Looking back, around and ahead
A reunion, as with any milestone, provides an opportunity to reflect on where you’ve been, who you are and what you might be. My family, spirituality, kites, arts and sciences, athletics and worklife. Certainly there are other facets to my life, but these groupings provide a skeleton to help make a coherent whole out of wildly disparate pieces. The seeds of who I am now are in the person I was when I left U.S. The same might be said of now 37 years from now (I’ll likely be dead). We’ll see….
I can see the embryo of my current belief systems in what I was thinking and reading then. They have certainly matured a lot since that time, but I think I was pointed in the right direction-college was definitely formative, as a lot of intense stuff happened and I uncovered some interesting new directions for my fevered brain to wander-especially Steiner. My arts and athletics interests are very close to what they were then, though I discovered a few new things in college and beyond, notably gamelan and avant-garde musics. Kites are certainly new, particularly the quadline variety, as are inline skates. My interest in architecture has narrowed to Chris Alexander, but I still like theoretical physics and cosmology.
After high school I went to Miami University and partied like a rock star, which was pretty much what everyone I know did then! The summer after I left Miami I traveled all over Europe, then got a job in London with an investment firm. I set up their network and computers, helped write an investment management app, did charts and analysis. I had a great time wandering all over London and environs, drinking too much, hanging out at pubs and going to shows, but it was a really low-paying job. I did get a ski trip to Kitzbuhel and a flight to New York out of it. I was there for a year and a half, then went to work for the parent bank in Grand Cayman. A big pay hike. More big fun-I dove some, partied all over the place, went on fun vacations. got a black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do. I set up their network, wrote some financial apps and ran a $40M venture capital fund. I was there 3 years-I left when the projects were done and I began to hear stories about myself from people I didn’t know.
I ended up in L.A. because my parents moved there. I got a job, moved to Brentwood, lost that job, got another, bought a condo in Long Beach, lost that job, had a series of contracting and consulting gigs. I stayed in Long Beach for 10 years, drove all over L.A., partied a lot, skied some, hung out at a recording studio, saw a ton of shows, got a bunch of music and recording gear. I started flying kites competitively at the beach there and skated and biked all over downtown Long Beach.
In ’98 I got married and had 3 kids over the next 10 years. I sold my condo just as the real estate boom took off and we moved to Orange County. I worked for Quest Software for almost 9 years. I got laid off in ’08, moved to Portland, OR working for Hollywood Entertainment until they went under. At the end of ’15 I got laid off from Huron Consulting after 5 years coding a Java webapp for managing research grant effort certifications. I did a short contract for Hitachi Consulting with Nintendo, now I’m on a longer one for Daimler Trucks for an aftermarket parts webapp.
I’m playing in a gamelan and raising children. I’m sort of working on an inner development program and reading a lot. I’m trying to stay in good shape and practice my guitar, shakuhachi, and fancy new keyboard, but various body parts are not working as well as before-aaaaah, aging…Here’s what I look like now:
For a more comprehensive look at me, here’s my own website. I’ve had a blog since 1996, updated at whim. Plus faceBook, twitter and linkedIn. I think I’ll update this page every so often, too. (Last update: Jan, 2018)
In any case, a snapshot→This is the Time, and This is a Record of the Time←
Friends and family
I gathered up a family between ’98 and ’07-a lovely wife and 3 great kids.
Before that I was quite single. I dated on and off, a pretty wide variety-a crazy lady, a born-again Christian, an 18 year-old (when I was 35), a 45 year old (when I was 30). I’ve had a lot of different friends over the years. Hung out at many, many bars. A recording studio. A lot of music, drugs, booze. Skating, skiing, kiteflying.
Things have changed a lot since then. With kids, everything is very different. I have to focus on them and on keeping things super stable. I don’t have many friends right now-work and kids, school and church, gamelan. faceBook helps me to stay in touch and connect with people from my past and present.
My wife Erika is a great wife and an excellent mom, involved with her faith community and active at school. She grew up in Long Beach and was a preschool teacher for a long time. She also did Renaissance Faire and worked as a “wench” in a ren faire-themed magic show. We met at a gay bar in Long Beach in ’97, and got close quickly. She moved in with me 6 months later after her car got stolen and someone broke into her house. We got married in November ’98 in her best friend’s backyard. She never wants to leave Portland. She wants to get a degree from Seminary. She has varying hair color and is getting lots of tattoos.
