About Me

[Contact info is here.]

[Darren Paul Griffith mugshot] The Mad Philosopher is Darren Paul Griffith. I’ve had an online presence since about 1994, starting with a .plan file, and eventually opening up to the World Wide Web with a homepage in May 2000. I remember the first time I requested a document from Brazil using Gopher over the Internet in 1994. It was the same thrill I experienced the first time I used a cell phone and talked to my mother from a moving vehicle. Amazement. Nowadays, documents, movies, and entire operating systems cross the globe routinely. And I can call my mother from Tiananmen Square. Tomorrow, even, if I want to.

Wrapped up in this online project of mine—the weblog, and the various parts that make up the rest of the website—is my continual quest for knowledge, a desire to communicate, the chance to share tools and ideas, and the documentation of my life (both the real and the virtual). The weblog is a tool I can use to keep in touch with friends near and far, and the commenting feature is an invitation to bring strangers into the conversation.

Here’s a long—if not entertaining—bio.

I am born on a cold January 16th morning, at 7:01 a.m. Mountain Standard Time, at the Salvation Army Grace Hospital in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Grace Hospital no longer exists. I’m still here, however. My parents once told me that they got me second-hand from the Salvation Army, implying that they could give me back one day as well. It turns out they keep me after all. I am a good bargain, I think.
My earliest memory comes from the week that Elvis dies (August 16). Not that I remember that. But at the time, I am with my family in Denver, Colorado, at a business convention my Dad is attending. What I do remember is my family eating at a restaurant of a hotel, where the tables are on the second-floor balcony overlooking the hotel’s pool down below. A young man is providing entertainment by diving from the balcony into the pool. My sister and I are drinking chocolate milk. Yum!
Speaking of early memories, here are two more. While using the toilet at home in Edmonton, a button comes off my overalls and falls in the toilet bowl. I cry at the trauma. Sometime later that year, I electrocute myself by using a stainless steel butter knife to pry off the child safety cover that is over the outlet. I am a continual victim of irony ever since.
My family moves to Camrose, a small city (12,500 population back then, and probably the same now) an hour away from Edmonton. I ride with my Dad in the big U-Haul truck. My family eats a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken in the middle of the empty living room of the new house. I join Kindergarten for half a day each day. I discover girls and the distinction between the popular kids and me. I kiss my first girl. My teacher wants to fail me after the first term—she can’t keep me interested in learning stuff I already know. I just want to play. It turns out I’m the same way now. Except now, learning is play.
My friend Josh Seib and I type computer programs into his Commodore Vic 20 from a book. We don’t realize the difference between the letter “O” and the number “0”. Our programs fail to run.
I preach my first sermon. On the playground. Kids who are listening to me start punching each other since I’m reading the “turn the other cheek” passage from Luke. I learn not to take the Bible so literally that day. My best friend Scott Crabbe and I have our own Stand by Me (1986) experience with a train on the train trestle outside of town. When we jump off the tracks, I go one way and Scott goes the other. I wonder if he makes it, and I can’t know until the train passes. He makes it.
My family moves back to Edmonton, and the memories of all the kids with whom I spent the last three years in school are cemented in my mind. Their memories of me and each other blur and fade, since they stay in the same town and the same school, blending year into year. I still remember them all.
Several best friends from my Grade 7 class betray me. One of them ends up in my Honours Math class at university in 1993. He drops out. Four years later, I graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Honours Mathematical Physics. I feel vindicated. I buy a 300-baud modem for my Commodore 128 from a computer magazine for $75 CDN. I ask around at various computer stores for phone numbers to local BBSes. They don’t have any. My father sets me up with a family friend, Joe Vance, who gets me “the list”. I join the online world of modeming.
I read my first real book: How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Fall of Western Thought and Culture, by Francis A. Schaeffer (1976). The copy is a keepsake from my paternal grandmother. I become a reader from that day onward.
