was a chemistry major when I was a freshman. When I chose my account name, I covered a sheet of paper with possible names, mostly geeky star trek and lord of the rings and D&D based names--I still have the list somewhere--but it occurred to me that I wanted to come up with something that would reflect my major. I thought of using the formula for some amusing, ideally psychoactive, chemical, but I couldn't think of one that was short enough to fit in the 7-character limit except for nitrous oxide, and "no" didn't quite cut it for me as a login.
That evening I mentioned the problem to a friend of mine, Tom MacDevitt (who eventually got an account himself and called it "stdmble", ostensibly after his car, the Studmobile, but usually pronounced "standard mumble" instead), and in passing I rattled off a few of the more entertaining formulae I knew--including alcohol, C2H5OH. He said, "Wait a minute, that last one isn't too long." "Yeah it is, it's eight." "No--C, 2, H, 5, O, H, that's only six." My jaw dropped--I'd counted wrong! So that's what I decided to use.
The next day I signed up for the account, and from then on I enjoyed the confusion it caused. Most people couldn't remember my login name without lengthy familiarity (though Louis Imershein had it worse with his login name "n954703", which has a much more entertaining story than this one behind it), and everyone I met would ask me what it meant and why I'd chosen it, and that was a pretty cool conversation starter. When Keith Reynolds and I first met, I explained the meaning of the login, and because I'd used the word "ethanol", he got the mistaken impression that my name was Ethan. I noticed a few days later that he had that name in his .whom file to identify me, and so I corrected him. Later I happened to see a "whom" listing on his screen again, and noticed that he hadn't changed it to "Evan", but to "Ethanol". I kinda liked that, and took to using Ethanol as my alias in overforum (the predecessor to general node).
The following year, when I got a job as a student consultant at the computer center, I decided to choose something slightly easier to remember for my consulting account, so that if I told someone to mail me for information, they'd have a chance at getting it right. So I picked "ethanol@c", and I kept that name for my deeptht account and icb nickname.
Entertaining anecdote about c2h5oh (I think it's entertaining, anyway): At that time, UCSCB was running a decrepit version of UNIX that had been mucked about with at Berkeley. It had various commands for finding out who was logged in; among them were "users" and "u", which were identical except for one small feature: Someone at Berkeley had fixed "u" so that it would exclude "class accounts", those temporary accounts that were distributed by professors to students in computer science classes. All such accounts at Berkeley were named by the letter C followed by the course number, a dash, and a serial student number, as in c101-001. The algorithm "u" used was to leave out any account beginning with the letter 'c' followed by a digit. (UCSC had a completely different naming scheme for class accounts, of course, so mine was the only login that was ever affected.)
It happened Wendy never learned about "users", or even "whom". When she got her B account, someone she met in the stat lab taught her about "u", and that's what she always used from then on. So I knew that account "web" existed from the first day she had her account, but she never noticed me at all until we met in the crown stat lab one night in February. She was very surprised that so dedicated a geek as I had completely escaped her notice for so long--it gave me a slightly mysterious quality.
We started dating a week and a half later, got married five years after that, and that's lasted nine years so far, so I'm quite pleased it worked out that way.
Used to be there was an alias at SCO called "evan", short for "evangelists", a marketing group. Once in a while they got my mail and forwarded to me, including, rather embarassingly, a couple of luvvyduvvy letters from Wendy.
Finally it occurred to me to ask to be put on the alias so I could get that mail myself, and the people on the alias wrote back and said, "Oh, hey, how about if we all take ourselves off it, too, then? Nobody's actually *used* this alias in the last five years." (Which made me rather grumpy. It never occurred to them to mention this when they were getting my mash notes?!)
So now firstname.lastname@example.org points to me. I wanted that login when I first worked here, actually, and there really shouldn't have been any reason to turn me down, since I was the first and am still the only person named Evan ever to work for the company, but policy forbade.