Tracie, à la Carte©
ntroducing Dancr (Tracie), webminder of the A la Carte web sites and mother of David.
y real name is Tracie (photo), but online I answer to Dancr. A few
times I have tried going by my real name, but for some reason it always made
me feel as though I were impersonating myself. Go figure. Like most people my
age, I'm 51 years old. I married a man that I first met when we were both
three years old (though neither of us can remember that). Our son, David, turned sixteen in mid-December.
At about age twelve I realized that I had always been an atheist, even though my family had attended church regularly since before I was born. I'm an off-the-scale hardcore skeptic (12 points). I'm not so sure freethinkers are a minority, but I believe that being treated as an outsider in this context has given me a compassion that I might not otherwise have for maligned groups of many types and a passion for issues of freedom and fairness. As far as I have found, so far, Bertrand Russel says this best.
Both my husband and I were much impacted by the experience of growing up, for a time, as foreigners in Europe. For him, it was a few years in Switzerland. For me, it was six years (ages 11 - 17) in The Netherlands (home of Jan van der Meer, AKA Johannes Vermeer, and Maurits Cornelis [M.C.] Escher.(Just think what fun he would have had with autostereograms!) I think this gave us, early on, a deep appreciation for the fact that there is not just one correct way to look at things.
While in Holland (and for a short time after) I learned to speak Dutch, French, German and Spanish. Not many thought this was a big deal, since lots of other people did it. I've dabbled a little bit in constructed languages, too, such as Esperanto. Perhaps some day I'll make use of this background at the Monterey Institute of International Studies or at Language Line.
uring the years that I lived in Holland, I carried on a deep correspondence with a friend that I had left behind in America (which I soon learned to call "the states"). Most days, I would spend at least an hour reading her letters and writing back. Because I had to pay for my own postage, I always waited to receive her letter before sending mine out. In these letters we contemplated everything. I identified very much with Anne Frank and thought of this as my diary. Writing is a very productive way to think.
I always loved school and did exceptionally well, but I consider schooling to be the least of my education. People who knew me in school would probably all be very surprised that I am now an ardent unschooling advocate. As much as I respect the particular teachers that I was fortunate to have, I still am not happy with how the overall schooling experience influenced my personality. I realized this approximately the first day out of grad school. School necessarily teaches competition and obedience, instead of co-operation.
I've been involved in using computers pretty much continuously ever since first being introduced to a mainframe terminal in 1967 (seventh grade). I've only ever taken one course in programming (Algol), but I've delved pretty deeply into several others in order to fix somebody's bug or add some functionality to programs others have written. But then, I've tried to forget those experiences as quickly as possible. I've worked quite a bit with many "off the shelf" software packages, whether tailoring them for my own use, or training others how to use them. I have served as a beta tester for several of these that are now household names.
I've been a voracious reader ever since about age fourteen, when I read my first unassigned book in years; one about how the human mind works. It had a phenomenal number of footnotes, which I had never encountered much before. I remember being very, very impressed by this one certain fellow who kept turning up as the source of the most interesting quotes. His name was Ibid!
I've been devouring books about psychology . [Edited '04-Aug-13th to add:] (I'm an INTJ) [end edit]., learning, philosophy, history and sociobiology ever since at a rate of 2-3 per week (except ironically during those weeks when I was in school). Correction… The previous sentence was written about eleven years ago. I pretty much stopped reading books when I dove into the Internet. I'm now quite interested in the dynamics of life online, including interpersonal relationships, networks and opinion making.
y academic specialization and my erstwhile career focused upon the field of research methodology. This involves work with sampling and statistics, question wording and psychometrics. One of my first projects was working on the team that developed the now-famous "Index of Consumer Sentiment". Outside of that project, the main thing I got out of my stint as a survey researcher was a healthy disrespect for the meaning attributed to polls. However, I did catch the research bug and went on to study this more in graduate school. Since then, I've always been researching something or other.
After grad school, we lived seven years in Minneapolis, where I was mainly self-employed as a jack-of-all-trades computer consultant, involved in systems analysis, programming, documentation writing, training, and trouble shooting. This will probably come as a surprise to any of my online friends at the Efnet channel #mIRC (if any of them come here), who are used to my lame frustrations in getting my computer to dance. My clients represented a wide variety of industries and functional departments within companies. I've also run my own map making and desktop publishing [DTP] companies, and thereby gotten a taste for the reality of small businesses.
Most of the time that I was in Minneapolis I was instrumental in the founding and early growth of a maverick organization once known as All the Good Old Girls. This became a much copied organization as the interpersonal networking craze swept the country in the mid '80s (not to be confused with network marketing pyramid schemes). Some of those among our ranks went on to become Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State. This experience taught me the value of co-operating outside organizational structure to achieve important goals.
During the past twelve years I have been interested in emergency preparedness, ever since moving to the Monterey Bay area of California a few days before the Loma Prieta earthquake. We were closer to the epicenter, here, than was the Highway 880 (Nimitz) bridge connecting San Francisco and Oakland, where so many lost their lives. I took several Red Cross courses while pregnant with my son. More recently, I've gotten involved with the local Neighborhood Emergency Response Team [NERT] program.
hortly after my son, David, was born I discovered that I have a chronic auto immune condition which is aggravated by stress, and seems to me to be related to my being a mild genetic harlequin. My main symptom when things get bad is a severe arthritis. I take seven long-term medications, including an injectible, which requires refrigeration. My husband is a diabetic with peripheral neuropathy. I hate to think how we would cope without our drugs. This has increased my already strong interest in health rights.
