- In 1979, I hitchhiked across the USA -- from Massachusetts to California, then up the coast to Oregon and down to Arizona. This sounds dangerous, but we met lots of very nice people, especially in the heartland. The only time we had anything like trouble was when we got a ride from a weird guy in Reno, Nevada. He promised to take us to Phoenix. Instead we drove around Nevada so he could say goodbye to his friends. When we were just outside Las Vegas, he stopped the car and said, "I just remembered. I can't go to Arizona. I'm wanted there." He left us in the desert and drove back in the direction of Reno.
- The first new car I bought was a 1983 Honda Civic Wagon. It had a 5-speed manual transmission. When I picked it up at the dealer in Tewksbury, Mass., I had absolutely no idea how to drive a manual transmission car. Somehow I drove it about 30 miles to Gardner, Mass., where my father taught me how to use the clutch and shift. I have driven "a stick" ever since.
- I once slept on the streets of Lowell. In the early 1980s, mortgage rates got as high as 18%. Housing prices were relatively low, but the interest rates were a huge barrier for first time home owners. The state of Massachusetts subsidized a limited number of low-interest loans on a first-come-first-served basis. The state gave 24 hours notice of the availability of small pools of these loans. When I heard about some loans becoming available the next day in Lowell, I grabbed my sleeping bag, drove to downtown Lowell, and camped out in front of the bank for the night. I think I was second in line, but by sundown there was a queue of twenty people. It was fun night and, thanks to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a small price to pay for becoming a homeowner.
- I've never bought a lottery ticket and I never will.
- I've worked full-time as a software engineer for 25 years, but it wasn't my first career choice. When I was in high school I wanted to be an architect. Usually, that meant going to a liberal arts school and then on to graduate school in Architecture. For some reason, I thought it would be better to get a degree in Civil Engineering first. I also took summer jobs working in a steel fabrication plant, at the Army Corp of Engineers, pouring concrete. I thought an architect should understand the materials, project planning and engineering before he started sketching buildings and bridges. In retrospect, I was naive. Mature industries like construction tend toward specialization rather than generalization. In any case, after undergraduate school I drifted into Software Engineering. I found a home in a very young industry, where generalists were still valued. Over time, I learned to be a software architect, but I still get to build software when I want. In a way, I've ended up exactly where I planned.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Five Things You Didn't Know
Pete tagged me to participate in the "Five Things You Didn't Know about Me" game. I'll play along: