various areas of what is now sometimes called behavioral health and more recently began teaching in the public schools, but have also held some more unusual jobs. For instance, for several years I was a tour guide at a famous cave, a fact that led directly to my becoming a Wikipedian. I am a single dad. Newly single. My daughter is just incredible. She's at a wonderful age where she's old enough to be smart and fun to do things with, but she's still little and sweet and carries around a little Hershey Kiss purse (what us Pennsylvanians call a "pocket book"), inside of which is a tiny little coin purse (with flowers on the outside and maybe two dollars in change inside), a little stuffed horse, and a mini frisbee she got at Athfest.
My chosen field of artistic expression is writing, although I don't actually write nearly as often as I should. I also like to play acoustic guitar, but similarly I've barely touched the damn thing recently. I am a huge fan of the Philadelphia Folk Festival, although I haven't been able to attend since we were expecting my daughter.
I was raised on the Beatles and other staples of classic rock (love the music, hate that label). I also love folk music, particularly under the broadly eclectic definition of the Philly Folk Fest. In recent years I've discovered an affinity for alt-country bands like Cross Canadian Ragweed and Blue Rodeo, and what I think of as roots rock, like the Bottle Rockets, the Jayhawks and the BoDeans. Those who know of my classic rock roots might be surprised to learn that my secret shame is Moby-esque stuff, like...well...Moby...and also acid jazz, and even some trip-hop (this is noteworthy, given my general contempt for black culture). I've long been a big Zappa fan, and was in a very unusual position in jr. and sr. high in that I was surrounded by other Zappa afficionados; I probably know more Zappa fans from those few years than from the nearly 25 years since. Over time, my enthusiasm for "the songs about the penis" has waned, but I still respect the man's unbelieveable talents. I once shared some of Little Stevie Vai's transcriptions of Zappa numbers with a friend who's an avant garde composer and he looked at some of the notation and said that human beings can't actually play that stuff. I dig the fact that Zappa has never become "hip"—he's never become one of those people (e.g. Jack Kerouac) people have on posters in their dorm rooms whether or not they actually know his work.
I also enjoy cooking. I'm not currently a vegetarian but generally cook as if I were. I particularly like ethnic cooking, especially Indian. I've never gotten architecture completely out of my blood. I'm still renting at the moment, but I look forward to buying a house so that I can totally gut it and make it my own. Over the last year and a half I have begun to think of myself as a budding Buddhist. I had been interested in that outlook for many, many years, but every time I tried to look further into it it seemed to be a money-making proposition. I mean, just about any Christian, Jewish or Islamic clergyperson would find time to sit and chat with me if I were interested in his or her congregation, but learning more about Buddhism always seemed to involve $300 and a weekend retreat in the hills of western North Carolina, which led me to suspect that these were really Buddha-flavored new age cash cows, but in Athens I've been lucky enough to become familiar with several groups that appear to be more interested in sharing Buddhist practice than in selling meditation robes, chimes, and whatnot. His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama is coming to Atlanta in the fall, so that should be cool. He'll dig me, I'm sure.
Are contributors from Liverpool called Wikipudlians? Just wondering.
I only became aware of Wikipedia in early 2006. If it was any earlier than that it wasn't much earlier. But actually becoming a Wikipedian was influenced by my time in a cave. For several years before moving to Georgia I worked at Indian Echo Caverns, near Hershey, Pennsylvania. IEC is perhaps best known as the final home of William Wilson, the Pennsylvania Hermit. William's sister, Elizabeth, was hanged for the murder of her twin sons, a crime that many (most?) believe she didn't commit. William was given a pardon for his sister but was too late in delivering it to stop the execution. He withdrew from society and roamed southeastern Pennsylvania for years, ultimately spending his last 19 years in the cave. I was shocked (shocked I tell ya) to find that there wasn't a Wikipedia article on the Hermit, and I signed up so that I could write one. I wrote a rather long article as a research paper. I pared it down a good bit for Wikipedia but it was still a tad lengthy. Eventually I decided to split it into separate articles on William and Elizabeth. This allowed me to re-insert some of the details I'd previously edited out. These articles are still on the long side, but my thinking is that—unlike more well-known "true legend" stories like Johnny Appleseed—none of the Hermit-related sources are going to be readily available to the interested reader. While someone could run down to his or her library and perhaps find several books about Johnny Appleseed or Davy Crockett, none of the Hermit sources are going to be available to them.
As a resident of the Athens area I was quick to look up the Tree That Owns Itself. I was not surprised that the original article related the story as fact rather than legend, but nonetheless felt compelled to correct it. I added considerably to the article, discussing both legend and fact, and was largely responsible for its elevation to "Good Article" status. Tree research is ongoing—I recently pulled some details out of old Atlanta newspapers but haven't yet incorporated them into the article. Although it might appear as if I downgraded the status of the Tree from Fact to Legend, I am actually very pro-Tree, and even have an offspring of the Tree that Owns Itself growing at home.
