More than you ever wanted to know about me
I was born 2 miles outside of a little southern Illinois town you've never heard of, and moved at the age of 7 to within walking distance of a bigger town you still haven't heard of. In the spring of my sophomore year at the University of Illinois, President Nixon sent U.S. troops into Cambodia, the Ohio National Guard murdered 4 students at Kent State, people were marching around with signs saying "If you aren't part of the solution you're part of the problem," and school just didn't seem "relevant" any more. So, I enlisted.
After USAF Basic Training and tech school I was stationed for a few months at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, feeling like I still wasn't really doing my share. Next stop: Viet Nam. I spent 6 months pushing papers at Cam Rahn Bay Air Base, which was turned over to the Vietnamese in the late spring of 1972. Less than 2 days before I expected to be back in The World, I found out that, due to the '72 Tet Offensive, I was going to be spending at least 90 days TDY in Saigon. At that point, due to problems on the home front (which Jean Fraud Kerry and his slimy ilk helped fuel), I developed a sincere death wish and volunteered for an Aerial Port Mobility ("Bare Base") team to get a little closer to the action. -- Try to imagine, if you can, what it would feel like to have missed one of the doomed 9/11 flights due to a traffic jam or a flat tire. I was supposed to be on a C-130 that no one walked away from at Kontum, a damned site closer to Cambodia than John Kerry's ever been, but God didn't want me and Satan wasn't ready for me. I guess God had plans for my daughter and grandson, because I've yet to accomplish anything grand enough personally to justify my continued existence.
By the time I was discharged from the Air Force, 3 months early due to congressionally mandated budget cuts, Texas seemed a lot more like home than Illinois did, and I ended up getting a BSEE with Highest Honors (That's Texan for "summa cum laude") from The University of Texas in Austin. From there I moved to Fort Worth to work for Motorola for a while, then to the St Louis area to work for a now-defunct defense contractor, then to Cedar Rapids to work for Rockwell International. Along the way I was blessed with a beautiful intelligent daughter, picked up a Master of Engineering in EE degree from the University of Texas at Arlington, got divorced, remarried, and divorced again.
When the defense market contracted at the end of the Cold War, I was one of a huge number of perfectly good engineers who were given the opportunity to "explore opportunities in other areas." After a few month of living hand-to-mouth on savings and an occasional temp agency job, I did OK for a while on a couple of by-the-job computer programming gigs, then spent just over 8 years doing technical support for some big names I'd still be violating non-disclosure agreements if I identified. (Let's just say that some major software and hardware houses have been *outsourcing* their support since way before they started *offshoring* their support.) Eventually a lot of the big houses decided that people in parts of Canada sounded "American" enough to take their phone calls and some people in India could pass for American in an email or IM environment, and I found myself back on the streets, only this time with health problems serious enough to keep me from finding anything else anytime very soon. So, I'm back in Illinois sponging off family while I wait to see if the VA is eventually going to help enough with my health problems to allow me to be able to support myself again. In the mean time, my biggest contribution to society will be using my blog to do everything I can to steer other peoples thinking in the right direction.
Update: Things have taken a turn for the worse: A Post I Really Am Not Enjoying Writing