Spring break of my freshman year in 2005, I did a 2-week internship at a little nonprofit in Chicago called the Neighborhood Capital Budget Group, where a recent alum was one of four staff members. NCBG's mission was to get local neighborhood groups a voice in city infrastructure projects, and at the time they were focused on the renovation of the L's Red Line.
When I arrived at Grinnell College in 1994, it was quickly apparent to me what campus job I should apply for. At that time the college discouraged students from bringing their own computers to campus, in favor of communal computer labs. Not only did this help level the playing field between rich and poor students, but it helped keep the campus network relatively free of malware and limited the possible combinations of hardware that needed to be supported. The students who worked in the computer labs, providing tech support to the students, were called the User Consultants or UCs.
Immediately after graduating from high school in 1994, I worked for a summer at Malone Motors, a Cadillac dealer in Bartlesville, as a "gopher," doing odd jobs in the service department. It was an odd choice of job for an honors student bound for a liberal arts college, but it was what I could find with no real work experience and no real expectation that anyone should want to hire me.
In the summer of 1993, I had no luck finding a summer job (partly due to having no idea what I was doing) and instead spent the summer volunteering at a local nursing home. It was a very rewarding experience that helped me to grow in a variety of ways. Here are some of my reflections on what I learned:
Back in 1998, I wrote a parody of the Schoolhouse Rock song about pronouns by Bob Dorough and Kathy Mandary. Since I didn't have access to the original at the time, it's a very loose parody. But my friend Rich Brown liked it and put it up on his Web site, where Jessie found it when she googled my name after we were first introduced online.
In 2004, I sold my possessions and hit the road on my bicycle for a 10 month, 7,000 mile solo bicycle trip, going south for the winter and returning north in the spring. Five years after I completed the trip, I wrote a series of ten essays, each on a subject where my perspective had changed due to the trip. I've revised the essays each five years after that, so they've now been revised twice and are in the form of a Google doc that can be downloaded or printed for easier reading.
I have to start by saying that The Arithmancer by White Squirrel is the first fanfiction I've ever read, unless you count mainstream works like The Mists of Avalon. I wouldn't have given it a chance if it hadn't been recommended by mathemusician Vi Hart. Once I started reading, I couldn't stop. Having now finished the second book in the series (Lady Archimedes), I'm ready to lay out why I think you should read it, too.
Last time I wrote, almost a year ago now, we had sold our house in Emporia, Kansas and were moving to Omaha, Nebraska. We lived in an apartment in the Dundee neighborhood for 10 months (from the end of August through the end of June), bought a house in the Benson neighborhood at the end of May, and as of yesterday we have finally moved the last of our stuff out of storage. I feel like our unusual move needs some explanation.