Updates (at end)
080606 Luckiest moment
080607 Best thing SDHS taught me
08???? Second Luckiest Moment: Running into telephone pole
080610 The Collapsed Minneapolis Bridge
I've been lucky. My mother was a mover. She moved every few months because she wouldn't pay rent beyond the first month. My sister counted 68 addresses in her movements by age 18. I have lived in the same house, now, for over 30 years. My mother was the most irresponsible person I ever knew for which her reward was being the most unhappy person I ever knew. She was a prime example of why welfare without responsibility destroys humanity. Help that does not help the helpless to help themselves is not help. The social consequences are real: Of eight kids, only 3 finished high school and only I finished college. Private welfare is as dehumanizing as public welfare: consider the whining blond bimbo in California whose great granddady left her $25 million. What's her name? Oh, yeh, Parisite Hilton.
I've been lucky. Brains? No, luck. One brother with only a 9th grade education is the major domo of ADM's Decatur infrastructure: No plumbing, rail, electrical, transportation, etc. is implemented without his reviewing and approving the blueprints--he has a 3-D thinking process and can tell when a 2 ft pipe is going through a 3 ft pipe which it is not supposed to do. Another freshman dropout did 26 years in Marine Corps with achievements that I heard about from other Marines, e.g., interfacing 8" field guns via modems on each cannon to the F.A.A. air traffic computers to prevent the gun from firing if a plane was scheduled to be in the firing test airspace. I, while graduating in at 192 in a class of almost 400, scored in the 97th percentile on the college boards.
I was lucky and did not know it. My resume reflects a studied path to follow new paths every few years. Most people when they read it don't believe it to be true. I went to college for an education not a job. I observed and lived being a "free thinker"--to wit, "Freedom's just another word for nothing else to lose." (Janis Joplin). I wouldn't trade a new thought nor would I deny another person a deserved smile or laugh for all the money in the world. I cared for understanding life without "strings to bind my heart." One can travel farther faster when one travels alone. One can do a variety of things that the average person cannot fathom let alone understand. I have only three regrets which do not include the innumerable stupid, foolish things I did along the way. God, when I think of some of the things I did at SDHS, I wince. You all still intimidate me.
I've been really lucky. Some have accused me of trying to be "perfect." I didn't seek that path. My path unfolded as I tried to live the truths that I discovered one of which was not to hurt others who don't deserve it. Someone said that to find a a--hole as big as me, one would have to go to the Grand Canyon. A long-term friend and legal advisor disagreed by saying that when I want to be an a--hole, one could only find the comparable by emptying the Pacific Ocean. I don't argue with people anymore--too many suicides or attempts along the way. Finding people's raw nerves is accidental. Pissing on them is unfair.
I've been really lucky. Consider some of the following. My military experience had some exceptional moments and achievements. I completed electronics school scoring the highest on the final exam, a de facto GRE for a BE&E. I was rapidly promoted with waivers on minimum time in rank. One big disappointment was not making the final cut for being one of the annual 100 "mustangs" for matriculation to Annapolis from the enlisted ranks. The review board of three Naval Academy grads said I had the smarts and motivation but my speech impediment would not earn me respect nor be understandable in the heat of battle. They echo'd what my grandfather told me my freshman year at SDHS. When I said I was taking French, he said, "You ought to first learn to speak English." Do you remember my high-pitch unintelligble elmer fudd twang? "The liddle wed wabbit went wunning acwoss da wailwoad twack!"
From electronic school I was assigned to a premo station, one of two Communication Command ships, "floating pentagons" from where the President could direct a war. Bob "watergate" Woodward had served on the ship as a "communication" liaison. Navy food is notoriously the best of the military service. My ship won the best mess afloat in four of the previous five years. Lobster for lunch on Friday! While most Navy ships had one to six electronic technicians, the USS Wright had 44! Due to some unusual events and mentors in the Navy, I finangled an honorable discharged at two years instead of the original six. A twist on my naval experience was how in the early 1990's I watched the commissioning of the lead ship of a new class of destroyers, USS Arleigh Burke, in Norfolk, VA, from the deck of the first Soviet warship to visit the US since World War II. I've been lucky.
With the GI Bill and a state scholarship, I attacked undergraduate school from the perspective of a person who had seen the world without an education. No one should be allowed to go to college without a year working in the real world without mommy and daddy continuing private welfare. Anyone who wonders why young people want something for nothing only need to look at the parents who said their kids weren't going to work as hard as the parents did. Duh. America doesn't work anymore because everyone wants to be a player compliment of the parents who pushed the play pathos over the work ethic. Spare the rod and spoil your retirement! The massacre at Virginia Tech (where students just sat in their desk like deer frozen by the approaching headlights of a car or train that will kill them) would not have happened in an inner city high school.
