Not only is the universe stranger than you imagine, it
is stranger then you can imagine.
- J. S. B. Haldane
Time advances: facts accumulate; doubts arise. Faint
glimpses of truth begin to appear, and shine more and more unto the
perfect day. The highest intellects, like the tops of mountains, are
the first to catch and to reflect the dawn. They are bright, while the
level below is still in darkness. But soon the light, which at first
illuminated only the loftiest eminences, descends on the plain, and
penetrates to the deepest valley. First come hints, then fragments of
systems, then defective systems, then complete and harmonious systems.
The sound opinion, held for a time by one bold speculator, becomes the
opinion of a small minority, of a strong minority, of a majority of
mankind. Thus, the great progress goes on.
Thomas Babington Macaulay
This is me (Geoff Fortytwo) sitting at a computer posing for a picture.
If you're a single woman, please check out my
I just thought I'd mention my friend Steve (trustworthy Steve) Ruzicka
The story of how we met: Steve and I became aquainted in middle
school. At that time Steve didn't like me at all. One day, I followed
him home on my bike. He tried to lose me, but wasn't able to, so when
he got to his house he threw down his bike in his front yard and dashed
for his front door. I threw my bike down and dashed after him. Just
as he was slamming the front door closed I stuck my foot in the door,
thus preventing him from getting it closed. He kept pushing the door
closed and I kept pushing the door open. His mother then asked who I
was. Steve said he didn't want me to get inside. His mother ended up
insisting that he let me in and he eventually reluctantly let me in.
The rest is history. Somehow we ended up as friends. *smile* How many
friends can claim that they started their friendship with a high speed
We had lots of interesting story-worth experiences. In retrospect it
seems that all the stories seem to in some way involve me doing something
silly. I've come to the conclusion that Steve is a catalyst that encourages
silliness when mixed with Geoff.
In early 1997 Steve got married to a woman named Crystal whom he met
over the Internet. For his wedding present I made a video of our first
meeting. (it's hilarious!)
Crystal's grandmother has apparently willed 150 keychains to me.
On 1997 September 18 they had a baby girl that they named Kahlen.
On 1998 March 19 I walked down to the Winona, MN courthouse and filled
out the paperwork that would legally change my name from "Geoff
David Busker" to "Geoff David Fortytwo". Fans of the
author Douglas Adams will, of course, instantly recognize that 42 is
the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.
Cool huh? I'd been throwing around the idea for several months, but
until Fortytwo came up I couldn't think of anything that fit all of
my criteria. My requirements were as follows:
- The name should be unique. In other words, no other human, living
or dead, should ever have had the same last name as me. This is to
prevent people from asking me: "So, are you really related to
- It should be less than 10 letters. (If I hadn't had this as a prerequisite,
I might have chosen "Ecstaticfuturist" as my last name.
I was strongly considering it!)
- The name must be spelled EXACTLY the same way that it sounds.
- It should start with a letter early in the alphabet.
- The name should be scientific sounding.
Little did I know that I would get 15 minutes of local fame out of
this name change. On March 20, 1998, a reporter from the Winona Daily
News interviewed me for an article that would appear as the cover
story for the Sunday, March 22, 1998 edition.
Then, on Sunday, March 22, 1998, before I had even read the article,
I got a call from a reporter from KTTC/NBC out of Rochester, MN. He
then drove over to my apartment an hour later and taped a short interview
with me about my name change and the origin of the number 42.
On March 25, 1998, a radio station from Green Bay, WI called me up
and talked with me on the air about my name change.
On March 26, 1998, I got filmed for a two minute segment that was aired
on WKBT/CBS ch8 out of La Crosse, WI on the 6:00 news.
On March 26, 1998 (I think), a guy called me up and tried to convince
me that my name had been changed to fortyfour. He sounded like a radio
DJ, and considering it was 8:00 at night it seemed unlikely to me that
he was from the courthouse. However, I played along with it for a little
On March 30, 1998, I was interviewed by my school paper, The Winonan.
On March 31, 1998, the radio station KROC out of Rochester talked with
me on the air about the name change. After the show he invited me to
get back in contact with him after I move out to California to talk
about the reactions of my future coworkers at Intel.
On April 1, 1998, an article appeared about my name change in the internet
version of "The Age"
in Melbourne, Australia. Here's a local
copy of the article.
Here's the article about me
from the Sunday, March 22, 1998 edition of the Winona Daily News:
Call me 42
WSU student wants last name to go by the number
By Doug Mattson
Winona Daily News
A Winona State University computer science student is going digital
in more ways than one.
