I was born in Central Illinois, the strip through the middle with neither the cosmopolitan airs of Chicago, nor the hills and despair of Little Egypt. Despite the prevalence of smokestack factories, my child-of-immigrants family suffered from dirt-road hunger.
Fortunately, I was given the opportunity for an education. For two years in high school, I was taught how to be a machinist along with my college-prep courses. At this time, the state of Illinois paid the tuition and fees for high-school graduates of poor families with sufficiently promising ACT scores.
I studied engineering at the University of Illinois and, in 1973, went to work at a factory in Champaign as a quality-control inspector. The factory closed in ‘82, but I managed, because of my experience, to land a job building muon detectors for the Collider Detector at Fermilab. Our team continued to work through the first two upgrades to improve resolution and accuracy before finally finishing in 1992. The finished detector was the first to see the Top Quark, but that accelerator run lacked sufficient numbers of the particle to claim discovery (which D-zero, further down the ring did.)
Since then, I’ve taught Chemistry at Illinois and, after retirement, wrote a regular column for the Urbanagora online magazine. A collection of the best of those columns, along with some additional short-stories, was released in 2008 as Riding the Hell-Bound Train.
After retirement, I spent several years appearing at sf and fantasy cons in the US and Europe. I became acquainted with Team Contraflow at the 2008 World SF convention in Denver (where Raymond Boudreau termed me, “The World’s Most Interesting Fan.”) Although my health has been poor for much of the last two years, those difficulties have been resolved and I am back on the road, excited about my first convention in a year.
Greetings to all and sundry — I am back.