Another truth that most people don't believe is that I matriculated at SIU-E in September, 1970, and accumulated enough college credits to earn a degree in 1972, cum laude. One semester I ace'd 24 hours. I did the pre-med organic chemistry course in two months, taking the May final with the students who had started in September. Because of commencement formalities, the degree was not awarded until 1973. In just two years, and maybe a couple of months, I caught up with my high school classmates who had started college the same year I started the Navy. I remember a day at NIU getting on an elevator when another graduate student said from the back of the elevator, "I'll be, Bob Barnett. I'd recognize that voice anywhere!" That fellow grad student? Chuck Force. I've been lucky.
In a sense, I fulfilled what Mr. Ebbs, the math teacher, had said after the banner, "If you put the same energy into your classwork, you'd be an A instead of a C student." In high school, I worked 40-50 hours per week. My cousin gave me a bed and board but everything else I had to pay for. In college, I did not have to work because of the GI Bill. Because I completed UG so quickly, I was able to use the GI bill for a masters and an ABD.
(Needless to say, I was both elated and troubled by my good performance in academia. I worried about getting a big ego so I decided to pose for art classes in the nude to shrink my ego. Guess what shrunk? The size of the audience! Notice I did not say the size of the ordinance. LOL. If my jokes still, like in high school, bore the doodoo out of you, remember that with friends like me you don't need enemas.)But you are the guilty jury, for some reason you voted me most witty.
Other achievements include running for the US Congress as an independent in 1998, scoring five times better than the average independent and twice as good as the last major party opponents to run against the incumbent. I started a resume service to talk to people about work--my resumes had interview rates six times the national average, and, more importantly, a high job offer rate. I started a printing company. One month, my firm printed more carbonless than any other cutsheet printer, a month which happened to have a multilevel sales contest by NCR with the second prize being a Carribean cruise and top prize being a trip to Europe. I won six Carribean cruises and four European sojourns. Because I quickly grew tired of hiring and training computer programmers who left for better jobs in six months because they were more qualified, I became a computer programmer. Like every other endeavor, I left the field when more people were calling me than I wanted to be called. In the 1980's I did a program for Blue Cross/Blue Shield that generated a quarter of a million dollars in revenue.
Despite having personal computers in my attic that are 30 years old, I don't give out my email address and I have never played a game on a computer. I also don't answer my phone. I am a recluse because I am a logical earthling who lives in a world of illogical aliens who profess pursuit of life elsewhere from where none have returned. Semantic honesty requires correction to the rape of the English language, e.g., funny mentalists and evilutionists. I prefer inebriated mental masturbation to ineffective social intercourse. America, more than any country, suffers from people's formulating views and values from their gut-reactions to their gut-reactions. This makes them doo-doo digesters, or, as they say in polite company, shat-eaters. (I shouldn't have had that last beer.)
The most important thing that I have done which echos my educational rationale for college--not job training--and which has tied my life together since SIU-E is a concept called timism (time+ism). All my meandering career refocuses every 3 to 5 years have been to explore and expand what is a "periodic table of existence" based on the quantification/qualification in time of dynamic systems. The meandering include a two year stint as a "homeless" person in Minneapolis despite having a paid-for home in Richmond, VA, (to wit, from heidegger, one cannot understand hunger until you have been hungry.) There is a lot to human sadness and suffering that you cannot understand from being a check-writer to good causes. Many are the good souls who slipped and were kicked instead of being offered a helping hand. Many are the good fools who think they have citizen and constitutional rights until they attempt to use them. This is like having health insurance that is denied when you get sick, to wit (Catch 22), you have health insurance if you don't use it and don't have it if you do.
(In Minneapolis, the voice once again proved memorable as I was standing on a corner waiting for a light and talking to someone. A person behind me said, "Aren't you from Richmond, Virginia?" ... "Yes." ... "You did my resume 15 years ago. I recognized your voice.")
I've been lucky. I learned to choose my friends for their humanity, not money or connections. To choose friends for any other reason is to live a lie and enslave oneself to management of lies, that is, a variation of "if you always tell the truth you only have to remember one story." If you live lies, e.g., racism, you cannot enjoy the moments of life because you are always having to manage and keep straight your lies.
Ironically, I've had friends who were rich and famous about which we never discussed their wealth or fame, just ideas or humanity. One couple inherited big money but married on the agreement that they would live on the money they earned while giving away to charity the inherited money (about $50k a month in the 1980's). A maid took a check from the back of the household check ledger and cashed it for almost $300k with which she bought a house. While she went to jail she kept the house under some obscure home exemption law. Go figure! Despite their access to funds, I would hear them complain about bus fares going up 15 cents or how cottage cheese was cheaper than recotto cheese for cooking! They taught me that unearned money is self-defeating money and that, beyond a certain amount, money is like breathing, you are wasting your breath. When they lost $30k in a business venture I started, he said he didn't think it would go from the start but wanted to see how it might go. She said, "You'll still come for Sunday lunch, won't you?"
