Saturday, April 2, 2016

30 Day Blog Challenge, Day 2: Twenty Facts About Me

This is day 2 of my thirty day blog challenge. Today's topic is twenty facts about myself. I decided that as many as I could think of should be slightly quirky or unusual facts. Otherwise this could end up sounding kind of like a loan application. Here we go:

    Picture by Ryan McGuire
1. I have three nicknames. I considered making this three separate facts, but that felt like cheating. From childhood, I have had two nicknames: Joe-Joe the Dogfaced Boy (Dogface for short) and Josephus Bohunkus. And now, as an adult, many of my students call me Mr. S.

2. I'm the fourth of three children. When my parents had my next older brother Don, they thought they were finished having kids until I came along almost four-and-a-half years later.

3. I write left-handed but swing a bat and golf club right-handed. I learned both from my father.

4. I can make a number of weird whistling sounds with my mouth. I never learned how to do any of them. I simply discovered I could.

5. I'm responsible for Pepperoni Rolls in Louisville, Kentucky. Several years ago when I lived there while attending school, I searched far and wide for pepperoni rolls. I asked stores and even bakeries, but no one had heard of them. Whenever I described them, though, the people got quite excited. Well, within just a few months, pepperoni rolls were popping up everywhere around the city. So you're welcome Louisville.

6. My mom's first choice for my name was Jesse James Stephens. I don't know if she didn't know about the outlaw or just didn't care. My dad did know about him and he did care.

7. I couldn't eat canned apricots as a child. Something about them triggered my gag mechanism and they just instantly shot back out of my mouth. That created a problem at school because canned apricots look an awful lot like canned peaches. Oddly enough, I could eat fresh ones. I eventually outgrew it.

8. I'm proud to say that I am one of only two teachers in Wood County to have received the Milken National Educator Award. What makes it even more fun is that the other recipient is one of my oldest and dearest friends, Dan Daniel, and we received the awards fifteen years apart.

River, Upper Falls, Yellowstone, Wyoming, Whitewater9.  I almost drowned while whitewater rafting. While surfing a hydraulic (look it up), I was knocked out of the raft by my friend Butch Ford as he flew out himself. The fun thing about a hydraulic is that it is pretty much impossible to get out of on your own. I clearly remember thinking that, as I got spun around in the water, I was going to die. I wasn't scared. It was just a fact. But then I stopped moving, held down by some weight from above. Turns out it was my friend Butch who somehow was standing on me. He hooked his feet under my arms and yanked me out of the water.

10. I once played slow pitch softball in Parkersburg for a team sponsored by Elliott Bay Fish and Oyster Company, a restaurant in Seattle, Washington.

11. I've written stories as long as I can remember. One of the first ones I recall is about a boy who gets lost in the woods and fights off a bear with his pocket knife.

12. My room at school is filled with trains and superheroes, mostly Superman.

13. I nearly wiped out the exotic plant collection of my science teacher in 10th grade, Mr. Phipps, when I accidentally dropped a test tube filled with a plant pathogen right in the middle of it. Luckily, he kicked us out of the room and cleaned everything up with bleach and his plants survived.

Infantry, Trench, Ground Forces, Fusstruppe, Troops14. To prove that I should not be allowed around science of any kind, I once accidentally made chlorine gas (a weapon of mass destruction that killed thousands in WWI) when I mixed floral scented bleach and pure vinegar to clean out a decorative fountain in my classroom. Luckily, it was a professional development day, so I only nearly killed myself. The room smelled like rotten corpse for the rest of the year, though, and I had to leave the windows open even in the dead of winter just to keep people from throwing up.

15. My favorite number is eleventy billion.

16. My favorite empty threat is throat punching. I can't count the number of times I've told my students that I was going to throat punch someone. Ironically enough, the only person I've throat-punched, though, is myself. I was pushing a wheeled stool across a room and it caught on a chair leg. I stumbled into it, driving the seat back right into my throat. My students were quite amused by the sound I made.

17. I've been in precisely one fight (other than with my brother Don) in my life. I lost when the other kid swung his jacket at me and sliced my cheek open with the zipper.

18. My favorite sport is volleyball. The first woman I ever loved was a volleyball player and I've been hooked ever since. I attend every match my school's team plays that I possibly can.

19. My best friends and I all have superhero nicknames for each other. Jonathan is Wolverine, Maria is Pepper Potts, Jennifer is Hawkgirl, and Keith is Kal-El or Superman. I'm Tony Stark.

Santa With Sleigh, Christmas, Santa Claus20. I love Santa Claus. When I was young, I was convinced that I would someday become Santa. Interestingly, I now play Santa every year at my school's tree lighting ceremony.
So there you go. I hope those were interesting.


  1. Wow, This was really great to read. I found them all interesting!

    1. Thanks! It was a lot of fun picking them too.

  2. Loved all the facts about yourself! Congratulations on the MNE Award, remind me not to go whitewater rafting with you, my favorite number is a gazillion and you have to correct your nicknames, you have 4 (Tony Stark). Love reading your books. I mentioned before your style reminds me of Robert B. Parker. Keep writing, I'm not done reading!

    1. I never thought of that! I guess I do have four. Don't worry, Shalan book #4 is coming out this summer! Thank you so much for your comment. Comparing me to RBP is the highest compliment in my book. :)

  3. I didn't know more of these than I expected! I definitely had no idea about your mom wanting to name you Jesse James Stephens! Good thing your dad cared. :)

    1. Well, if anyone would know them, it would be you. :)