A few thoughts to give you a better idea who your tutor is when he’s not your tutor:

  • Since age eleven I’ve been a more or less avid “birder”, by which I mean I pay attention to what birds I’ve seen and where I’ve seen them. For much of my life I was really serious about this, keeping records that by now include lists of sightings in all 50 states, all 13 Canadian provinces and territories, and about 60 other countries. My “ABA area” (continental US and Canada) list is over 700, and my world life list is somewhere around 3000, but I’m no longer serious enough to count them exactly; now it’s a hobby rather than an obsession. Of some relevance to this page: My first teaching experience was leading bird walks at nature camp when I was thirteen. I admit to having been, and still being, kind of a geek.
  • I’m a fairly serious duplicate bridge player, and occasionally play professionally. (See here for details on that.) I have never won a national championship but I’m reasonably good. I worked for a while as a tournament director (which I describe as being a combination lawyer and waiter) but decided I liked playing a lot more than directing. I also volunteer time trying to help the game flourish, and I’m a member of the local and regional boards of directors and of the ACBL board of governors. I love to talk bidding theory and have devised my own bidding system, which I call the “Troll Club”.1 If you haven’t played bridge and enjoy intellectual challenges, you should try it (while recognizing that the time investment to learn is nontrivial).
  • Being outdoors makes me smile, almost regardless of where it is what the weather is like. I’ve slept on the ground in something like 30 states and in temperatures ranging from –15 (Fahrenheit) to whatever it gets to in the Arizona desert in July. I am not a serious climber but I do like mountains; the most interesting peaks I’ve hiked to the top of are Mt. Shasta, Humphreys Peak, and Mt. Katahdin, plus Half Dome in Yosemite, but my best hike/climb was to see the recent total solar eclipse from the summit of Mt. Borah, the tallest mountain in Idaho. I can sometimes muddle my way up a 5.9 pitch but my joints are a bit too cranky2 for more serious rock climbing than that (at least that’s my excuse). But just give me grass or trees or rocks or sand and I’ll be happy.
  • I have one son, who is now twenty-one. His mother and I split up when he was not yet two and we had joint custody, so I’ve spent a lot of time being a single dad. And for much of that time I didn’t live near any relatives and couldn’t afford a babysitter or daycare, so I used to take him to work. He’d sit in the back of my classroom playing with Legos, which my students thought was either adorable or kind of weird. He’s a senior in college, studying engineering. He’s had a much rougher life than many of his peers and is doing really well anyway, and I’m prouder of him than he will ever understand. (He won’t read this page.)
  • I live in the Berkeley Hills, in a beautiful setting overlooking San Francisco and the bay. As I type this I’m watching a red-breasted nuthatch on the birdbath (a surprise, because the Steller’s jays usually monopolize it) and hummingbirds zipping around the feeder. You may see me around here or anywhere else in the area, zipping around in a green convertible; the top is always down. Wave.

Notes

  1. For those who understand and care: strong club that could be a solid suit and out, 11–15 notrump (12-15 vulnerable), one level openings as weak as all unbalanced 8 counts, four card majors and canapé rebids, non-forcing two-over-one responses, extensive relays in many auctions that can always reveal exact shape, often starting with a forcing notrump response that included everything from zero counts to slam drives, 2 notrump opening is a minor two-suiter, overcall structure or transfer advances (your choice), and various other gadgets. It’s fun.
  2. I’ve had the not-so-great fortune to have undergone half a dozen orthopedic surgeries, most of them as a result of injuries suffered in this-or-that sport. Was it worth it? I don’t know; maybe not, but the arrow of time is, as far as we can tell, unidirectional.