The story of the Pennsylvania Hermit makes reference to the Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania—the executive branch of the Pennsylvania State government for several years following Independence. There was no page for the Council so I inserted a stub. More recently, I returned to that stub and fleshed it out into a larger article, detailing the formation of the Council, its duties, its leaders, its members, etc. I also expanded upon pages for the men who served as President and Vice-President of the Council. Some had to be started from scratch, including those for William Moore, Matthew Smith, James Ewing, James Irvine, David Redick, and George Ross. Vice-President James Potter already had a page, but I was disappointed to discover that he wasn't Harry Potter's dad. Ben Franklin of course already had a huge amount of information in his name, and Dickinson wasn't doing too badly either. I know that the world wasn't clammoring for more history on George Ross, but I enjoyed the idea that I was perhaps giving some of these men a little more exposure than they were accostomed to.
I also started a page for one of my favorite bad movies, a late-50s Mexican production of Santa Claus. Tis folly to devote so much text to such a bad film? You be the judge.
Squares of Savannah
Most recently, following a trip to Savannah with my parents and my daughter I did a lot of additions to the Squares of Savannah, Georgia page, adding and footnoting a lot of info. I also created a map of downtown Savannah with hotlinks to information on the individual squares. That was fun. I love running into things in other articles and thinking "That's cool...how can I use that to improve something I'm writing?" In this case it was a map of Australia with the states, territories, water bodies, etc., as hotlinks. I know there are tutorials and cheat sheets and whatnot to help with such things, but I love pulling the original apart to see how it goes together and then adapting it to my own purposes.
The Westinghouse Sign
My latest scheme: an article on The Westinghouse Sign, an illuminated billboard for Westinghouse Electric that supposedly had a near-infinite number of ways in which it could be lighted, none of which were ever repeated. It was an icon of downtown Pittsburgh for a number of years but was torn down in 1998 to make way for the new baseball stadium. I remember sitting around with people debating how to calculate the number of possible lighting combinations. I did a little "Virtual Westinghouse Sign" animation to go along with the story. I'm such a geek.
Rocky and Bullwinkle
When my shortie was still really short I rented some of the old (early 90s) VHS Rocky and Bullwinkle tapes from the local town library. Although I got them for me I was so proud when the midget said that she'd liked the show about "the squirrel and the moose." If I'd done nothing else right as a father I'd turned her into a Rocky and Bullwinkle fan. About a month ago I bought the Rocky and Bullwinkle Complete First Season on DVD. As we watched the entirety of Jet Fuel Formula I figured that I had to write an article for the very first R&B story arc. So I did. Then, I had to add article for every other Rocky and Bullwinkle story arc, although most are still stubs, with an infobox. Then I created a special Rocky and Bullwinkle Infobox that accommodates information for number of segments per story arc, Boris's disguises, and maybe some other info. I also created a special R&B Template for quick links to episodes, characters, supporting features, and other articles. I also added articles on Peter Peachfuzz and Gidney & Cloyd. Finally (for now) I compiled a list of all of the segment names...you know...the "Don't miss tomorrow's exciting episode...Bullwinkle's Rise or This Goon for Higher, and tried to link to as many of the puns and references as I knew. Geez, I'm a geek.
Overcome with Christmas spirit I wrote a short article on Koziar's Christmas Village. It is the ultimate Christmas light display, near Reading, Pennsylvania. Driving over that last hill and getting your first glimpse of it on a cold December night is stunning. Damn I miss it.
I recently read and thoroughly enjoyed the book Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow and thought it deserved an article. So I gave it one.
I also wrote a short article on "the Clenis," a portmanteau of "Clinton's Penis." Although the term would seem to mock the Big Guy for his sexual indiscressions the term is actually used by liberals to mock the perceived conservative habit of blaming or excusing all manner of Republican/conservative sins by invoking the fact that Bill Clinton had sex with an intern. As such it is often modified to "the Mighty Clenis," in honor of the profound influence conservatives claim it has had over world events. This article was professionally written but disappeared altogether rather quickly. I would be more understanding of this if it weren't for this, this, and this.
And what's up next for the Purple Chez? Hmmm? Well, I don't want to tip my hat.... I had been thinking about something devoted to the "genealogy" of Pennsylvania's counties (how Dauphin was formed out of Lancaster, how Lebanon was then formed out of part of Dauphin and a sliver of Lancaster, and so on....) but that could get really dangerous from an anal-retentive map-making point of view, so rather than tempt fate I might leave that sleeping dog lie. I still need to write a short bio for Charles Biddle, vice president of Pennsylvania and a key player in the Hermit saga. But who knows where fate will take us, eh?