John Pfeiffer, Evil Genius!

I suffer from a particular derangement of the mind which causes my head to fill up with ideas at an exponential rate, and if I don’t get some of them out into the real world, then Bad Things™ will surely happen.

Or, to sum it up so that it fits on a T-shirt: I make things because if I don’t, I get sad.

I am an eccentric and often reclusive polymath who has spent his entire adult life plugged directly into the whole of collected human knowledge…which, frankly, has proven to be a far more useful and cost-effective education than any other on offer.

It’s been said that ‘half of being smart is knowing what you’re dumb at’, and as a polymath I’ve taken that to heart.  Not as an admission of my limitations, but more of a to-do list; I don’t not do something because I don’t know how, I endeavor to learn how so I can do it. (Albeit not always successfully.) I also absorb information like a sponge, even unintentionally.  Part of the reason I like watching shows like Modern Marvels, How It’s Made, and MythBusters, every chance I get, even if it’s just running in the background while I work. (Especially How It’s Made…because how do you MAKE COOL THINGS if you don’t know how things are made?!)

Ever since I was presented with my first box of LEGO as a child, I have been filled with an insatiable urge to make things.  I have a very strong sense of aesthetics, and an appreciation for the form and function of things… Like the calculated design and solid feel of a good tool or writing implement.

On Language

I have a fondness for obscure words or phrases, especially if they hold some meaning for me… Take for instance the Japanese idiom ‘Bakamoichigei’ (場かも一芸 ) roughly meaning ‘Even a fool has one talent.’ which I use as my internet handle. On the other end of the spectrum is the Italian ‘Sprezzatura’, which could most succinctly be explained as ‘practiced nonchalance’…though the OED has seen fit to dryly render it ‘studied carelessness’ which I feel just lacks a certain nuance… Another bit of Japanese I’m rather fond of is ‘Souzou’ (そうぞう / 想像 / 創造 ) which— despite having only one common phonetic spelling ([so][u][zo][u]) and pronunciation —can either mean ‘imagination’ or ‘creativity’ depending on what kanji you write it with.

I have also been known to use science as a verb, and to ‘do science to‘ things.

As of 2017 I have begun to use ‘hashtag’ semi-ironically in everyday conversation…  I fear the usage grows less ironic every time… I blame millennials.

Danger Is My Hobby

Between electricity, horribly corrosive chemicals, sharp things and objects of not-insignificant mass moving at high speeds (Sometimes unpredictably), and my propensity for doing science to things, it’s really a wonder I’m still alive.  I try to take safety measures very seriously.  Nonetheless, I can tell you I’ve had my share of “Hmm… Whole hand. Kinda…tingling.  Okay, no.  That’s burning.  DEFINITELY BURNING.” and “Woah, what’s that? Oh, I seem to be completing this 110V circuit. I should stop that.” moments.


Clever is making things you can’t afford. Genius is making things you can’t buy.
— John Pfeiffer, 2013
Any sufficiently advanced Maker should be indistinguishable from a sorcerer.
— John Pfeiffer, 2015, corollary to Clarke’s Third Law
I just MAKE COOL THINGS, but picture-taking is thing-making-adjacent… After all, if you don’t take pictures, no one will know you’re making COOL THINGS!
— John Pfeiffer, 2016, response to “I’m guessing you take pictures for a living?”

Go back to top