Guard your honor. Let your reputation fall where it will. And outlive the bastards.
Lord Aral Vorkosigan, _A Civil Campaign_
Tell my tale to those that ask... tell it truly, the evil deeds along with the good, and let me be judged accordingly. The rest... is silence.
Dinobot, _Code of Hero_

It can be a tricky job to describe me to one who hasn't met me, or even to one that has met me but wants to learn more. Back in 1993, when I wrote the first version of this page, this was a major issue to me; now, while a lot of this information is covered by sites like Facebook, I still feel like having a central source of information is more useful.

How do you expect to fight for someone else when you don't even know **who you are**?
Sebastian, _Comes the Inquisitor_
We are **all** Kosh.
Ulkesh, _Walkabout_

Who is Skirv?

Physical Traits

  • Sex: Male
  • Race: Caucasian, of indeterminate/varied country. I'm not sure there's a more descriptive color than "white".
  • Age: 31, last I checked in. This new wiki system doesn't let me use my old script to keep it updated anymore...
  • Height: 5'10" - average amongst men, taller than most women.
  • Weight: 16 stone - a bit overweight, mostly just out of shape.
  • Hair: Dark Brown, with a full beard (the kind that most game systems have a hard time believing in, it seems). It suits me.
  • Eyes: Blue, behind glasses - which is sad, because my eyelashes rule.
  • Clothing Style: generally, cargo pants and a t-shirt with a geeky or otherwise strange slogan on it. If it's at all cold, I'm also probably wearing a Pendleton shirt.
  • Piercings: none. I've been cut into enough in my life, I don't really want to do it to myself voluntarily.

Past that, I'm very bad at describing myself. There are a fair number of pictures of me up at Flickr, which might help.

Mental Traits

  • Occupation: sysadmin and software developer. I actually am a pretty good mix of both, and the job defines me to a great degree.

  • Relationship Status: taken (and not looking). I appreciate women with willpower, intelligence, morality, and their act together. I've found that in Rebecca, and frankly, I'm really proud of that.

  • Sexuality: Heterosexual. Please don't be homophobic around me, it really ticks me off.
  • Politics: libertarian (small-'l'), more-or-less. I'm certainly socially liberal, and fairly economically conservative. I tend to identify with the Democratic party more than anybody else lately, but that doesn't mean that I'm not embarrassed of them as well. I would love to join a "Libertarian-Lite" party someday, where people with my leanings could work together and not be total twits.
  • Education: Bachelors in Computer Engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
    It was a great program at a great school, and I honestly can't imagine having gone anywhere else. Of course, what I really got out of college was a social life and an idea of my place in the universe, but I think that's what college is really all about.
  • Eating Habits: omnivore. I really like meat.
  • Personality Type: somewhere in between INTJ and ENTJ. Intuitive, Thinking, and Judging are consistent; but it's hard to say if I'm introverted or extroverted.
  • Religion: atheist. I don't think that there's a higher being out there, although I readily admit that there are benefits to acting like there is.


There are really two types of first impression one can get of me, based on setting and mood. The first, which manifests itself mostly at work, in email, and online, is that I am a quiet, efficient person that knows his stuff but generally wants to stay out of the way. I am, however, direct and to the point, and very good at figuring out your problems and helping with them.

The second type of first impression, which manifests itself in more social situations where I'm actively comfortable, is a much more gregarious one. I seem to be a quirky and extremely opinionated, with a penchant for telling stories and informing everybody exactly what I think of them and my surroundings. At the very least, I seem to be extremely assertive, either actively confusing or just thinking along completely different lines than everyone else. To top it off, I display a definite tendency to obsess over minutiae. But I'm clearly not mean or hurtful.

Neither impression really covers me adequately. Even the combination doesn't really cover it.


I care immensely about my own personal sense of honor and fair play. Much of my personality falls from this.

In social situations, I am either a wallflower or a leader; rarely am I somewhere in between, at least for long. Until I am comfortable with a group, I will sit silently in the back and either observe or do my own thing; but once I'm there, I will cheerfully bring new people into the group and take care of anybody in the group. My loyalty, once earned, stays earned; and this extends to both those leading me and those that I feel I must take care of.

