This is the dull part of the page.
I'm a scientist, first and foremost. Yes, a real one. I hold a Bachelor of Science degree from Ursinus College (yes, like the bear) and a doctorate in organic chemistry from Dartmouth (yes, like the fish). I am the author of eleven professional publications in the scientific literature and hold three patents. If you are really curious, you can read the tale of my scientific career from my early days as an eager and hopeful student to an embittered and spiteful professional. Actually, I am not so bitter as I used to be. Since May of 2001 I have been employed with Cerexagri Corporation, which is the agrochemical division of Atofina Chemicals. It's been a rollercoaster ride to get here but I'm happy with it. After all, chemistry gets in your blood.
I am an active and proud member of the Mad Scientists Network, an online forum through which members of the public can submit questions to real-live scientists like myself. I enjoy answering people's questions
I like to tell stories. I like to write. And I like to hear people laugh. I'm known in some circles as an auctioneer and as an entertainer, although I'm trying very hard to add "writer" to that. Nobody likes to read scientific papers, though, except for other scientists, and even then they usually are just looking for dirty words.
I am a former Disaster Service volunteer for the American Red Cross. I say "former" because after years of dedicated service, I discovered just how rampant the corruption runs in that organization. If you actually believe that 91 cents on every dollar donated goes straight to disaster victims, you are sadly mistaken. I know for a fact, and have seen firsthand, just how little actually finds its way into the hands of those who are in need. Apparently, $4000 bookcases for staff offices and leased luxury vehicles constitute "direct service to disaster victims." If you care, you can listen to the feeble cry of a small group of Volunteers for Reform.
It's a shame, really. Some of my best stories came out of my Red Cross experiences.
I enjoy working with birds of prey and have a particular fondness for redtailed hawks. It all started one day when I was at the laundromat in Wilder, Vermont. I had spilled some liquid fabric softener on one of the machines, and...well, rather than taking up space here, I'll let you check out the bird page if you want to get the full story. There's also some pictures there of some of my feathered friends, including Red, the hawk to whom I shall always be grateful for teaching me just a little bit about his world.
I am a big, big Godzilla fan. We all need our guilty pleasures.
Q: If you have three patents, why aren't you rich?
A: I often ask myself that. The reason is because when you work for someone else, that someone else becomes the owner of your patent. The inventor is traditionally given the sum of $1 by his employer. All he really is left with is bragging rights. For my first patent I was never actually given my dollar. Years later I called the boss and reminded him of this. "What do you mean?" he said. "The day we filed it I bought you lunch. You still owe me the other $4.85!"
Q: The picture at the top of the page frightens my children. Do you always dress like that?
A: Yes. But only in the Wintertime.
Q: What are you holding in that picture?
A: The standard answer is "You really don't want to know." But the truth is that I had just arrived at a party and, being quite thirsty, was looking for something to drink. The hosts had thought of everything -- twelve kinds of soda, tons of ice -- but no cups. They did have bowls, however, so I simply poured myself a bowl of soda and put some ice in it. It was more than adequate for the purposes to which I intended to put it, and I really don't understand what all the fuss was about.
Q: Are you married?
A: Yes. To my work.
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: Spare...time? What strange words you use. What means this "spare time"? Actually, I spend a lot of time on the computer. I have friends all over the world that I communicate with on a daily basis, yet the last time I spoke to my next-door neighbor was 3 months ago. Such is the way of the 21st Century. When I'm not on the computer, I am the chairman of Anthrocon, I serve on the Board of Directors of the Great Valley Nature Center, and I am also the Emergency Management Coordinator for the Borough of Malvern, PA, which is my home town. Sometimes if I find myself with a chunk of time I will write a short story or two. All in all I keep very busy, but it keeps me off the streets.
Q: Who are your heroes? Who do you admire most?
A: I have a lot of folks I look up to. Police officers and firemen rank very high. These are people who put their lives on the line every hour of every day for pitifully small paychecks. We as Americans tend to forget that, and it took the catastrophic events of September 11, 2001 to remind us. The next time you get pulled over for speeding, sign the ticket like an adult and keep your bitching to yourself. The person giving it to you may save your life someday.
I admire Benjamin Franklin. Not only was he an accomplished scientist, but he was a womanizer, a hard drinker and a well-known smartass. In an age where powdered wigs and fancy clothes were the norm, Franklin preferred to wear a rough but comfortable fur hat that made him look more like a mountain man than anything. He was a brilliant yet humble man who never forgot his roots. Despite his many accomplishments and his international fame, he asked before his death that his tombstone read simply, "Benjamin Franklin, Printer."
Words cannot adequately describe my respect for a motley group of folks in Florida who put on the Funday Pawpet Show on Sunday nights. They are talented entertainers and weavers of dreams, but not everyone knows that many of the crew take their talents to a little place outside of Orlando called Give Kids The World. It is a magical town created by hotelier and Holocaust survivor Henri Landwirth for children with grave illnesses. These fellows donate their time and their vast talent every week to entertain little boys and girls, many of whom have only months or even weeks to live. They bring smiles to faces that have known only sadness and joy to hearts that have known only pain. One of the crew, artist Herbie Bearclaw, tells of a little boy in a wheelchair, all hooked up to tubes and with his head shaved, who was delighted by an expert costume performance by Herbie. When it was done, the little boy motioned the costumed character over and whispered in his ear, "I know I'm going to die soon, but I'm not afraid anymore because I know you'll be in Heaven waiting for me."
If there are angels in this world, Herbie's one of them. All of the crew are.
Q: Where are you from originally
A: Lots of different places. I was born in Bryn Mawr Pennsylvania to two loving and hard-working parents. After graduating from college I spent five joyful years in Vermont, one hellacious year in Chicago, three bizarre years in Arkansas, and then by sheer fate found myself right back where I started.
Q: Who is this "Uncle Sake" I've heard about?
A: Oh. That. Well, let's be honest. I used to drink more than is prudent. I enjoyed a variety of alcohol, but was particularly fond of Japanese sake. It is a most remarkable beverage, particularly when served warm. I delighted in consuming it at conventions, and unfortunately developed something of a reputation.
That changed for the better in the spring of 2001 when I was attending a convention in Florida. I had been to a Japanese restaurant and had imbibed a quantity of very good quality ginjo sake. Afterward, I attended a party where liquor was being served. I partook of some there, and then some more, and more and more, until...well, let us simply say that I have no memory of the event. It was a classic "lost evening."
And it would have remained lost, too, if the fellows at the party had not videotaped me. I believe that I have discovered in that video a guaranteed cure for alcoholism. It was shown in a room full of people, myself included. Everyone in the room thought it was the most hilarious thing they had ever seen...except for me, that is. I was mortified. And right at that moment I resolved not to allow myself to become so terribly drunk again.
And I have not. I still drink wine (but only two glasses at any one sitting), and I still adore sake (but still, within strenuous limits), but I do not touch anything else. The chaps in Florida felt badly about the incident and have since asked if I wanted them to erase the tape, but I told them quite firmly that they are not to. As long as that tape exists, I have all the more incentive to remember what happens when one lets the booze-demon get the better of one's judgement.
No, you may not see the video.
Q: What exactly is going on in this picture below?
A: I have no idea. I never met those people in my life. I wasn't even near the place. You can't prove anything.