Mathias was born in ’99. He’s 19, and a Senior at Clackamas Middle College. He’s turning into a fine young man, interested, thoughtful, loves to cook, but not to eat a lot of different things. Middle school was a challenge for him, but high school has been way better. He swears like a sailor and likes the TV show Archer, and playing video games. He’s thinking of getting into criminal psychology and criminal behavioral analysis.
Colin was born in 2001-Erika had an emergency C-section and tore a uterine artery-thankfully in recovery. He’s a Junior at New Urban-he loves to read manga, 4chan, and play video games. He has an extremely quick wit and is very funny, but low-key. He’s turned into a anarcho-capitalist, to the horror of the rest of the family. I got him a bass and stuff Xmas ’15, hopefully he’ll start in on it…hasn’t happened yet.
Salem is the newest member of our family-she was born in ’07, a month early. She’s really an awesome girl-perfect Waldorf kid, loves ponies and fairies and youTube videos. She’s in Fourth Grade at Micha-El School. She does little weather segments and sends them to a local weatherperson-she got on TV for it Spring of ’16. We love her-she’s the best looking of us all…
They’re all great kids-smart in different ways and mostly well-behaved (though they really don’t like to listen to their parents). We’re a loving family, but we’re not permissive.
My parents are aging, Erika’s mom died Summer 2011, her dad died Memorial Day 2007, and my dad is declining.
We moved to Portland, OR in ’08 from Laguna Beach in ’05 from Lake Forest in ’03 from Long Beach-I sold my condo for twice what I paid for it and cleared my debt. It went back up, and is now slowly getting cleared again. I use public transport to get to work, and live close to school. We moved from a house to an apartment July ’11 to a larger apartment July ’17. I’d like to buy a house, emphasis on like-we’re cleaning up our credit reports.
I’m liberal, far left, progressive, socialist/marxist, Green, and believe in radical environmentalism. We are altering our only home beyond its range to support large numbers of people in the current socioeconomic mode, and we are beginning to pay for this-our kids will pay way more. I feel that the state has an obligation to the least among us, and that the most privileged have an obligation to more than give back as well. I believe that war is absolutely wrong, as is the death penalty, and any other kind of violence. I worked for the ACLU for a while, and feel strongly about its mission. I despair the current state of politics-the endless exploitation, dissembling, pandering, corruption and hypocrisy. I feel the same way about the corporate state and pop culture. I believe in a concept called the Threefold Social Order. We all have an obligation to develop our inner selves to the furthest extent-I’m working towards a program to help do this.
Spirituality and religion
This a key topic in my life. Spirituality is a never-ending journey, especially for open-minded people who want to learn and who question things. The things that I think and believe now are rooted in what I discovered early on, but have evolved significantly over the years. I did (and still do) a lot of reading, in a lot of different areas. Essentially, I’m an Anthroposophist, with strands of Buddhism (Tibetan mostly), Golden Dawn, Hinduism and Taoism shot though, plus a lot of fairy dust from all the other stuff I’ve read, experienced and absorbed.
I read Castaneda, Grof and Kafka in 7th and 8th grade, my grandmother gave me a copy of the Ouspensky’s 4th way when I was 11 or so. As a high schooler, I read 2150 A.D. and The Ultimate Frontier. I was also part of a pretty liberal teen group at church, and the explorer post I was in had some people who were into this stuff as well.
In college I took an Eastern religions class, and discovered Crowley and Steiner (I found these 2 books in the library-Book of Thoth and Knowledge of Higher Worlds respectively). These two were extremely influential into my next directions, though I really couldn’t delve deeply into Steiner at that young age (it was good enough to know it was there, I guess). In England, I got into the Golden Dawn and started moving back to original source material-the Tao Te Ching, Tibetan Book of the Dead, Bhagavad-Gita, Dhammapada and I Ching, to name a few.
I’ve read the Bible and the Koran as well, but for me they don’t have the impact of the Eastern material-I do like Rumi, though, and some of the Gnostic Gospels. Steiner is much more Bible oriented, and I agree in some part with what he says-that it’s an esoteric document with everything hidden in plain sight.
