Who am I? Do I answer that by listing my interests, biography, or career highlights?
Life is too short and there are too many things to try. My interests and hobbies have changed over time. Time and age require me to sometimes trade one for another. In a sense, I sometimes feel that I have lived more than one life, as I experience new chapters in my life.
So much for showing my philosophical side. For the conformists who are looking for a more traditional response, here are some different perspectives:
1. EMT training - Certificate of Training through Institute of Health Management
2. Associate of Arts in Mathematics - St. Louis Community College at Meramec
3. Associate of Arts in General Studies - St. Louis Community College at Meramec
4. Bachelor of Arts in Biology - University of Missouri in St. Louis
5. 9 out of 13 courses completed toward MS in Computer information systems - University of Phoenix. I didn't finish because I was running out of funds and was taking these courses during my period of unemployment. I choose to spend the last of my savings on my family than on another semester. Despite the fact that I never earned a grade less than A-, I felt that I got very little out of the program, and unless I change my career direction, the degree won't do much to help me. For this reason, I never went back.
6. I've been sort of a professional student. I occassionally take classes to keep fresh and sometimes I think about going back for a Ph.D. in statistics or bioinformatics, but I don't want the student loans. It is also financially difficult when supporting a family. Besides, I've advanced my understanding of things a lot quicker and with more detail on my own. So, I sort of see my desire to have a Ph.D. behind my name as more of a need for acceptance than anything else. There is also a rebel side to me which won't want to admit such a thing. If you want to be rich, don't waste your time in school. If you want to be smart, just apply yourself. I've cultured myself by exploring new things and keeping what I find to be good. I like classical music and good food, but hate wine and beer. But, I've also never been able to completely shake the inner city punk in me that helped me survive growing up in a poor neighborhood. Nor would I want too, because occassionally he is still needed. Fortunately, others tend to treat you differently based on your age and financial status, so I see less and less of that side of myself.
1. Stock Boy - I worked at Joe's Supermarket at age 14, but it only lasted a few months before the owner lost the store.
2. Bar Back - At 19, I worked at the Clarion Hotel in downtown St. Louis.
3. Truck Helper - For about five years, I worked at Southern Products Company. This was the job that paid for my first two years of college.
4. Mathematics Tutor - I worked part-time for the St. Louis Community College at Meramec in a drop-in center, helping other students with their questions and homework problems.
5. Research Technician - I worked at Monsanto Company for 5.5 years without benefits and with low pay. After completing my A.A. degree in math, I started looking for some experience related to science. I was planning to study physics, but after being introduced to biotechnology, I decided to change my major to biology. You don't need too much math to graduate with a biology degree, so it was like starting over from the beginning. Monsanto started me out ginning cotton for three months. I agreed to do the dirty work, if they agreed to teach me something useful. They taught me Western Blots, ELISA and other fun stuff, which explains how they were able to keep me busy for 5.5 years, eventhough I didn't have a degree.
6. Protein Biochemist - I worked at Monsanto Company for another 5.5 years as a direct employee. Since I wouldn't go away, I guess they decided to hire me. I kept my duties as a research technician, but was given the added fun of managing my own product safety studies for submission to the EPA. My whole career at Monsanto was related to the Regulatory support of genetically modified crops. I loved the experience, but all good things come to an end. In 2003, I was laid off. I was ready for change, but it was a bad time to look for a job. I searched for 10 months before finding something. I had learned that at Monsanto and Pfizer, layoffs were a part of the environment. If you live long enough, you'll get cancer. If you work at these places long enough, you'll get laid off.
7. Regulatory Affairs Associate - I worked through a contract agency for 1 year at Pfizer. I loved the people, the pay, and the environment, but I had never been so under challenged in my life. I was actually glad to find something new.
8. Application Support - I returned to Monsanto Company through their retirement placement agency. Several people too young for retirement had done the same thing, because the job market still wasn't good. Monsanto policy was that once you were a direct employee, you can't return through a contract agency, but a loop hole was to return as a retiree. Everyone was looking to IT for miracles. Rumor was that IT careers pay big bucks and you really don't need much of an education, just the ability to perform. Not that I couldn't perform, but the environment was dysfunctional. I only lasted three months. I found an environment that didn't look like the Monsanto that I remembered, but of course, I was in a completely different location and in a different type of work. This was the absolute worst job, that I have ever had, and remember, I used to mop floors and clean out the butcher's room. I was under challenged and found some very hostile individuals. Most of the people were cool, but it doesn't take many to make your life a hell. Training on their in-house systems was non-existent, and everything that I had learned from my graduate IT courses was ignored. The system was a mess. Thank God I'm free.
