About Me

I'm Andy Schmitz. This is effectively a mixed dossier/notes on me, published because I find such details interesting when given by other people, so it seems appropriate to share my own information. I generally treat any of these details as public (given that this is, well, public), but I would appreciate them not being copied elsewhere. Rather, links to this page may be appropriate. This content may change from time to time.

Properties

Ethos

A man got to have a code.

- Omar Little, The Wire

(Under some definitions, this is pathos, being more personal and less communal. Other definitions would split those as happy/sad, which isn't a distinction that applies here. Words, eh?)

I like helping people. I intend to respect and accommodate everyone I can. I try to be prepared for most eventualities. I think it is generally important to do a good job at anything worth doing, but know that sometimes, a quick hack is more appropriate. I enjoy learning new things, often in detail. I would usually prefer to be the dumbest person in a room rather than the smartest. I tend toward archiving things where possible. I approach most things pragmatically, and try to avoid unnecessary pessimism.

Adjectives

In random order, I'm a person born I have apparently won every privilege lottery. I generally try to be aware of this, but occasionally lose sight of it. I have no problem with any of these attributes, but I do not identify strongly with any of them.

Communication

No one plays King David's harp anymore
No one composes essays on barefoot walks
No one praises the mango and the mess you make eating it
And that's why the world got so sad

- "First Things First", Naomi

In general, I enjoy communication with other people. However, my response time is highly variable, ranging from seconds to days (or even a week or more in some cases). I try to follow up with urgent issues quickly, but may plan to get to less urgent issues later, and occasionally forget them entirely. I will not be offended if you follow up with me to get a response, and doing so may even be necessary.

In general

It is probably appropriate to assume that I have an unusual collection of social skills: while I have tried to acquire and practice many of them, there are undoubtedly many I am missing. I will sometimes accidentally skip entire sections of a social script. (For example, I may simply leave a conversation without properly making goodbyes, or I may neglect to introduce people, etc.) Roughly none of this is intentional, but it may happen nonetheless. If it does, feel free to point it out, and I'll attempt to remember it for the future. I am usually capable of identifying and using overt sarcasm. However, in most types of communication, I frequently need things to be explained explicitly - rather than simply hinted at - for me to identify and understand them.

I will frequently interpret statements and questions literally, although if doing so makes little sense to me, I try to consider alternative intentions. Sometimes this works well, but often it doesn't, and it is usually easiest if questions and statements are worded accurately, and to a lesser extent, precisely. (They don't generally need to be lengthy, but saying things that are unintended confuses me.)

In person

In person, I will generally not look directly at people I am talking to for any extended period of time. As a practical matter, it is difficult for me to participate in more than two conversations at once. (Two also tends to require a fair amount of concentration.) I tend to be relatively comfortable in what would otherwise be considered "awkward situations". (I find it interesting that I may blush at the time, although I may or may not notice.) I think I do a reasonable job of reading social cues I'm aware of, but may miss several: these are among the sets of things I appreciate being made explicit.

On the other side of things, my expression tends to be relatively even, to the extent of having been referred to as a blunted (or occasionally even flat) affect. This is true at first glance, but I do tend to display a number of expressions, if somewhat more subtly than normal. Because this appears unnerving to some people, I make an effort to (in my opinion) over-exaggerate some such expressions. The extent to which I remember to do this appears to correlate with my comfort with the people immediately near me, which I don't quite understand.

Electronically

I often prefer electronic communication, as it provides several restrictions. Electronic communication tends to have a very limited set of social cues, and those that exist are generally quite explicit. Additionally, electronic communication usually gives a chance to receive communication, consider it, and then draft and revise a response. This is much better for me than requiring either extended pauses or blurting the first thing that comes to mind in person. There are several types of conversations that I much prefer to have electronically for these reasons.

Phones

Phones are interesting, as one of the only real-time, guaranteed-delivery communications media available to most people. If someone calls my personal phone number, I will generally answer if my current situation makes that socially acceptable, regardless of whether or not I recognize the phone number. If you have my phone number (or other contact information), I would appreciate you not giving it to anyone unless they already have access to it or you ask me. (In particular, I have a separate number for people I don't know (or expect to know) personally, which is largely relevant in work contexts.)

Emergency Communication

I have one or more emergency phone numbers. If you have one of those phone numbers, that is a number I will answer, whether socially acceptable or not. That's a number you can call if you're being booked after a protest; that's a number you can call if you find yourself in an unfriendly city without a plan. An emergency number will ring my phone even if other numbers won't, and should be able to wake me up. If I am temporarily using a different phone, an emergency number should forward to it. If I am entirely inaccessible, it may forward to other people I trust to handle issues appropriately. If all that fails, it will accept a voicemail message which I will treat as urgent as soon as I am able to receive it. There are also ways to get my attention over anything else verbally. If you believe either may be appropriate, let me know.

Security

I prefer encrypted communications, particularly for anything sensitive. Signal and OTR key fingerprints are available at https://keys.lardbucket.org.

Language

I am fluent in English, and use that language for almost all of my communication. From time to time, I have passing interests in other languages, but none significant enough to converse reliably. I'm generally verbose, but occasionally laconic. Beyond that, I have a number of language quirks I'm aware of:

Secrecy and Trust

This letter was meant for your eyes
Destroy it and then just go hide
You're the only thing left
That makes any sense
Please don't blow it

- "Prayer for the Paranoid", Mojave 3

Privacy

I am a very private person by default. While in some cases, I share a significant amount (to wit, this page), in most cases, I err on the side of not revealing information. I am frequently not opposed to sharing information that is specific to me in cases where it won't cause problems (for example, I prefer to not make information about upcoming extended trips public, but have no problem discussing them in retrospect), but I am particularly concerned about revealing other peoples' information, even inadvertently.