Of the $30k loss, I've had my failures, but not repeats. One can judge a person by the size of their failures. A person who can fail only $10 has not tried as hard as a person who has a $10,000 failure. I remember being depressed when I had a $5k failure due to being stupid. I was depressed for only a few minutes until I realized that I could afford a $5k mistake and still have food, home and earnings. Some people, sadly, can't afford a $1k mistake without being homeless. (My biggest mistake was $250k--that got me depressed a little longer!)
While my current business venture may cost me a poor house or worse, it is the thrill of the journey that is more important than the final results ... which is why I have probably been so lucky. Putting the banner together was more important than being there when the results happened--I was in Chicago!
The essence of friendship is found in its origin in middle English, free (freo). A person who gave you more freedom from problems you called a "freeing person" whence friend (like frei and freund in German). To choose a friend for something other than their humanity is not to choose a friend but to choose lies and losses over human truths and gains.
One's humanity is based on solving real human problems, not buying solutions or solving non-human problems. Sadly, the cost of humanity to mother nature is a combination of the cost of living and the cost of wants, waste and lies with the latter causing more CO2 sinning than the former. The more humanity a person has, the more experience and wisdom that person has in how to free oneself from real human problems. It's simple and logical if one wants the happiness of freedom from real problems to choose your friends based on their humanity.
Timism sounds simple enough! In summary, there are basically six levels of existence (physics, metabolism, mental, economics, politeness(politics) and morality) which observe three processes centered on the creation and destruction of time. The periodic table of elements in chemistry can be viewed from the time perspective. Deep throat was self-limiting when he said, "Follow the money" for a better inclusive statement is "follow the time." Like with Darwin's survival of the fittest which is a subset of "survival of the most time creative." Timism shows that Shakespeare was half right when he wrote the first half of the following whole truth: Ignorance is bliss until the ignored problems blitz you. My greatest luck has been timism which is a 1000 times more sweet, subtle and substantial than the creativity and sewing behind the banner. Timism explains how MCC=hf from which the Yang-Mills paradox is no longer a paradox, that is, how 12 pennies of matter becomes ten dollars of gravitational mass.
Once one has timism as a sixth sense, one can redefine problems from any level of existence into timistic units. Timism is the universal language, like the common jigsaw pattern that holds together the puzzles of life which mankind has differentiated with a thin veneer of varying vocabulary that is not the real substance of life. Academic schools of thought are like political boundaries--they don't last.
An example of timism as a heuristic clutter cutter, I have a paper I wrote in 1982 in which I said the real impact of rising atmospheric CO2 will not be from warming but precipitation changes with longer droughts and record downpours which would destroy the foodchain causing social, economic and political collapse. C'est la vie. Why? CO2 is a dessicant that either soaks into water (carbonated beverages) or soaks up water (drought). Once the atmospheric CO2 is water logged/saturated, it is a monstorous CO2 bottle waiting to be agitated whereupon it will spew forth its water like shaking a two-liter pop bottle with your finger over the opening.
My social and political activism has not been goody-goody altruism but payback to those who mentored me out of repeating the white-trash welfare cycle. When I realized that I was an exceptional success in my mid-twenties, I went to my mentors and asked what I could do to pay them back. Independent of each other at different times they each said basically the same: "You can't give me anything that I need. I have everything I want and need. Do what I did. Take the time to help kids that are like you."
I remember Bill "King" Krekel laughing when I asked him that question with him saying, "Boy, you can't give me anything. Help others." Visiting him before he died, he always introduced me as the best grill boy ever--40 years after I first got a milkshake for picking up trash on his lot. (He gave me a car when I graduated from high school, drove it thruout the Navy and U.G. till I got married. I sold it for a demolition derby: I felt like a traitor as it took a beating before succumbing to a broadside that flipped it.)
Whenever I owned a business, I always had a teenage employment niche to hire and train high schoolers. For several years in the 1980's I ran a summer "Work Ethic" school in which I hired an ed major to supervise a teen crew: half time in work, half time in learning computers, typing, english and math. Cost several thousand each summer, but it was more fun than spending the money going to Europe. The kids don't call anymore since I don't have businesses anymore but it was always great to get that call out of the blue, to wit, "I didn't like you when I worked for you, but I now realized it was your tough love to teach me the work ethic. As a result, I am doing better than my peers with promotions and duties." Deja vu of me when I realized the debt I owed to my mentors.
