Who I am and How I Got That Way
"There I was, this is no shit, thought I was gonna die..."
I was born in '49 in Lorain; a small northern Ohio town. My parents were the standard post-war couple. Father was a truck driver, mother a housewife. We lived at my maternal grandmother's house until I was about 12. Then we moved to a new house in the suburbs. A wide spot on the shores of Lake Erie named Sheffield Lake.
I did the usual growing-up stuff but turned out to be quite the nerd. Much to the dismay of my hard-as-nails father. Life in a small town was quiet and boring. I made it through high school with only minor emotional scaring.
Graduating in 1967 we were very much aware that Uncle Sam was intent on sending my classmates an me on that long senior trip (Vietnam). Even though I was only 17 I figured the draft was inevitable so as a preemptive strike I joined the Air Force. I still went to Vietnam, but at least I wasn't out in the bush. The Air Force sent me to the Philippines, Thailand, and of course, Vietnam.
During those four years I sort of figured out what I wanted to do with myself. First of all, I knew I had to go to college. I selected Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at The Ohio State University. It was very ambitious of me. But I was still pretty young and thought I could do anything. I scrapped by and graduated in 1976.
While at Ohio State, I met and married Jane. She was my little sister's best friend and every time I went home from school I would spend all of my spare time with her. That was over thirty years ago and I still spend all my time with her. About my third year at school we were blessed with the arrival of Michelle, our daughter. Michelle was in for what I would later understand to be a unique upbringing. Military and moving go together to make for a lack of 'foundation.'
Also while at OSU I joined the pistol team. I found I had a natural talent for shooting. The team was run by the officers and NCOs of the Army ROTC office. I discovered that I really missed the regimentation of the military lifestyle. One day I asked Jane if I could join the Army. She said OK without really understanding what she was getting herself into. But for the next 17 years she made the best of it and, in the process, saw many places that she wouldn't have had we stayed in Ohio.
I found another affinity during those years: Computer Programming. Engineering students had to take classes in Fortran. It was as natural as falling off a log. I could see solutions to the problems immediately and program them beyond the requirements set forth in the classrooms. I spent many nights in the computer labs running my applications and making improvements. A couple of the professors asked me to help them with their projects. They were doing research and needed computer support. I found that work fantastically interesting. I almost dropped out of school and pursued a life of programming. As it turned out, I ended up doing that many years later.
But, ROTC demands a few years of service. So from '76 to '92 Jane, Michelle, and I traveled to Virginia, Oklahoma, Washington, Guam, Kansas. During that time I earned a Master's Degree in Systems Management from USC and did everything but thesis for a MS in Industrial Engineering from Kansas State University. I also developed my programming and analysis skills and when I retired in '92 I was offered a job by some old Army acquantances. That lead me back to Northern Virginia and the high tech world of consulting.
Michelle, graduating from Leavenworth High in Kansas, went on to attend the University of Kansas and earn a degree in Civil Engineering. She married a local Kansas boy and they now live in Olathe, Kansas.
From '92 to '04 I worked hard, honed my skills, and made a good deal of money.
While on Guam, I had learned to sail. I had also read a book by Hal Roth, Two on a Big Ocean. A story about him and his wife sailing around the Pacific Basin in a small sailboat. I was infatuated by the concept. I was hooked. I was going to do that some day. Jane said, "Sure, honey. Anything you say." She didn't buy it but the plans were so far in the future that she just dismissed them.
Sometime in about '99 I started to make serious plans to retire and sail. Jane started to get worried. "All right," she said. "We can do this cruising thing. But that means you'll have to quit your job, right?"
"Yep," I said smiling.
"Yeah, right. So before we do that we have to pay-off the house, the cars, and anything else we owe. If we're going to live on your military pension, then we have to be debt-free." She was firm on that debt-free thing.
Well, sometime early in '03 I checked all those blocks. Jane's response was, "Shit! I guess we're going sailing." And she walked away mumbling something about how she should have come up with more conditions.
So that's where I'm coming from. That's what makes up me.
I'm an old soldier. I play with computers. I play with radios. I play with encryption algorithms. I love sailing.
Me at play in 1998
A comfy flannel shirt, a row of computers, a ham radio. What more does a boy need? This is me at play back in '99. I was tuning in a distant operator on my Icom 706MkIIG transiever. It drives a trapped dipole strung between a couple of trees in the back yard. With this little station I've talked to people from Austrailia to Serbia.
Me at play in 2005
A tall ship and a star to steer her by. Me at the helm of Galena sailing around in the Bahamas. Retirement can't get any better than this.