About the Grump

During my ~6.5 decades on this planet, I've done an awful lot of 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 (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, four-color press operation and more. I even repaired presses and other equipment; indeed, I discovered that I had a knack for fixing almost anything, from washing machines to movie projectors, from tape recorders to cars—consequently my nickname at the time was "spooky."

However, wanderlust and creative urges later drew me in other directions, such as multimedia production, voiceover work and sound design, followed by computer animation and video production/post production in Manhattan. 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. When computers started killing the graphic arts industry, 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 and technical writing. My final career move before retiring was to become a software developer for a major pharmaceutical, which turned out to be the most challenging and rewarding decade of my professional life—in my own vanishingly small, indirect way, I've contributed to cancer research.

While flipping my first home in my late 20s, 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 seven; I even hold a patent for a model product. I've also spent plenty of time working on 1:1 trains as a member of the "Old Man Crew" at the Pine Creek Railroad; at left, I'm jammed upside down inside the cab of diesel 7751 replacing the generator brushes. While I'm not an engineer, I regularly 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. 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. I'm particularly keen on animation and special effects, having worked briefly in both fields. Science fiction in any form—literature, film, television, art—competes for my attention with science fact, from astronomy to technology, 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; about the only genres I don't like are rap, acid and opera. I've even dabbled in composing my own tunes on occasion. I can honestly say that I've never been bored—I don't even know what that's like—and I never expect to be.

As a person, I'm 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 an anti-social old fart who loves cats.

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