To that end, my general understanding with people I talk with is as follows:

I would appreciate being treated in a similar manner.

Trust

Beyond assuming that most people don't wish to do grievous bodily harm to me, I generally trust most people less than others appear to. It is relatively difficult to gain my trust, and easy to lose it along the way. Once I trust someone, however, that trust tends to be somewhat resilient.

Work

I do application security consulting at my job. Usually I can talk about some generic things, and occasionally we produce public reports (both at the request of customers and as a result of research), but I generally can't talk about my work beyond that.

Relationships

Loved ones, loved ones visit the building
Take the highway, park and come up and see me
I'll be working, working but if you come visit
I'll put down what I'm doing, my friends are important

- "Don't Worry About the Government", Talking Heads

For one reason or another, I have generally not had typical romantic relationships, instead maintaining a number of friendships. (I'm not actively opposed, but romantic relationships haven't been something I've pursued.)

Friends

The meaning of friendship appears to vary significantly from culture to culture. Unfortunately, this means that the meaning of "friend" is ambiguous. I personally tend toward a very restrictive definition of "friend", meaning less "social acquaintance" and more "person I would prioritize over all others, frequently including myself". This isn't a label I use lightly, and generally requires some nontrivial consideration. Unfortunately, this occasionally leads to much consternation among people, particularly if I have to think about the proper term for them.

The people I identify as friends are people I will almost certainly follow with little prompting, and trust more or less completely. They may make mistakes, but I don't expect that those would change my opinion of them. (This maps closely to what the Wikipedia calls "unconditional love", although that's not a term I'd use.) This combined with other personality traits means that the group of people I consider friends is relatively small. While I enjoy making new friends, doing so is almost always an extraordinarily slow process.

However, in conversational use with people I don't know well, or in groups where other definitions appear to be expected, I may refer to a much larger set of people as friends, ranging from "someone I know well and have a generally positive impression of" to "someone I don't actively dislike, and may remember the name of".

Good People

While not strictly a relationship, I (very) occasionally identify some people as "good people". These are people who appear to nearly always make decisions that have a positive impact on people around them. Similar to friends (and there is overlap), these are people I have significant respect for, and it takes a long time for me to be willing to make such a determination. (While the phrase has significant meaning to me, it is also a phrase that can be used inadvertently. If I've meant to use it with you, you'll probably know.) Compared to friends, this is a group of people I may or may not have an ongoing relationship with, but that I highly respect nonetheless.

Miscellanea

Such a pretty thing
A white balloon on a string
It floats above my head
Filled with stuff I should have said

- "Thought Balloon", Freezepop

Emotions

For entertainment, try asking people you consider friends to define "happy" without being circular. It often leads to interesting conversations, but rarely is anyone able to satisfactorily define the emotion. (If they can't define "happy", try "sad", but once again without having any part of the definition rely on "sad" or "happy". Generally similar results, but differently interesting.) Similarly, I can recognize a smallish set of positive or negative emotions, but this is inevitably easiest in retrospect. It would therefore not be accurate to say that I don't experience them, but more that I tend to be less affected by them than most people appear to be. I can recognize strong forms of another set of emotions (annoyance, anger, stress) by their effects as they are happening (although not without noticing or looking for those effects), and where possible I generally attempt to moderate them. If you notice me displaying any particular emotions, I would be interested to know, and get a bit more information.

Contingencies

I like to be prepared for things. (Surprises are occasionally welcome, but only occasionally.) For example, I generally carry a number of small tools, bandages, and so on. This number goes up drastically if I am carrying one of my backpacks, and my car has yet more supplies. I tend to identify and memorize exits on my way through buildings. My general goal in planning tends to be the ability to get out of an unwanted situation and stabilize whatever is going on, but to then defer to more specialized people (doctors, police, etc.), not to carry an entire field hospital around with me (besides, I lack appropriate knowledge to do much beyond stabilization). While more extreme plans (QuikClot/naloxone/etc.) tend to be more entertaining to people, I prefer more basic plans: for example, my backpacks contain Sharpies and detergent pens, which are more commonly useful.

Foods

I am a very idiosyncratic eater. I will try most foods once, but tend to prefer simple foods with straightforward textures and flavors. (I've been told I "hate flavor" or "hate good foods", which isn't correct, but isn't a terrible first approximation for most people's understandings, either.) Strong flavors or unexpected textures will tend to make foods undesirable, as will most sauces. Things that are salty, sweet, or possess the right combination of fat and an additional flavor tend to be good, while bitter or sour things tend to be less welcome. (The third type could be described as "umami" or "savory", but the typical examples of fish sauce or soy sauce are unpleasant.) Breads and bread-like products (pasta, bagels, donuts, pizza) are all typically good. Cilantro / coriander tastes bitter and soapy to me. I tend to have enough of a routine to do so, but I occasionally need to remember to eat.

Follow-up

If you found this document interesting and have any feedback, let me know. (For a variety of reasons, I don't have contact information here right now, but it shouldn't be too hard to contact me nonetheless.) If you decide to publish something similar, even if much shorter (this document is far longer than I expected when I started), I would also be interested in seeing it.

Changelog