My Wikipedia Editing Philosophies and Methods
I have enjoyed editing Wikipedia for a while now… not sure how long.
Isn’t it amazing that you can google virtually any subject and the wiki article is always in the first handful of hits? A well-written and well-documented article is a fantastic thing. A person or persons, for no pay, sit and create a page on a topic that interests them for whatever reason. If they were not an expert on the subject prior to creating/editing the article, they become one, at least to some extent, while doing so.
Why Editing Wikipedia is a Great Hobby
I have created websites in the past about topics that interest me but I never felt like they were reaching anyone. Working on Wikipedia gives you a sense of accomplishment. Even though someone might not look at your work right now, it’s out there for future inquires.
Being a Wikipedian causes you to think about and consider what you’re writing. You have to look at sometimes massive amounts of information and distill it down to the core content appropriate for the article. You also have to do research. Since becoming a Wikipedian I have visited my local libraries more than I had in the ten years prior. I like tracking-down old newspaper articles that are sometimes nearly 200 years old and citing them, but I especially like that ‘old book’ smell you get in the ‘special collection’ areas of libraries.
The Question of Notability
The Question of notability is, in my opinion, the worst thing about the Wikipedia Community. It would seem that there are people who have the attitude “If I have not heard of it, then it’s not notable.” This absolutely stinks. If there is enough information out there to create the article, then it’s notable. Just because a topic is not interesting to everyone that does not mean it is not interesting to anyone. Jean-Francois Gariepy states it best here.
Trolls, Wikinazis, The Notability Mafia, and other Undesirables
Sadly, it seems there are those whose whole existence on Wikipedia is to dump on other people and their work. I don’t know what their problem is. It seems that they have nothing better to do than troll around and criticize/change/delete other people’s hard work. These people often hide behind the pretense that they are helping or protecting Wikipedia and often make reference to obscure policies and procedures that are unknown to novice editors.
Were it not for spell and grammar check I would look like a complete imbecile in print. However, trying to write a wiki article using Microsoft Word is very difficult as Word often identifies in-line citations, bracketing, and other wikicode as being misspelled. To overcome this problem, I have spent a good amount of time creating and changing a Word macro which will take a Word document, written in a specific manner (end notes, headers, etc) and automatically converts it to wikicode. It’s pretty slick if I do say so myself.
Templates: Some templates require complex arguments and fail when not coded properly. To overcome this, I have created several Microsoft Excel worksheets in which I can enter the specifics then click a button to get the correct wikicode to use the template. These include Template:Citation and Template:Infobox.
Large tables: Very large tables of information such as List of curling clubs in the United States and Masonic Lodges of North Carolina require a tremendous amount of code to execute properly. For this, I employ Microsoft Access. The Access database is used to enter and gather the information, then a custom VBA code to produce to wikicode.
About Me/My Background
I grew up in New Carlisle, Ohio and am of German and Scottish descent. I graduated from Tecumseh High School in 1990 and left my home town the very next day. After a very brief stay in Beattyville, Kentucky where my parents retired, I entered the United States Navy and proceeded to live in San Diego, California and Illinois. Eventually, I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina where I live with my wife and a dog and a cat.
My Work, The Computers I Use and Used to Use
I am an old hacker from back in the day. My first computer was an Atari 400 on whose membrane keyboard I learned to type hunt-and-peck style as I, at the age of 10, had never heard of touch typing. I remember several years later one of my teachers tried in vain to teach me touch-typing which I found ridiculous as by that time I had become quite adept at typing "peck without the hunt." I remain a non-touch typist to this day.
I remained an Atari 8-bit family through my graduation from high school advancing to several successor machines including an 800xl and learned a great deal. My favorite computer book back then was Dr. C.Wacko's Miracle Guide to Designing and Programming Your Own Atari Computer Arcade Games by David Heller. A person looking at that book today would say it's of similar format to the For Dummies series.
When I had been in the Navy for about a year and a half, a chief of mine sat me down in front of a 286 IBM PC and directed me to enter a large amount of data into a Microsoft Works database. Around the same time I was introduced to Sid Meier's Civilization at the computer center on the base (similar to an Internet café but before the common wide-spread use of the Internet). I loved the game but was frustrated by the limited time I had to play. This caused me to purchase my own PC, a Packard Bell 486sx with 2 megabytes of RAM and a 210 megabyte hard drive which was huge for the time.
And I've touched a PC pretty much every day of my life since.
...more to come.
My Military Stuff
The first uniform I ever put on was that of a Cadet in the United States Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) at good old Tecumseh High School when the program was first offered in the fall of 1988 (my junior year). The first day of school we were given a cadet handbook. I took it home a studied it diligently. The next day we were given a pop quiz on the content of the handbook and I scored higher than anyone else. This led me being name the Cadet Group Commander (commanding officer) and given the rank of Cadet Major, eventually Cadet Lieutenant Colonel. I remained active in JROTC through my last two years in high school. I wish it had been in place for all four years. No telling where I'd be today.
