Seven Things About Me (That You May Not Know)…

First of all, if you missed my Happy New Year 2009 video, well you can peek at it now.

In Starbucks with Wild Kids Loose

I was tagged by Nergiz Kern (aka Daffodil) my Second Life neighbor on Virtlantis Island, home of SLEnglish with Kip Yellowjacket. The task: to reveal 7 things about me that others in my PLN may not know. Most of you already know that I am Salty Saenz in Second Life and that I am creator of the Ning, Mexico English Teachers’ Alliance: META. I also blog about education and experiences in Mexico. But the following 7 things should help you to know me beyond these academic pursuits. My newest blog, Avatar Times, will be debuting soon.

Here are the rules:

  • Link your original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog.
  • Share seven facts about yourself in the post – some random, some weird.
  • Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs and/or Twitter.


So, here I go:

1. Career in Nuclear and Defense Programs
I am retired from the nuclear materials production programs for national defense (USA).
Most people that know me do know about my pre-retirement career. I have worked almost all of my professional life for the United States Department of Energy and the University of California … both are integral parts of the production of nuclear materials (uranium, plutonium and tritium) for the Defense Department. Having worked in these programs, I have been to all the defense production sites from the Naval Reactors sites to weapons production and surveillance to nuclear materials production … from Aiken, South Carolina, to Fernald, Ohio to Richland, Washington to Oak Ridge, Tennessee to Los Alamos, New Mexico to Livermore, California and more. Yes, I had a “Q” security clearance. For my last 10 years in the DOE family, I moved away from defense activities and worked on programs dealing with Earth and environmental sciences. So, perhaps I left a little more “green” and peaceful than I entered. I am now retired from the University of California.

2. Diversity Educator
I was born and grew up in Detroit in the 60s. The area is still somewhat racially segregated today, but not like it was then. Then, of course, there were the horrible race riots at the end of the 60s. I was 8 years old. My father was a taxi driver in Detroit during those days; and he took us through the city so that we could see history in the making. I saw with my own eyes what hatred and oppression can do. All the white people literally fled (called “white flight”) out of Detroit while it was burning and falling. Detroit has never really recovered. It is a city that burns down a little more each year on Devil’s Night. The burning and destruction and misery continue even today. I went to Fitzgerald High School exactly 1 mile from the Detroit city limit and I lived on the now famous 8 Mile (thanks to rapper Eninem), which is the city limit. One little mile from the Detroit city line and there were 0 black students in my school, although Detroit was 90% black. How was that possible? The answer is easy: discrimination and prejudice. Today when I looked up my old high school in Facebook, I was pleased to see that recent graduating classes are now racially mixed. But even so, the last time I was in the area, segregation on societal , economic and educational levels are still heavily ingrained there in 2009. Discrimination just goes a little further under the surface to do its evil. In a strange series of events, I became a diversity guru and educator in the middle- to late- 90s when HR was hot on this topic. With some colleagues, I coauthored a journal paper on diversity findings in the workplace and made recommendations to honor differences and boost productivity. That turned into a job traveling and facilitating workshops around the country for the USDOE/University of California. A lot of really screwed up things go on in workplaces, let me tell you! I was also the only Anglo-Saxon member of the UC’s Hispanic Diversity Working Group, selected by Hispanics.

3. Raised in a Foster Home
I didn’t know who my real parents were until I was 7 years old. My natural brother and I were raised in a foster home for 7 years, since 3-month’s old. During that time, we were never told the truth. Our foster parents posed as natural parents and even had our last names changed (in school records, not legally) to theirs. Life was normal for 7 years. Loving parents, tri-level suburban home, elementary school across the street, and church on the other side of the house next to ours. We were the “Stepford Children” in a way. We played in the backyard with neighbor kids, had fun with our dogs, went to church every Sunday, had dinner guests, just a normal Midwestern life in the suburbs. That soon ended the day that my brother and I were kidnapped by our biological mother (she died in 2004). Apparently, she still had legal custody all those years. She convinced our foster parents to let her take us out for the day just to go to a movie. We never returned home again. In one second, my name changed, my home changed, my family changed, my life changed, and my identity was turned upside down. I wasn’t really “me.” I learned then that EVERYTHING can change in an instant. How would your children feel if the same happened to them? My biological father and his wife, my stepmother, are super people. We have a great relationship still today. My foster mother died many years ago before I could find her and thank her for the values and foundations that she gifted me during my formative early years. I am who I am today in large part because of those 7 years; my personality, my disposition, my way of seeing things, etc. No matter how hard it was to go through that, I still have that gift with me today.

4. Animal Lover
I love animals, all animals. But I have a spiritual fondness and love for dogs (probably from my foster family). I have a sweet Corgi named “Amiga.” Many people here in Mexico find the name “Amiga” odd as they don’t use it for pets. “Amiga” is Spanish for “girl friend.” Just seemed like a natural fit to me. In the US, there are oodles of dogs named “Amigo” but for some cultural oddity you never hear “Amiga.” Well, now you have! You want to see me get upset and angry and violent (well, constructively violent)? Harm an animal in front of me and see what happens. Let me warn you. If you care for your own safety, don’t do it. I WILL respond and HAVE responded in the past. I have had dogs my entire life and even a spell with a Siamese cat that had no home. I don’t really like zoos too much; I don’t like that the animals are not free. But, hypocritically, I do go because I love to be near them. I always say, “dogs are such special people.”

