Archive for Life
One in a series.
You probably have noticed that there is a certain section of the Red Book that has been consistently absent whenever I have made a submission.
The segments are for the disclosure of marital and family statuses.
The short answer? None. But not for the lack of trying.
Back at sixth grade graduation, I wrote an essay in which I envisioned having a large family and getting married at the age of 25. But that hasn’t happened. I have not had that many relationships that could be called “serious.” Part of that was being in a career which required you to work from 4 p.m. until sometimes well past midnight.
Part of it is my risk-averse self, unwilling to be hurt after seeing friends having to put themselves together after bad breakups.
Part of it, I think, is the impossible Venn diagram of interests. There are not very many people, I have discovered, who cite both field hockey and vernacular jazz partner dancing.
And let’s face it. My choice and taste in music has made me so unhip to today’s pop charts it isn’t even funny. I don’t know the difference between Faith Hill and Faith Evans, the difference between Keith Urban and Toby Keith, or which boy band launched which solo artist. For someone who grew up listening to those four-hour pop chart countdown shows with Casey Kasem, it’s kind of pathetic.
Back in the 1990s, I liked certain kinds of alternative dance music. Then, in 1998, I discovered swing, jazz, and blues — passions which I follow to this day.
That passion is manifested anywhere from two to four times a week on the social dance floor. And it is manifested in 4 1/2-minute increments.
Whenever I dance, the end goal for me is the short term: good form, enjoying the music. Marriage is the furthest thing from my mind when I do a good eight-count whip turn.
In short, dance for me is the ultimate in “speed dating.” I have had occasion to date people I have met dancing; heck, I thought I was going to marry one of my favorites.
But it hasn’t happened yet.
Part of me wonders if it’s because of the social media trend I discussed last week, one where people can feel very isolated and very connected at the same time.
Part of me wonders whether it’s because of the rules changing so rapidly when it comes to social interaction.
I haven’t found the right person at the right time in history.
Still looking, though.
One in a series.
Somewhere in the archives of The Harvard Crimson is a photo of me taken in September of 1984. I was sitting at the end of a row of Apple Macintosh computers in the new computer room in the basement of the Harvard Science Center.
These were the original 35-pound beige plastic machines with a 16 megahertz processor running 128 kilobytes of random-access memory with no hard drive; you were limited to whatever you could stuff on one side of a 3 1/2-inch floppy disk.
Right now, I am typing this blog entry on a mobile phone which weighs about six ounces, and has a 1 gigahertz processor running 512 megabytes of random-access memory with 16 gigabytes of space.
I’m not expecting you to know the order of magnitude of improvement for all of these items.
But what I know is that, if you wanted to built an iPhone out of the kinds of tubes and wires that formed the core of the Aiken Mark I that is still on the Harvard campus, you would need a space about 38 million times the size of the Aiken to house it.
That’s the leap forward in technology the last quarter-century.
Technology, of all kinds, has had a number of effects on our society. It has made our nation one of citizen journalists (cat videos and celebrity social media users notwithstanding), it allows cars to self-adjust fuel mixture, it allows people to email entire documents like contracts to each other, and it helps in life-saving surgery.
Many of the technologies are things we have seen in popular culture such as Star Trek, The Jetsons, the General Motors pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair, Metropolis, and The Fifth Element.
But it has also created a number of unintended consequences. A generation of teenagers thinks it is OK to post nude pictures or videos of themselves on social media or send them via mobile phone. The 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendments of our Constitution have been enervated in the name of “homeland security.” There are hundreds of television channels available to most of us, but often without original content. Many houses today are built without land lines for telephone access.
One social trend that I find interesting is that our all-encompassing technology has created a group of people seeking refuge from it. A number of people our age are not only not wired into the digital public square, there are some folks who consciously avoid giving out any kind of information that could potentially result in them being found by random people. You may get an idea of the breadth of the problem by seeing how many blank entries there are in The Red Book.
At the same time, however, some billion-dollar companies have been formed all in the name of what is being called “social media.” This kind of media has evolved with different names: Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, amongst others.
Social media and technology, as has been argued in the fine Robert Putnam book Bowling Alone, has had the dual effect of connecting as well as isolating us. The person who may feel that sense of euphoria connecting with a long-lost friend or teacher may have spent the hours searching in front of a desk at home, alone, and from society at large.
