Things about me…
What I Love to Do
I love to swim, be outdoors, go camping (well, glamping), kayaking, SUPing. I enjoy reading, mostly sci-fi and murder mysteries; occasionally, a math or science book.
We have a dog, Sprocket and a cat, Gryffin, both rescues. They are very entertaining.
I love, LOVE Halloween. It is my true passion. November 1st is the saddest day of the year.
What should you do if you never decided what you wanted to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be many things when I was a child – astronaut, college professor, marine biologist, pediatrician. There were so many options! And I ended up as none of these.
All through high school I knew I was going to go to college for something sciency; my father worked at NASA, my mother was a nurse – I felt like it was in my blood. When I was in college, I entered the Chemistry tract; my parents knew one of the Chemistry professors, who became my advisor. I ended up not enjoying Chemistry. I switched to Biology because I enjoyed one professor’s lectures. Along the way, I took math classes because I enjoyed them. At the start of my senior year, the department head informed me that if I took 2 more Math classes, along with my other required classes, I would have a degree in Mathematics, along with Biology and a minor in Chemistry.
I graduated with these science degrees, but they weren’t specialized. No one wanted to hire me, because I had no experience. I spent the last 4 years in school – when was I supposed to get experience? I was burnt out with school and couldn’t see myself going to graduate school. So now what? Somehow, I found a job on a small island in the Pacific, Johnston Island (JI), one of the most remote places in the world. One of the best things that ever happened to me. When I arrived on-island, I knew nobody. JI is 4.5 miles long by 1.5 miles wide. Very small. It is basically a runway surrounded by a road and buildings on either side. It looks like an aircraft carrier. But it was small enough that meeting people was not a problem!
I worked in the laboratory in the air monitoring department at a chemical demilitarization plant. We destroyed weapons containing the chemical agents GB, VX, and HD. As the non-agent chemist, I didn’t do much with monitoring for chemical agents. I ensured that the emissions from the plant met environmental standards. I also ensured that air quality monitors around the plant and the island were working correctly. Even though it was a stressful job with long hours, it was one of the best experiences of my life. I made many friends, completed my master’s degree in Computer Systems Management, and met my wife. I lived on that small island for 13 years, only leaving because the project was completed, and I was laid off. They kicked me off the island.
When I returned stateside, I took a break. I worked on reintegrating into a fast-paced society that was, quite frankly, strange. Traffic on JI consisted of a few vehicles, one bus, and many bicycles. The only traffic jams were caused by landing and departing planes. Traffic in a large city in the US? Terrifying. And it was wonderful that you could have a craving for something (potato chips, lettuce), drive to the store and buy it, and they would have it. Amazing. This was, of course, pre-pandemic.
After 2 years, it was time to figure out the next step. What did I want to do with the rest of my life? I decided I try computer programming, and so I got a job as a programmer. It was challenging at first, but I figured it out. I worked 13 years in the financial space (loan processing, payments processing). During this time, I worked my way up to lead software engineer. At the end of my career, I was the Solutions Architect for a large payment processor.
Then came lay off #2, during a merger with a larger company. During this time, I continued public service as a Town Councilmember for a small rural town. This was a full-time volunteer position that was not appreciated. I also helped care for my ailing mother 3-4 months out of the year. She lives across the country, so we use the opportunity to escape winter. Once you’ve lived on a tropical island, it is difficult to do winters. Finally, my 2 terms on Town Council were complete. Also, we had procured sufficient care for my mother. I finally had time to pursue other opportunities. I am retired now, but I don’t want to coast until the end – I need to be challenged. I decided to start this blog to share my knowledge with the world.
So, what do I want to do with my life? What do I want to be when I grow up? I still don’t know, but come along for the ride, and we’ll figure it out.