15 Things You Might Not Know About Me

I’m going to try something different with this post – give you some insight into me.  I find many photographers…ummm…quirky, and I’m no exception.  That’s one of the things I like about this community – there are some interesting characters out there.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether I fall into that category.  Besides, sometimes I think I come across as too serious on this blog, and if you knew me in real life you’d find I’m quite the opposite.

Here we go:

  1.  I’ve been in an Oscar winning film.  I was an extra in the movie “An Officer and a Gentleman”.  Yep, I’m in the TJ’s bar scene up by the bumper pool table where Debra Winger is.  I’m the guy in the white shirt. (I’ll explain how I got that one-day gig below).  Yes, I shook Richard Gere’s hand, but he was in another part of the bar most of the time.
  2. I grew up in Toledo, Ohio. I left when I was 17.
  3. I honestly think a wish that I made when I was 6 or 7 years old was granted and came true.  One of my earliest memories is lying on my living room carpet, gazing at the maps in an atlas of the world.  I wished that I would be able to travel the world – and I have.  I’ve been to 20 countries and 43 U.S. states.  I’ll be able to add three more countries to that list when I head to southern Africa later this year (Namibia, Zambia, and Botswana, with quick stops in Zimbabwe and South Africa, but the last two are just for airports which don’t count)
  4. Like many (most?) photographers, I have a day job to pay the bills.  I work for Microsoft and manage the Microsoft Learning Web site, where people come when they want to learn about getting certified in Microsoft products.  I’ve worked there for 11 years.  We get about a million people/month coming to the site, but that pales in comparison to the Office Online Web site that I worked on prior to this one, which gets about 100 million users/month. (By the way, I think the whole Microsoft vs. Apple debate is ridiculous.  Both have their good and bad)
  5. Prior to Microsoft, I have a 20 year career in flight simulators.  Yes, the real ones, not the video game.  I started out maintaining them then moved up to project management, then management.
  6. I first came to the Seattle area in 1979 with the Navy (where I learned flight simulators), stationed at NAS Whidbey Island.  And that’s how I got the Officer and a Gentleman gig.  They used some of our equipment in the movie and asked if any of us wanted to be in it.  It was being filmed at Fort Worden, near Port Townsend WA.  The funny part was when they lined about 10 of us up at casting & wardrobe.  They went down the line – “You’ll be a Marine, you’ll be a Sailor” and so on.  When they got to me and my buddy, they looked at us and said “You’re civilians”.  I was only in the Navy for 4 years, so he was right that Navy life wasn’t for me.  I do have a W-2 somewhere showing that I worked for Paramount and made $75.
  7. I’ve lived in two countries other than the US:  Canada (Montreal for 5+ years) and Saudi Arabia (9 months).  I have lots of stories about both.  If I could live anywhere in the world, it would probably be Montreal, for a variety of reasons.
  8. I have an actual Bucket List.  Not a great movie, but I love the concept. I’m working my way through it (see item #3)
  9. At work, I easily run meetings and have given speeches to rooms filled with hundreds of people, yet put me into an intimate social situation and I become as shy as a 16 year old at the prom.  Once I get going though, conversation flows easily.  I’m probably the most open person you’ll ever meet.  Ask me anything, but be forewarned – you’ll always get an honest answer.
  10. I think of myself as a curious,  open-minded skeptic.  For example, I think there’s lots of evidence of UFO’s, and the Princeton PEAR study proved that there is such a thing as ESP.
  11. I’ve never lost at Trivial Pursuit.  My proudest trivia moment though was when I won a trivia match that I played against a packed bar of people.  As I kept winning, I noticed that people in the bar were getting increasingly agitated every time I won a game.  Turns out the entire bar was filled with people from MENSA – they were having their monthly get-together. I retired on top and never went back to that bar again.
  12. When I was much younger, I was a registered pro-marksman with the NRA.  I haven’t picked up a gun in many years though and consider myself a pacifist, for the most part.
  13. I’ll turn 50 in September, but honestly, I feel like I’m 23.
  14. I’ve been taking pictures for more than 40 years.  Anytime you hear yourself saying you’ve done something for that long it kinda freaks me out – like it’s another person I’m talking about. My first camera was a Kodak Brownie.  I still have it.  I won my first photo contest when I was 16.
  15. If I could be something other than a photographer, I’d be an Oceanographer.  I love, love, love the ocean.

What does all this have to do with photography?  Maybe nothing.  Maybe everything.

Ttyl,

Mark

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8 comments

  1. A cool blog post. Our interests, personality and experiences play a big part in our photography. If you want some tips for your trip to Southern African get in touch, I grew up in that part of the world.

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