I come from a newspapering family. My father and my uncle were both newspaper editors, and my son Joel has carried on the tradition by being a reporter for the Atlantic City Press (and marrying an editor).
One thing my father taught me was that there was no such thing as a useless piece of information. Anything you might know could show up in a newspaper story you are editing. For example, what is the name of Don Quixote's horse? (It's "Rozinante"). This came across my father's desk twice in one week in stories he was editing---and both times it was misspelled.
One interest my father passed on to me was Civil War history. This was useful on two occasions, once when a visiting Australia and a writer said he was interested in seeing Civil War battlefields and I took him to see the Manassas, Antietam, and Gettysburg battlefields, and once when I was asked to write an encyclopedia article on Mathematics in the Civil War.
Other interests I have acquired from my father were Wild West history, American history in general, and the sciences. I, however, did not pick up his taste for detective stories (outside of Sherlock Holmes).
In the first grade my father showed me how to add with carrying, and I have been interested in mathematics ever since. I did not realize how much I was interested in math until the seventh grade when I was entered in a mental arithmetic contest. I did not win, but I did well, and ever since if I don't have a calculator, or pencil and paper handy, I will do arithmetic in my head. The same year I was placed in a class which studied the "new math" rather than traditional mathematics courses. I think I was a shining example of what the new math could do. However, in college, it was disappointing to discover that everything "new" about the new math was covered in one term of my abstract algebra class.
I graduated from high school on Memorial Day weekend and the following Tuesday I started my first job in a computer center. This was back in punch-card days, and my job was mainly to sort punch cards before feeding them into the computer. I have been working with computers ever since, and in addition to a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics, I have a Master's degree in Computer Engineering.
For fifteen years I worked for the Department of the Army. For most of that time I wrote and ran war-games on the computer (not video games, but the type of war games that would involve a long list of Army units and sometimes took months to complete). Other systems I programmed included the Army budget, personnel, and the Pentagon car pool assignments. Once when a piece of paperwork was missing, I called Personnel. The woman who answered the phone said not to worry, they had a wonderful computer program that kept track of that particular paperwork. "Ma'am," I said, "I wrote that program." (And I had.) The same day she tracked down the missing paperwork for me.
My last assignment for the Army was planning office automation for the Corps of Engineers and writing the specifications for their new computers. After that I started working for a contractor with the Federal Aviation Administration. This time I was not a programmer but a software tester. I worked at the FAA's Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township, where we had computer systems that were exact duplicates of the ones air traffic controllers used in the field. Software written for the controllers was always sent to the Technical Center first for us software testers to hack away at. This was fascinating because not only did it use my years of experience in writing software, it also required me to have a detailed knowledge of just how controllers worked and what they did to control flights.
I have also taught as a member of the adjunct faculty at Richard Stockton College. Courses I have taught have included Operations Research, Calculus, Statistics, and Microsoft OFFICE.
Now I am retired and looking for things to do to use my years of painfully acquired computer and mathematical skills and other knowledge. Helping students learn what I learned is my answer.
Undergraduate Degree: Michigan State University - Bachelor of Science, Mathematics
Graduate Degree: National Technological University - Master of Science, Computer Engineering
GRE Quantitative: 790
GRE Verbal: 800
math, science, history, science fiction, playwriting, stagecraft
College Level American History
Elementary School Math
High School Chemistry
High School English
High School Level American History
High School Physics