I’ve seen the Mevlevi Sufis twice, and resonate well with the Sufi Sema ritual. After I moved to L.A., I had a close friend who was into this too, and we explored some of the GD stuff together.
I also dated a girl who went to a ton of churches, and I tagged along with her some. I also did the Catholic thing with her for awhile. Erika is a Wiccan priestess, so I’ve done some work there as well.
We’re currently attending Kairos UCC, after having attended Long Beach UU, Laguna Beach, Tapestry and Atkinson Memorial churches. I taught 7th-8th grade RE in ’09/’10, and occasionally t’ai chi. The music is better at Kairos and I’m playing some, and Erika is more of a Christian than was OK at the UU churches-I’m an Anthroposophist, so that makes me a Christian, but out on the wild side… Some other strands of my beliefs come from Gurdjieff, Ram Dass and Richard Bach-most notably Illusions, Jonathan Livingston Seagull (read it when I was a kid), and Be Here Now.
One of the things that I find very important is the unity in diversity of all things, and their interrelatedness. Also crucial is tolerance of and compassion for others. Reducing our attachment to things and emotions and increasing our aid and understanding of others is also important. The proper perspective on things needs to be developed.
I subscribe to the concepts of the 4 elements and directions, the angelic hierarchies, the Enochian aethyrs, and to the Cabalistic Tree of Life as important representations and realms to be studied and visited. I’m also interested in the Tarot as a compact form of spiritual knowledge, the chakra system as a good way of representing human energy fields, and Castaneda’s idea of assemblage points and perception.
We all have an obligation to develop our inner selves to their furthest extent. Karma is real, reincarnation is real, the spiritual domains and our thoughts are real, and more real than we can possibly know while we’re in the material world. We are surrounded by non-physical reality and non-physical beings and we ourselves consist of multiple interpenetrating selves that exist in different non-physical realms as well as the material one we commonly think of as “reality”. Christ is the chief of our solar family, and has merged with the etheric field of the Earth to become the Dharma King and keep our etheric bodies anchored. I dream about being visited by aliens about once a month, or about odd astral travel things. I think this has to do with being contacted by higher beings, but as yet I haven’t made enough contact to know for sure.
One of the most powerful and disturbing facets of my spiritual life has centered around the use of psychedelics. For some reason, they acted as a catalyst to bring out in me the psychic abilities that all of us possess. I did have some ability before these experiences (mostly with the beginning stages of OOBE), but much, much more after. There have been several incidents, five of which come quickly to mind: a Rush concert where I had the sensation of an angel coming towards me, a party at college where I was communicating psychically, a visit to the earth elemental realm, a call to TEX-a window opened, there was a crowd of figures, and a voice said, “You’re the first one”, and a hike in the Santa Monica mountains where a friend and I heard the “fanfare of the deities“-he was able to reproduce the sound, and what he reproduced was exactly what I had heard, even though it was quiet at the time. I view this last incident in particular as evidence of the existence of non-physical reality, as it was a shared experience, rather than something that happened just to me. I could be wrong, of course, and all of this could be complete delusion-who knows? I certainly don’t. I’m slowly trying to work towards these abilities without the use of drugs-Ram Dass rightly says, “psychedelics are like a business call-once you get the information, you hang up the phone, if you’re smart.” I haven’t been very smart, I guess. I have good ability at perceiving things, but I think I may be barred from OOBE and astral travel this time around. Still, I work on it, because the work is more important than the destination.
I took the Bodhisattva Vow a long time ago. This means that you will forego enlightenment until all beings have attained it. This is something that you keep taking every time around… Here’s a long, intense version of it. Thinking it through, this may change its focus as you develop-. Also, here’s the Aramaic Lord’s Prayer. Dr. Steiner says some interesting things about how the Lord’s Prayer is a summary of everything that we need to know.
During the ’90’s I had several revelations. These are outlined in my essays. In short, evolution also applies to spirituality, and the process is explicable by science-energy can be raised and used, and non-physical reality is similar to ours, just at higher vibrational rates that we can’t currently perceive, but are able to with training and time. You can represent spiritual progress and ideas and other things using intersecting multidimensional areas and asymptotes. We are lenses and fine-tuned antennas for spiritual activity-we just have to gain access to it. These revelations continue, but at a slower pace-the one about lenses came in ’05/’06. I had one in the woods Fall of ’10 about stages of development and dipoles.
