“Who am I? Why am I here?” *
I suppose my whole life has been about trying to make the case that the cost to bring me into this world was worth it.
* Questions asked by Adm. James B. Stockdale, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, senior Navy officer held captive in North Vietnam for seven years. In 1992 he was thrust into the limelight of H. Ross Perot’s quixotic presidential campaign when Perot selected him as his running mate for vice president. In that year’s debate between candidates for vice president, Adm. Stockdale opened his opening statement with these two questions. So far as I know, I am not related to Adm. Stockdale. But the morning after the debate, some of my fellow TI/Javelin Program co-workers found this commemoration of the debate served to document something else of a more personal nature.
Answers to Typical Questions
Where are you from?
I have called 20 different cities (or bases) “home” and lived in 35 different houses/housing structures long enough to have mail delivered there. Clearly, the notion of a “permanent mailing address” is one with which I am unfamiliar. The list, in order, so far, including move-backs:
- 1954: Portales, NM
- 1956: Olton, TX
- 1959: Lubbock, TX (2 different addresses)
- 1962: Pampa, TX
- 1965: Norman, OK (2 different addresses)
- 1966: back to Lubbock, TX (2 different addresses)
- 1968: back to Olton, TX (2 different addresses)
- 1972: USAF Academy, Colorado Springs, CO
- 1976: Mather AFB, Sacramento, CA
- 1977: Castle AFT, Merced, CA
- 1977: Carswell AFB, Fort Worth, TX (2 different addresses)
- 1980: Minot AFB, Minot, ND
- 1982: Bedford, TX
- 1992: Lewisville, TX
- 1993: Irving, TX (3 different addresses)
- 2001: Oct-Dec, shuttled between Milford, PA and Closter, NJ
- 2002: Fort Worth, TX (5 different addresses)
- 2009: Santa Fe, NM (2 different addresses)
- 2012: Grants, NM
- 2015: Albuquerque, NM (2 different addresses)
- 2018: Bridgeport, TX
- 2019: Denton, TX
- 2020: McKinney, TX
Not that you asked, but with all those moves I attended several schools. From Grades 1-9, I went to seven different schools in four different cities/towns.
- Grades 1-2: Roscoe Wilson Elem, Lubbock, TX
- Grades 3-6 (1st sem): Stephen F. Austin Elem, Pampa, TX
- Grade 6 (2nd sem): Cleveland Elem, Norman, OK
- Grade 7 (1st sem): West Jr. High, Norman, OK
- Grade 7 (2nd sem): MacKenzie Jr. High, Lubbock, TX
- Grade 8: Smylie Wilson Jr. High, Lubbock, TX
- Grades 9-12: Olton High School, Olton, TX
What do you do for a living?
Right now I’m pondering retirement, but if you’re interested in what I have done …
- Curriculum Vitae
- navigated airplanes (our mission was to pass gas at 30,000 ft), and instructed others
- engineered systems, managed projects, developed business, managed costs and schedules, and managed programs
- executively-directed a nonprofit, oversaw purchase and major renovation of a 70-year old building, organized and ran two conferences, taught at seminars, taught at three colleges (full semester, one week, and one guest lecture)
- got a Masters degree shortly after I turned 58 (years, not shades of grey … on second thought, both)
- directed an IT staff, administered an LMS (learning management system)
- deputily-directed the operations of a state university health sciences library, managed the operations of an academic building
- have managed my own website(s) for twenty years (since 1999) and in a few cases, other websites either as designer, guider, or implementer
Who or what has inspired you?
- The Chip Hilton series of books by Clair Bee.
- “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewal of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)
- Joseph Heller’s Catch 22.
- The incomparable, irreplaceable George Carlin.
- The thinking and writings of the American Transcendentalists, especially Henry David Thoreau (Walden) and Ralph Waldo Emerson (“Essay on Self-Reliance”).
- Helen Harkness, PhD.
- “For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, he writes not that you won or lost but how you played the game.” (Grantland Rice)
- John Irving’s books, especially The World According to Garp and Cider House Rules.
- Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides: “I lived with the terrible knowledge that one day I would be an old man, still waiting for my real life to start.”
- The Beatles.
- South Pacific “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught”; Rent “No day but today … 525,600 minutes.”
- The metaphor of “Not For Sale” from my father and the record produced of his Pampa High School Band playing two concerts with Carl “Doc” Severinsen in 1965.
- In a slightly different way, the two PBS documentaries by Robert X. (Bob) Cringely documenting the beginnings of the personal computer (“Triumph of the Nerds”) and the Internet (“Nerds 2.0.1: A Brief History of the Internet”) that both came out in the mid-late ’90s.
