Hobbies

Over the years, my hobbies have shifted. They have included:

Comics:

I used to be really big into comic books. I'm talking spending about $100/month on new comics alone back in the early and mid '80s. I was big into Marvel, collecting nearly every superhero title they had. I was also big into alternative companies: First, Comico, Eclipse, Kitchen Sink. I remember when Dark Horse first came out, and even still have mint copies of Concrete #1.

However, college took it's toll on my income, and around 1987, I stopped buying comics regularly. Occasionally I've picked up some issues, but in the last 10 years, I've probably only bought 20 issues or so.

My favorite comic shop has always been FBN-Fantasy (fly by night). It was the first one I ever went into, as is probably the case for most people. Located on the riverfront of old town St. Charles, Missouri. It's been several years since I've been there, and I often wonder if it's still around.

I still have around 3000 comics I keep carting around with me from place to place. The boxes are getting worn. Need to invest in some new ones. I've also been wanting to redo the database I used to have on my old TRS-80 CoCo (color computer). Someday.

My money situation is getting better, though. And I think that, soon, I may start delving in again. Of course the comic book store literally right across the street from me is part of my temptation....

Bitnet:

When I first started college at University of Missouri - Rolla in 1986, the Internet wasn't very big yet, and, as far as I know, our school wasn't even on it and I hadn't even heard of it. However, there was another academic network, BITNET, Because It's Time NETwork.

Simple interactive chatting from the command line. A BBS located in Maine (what WAS the name of it?), where you could register as being logged in, and people could chat with you. Helping people from South Korea with the NY Times crossword puzzle. Flirting with people on the east coast. And, of course, Relay and the chat program XYZZY.

Officially banned at UMR, Relay (and remember, this was LONG before IRC), was the choice de jour for those of us with no life. You chose a nickname, and joined channels, and chatted with people across the world. And the program XYZZY, a shell program that parsed incoming messages, and displayed them in a nicer format.

Relay was where I got my nick Nexus. Orginally, being a big X-men fan, I chose the nick Mutant. Of course it was in use already, and the person politely asked me to change it. So I did. And in early 1987, Nexus was born. Taken from a comic book and character of the same name from First comics I enjoyed tremendously.

All of this was done, of course, on an IBM mainframe. A System 370 running VM/CMS. XYZZY, written in REXX, was an inspiration to many hackers at UMR, and many of us wrote our own chat/shell programs. I'd managed to reinvent macros and aliases without knowing what they were. Amazing that. Who else remember the YWAKEUP and IUCVTRAP modules that made all of this possible?

Of course, all of this ate up tons of my time, and as a result, my grades suffered.

Muds:

While playing around on Relay, I started hearing references to other things going on. This thing called the Internet, and these games called Muds. Eventually, I had to try them out.

While I wasn't looking, UMR had joined the Internet. We were officially on two different networks now. And it wasn't long before I learned the joys of telnet. Though using telnet from an IBM mainframe over a 3270 terminal could be less than joyful.

Eventually I found the addresses for various muds, and, lo and behold, a new addiction arose. Early in the life of muds. The only things around, I think, were AberMUD's. To my best knowledge, I was on the first 8 muds in existence.

The addiction grew. To the point where I now had a fulltime job. I would get up around 4:00pm. Go eat dinner, pack a lunchbox with a couple of cheese sandwiches and sodas, and trot off the the Chem building which had the nicest lab at the time. I would mud until I got hungry, then, literally, take a lunch break around 2-3 am. Then back to work. Play until that big yellow monster came up, then head back to the dorm, and go to sleep. Classes? What were those?

Then there was the time when I actually went to class as well. Sleep? What's that? 4-5 days up in a row. To quote Puff the Fractal Dragon, "Look at all the pretty colors."

Of course, my grades suffered (even more). Strange though, I've not been on a mud in since 88 or 89.

Usenet:

The exposure to MUDS, however, got me interested in Unix. And even though I was an EE, I was able to get a CS unix account. And there I found Usenet.

Around the same time I got my own computer, and was able to do much of the reading from my dorm room. I was a big shot on all the DOS groups. Using much the of the Simtel-20 database viewers to answer 90% of the questions of the style "Where can I find...?" Probably much to the annoyance of others.

But I earned the respect, at least temporarily, of a few well known individuals. Keith Petersen of Simtel-20 and Timo Salmi of UWASA in Finland, for instance. So much so, I was privileged enough to be able be a beta tester for the oak repository. On the site before the rest of the world knew about it. For a low self esteemed individual such as myself, quite the moment.

And of course, I became addicted. Hurm... a pattern here.... Hell, even to the point where, the last semester before I took a year off, I skipped all my finals to read News, because I knew I wouldn't have net access again after that.