I can be ridiculously assertive, and stubborn to a fault if it looks like I'm going to need to be to defend my sense of honor. If there is a right thing to do, I will do it, even at a strong cost to myself; this often resembles me not adequately "choosing my battles", but it's worked out okay so far. It's also not necessarily obvious to others what I'm going to consider "right", though I find that frustrating. I do right by my friends. I will not tell a lie if there's a chance that someone will believe me. I won't hurt anyone unless they've hurt me first, and even then it's rare. I rarely curse. My sense of obligation is strong. And this oddly serious side of me is incredibly obvious after a little while.

Generally, the "quiet, unassuming worker" aspect of my personality is ascendant. As long as I am allowed to sit back and do my job, I will just sit back and do my job - at least until something gets in my way. If something threatens my work, though, I will start trying to take over in order to fix the problem; and if somebody tries to interfere with my work, then I will do what I have to go in order to get them off my back. Until then, though, I'll just stay out of the way and fulfill my obligations - hard work and mild detachment.

That at least offers a few views on how I think and act. But honestly, I'm probably worse at describing my personality than my appearance...


  • I'm extremely direct and to-the-point; I like getting to the point right away, if I want my point to be figured out. On the other hand, if I don't want to be figured out, or if I only want to be figured out over time, I'm convoluted as hell.

  • I'm honest to an outright fault. While this doesn't mean that I won't mislead or just make stuff up, it does mean that I will not intentionally make somebody believe a lie. This even extends to hiding aspects of the truth, as evidenced by the size and content of the page.

  • Thanks to a brain that loves to connect the most unconnected events, my sense of humor is horribly, horribly twisted (but not all that sick). Still, the connections are there, if you know where to look. In college, I was able to express this by being in an improv comedy troupe; I don't have a good outlet for that anymore.

  • I rarely forgive, but I am extremely accepting of actions around me and I have a tendency to ignore anything bad against me. So while it may be hard to get off my bad side once you're there without a lot of time, it's hard to get on my bad side in the first place.

  • I tend to speak a bit too fast and slur my speech accordingly. I've gotten much better in the last few years, admittedly, but I still find it fun to get things out so much faster than most people even if nobody can understand me.

  • When I obsess over something, I obsess over it a lot. This usually leads to me having large collections of stuff, learning completely new skills in short periods of time, and writing really large web pages on a whim.

  • I don't like chocolate. Really. I do offer exceptions for chocolate mints, Snickers Bars, Peanut M&M's, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, but that's about it.

  • I very rarely curse. "Bitch" and "Bastard" are okay, since they've got very specific meanings that have fit into my necessary vocabulary too many times in the past, and I'm okay with the more mainstream things you can say on kiddie TV, but other than that I just avoid it. For that matter, I generally say "Gods" instead of "God".

  • I am half Vorlon and half Shadow. I am half Cat, half Usenet. I am half Geek, half Usenet, half Kook, half Legend, half Luddite, half Visionary, and half Human. And while I'm aware that adds up to 5.5, I'm still more than the sum of my parts. Chew on that for a while.

Do what you need to, and do it now.
Damn the Man! Rave on! Rave on!
_Empire Records_
I don't know how or where you get them, but I believe there are robots for this.
Lt Dangle, _Reno 911_

What Does Skirv Want?

Interests and Hobbies

In no particular order...

Garage Sales

When I can convince myself to get up on a weekend, I really enjoy garage sales and just browsing. It was more fun when I could go with my Dad, though.


For decades, my online hobby of choice has been Usenet, a collection of thousands of newsgroups for discussing anything and everything using a consistent and well-designed interface. I've been using it since 1993 or so; and I'm currently the member the Big-8 Management Board, which is in charge of the oldest and most well-respected section of Usenet. At this point, we're just trying to keep the network alive, but that's okay. I love Usenet, and I hope that some day it will some day flourish again.


I don't go out and dance often, but I am a great fan of dance music - the techno varieties, anyway, specifically Happy Hardcore, Trance, and Eurodance sub genres. My collection is fairly large and esoteric, and I spend many of my waking hours listening to Nobody is quite sure where this near-obsession came from, and I like it that way.