I work on this stuff when I can. One day I’ll get beyond the First Knowledge Lecture…I figure I’m a zelator/practicus. For awhile I was doing the LBRP daily to protect my kids’ room. I’m pretty happy with my chakra work, meditation and pranayama, but I’d like to spend more time with T’ai Chi-I tried to go back to the long form…I blazed through the Steiner material, and this is much more aligned towards coming up with something that will work and be useful for more people.
I have very little patience for dogmatic faith-we need to be spiritual scientists-researching, forming hypotheses and testing our perceptions-they are so very subtle and quiet. I enjoy offending my wife with blasphemous statements.
We celebrate the Wiccan sabbats when we can. We are active in our church. We share our faith with our children. We have several altars in our home (mostly Marian-Erika’s thing-I do have a Buddhist one).
Words, sounds, images
I have a wide range of artistic interests. I’m dividing these into words, sounds and images, though I’m putting science and the humanities in here as well.
I’m a big fan of the written word. I was an early reader, and early into the adult books as well. I read Kafka in 7th grade, fer chrissake! I still read a lot, now mostly non-fiction and some science fiction. My favorite novels run in the cyberpunk genre-Gibson, Rucker, Stephenson, Brunner, Sterling. I’d like to write, but don’t have the time to explore that…
My musical interests have evolved significantly over the years. From pop to metal to prog to dance to hiphop back to metal to alternative to electronica, on the mainstream side-but I don’t have a whole lot of interest in mainstream music anymore, except for the stuff I like and find-Colin is out there as well… Beginning in ’84, I began to explore non-western and avant garde musics while taking a class in electronic music. Javanese and Balinese gamelan in particular, ambient, Philip Glass, Wendy Carlos, Brian Eno, Laurie Anderson-these are a few of the things and artists I’m interested in-I’ve seen Glass and Anderson several times, Ravi Shankar, the Mevlevi Dervishes, the aborigines, etc.-I was a big subscriber to UCLA Live. I also like North Indian classical music, natural sounds, noise, Peter Gabriel’s non-commercial work.
I play guitar and didgeridu. I played in the UCLA Balinese gamelan for 4 years, and I’ve been in Venerable Showers of Beauty (videos) at Lewis and Clark College, mostly balungan since ’09-slenthem, though I switch over to gong and kempul, kenong, depending. I want to learn suling, and I need to broaden out. I can make useful sounds with a keyboard, saxophone, sitar, recorder, drums/tabla, shakuhachi, suling. I’d like to get better at the violin and learn the trumpet. I used to have a pro-level rig with a Mesa 50-50 amp, a Chapman stick and an Ampeg SVT-50 cabinet, but I got rid of all that and have a smaller rig with a ’71/’72 Gibson SG, a ’52 Fender Deluxe Tweed amp, a Pod XT, a Zoom 9150 DSP and a wireless (I did keep the Stick-wanna buy it?). I used to have an 8-track digital recorder, FM synth, sampler, reverb, a MIDI keyboard, electronic drum pad, drum machine and a handheld sequencer, but I got rid of all that and got a Korg Kronos (except the drum pad and handheld sequencer). I also got a shakuhachi recently-I borrowed one several years ago, and now I have my own-I can make fairly decent sounds with it. Lately I’ve played bass and drums with our church choir-I get compliments, and it’s fun to actually use those skills.
I worked part-time in a recording studio for a while and did sound for the Laguna Beach church, as well as the Laguna Community Concert Band. I have musical ideas, but no time to work on them. I set everything up and recorded a piece for a film I did on the 2004 Seal Beach Kite Festival. More ideas have come, but again, no time. I set up the studio in the garage and then the family room of our last house-everything is on the computer and I’ve tracked one thing. I had to pack it all away when we moved and got rid of some stuff. I got a new handheld sequencer (Yamaha QY-100) and did a piece to learn it. I picked up a Pod-which has everything I need for guitar and a mic pre. I’m contemplating getting a Helix instead-seems to have better modeling tech… I play around on iPhone apps, and want to do more computer music stuff, but…here’s a thing I did 2 years ago on the iPhone-beTTa real.