Politically, I'm a libertarian at heart, but pragmatically an Independent (-.62, -7.79). I've got some liberal as well as some conservative leanings, depending upon the issue. For example, while I prefer that government be limited to little more than national defense, enforcing contracts and apprehension of violent criminals, I recognize that for the time being we're living with a government that does much more. The government that we have should be particularly careful to not show favoritism toward some citizens over others.
[Edited '98-Nov-26th to add:] During recent years I have been highly concerned about the possibility of a global economic collapse of the type that seems to be happening right before our very eyes. In studying the problem, I've learned that the infrastructure we depend upon is much more fragile than I ever would have imagined, and that there are quite a few threats to it that need to concern us all. [end edit]
ife is too short to not take some time
to smell the flowers
or at least wallow our pet peeves (updated almost daily, hehe). I like to spend a lot of time outdoors. Most days I swim
a mile, when I'm feeling OK. (I actually had to stop doing this a few years
ago because of a health problem.) Though I don't watch much
network TV, I do like to watch movies and listen to music. I especially like movies and documentaries about
people. Best of all is to discover a topic on which I have an opinion
that I wish to share. [Edited '01-May-5th to add:]
Particularly long winded essays, such as this one, are given a Carpal
Tunnel Citation. [end edit] --- '95-Jan-01
In 1982 I bought a seventy-year-old house from a lawyer in Minneapolis that unbeknownst to me needed a new roof. The seller knew good and well that the roof was kaput but lied on their Transfer Disclosure Statement in a way that seemed to me to put them beyond our reach. Where it came to the section on roof problems they had written in "not to our knowledge." Neighbors had witnessed them horsing around with it, but the former owner claimed that they thought they had it fixed. My husband and I were both employed and didn't have time to attack a lawyer, so we just ate the cost of the repair.
The roofing contractor I hired did a very poor job which didn't last even six years. When the roof went bad again I made an appointment to have them come on out and take a look at it. They didn't remember that they had done the work years earlier and started bad mouthing "the guy who did this shoddy work." I ran into the house and got a tape recorder, turned it on and stuck it in my pocket. I captured about eight straight minutes of self-incrimination. The tape quality was bad but they didn't even want to listen to it. They wanted to fix it but I insisted on a full refund and got it.
It's the only time I've ever tape recorded someone without their knowledge, but it's not the first or the last time I've stood up to a rough neck. I'm only 5'2" and they like to get right in your face. I was emboldened to go after the former owner, too, but alas, my husband's company was the victim of an unfriendly takeover and we decided to move too far away to mess with it. That would have been fun. (She was the state attorney general or equivalent, iirc). Yes, we fixed the roof instead of passing the problem off on to someone else.
I haven't used any icons (ever) but I just looked through the choices for the first time, and I don't find a "patting oneself on the back" icon. --- '01-Jul-29th
I'm reminded of something I encountered in some anthology of eastern philosophy well over thirty years ago. I believe the original source was Lau Tsu. I won't get this quite right because I haven't heard or seen it since, but I can relate the spirit of the story as it stuck with me. I'm sure that would be alright with Lao Tsu, if such a person ever existed.
Two brothers are walking in a park. The younger asks the elder his opinion
of a third. The elder sings the praises of the absent brother at some length
and detail. The younger is astonished and shares how the absent brother has
nothing but bad things to say about the elder. The elder remarks, "You asked
my opinion of him!" --- '01-Aug-2nd
Tao te Ching. This is the only book that, upon finishing it, I have wanted to turn immediately to page number one and start again. I'm not even a taoist. It's just a very good book. --- '02-Mar-6th
I was actually a leeetle bit too young to get heavy into the hippy scene, but I absorbed a heck of a lot, since I was living in the Netherlands at the time. That was one of the major hippy havens. [Edited '02-Sep-11th to add:] I moved on from there to Ann Arbor, another one. We now live close enough to Santa Cruz that I travel there several times a year to visit my primary doctor. [end edit]
I never really did do the tie dye look, but it has affected my taste in music and shoes (Birkenstock). When it comes to values, I'm pretty hippy. I'm surrounded by them. I'd show you their websites but they don't tend to use computers.
Shouldn't there be a quiz somewhere where we can score ourselves? Was that an unhippy thing to say? --- '02-Apr-21st
Spoken in response to a board moderator who complains about being unable to cut loose. I think you've grown. A lot. It's good for you. If you can stand it, keep it up. I know you can do it. I speak from experience. I grew up from ages eleven through seventeen in a foreign country. Upon arrival, there, my folks told me to always remember that I was an American ambassador, every day, in every way. That really affected me. I think it shaped me. Now, I'm I'm just the ambassador of my self, but it's a big enough job for me. --- '04-Nov-10th
Kindred SpiritsKyle Williams
See also, These A la Carte Articles
MY World Trade Center
Not Quite Who You Were Hoping to Find?
I've collected lots of other Dancr's
How to Contact
Want to bookmark,
tell friends, print?