I'm always a fan of politics, though not as much as I once was. I have, historically, spent a large amount of time fighting authority (officially and otherwise), looking for ways to obviate the need for government, and arguing about what things we need to keep because only a large political body can truly do them well. I believe in legalizing almost everything under the sun, giving everyone the freedom to choose their own destiny, informing everybody about everything, and keeping the rights of everyone to defend themselves and to be left alone.

As I have grown older, I have grown ever-further alienated from the mainstream Libertarian Party, and pushed towards... well, nothing in particular. I hate what the current administrations are doing at the state and federal level, and don't mind so much at the local level; but I haven't committed enough to do anything about it (except voting, of course). I expect that something will eventually make me stand up and do something about it.


I've been using computers for anything I could get away with since I was five, and I've been fascinated with large-scale computer networks since I started using them in 1991. This fascination has been quite useful to me, in as much as I've based my career off of it; and even out of work, I enjoy little quite as much as a good technology discussion (especially when you mix in some politics).

Within the general category, I'm fairly broad-based. I write code, generally Perl or Ruby code to handle routine system maintenance or Usenet tools. I have a strong background in research and high-performance computing. I have interest and can discuss architecture and theory and a wide variety of other such topics. Most interestingly to me, I love to understand the social complexities behind the networks, both with the people actually on them and those that aren't.


25 years after they first came out, I'm still collecting Transformers fairly obsessively. They're just such fun gadgets!

Related, I still enjoy LEGO.


Since I first got a decent digital camera in 2002, I've taken about 20,000 photos, and put most of them online. The whole process just fascinates me. I tend to just use the semi-automatic modes, so I still don't think I'd call myself a proper photographer, but I'm doing a lot better in recent months. The part that I'm remarkable at is that I'm willing to show up, take lots of shots, and get them up and labelled fairly quickly. I don't go in much for post-processing, either, besides rotating and, of course, the labels.

TV and Movies

Movie-wise, I like going to at least a movie a month or so, more often if possible; I've even taking up writing movie reviews lately. Big event movies are a good excuse to get a large group of friends together; I love the experience of seeing a geek movie on opening night.

I love slowly-revealed stories, and TV can often bring it to me. I own hundreds (thousands?) of DVDs, split fairly evenly between movies and television shows; and I tend to watch serial dramas through Netflix, TiVo, or some other means as background material. Currently I'm getting through The Wire with friends, and I suspect I'll be watching some other (lesser) shows with them later.

I'm especially fond of cartoons and anime. I guess it's easier to ignore the faults.

Books and Comics

I generally read about 50 books in a given year. Most of these are science fiction and fantasy, varying from current pulp crap (Battletech novels are my personal guilty favorite) to grand-master masterworks (Dune, Hyperion, etc); I also enjoy history, both historical fiction and real historical works. It works out to about an hour a day.

I also read comics, both the standard superhero fare and some less mainstream (well, not really) work. I follow about 15 different comics at any given time, and read another 50 or so graphic novels a year.

Board Games

2-3 times a week or so, I play a few hours of board games, generally Eurogames but with a few train games and other longer games thrown in. Current favorites include, well, 18xx and Dominion - I play more than that, but those are my go-to games lately.

This actually makes up a large portion of my social life. I'm even fairly good at evangelizing.

Video Games

Although it's definitely dropped off in recent years, much of my life has been spent playing video games. I tend towards strategy games (Civilization style, specifically) and RPGs, and I really enjoy playing games like Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros with groups of friends when I get the chance.


I love my two cats, and I love playing with the cats of others. It's a bit of an obsession, and only rigorous self-discipline has kept me from becoming a Crazy Cat Guy.


It's actually really useful to have a list to refer to periodically, even if it's really hard to maintain.


Fellowship of the Rings; Bad Boys; Empire Records; Run Lola Run; South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut; Cane Toads: an Unnatural History; Sin City; Shaun of the Dead; Hot Fuzz; Freaked; Mortal Kombat; The Matrix; Election; The Big Lebowski; Die Hard; Watchmen (with any luck)


Zooey Deschenel; Sandra Oh; Steve Carrel; Jon Stewart; Ed Helms; Bruce Campbell; Michael O'Hare; Wayne Alexander; Angela Bassett; Neve Campbell; Clint Eastwood; Madeline Kahn; Andreas Katsulas; Claudia Black