I’m sure the technophile/technophobe dichotomy will shift and evolve over time. I wonder what intervening classes show when it comes to people not wanting to leave their digital fingerprints?
One in a series.
One of the questions that our alumni/ae association asks of us in writing the entries in our Red Book are thoughts on politics. Mine are somewhat complicated, given what has happened in the last 25 years.
In my years of taking political science classes at the undergraduate and graduate-school levels, certain essays, words, and books have stuck with me.
And I think the one work that has been on my mind the most over the last quarter century is “War, Peace, and the Presidency” by Henry Paolucci.
In the book, the noted scholar laid out a neat case against what was perhaps the biggest geopolitical story of the last quarter-century: the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc.
Part of the argument made in the book is that a balance of power, rather than a dominant superpower, was good for civilization. The absence of regional or political rivalry, he argued, would have led to what Eduard Meyer called “the stimulus to advance, to outstrip competitors.”
Paolucci would have likely seen the collapse of the Soviet Union as a start of a long decline in American civilization, although there are a couple of things he might not have envisioned.
One is the rise and fall of U.S. economic and industrial power over the last 25 years. In the early days after the seeming death of Communism, the United States economy was not only the world’s innovator in many fields, but a hub of worldwide manufacturing and energy production.
Today, the U.S. has ceded a lot of its economic standing to other countries. Clothing manufacturing has moved from China to Lesotho to Bangladesh. Baseballs are sewn in Costa Rica. The U.S. doesn’t produce half of it oil like it used to.
On the other hand, Europe and Asia, for years, were far ahead of the U.S. in the mobile phone market. Heck, remember when Nokia had about half of the cell phones out there? Now, it’s Apple and Samsung leading the market, with almost all of the manufacturing not happening on our shores.
Today, the U.S. economy seems to be predicated on banking and investment products (some of questionable ethics and legality) and the export of weapons. The U.S. leads the world in making things that kill other people, whether it is bombs, firearms, or fighter jets.
And the irony is that sometimes those weapons get into the hands of those who would do harm. How much expertise in bombmaking during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan came from American combat manuals? How many Stinger missiles given to the Afghan mujaheddin to fight the Soviets were eventually trained on U.S. pilots?
And speaking of the mujaheddin, non-state actors were another trend that Paolucci didn’t foresee. Thus far, a number of Western regimes have justified enormous military spending to fight a so-called “war on terror.”
The problem is that it is impossible to throw money at the problems that non-state actors like al-Qaeda and Islamic Jihad pose. To do so is to cause the same kind of military overspending that bankrupted the Soviet Union and has caused enormous budget deficits here.
An enormous economic recession has not helped, either. But I think there is a recognition that it will take certain energy innovations to blunt the economic powers of petro-authoritarian states such as today’s Russia.
Think of it: the moment someone comes up with the fuel cell that either burns its fuel cleanly without leftover chemicals or isotopes, there will be countries out there sitting on top of barrels of sludge rather than their license to print money.
Might that happen in the next 25 years? I’ll have thoughts on technology next week.
One in a series.
In 1996, one of the young athletes that I had a chance to cover before she moved on to college gave me a call at the newspaper. She was turning the tables: she was interviewing me.
“I’m doing a report on what you think the biggest story or trend in the next few years is going to be in sports. Can you help me?”
I gave her a bit of a rambling answer, but I wanted to hit two points.
One was the globalization of sport, which was already happening with Americans winning the Tour de France, the establishment of American football in Europe, and the first season of Major League Soccer, which had already seen places from Pasadena to East Rutherford having to open sections in their stadiums to accommodate enormous walk-up crowds at their gates.
The other trend I forecast was a greater presence of gay people in sports. I made the point that there were likely people already in sports who were lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, or questioning, but had not yet made a public declaration on sexuality.
I gave some examples like tennis players Dr. Renee Richards and Martina Navratilova, and football player Dave Kopay, who came out in 1975 after his career ended. I even recalled for her a situation on the Harvard campus where the goalie for the women’s lacrosse team came out as gay, only to be disowned by her family.
Since that interview, there have been a number of people who have come out of the sexual orientation closet — other tennis players, WNBA stars, and even an Australian Rules Football veteran.
But I think there has been a series of events in 2013 which are likely throw open the closet forever.
