(This first section was hastily written during my big revamp.)
I was born in New Haven in 1971, and lived there for seven years. My family moved to Houston in 1978, at which point I skipped second grade, as everything my class was doing in the public school there (whose name I'm now unsure of, but I strongly suspect that it was West University Elementary, as the neighborhood where we lived in Houston was called West University Place) was a repeat of what my first grade class had done the year before (at the Foote School, a private school in New Haven, where my mom taught French). I placed into a vanguard program at another public school (River Oaks Elementary) the following year, and spent fourth and fifth grade there.
We moved to Claremont CA in 1981, and lived there through the end of high school, continuing through the public school system. I went to Sycamore Elementary for sixth grade (which was notable for its multi-grade classrooms; I think mine was fifth & sixth), El Roble Intermediate for junior high, and then on to Claremont High, where I graduated in 1988 at the clueless but enthusiastic age of 17.
(This next bit is what I used to have on this page before the big revamp. I should rewrite it, but haven't yet.)
I applied to college at Brown, Yale, Swarthmore, and Pomona, and got in to the latter two; wanting to leave the nest a bit, I ended up at Swat, which turned out to be a perfect place for me. Most of my adult life has been shaped by my Swarthmore experiences, although one significant branch of my life doesn't trace back to Swat. I arrived in the fall of 1988, and graduated on schedule in the spring 1992. I was originally going to major in philosophy, political science, or physics, and even went so far as to write my sophomore paper claiming that I was planning to be an Honors Philosophy major... I came to my senses, though, and ended up doing a Special Major in Computer Science.
I also spent a boatload of time working as a Consultant and Techster for the Computing Center, and was pretty sure my senior year that I wanted to work in the user/system support side of computing rather than the research/academia side. Over spring break of my senior year, I was visiting my family in Claremont, when I saw a job posting for the position of User Support Coordinator at Harvey Mudd College. I applied, interviewed in April in my ratty old bathrobe (by telephone, of course -- if it'd been in person, I would have worn a much nicer robe, or maybe some silk pajamas), and got the job, so I headed back out to Claremont.
I house-sat for my parents for the summer while they were vacationing back east, and then moved into my own apartment in September of '92 -- a nice 1-bedroom affair in a reasonable complex, with a pool, hot tub, and other assorted minor niceties (not including the bedroom window overlooking the playground -- children makin' noise all the time...). My parents had given me their old car as a graduation present, but I was in an accident within a month of graduation, hit in the side by a fellow driving in a lane that didn't exist at a speed that wasn't legal and not paying any attention to what was going on around him. The car was totaled, so I used the insurance money to buy a new but slightly less nice car for myself... And was well on the way to starting to feel like a real grown-up. (grin)
By February of '94, I was feeling so grown-up that I decided to buy a house. Claremont isn't cheap, but it's not ridiculously pricey either, and I wasn't looking for anything huge -- no wife and kids, not even a girlfriend and pets. Most to the point, I found that I could buy a house and pay only slightly more than I was paying in rent -- and at least some of the money would be going towards a long-term investment. I found a cute little 2-bedroom place up in North Claremont (surrounded by huge houses with sprawling yards), and closed the deal in early June of '94.
Over the summer, though, I started getting more and more disillusioned with my job. I was becoming really frustrated by some of my co-workers, and having gotten a better view of the managerial and political sides of working at a small college, I was starting to doubt that I really wanted to spend the rest of my life at this. I didn't have any better options at the time, though, and it certainly wasn't awful... But I was thinking.
Then in August, while I was visiting my folks back east, I got e-mail from Eiji Hirai (Swat '88), mentioning that the newly formed NetMarket (aka Four Guys In A House On The Net) was looking for programmers. They were up in Nashua, NH, which had the advantage of being a Tax Free Zone (tm), but the disadvantages of being Way The Hell Far Away From Anything Else (tm), and also All Cold, All The Time (tm). They persuaded me to come up and look around, and tried to seduce me into taking a job there... And after three or four iterations between "wow, this would be cool" and "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING?!?", I finally decided to take the job.
I rented out the house, packed my bags, and hit the road. In the following 12 months, NetMarket went from Six Guys In A House On The Net In New Hampshire to A Division Of CUC International, multi-billion dollar consumer services company. Offices in Cambridge, multiple T1 lines, all kinds of fancy hardware, the works.
(The rest of this is also new.)
NetMarket was acquired by CUC, which merged with a company called HFS to form Cendant, in what would soon be described as the worst merger in corporate history, leading to what was at the time the biggest corporate accounting scandal ever. (Enron et al may have done it better, but we did it first.) The ensuing shake-up led to the departure of all the people who knew what NetMarket was good at, the remaining management folks didn't know what to do with us, and many of us quit in frustration in the spring of 1999. Other brave souls hung on longer, but NetMarket finally died a horrid and whimpering death (which I'll write more about at some point).
In the middle there, I moved to San Mateo CA to open NetMarket's west coast office, and lived and worked there from September of 1996 through April of 1999. After the exodus, I ended up at Caltech, where I remain to this very day.