Trance; Eurodance; Happy Hardcore; Popular Parody; Australian Folk


Scooter; RMB; Juno Reactor; Blumchen; E-Type; Christopher Franke; Wrid Al Yankovic


Excess All Areas (Scooter), This World Is Yours (RMB), Happy 2B Hardcore Chapters 1-8; Life Goes On (Sash!); Herzfrequenz (Blumchen); Vegas (The Crystal Method); Everything is Wrong (Moby); Expedicion (Dune); Last Man Standing (E-Type); Beyond the Infinite (Juno Reactor); Firestarter Single (The Prodigy)


Born Slippy (Underworld); Rise (Yoko Kanno); Nessaja (Scooter); Inner Universe (Yoko Kanno); Good To Be Back (Scooter); Hey Man; Nice Shot (Filter); Messages From Earth (Christopher Franke); I'm Feeling So Real (Moby); Fable (Robert Miles); Here I Go Again (E-Type); High Energy Protons (Juno Reactor); Starchild (Starchild); Firestarter (Prodigy; especially the Empirion Mix); Boomerang (Blumchen)



Steven Brust; Neal Stephenson; Charles Stross; Dan Simmons; Lois McMaster Bujold; Isaac Asimov; Robert Heinlein; Frank Herbert; Terry Pratchett; Michael Stackpole; Douglas Adams; JRR Tolkien; David Weber, Michael Chabon; Jared Diamond


Cryptonomicon; The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; the Illuminatus! trilogy; Snow Crash; Foundation; Hyperion; Guns, Germs, and Steel; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay; Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrel; Surrender Your Dreams; The Atrocity Archives; Dune; World War Z; The Curse of Chalion; the Uplift novels; The Years of Rice and Salt; Ilium


Discworld; Dune; Battletech/Mechwarrior; Honor Harrington; Vlad Taltos; Dresden Files; Shadowrun


Graphic Novels + Mini-Series

Watchmen; The Dark Knight Returns; Midnight Nation; Maus; Persepolis; Sin City; Death: the Time of Your Life; The Pride of Baghdad; The Golden Age; All-Star Superman; Understanding Comics

Ongoing Series

DMZ; Walking Dead; Fables; Invincible; Powers; Hellblazer

Complete Series

Bone; Sandman; Transmetropolitan; The Invisibles; Starman; Hitman; Daredevil (Frank Miller); Swamp Thing (Alan Moore); Alias; Punisher MAX (Garth Ennis); Tintin; Asterix; New X-Men (Morrison); Animal Man (Morrison); Lucifer; 100 Bullets; Thor (Simonson)


Neil Gaiman; Warren Ellis; Grant Morrison; Alan Moore; Garth Ennis; Mike Carey; Brian Michael Bendis; Ed Brubaker; James Robinson; Jeff Smith


Frank Miller; Darick Robertson; Alex Ross; Peter Gross; Jacen Burrows; Jhonen Vasquez; Steve Dillon; Dave McKean; Glenn Fabry; Tim Bradstreet; Sean Phillips; Walt Simonson

Board Games

Agricola; Vikings; Amun-Re; Caylus; Ra; Brass; Twilight Imperium; Acquire; Arkham Horror; Betrayal at House on the Hill; Power Grid; Railroad Tycoon; the 18xx series


Shadowrun; Battletech; Earthdawn; Paranoia

Video Games

Turn-Based Strategy

Civilization series; Alpha Centauri; Master of Orion 1+2; X-Com; Advance Wars series; Final Fantasy Tactics


Final Fantasy II/IV; Final Fantasy VII; Final Fantasy III/VI; Fallout 1+2


Star Control II; Fallout 3; Starcraft; Mario Kart: Double Dash!; just about anything made by Infocom; Killer Instinct Gold

TV Shows


The Daily Show; Battlestar Galactica; The Office; Law & Order; Sons of Anarchy; The Colbert Report


Babylon 5; The Wire; The Shield; Arrested Development; Twin Peaks; Buffy the Vampire Slayer; The Sopranos; TV Nation; Pushing Daisies;


Transformers: Beast Wars; Space Ghost: Coast to Coast; Cartoon Planet; Invader Zim; Robot Chicken


Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex; Evangelion; Escaflowne; Paranoia Agent

Being weird isn't enough.
_Pump up the Volume_
This is the cooperative nursery school, and you've got to cooperate with **me**!
- Tim Skirvin, age 3

Why Is Skirv Here, and Where Is He Going?