First, Robbie Rogers, a soccer player who came out as gay while in Europe, then immediately announced his retirement at the age of 25. He has since been seen training with the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS.
Then, Brittney Griner, the top overall pick in the 2013 WNBA draft, came out in a interview after the Final Four. Griner, a four-time All-American who could develop into one of the finest players of this or any age, will be starting her rookie season with the Phoenix Mercury in weeks.
This past week, it was Jason Collins, a veteran of 14 NBA seasons, late of the Washington Wizards, who came out. While it is being trumpeted as “the first active openly gay player in one of the four major U.S. pro sports leagues,” the “active” part is to be determined. Collins is out of contract and a free agent, and I do wonder if one of the 32 ownership groups in the NBA will tender him an offer. And if not, will he find gainful employment on another team in another country which may have less-than-tolerant attitudes towards gay people?
That history has yet to be written.
But I think that the maturation of gay life is perhaps the biggest social trend since we graduated.
Think about it. We’ve gone from a President who refused to include the word “gay” or “AIDS” in his speeches to one whose mantra is “gay is OK,” and one who thought it important enough to call Collins personally last week.
There are other trends that you may agree or disagree with as having different levels of societal impact, but it is undeniable that 2013 is (pardon the pun) one enormous coming-out party.
If you’ve just gotten your Reunion directory (as many others have done in the past week), congratulations for finding this entry and the others I’ve written the last few weeks. I’ll be adding more until Reunion Week, but I also invite you to read other entries in the blog.
One in a series.
In mid-July of 1988, just out of college, I had an interview with a major national polling organization. I thought the interview went well, but I also had an interview later that week with my local newspaper.
It was my first major life decision: should I work for this established firm, or should I go into the newspaper business?
There are two reasons why I took the journalistic path, and these two reasons involve some major confessions.
First of all, I really didn’t have a clue about how to write when I was in high school. Despite receiving an A+ for an essay summarizing the short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, I, frankly, didn’t have a clue as to how to convey an idea or knowledge to someone else through the written word.
Sure, I could knock out a 20-page paper on T.S. Eliot or the economy of the state of Mississippi, but I really didn’t know how to really write until I started writing for The Harvard Crimson. Feedback from my colleagues on the editing desk helped me more than any teacher, professor, or boss ever did.
My second reason for going into journalism, spurning the polling job: my older brother had given me micro-cassette recorder for a graduation present. I felt obligated to go into an occupation in which it could be put to its greatest use.
Looking back 25 years, I may not have made the right decision. You see, the polling organization underwent a number of changes over the next quarter-century in terms of personnel and business focus. Half of the organization — including a number of people who interviewed me — split off to create an organization which eventually became a well-funded Washington think tank examining a number of hot-button issues like technology, health care, immigration, and the media. The person who interviewed me is himself a pundit who appears on TV or on the radio every once in a while to discuss the firm’s findings.
Meanwhile, the other half of the business — the legacy organization with whom I interviewed back in 1988 — did the unthinkable recently: it got the most recent Presidential election wrong.
That firm, in failing to understand and adapt to the kind of micropolling done by organizations such as FiveThirtyEight, is precisely how the organization had come into prominence in the first place. Now, something better has come along and is likely to be the industry standard before long.
All that said, I can’t say that I have regrets about my journalistic career as a sportswriter for a local newspaper. For a decade, I watched many different levels of competition, in locales all over the Delaware Valley, write about them, and got paid for doing it. I even got a 16-month leave of absence to get my master’s degree.
A couple of years after coming back from grad school, I saw a computer in the library. It had a program on it that was called “Netscape.” Yep, our newspaper had the Internet, and I was on that machine a lot, often finding results for some events that I would sometimes write up for the paper.
It was sometime in 1995 when our publisher got everybody together in the newsroom and talked about technological changes which would allow our newspaper to use stories from our sister publications near New York City.
Our publisher would use a sentence which, I think, was a serious miscalculation: “Nobody is going to want to read newspapers on their computer.”
Given the number of newspapers that have closed, limited delivery, made mobile versions for tablet computers, or have instituted paywalls over the last two decades, this is a colossal miscalculation.
Now, I had seen some rapid changes happen to media as a result of technology before; during our four years at Harvard, did you notice that the bins for vinyl record albums at The Coop were replaced almost entirely with compact discs by the time we graduated?
