Name: Philip James Campbell
Residence: Nottingham, England
Profession/Job: Chief Technology Fiddler.
Do you have any websites (twitter pages, or other links, etc.) or anything else you want to promote?
What are your favorite hobbies or pastimes? Why do you enjoy them? As a kid I was the best peppermint cookie maker at Pontins, a holiday camp for kids with excessive energy and lack of social skills. I was the one who always churned out 100's of peppermints and took up random activities like archery while on holiday until a fateful incident - I shot the arrow high and it arced over the target striking a donkey in the back leg and causing it to bolt, leaving a rather portly lady crashed down on the ground with an up ended ice cream. It was one of my more surreal reminders as a child of my limitations that I had to set myself otherwise my life would be fraught with regular issues and complications.
Growing up I loved to do the sports at schools everyone else hated which often meant I was doing high jump on my own, pulling out the mat, celebrating my own success when I made it over when nobody was around and trying to convince others that I made it over after then showing them and failing. Repeatedly. I was always a geek from a young child of around 8 I was playing with computers. I had my first computer the ZA81 with had a massive 1k of memory. My dad brought it home for me as he knew I loved reading up about the new world that was appearing of the home desktop computer. I was hooked. I had that computer about six months before I accidentally spilt tea on the keyboard and the membrane keyboard curled up like the witch in the end scene of the Wizard of Oz. I was a clumsy kid.
Growing up I went through every computer possibly and at the ripe age of 17 got into hacking analog mobile phone with my friend Paul who I met via a BBS (bulletin board system) when I worked as a YTS in Birmingham (UK). I learned how to hack our novel network master admin password from documentation I found online and took control regularly of the modem to make outgoing calls to BBS systems from Nottingham (indexIII) to places stateside and in Sweden. I was hooked.
I became a 'spreader' -- someone that downloads content and barters with it. I bartered the content with Paul to eventually let me borrow and use his Motorola brick phone modification which was a sliver of a cable from an RS232 interface into the computer. We tracked and listened to phone calls as a repeater station (the software enabled you to pretend to do that) and we would clone phones and call people back pretending to be from Vodafone. At 17 already I realized we probably didn’t really have privacy in our lives and that I should probably question things more.
I had various bouts with sports. My dad managed the cub scout team and therefore felt obligated to put me in the team. I was terrible. If it was not for my gonads freezing so much that they were effectively up my backside it was the fact that I was offside and I never understood that rule. The only goal I ever scored was the one that was crossed in that hit me in the face and deflected into the goal. I scored but I had no idea about it. I came around to everyone celebrating my talent while I stood there shivering wondered when I was going to get home to watch some Japanese manga, something that I much preferred doing instead.
I enjoyed badminton quite a lot. The town I was in was twinned with a town in Germany and we often went yearly to compete with each other but it often turned into farce with us drinking peach schnapps the night before and in sync with my girlfriend at the time throwing up in respective toilets and baths as we realized that we were probably too young to be drinking such drinks. The next day at the badminton and the opposite team kept on firing them up into the ceiling lights so I couldn’t see them. It was comical.
Technology was my saviour but also my curse. When you know something that other people don't they get defensive, almost write it off and you in the process. They want to understand but it's like you’re talking another language. You end up with people giving you the look like they are happy for you but kinda wish you did something they understood instead. My father was supportive as he was never managed to really hold a conversation with me about anything apart from trying to use the computing angle to establish a 'connection' with me. He was a pretty average dad really. One thing I decided I never wanted to duplicate.
When did you first hear about the town of Phil Campbell, Alabama? It was in 2006 while I was in San Francisco after I searched for myself after a drunken night out at an awards ceremony. I searched for my name and found the town on Wikipedia.
Were you able to attend the Phil Campbell Hoedown of June 2011? Yes. It was a life-changing event.
What did you think of the experience? I was still recovering from serious depression and trying to rebuild my life again and provide some level of security for my daughter back in the UK. i heard some horrible stories how some parents lost their lives after they told their child to go in a cupboard - this made me question what security we really give to our children versus the power of mother nature. Visiting Phil Campbell [after its devastating tornado] was empowering, inspiring and depressing for me. It hit me hard. I turned up in video blogger and story teller mode willing to work and get stuck in, to try and understand the devastation of Mother Nature and place myself in the people’s hearts and heads of what they went through. I was still in my own recovery phase from losing everything I knew as family in the space of a month -- my job, my relationship and my house all gone in the space of a month.
I was on autopilot and here I was going to a place that had been devastated. I knew, weirdly, that I had to go. Something I had to see for myself was there. I needed to understand that nobody how much chasing you do in life and how much stability you think you need, ultimately mother nature around us decides. It really ignited my need to aim to be more present, to care more, to think about my fellow man more (the ones I could reach, not the apathetic ones you can't) to realize that I could not control stability, that getting back on the ladder of employment would have to be on my terms rather than those of someone who didn’t really have mine or my daughter’s best interest at heart.
I was glad we could bring a little bit of light back to Phil Campbell. For both of us. It gave me a fresh vision.
You are a Phil Campbell. What do you think of that name? I've never really thought about it. I've met some really interesting Phil Campbells because of it. For that alone, that's gotta be awesome, right?
Tell us a little about yourself, as many words as you would like. Oh, I'm complicated. It depends on what day you get me. I consider myself to be smart, decent but a bit of a playboy. I'm cocky but often share wisdom. I'm disruptive and focused but can be quiet and listen. I've developed an internal GPS for people, like an ESP of sorts of relevancy that is self-aware. I help when I see the nuances and the signs and retreat when I feel I'm no longer needed. I'm a fixer-up-er, I come in reboot and reset everything and move along. I'm like a digital nomad version of the littlest hobo. Down the road, is where I’ll always be / Every stop I make a new friend(s) but often turn around and I'm off again.
I'd consider myself to be kind. I often never truly finish anything. I iterate quickly. I savour food and am always thankful of the life I have been able to have. I'm a loyal friend if you discover what makes me tick. I take my time to let you know, I want people to find out more. I'm willing to be a pass through friend but you'll never get the best of me that way. I realise we all have journeys we need to travel on. I love my daughter more than life itself. I would give everything I own to save her from any pain or misfortune. She's my DNA +1 my Eveready battery, the version of me before all the pain, the fresh start, the new notebook smell. The perfect flowers. She taught me how to love unconditionally.