Current Situation


I'm currently working for IT Services at Stanford University, doing programming and system administration for a large number of Linux systems. It's a good job.

Living Situation

I live in a nice, too-expensive apartment in Mountain View, CA, about an hour's bus ride or 20 minute drive from work. It's a great place, though I'm still not used to the rest or living in an area with traffic. I have my cats, a large television, nice furniture, a large variety of board and video games, and a whole lot of books.



Continue getting these pages updated and into the wiki; replace the friends page with a Rails app; start going to board games more regularly; release all of the various pieces of half-finished code that I've been working on these last few months.


Start dating someone again; figure out where I want to go in my career, and start really heading there; get back to having a large number of friends in the area.


I want to get into politics and save the entire damned world. I'm pretty sure I won't really be able to do that, sure, but it's possible - and I know where to start, if nothing else.

Get a house again, and settle down for good.

Beyond that...well, I don't know. I wouldn't mind having kids someday, I suppose. I'm sure my career path will take all sorts of strange turns that I'll enjoy, but there's no specific place I want to be in five years. But overall... I think I want to survive, be happy, and find myself some specific and realistic goals. If I can do that, then I'll be content with life.

(You know your goals are long-term when they don't change from year to year.)


Buying (and Selling) a House

It was a nice rite of passage! I loved owning it while I did, though I didn't put enough effort into it. And I got rid of it, which still excites me. I want to do it again some day.

Getting South Park on the air

One day, right after Thanksgiving break, my friend Jesse brought me a tape containing a wonderfully hilarious five-minute short, The Spirit of Christmas. After showing it to everybody in my dorm, I decided that more of the world had to see it, and so with the help of a few other friends (DB and Tom) we got it digitized and put it up on the web. I proceeded to spend the next several months making sure it stayed up (it was big, and the University didn't like it). Eventually, it all paid off when I found out that Comedy Central had picked the series up, and decided to call it South Park...

Allen 19

While I can't be credited with creating Allen 19, I did keep its legacy alive for a long time. I led it through wars, brought it many new freshmen, kept its spirit alive as I fought with University officials and other students. I brought it things to go after and play with, and I organized it into a unified fighting force. Of course, most people will tell you that all of that is bunk. But hey, I believe it, and that's what counts...

Having a Good Divorce

I got divorced in October 2008, and not only am I still talking to my ex-wife, we're even on pretty good terms. I don't know of anybody else that has come through that as well as we did. The marriage may have been a mistake, but at least it ended reasonably.

Program Advisor in Exile

For more than a year while living in Allen, I put on more programs (let alone successful ones) than any of the real Program Advisors were able to do. This was especially satisfying given that I had been turned down for the job before... It got kindof ridiculous when I was putting on barbecues with little actual planning and doing better than anybody had done for years... but it's certainly something I'm proud of.

Surviving a Bad Breakup

It took me two years (2002-2004) to get over one bad relationship. While this definitely sucked, and the whole experience was certainly up there in the most important and traumatic events in my life, what came of it is that I came out of it alive, sane, only mildly bitter, and much more appreciative of modern music and drama. I faced my fears and survived with my scruples and, surprisingly, virtually all of my friends.

Keeping Like Disco... but not Really Alive

As an engineer, I should have no idea how to keep a theatre troupe alive. The role was forced upon me, though, as all of the people that actually knew anything about it left - and so I kept a bunch of people together and recruited more at a decent pace for the year and a half that I was in charge of LDBNR. And I even had a good time doing it. It's still alive now, years later, perhaps holding on by a thread but that's okay...

Working at Stanford

Before I took this job out here, I had spent my entirely life in Champaign. I still like it out there, and I miss it, but I'm happy out here too and it's good to realize that. More than that, working at Stanford is a great thing for myself personally and for my career. It was a good move, and I'm happy I made it.

Throwing a Kick-Ass Wedding

My marriage may not have succeeded, but the party itself really did rock.
Yay, Indian Food!