I had envisioned a future with newspaper readers the size of Nintendo’s Game Boy, and chips with a day’s worth of newspaper data on them would be vended in small machines the size of a fire call box. Of course, I didn’t envision tablet computing or universal wireless fidelity and/or cellular transmission of data.
It was about that same time when I had a somewhat existential question in my mind: did any of what I wrote, or the events themselves, have any kind of community impact?
As a result, I found my journalistic approach had changed into one where context and perspective were necessary to tell the story rather than just what happened on the field. I remember a time I was in Florence, N.J. and a couple of gray-haired women were sitting in deck chairs outside the fence at a field hockey game.
They were long-time observers of the game, and I think one of them was a coach of some reknown. When I sensed their depth of knowledge, I asked them about St. Mary’s Hall, and they remembered the school’s field hockey program, which was one of the nation’s finest in the very early days of the sport.
Part of what I wanted to do, outside of the workaday world of daily journalism, was to start a website that would take a historical perspective on the game while giving a national reach to it.
I had the concept, but in order to execute it, I had to make a difficult decision: to leave home.
One in a series.
This entry starts on Dec. 2, 1997. On that day, I left the newspaper business, having burned out from having to do more with less and with no possible prospects for either advancement or the benefits of full-time work, including health insurance.
Two days later, I went to a former iron smelting building on the shores of the Delaware River to take a swing dancing lesson.
The events of that first week in 1997 represent a duality when it comes to how I view 1998. It was, at the same time, the worst year of my life and also the best.
In May of that year, I chose to move out of a place where I had spent two decades to seek my fortune in the big city. I had a master’s degree that I wasn’t using and I wasn’t getting any younger.
I moved down with clothes, my computer, my life savings, and hope.
But as I would learn, I didn’t have a great plan or any clue whatsoever of how I was going to get to where I wanted.
As my job search lurched, I was able to find some comfort swing dancing. I managed to luck into a person who was in the World Swing Dance Council Hall of Fame who was teaching in a small tavern southwest of town.
In addition, I started work in September 1998 on the Geocities web presence which eventually became this website.
As I think about it today, it is remarkable how lucky I was able to find good story material so quickly. The first game I saw, I encountered a sophomore center midfielder who would feature in the senior women’s national team pool as an alternate during the mid-2000s. The second game, I encountered a coach who would become this site’s national field hockey coach of the year for her efforts in the postseason. The third, I encountered a player who would become an Ivy League two-sport star on a bandbox of a field near Washington National Cathedral. The fourth, I ran into a driven coach who would help her team set what was then a national record for consecutive state championships.
Eventually, my attention turned to trying to find a good full-time job. I still had a series of ideals when it came to where I wanted to work, including a series of think tanks whose work I had grown to admire while in college and graduate school.
It was, however, in late 1998 when I started a series of odd jobs through a headhunting agency in the northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C. I was asked to man a call center for a lobbying organization for trial lawyers, I worked a month as an office manager for a non-profit that worked with special-needs kids, and even got a short stint for one of the major accounting firms.
My most successful stint was with the legal department of an import firm based in the Georgetown section of the city. The firm was put together similar to how WorldCom was assembled, as a so-called “roll-up” of many different small firms in order to create one large efficient firm.
I learned a lot of lessons from being in that business environment, and I absorbed them very quickly. I learned about the duplication of effort and turf battles, about being punctual and respectful, and I learned a lot about the financial world that you wouldn’t ever learn in business school.
One of the directors called me a credit to the organization, which was a pretty good compliment to hear as someone who was out of a job a year before.
The benefits were pretty awesome. I really liked lower Georgetown, with its collection of whimsical independent shops that reminded me so much of Cambridge. It was also pretty cool to have space on weekends in the parking garage.
But like WorldCom before it, this firm went belly-up only about a year after I was hired full-time.
The timing of my departure was actually propitious; two days after signing the papers for my severance, I was in my Volvo in the way down to Tennessee as my parents had decided to take a month’s break to vacation in the small college town where my father had gotten his theology degrees.
After we all got back from Tennessee, however, it was time to look for work again.
Today’s Game of the Day
Wilmette Loyola Academy (Ill.) at Winnetka New Trier (Ill.)
It’s a prime-time matchup in what could be the game of the year in the Central time zone. Why? These teams finished 1-2 in the state last year, with the Ramblers having won the state championship. But these teams come into tonight’s matchup with imperfect records as they both took East Coast road trips to test their mettle. No matter; this should be an awesome game under the lights.
