I chose the nickname “Heretic” for a specific reason, probably not the one you may think. I will explain it in another blog entry. The short synopsis about me is that I was born in England of an American Father and an English Mother. After relocation to the US I grew up a child of the fifties and sixties. I went outside to play with friends with the rule, “Be home before the streetlights come on!” Beyond that we children were left to our own devices so we built forts, went camping, swam in the nude at the beach, river, lake or spring and even found the hot mud baths outside of Riverhead, LI to be a wonderful place to get really filthy. I started work shortly after high school at a large warehouse that carried a huge variety of merchandise from building supplies and tools to hunting rifles and sidearms. While there a new technology was introduced, automated inventory and ordering systems using a mainframe computer. The team that came in to do the work needed help and I showed an aptitude for it so began working with a team of analysts and software designers building this system . . . for $2.10 an hour!!
I loved working with computers and while, at the time, there were no degree programs the college I attended, NMMI, offered computer programming courses as a not for credit option. I signed up for all of them and culminated in writing a program that ran on an IBM mainframe using time-sharing with my program stored on punch cards. I would load them up into the card reader and the machine would read the cards to program the core then I could simulate the process of successfully landing a spacecraft on various moons and planets based on the different gravitational forces by entering commands that would turn and direct the speed of the spacecraft as it descended. The results were printed out on a line printer using a variety of characters to give a visual representation of the spacecraft along with a variety of parameters based on the last “burn”. If you ran out of fuel, landed too hard or … you crashed!
I am considered a “Jack of all trades” due to the variety of interests I pursued. I apprenticed to my father’s construction business and learned painting, plumbing, drywall, electrical wiring and even structural design and assembly. While in college I got into racecars, rallye type, and after college I drove claimers and superstock cars in Phoenix while an apprentice mechanic. Eventually I became a full-time shop manager and spent my days fixing exotic cars like Maserati, Porsche, Ferrari along with the more mundane like a factory original 1967 Caprice with a 454 that was so clean you could eat off the engine block. That car, and several others, convinced me that if you took care of a car it really didn’t matter who built it, it would last until you were sick of the sight of it. I also built my own airplanes from scratch, full-sized ones like a BD-5, a KR-2 and eventually a 7/8 scale Fokker DVIII Eindecker. Of course this meant having a pilot’s license so I got one of those too.
After the company I worked for went bankrupt I joined the Air Force. Assigned to the Security Police just as desktop computers were becoming the rage I found myself tasked as the “Small Systems Manager”. While in this role I discovered a ‘bug’ in the C code used to create the SP Database which resulted in my receipt of the Air Force Commendation Medal. TBC…