Unless you're my family and calling me Donald, Donnie or Don, I'm probably something else to you. I've got what feels like 38 nicknames, not counting when my wife calls me an asshole.

When I started on the BBS scene in the early 90s, I was originally known as Burgie. In fact, my first email address was burgie@gilroy.com back when Atlas BBS owned gilroy.com. But one day after using a keylogger I ended up with the password to one of the admins, Chris "Zorro" Gonzalez. I got caught by his brother, and affectionately dubbed "Zero" instead of Zorro. Due to the prevalence of ANSI art in the early 90s, "Zero" first became this:

Then, as we started using "hax0r" or "l33t-sp34k," it turned into z3r0. Which of course is the name of this very blog.

But while I registered that domain a long time ago, the nickname didn't come with me to my first job, when I was an intern and incompetent young software developer for Penske Racing. At age 15 - and a college dropout - I was given the nickname Doogie. At one race - I believe it was the 1995 Marlboro 500 - my mom and dad came looking for me.

Mom: "Where's Donald?"
Penske Crewman: "Donald? He's not on the traveling team."*
Mom: "No, the young computer guy."
Penske Crewman: "Oh! Doogie. Yeah, he's over in the front of truck one."

* = The crew chief of the test car was named Donald, but he didn't travel with the regular race team.

I resumed using z3r0 on the internet when I returned to California. My friends called me that or Burgie or Don back then. None of those came with me to the military.

First, I became Berger - for obvious reasons. That lasted all throughout the pipeline until I made it to Italy. I don't remember if it was at the giant nightclub Nordest or if it was at the strip club right outside of Caserma Ederle, but I do know that one night Bryan Harris and I had the following conversation:

Bryan: "Gansberger? Man, you gotta have a nickname."
Me: "Yeah. Berger."
Bryan: "Lame. Let's see... Gansberger, cheeseburger, cheese, chee. Yes, your new name will be Chee."

It was literally that stupid. Nothing tied to my years and years of multiple martial arts study and the mystical inner energy inside all of us. No, it's a reference to a coagulated dairy product and the fact that my last name contains the word berger in it.

Six months later, only two people really called me Chee; him and Mike Furman. Then I deployed. Mike as my boss. He proceeded to refer to me to the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment as Chee. And then that extended to the Army. And the Air Force. Now, the US Department of Defense global address list even has me that way...

My email for working on my defense-related blog is that too; chee -at- nextgenwar.info. From this blog, it's z3r0 -at- z3r0.us.

My wife calls me Donald usually, though she's the only person that refers to me as "babe." That's tied with "Daddy" as my favorite.

The post picture has nothing to really do with this post, but I love that animated gif.