Today, five municipalities in eastern Massachusetts were, essentially, under martial law as police and National Guard troops engaged in an enormously expensive search for a suspect in the Monday bombings in Boston.
Late today, a police press conference in Watertown, Mass. revealed that the second suspect (the first had been shot the night before) was not in custody.
The “shelter-in-place” lockdown was lifted.
And just afterward, a citizen who was allowed out of his house found the suspect, called police, and the arrest was made very quickly.
I think the mass lockdown of the citizenry should have been in effect in the first place.
Over the course of the history of law enforcement in the U.S., the police have done a pretty good job of finding fugitives, even ones who blow up mailboxes for kicks and think they can get away with it. And what they have done is rely on the good graces of the citizenry to help them, and have worked very much behind the scenes.
But being forceful and blunt is usually not the way to go. In the script of the original pilot episode of Miami Vice, one of the detectives, on the scene of a recent crime with possible suspects in the area, is perturbed when patrol officers pull up in a squad car with lights and siren on.
“Damn!” he said. “Why don’t we just send them a Candy Gram to let them know that the P-O-L-I-C-E are on the way?”
It’s instructive, I think, that what the joint effort between local and state police and certain paramilitary forces did today was very much what troops have been doing in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last decade. A very direct and frontal move in order to find an unseen enemy.
Anyone who studies their military history, whether it is Rome, Vietnam, or the American Revolution, should know that this is the absolute worst way to handle a situation like this.
And, regrettably, certain very powerful nation-states are failing to learn very expensive lessons on the limits of military might and power.
Today’s Game of the Day
The Lawrenceville (N.J.) School at Princeton (N.J.) Day School
It’s been a topsy-turvy season thus far in the New Jersey prep-school ranks. The Pennington (N.J.) School, which has never had much success the last two decades, is 5-1 thus far, while Highstown Peddie School (N.J.), which has had excellent teams the last few seasons, is 0-5. Despite all this, there is always the Lawrenceville-PDS rivalry. Both teams are in mid-table, and a PDS win would put both teams at 3-3 on the season with all to play for.
Overnight, the FBI and a team of Homeland Security agents descended on an apartment in pursuit of a suspect sought in connection with envelopes laced with ricin which were mailed to U.S. Senator Roger Wicker and President Obama.
The scene of the search and arrest was just north of the town where I spent a decade of my life as a pre-teen: Corinth, Mississippi
The town of about 10,000 is built around the junction of two railroads, has a major tie to the Civil War as the Confederate headquarters for the Battle of Shiloh, the bloodiest Civil War battle fought until that little matter up in Gettysburg, Pa. a year later.
It’s the kind of place where the opening of a large national chain, such as a McDonald’s and a Wal-Mart, was a very big deal. In the late 70s, with the construction of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway a few miles to the east of town, it was expected that there would be a boost to the local economy.
When I last visited the town back in the late 80s, there were some vestiges of that hope. A shopping mall was built along Route 72, near the drive-in movie theater, which had become an RV dealership.
But a lot of the town had remained the same — the churches, the old library, and many parts of the center of town. Of course, there have been more changes over the years, and I got a sense of that not so long ago when I did a Google Street View of the roads leading around and through town.
The town, I fear, is going to be awash in “live shot” reporters over the next few days, even as there is round-the-clock coverage of the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.
I don’t think my old home town has ever had anything like this, even when the lumber yard burned down back in the 70s. I wonder if they’re ready for it.
Today’s Game of the Day
Nokesville Patriot (Va.) at Haymarket Battlefield (Va.)
We’ll call another audible here to spotlight what could be a very good Prince William County matchup amongst a pair of tie county’s up-and-coming programs. Patriot is 6-3 coming into this game, Battlefield is 5-3.
Today’s events in Boston show just how random the act of terrorism is, and how a free society cannot simply become hermetically sealed in order to become 100 percent safe.
I will always remember the words in one of the small booklets printed by an oil company in the 1970s. The book, about car theft, had this as one of its provisos: a determined professional will steal your car, no matter what you do to try to protect it.
We are now in a world in which a determined individual can create untold havoc through bombing, shooting, or other means of causing mayhem.
And the irony is that much of that lethal technology was perfected by American entities such as DARPA and the CIA.
