Sun God or Jazz Musician?

My login name is almost definitively unexciting, being my first name with the first letter of my last name appended. That was the login I was assigned in CS3, the first computer class I took in college (an intro class, no less! And now I run my own domain.), and thus the first account I had on a UNIX box of any flavor.

I've kept it. It has been my account name on all subsequent UNIX machines, first at Cal, and then on the various Santa Cruz geek domains as I migrated down there. It's never taken, and I don't tend to do the dodgy things that would require any degree of anonymity. At least, not using my main account.

However, when referring to me in certain circles, the nom de geek that generally comes up is 'Ra'.

chaos geek'Ra' has been my handle on icb for many years, and tends to also identify me on Internet game servers, polls, etc. Sometimes I go by 'Sun_Ra', because some claim-jumping son of a bitch has taken my rightful nickname already. (Sun_Ra, by the way, is a fairly well known black jazz musician. Ask someone who knows about jazz. I discovered this after I began to call myself that. However, I subsequently did a little research into this guy, and being eponymous with him suits me fine.)

'Ra' was a very deliberate choice of nickname. My original icb nickname, chosen the first day I was introduced to it, was 'Conan'. Yeah, the barbarian. See, I had only the day before watched the first Conan film, and was rabidly quoting from it, to my own great amusement and doubtless to the mild annoyance of those nearby. So, 'Conan' it was.

A few months later, once I had begun to get a feel for the paradigm, I realized that 'Conan' gave the wrong impression about _who I was_. I.e., that I was an idiot, and a slightly chauvenistic one at that. So, I spent some time and thought to come up with a new nickname, which fulfilled two major goals:

1) It was short.
2) It was cool.

And there it was. It's darn hard to get shorter than two letters and still be a proper name (which is, obviously, not to indicate that it hasn't been done. ICB itself provides the examples.) And ancient egyptian gods just have a great deal of coolness. Moreover, as a history buff, I actually knew a fair bit about said gods, so it wasn't entirely off the cuff. (And let me tell you, once you know the difference between a 'ba' and a 'ka' and where they and all your other souls go after you die, you too will begin to suspect that the Nile has hallucenogenic properties.)

- Karl 'Ra' Bilawski, 1/26/01