I was born early in the decade of the 60s. It was the age of Camelot and the space race to the moon. It was the time of the construction of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs Invasion. It was a time of great rock’n’roll music, of the Beatles and the British musical invasion. A time of painful assassinations of President Kennedy, of RFK and of civil rights leader MLK. The time of the social revolution and achievements like the Civil Rights Act. In China, it was the time of start of the Cultural Revolution. A time of the Vietnam War and the Six Days War. A time of colorful silk shirts and wide bell-bottom pants, long haired hippies, and peace and love. And on July 20, 1969, when I was nine, I watched on a small black and white TV set as Apollo 11’s Eagle landed in the Sea of Tranquility and the first man walked on the moon.
A Hoosier, I was born and raised in Anderson, Indiana. Indiana, the land of corn fields and the home of the Indianapolis 500. Basketball is big in Indiana, very big. They call it Hoosier Hysteria. Anderson is the home of the Anderson High School Wigwam basketball gym. At the time the second largest high school gym in the United States. So, of course, basketball is in my blood. I attended 10th Street Elementary where I made passing grades and played basketball, but not very good basketball. If memory serves, we lost nearly all of our games when I was in 6th grade. I remember playing against one school in particular, they were in white and green uniforms, I think 7th Street was the name. They were all like a foot taller than us, so much more athletic and graceful on the court. I just wanted to stand there in awe. They wiped us off the court. I still remember that feeling of awe, though. Next, I attended South Side Junior High. There, I gave up on embarrassing myself in sports and instead focused all my energies on my studies. That worked out better and I made all A’s for three years, before moving on to Madison Heights High School and trying to coast to a diploma.
If you were at MHHS, do you remember a stack of books walking down the hallway with a skinny beanpole of a kid behind them, wearing thick glasses? That was probably me. You may not remember me, I was basically just a quiet geek. I would have been a computer nerd, if we had personal computers in those days. I took a lot of Honors courses, but I wasn’t involved in any more athletics and only a few extracurricular activities/clubs. One of my favorite High School activities was watching MHHS basketball games and then going out for pizza afterwards with a few friends. I was always very shy around girls, so I didn’t date or attend any dances or proms.
I came from a middle class family. I grew up with two sisters that I love dearly, one older and one younger. I’m not sure how they got stuck with a geek like me for a brother. My older sister was very important when I was young since she translated for me so that my parents could understand what I was saying. I guess I was speaking my own language. I had to take special speech classes in Elementary School for years to overcome my speech issues. My younger sister probably still gets an allergic reaction to the sight of Hot Wheels after I forced her to play cars with me for hours without end. My dad worked hard on multiple jobs to take care of the family, but his main job was at Delco Remy where he was an inventor/Engineer responsible for many patents. My mom mostly stayed home when we were young but started working some as we got older. I remember she got a job at Dunkin’ Donuts for awhile and would bring home donuts all the time. That’s the kind of job a kid likes.
After High School graduation, I attended Purdue for a couple of years studying Engineering and Physics. After my first year, I got a co-op job in Oak Ridge TN working for the contractor (at that time Union Carbide Nuclear Division) operating the K-25 Department of Energy (DOE) facility. My co-op job was really a great learning experience. I was part of a small research team working on Molecular Laser Isotope Separation (MLIS) experiments and spent most of my time learning about computers and instrumentation and control. I then transfered to Indiana State to study Computer Science and earned a BS Cum Laude in 1984. Since college, I have worked at the K-25 and Y-12 DOE facilities (operated by Martin Marietta Energy Systems and later Lockheed Martin Energy Systems) in Oak Ridge, TN , and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) DOE facility (operated by University of California) in Livermore, CA.
At 29, still basically a shy geek, I somehow got lucky and got married to a fellow Hoosier, five years younger. My wife had graduated from Ball State and moved down to Knoxville TN looking for a teaching job. We were introduced by my grandmother who knew her grandmother living up in Elwood, IN. We have two wonderful children, a boy Jon and a girl Keri, that really give my life meaning. Not that my life is all a storybook or anything. My wife and daughter both suffer from bipolar disorder which has been a real hardship for them and for the family, at times.
Although I never had any confidence around girls, I’ve always had confidence working with computers. Over the years, I have worked on software development in many different specializations, including concurrent and multi-threaded programming, networking and distributed programming, scientific modeling, real-time controls, and database modeling. Perhaps my favorite project was working as lead software analyst for the team that designed the PEREGRINE 3D Monte Carlo radiation therapy treatment planning software, a technology that won a 1999 R&D 100 Award.
At present, I’m a computer scientist at LLNL (now operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC) working on the Laser Performance Operations Model, a high performance cluster used to determine how to optimally setup the 192 Lasers of the National Ignition Facility to match the goals of any experiment and to verify the operation of the Lasers. In my evenings, I’ve been uploading poetry and songs that I wrote back in college to this blog.I love science fiction, power pop music, beautiful women, computers, technology and gadgets. My latest favorite gadget is my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 smartphone running Android OS.