How Thrilling is my Life Story?

The following was written in 1995, and in order to preserve the original scoring, has not been updated based upon more recent events.

On Monday, August 14, 1995, The Oregonian reprinted a Quiz (first printed in 1990) entitled How thrilling is your life story? I was surprised to discover that my score was "Quite awesome. You are probably known as a 'colorful character' who's lots of fun at parties, full of rousing tales and anecdotes. Either that or you cheated."

Either that, or the quiz is too easy. You be the judge.

The Sporting Life

  • Have you ever gone bungee jumping? (25 pts)

    [Photo of Herb Bungee Jumping] Yes, in 1992, and again in 1995, and as evidence, I have this photo, as well as a Bungee Master certificate from the Dangerous Sports Club:

    Let it be known to all mere mortals who dwell upon this planet we call Earth. The Courageous Herb Weiner did in fact Risk life, limb and sanity of mind. Undertaking the truest of all Rites Of Passage. Hurling said body of flesh, bone and spirit off the highest BUNGEE BRIDGE in North America. Twenty Stories, down and up, down and up and down and up on the twenty-second day of the month of February in the Nineteenth Century and Ninety Second year of our Lord. Thus becoming a Charter Member of The Dangerous Sports Club of America Bungee Division. Signed K Casey A. Dale Bungee Master.

    For information, call Bungee Masters at (503) 520-0303.

  • Have you ever gone white-water rafting? (10 pts)

    [Photo of Herb and Friends Rafting Husum Falls] I've rafted the Lower Deschutes River numerous times, and even led a raft of beginners. But my most exciting raft trips have been on the White Salmon River in Washington, including this ride over Husum Falls (a class 5 rapids).

    For information, call AAA Rafting at (800) 866-7238.

  • Bonus Points: If you've ever engaged in some other risky daredevil activity (cliff diving, drag racing, road luge, etc.), add 15 pts.

    [Photo from Parasail] My wife suggested that parasailing would qualify, but I've done that, and it didn't seem like a risky or daredevil activity. I took this photo parasailing off the coast of Madeira Beach, Florida.

    How about the time I walked across a railroad trestle in Sault St. Marie, Canada. I was unfamiliar with the area, and was with a small group. If a train had come at the wrong time, I would have been forced to jump into the water.

    But neither of these was as dangerous as skiing in poor visibility on Mount Hood, when I injured both knees simultaneously while moving so slowly that there wasn't enough force to release my bindings.

Trotting the Globe

  • Have you ever visited a foreign country? (add 2 pts. per country)

    Well, I've visited Canada and Mexico (4 pts.)

    I've already told you about my exploits in Sault St. Marie.

    In Mexico, I picked up a hitchhiker who was about as fluent in English as I was in Spanish. During the hour or so that he rode with me, I was able to explain to him that I had studied Spanish for four years in high school. He was able to explain to me that he worked on a farm, but to this day, I'll never know whether he raised animals or vegetables.

  • Bonus Points. Add 1 pt. for every city you've ever lived in.

    Brooklyn, New York (6 years), Bethpage, New York (12 years), Ithaca, New York (11 years), Poughkeepsie, New York (1 summer), and Portland, Oregon (since 1978).

Into the Unknown

  • Have you ever communicated with a nonhuman life form? (20 pts)

    Come on. This is too easy. I've communicated with a pet cat. When I told him to get off the table, he understood perfectly. He was also quite skilled at communicating with me. I always understood when he was hungry, or wanted to go out.

Fame and Fortune

  • Have you ever been the subject of a newspaper or magazine story? (10 pts)

    In 1975, I wrote a freeware compare utility to replace the one supplied by IBM with VM/370 (the other operating system). As far as I know, the program is still popular today, although I haven't worked with IBM systems (including PCs) since 1978. In 1990, out of the blue, I received a phone call from someone who wanted to interview me for a magazine column about this program. The article was published in Technical Support, ISSN 1052-2581, Volume 5, Number 5, April 1991, "VM Toolbox: Compare XCOMPARE with COMPARE," by John D. Kinne.

  • Have you ever cut a record or written a book? (20 pts)

    I am coauthor of Beyond Tacos: Mexican Cuisine

  • Have you ever invented or discovered something, or had something named after you? (30 pts)

    I am the inventor of Method and Apparatus for Creating a Structured Image Data Set based upon Acquired Image Data, U.S. Patent Number 4,625,288, issued November 25, 1986, and used by Tektronix in the 4991S1 Graphic Input Workstation. The user interface concepts pioneered by the 4991S1 were later adopted by Adobe Illustrator. Here's a Technical Report describing this invention.

Death & Disaster

  • Have you survived a hurricane? (10 pts)

    When I was a child growing up on Long Island, hurricanes were a fairly common occurrence. One of the stronger hurricanes I survived toppled a weeping willow tree growing on the side of our house. Fortunately, it fell toward the back of the house. If it had hit the house, it would have taken my bedroom with it. The first time I ever saw a chainsaw was when the men came to cut up and haul away the tree.

  • Have you survived an earthquake? (5 pts for a minor quake)

    As my T-Shirt says, "I survived the Great Oregon Quake." My wife and I were awakened by the vibrations in our waterbed the morning of March 25, 1993. It felt like the rumble of a huge truck outside of our house, except that it didn't stop. We then realized that we were experiencing an earthquake. We were fortunate that there was no damage.

