THE INTERNET IS GREAT! You can find out all kinds of things with it -- without even getting out of your pajamas. (Traditional journalists are often derisive of bloggers "blogging in their pajamas." This leads me to a question: How do these "real" journalists even know the bloggers wear pajamas? Investigative research is my best guess -- using the Internet.)
Recently, after having been married to my lovely wife and sometime editor for 15 years, I realized that I knew almost nothing about her except what she told me. It used to be that you would have had to hire a private investigator, someone like Magnum, P.I., to look into her supposedly unsordid past. Now, I can just Google her.
Let me tell you just some of the fascinating facts about her that I found out in my investigation -- none of which she had seen fit to tell me herself.
The first thing I discovered was that in 1972 my wife, who then went by Sandra Lynn Herring, was not only Miss Portland but Miss Oregon and a winner of a "Non-Finalist Talent Award" in the Miss America contest. She never told me any of this. She brags about second place in a bare bow archery contest with two contestants, but doesn’t mention this? Odd, don’t you think? (Coincidentally, she also never said anything about living in Oregon.)
But beyond bald facts, the Internet can tell you how to manipulate those essential pieces of data to entertain yourself. For example, the website www.isthisyour.name will tell you the "Top 5 Facts for This Name."
1. How well envoweled is Sandra Herring? For this name, 31% of the letters are vowels. Of one million first and last names, 74% have a higher vowel make-up. This means you, Sandra Herring, are modestly envoweled.
2. In ASCII binary Sandra Herring is: 01010011 01100001 01101110 01100100 01110010 01100001 00100000 01001000 01100101 01110010 01110010 01101001 01101110 01100111
3. Backwards, Sandra Herring is Ardnas Gnirreh.
4. In Pig Latin, Sandra Herring is Andrasay Erringhay.
5. In what is my favorite isthisyour.name Top 5 Fact: "Sandra Herring, your Power Animal is the Common Mule."
And in the most hidden part of her life, she never said a word about being the performing artist Sandra Herring on "Everybody Wants My Body: Remix."
But these facts about others are just the tip of a massive but highly informative Internet iceberg. You can find things out about yourself, things that even you didn't know.
I remember graduating from George Washington High School in Danville, Va., (class of 1969), but had forgotten about my stints at Parkway High in Bossier City, La., (class of 1975) and Henderson High in Henderson, N.C., (class of 1964).
I remember being in the Furman University classes of 1973 (projected) and 1975 (actual), but I didn’t remember my time at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., (class of 1974).
I had thought that I didn't play golf, but with the help of the Internet, I find out I was Larkhaven Golf Club (N.C.) Four Ball Champion in 1986, 1998 and 1999; Greenville County (S.C.) Amateur Champion in 1991; and on the Montclair (Va.) Men's Golf Association Fall Classic tournament winning team (net score) in 2008.
While I knew that I had once played JV football, I did not know that at Hay High in Buda, Texas, I am the JV Blue Coach, an assistant coach with the varsity, and, of course, a PE/Health Teacher. And last year I was the JV girls basketball at East Hall High in Hall County, Ga., as well.
I also find, besides being a self-employed "writer," I am a bus driver with the Lincoln, Mo., School System, a director at Sunny Level Baptist Church in Ringgold, Va.; and in 1996 was named Principal of the Year in Beaufort County, N.C.
But, I would like to caution you, sometimes the Internet information you find can be misleading. For example, in a lot of places they have misspelled my name as Garry Gaddy. So, be careful out there.
Gary D. Gaddy is, according to the Internet, the author of this column.
A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday July 9, 2009.
Copyright 2009 Gary D. Gaddy