Juggling:

During the time I was addicted to Usenet, I picked up something else. Juggling. There were several jugglers in the dorm, and friends with someone who was also a professional juggler/student. All pretty talented folk. And eventually, I picked it up. Was a good grounding element in my life. Though I strayed quite a bit in my studies, it still provided a way for me to stay a little bit focused in something that was a bit more real than all the computer addictions I was having. Plus it was a bit of exercise. And the start of my road trips to juggle festivals across the midwest.

I got pretty good, but like many things I have done, it has fallen by the wayside. I still have all my gear. 4 clubs, falling apart, set of home made torches, home made devil stick, scarves, assorted juggling balls. Keep thinking someday I'll get back into it. Specially now that I can afford to buy some replacement gear. I still want a nice set of Renegade clubs and a unicycle.

Bridge:

After I leanred to juggle, I picked up playing bridge as well. An honest to goodness social activity. Course, we were all nerds who played, but hey, at least I was talking to flesh-and-blood people. And whenever I was dummy, I could juggle.

But like most things, this too was addictive. One nite always stands out in my mind.

UMR didn't have a large female population, so when one walked by, she tended to catch and hold you attention. Well, one Saturday nite, 4 of us sit down around 5pm to start playing bridge. We all commented as a lovely yound lady walked past us on her way to dinner. Half an hour later, we commented again as she went back to her room. Later in the evening, we noticed the same person leave, now dressed up, to go to a party. Just before midnight, we commented again as we saw her return, drunk, with her date. Around 3am or so, we're still playing, and notice the date leave. Sunday morning rolls around. We're still playing bridge. Still sitting in the same chairs. We notice her go down to breakfast. And return. And later, leave, bible in hand, heading of to church. Around that time, we realize we're getting hungry and tired. The game, finally, breaks up. Scary thing is, though, is that that was pretty typical.

I took a year off from school, and when I returned, about the only thing I picked up again was bridge. However, it wasn't with real life people this time. Instead, I discovered OKBridge. A good start on my return to college, I found out how I can play bridge without ever leaving my apartment. I revived my old Relay handle of Nexus, and that became my name on OKBridge. Can you guess how many hours I stayed online? Didn't play all the much actually, I was there more for the socializing. However, once it went commercial, I pretty much lost interest. I have a commercial account now, but I don't play all that much. Actually, played maybe a dozen hands in the last 2-3 years. Just a tad bit out of practice.

BBS:

Also, not long after I returned to school, I was introduced to a telnetable bbs known as ISCA BBS. Yet another rather addicting virtual community. Though Nexus was already taken, I eventually did get to use that name on the BBS. However, as I developed emotional attachments online, and emotional problems, I kept changing names over the years. For a long time, I took another name from comic books, Dalgoda and used it it. However, currently I'm back as Nexus.

ISCA BBS has lead to a variety of other bbses over the years. The first clone of ISCA, Skynet, was located in Norway. I managed to become poular with those running the bbs there, and eventually became a sysop there myself. Around that time, another clone, located in Chicago, called Shadow came into being. From then on, they've been popping like mushrooms. Currently I frequent ISCA, Shadow, Brinta, Fluff, and Abyss. Also DOC style bbses.

Linux:

Somewhere along the line, I also became introduced to Linux, a free Unix clone. For a long time in college, I studied various parts of Linux. Installed it on my two computers. Contributed some bug fixes to Linux specific apps, and used it as a system to fix bugs in other software. All in all, a fun toy.

Unfortunately, since I've gotten a job, I've had a lot less time to play with it than I ever have before.

Body Art:

When I was reading Usenet with a passion, a new group was created called rec.arts.body-art. Catching my interest, I started following it. And found myself interested in the world of tattoos, piercings, and other forms of body modifications.

I have not yet been inspired to get a tattoo. Not sure I ever will. No design has ever caught my fancy. Piercing, on the other hand, has caught my interest a bit more. While in college I had my tongue and nipples pierced.

Well, I finally did it. On 31 Jan 1998, I got my Prince Albert pierce at Extremus Body Arts. This is a genital pierce, though I have a couple of pictures here and here. Those pics are of my original jewelry, a 3/4" 8 gauge circular barbell. Not long after, I got slightly larger jewelry: 1" 8 gauge. This jewelry is much more comfortable. Pics of those can be found here and here. I would suggest that anyone getting a PA definitely go for the larger jewelry. I filmed getting it done. I hope to get something from that online soon.

On 25 July 1998, I stretched it to 6ga. I now have a 1-1/4" 6ga. curved barbell. It fits much nicer than that circular barbells did. Much more snug; not all that extra metal flopping around. Alas, I currently cannot take pics, so nothing new will show up for a while.


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Mike Castle
dalgoda@ix.netcom.com