Born in Alabama. By November I decided it was too hot and moved to Colorado. Had a momma cat that licked me clean, slept with me and even taught me to walk — sort of. I grabbed her for support and walked along with her (clutching her fur!) like a walker.
First trip to hospital for accidentally cutting my self up on a toy I was taking apart (a Jack in the box). Learned how the sound was recorded on a small plastic disk, and played by a needle vibrating in the grove — yes, just like an LP!
Fell in love with my second grade teacher, Mrs. Folgem. She was great! Burned her fingers on a coil of wire she stuck in a power supply to make an electro magnet for picking up paper clips (as a demo). What could be cooler than that? Used to write her love letters.
Moved to Black Forest. Learned humility as the forest kids were a lot tougher than the city kids. Best part of growing up was the seemingly endless summers throwing myself off into gullies with a trash bag “parachute” and blowing up army men.
Failed fourth grade (dyslexia didn’t help) and had to go to summer school to make up for it. I decided that sucked and made my self work hard to avoid that situation in the future.
Got my first job working for fifty cents an hour doing maintenance stuff at a preschool where my mom worked. Fell in love with all the wonderful young ladies that worked there.
Got my first car: a burned out 1966 VW square back. Took a coupla years rebuilding it and, by the time I got my license, it ran.
Started college at the Colorado School of Mines. I’d go up to Boulder on the weekends to hang with my sister Shan who was at CU Boulder. I’d road trip all over the southwest on vacations and summers.
Finished college and went to grad school at UC San Diego. I was doing research at UCSD and loving it, but after Golden and Black Forest I found southern California to be frightfully overcrowded. Finally learned Spanish and hit Mexico often.
First international trip (Mexico didn’t really count) to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. You may recall that this was when the Sandinistas were in power, and the US was supplying the Contras weapons. I was studying the war and propaganda from both sides. My conclusions were basically that Samosa (the second generation, US-backed dictator) was a widely hated bastard, the Contras were terrorists, and, apart from a few idealists, the poor country folk would get pressed into service for whichever side got to them first.
NOTE: Starting with the Ragen administration and continuing with the elder Bush administration, our government was actively supporting international terrorism.
Graduated from UCSD and moved back to Colorado. Well, ok, I was back home for a few weeks any way.
Traveled around Central America all year with a backpack. I went as a journeyman, not a tourist, and took jobs all along the way working on farms planting and harvesting yucca, worked for the National Parks Service of Costa Rica, installed fluorescent lighting in shops in Managua, painted houses, fixed cars, and basically had a raging good time.
Started working for Conner Peripherals in San Jose, California, doing research on computer hard-drive mechanics. I was making real money for the first time, and my dad Roger swore I’d become a yuppie. Never quite happened. My plan was to work for a few years, save up some money, then continue traveling.
Transferred to the facility in Longmont CO. It was fun to be back home for a little while.
I quit. My big boss asked why I was quitting, and when I explained that I was off to go exploring the world, he suggested I join a team headed to Malaysia to support engineering issues in the factory. I ran into my future boss’s office at 4:00 on Friday and was hired on the spot for the new team. Left for Malaysia a few weeks later.
Seagate bought Conner. Same business, just less efficient due to the larger size of the administration. It was during this time that I really noticed the tendency for allegedly cooperative organizations to be combative. In the US design centers, they always gripped about “those idiots in the factory.” The guys in the factories complained about “those boneheads in the design centers.” The guys who made the magnetic recording heads blamed the guys who made the magnetic disks (on which the information was recorded) for any failure, and the disk guys blamed the head guys. It was a clear sociological case of “us” versus “them” and seemed to stem from a human tendency towards xenophobia and ignorance of the other guys point of view. Having worked in both the design centers and the factories with the disk guys and the head guys, I got to see that every “us” was somebody else’s “them” and there were winners and losers spread out more or less evenly among them.
Our factory was closing and moving production to Thailand and China where it’d be cheaper. Despite offers in both places, I decided that it was time to finally get responsible and start doing something more fulfilling. Maslove was knocking. So I went back to finish my PhD at Colorado State University. I chose that school because it has this great Engines Lab in a classic old power station building right by the old town. I really enjoyed going back to school, teaching as a teaching assistant, and being back in Colorado for a while.
When one of the professors took a health-related leave of absence, I took over teaching classes as the full-fledged instructor. I loved it! I really enjoyed teaching and used lots of examples from my working experience in the classes. Knowing the application helped the students understand the importance of what they were learning. Also, being a generation younger than the other profs, I could really reach the students.
Graduated from CSU. I continued working with a group of students who turned their project into a business: applying “high tech” direct fuel injection to reduce the emissions from two-stroke engines. Still consult with the guys on their current project in the Philippians. Also spent several months on an epic motor bike, camping trip up through Canada to Newfoundland and back down to Mexico.
When not busy consulting on various projects, I spent several months traveling both Mexico and Europe. Turkey was definitely one of the highlights, reminding me a lot of Mexico. Roman ruins instead of Aztec ruins, Turkish instead of Spanish — but there was something of a similar feel about the two places so far apart.
Took the position of Professor at the University Science Malaysia in Penang, Malaysia.