Hello people!

Hi there! My name is Michael, I'm 36 years old (really getting old now!) and a researcher in computational science working at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) at Daresbury1 Laboratory near Warrington. Before that I spent five years completing an Engineering Doctorate (including a diploma in management) at the School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science at The University of Manchester, which is in Manchester, apparently. I was also there when the section of the university was called UMIST as I completed my first degree, a Masters in Chemical Engineering, in 2003.

While computational science and, to a lesser extent, chemical engineering are my (official) career interests, I also have a major passion for 'classical'2 music. As well as listening to it on CDs and my iPod, I also play piano and viola, violin, and I can *just* about play clarinet, recorders and various percussion instruments, including drum kit. I'm a member of a few amateur orchestras and chamber groups as a violist, both in my old hometown and in/around Manchester. I occasionally compose and frequently arrange music for various instrument groupings (most frequently for string quartet these days). I am a fan of most composers' works, although my real passion is for music written by Shostakovich, Walton, Britten, Debussy, Beethoven and Bach. Hook me up to an iPod with e.g. all 15 Shostakovich symphonies, Britten's 'Peter Grimes', Mahler's 9 symphonies (and Das Lied von der Erde), Beethoven's 9 symphonies and Bach's Brandenburg Concerti and I'll be set for life! Mind you, I'm also a big fan of the Beatles and can often be found listening to songs from musicals (or full musicals like Sondheim's Sweeney Todd), jazz standards (sung by people like Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone), Queen, Oasis, Scissor Sisters and quite a bit more besides.

I am also interested in languages and linguistics - one of my A-levels3 was German - but in particular, I have learnt to speak Esperanto - this is a language that was invented by a guy called Zamenhof in 1887 and believe it or not, it's still in use 130 years later! I've been to many Esperanto events, including one in the Czech Republic where I spoke with people from such places as Croatia, Italy, France, Germany, Iceland, Russia, China and Japan - such is the power of Esperanto, as I could never learn enough of those people's languages in my lifetime to speak to them! I also used to do some voluntary work related to Esperanto for the Esperanto Association of Britain - typing in or writing articles for its magazines, compiling an inventory of the books in its library and being a Trustee. By the way, my h2g2 name is made up from the Esperanto form of my name: well, sort of - a former editor of 'La Brita Esperantisto' started calling me Mikeo and it's kinda stuck!

I am also interested in computers - to a point. My work involves programming - which makes Linux a must, and I use it on my desktop computer at home4 - but it also requires general office work which normally requires Windows, which I can tolerate … unless it is Windows 8. Because of this, I acquired a MacBook for work and I have to admit to having fallen in love with Apple Mac computers, even though I currently can't afford one for myself. I also have a particular interest in computers that were state-of-the-art when I was younger, such as the Dragon 32, Sinclair Spectrum and BBC micro. While the machines may now be under a bed or in the loft collecting dust, I can still experience the thrill of typing in programs thanks to emulators.

I also like to read from time to time - Hitchhiker's Guide by the sainted Douglas Adams is one of my favourite books (or more accurately, series of books), of course! But I am also a fan of the Harry Potter series, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and many factual books about subjects as diverse as codebreaking, (auto)biographies and political satire. (I now have an Amazon Kindle, so there's now almost no excuse for me not reading when I'm free.) I'm also a fan of comedy: I laugh to the antics of Graham Norton, Jasper Carrott, Paul Merton, Eddie Izzard, Billy Connolly, Michael McIntyre, Russell Howard etc., and I regularly listen to the Radio 4 shows 'Just A Minute' and 'I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue'. I am also a fan of the older radio comedies, e.g. The Goon Show, Hancock's Half Hour, Round the Horne, Navy Lark, I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again - most of which appear on BBC Radio 4 Extra - as well as some on TV, such as Monty Python's Flying Circus.

I'm also a Sub-Editor for h2g2, so if you've written any entries that have just been recommended by the Scouts, I could well be the lucky guy who edits them! (Mostly for grammar, layout and GuideML code, though - I generally leave content alone.) I've edited articles on many different topics: the entire list can be found somewhere on this page. I've also written entries on Shostakovich and the programming language Fortran, both of which have made it into the Edited Guide. If you have any comments, criticisms or nuggets of wisdom to share about my efforts, please feel free to leave a message.

Finally, my personal life ... you could say I'm 'unstraight' or the G from LGBT. I've been contributing to h2g2's forum for LGBT people, M2M2 - The H2G2 Lesbigay Area - and became its editor a while back. I have a wonderful fiancé called Daley, whom I intend to marry5. I'm out to pretty much everybody: family, friends and work colleagues all know and have been very supportive. I'm still up for making new friends with other gay people, so please don't hesitate to leave a message! You might also want to keep an eye on my journal, as I'll try to keep adding entries as various things happen.

Another thing related to my personal life is my health ... I was diagnosed with late Stage 2 testicular cancer in December 2013. I had to have an orchidectomy to remove the main tumour (10 days after diagnosis) and 5-day BEP chemotherapy to get rid of the residual tumours (from Christmas 2013 to early April 2014). At the time of writing, it has been three years since the end of treatment and there is no noticeable sign of anything coming back, so I'm probably in remission, although I will only get an all-clear after five years of observation. I have also been changing certain aspects of my lifestyle, such as taking more care over what I eat (thanks to a diet by Slimming World) and walking around a bit more than I used to: I still have an apparent allergy to gyms, so Daley has made one of our bedrooms into a mini-gym at home.

Now I will hope for two things: firstly that you did not fall asleep while reading this introduction6, and secondly that you found it (and me) interesting enough for this h2g2 guide. I've already written two Edited Guide Entries, but I may eventually write another one on something else. For the moment though, I'll just keep nit-picking at other people's articles (both officially and unofficially) and updating things!

1Daresbury is a small village, the most notable thing about it being the birthplace of Lewis Carroll and its local church having stained glass windows with illustrations from his books.2Please note the quotes. This may seem boring, but Classical music is that written between about 1750 and 1830 - it includes music by Haydn, Mozart and (to a point) Beethoven. In this sense, 'classical' music could be called 'highbrow' or music that uses traditional Western instruments, i.e. violins, pianos, flutes, oboes, trumpets etc. But don't get me wrong - plenty of modern instruments, like saxophones and drum kits, have also been used!3For the benefit of readers outside of the UK, these were exams certain people take at age 18. How well you did in these determined whether you went to university or not, and which one you went to.4Currently Debian Squeeze.5Little factoid: full equal marriage has been available in England and Wales since March 2014: before that, 'become civil partners' was the closest to marriage I could get.6I bet you did though - gone on, admit it!


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Mikeo the gregarious

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