Some people actively hide their troubled pasts while others use them to seek pity. Not me. For those kindred souls arising without the mentors from whom I profitted, sharing how one's sweat and self-belief can lift one to a higher plane is a form of helping others from afar. Humanity needs the best from each of us regardless of how the parental dice were thrown. One need not have a crappy life if at the start one comes out craps.
Being born white trash does not mean one has to remain trash though there is always some in the recesses of one's mind. Bill Clinton shows this: You can take the boy out of the country but you can't take the trash out of the boy. For me, Decatur always fosters the angst and anxiety that I felt as a monster on my back for many decades after leaving, monsters that return when I return home, to wit, "once there was a way to back home." (beatles).
One benefit of a hard-scrabbled start in life is that you don't sweat the small shat which is one of the contributing reasons that I have been repeatedly accosted as being undeservedly too happy. And, as the race comes to an end, those who started at the back of the pack but finish well ahead of the pack covered more distance in less time. I've been lucky.
In summary, I was luckier at achieving my yearbook goal of "Surviving and climbing in this dog-eat-dog world." I view myself as an intelligent idiot. I want to get a vanity licence plate, IQIDIOT, but my wife denies. I am a sane person in an insane world that is suffering an accelerating existential meltdown as all of our problem-solving systems collpase under the weight of heavier problems and the burden of featherweight minds. Each day I get up before dawn to hear life peacefully come alive one more time with birds chirping: Life as we know is about to be "gone with the wind" as the winds of global dying burn up more and more of our ecosystem (fires, droughts, tornados and storms).
Updates: When you start thinking about the past, you get to know yourself better if your recollections are not fabrications. So, as a vehicle for getting to know myself, I will update some of the points which are entertaining and enligthening.
A cliche says luck favors the prepared or perspiration lubricates inspiration. But sometimes, you just have a mathematical near impossibility that was totally unrelated to any effort or training. I would be a totally different person today if I had not attended Navy Electronics School where for the first time I could attend class with guaranteed 3-squares and some pocket change ($39 a month!). My knowledgeable ending which paved the way for premo posting was the opposite of how I got into electronic school by sheer luck.
My bootcamp company was one of the Navy's PR companies, the White Sox baseball team sponosred it. We did our on-field walk-on as part a PR recruiting campaign. The 100 plus recruits were selected for outstanding achievements. Not only did we a multiple of college grads greater than other companies but several all-state and an all-american swimmers. (I swam second leg or a relay team that always beat the other companies by a whole person. We finished our fourth person with their third person.) We had a drummers from a nationally known band (crying shames) who made the G-dunk rock. My college boards must have been why I was there.
I mention the higher caliber of my bootcamp company because about 20 recruits had applied to ET school with only 4 slots being available. When it became known that I was one of selectees, there was not only consternation and complains but one guy even cried, saying it wasn't fair that "tinker bell" (my nickname) got in and he did not. There were recruits with college or trade school training that did not get in. How was I so lucky?
Midway through bootcamp is hellweek in which you work 17-hour days in the kitchen with standard requirements of maintaining your close and personal space. Hellweek was designed to breakdown one's individuality to foster greater team and Navy spirit. Hellweek ended at 11pm Sunday night with a ten-hour stint of apptitude testing beginning at 4am with no break. (Lunch was a damn piece of bologna between two pieces of bread with no condiments--so much for great navy food!)
The last test was the electronic test which consisted of 20 questions. The proctor said that if one did not want to attend to ET school that one could ignore the test and take a nap. After reading the first four questions which made no sense to me, I put my head down. I heard the proctor give the two minute warning whereupon I randomly marked the testsheet not even reading the final 16 questions. I SCORED 18 OUT OF 20. I guess God did not want me to be a cook which was my backup plan compliments of watching Krekel build a little kingdom out of burgers.
Best thing I learned at SDHS and still benefit from: Typing at 100wpm.
In second year, my junior brother and I took typing and competed against each other as we did in diving competition. As I recall, some girl was the best with my brother second and me third. By being a 10-finger flyer without having to think about where one's fingers are, one can devote more of one's cognitive intellect to shaping ideas than can the hunt and peck chicken typists. (In one of my businesses I had a great redhead who could type 250wpm--More than once she would crank out a 30-page hand-written rough draft in two-hours with the spellchecker finding only five errors. She typed without bending her fingers.)
080610 Minneapolis Bridge: While commuting between the Twin Cities, I often used the I-35 bridge that collapsed. Besides riding on it, I rode under it on a bike. Minneapolis has one of the best bike paths systems in the nation. I remember looking up at the I-35 bridge and thinking it look awfully spindly for an 8-lane interstate. Turns out it was designed for 4-lanes with other lanes added later. Lucky it did not fall on or with me.
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