9. Chemist - I am currently working at Sigma-Aldrich in Quality Control. I've been here since 2006. I love the people and find the environment to be good, and different from that of Monsanto or Pfizer. The new perspective of method validation has lead me to revisit topics in statistics.
Hobbies and Interests:
1. Cycling - I used to ride 70 to 100 miles each day, but this is one of those hobbies that is becoming more of a memory.
2. Mathematics - I love to discover new ways to solve problems. I've probably gone too far on my own, because I no longer think like most mathematicians. This is why I've never gone back to school for an advanced degree in mathematics. Statistics maybe, but you can't go to school for something that you know too much about. I've always been the best student in courses where I don't have a clue, before entering the class. I've done a lot of work on developing partition distribution curves. I had hoped to submit most of my work through Wikipedia before I get too old or leave for heaven, but some of my work is too original for submission, so I'll have to publish it elsewhere. I've always thought of mathematics as a poor man's science. Similarly, running is a sport that invites people from every economic standing. The gear for some sports is so costly, that I pass them off as less competitive. Since the study of mathematics is so easy to afford, it has the greatest potential for rapid advancement from people everywhere.
3. Antique phonographs and records - I've been collecting records and windup phonographs for over ten years. About every other year, I attend a phonograph trade show in Union, Ill.
4. Fossils - This hobby was pretty much limited to my first two years of college, but I still have my collection and I periodically find an opportunity to share it with others, including my own children.
5. Motorcycling - I bought a motorcycle in 2008 and I love it. Surprisingly, my wife loves it just as much as me. We ride with the neighbors and with the motorcycle club at our church. No, I'm not going through a mid-life crisis. You have to grow up first, and I can't remember a period where I stopped trying new things and having fun.
1. I pretty much play it by ear. I just want to feel loved, avoid want or need of anything out of my reach, and to occassionally feel like I'm achieving something in my life. When I was younger, I would have enjoyed pursuing a professional career racing bicycles. At times, there are so many research projects in my mind, that I could never purse all of them. Eventhough I can focus intensely on a single problem for long periods of time, I do seem to have a touch of attention disorder, or I'd rather view it as I'm too much alive to tie myself down to one thing. As long as I can focus long enough to reach the end of my goals, this characteristic is more of a blessing than a disorder.
2. Sometimes I wish that I had the ability to devote more time toward some of my research projects, because I feel that there is great potential in some of them, but it's just a matter of time before someone else has the same ideas or finds an even better way, so I guess that the world won't miss out if I don't follow through on all of them. The sun rose before, and it will again many more times. Still, I hope to publish some of my ideas before they are lost forever. The biggest inner obstacle is getting myself to share them, eventhough I always have a feeling of being incomplete. That feeling is because I constantly create now projects by building upon what was learned from the last ones, and I haven't reached a limit yet. Sometimes, you just have to force yourself to stop and share what you have.
3. I also hope to keep my wife happy. We have a wonderful marriage, but sometimes I feel sorry for her having to deal with me and my hobbies. Of course, that works both ways, which is why I'm comfortable being selfish enough to keep her and give her some more of me.
4. I'm not the best mentor for my children, because I had always found my motivations from within, so I never really had any role models for coaching. I tell my children to figure out whatever makes them happy (as long as it is legal and moral), then pursue it. I'd almost rather my children grow up to be rock stars than scientists. There's more money in show business, and I may be able to get a few back stage passes to see some of my ideols. It's too bad Elvis is gone. Bottom-line, I hope to see my children grow up to be as happy or happier than me.
1. Industry Regulations - To be filled in later.
2. Theory of Evolution - To be filled in later.
I have a beautiful wife and three wonderful children. Unfortunately, my oldest daughter has run away and joined an occult, but I suspect that this is just a passing phase, and I hope that someday she'll return home, and this will become just a memory. Your prayers will be felt and greatly appreciated. You'll know that she has returned when this request for prayer is removed.