Memoirs and Personal Photos
Introduction, October 2020:
Here are narratives about my own life, from as far back as I remember to present. They overlap the family history essays somewhat. There are also some sidebar essays (posted as blog posts) about various special interests along the way, or things I’ve concluded about the world.
I realize there’s not likely much of an audience for these memoirs, even among my relatives. At the same time, I would have been interested in such stories about my ancestors — but aside from my father’s photo slides, I have no clue, no documents or narratives, of what their lives were like, my father’s, my mother’s, my uncle’s, my grandparents’ — what they thought, what the world was like in 1950 or 1900. So even if no one cares about me, perhaps my relatives, or anyone else who finds this site, will find the photos and essays here of some interest.
(Still in progress, Fall 2020)
- Prologue: Apple Valley Landing
“The place where I grew up was the equivalent of an alien planet.” (1200 words)
- Personal Timeline
Birth, family moves, schools and universities, jobs, Locus and other SF contributions, historical events along the way.
- Personal History, 1962 to 1977: Santa Monica to UCLA (11,100)
Elementary school, junior high, high school, college.
- Personal History, 1977 to 1982: UCLA to Rocketdyne (3360)
Looking for a job, job with the county, finding a ‘real’ job
- Personal History: 1982 to 2012: Working at the Rocket Factory for 30 Years (8830)
Space Shuttle, Space Station, Software Engineering, Process Improvement
- Personal History since ‘Retirement’: 2012 to 2020 (2230)
The layoff, contracting, moving to Oakland, projects
- Apple Valley Interludes (6300 words)
- Apple Valley History (1060)
- First Apple Valley: 1958 to 1962 (living there)
- Second Apple Valley: 1962 to 1967 (family visits from Reseda)
- Third Apple Valley: Seven Summers in the Seventies (visits from Sepulveda, 1971 to 1977)
- Fourth Apple Valley: Apple Valley visits with my Uncle Bob (1978 to 1982)
- Fifth Apple Valley: Until my Grandmother’s Death (1982 to 1984)
- Sixth Apple Valley: Glancing Visits (1984)
- Seventh Apple Valley: Return visits since 2009
- Apple Valley Trip Report 2017 (1350)
- Sidebars (some not yet written)
- Bicycling (2090)
- Growing Up with Books (1200)
- My Father’s Books, and Cambridge Illinois (660)
- Academics (4050)
- My Religious Upbringing, Such as it was (3580)
- Boy Scout Paraphernalia (350)
- Family Dynamics and Social Withdrawal (400+)
- Astronomy (1090)
- Books (2540)
- 15 Ways of Buying a Book, Part 1 (3570)
- 15 Ways of Buying a Book, Part 2
- Science Fiction: Locus, Conventions, Locus Online, Sfadb.com
- Myst Games (2190)
- Thoughts About Family Pics (545)
- Other Sidebars:
(Some photos are included in the essays and sidebars. There will sets of photosets from my own life since 1980 as well.)
After writing these essays and posts in 2020, during the first year of the pandemic, I’ve drawn two conclusions:
- First, that the early experiences that shaped my life came early on, and came almost entirely independent of any direction my parents (in particular my father) tried to impart. I think about that when I reflect on the notion of having a child. I suppose that most parents want to instill their children with their own values, as a way of preserving them; in effect, to create as-close-as-possible duplicates, since they know they’re not immortal except through their descendants. It works sometimes, half the time, I’d guess; but the other half the time children diverge or rebel in one way or another, because they discover things their parents did not know, or simply to establish themselves as independent people and not merely copies of their parents. So I’ve long realized that you can’t direct a child’s interests or beliefs; at best you can expose them to as many options as one can, and hope that…something strikes. Something that gives their own life passion and self-purpose.
- Second, more philosophically, acknowledging the contingencies of events that results in one’s adult life and beliefs, realizing how easily things might have gone differently, undermines the illusion of destiny or purpose or goal, and instead helps to appreciate the world as it is. Life is not predestined. Values and beliefs are contingent on circumstances. We do the best we can with the circumstances we’re dealt; the measure of a person is to what extent they blithely accept their childhood circumstances, or become open to the world and learn that there’s more to that world than their parents and ancestors realized. This is the arc of human history, at least for the few who can do this.
- “A child is born into a world of phenomena all equal in their power to enslave. It sniffs—it sucks—it strokes its eyes over the whole uncountable range. Suddenly one strikes. Why? Moments snap together like magnets forged in a chain of shackles. Why? I can trace them, I can even with time pull them apart again. But why at the start were they ever magnetized at all. Why those particular moments of experience and no others, I do not know! And nor does ANY BODY ELSE!” – Richard Dysart, the psychiatrist in Peter Shaffer’s play and film “Equus”.
- “A man’s work is nothing but the slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.” – Albert Camus