Here's a quick overview of the most important dates in my life:

1969  I was born in Stockton, CA, a Central Valley town best known as the asparagus capital of the world, the birthplace of Duraflame logs, California Coolers, and Maxine Hong Kingston, and the second-least attractive place to live in the Central Valley (after Fresno).
1974  I began school at Davis Elementary School - and didn't realize that the future members of Pavement were just a couple of years behind me - Cole Drive was just a few blocks west. It's odd to think we may have played the same instruments in band (me, I played saxophone and piano at the time).
1981  In the fall, I began junior high school at Lodi Senior Elementary, Lodi, CA. This wasn't a particularly thrilling experience - I'd spend up to two hours a day on the bus getting there and back, and all of my friends from elementary school stayed in Stockton at a much closer school. A classic case of busing gone wrong. 
1983  In the fall, I moved to Pebble Beach, CA, to begin school at the Robert Louis Stevenson School. RLS is a small, private, prep school. This is where I learned that, although there were some kids who were there for the academics, many of the students were there just because their parents had a lot of money. See the movie Traffic for a few scenes ripped straight from RLS life.
1985  During my sophomore year, I got a great idea: become an exchange student! I'd excelled at languages, and was dying to learn a new one. On my application, I wrote that AFS could send me "anywhere that doesn't speak German"; I suggested Yugoslavia, or perhaps Finland. By late summer, I had moved to Essen, Germany. I had a blast due to a great host family. I'm still puzzled as to why they asked you where you wanted to go - the other exchange student from my high school had always wanted to go to France - so they send him to Drummondville, Quebec, Canada. Yikes!
1987  Mind you, I was never a good student. I may have learned a lot - ask me about my AP scores - but I was not a good student. As a result, the only college that would have me was the University of California at Berkeley. (Their admissions process is largely done by computer, adding up test scores and giving extra credit for AP courses. As a result, not only was I admitted, but I didn't even have any courses to take before graduating - did I mention my AP scores?)

At Berkeley, I signed up for Internet access: worked for a few months, until I realized I couldn't afford it - it was costing me at least $60 a month, and I was flat broke!

1988  Foothill College, the community college in Los Altos, California, used to have a crotchety old professor named Günter Seefeld working there. His specialty was a summer program that sent college students to Europe to work easy jobs at decent wages, giving the locals a chance take the entire summer off for vacation. My job was in St. Gallen, Switzerland (actually Abtwil), where I worked as a sauna attendant and lifeguard at the Säntispark. I relished the small turquoise shorts I was required to wear, and I lost a lot of weight (as I couldn't afford to eat much at Swiss prices). I even almost slept with a fellow Bear for the first time, but I didn't realize what was going on until it was too late. Ah, youth.

During the summer, I had several 5-day mini-vacations; I visited London, some of Switzerland, and spent some time in the GDR, staying in the Jugendtouristenhotel Großdeuben, near Leipzig. For better or worse, I have always been fascinated by all things Socialist. Sadly, much of my booty from that trip has gone missing over the years; all that I have left is one tube of Putzi, a kind of children's toothpaste. It still smells like American toilet cleaner, by the way.

1989  Once again, my less than stellar grades prevented me from doing a year abroad with UC. However, I had read that two American universities offered semesters in the GDR. One of the two, Antioch College, accepted me in their program. However, due to the deteriorating political situation in the GDR, I never did make it to Rostock. Instead, I moved to Tübingen (in the West) for one year to continue my work towards a degree in German literature. I even taught German as a second language for one semester. Fun!
1990 After the first semester, I took an eight-week job with Daimler-Benz in Sindelfingen, where I assembled some components of a right front S-class door on the production line. For the first and last time in my life, I was ripped - that goes with repeated heavy lifting.

When I got my first paycheck from Daimler, I realized that it would be possible for me to quit school, get a refund from Antioch for the second semester, and go travelling, which I promptly did. I spent time in Vienna, Budapest, and Berlin before returning home in the late summer.

Back at Berkeley, I moved in with a friend and promptly began my first relationship of sorts, with a handsome graduate student named Joe. We were a bad match - I'm not a Marxist, don't smoke, and strongly prefer bearded men - but you gotta start somewhere! On the academic front, I discovered that I'm not very good at dead languages, failing my first course at Berkeley (Old English; thankfully, the professor was kind and let me retake the final after additional study, and I did yet pass). I had better luck with Middle High German and Old Norse, but even so, phew, get me back to the 21st century!

1991 That first relationship ended fairly quickly, but I did meet up with Mark, a rugby player and fraternity president. That was fine, even if he wasn't a Bear - I was happy to get him off to a good start. I did enjoy being called "Hairy Chris" by his frat brothers, if anything. :) We lived together until 1994, and I was happy to see him start dating a wonderful man named Paul.

I'd also started working at the student union store to get more money for books and CDs; by late 1991, I'd become manager of Bear Bytes, the campus software store. That was a fine thing; I used to wear my Bear Magazine T-shirt to work and hope someone would pick up on it. Sadly, this only happened once, and then the other person was with another professor, and couldn't stop to talk. Sigh.