5. 4-Year Music Scholarship
My younger brother played clarinet and he was a virtuoso. He drove himself to perfection. He was 1st-chair clarinet as long as I can remember: in grade school, in junior high, in high school, at Interlochen and later at Eastern Michigan University youth band. I was musical too, but somewhat in his shadow. Interestingly enough though, I went on to university on a 4-year music scholarship for saxophone and violin, both of which I played. I majored in music for 1 year then gave it up. I didn’t want to teach or compose, and I couldn’t see how I would survive in the field. I abandoned my right-brain predominance and took up boring accounting and graduated with a BS in Business Administration. Yuck! Now I had a career path and a respectable job in Management and Administration that I dutifully carried out until retirement. I betrayed my soul. But, I am still here .. and probably is the reason that I love working in education now. Working on honoring that right brain once again. Even though I played the tenor sax and the violin, they weren’t even my favorite instruments. I have always loved the oboe and the cello, and will until I die.

6. On Breathing
Please don’t refer to me as a nonsmoker. I really dislike being defined or labeled for something that I am not. It seems really stupid to me. If I am a nonsmoker, then I am also a nonsardine-eater, a nondiaper-wearer (at least for now) and on and on. I am a lot of nonthings, aren’t you too? Besides that I simply loath cigarettes and smoking of any kind. My mother died of emphysema at age 62 in 2004 and my aunt (her sister) died of lung complications at age 57 the same year. They both did a lot of damage to their bodies and loved ones with cigarettes, I’m afraid. And even though I was a Diversity Educator, I do discriminate. I do not have any close friends that smoke. I do not go to clubs. And, I hang out at Starbucks not for the coffee or music, I do so because smoking is not allowed and they DO enforce it. Incredible for Mexico, where smokers still do as they darn please. Just remember, someone may be a smoker, but I am NOT a nonsmoker.

7. Special Talents
Ok, now the weird stuff. I have some extraordinary talents that I want to come out of the closet with. Soon I will be uploading a video to YouTube of my Corgi and me singing duets. She loves to sing with her Daddy. She lets me take the lead while she does backup vocals. She is quite gifted, I am not. I never could sing, especially not at 8AM when my sight-singing teacher at college would hit a note on the piano and order me to sing number 8 on page 34. I am sorry, I can’t sing at 8PM, certainly not at 8AM when I am still asleep and my vocal cords are cold. Nonetheless, I do enjoy singing for pure pleasure with my doggie void of the pressures of academics. My other talent is that I can make the little toe on only my right foot dance. Yes, I said dance. All the other toes are perfectly still while the little one twists and turns and grooves to a beat. This must be a genetic deformation of sorts, as the only other person that I have ever seen do the same is my mother. When I have dared show anyone, they were stupefied by both the dexterity of my lil’ toe and the absurdity of it all. I have never be asked for an encore performance by anyone.

So, there you have it. Seven things or facts about me that you may not have known before (I have many more, trust me!). And now I will keep with the rules and tag the following 7 people from my Personal Learning Network: Sharon Elin, John Martin, Mindelei Wuori, Daniel Voyager, Maru del Campo, Larry Ferlazzo, & Dan Gross.


Enjoy, Frank (metaweb20 in Twitter)

11 thoughts on “Seven Things About Me (That You May Not Know)…

  1. Thanks for sharing. You have proven what I always tell my students…we all have our stories to tell.

  2. This was absolutely wonderful! You have certainly led an amazing life! And I think you are proof that you can be whatever you choose to be, regardless of how you grew up. Many of my students blame living with foster parents as a reason they can’t do the right thing but to have been kidnapped and have your whole world change could have given you a good excuse not to succeed. I love success stories like yours. Maybe someday I will get to see the “toe dance”!

  3. You had me in near tears and chuckling to myself. Thank you for sharing in such detail. Would you please also post to YouTube a shortie of the toe dancing? My little toe does quite a dance – but not solo.

  4. Wow, that was great. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself. I also don’t have any close friends that smoke. Here in NY it’s much easier to go out into smoke free environments though, it’s not even allowed in bars.

  5. Fascinating! The kidnapping part resonates – I teach in a low-income school, and it feels like we’re always working with someone’s restraining order or changed name. Glad to see you turned out to be a stable adult despite the trauma!

  6. Hello Frank from Sunny Melbourne, Australia . I was moved by your 7 things,particularly your third one about your foster family. You are a credit to them. I am relatively new to blogging and I’m only just making tentative steps into Twitter, Classroom 2.0 etc during my summer break.Everyone I have met so far is all about sharing and cooperation and I’m hoping we can get more of that happening in my school in 2009.I’d like to follow you.
    Yvonne Osborn

  7. Thanks for sharing, I learned a lot about you! I also don’t smoke. I tell people I live in the land of “no smoking” very few smoke here in Colorado.

  8. I’m going to be watching for those videos and I’m a lot of nonthings, also!

    I’m especially touched by the story of your youth. I have to wonder what that must have been like for your foster parents. Although they did something wrong, they obviously had loved you for 7 years and it must have been devastating to lose you. Your story would make an interesting book in perspectives.

  9. wow Frank you went through a lot and in some ways your life story matches mine. Really inspirational I would say, all those experiences got you stronger and made you the person you are today.

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