Due to less than stellar high school GPA I ended-up joining the military. After meeting with the various recruiters I opted for the Navy. They sold me on their Nuclear Power Program promising me early advancement to E4 and big bonuses, all of which sounded great to a naïve 17-year-old kid from Ohio. They neglected to tell me the program had a very high rate of academic attrition. I had never needed to study in my life. Nuclear Power School chewed me up and spat me out like a pinch of Red Man as I washed-out in the 19th week of training like so many before and after me. I never got one cent of all that money they promised me. Upon washing-out of nuke school I joined one of the largest yet most silent fraternities in the U.S. Navy: "Nuclear Waste".
So there I sat, stuck in the Machinist's Mate rating because I accepted advanced promotion to Petty Officer Third Class when I did complete the first part of Nuke training. In the fall of 1991 I received orders to the U.S.S. Coronado (AGF-11) so I left Orlando and headed to beautiful San Diego.
Onboard the Good Ship Coronado
November 1991-November 1996: At the time those seemed like the longest five years of my life. We all complained a lot, but in the end it was not the worst way for us to spend our youths. The Coronado was the command ship for the Commander, Third Fleet. As such we did not go to sea very often or for very long. The longest we were ever away from home port was just under 30 days. That's right, I had five years consecutive sea service, but do not have a Sea Service Ribbon.
Ports highlights of my time at sea include Fleet Week in San Francisco more times than I can remember, visits to Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, Mazatlan, Acapulco, Portland, and Oahu. Another highlight of my time on the Coronado would be in February 1994 when we became the first combatant ship in the U.S. Navy to embark women as part of the regular, full time crew. It was certainly a change of culture.
I still remember the evening in November 1994 as I was walking "home" to the ship and my friend Steve Gibbons stopped me. "Hey, let's go have a drink to celebrate" said he. "Celebrate what?" I asked . "You made Second."
November 1996 rolled-around and I finally left the Coronado. After a brief period of training at the Fleet Training Center at the 32nd Street Base I packed-up my junk into my 1997 Ford Ranger and headed east. I have never returned to California since, but feel like I need to back some time. After some leave time I arrived at Service School Command Great Lakes in January of 1997. I had moved from some of the nicest weather in the country to some of the worst.
Little did I know that I most-hated chief petty officer on the Coronado had placed what I now know is called an "advance call" on me. That is to say he contacted the chief petty officer community at Great Lakes to ensure I was mistreated. I have since learned this type of conspiracy is common in the US Navy.
I was given the worst job in the worst division. After a year, the chiefs decided to stick it to me even more by assigning me to work as a shift leading petty officer at the BEQ the students lived in. It was considered undesirable duty by most people. I do not know why. I found the job to be easy and frankly fun. I enjoyed getting to know the students and counseling them.
I spent the next few months developing a Microsoft Access database that did virtually every administrative function we needed from printing liberty cards to filling-out official Navy forms. Word spread quickly and soon my database was being used in most of the BEQs on the base. Shortly thereafter the Commanding Officer pulled me from my BEG duties and placed me in the New Technologies division where I spent the rest of my time in the Navy working on various desktop applications.
I was discharged from the Naval Service on January 7, 2001 having served just over ten and a half years. I have never regretted my decision to leave, but there have been a few instances, like the day that I would have been eligible to retire from the Navy, where I have wondered how my life would be different had I stayed in.
My Theater and Music Background
Proud to be a Freemason
I was initiated into Freemasonry on October 19, 2010 and passed on December 23 of that same year to be raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on January 27, 2011. My home blue lodge is Temple Lodge No. 676 in Charlotte.
In May of 2011 I became a Master of the Royal Secret (32° Scottish Rite) and joined the Order of the Eastern Star that July. I became a Noble of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine in November of that same year.
In December of 2011 I was honored to be appointed Senior Steward of Temple Lodge for the 2012 year.
I have greatly enjoyed my Masonic journey so far. Memorizing the rituals and getting involved with charity work is a lot of fun, not to mention the camaraderie.
Other Interests,Hobbies, & Memberships
On 19 July 2013 I annoucned my candidacy for the Charlotte City Council as an at large candidate of the Libertarian Party. Due to heavy partisan voting, especially voters using the "straight party" voting option, I was not elected.
I have been three degrees from Kevin Bacon for over 20 years. Over the years I have gained a couple more connections to him of three. It seems that the only way I will get a lower Bacon Number will be if either Rob Lowe or Walt Sloan are in a movie with him which would give me a Bacon Number of Two, or if I were to ever be in a movie with him (such as being an extra) which would give me a Bacon Number of One.
My connections of three are illustrated here...
Eric's Celbrity Five
A person’s Celebrity Five is a social phenomenon or parlor game in which a person names the five celebrities that they "are allowed to sleep (have sex) with if the opportunity presents itself without fear of upsetting or receiving reprimand from their spouse(etc)." This is remembered by most people from the episode "The One with Frank Jr." from Season Three of Friends.
My list(listed alphabetically)