1992  Graduated from UC with a BA in German and English; left the next week for a long car trip to Dallas (via Utah's national parks) and back. At Capitol Reef, I noticed for the first time that marmots are wonderfully handsome creatures; I fell in love with them.

When I got back home to Oakland (I moved out of my apartment in Berkeley at the beginning of the summer), I took a temporary position at CompUSA... 

1993  ... which turned into a full-time position as manager of the Mac retail sales department. Now, I'm not sure what your college experience was, but at Berkeley, there was no career counseling whatsoever. I had to eat - I wasn't about to live off my parents - so I did what I could. The only good thing about the job was that I did meet some interesting folks working the retail floor, such as Pascal, who was town for Bear Expo, and Joe, who wanted to buy a IIvx, but who wound up becoming the first Bear I ever dated (if only briefly).
I can't remember exactly how, but I'd become fairly familiar with the Bears by the beginning of 1994; heck, I'd even visited Bear Expo in '93 and '94 and had been subscribed to the BML for a while. Somehow or other, I was lucky to move in with my friends Brian and Dan; we all rented a place in Belmont, and this was a damn sight more interesting than Oakland. I'd originally met Brian at a Bear Hug party in The City - back in the early '90s, these were held about once a month. Mark had asked me to go, so I did; the second time I went, it was a BML event, back in late '93 or so (I think; I'd have to ask Brian Gollum when exactly that was). Went with my then-boyfriend but wound up chatting up Brian, who wouldn't play because his then-boyfriend didn't want him to. Even back in '93, we only ever used E-mail, to give you an idea of the history here. I think my handle was (yuck, but that's all that was available). also worked, as did (I was using a battered demo Centris 610 back in those days). Anyhow, we all carpooled to Denver in my then-new Saturn to go to Octobearfest, and a few weeks later, we were all living together. (I'll never forget Brian sleeping in the back of the car with a Taco John's cup at his feet.)

One of the great things about meeting Brian and Dan was this: they realized I was pretty good at computer stuff in general, and Dan kindly arranged an interview at Claris towards the end of the year. By November, I had been hired as a FileMaker Pro support technician. Within a few months, I realized that I was in fact really good at this stuff, and wrote the definitive reference guide to FileMaker Pro networking, complete with horrible sections such as assigning LANA numbers and resolving incompatible IPX frame types. Yuck.

I'm still not entirely certain how this came to be, but by the summer of 1995 Dan and I had somehow become something a bit more than roommates. Due to circumstances beyond our control (ie, the landlady from Hell), we had to move out, and the two of us rented a small place in The City. This would be the first and only time I'd live there. It was okay, but frankly the cold, the trash, the homeless, and most of all the unrelenting gayness of it all just got to me. By early 1996, we'd moved to Mountain View (thanks to John for putting us up at his house for a couple of weeks in between!). At this point it seemed like we were probably fixing to spend our lives together, which still makes me happy.

1997  At Claris, I eventually became the administrator of a bunch of NT servers, an occasional translator of publications (into German), and the resident Windows guru (or 'DOS bigot' depending on whom you ask). This wasn't such a bad gig. By the end of 1995, I had moved over to the training department, and spent time giving workshops on FileMaker network architecture, and even traveled to the UK in 1996. That suited me fine, but my boss Tony was, ahem, irritating, so I switched to the QA department by the end of 1996. In 1997, I shipped FileMaker Pro Server for Windows NT, which is, in a sense, my first completed project.

Dan, in the meantime, had been working at Microsoft for some time (his departure at Claris had enabled me to take his position in QA). John (and others at Microsoft) had begun buying houses, and soon enough, Dan started thinking about that as well.

In early 1997, our mutual friend Anthony called us up to let us know about a house he thought we might like, just around the corner from him in San José. Although we hadn't seriously started house-hunting, the sight of this house spurred us to action. By April, we'd moved in. It's still as wonderful as it seemed the first time we saw it - although now that we've remodeled the meth lab (we turned it back into a garage) it's frankly much nicer here.

I made a brief hop over to Germany around Thanksgiving - actually, I met up with my geologist buddy Mike in Amsterdam, and we passed through Brussels on our way to Paris. After an, ahem, exciting night in Paris (I made the mistake of going home with someone, and when I tried to sneak out in the middle of the night, I found that the apartment building's doors required a key even when exiting; let's just say I eventually found a way out...), I then headed up to Cologne to attend the Bears' weekend there, which is (and was) wonderful.


Surprisingly, Claris Corp. was turned into FileMaker, Inc. early in the year. The entire company - save for those of us who worked on FileMaker - was laid off. By the end of summer, it was clear that the old Claris ways were well-entrenched (I had hopes of FileMaker becoming a more modern, Windows-oriented software company, but Jobs' return didn't bode well for the future, even if the developers had already revamped FileMaker to look like the long lost database component of Office, and the marketers had started to position it as such), and it was time for me to leave. By the end of July, I had changed jobs and found myself working at Netscape. I experienced my first re-org just a few weeks later and the company was sold to AOL by the end of the year.