I like fine art, especially impressionism and early 20th century abstraction (fine graffiti too). I have an ex who’s an artist, and I like her stuff. I appreciate dance, classical music and theater, but don’t really like but a small sliver of it. I like odd non plot driven films-Baraka & Samsara, Koyyanisqatsi and the like, though I do like 2001, Blade Runner, the first Matrix, Pulp Fiction, Fifth Element, and Blue Velvet. I watch too much TV, and I like animation-I’d loooove to work for Pixar!-got an in? Colin has gotten into manga, and I’ve followed him a little-I read Akira and Fullmetal Alchemist.
I’ve always been interested in math and science. I wanted to be an engineer, then an astronaut. I clearly remember the Apollo 11 mission-did a scrapbook. Now I’m into particle and theoretical physics and cosmology-the smallest and biggest scales in the universe. I also like set theory, infinity, topology and some of biophysics and evolutionary theory. Lately I’ve been getting into sociology and behaviorism. I have some theories about how to represent personality traits and societal traits using multi-dimensional grouping and statistics. I read a lot about this kind of stuff too-Wikipedia is a really good resource.
When I got back from Grand Cayman, I picked up a cheap wooden dual-line kite from Costco. I was living in Brentwood, and would drive down Sunset Boulevard to the beach at Pacific Palisades to fly it. It was fun, but wasn’t really controllable and fell apart easily. A few years later I discovered a kite shop at the Redondo Beach pier (Sunshine Kites) and bought some nicer kites. These flew better, and I would go down to Belmont Shore and fly them every so often. I wasn’t very good.
That completely changed in ’96 when I picked up a Revolution at the kite shop at the Huntington Beach pier (Kite Connection-thanks, Dave!). For me, this was not just a Revolution, but a revelation. The Rev is a quadline kite-2 lines at the top and 2 at the bottom on each side connect the kite to a handle in each hand. Compared to a dual-line kite, there’s basically no comparison. The extra set of lines and the shape of the kite enable you to control the speed and position of the kite with astonishing precision. Without too much effort, you can make it stop, hover, reverse, go sideways and spin. Here’s an example from me messing around, and John Baressi’s Bugs Bunny routine from 2017 Marseille Kite Festival. That fall was the American Kiteflyers Association Convention in Santa Monica. I went, and was seriously hooked. I would fly all day on weekends, after work, and sometimes I would take off work and fly during the day too. With all that time flying, I got pretty good pretty quickly.
I started competing in ’97. In ’98 I came in 7th in the conference, and in ’99 I came in 3rd in the conference with 2 firsts, a 2nd and a 3rd. I went to Nationals in Muncie, flew a flawless routine and won. In 2000, I moved up to Masters class, competing against multiple national champions and legends in the sport. Daunting. I placed 4th in the conference in ’00, 3rd in ’01, 5th in ’02. By this time there were 2 kids to take care of, so my time at the beach became less and less. I was also trying to craft a new ballet routine, and went through several pieces of music, including Gentle Giant, a cut from the Ice Age soundtrack and an edit of a gamelan inspired piece by Wendy Carlos that got me a press mention at the Berkeley Kite Festival in ’02.
At that time, for various reasons (mostly infighting within the group of people running the events), competitive flying in Southern California stopped entirely, so I haven’t competed since. All I do now is (rarely) fly indoors, and I want to get on skates and do it…I tried, and it’s an interesting concept.
I used to have a large power kite called a Nasa Parawing 5. I messed up my hip, so I sold it to a friend. I was starting to kite surf. This is a hella exciting sport. I’ve been in several TV spots, one for the Weather Channel. I’ve written several articles for online kite websites.
Kiteflying is one of those activities that everyone has done, but only when you get involved do you find that there are many, many different facets to it. From the bitty ones that kids fly, to huge show kites flown by the likes of Dave Gomberg and Peter Lynn, to sport kites, to power kiting, to kite aerial photography, to sky art, to (now) power generators and sailing.
