I was born to in Dallas, Texas in 1978. My parents are John Gunn and Cynthia Carver (Gunn). I have three sisters, Lindsay (3 years younger), Katie and Andrea (twins, 5 years younger). While my family moved around a few times, I spent most of the first six years of my life in Dallas; the family then moved to Brecksville, Ohio.
I mostly grew up in Brecksville. I got a good education in their heavily tracked classes, played Orchestra (Violin, String Bass), and started programming very early (encouraged by my father).
I mostly grew up in Brecksville, attending Elementary, Middle, and High School there. In second grade, I joined the gifted programme. At a young age, I began to learn to program (with the encouragement of my father), eventually moving from IBM Basic and spreadsheets to x86 assembly and C. Building on piano lessons when I was younger, I played in the school Orchestra from second grade until the end of High School, initially playing violin and eventually switching to string bass (at which I was better). I played a bit of baseball when I was young, and also around 4th grade I started to do track/cross-country, which I stuck with until the end of high school. I acted in several plays, and at one point considered becoming an actor. Around 5th grade, I started to make yearly trips in the summer to visit family in Texas. In high school, I started to do computer work to earn extra money, first for an insurance company, then for the school district and a small phone company. Because of my math skills, in 9th grade I took part in a small statistics class taught by the principal. Also at this time, being heavily into the BBS scene, I started my own BBS, calling it the Q Continuum. At the same time, I was getting access to the internet and other networks through Prodigy, Delphi, Free-Nets, and a bit of hackery. My family made its first trip to Europe when I was a Sophomore in High School, visiting the UK and France. Between my junior and senior years, I went to Ohio State University in Columbus for an Engineering Summer Acadamy Programme. Through High School and before, as my parents thought learning other languages was important, I learned some Spanish (a special programme in middle school, then three years in High School), German (3 years in High School, combined with my own efforts through a Free-Net based in Erlangen), and Japanese (1 year in High School). After graduation, I decided to go to Ohio State. This ended the sheltered time of my life - before leaving for University, I had not dated anyone (despite several crushes), had had only limited exposure to music outside of Rag and Classical, and had only a particularly cerebral version of rich America's view on the world. I had came to be Atheist and Libertarian before leaving (although only in a proto sense -- I did not know the terms well) — my atheism came from reading (in middle school) a book on comparative creation myths and comparing it to the Christian Bible. My libertarian bent came, presumably, from picking parts from the strong ethical system I was raised with, which placed a strong emphasis on property and rights, and combining them with some intuitions derived from (but were later independent from) Christian morality.
I spent five years at Ohio State, getting a minor and taking a number of classes purely out of intellectual thirst. I enjoyed the environment; the classes were generally interesting, I had access to a number of resources that I lacked at home (ethernet access to the internet was a big deal at the time), and a combination of access to professors and a huge library gave me what I needed to explore almost any topic. I quickly nailed a job doing telephone tech support for Mac/Windows in the UTS group of the University. The classes, despite my ego suggesting otherwise, inspired and helped me to become a much better programmer, and I became involved in scientific programming as part of an optional project class focused on compiling and presenting a large lipid database. Early at University, I had a very brief first relationship. A few years in, someone I met in math class started an atheist/agnostic group called Students for Freethought. It soon became my primary social circle, both because there were people in it who had similar views on religion/philosophy/science and because people were friendly and interesting.
Early in that period, I met my first love, Matha. She was a cigar-smoking artist, fiery liberal, and writer. She made me examine my (at the time libertarian-but-relativist) ideas more deeply, introduced me to the local art scene, and dragged me out of the bubble I had been living in. As part of a quartet of close friends (August B and Dave F being the other two), we made trips to NYC, went to many art exhibits (many of which she showed at or read poetry) and saw opera. We also got a cat together, joining her iguanas. The relationship didn't last, but I picked up artistic sensibilities and a love of Iguanas from those times..
Sometime after that relationship ended, I reached out to the art community and also found Insomnia, a local 24-hour coffeeshop; some of the people there became my new primary social circle. I also found a few people from the outskirts of the SFF social crowd who made good friends, including Woody P and Jason M, who despite their radically different positions were both good for long discussions on politics, philosophy, and the like. I deepened my relationship with the radical environmental movement at this time as well. I came to visit and eventually become a regular at Outland (a goth/industrial club), going most weekends, twice on some. I also joined a small philosophy group that met at Town Addiction (a deli/coffeeshop downtown) and regularly went to gallery hop (a monthly art exhibition that all galleries on High Street between campus and downtown participated in). I spent very little time visiting my family during this period, focusing on exploring culture, school, and work (by which I had shifted to a group where I was part Unix sysadmin/support, part network-group programming). As a side job, I worked for a time designing an architecture for distributed computation for an AI group in CS. In my fifth year, my parents indicated that my free ride was coming to an end so I took the last classes I needed and graduated.
Graduating from university, I was hit by the dot-com bust and found it hard to find a job. Eventually, I found one at McLeod and Associates, a tech company that made software to manage emergency service roster calling. As my first job after University, the job was an eye-opener - the pay was lousy, the owner/boss engaged in a number of questionable practices, and the code and product were poor. It paid the bills, but eventually the atmosphere became intolerable, and a better job opportunity opened up at an opportune time, so I became sysadmin at GoAntiques, an internet antiques company. This job worked out much better in practically every aspect, and I met some people I still keep in touch with.
While at GoAntiques, I started to chat with a distant acquaintance from the fringes of the SFF circle, Debb. We started to hang out after I finished with work on some days, and eventually began to date. After her graduation she moved back home to Pittsburgh to go to law school and I followed her, getting a job in CMU's Robotics Department. We dated for long while, but eventually turned out not to be compatible. I loosened up a lot in that relationship, became interested in (doing, not watching) sports, and had great conversations on legal philosophy. Not long after the relationship ended, I got a new job in CMU's Psychology department.
My life was quiet for a time; it became more interesting when I started hanging out at the Coffee Tree in Squirrel Hill and joined a geek social group called the Zets. I continued my political/philosophical drift away from Libertarianism in order to reconcile with my environmental and other stances, eventually moving towards and through socialism. At the Coffee Tree, I eventually met my friends Eric and Dmitriy.
In Zets I met Nicole, who eventually became my third love. She got me into snowboarding and rollerblading, and (partly) ended the vegetarianism that I had adopted while dating Debb. The relationship left me with more of a European sensibility (partly from our monthlong European trip), and it was interesting to be near another deeply introspective/complicated person.
After my relationship with Nicole, I ended my involvement in the Zets. On the advice of some folk I knew, I started to hang out with a group of mostly-CMU-undergraduates called KGB. It reminded me in some ways of one of the small groups of geeks-with-humour I was involved in at Ohio State, but much more larger and more organised. I didn't stick with them for very long, but I kept a few friendships with some members. I continued to deepen my involvement with Wikipedia, getting involved in mediation, Wikipolitics and the like. I also bought an accordion. After some time, some disagreements over advertising caused me to leave Wikipedia, and then a year afterwards funding cuts eliminated my position at CMU.
After a time when I was sure I was going to move (once to Santa Barbara), another position opened up at CMU, doing development of a network testbed. I took the job, which I still have today. In late summer another person entered my life and exposed me to a lot of new ideas and perspectives while encouraging me to grow in some of my existing interests (like drawing). This is my life as of February 2011.