I enter High School at Jasper Place Composite High School in Edmonton. It feels like summer camp. I have the potential to make 2,200 new friends. I almost succeed. My favourite activity is walking around the miles of hallways at lunchtime greeting people that I know. Mr. Petersen (Norm!) thinks that Chris Curtis and I are plotting to take over the world.
I graduate, but before I do, my electronics buddies and I wire up an amplifier to the school’s PA system [à la Pump up the Volume (1990)] and play Wierd Al’s “Smells Like Nirvana” during exam time. The school rocks.
I enter the University of Alberta. I kiss my first girl, this time for real. I discover Unix, and a love relationship develops that outlasts any girlfriend so far.
My parents’ best friends Debbie and Terry are in a bad accident on the highway. Terry is killed. Debbie stays in a coma for a while. Through a miracle, she recovers completely after her brain surgery and starts a new life.
Timothy McVeigh blows up the Oklahoma City Federal Building. I take a summer Fellowship in Waco, Texas. I visit the “museum” at the Branch Davidian compound. I find my housing in Waco and a friend, Tommy Pophin, through the Compuserve network.
I join a weed-whacking crew and cut the city grass as my summer job. I pretend that I and my fellow weed-whackers are U.S. infantry soldiers during the Vietnam War, and that our truck is a Huey helicopter taking us out on search-and-destroy missions. It’s a fantasy that helps ease the unpleasantness of humping a weed-whacker all day. “I love the smell of cut grass in the morning!”
I convocate from the University of Alberta. My socks and my shoes are soaking wet as I walk across the stage to receive my degree—there is a rainstorm that morning and I am traveling by motorcycle. I go to seminary in Cochrane, Alberta, after graduation.
A year of pure hell. I drop out of seminary after barely finishing the first year. I never want to go back to Cochrane again. I move back in with my parents in Edmonton to lick my wounds and to help my mother take care of my father.
I have a one-day fling with an actress named Sara. When we say goodbye, she blesses my forehead between the eyes. I suffer much anguish for this decision. My father is absolutely blown-away that he can ice skate. With the Alzheimer Disease, he forgets that he knows how.
Michelle and I celebrate the new Millennium in front of a fire in the woods, far from the maddening crowd. To our surprise, the world does not end. Eighteen days later, a heart attack cures my father of his Alzheimer Disease. When a family friend, Bruce Dean, shows a video clip of his laughing face at the funeral, I wail in grief.
Well-coordinated terrorists crash hi-jacked airplanes into several political targets in the U.S. The effect is more than they could have planned for. I hide in my bed for completely unrelated reasons. The skies over my town are finally quiet for about two days, and I love it. I struggle to finish my Master’s degree.
I succeed. I get on a plane and move to China. During the trip, I read a book on Hinduism. Go figure. I discover Jazz music.
I start Swing Dancing with a group here in China. Swing becomes my life.
I meet my Tchou Tchou and she makes me happy. Karmic sparks—both good and bad—fly everywhere.
My Mom happily gets remarried to a wonderful man. My father sends me a personal message to give his approval.
I leave academics for a new career as a Linux Systems Administrator. It’s what I’m built for. I start at Exoweb, an amazing company of exceptionally smart and open people. Leading up to this, I begin using Debian GNU/Linux on my server, which segues perfectly into joining Exoweb. My sister comes to visit me in Beijing, and her presence reveals to me that I’m ready to leave my current relationship. I don’t for another year.
My relationship with Swing Beijing! all but dies as my relationship with Tchou Tchou comes to an end. I choose to leave. I rediscover my inner voice. I renew my relationship with the Tea House and start a Dream Group there. I take a spiritual pilgrimage to the Siffleur Wilderness Area to be alone with Spirit for 10 days in the wilderness. Soon after, I am ejected permanently from China.
I begin a new life in Edmonton, waiting to see what will happen. Things happen. I start teaching Swing again. I start a new love relationship with Teresa. I am drawn to a spiritual community that I call home. There, I begin to practice New Thought. I find a good job in High Level and learn what it means to be a Northern Albertan. Teresa and I marry, and a new adventure begins.
The story continues. Check back here for more to come…