The BugShop: Stuff About Me

This page last modified- 11/2/01

Every web page has to have one. "Who is this guy?", "What else does he do?", "What does he look like?". These are all questions that pop into my mind when I read some else's page. 

The internet is funny this way. Reading newsgroups, I pack away little bits of information that I subconsciously read and collect about other regular posters. I build a mental database of characteristics that align with a screen name. "Ohio/Lawyer/has kids/drives a '69/37 years old/pretty even tempered" is a data line that pops up when I see name. On the other side though, is the anonymity potential that the internet offers. From insuring that their real name shows up nowhere in any post or webpage, to people who have pictures of their family, girlfriends and list their home address and phone number; everyone has a place that they are comfortable.

I am at neither extreme. I prefer to keep some aspects of my life off the internet, but I also respect the natural inquisition of visitors to my site to know something about me. I live in Eastern Massachusetts, in a town called Marlborough (spelled lazily, "Marlboro"). It is about 25 miles due west of Boston. Just north of the Massachusetts turnpike along I-495. I was born in 1962, am married and have two kids, a boy and a girl, 6 and 9 years old as of the date I am writing this. I'm 6' 3" and, errrr, 190 lbs.

I was born in Victorville CA, but into an Air Force family. This meant that for the next 11 years, I would never live anywhere for more than 2 years. During that time, I lived in Buffalo NY, Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, Nellingen Army Base in Germany (near Stuttgart), NATO Headquarters in Mons, Belgium, and eventually to North Charleston SC, where dad retired from the service. Eventually (1980), I graduated from RB Stall High School. After that, I went on a multi-insitution "tour" of higher learning centers. I attended the College of Charleston until 1983, then was accepted to Clemson University where I eventually graduated in 1986 with bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering. In-between all that, I took summer/night school classes at the Citadel (Yeah, the military school. Didn't make me shave my head to go to night classes), Baptist College (now called something else) and Trident Technical College which I found to be neither technical, nor a college.

 From 1979 to 1986, I worked in 28 jobs; I counted them when I graduated from college and am convinced that at least some of them kept me in college. But most astounding is the fact that in all those "careers", I never once worked in a food establishment. Some from memory:

Most of the nightclub jobs were in the later college years. And yes, while my friends swabbed the floors at McDonalds for minimum wage ($3.35/hr), I was getting paid $7 and hour to play records for all my friends and (mostly) drink beer for free. Life was good. But keep in mind that the nightclub business is VERY transient. Some of those jobs lasted 2 weekends, until I came to work to find the place boarded up. During that time too, I dabbled in special effects lighting systems. The pinnacle of that career had to be a place called College Station Pub in Clemson, oh around 1984. It was THE place to go. To give you some idea about the demographic of Clemson, it is a town in upstate SC, fairly isolated, with a population of around 8000. The student body was around 13,500. So needles to say, Clemson was mostly bars, 7-11s and fast food joints. College Station Pub was totally packed most nights, could hold well in excess of 1000 people and the management gave me and the other DJ anything we wanted. $50 a week record budget, lights, MORE speakers, smoke machines, bubble machines, flashpots (gun powder and magnesium). We had some serious fun there, even made a hole or two in the ceiling with the flashpot, but like all nightclubs, eventually it fizzled.

And to further a credible explanation of why I took 6 years to get a 4 year degree if there is one (actually never changed majors), I worked alternating semesters in a "Co-Op" job. This was a "real" job that paid "real" money and was supposed to prepare you for a career after graduation. I worked in the engineering group at the Westvaco paper mill in North Charleston, a very smelly, huge plant where they made brown grocery bag paper. It paid well and there was some neat machinery there, but in hindsight I really can't say that it significantly help me post graduation.

And of course, through all this time, I drove my bright yellow, '68 Beetle. Go to the Scrapbook Page to read and see a little more about the yellow '68.

Post college, I spent about 12 years working for Hewlett-Packard Medical Products as a Technical Marking Engineer.  In 1999, HP spun off it's Test and Measurement businesses into a new company called Agilent Technologies.  Then, barely a year later, Phillips Medical Systems bought the medical businesses from Agilent.  So in 4 years, I worked for 3 different companies, never changed offices or phone numbers.  Such is corporate life in the '00s.

