Tom Geller, dilettante and poetaster


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* Interests *

or, "Oh, boy! A bully pulpit!"

Now we get to the good stuff. Besides work, here's what turns me on:

Bicycling

    My father started teaching at Horace Greeley High School in 1964, and he rode his bike the four miles to work virtually every day until he retired in 1997. Like him, I bicycle everywhere: In San Francisco especially, it's much faster and more convenient than driving or taking public transit. I still ride a bicycle that was given to me as a 16th birthday present, except that every part on it -- including the frame -- has been replaced at least once. So, like me, it's now a homeopathic distillation of its original self.

Size issues

    Fat people -- especially women -- regularly face insults, violence, and discrimination in jobs and accommodations. The abuse, when overt, comes from those who think being fat is ugly or immoral; covertly, it comes from "well-meaning" people who believe being fat is unhealthy.

    Neither view is justified. Study after study has shown that weight-loss regimens overwhelmingly do more harm than good, that fewer than five percent of all dieters can maintain their goals, and that trying to stay below your natural weight is likely to cause health problems. Simply put, the ability to affect one's weight varies from person to person. And some people's natural weight is 300 pounds or more.

    I'm appalled at how the weight-loss culture has affected my friends and family. I'm sickened by tales of women refused medical treatment unless they lose weight. Likewise, I'm angry when I hear that short people -- especially short men -- have a better chance of winning the lottery than of heading a major corporation.

    I try to confront size discrimination in small ways, person to person. I hope you'll consider your own attitudes toward body size, how they affect your personal policies and how they affect your self-esteem.

Languages

    I never considered myself very good at languages: I got C's in French throughout middle school and high school, and struggled to keep up with college Russian and Yiddish. Then in 1989, on a whim, I started learning the invented, "international" language Esperanto. If nothing else, it was a terrific confidence builder: With its simplified grammar, I learned it well enough within six months (through the mail!) to win a scholarship to a summer course. And couple of years later, I got a job at the World Esperanto Association in The Netherlands. Then, because I wanted to take part in a local orchestra there, I learned Dutch.

    Funny what you can do when you're motivated, huh?

Music

    People are often surprised to hear that I have a Bachelor's degree in Composition and that I used to work as a singer and wind instrumentalist. I can't blame them: After getting my degree, I set aside my instruments and did almost nothing with music for six years.

    I just started getting back into music recently, playing trumpet and trombone on New Year's Eve with The Human Torches. Wanna see some pictures?

Photography

    I'm something of a purist: I shoot black and white only using fully manual cameras, and do my own darkroom work. (I have a Pentax K-1000 and a Mamiya C220, for you shutter nerds out there.) In fact, I developed and printed all black-and-white photographs on this site. I'll scan in my stuff one of these days; until I do, you'll have to content yourself with this self-portrait.

Athletics

    I grew up typecast as a "yeshiva bokher": a pale, scrawny boy forever involved in a book or other intellectual endeavor. I listened too hard to what other said about me, and foolishly saw myself that way.

    But in the last few years, I've discovered how much I like athletics. So when I have the time, I play racquetball, practice Hapkido (a Korean martial art) and do acrobatics.


This page was last updated on Friday, January 06, 2012 at 12:17am UTC. All contents copyright 2005 by Tom Geller.