In a recent comment, Big Ruckus D said that I am a Renaissance man type. I recognize that I have a broad knowledge base, but that is largely because of a sense of curiosity at how things work, an inability to sit around and be a couch potato, a sense of adventure, and a lot of luck.
I have had a couple of professions, a lot of jobs, and quite a few hobbies that turned into obsessions. Because I have usually had more than one job, there is a lot of overlap. There were times when I had three jobs and worked more than 90 hours a week. During the fall of 2004, there was a stretch there when I was working 144 hours a week. (Considering that there are only 168 hours in a week, that was a busy time.)
The most interesting people that I have ever met were older people who had a lot of stories to tell. That, combined with a love for the Heinlein quote I read as a child about all of the things that a human ought to be able to do, and I have always aspired to learn lots of things. I have made every attempt to make my story an interesting one, and I have done a shitload of stuff over the years.
In the course of doing these things, I have managed to collect half a dozen college degrees in Art, Medicine, Nursing, Fire Science, as well as administration and management. I’m currently working on my Master’s degree. If I decide to get my doctorate, I will likely finish it just before I begin collecting social security, so I don’t think I will try for that. When I earned my last degree (nursing), I was old enough to be the grandfather of my youngest classmate, and older than all but a handful of the instructors. Some of the nurses at the hospitals where I did my internship told me how inspiring it was to see someone “as old as” I was still going to school.
So here are some of the things that I have done:
- I was a Navy sailor for 6 years. They taught me to be an electrician and an electric motor rewinder. I also learned to love fighting fires as a part of the ship’s Nucleus Fire Party.
- After I got out of the Navy, I tried running my own business, a motor repair shop. It turns out that I didn’t know much about running a business at the time (I was only 24 and had never had a real job). I lost my ass and moved back to Florida after only 2 years, where my first job was as a construction electrician. I did that for about 6 months, but moved on. It was too hot, too hard, and too little pay.
- I was a civilian automation electrician for about 8 years: PLCs, robotics, motor controls, power transmissions, that sort of thing. I learned a lot for this job: I can rebuild gearboxes, do limited welding, repair conveyors, Jetway bridges, cold rolling steel mills, induction annealers, microwave welders, variable frequency drives, vector drives, inverters, and aircraft ground support equipment, etc. I worked at the Orlando Airport, a stainless steel pipe and tube mill, a factory that makes Skylights, an orange juice bottling plant, a paint factory, and for Disney (where I made robots dance while dressed like chickens).
- Firefighter/medic: When I got out of the Navy, I was a volunteer, then part time, and then full time as a career. I liked it more than being an electrician, so one slowly pushed out the other to become my main job, but I still had a lot of side jobs (see below). In all, I spend over 20 years putting out fires and taking people to the hospital. I did every job in the department except fire chief: Firefighter, paramedic, HAZMAT, technical rescue, DHS certified safety officer, EMS supervisor, truckie, Company Officer, Instructor, Rescue diver, Public safety diver, wildland firefighter, and I even trained as a SWAT medic for a time. Then I retired from that and:
- I was a high school science teacher for 7 years.
- Now I am a Registered Nurse
In the middle of all of that, I had a lot of second jobs:
- Used car salesman (I sucked at it. Only did it for 4 months. Sold three cars, made $900 in commission. Like I said, I sucked. I couldn’t lie to people and get them to buy something I knew was a bad deal.)
- Automotive chemicals salesman. (After this one, I realized that I can’t sell shit- no more sales for me)
- Underwater tour guide (Fun, but the pay was low. I only did it because I got to dive for free)
- SCUBA instructor (Free diving, free classes, discounts on SCUBA gear)
- One year, I had a job putting Christmas lights on the outside of tall buildings
- Critical Care Paramedic
- Paramedic on an interfacility ambulance
- I mucked out horse stalls for the Budweiser Clydesdales for a bit
- I worked at an aluminum injection molding plant, making Bar B Q pits. That work was mind-numbingly stupid, even worse than being a janitor.
- Instructor at a Vo-Tech school. At various times, I taught motor controls, phlebotomy, paramedic, and EMT.
- I was a consultant for various companies. I was getting $200 an hour for my time. I couldn’t get steady work, but for about 6 months, I made some serious cash. There is a story there, and I will tell it on this blog some day.
- I designed, built, and sold rotary phase converters that allowed people to run three phase motors on single phase power. Made a bit of spare money at that one.
- When I was a kid, my brother and I helped out on my Uncle’s farm. I will never forget watching him castrate a hog when I was only 9 years old.
- I once helped out in milking rattlesnakes (for venom).
- I had an FFL and sold guns for awhile. Never made much money, but had fun and bought some guns wholesale. Had a table at some gun shows in Virginia. Sold guns out of my house, back when you could just run a classified ad in the paper. Bought SKS rifles for $79, sold them for $99. I must have sold dozens of those things.
- HAM radio General ticket
- SCUBA master diver
- Home automation
- this blog
- IDPA Sharpshooter
- amateur gunsmith
- I tried being a stand up comic. I was mildly funny, buy couldn’t come up with new material fast enough to do more than a couple of shows. I did a great bit about farting in the space shuttle, but I wasn’t good enough to do more than that.
- I was a semi-professional racquetball player. Never was good enough to take the next step, plus you can’t win enough to pay the bills and chicks don’t dig it, even if you tell them you are a professional athlete.
Then there were the interesting events:
- I was twice homeless for a time. (1994, and 1999)
- I went bankrupt once, about 15 years ago. I lost everything.
- Then there was the year that I made so much money that I owed the IRS more than $230,000 at the end of the year.
- I was arrested twice, once for attempted murder, but no charges were ever filed and they eventually let me go (that is a different story, also interesting). That was a long time ago, when I was young and dumb.
- I spend three nights in a Federal prison as a prisoner. (That’s another story that you may or may not find interesting, and also a long time ago, when I was dumb.)
- After all of that, no convictions on my record. (again, it was a good story) Haven’t even had a traffic ticket in more than 2 decades.
- I once testified against my boss in Federal court. He was a real scumbag. He got away with it, and I hope he burns in hell for what he did to those people. That was also a pretty good story, but I can’t tell that one. Gag order.
- I’ve been married three times. This is the last one. I have grown as a person, and this one is the one that I want to be with. It’s been a decade now, and we are just a great fit.
- I have travelled to 48 states (all but Wisconsin and Minnesota) and 35 foreign countries on 5 of the 7 continents.
So I have done a lot of stuff. Some of it interesting, and some of it things that I had to do to pay the bills. Some of it was hard, some paid well, others didn’t. When I write it like this, it seems a lot more eventful that it was when I was actually doing it. I was just trying to get through life and have a bit of fun, but it certainly looks busy. I don’t see how people can get to more than 50 years old without a list of things that looks like this.
If you are still young, don’t sit there and be boring. You only get one shot to experience all that life has to offer. Get out there and don’t waste it.