I’ve always been a relatively active person, though recently not as much as I should. Getting older, kids, and just being busy have restricted my involvement in sporting activities.I have always been a skier and a tennis player. I found a picture of me at 3 1/2 on skis. That’s more than 50 years…
I’ve also played tennis for as long as I can remember. I was a pretty bad competitor when I was young, though, as I’m a total hyper-perfectionist. I played soccer and racquetball at U.S., and started lifting weights, which continued up ’til ’96 or so. When I was in Grand Cayman, I did aerobics to get into shape (after a year and a half of debauchery in London), played a little tennis, then got into Tae Kwon Do. I got a black belt, and started T’ai Chi around that time too.
When I came to L.A., I got a pair of Rollerblades. My parents lived near a fake lake, and I skated around that a lot. When I moved to West L.A., I skated down the bike path from Pacific Palisades to Venice all the time. I started playing golf in ’93, took some lessons, and used to play about once a year or so. I started playing roller hockey in ’94 or so, then stopped because I was getting injured. I skated a lot in downtown Long Beach, and to the gym and back. I completely stopped all of this in ’97 or so.
In ’04 I took a T’ai Chi class at Saddleback College, and Pilates in ’05. I really like Pilates-it’s quick, and you can get fit quick. There were small gyms at our complexes, and 2 pools, but I didn’t really use them (I tried to, but Erika whined at me about it…)
I messed up my back in ’89 when I was doing Tae Kwon Do, and it hasn’t been the same, though lately it hasn’t been bothering me except when I tweak it. In ’09 I started back at it a little-T’ai Chi, jump rope and a quickie workout. I was walking to and from the train and work, had a standup desk and ball and did bitty exercises too. Now my oldest has started working out, and I’ve been going to the gym with him. I’m losing weight, flattening my belly, and getting fit again. Go me! I also take the stairs at work. We’re also doing t’ai chi-he’s picked it up, and we finish off our workout with it.
Right now, I still like skiing-I was going maybe once a year, and it kills me because I’m never in good enough shape to ski the way I’d like to or know I can. And I end up sore for 3 days afterwards. I went in ’04 with work people-the head of the company took a few of us up to Mammoth in the Gulfstream they owned a part of. I took Matt and Salem up winter of ’17 for a day, and they picked it up right quick-it’s SO expensive, though, and I only got one run by myself-it was fun bouncing down the slope. Now that I’ve improved my shape, I want to go more.
I like tennis too, but don’t get to play-used the tennis courts where we lived maybe 5 times. Probably play more as the kids get older… I’ve played a few times over the years-again, not enough to really fulfill my potential. I started up with a fellow player from gamelan for a bit, and my skills are there, but not consistency. I’ve also played racquetball on and off.
I really like the martial arts-especially T’ai Chi. I worked hard to get my black belt in Tae Kwon-Do, and kept it up for a few years. For the longest time I was doing the long Yang form, but this time around I learned the Chinese national one-the Yang 24 form. T’ai Chi is really good for you, and you can get a good workout as well. I taught the 7th graders at school, and I tried it at church with the 7th-8th grade youth and adults… I started back on the long Yang form in ’09, got halfway through, and stopped again. I’m doing it now 3 times a week with Mathias post-workout.
I lifted weights for the longest time, and it really didn’t do anything for me except toning and strength-I’m just not the right body type for bulkiness. I also started taking aerobics-a quick way to get into shape. I tried to get a teaching certificate, but lost interest halfway through. I really like Pilates. The exercises are as challenging as you want to make them, and I like the precision. I have 2 quickie workouts too, but no time to do them. I’ve started back at weightlifting, though it’s not Nautilus, so it’s not the same.
I enjoyed skating a lot-a great way to get around and in shape. It was also fun skating down the bike path to Venice Beach. Hockey was even more fun-another great way to get in shape and good skill building too. I played in a parking structure by Redondo Pier with people from work. I destroyed several pairs of skates, got hurt a few times, and everyone lost interest after the company we were working for moved back east. I skated all over downtown Long Beach, and up the river a ways too. I used to skate to the bar, but I got a bike and that was more efficient. The kids have skates now, so I may skate a bit more as they’re learning and after. There’s a roller rink close by here in Portland, and I tuned my skates up and have gone every so often with the kids. Salem got a nice pair, and she picked it up right quickly.