Before starting his new software programming job in Silicon Valley
this summer, Geoff Busker hopes to legally become Geoff Fortytwo.
No hyphen, no decimal and no, he's not kidding.
"I can definitely see the humor in it, but I think it's
humorous and cool," he says. "It's a name that I wouldn't
mind being teased about because it obviously doesn't have any
"Most last names are just there, they have no meaning to
In the dictionary, busker means street performer, but for the
future Mr. Fortytwo it was just too ... pedestrian.
For the past several months, Busker has wanted something steeped
in science, just like he is. He considered Einstein, Newton, even
Then he though about some of his favorite science fiction, "The
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," by Douglas Adams, a humorous
take on the meaning of life that prompted a cult following and
four follow-up novels. Busker expounds on the series on his web
Readers learn that 42 is "the answer to the ultimate question
of life in the universe and everything," explains Busker,
who's read all five books at least twice. "They had the answer,
42, but they had no idea what the question was."
Then, five minutes shy of learning the answer, Earth blows up.
"After long consideration, Fortytwo just seems to hit that
sweet spot," Busker says. "It just feels right."
The change will mean getting a new birth certificate, driver's
license, credit cards, paying a $132 application fee and appearing
in Winona County District Court next month. He formally applied
for the change last week.
It's also meant telling his parents.
"I told them, 'This is not rebellion. I'm not doing it to
get away from you guys or anything,' " Busker says. "I'm
just doing this because I really just don't like having a name
that means street performer. That just isn't appealing to me.
"When I came up with Fortytwo, that was appealing enough
to change, and they said no problem."
David and Jean Busker of Ripon, Wis., have been accepting before.
Father is a Methodist pastor, while his son espouses atheism;
mother is a social worker, while her son embraces libertarianism.
Wearing a T-shirt showing a silkscreened circuit board, the 22-year-old
Busker fidgets in his cramped but organized apartment on the edge
The walls are lined with shelves of computer texts, science fiction
books, a keychain collection, sheets of computing codes, canned
soup, sugared cereals and two maps of Silicon Valley.
He offers mini-marshmallows and points to Mountain View, Calif.,
where he'll start working for Intel after graduating in late May
with degrees in computer science and physics.
Busker's approach to changing his name was almost scientific.
He pulls out his Palm Pilot, a miniature computer screen holstered
to his belt.
It can be uploaded and downloaded and contains addresses, appointments,
a memo pad, his school transcripts, resume, computer passwords
and the "prerequisites" for his new name.
"I wanted the first letter to be early in the alphabet,"
he says. "I didn't want it to have been used by any human,
alive or dead, I preferred that it be less than 10 letters and
I wanted it to be spelled exactly like it sounds."
Busker can only guess that Fortytwo hasn't been used before.
He said Romans named their children with numerals, referring to
Octavius VIII, "so it's possible that somewhere along the
line someone had 42 kids and named somebody 42, but the odds are
Busker wanted the actual digits 4-2 but, knowing computers like
he does, figured it would throw off the main frames at IRS and
DMV that aren't used to used to numbers where letters usually
No matter what, though, the first name stays.
"There's just some sort of weird, emotional attachment that
I sort of have for my first name," he says. "I never
got used to my last name, but my first name, the way it's spelled,
it just looks so nice. It's obviously a totally subjective thing,
and I'm sure a lot of people should be able to relate to that."
Longterm, Busker can see sharing his new last name, forming a
sum of 84.
"I'm not involved at all right now, but I'm hoping that
someday, when I do get married, that she will want to take the
name Fortytwo," he says. "I'm hoping for that."
Here's a copy of the blurb that appeared
in the internet version of "The
Age" in Melbourne, Australia on April 1, 1998.
Feed him to the Babelfish
Remember those people who spent the 1980s (and a lot of the '90s)
reciting verbatim huge slabs of Monty Python scripts? The same
characters usually specialised in regurgitating Douglas Adams'
prose as well. We suspect that Geoff Busker from Minnesota is
such a person. He is applying to change his name by deed poll
to Geoff Fortytwo in honor of the punch-line to the search for
the meaning of life in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (yes,
and only about 10 years too late, Geoff). It will surprise no-one
that Geoff is a computer boffin and we humbly submit that he would
be best avoided at dinner parties or other social gatherings.
A QUICK DESCRIPTION OF MY MINDSET
Never say it cannot be done. Always be optimistic. Accept change as
the norm. These are the types of rules I live by.
I love to learn and I value intelligence and critical thinking above
nearly everything else. To be a critical thinker one must be open minded,
but not to the point of being gullible. It's not always easy to walk