About the Grump
During my >6.5 decades on this planet, I've done a great many different things, and I got started early: as a high school junior, my first paying job was painting signs. 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, plate-making, press operation and more. I even repaired printing presses and other equipment. Indeed, I had a knack for fixing almost anything—even things I'd never seen before—from movie projectors to washing machines, from tape recorders to cars.
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 engineer 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've contributed to cancer research.
While flipping my first home in my early 30s, I began to hone my skills in carpentry, plumbing, electrical wiring, drywall, tiling, and just about anything else to do with home improvement. I've exercised all of these skills—and many 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. Writing and photography are close behind, 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 businesses and for myself; this one has been mentioned in several books.
Cinematography is another passion, and in a different life I'd have been a filmmaker. 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 an enormous part of my life, and I'm playing something virtually 24/365; I've even dabbled in composing my own music on occasion. I can honestly say that I've never been bored—I don't even know what boredom is 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, but also because I thought it would be cruel for a child to inherit any of my personal baggage. 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 wasn't 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. In short, I'm just a grumpy old fart who prefers cats to people.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
On 20 February 2020 I was diagnosed with final-stage congestive heart failure: I have an ejection fraction of around 12%. Which leaves me with at most two years to live, more likely about one. Among other things, I won't get to see my house finished. And I'm OK with that. I'm also not the slightest bit afraid to die; indeed, given the state of the planet, and what humans have done to it, I look forward to death.
Friends will want to mark my passing in some way. Please, no funeral, memorial or other somber ceremony. Instead, throw a great big party. Buy lots of food and booze and laugh and joke and dance and have a grand old time in my living room. It's the reason I built my home: a place to share, to enjoy and, most especially, to heal. I know there will be tears, but please try to end things on a positive note. And come back to see me once in a while, for this is where you'll find me—I'll be in every leaf of every tree, and in every fiber of this house.
A Few Random “Deep Thoughts” Before I Go
“Everyone leaves unfinished business. That's what dying is.” —Amos, The Expanse (unquestionably the very best science fiction television series of all time)
“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” —Mark Twain
“One should die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly.”
“Death is not poison but merely life's final remedy.” —Terri Guillemets
“Death may be the greatest of all human blessings.” —Socrates
“The Universe is unaware of us, for if it were otherwise, we'd all know it by now.”
“There is time. There are returns. To go is to return.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven
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