Some interesting-to-me things I’ve done/had happen to me
- When I was in the 4th grade I appeared onstage as a boy in the town band in the Pampa High School production of “The Music Man.” When I was a high school senior I appeared onstage as an ant scientist (i.e., an ant who was a scientist) in our One-Act Play performance of “Under the Sycamore Tree.” I was named Best Actor in our district competition. Then in 1975 I wrote an award-winning one-act play titled, The Unveiling of Ourselves. It’s not really biographical. Not at all. (DISCLAIMER: Anytime you hear or read “award-winning” you should ask, “which award?” Mine was for First Place in the Drama category for an annual cadet creative writing journal, Icarus. I believe mine was the only entry in the category.)
- When I was in high school and receiving the standard college recruiting materials, one piece of mail stood out – a personal letter from Roger Staubach of the Dallas Cowboys, on behalf of the Naval Academy. Even though I turned down the appointment to Annapolis, I kept the letter. In 1992, Staubach led his fellow Navy alums against West Point grads (led by Pete Dawkins) in an annual flag football competition. For this special Army/Navy game with two Heisman Trophy quarterbacks, the referee was Chad Hennings, Dallas Cowboy and Air Force Academy graduate. I went to the game. After the game, I waited in line with all the kids and got Roger’s autograph a second time on the same letter I received two decades earlier.
- I’ve been to Oktoberfest. The one in Munich. I’ve also skated on the open air ice rink that used to be in Olympiapark.
- The last real football game I played in was against Notre Dame, in South Bend, on Thanksgiving Day, and it was nationally televised by ABC. The late Keith Jackson mentioned my name twice on kickoffs – once for a tackle. Notre Dame went on to defeat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl to claim the national championship. Their stars included Dave Casper, Tom Clements, Ross Browner, Mike Townsend, and Al Hunter – the guy I tackled. (Note: did not realize until scanning the cover that the game was played on the 10th anniversary of JFK’s assassination.)
- In 1994, I was one of five contractor negotiators (two from Texas Instruments, three from Lockheed Martin) to close a $200M first-year production contract with the U.S. Army for the Javelin anti-tank missile system. That program was projected to be worth over $3 billion. According to Raytheon (which purchased the TI defense electronics business in 1997), Javelin “is scheduled to be in the inventory until 2050.”
- When I was in the first grade, my next-door neighbor and I each stole a piece of candy from the corner Ben Franklin dime store. We got caught. I got a spanking, maybe two. Instilled in me a value for honesty that was reinforced by the Cadet Honor Code at the Air Force Academy twelve years later.
- My primary YouTube channel (/slingingsteve) has over 1.2 million views and over 600 subscribers. DISCLAIMER: 87% of the viewers and virtually all of the followers are due to one clip I posted of Bill Maher interviewing Mike Rowe about blue collar jobs.
- I collaborated with two colleagues to develop and deliver a six-week online course that attracted over 1,300 registrants from 67 different countries. See the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)
- As of this writing, I’ve been to 43 of the 48 lower states. By “been to” I really mean “driven in.” In all but one, “driven through” in my own car.
- I’ve flown inverted in the back seat of an F-4 fighter, and pulled 6G’s in a simulated dogfight with the new (at the time) F-15 during its pre-production flight testing at Edwards AFB, CA. Both as a camera-holding, picture-taking, cadet passenger.
- I ran for Student Council President in both junior high and high school and lost both times.
- My website was mentioned in a New York Times Magazine article by the late William Safire.
- I’ve navigated a jet airplane across the Atlantic Ocean using no navigational aids other than a sextant and after 8 hours enroute (that’s approximately 3,000 miles), when we reached a ground-based radio beacon, we were 7 nautical miles from my dead reckoning position. That’s pretty good. Or in the vernacular of the Air Force, “SIERRA HOTEL.” Or as I honestly look back on the accomplishment, I felt like Ferdinand Fuckin’ Magellan.
- I cut the umbilical cord to help bring my daughter into the world. Definitely my best assist.
Published articles about me and/or things I was working on
These are all posted on my ThisIsNotThat.com site.
- It’s a study of how lives (in so many words) — Fort Worth Star-Telegram (August 2002)
- Brimming with knowledge — Dallas Business Journal (July 2003)
- Avoiding dating disasters — Dallas Morning News (December 2003)
- from Capitalizing on Career Chaos by Helen Harkness (published May 2005)
- He takes little at face value — Dallas Morning News (November 2006)
- Think before your speak — Daily News & Analysis, Mumbai, India (November 2007)
- National Workshop on General Semantics — DIVYA BHASKAR DAILY, Gujarat, India (November 2007)
- Report on the National Workshop on General Semantics — Centre for Contemporary Theory, Vadodora, Gujurat, India (November 2007)
And Finally …
Leave it to my daughter to encapsulate the core inner drama of my adult life: