hen i came to UCSC as a transfer student in 1989, i was still living under the fantasy from about two years earlier that my computer geek days were over. having gone through hell in high school for doing things that interested me, i'd really started to buy into the "don't use the computer so much and you'll be happier" BS that was so prevalent in the 1980s.
so here i was going to UCSC, trying to figure out what to do with my time. first the earthquake happened, and afterwards i went to all kinds of events that interested me, and over the course of that year, i met quite a few people in random places who i later found out were all geeks (just off the top of my head, lucifer, beeman, aeron, galpin, aaronf/sors, gollum).
that first quarter, the CIS/CE department decided that all students in the department need to have an e-mail account on a machine called slugmail, so i went to sign up for it. i had to find an account name quickly, so i thought of how to say "slug" in hebrew. the closest i could think of was "shavlul", which means "snail".
no one really used slugmail for much of anything (it was a crappy XENIX machine with really nonstandard versions of everything). i'd started to hear rumors about the ucscb machine towards the end of that school year, and finally got an account the next fall without much idea what to do with it. i went to CC39 and would log in and type "help" just to see what it would do, and (amazingly for a UNIX machine) it actually had a catalog of help files for all kinds of things. from here i discovered IRC, Usenet, and much later forum. slugmail then served its most useful purpose - to allow me to rlogin to ucscb without waiting in the queue for 20 minutes.
much later i found out that both my parents mispronounced the word, and that it's much more correct to say "shablul", but it was silly to change it by then. i have yet to find the definitive word for "slug", the closest are "chilazon" (mollusk) and "beraleh", which some people swear means slug and others disagree.
the only e-mail i've received about my account name was around 1991 or so when i got an e-mail from someone in the netherlands who asked if i picked the name because it means "shaved penis" in dutch.
at work my account name has always been "dan", and i've made a point to get the "dan" account whenever possible. when the small company i worked at was bought by a 1000-person company, amazingly the "dan" account was not taken.