About the Grump

 
 

Summary

  • Animal lover—I intensely abhor animal cruelty of any sort, including sport hunting
  • Apolitical—I've never identified with any political party or ideology
  • Areligious—I eschew the agendas of all organized religions
  • Asocial—I basically hate everybody (except, of course, for friends)
  • Aware—as much as I dislike the news, I'm an information junkie
  • Courteous—even if old-fashioned politeness is passé
  • Creative—thinking outside the box is my specialty
  • Cynical—at one time the opposite, I now regard humanity as having run its course
  • Empathic—often to the point of "owning" the experiences of others
  • Environmentalist—I'm keenly aware that humans are destroying our only home
  • Epicureanistlook it up and you'll understand me a bit better
  • Feminist—I regret the fact that we still live in a painfully patriarchal society
  • Gentle—one of the least hostile or aggressive people you're likely to meet
  • Individual—uninfluenced by social trends
  • Intense—I can become deeply emotional, especially about music
  • Open—my heart's on my sleeve
  • Present—I give anyone I'm with my full, undivided attention
  • Sensitive—sometimes far too much for my own good
  • Shy—more than two is a crowd for me
  • Spontaneous—I've never felt that "fun" can be planned; it just happens

A Brief History

During my ~6.5 decades on this planet, I've done an awful lotta stuff. I got started early: as a high school junior, my first paying job was painting signs; I was also a salesman at a hobby shop. While earning a Bachelors degree in graphic design from Trenton State College (a.k.a. The College of New Jersey), I worked at a local advertising agency, becoming the art director shortly after graduating. This was followed by a stint in the printing business, which included typography, darkroom work, plate-making, press operation and more. I even repaired presses and other equipment. Indeed, I discovered that I had a knack for fixing almost anything—even things I'd never seen before—from washing machines to movie projectors, from tape recorders to cars; consequently my sobriquet at the time was Spooky.

However, wanderlust and creative urges later drew me in other directions, such as multimedia production, voiceover work and sound engineering, followed by computer animation and video production/post production in Manhattan studios. During this time I also designed and built my own four-axis motion-controlled pin-registered 35mm camera for special effects photography, which became the engine of my own studio for several years. I could have patented the camera, but my timing was off: computers had just started killing off the traditional graphic arts industry, so I moved into desktop publishing and then into marketing, eventually becoming the marketing manager for an optical instrument manufacturer. In the 90s I also worked as a commercial web developer, in addition to doing technical illustration, technical writing, and software interface design. My final career move before retiring was to become a software developer for a major pharmaceutical company, which turned out to be the most challenging and rewarding decade of my professional life: in a very small, indirect way, I'd contributed to cancer research.

While flipping my first home in my early 30s, I honed my skills in carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, sheetrock, tiling, and just about anything else to do with home improvement. I'm now exercising all of these skills—and more—carrying out a lifelong dream of building my own home. Although I have more hobbies and interests than I can count, model railroading undoubtedly tops the list, having been practically an obsession since I was five; I even hold a patent for a model product I'm currently developing. I also spend some of my time working on 1:1 trains as a member of the Pine Creek Railroad; at left, I'm jammed upside down inside the cab of diesel 7751 replacing the generator brushes. I'm not an engineer, but I do operate a Euclid 10,000 pound forklift, which is a massive piece of machinery.

Writing and photography are close behind modeling and trains, and I've published quite a few articles on a wide range of topics, from model building to software interface design, from fiction to pet care. Plus, I've created dozens of websites comprising thousands of pages for myself, for others, and commercially for businesses; this one has been mentioned in a few books. Cinematography is another passion, and in a different life I'd have been a filmmaker, although I'm currently pursuing some film projects with two indie producers (it's never too late to follow your dreams!). Science fiction in any form—literature, film, television, art—competes for my attention with science fact, from technology to astronomy, with a smattering of theoretical physics just for kicks. Music is also a huge part of my life, and I'm playing something virtually 24/365. I've even dabbled in composing my own tunes on occasion. I can honestly say that I have never been bored—I don't even know what that's like—and I never expect to be.

As a person, I'm probably not the most agreeable one you're likely to meet, given that I'm more opinionated and verbose than most folks prefer. But I'm also painfully shy, with a very strong aversion to crowds and parties. Never had any offspring and never wanted any, mostly because I dislike children. I'm not about to claim I've had the worst childhood of all time, but it was still bloody miserable. Unfortunately, my adult life hasn't been much better, having been hurt by entirely too many people I'd trusted. It's all left a surfeit of scars and a disposition for depression. As a consequence, I prefer hiding in the woods: trees are non-judgmental, and they won't abuse or betray you. At the same time, I'm loyal to a fault, and freely give my time and money to friends and causes I support. I've never had ambitions to be wealthy, powerful or famous—quite the opposite; I'm just a grumpy old fart who loves cats.

One other thing: I'm intensely moved by music; the third movement of Ralph Vaughan Williams' Fifth Symphony remains my all-time favorite work; it essentially sums up my entire life in twelve minutes, and it can still reduce me to a sobbing blob, even after having heard it literally thousands of times. I can't help it. And I'm still trying to understand how music can do such things to some people—emphasis on some; many remain unmoved. Why is that? I've several books on the subject, but a convincingly conclusive explanation remains elusive. I maintain the human mind, despite all of the intense study it's received over the millennia, remains one of the most mysterious things in the universe.

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