I also have some definite ideas about our bodies, and physical, emotional and mental fitness. Check out the essays for detailed info. Essentially I give regimens for diet, workouts and yoga routines. You need to have a fit body. A good diet, exercise and a stable mental and emotional base are critical to a happy life and inner development. You need to have balanced food, strength, cardio, flexibility and skill, mental and emotional balance, control and resilience.
I work with computers. Been doing it since ’84, and in school-I remember doing punched tape in 7th grade to a mini at U.S. (’74ish). Bounced around a lot, doing almost anything you can do with computers. I even worked on a mainframe for a bit. My early work life was helping my Dad out grading CPCU tests, caddying, working at a copper tubing factory, and as a summer/part-time helper at an insurance company-copying, filing, reception, etc. Some of the girls there had crushes on me, I think… I also helped my Dad out at work fixing up Lotus spreadsheets for insurance stuff. This was in ’82/’83-the dawn of personal computing.
I originally wanted to be an architect, and I would’ve liked that a lot, especially after I discovered Christopher Alexander. More on that later. I couldn’t get in anywhere, so I went to Miami and got a degree in Systems Analysis. Most of the work was on mainframes, and I never completed a project. Once I got out of school, I started working on PCs.
My first job was in London, this investment manager was starting a new company for a bank-I helped set up a LAN, their customer database, the accounting system, and pretty much everything else that was computer related. I also did charting and financial analysis. I did the same thing in Grand Cayman for the parent, and wrote more software, set up a bigger LAN and databases, and supported more people. All the programming was in Turbo Pascal and Btrieve. I ended up running a $40M venture capital fund-doing the books, transferring money around, preparing financial statements, etc.
After I got back to L.A., it took me 6 months to find a job. I spent all the money I saved in Grand Cayman in the process. I even went up to San Francisco-not a thing, even with networking-the closest I got was with the Trust for Public Land-I didn’t have the credentials… I finally picked up a job at Mann Theaters doing support for the communication system used to send box office back to the mainframe. I also did some support and wrote a little Paradox program for a user, which got me fired (though they never said so).
It only took me a month to find another job working for a tiny consulting firm in Long Beach. I jumped all over SoCal, writing Paradox programs, doing LANs and support and training and Word macros. I got fired from that job after three years because I was too friendly with a few of the clients and made too many mistakes.
Again, it took me only a month to get a job, this time on a contract with J&J doing maintenance programming in Pascal. They moved the office back East and I remoted for awhile-I got a free trip to D.C. and one to New Jersey out of it… I also started doing consulting-firmware for a flight controller here, Macintosh maintenance there, joystick firmware, LAN setups, support, setting up X-terminals, anything for a buck. I finally took a longer-term consulting gig with the ACLU of Southern California, doing support and odd computer jobs. I worked for a software company in Newport Beach on an oil delivery system then telecommuted to Baltimore. I finally picked up another Pascal maintenance contract that changed into a C++ project doing hotel interfaces.
My next job was at Quest Software in ’99, doing Delphi for Space Manager. It was pre-IPO, and I got some cheap options that paid for 2 cars when the stock went skyhigh. I finished the rewrite, and went to Shareplex doing the monitor. That project got cancelled, and I started running the UI Studio. We moved to new offices in November ’05. In March ’08, I got laid off for cost cutting reasons, along with a bunch of other people.
It took me a month and a half to find a job, so I got an offer the week after I left Quest. It was with Hollywood Video doing logistics-Delphi/Oracle maintenance programming for the distribution center, just after they came out of the first bankruptcy. It was pretty routine, fix this, change that-very formal processes. I gathered a few more responsibilities, started working on a source code migration project, then end of life for one of the POS systems. Then the company went under. It took me a few months to find a job, and I worked for Huron Consulting doing Java programming for the Higher Education group on a web based program for managing grant certifications, then they lost a big client and laid off 3 people here in Portland-more cost cutting-I was there 5 years. I also did some UI design, which I really like doing.
It took me a long time to find work this time-things are much more siloed and specialized than before, and I’m no spring chicken. After 5 months I got a 3 month contract to hire for Hitachi Consulting-working for Nintendo doing first PHP then Java programming for their third party developer program. I was picking up everything really fast, and they seemed to like the work I do. I decided not to go fulltime, as everything was a chaotic mess, so I got another contract for Daimler on a major revision for their aftermarket parts application-it’s all Java and Dojo on Websphere. Again, I picked it up really quickly. I’m still there, working on the same project plus another one doing aftermarket quote requests-still Java/Websphere, but jQuery and Bootstrap.