Founding the Big-8 Management Board

This was my first real work put in to try to build something that would outlast me. It's been painful, and has taken far more of my time and energy than I ever really expected that it would, but I'm proud of what we've done, and what we continue to do. Newsgroups are still being created thanks to us , and there would have been no removal process without our support. We did good.

Being a Bridesmaid

Yeah, it's a bit silly, but I really was honored to be actually in my adopted sister's wedding. I caught the bouquet and everything! I've been in several other weddings, and it's always an honor, but I've only gotten to be on the woman's side the once and it was an extra-special honor.

Saving Usenet at UIUC

The central computing organization at UIUC decided in late 2003 that it was "too expensive" to run a Usenet server anymore. I responded by buying a machine and running the entire service under my desk. It stayed up for nearly five years, until I finally handed it off to another organization.

I really did save Usenet there.

Becoming 'Senior' after 18 months

It took me 18 months into my first job to get a "senior" job title. That was kindof neat for a 24-year-old.

My net.legend Status

Thanks to all of my FAQs, newsgroups, pieces of software, offered opinions, posting habits, and mail from Kibo, one day I was awarded Net.Legend status by those that can do so - namely, ones own self. I firmly believe that I've done good. Of course, I also believe that others would agree, and if the net.legends FAQ were updated I'd be in it... I can't say that there aren't downsides, but I'm still proud of it.

Graduating on my terms

It may not seem like much, but after 4.5 years of attacks, threats, challenges, and everything else that the University and all of its bureaucrats could throw at me, I made it out alive. Never during any of it did I break my own rules, give into the system, or even let the University go unchallenged. Additionally, during this time I made an incredible amount out of myself, and did more work for what I believed in than any five other students could do if they spent all of their time on it. And I did this in one of the hardest programs in the University. In retrospect, this was clearly impossible. Luckily, I didn't know that at the time.

Creating free.*

free.* is Usenet's one true anarchy. Most people hate it; I certainly don't use it very often, and my server only subscribes to a few groups, but I still consider it a useful thing. Why? Well, it shows that while rules do make things better, that still doesn't make them absolutely necessary. This is something that's good for my sensibilities. And besides, I did it myself, in the face of dozens of people telling me that I was evil for even considering it.

Ground Center RA, 1998-1999

Ground Center consists of the Commons, the Cafeteria, the Computer Lab, and the Library. I was given the title by Jessi, the old GC RA, and took it fairly seriously for the year that I claimed the title; the Commons were my ward. For all that it was worth.

Becoming a Usenet Administrator

Becoming a real honest-to-Gods news admin in college (for CRHC) was such a wonderful thing... I put the server up on my own, and ran it for months with a real news feed - and did a better job of it than the UIUC admins. That's what I wanted, and that's what I got. Of course, it went away eventually, but so goes life.

Samurai fool, your efforts are in vain again, this gateway into the past is once more beyond your can fly?!
No, jump good!
Aku and Jack, _Samurai Jack_
We're told every day, beaten down with the notion that we're powerless, that we can't win, you can't fight city hall... and of course it's not true. You can fight. And sometimes, you can even win.
JMS, on _[The Coming of Shadows](

What Does Skirv Gets When He Multiplies Six By Nine?

Random things that don't fit anywhere else.


This page is written and maintained by Tim Skirvin. All opinions expressed on these pages are mine and mine alone, even if I don't believe them - don't try attributing them to any "higher power", because it won't work. If you want to use my writings, ask me first. I make no guarantees about the accuracy of anything I write, nor the appropriateness, or anything else that you'd probably like out of me. All rights reserved. Void where prohibited. Fish, fnord, furrfu.

Final Thoughts

Well, that just about sums it up. It may not be a comprehensive picture of me, true, but I'm pretty sure I've never seen anything better. It's still no substitute for actually meeting me, of course, but the same can be said of Cliffs Notes, and I got by on those a lot in high school...

Still, I can think of one more point important enough to relate now: I am a real person. I really am. I've got goals and desires, loves and hates, friends and enemies, talents and blind spots, ups and downs, and so forth, just like your average human being. Yeah, I'm a bit strange, with weird habits and weirder ideas, but I'm not just a few electrons on your monitor - and if you think about that when dealing with me, you're a lot more likely to understand me.

And if you really want to know more, give me a mail. I'm sure I can accommodate something.