If this becomes one of the later chapters in the history of the United States as a world power, this shouldn’t be forgotten.
One in a series.
It was Valentine’s Day of 2001 when I first started a peripatetic journey within the organization where I currently work. I took the subway into an office complex at L’Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C. What I remember most from that first day was the ride up the escalator. It is a ride of about two minutes through a long tan tunnel where you can sometimes hear conversations from clear over on the other side of the escalator because of the shape of the arch.
At the landing at the top of the escalator was a busker with an electric guitar. The musician, with glasses and dreadlocks, was playing individual notes on his guitar, which had a distortion setting that made the notes echo and reverb down the escalator tube.
The office was on the top floor of an eight-story building overlooking the Potomac River, and from the conference room at the far end of that office, you could see the waterfront into Arlington, Va.
I worked as a data analyst on a joint project between the Smithsonian Institution and the National Academy of Sciences. My boss was newly promoted under a minor scandal involving the old director and the misappropriation of funds. It was one of a number of legal difficulties that the Smithsonian had gone through in the 1990s and 2000s as bosses all the way up to president Lawrence Small had been shown to have misused funds for everything from travel to home renovations.
I was there for a year, but the most memorable event that happened during my time there was a Tuesday that September. It was a bright morning and rather sticky, and also remember a homeless man ranting more than the usual agitprop in the building’s breakfast spot.
I was asked to do a little work over in the other office near the National Mall while my immediate supervisors were on a trip to Mexico. It was shortly after 9 o’clock when news first broke of an airplane crashing into the World Trade Center. My mind thought back to the time a B-25 bomber crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945.
Only this time, there were more aircraft and more targets, as we all learned. One local radio station was broadcasting reports from the public. One said there was a car bomb at the State Department. Another said there was fire along the National Mall.
Around 11 a.m., an order came sending everyone home. Instead, I walked back to the main office, which was about a kilometer away from the Pentagon. I tried to see from our windows, but there was no view of the Pentagon’s west wall where American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into it.
I sent emails telling people I was OK and did some work until a maintenance worker found me and convinced me to leave the building.
It was about half-past noon when I got on the subway that day for what was not the usual afternoon commute. There was almost nobody on the train; from news reports I had heard earlier in the day, there had been a huge cluster of evacuees two hours before, and it was enough of a cluster that commuters were using a highway bridge to walk into Virginia to get to safety.
I took a drive down to suburban Woodbridge, Va. once I got my car from the parking garage at my local stop. A lot of public places, including an enormous regional shopping mall, had closed. But oddly enough, there was a Goodwill store that had remained open in one of the strip malls along the town’s main drag. As I am typing this, the blue plastic utility basket I bought at Goodwill that very day is sitting to my left.
That evening, the Potomac Swing Dance Club was open, but only two other people came: Craig, the proprietor, and Nancy, an organizer for a Friday swing dance promotion held in a nearby fitness club. We talked about our experiences and our fears that evening.
It was only that next day when I learned about the death of Ted Hennessy, our classmate. And it seemed as though there wasn’t anyone who didn’t know someone who knew somebody who was killed either in New York, Washington, or Shanksville, Pa.
I fulfilled the end of my contract in early 2002, then went over to the Center for Education just north of Georgetown University to work as an archivist. I quickly learned about compliance with public access law and helped my particular unit move from their old offices into a shiny LEED-certified building downtown near the basketball arena.
By that November, I had moved on to a job within the Institute of Medicine, but I was not actually assigned to the main office building. Instead, I was one of two workers given special access to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, where we were tasked with looking through retired service members’ records to record the frequency of clinic visits. The data was to be used in a study on Gulf War Syndrome.
I was hired full-time and helped on studies ranging from Social Security medical benefits to animal gas tests to acoustic trauma. But by the end of 2006, our division was undergoing not only a 10 percent across-the-board funding cut, but my particular unit was being repurposed away from its original funding formula.
Translation: I was out of a job.
My 2007 was peripatetic. After a short stint with a group concentrating in alternative public transportation options for older Americans, I received a six-month contract at an organization concentrating solely on neuroscience. There, I was given a chance to inform the public using the agency’s Web presence.
But late that year, the decision was made to not renew my contract once the organization had organized its annual conference out West.
There wasn’t any work for me in late 2007, but I would return to my old place of employment the following January.