“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.”
— François-René de Chateaubriand
In contrast to Chateaubriand, most people separate their work and entertainment and refer to it as their work-life balance. They go to work doing their one specialization so that they can afford to be entertained at an expensive restaurant, a ball game, or by traveling to some tourist location and engaging in entertainment activities as a consumer. Concentrating on just one thing, like a specific career, all one’s life and engaging in other activities at the spectator level would actually bore me somewhat. I don’t think humans obey the law of comparative advantage well. At least I don’t.
Here’s another one of my favorite quotes:
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
—Robert Anson Heinlein
That’s very different from “A human being should go get a job to get money to buy a house and a car and go out to eat at restaurants and play tourist a couple of weeks each year.”
I engage in almost everything with the aim to get good at it. To me it’s more fun to score a goal by top-shelving the puck in the local hockey league than watching the Blackhawks while eating a hotdog in the stands. That’s just my preference. I’m not a good spectator.
Mastering things is highly “entertaining” to me. I like becoming and being good at things. Sometimes this leads to people willing to pay me. Sometimes it doesn’t.
Here’s my short history so far.
0 – Born in California.
3 – First solid memory. Looking up at a Credenza (that my mother still has), and listening to The Beatles perform “Come Together”.
4 – Second solid memory. Watching the end of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In – the part where people (Ruth Buzzy, Goldie Hawn, Flip Wilson, etc.) would pop out from behind doors in the set and tell jokes in between psychedelic musical interludes, finishing with Arte Johnson, “Very innnnteresting…but schtupid.”
5 – My mother would buy a 20 pack of Juicy Fruit gum for me at the grocery store once every other week. I would have 19 pieces in a few days, then diligently save that last piece until I got more.
6 – Star Trek: The Animated Series was my favorite TV show. It was my first exposure to the possibilities of what became CG animation – they could have all kinds of funky shaped aliens on the Animated show that the technology (and budget) just wasn’t available for the live action show…this is my first real memory of seeing something more for the potential inherent to it than the actual thing that it is.
7- Tried out for a baseball team. Hated. It. Too much yelling. Too many rules.
11 – Assigned to the lone desk at the back of Harley Eckert’s 6th grade classroom. Facing away from the rest of the class, it was intended to be a punishment – for what, I can’t recall. That desk was awesome. I could get stuff done at my own pace (faster than everyone else) then have ‘me’ time. Got sat with the rest of the class after just a couple days. This was when school turned into a huge letdown.
12-13 – Took shop classes in both 7th and 8th grade. Discovered that I really like making stuff. Also discovered that I have a hard time realizing the design that’s in my imagination when you’re only allotted 5 hours per week to do so.
14 – Changed high schools 3/4 of the way through my Freshman year of high school. Most parents fear making this change in their kids’ lives. For me, the fresh start was pretty awesome.
15-18 – Spent a lot of time with pen and paper RPGs with my best friend, Allen Wilson. Loved the realization of other times, spaces, places, worlds, and people in my own head. Turns out, I like making stuff up, too. The reality still doesn’t match what’s in my head very well, though.
18 – Joined the Marines in August, a couple weeks ahead of Allen. I saw him out of the corner of my eye at MCRD San Diego one day, as we were passing in opposite directions. I’d just had my wisdom teeth out. To this day, he still doesn’t know that I saw him.
19 – Radio Repair school at 29 Palms, CA. Not only do I like making stuff, and making stuff up, I like fixing stuff too.
19 – “So I met this girl…” All great stories begin with this line. So do all great tragedies. This one? The latter. Got married for all the wrong reasons. ProTip: 19 year olds do remarkably dumb stuff.
22 – Marines: Exit, Stage Left. Marriage: Exit, Stage Right.
22 – “So I met this girl…” I had a dead end job in California. She was going to school in Oregon. “I bet they have dead end jobs in Oregon!”
Turns out, they had non-dead end jobs in Oregon, too! I was a proofreader for a newspaper for a few years.
26 – My first Tech Job – upgrading my newspaper’s typesetting equipment from 1970’s vintage manual typesetters to state of the art PowerPC Macintosh PCs with QuarkXpress and a frickin’ LAAAASER printer. Grew my hair very long. Started making web pages – all the backgrounds were grey, all the text was black, all the pictures were on the left.
27 – “So I met this girl…” I was heavily involved with the Society for Creative Anachronism at this point, and wound up moving from McMinnville to Albany, and living with some SCA friends, and working in tech support for a modem company – it was a 33% raise, too!
28 – “So I met this girl…” Moved to Florida for a job that never quite materialized. Worked in tech support for another modem company, and eventually became their Webmaster.
29 – “So I met this girl…” Moved to Arizona and did computer installations for the Salt River Project, and web development for AlliedSignal.
30 – Arizona was too hot. I was looking to move back to Oregon or Washington. I landed in Colorado, where I did more web development work for USA.net
32 – Moved to Denver, where I did still more web development work for Wellbid/Wellogix.
33 – Hanging Chads and Supreme Court Elections, Oh My! Unsurprisingly, the bottom drops out of the IT job market when the Election goes to “Oil Bidnissman” and not “Invented The Internet”. I drove a taxi to make ends meet for a while.
35 – Started working at Denver International Airport as an IT System Administrator. Absolutely nothing interesting happened to me for 10 years.
To be continued …
Here you’ll find a collection of my thoughts, clippings, and writings from over the years. I do try to live a transparent life, so you’ll find my successes and failures, public and private both. It’s been a hell of a ride, and I hope you enjoy the show.
This has been my online home since 2001. The site started out as place for things I wanted to remember, knowing that someday I wouldn’t remember them.