Dan and I traveled to Cologne, Gothenburg, Helsingborg, and Stockholm, all in the space of ten days. Bad move: you just can't relax on a 10-day vacation that hops all over Scandinavia.

1999  This was a slow year. I survived further layoffs at Netscape, and spent most of the year filing bug after bug against Netscape 5.0, most of which were promptly ignored, many of which were marked as duplicates of bugs that other people filed a year or so later, which (surprise!) ticked me off.

In November, Dan and I took off for Chile, where we had an absolute blast. Between Christmas and New Year's, I hopped over to Amsterdam and Kiel to do some shopping (think all kinds of tacky Y2K merchandise!), and made it home in time to spend New Year's Eve at home with close friends - and seven bottles of sparkling wine.

2000 By the end of January, I had returned to working on Communicator 4.7x due to exasperation with the state of things in the 5.0 world. It's hard being a Windows kind of guy in a Linux-infested workplace, and it's even harder when you think you should add features that corporations will pay money for, and not useless crap like "skinnability" (yawn). Whatever.

Shortly after I left the 5.0 project, its version number was changed to 6.0, most likely in hopes of appearing somehow competitive with MSIE 5.0. Shades of Spinal Tap - "hey, our browser goes to 6!". In November, Netscape 6 shipped, and was greeted by a collective "so what?". Perhaps it had something to do wtih the presidential election?

In late August, Dan and I travelled to the North Island of New Zealand. In November, we travelled to London and Paris with our friends Dan and Matthew. And, finally, we spent time in Amsterdam and Kiel in late December.

2001 In April, I returned to the Netscape 6 development team, taking over the ECMA compliance JavaScript test position. Uh, wait, no. That position was cut due to weird shenanigans between iPlanet, Sun, and AOL. Fuckers. Instead, I took over managerial responsibilities for Communicator 4.x QA. Not as glamorous or as interesting, to be sure!

On August 3, 2001, I left my job at Netscape. This was actually a very pleasant event as my coworkers bought a bunch of wine and the cafeteria manager even made one of my favorite dishes (wild mushroom risotto with steak) to celebrate my departure. They say it just won't be the same without me, and I think they're right. I wish everyone still working on Netscape 6 all the best.

Until March 2003, I'm on sabbatical. From August to the end of 2001, I'll be in Europe and California on and off. I'm writing, walking, quieting down. So far, so good!

For the first time in ten years, I'll be trying very hard not to attend any Bear events - I'm just tired of the whole thing. It was fun when I was 21, but now that I'm pushing 32, it just ain't the same.

Wait, I lied. I went to events in both Orlando, FL and Cologne, Germany this year. Oops.

2002 Spent nine months on the road in Australia - easily the biggest trip of my life so far. I'd do it again in a heartbeat, but it's going to take another ten years to save up for it!
2003 As of late January, I started working at FileMaker again. In my absence, they shipped a bunch of compelling upgrades and won a lot of awards - for example, they won the PC Magazine Editor's Choice award for Best Personal Database in January 2003. Cool!

Dan started working at Microsoft again in March, so I followed him to Redmond. We bought a house in the countryside with 5+ acres; I started working at Microsoft in April. Life continues to be good.

I'm one of those people you may have met and detested in college - you know, the ones who speak a foreign language and will tell you how much better public transport is and how everything is so much cleaner in foreign country X. (In my case, Germany.) However, I vehemently deny ever having worn a beret, smoked Gauloises, or listened to Stereolab. (I smoked Roth-Händles and listed to Cabaret Voltaire, actually.)

One of my favorite things to do is to waste time reading schedules - I love to travel. When I'm daydreaming, I think about taking a year off and travelling the world - or at least buying a 1-year pass for the Deutsche Bahn and riding every train in the schedule. If I hadn't happened across employment in the computer industry, I would ideally have become a gate agent, train conductor, or tour guide ("On your left, please note what locals refer to as The Turd - actually, it's a statue of Quetzalcoatl, and no, I'm not sure what Aztec mythology has to do with San José, but there you go"). If you can offer me a job where I get to speak more than 3 languages and have to travel extensively, I will take it sight unseen.

I also spend an inordinate amount of time listening to CDs (in my case, from Aphex Twin to Frank Zappa with a very special layover at the Max Tundra stop). I'm always happy to discuss what when wrong with the Melvins after the release of 'Houdini', the pros and cons of admitting to liking the Pet Shop Boys, and what Beck is singing about exactly. I've also amassed fairly complete collections of Severed Heads, Atom&trade, Max Tundra, and a bunch of other obscurities; if there's something you're looking for that is no longer commercially available, I do have a CD burner and might be able to make you a copy. Music From The Knee Plays, anyone?

I also continue to spend time reading. Currently, I'm reading Mason and Dixon - and I'm still disappointed that it sucks so hard. Ah well. :)

This page is ©1998-2003, Christopher Pratt. Last edited on 07/16/2003 19:33 .