I’ve also done freelance stuff. Mostly programming and graphic design/website stuff. I tried to do a thing with Illustrator that didn’t work out, I got a bitty one doing maintenance programming that I had to fight to get paid for. I have had three successful gigs-one long term doing web design for a contractor, a short one for a charity, and a website for a Dr’s office. I also maintained the school website, and I had 2 other bitty gigs, plus one more up here. I picked up another Java one, but it proved impossible given my time. I just started doing UI design for a startup doing grocery messaging stuff. I’m always looking for offsite, offhours graphic design, web and programming work. Here’s my resume if you want something done or know somebody who does. Thanks!
I like doing graphic design and artwork more than programming, though lately Java and Eclipse have changed my mind some. I was involved in usability and layout at Quest, as well as more mundane graphic artwork stuff. I’m passionate about usability, and user orientation, and interaction design. Computers are pretty much ubiquitous, and it’s crucial that they be easy to use. Mobile has raised an entire new paradigm for user interaction and computer usage, and it’s crucial to get it right-the grocery messaging designs really brought that to me.
And that brings me to patterns. I heard about pattern languages in the mid-90’s from the Whole Earth Review. I promptly got the book, read it through, and followed to the rest of Alexander’s work. This stuff is truly groundbreaking. Essentially a pattern is something fundamental, a concept that encapsulates a singular idea about how things are put together. Alexander developed it in the context of architecture and urban design. His premise is that there are a bunch of unitary concepts that can be used to develop houses, towns and cities in a coherent, meaningful and timeless manner. There are 3 levels of detail, and the patterns are interlocking and interrelated in a complex web. This concept can be applied to programming, and perhaps everything. The programming folks have jumped on this without really understanding the ideas behind it. The patterns tend to be fragmentary, disorganized and lack the overarching timelessness of the original work. This all came out in 1977, so I didn’t have it when I was thinking about architecture-too new and radical-“the New Urbanism“. Alexander has moved on to generative sequences and centers, and has written a magnum opus called The Nature of Order. I read them all in early ’16, and they’re really good-identifying and enhancing centers, creating life, and the indwelling of spirit in material things are the core, which makes this work more philosophical and spiritual in addition to being about architecture.
Postscript-A summary and…what’s next?
Well, that’s it, you got to the end! I hope this gives a better understanding of who I am. It necessarily has to be more of a summary, if only for space and time constraints. As I said 25, no, 35 years ago, I wish I had room for everything. I don’t, so a sketch is given instead. This one is more detailed than that one was, if only because I’m older, have more to say and don’t have the limitations of the printed page (or Mabian editors!).
As usual, the future is indeterminate. I have kids, so unless something catastrophic or miraculous happens, I’ll be working and playing gamelan, the kids will be going to school, we’ll be involved in church activities, I may or may not be writing or playing the stuff I have in my head.
I originally wrote something here about how scary the Bush administration was, and how I was afraid of how bad things could go. But Obama got elected, and the economy cratered. I’m less afraid than I was-now the conservatives suffered the same paranoia that the Left had during the Bush years. Funny how that goes…back and forth seems to be the norm now.
I’m still afraid-we live in a country where the gap between the haves and the have-nots is enormous, and growing. This is a recipe for trouble, and if you add endless war, a finance-based economy, intractable politics, illiteracy and a culture of diversion and distraction it really doesn’t bode well for us. Not to mention climate change, peak oil, the sixth extinction (dead bees, anyone?) and heavy weather, so we’re completely screwed. Not to mention the rise of Trump and Trump-esque demagogues, and who knows about Bernie? And the way things have gone during the 2016 election, and Trump as president-the level of uncertainty is very high, and I’m getting nervous again. Though as a white male with skills, I can find work overseas as easily as I can here…and here I’m a citizen and not on the firing line, though Niemoller’s words still ring true.
In any case, thanks for getting this far. I enjoy doing these things, but never know how they’re received. Drop me a line if you like.