  • Have you ever had stitches, broken a bone, or undergone surgery (10 pts)

    On Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, 1974, I broke my ankle when I slipped on the ice walking down my driveway to pick up my mail. I spent Thanksgiving in the hospital room with two other men, one of whom was a heavy smoker (not a very healthy environment for sick and injured people to recover). My two roommates received wine with their Thanksgiving dinners, but I did not, since I did not have the foresight to select my menu 24 hours in advance.

  • Have you ever been the victim of a felony? (10 pts)

    My house has been burglarized. (I now have an alarm system.)

  • Bonus Points: If you've survived some disaster not mentioned above (a volcano, avalanche, fire, etc.), add 15 pts.

    The May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens covered my house and yard with a thin layer of ash. It was several days before it was safe to drive. (The volcanic ash was extremely abrasive, and would destroy a car engine if it was drawn into the air intake.)

The Dark Side

  • Have you ever committed a crime and gotten away with it? (5 pts.)

    When I was in college, I helped steal a road sign (it was too big for one person to handle alone).

  • Have you ever had an illicit affair? (5 pts. per person)

    (Well, there were two of us. Does that mean I get 10 pts? OK, it doesn't hurt to ask.) Before I was married, I had an affair with a married woman.

  • Have you ever taken dangerous or illegal drugs? (5 pts.)

    In my younger days, I smoked marijuana, and I did inhale. I guess I'll never be president.

  • Bonus Points: If you've ever fulfilled some dark, forbidden fantasy too lurid to mention here, go ahead and give youself 10 pts.

    Well, this is a Catch-22. Nobody reading my life story is going to give me 10 points for something I refuse to mention, and I don't get any points for anything I do mention.

    When I was a freshman in college, and received a small income tax return check from the IRS, I decided to stir up a little trouble. At that time, the tax return checks were printed on computer punch cards. With the aid of a keypunch machine, I was able to interpret the data punched into the check: it contained my social security number, the amount of the check (let's call it 63.17), and some miscellaneous additional information. With the aid of the keypunch machine, I added an extra hole, changing the 63.17 to 163.17. I then cashed the check for $63.17 (I did not alter the printed amount). I never heard anything from the IRS, but the next year, the checks had leading zeroes. Did the IRS waste lots of time trying to figure out why their books were out of balance by $100? I hope so!

Everyday Drama

  • Have you ever been married? (10 pts for each marriage)

    I've been married twice and divorced once.

  • Have you ever experienced the death of a parent, child, or close friend? (10 pts)

    My mother passed away unexpectedly in 1993. Here's a poem she wrote shortly before she died.

  • Have you ever visited a nude beach or nudist colony, or appeared nude in public? (5 pts.)

    The Ithaca (New York) reservior was a popular swimming location. Clothing was optional. Most visitors (myself included) preferred their birthday suits. Occasionally, the Ithaca police would receive a complaint that the "hippies are swimming nude in the reservior." (Swimming in the reservior was illegal, with or without clothes.) The police would come by, and everyone would get dressed and leave. The police would then radio in that "there's nobody here now" and leave. Half an hour later, people would be swimming again.

  • Bonus Points: If you've ever worked as a doctor, nurse, teacher, police officer, judge, firefighter or member of the clergy, add 20 pts.

    I designed and taught the Introduction to Software Engineering course for Portland Community College and Clackamas Community College.

UH-OH! Penalty Section

  • Do you sit behind a desk for more than 20 hours a week? If so, deduct 5 pts.

    Easy come, easy go.

  • Do you like to surf the Internet? Deduct 5 pts.

    Hey! Not only do I surf the net, I also build the beaches, to make the surfing better for the everyone else!

Your Total GQ* (*Gusto Quotient)

The Sporting Life
    Bungee Jumping            25
    White Water Rafting       10
    Bonus                     15
Trotting the Globe
    Foreign Countries          4
    Cities                     5
Into the Unknown
    Nonhuman Life Form        20
Fame and Fortune
    Magazine Story            10
    Written a Book            20
    Invented Something        30
Death and Disaster
    Hurricane                 10
    Earthquake                 5
    Broken a Bone             10
    Victim of Felony          10
    Volcano                   15
The Dark Side
    Committed a Crime          5
    Illicit Affair             5
    Illegal Drugs              5
    Bonus Points               0
Everyday Drama
    Been Married              20
    Death of a Parent         10
    Nude Beach                 5
    Bonus Points              20
UH-OH! Penalty Section
    Sit behind a Desk         -5
    Surf the Internet         -5
Total                               249 points


  • 0-100: You've lived a quieter, gentler life than some, but don't feel bad. We can't all be Indiana Jones.

  • 101-200: An impressive start. Now it's time to turn off the TV, get up off the couch, and start racking up serious points.

  • 201-300: Quite awesome. You are probably known as a "colorful character" who's lots of fun at parties, full of rousing tales and anecdotes. Either that or you cheated.

  • Over 300: Wow! Consider yourself lucky to be alive. At this rate, you'd better finish that autobiography fast.