For the first two years I was a field engineer in Ft. Lauderdale/Miami (fun place to drive 35k mi year, NOT!). In 1988 I took a job a the "factory" in Massachusetts. I was a Technical Marketing Engineer in the company's Medical Products Group. I do support planning for Patient Monitoring products. You know, those bedside devices that they hook the wires from your chest and tubes from your arms to. We also make the equipment at the nurses station, ultrasound imaging equipment (cardiac, not fetal) and defibrillators.  In 2000, I transitioned to the R&D group and now am a bona fide Lab Engineer working with Ethernet Infrastructure.

Neat fact to know and tell:

My other hobbies include my family, racquetball (been playing for 22 years), scuba diving and Travel. Oh, and you want a picture of me? Grab the November 1996 issue of Hot VWs, and turn to page 48 (story on the Litchfield CT VW show). Look right in the middle of the page. See that guy in the gray shorts, white T-shirt, baseball hat, carrying a coke (in front of the yellow Beetle)? That's me.  Really.

 Here's another picture of me, at Halloween. I have lots of fun with Halloween.

About VWs and me

I think my preference for VWs is what it is for the same reason that I sleep on the left side of the bed. Just 'cause that's what I started with. My first car was a Beetle. When I got married and set up house, I had some logical reason for choosing the left side (I don't know, closest to the door, light switch, etc.) and even when I travel alone on business, I always sleep on the left side.

 But believe it or not, I think my mother is responsible for my being a bug nut. As my older brother and I were growing up, it was evident to all that we were born engineers. Erector set is, still today, my all time favorite toy. My mother had noticed how stuff that was otherwise junk (old appliances, electric motors and "modifiable" toys) would keep me and my brother amused for hours. As my brother approached that lofty "license" age, I distinctly remember my mother saying a few times, "you know, we should get you two an old Volkswagen that you could park on the side of the house and 'tinker' with". I remember thinking two things 1) could this be hint of my parents even suggesting that I get a car!!? (I was about 14) and 2) what? me and my brother SHARE something!?

 As it turned out, my brother bought our next door neighbors '74 Honda Civic as his first car. And although my mother never said "Go out and buy a Volkswagen", I did find myself looking at them, and bought one the summer after high school graduation (1980). A '68 for $500 that had been painted with yellow latex house paint and a paintbrush and had leopard skin seat covers. You could leave it in the hot South Carolina sun and go out and gouge a little paint with your fingernail, then peel it back like a rubbery skin, a sheet at a time.

That was a long time ago.

A colleague of mine at work said something that really stuck with me about 7 years ago. He said "You know that they haven't been making those cars for a long time when you see little kids staring at them when they go by". "Mommy!, what kind of car is THAT!?". He was right. Ever since, when I would pass a group of 10 year olds at the school bus stop in the morning on the way to work, I would notice, almost all of the time, at least half of them would stop flogging each other with their backpacks long enough to watch my bug go past. My friend noted how when "we" were growing up, everybody knew the little Beetle car.

 But they are infectious. My son, now 6, spots them, goes to VW shows with me (but is far more fascinated by "a little bus with a sink in it", than the bugs) and draws them often. Occasionally, instead of reading a "Busytown" book at bedtime, we go through the current issue of Hot VWs and reinforce terms like "baja" and "oval". Last week I explained the function of "wheelie bars". A local fast food place that we go to has "cruise" nite every Saturday in the summer and pictures of all the cars inside. Ryan always reminds me, "And when you finish your 'old' car, we'll come HERE in it". We will. WHEN I finish it.

 Our kid's "Cozy Coupe" has a VW emblem in the front. There used to be cool "cutaway" line drawing of a Beetle framed in our family room. That was a BIG discussion with the wife when we moved into our house. "I am NOT going to have pictures of CARS in our family room!". Ended up there were actually 2 framed VW pictures on those walls, they were there for 7 years. In 1998 I renovated the whole room, including building a floor to ceiling entertainment unit. In the top there are two lighted cabinets behind glass doors which house a '51 Convertible Beetle 1:18 scale model and about a 1:10 scale ceramic cookie jar. There is discussion with the wife on this too. My VW toy collection is housed in a wall unit in the living room, also known to our children as the "No" room. It is a sacred shrine and touching the toys will get you a mandatory time out (trust me though, there are lots of "touchable" VW toys in the playroom).

 VW is in me, and I bring it to my family too. I'm not sure why I like them so much. Part of me says it is "just a car", but the simplicity, the uniqueness, the history and all the little quirks and clubs and terms that envelope it make it fun. In the frantic pace that my wife and I manage with jobs, kids, extracurricular activities and stuff is my Wednesday night "garage night". At eight o'clock, after I have helped with dinner dishes and maybe a bath or two, I go out, flip on the lights, turn on the radio, and "tinker"........