My very best times are spent with Nancy, my wife. We have a lot of fun enjoying life together, spending time in the islands, fishing, travelling, enjoying fine dining and fine wines, collecting stuff, and just laughing at things in general. She's a real treat, and she's also my best friend.
I have fished all my life, beginning with fishing with my dad and my grandfather in the early 1950's, when I was only 5 or 6 years old. My grandfather had a small homemade john boat, built of thick cedar planks. The boat was painted dark green and, even though it was probably only 10 feet long, it was very heavy. The joints in it were caulked with tar, but water always trickled in between the planks, so we carried a coffee can to bail it. Some of my fondest memories were born in that boat. We paddled it around the many lakes and sloughs of the Mississippi Delta near Greenwood - places with names like "Tippo Run", "Mathis Brake", and "Third Bridge". We fished mainly for bluegills, locally known in the Mississippi Delta as "bream". My dad and I got our first fly rods in 1958. They were Heddon "Pal" flyrods with Sears' J. C. Higgins brand "automatic" reels. Dad's only day off of work was Sunday, so we spent many Sunday mornings together learning to fly fish. A car door claimed that first fly rod of mine many years ago, but I still have Dad's rod and my original reel.
I am still an avid fisherman, getting rod time whenever I can. My passion is fly fishing, which I now do mainly from a kayak. I even occasionally use my old J. C. Higgins reel - it is my favorite reel for freshwater fly fishing for bluegills and bass. It might look out of place on a modern high-dollar graphite fly rod, but it has earned it's place on the reel seat and in my heart. I even use Dad's fly rod once in a while. Whenever I fish with it, I feel like my dad is fishing with me.
Nancy is my favorite fishing partner, and she is learning the fine art of fly fishing. Nancy took the photo at the right of me while fly fishing for bluegills early on a springtime morning. Bluegills are a freshwater species that attack a fly with vigor, are strong fighters, and are delicious to eat.
On the Texas coast, my favorite kind of fishing is sight-casting to redfish. This type of fishing is actually a combination of hunting and fishing, and it really gets your adrenaline going. You quietly maneuver your kayak through the marsh, usually in water that is less than a foot deep, and often as shallow as only a few inches. You are searching for redfish that are feeding. While feeding, redfish usually angle themselves with their heads toward the bottom. In shallow water, this makes their tails stick up out of the water. This phenomenon is commonly called "tailing". Also, when redfish are cruising along searching for food, they frequently have part of their bronze-colored back above the surface of the water. Even if they are completely submerged, the often produce a very pronounced disturbance on the surface of the water.
When you spot a fish, you maneuver yourself into a position to gently cast your fly. You must be very quiet while doing so because redfish in shallow water, knowing that they cannot dive for cover, are particularly skittish. You cast your fly with as much accuracy as you can, hoping that it will get the attention of the fish without spooking it. If the fish takes your fly, you are in for quite a fight because the fish are large and strong. In the marsh, redfish are typically 20 to 30 inches long, weigh 4 to 10 pounds, and they can really give a limber 9-foot long fly rod a workout.
In open water, redfish can be much larger with adults averaging 30 to 40 pounds. These fish are commonly called "bull reds". The world record redfish is 94 pounds.
I also fly fish on Anegada for bonefish, tarpon, and jacks.
You cannot seriously fly fish for very long before you find yourself tying your own flies. My favorite fly for most kinds of fish is the spoon fly. I put together a page of complete instructions for tying this fly here.
I have been a pilot since 1965, when I got my private pilot's license on my 17th birthday - the day that I was legally old enough to have a pilot's license. I fly quite a bit in the Piper PA-32 Cherokee Six that Nancy and I own. We have traveled all over the country in it - from California to Pennsylvania, and have even flown it down to the Caribbean.
I also have entertained myself with model aircraft for most of my life. I got into flying radio controlled helicopters some years ago and spent a lot of learning to fly them -- a never-ending process, and repairing them -- something that comes along with learning to fly. Flying radio controlled helicopters takes every bit of your concentration, and can thus actually be quite relaxing when other things are causing you stress. When you get done with an R/C heli flying session, your mind is quite clear of any other distractions. Either that, or your helicopter goes home in a trash bag.
Although I am wearing an Anegada T-shirt in this photo, I also enjoy my collection of Hawaiian shirts -- something that Nancy is really responsible for. My favorites by far are "Jams World", which are a genre all to themselves. Each Jams World piece is a limited production work of art.
Professionally, I am a computer systems engineer, specializing in critical real-time systems. I work as an independent contractor. My resume is available here. I have developed numerous communications systems, database engines, compilers, systems performance monitoring and improvement tools, and system security tools.
I worked for many years on Mission Control Center (MCC) software at the NASA Johnson Space Center. I was the principal architect and technical leader for implementation of the MCC spacecraft trajectory system, which is the primary system that the flight controllers use for planning and tracking launch, orbital, and entry maneuvers for the Space Shuttle. When you see Mission Control on television or in photographs, you normally controllers sitting in front of computer-driven consoles and a big world map on the wall with earth tracks of spacecraft orbit drawn on it. I designed the software system that the controllers are using in those consoles. That system also provides the data for the world map display.
While the U.S. space program is going through a slow period with no substantial development in Mission Control, I work as a consultant to one of the world's largest providers of electric utility control systems. These systems control almost everything involved in electric power, including nationwide electricity distribution, down to individual generators, circuit breakers, and switchgear. The systems are also the heart of the energy trading business which has grown out of utility deregulation. Needless to say, these are very critical systems.
I maintain and try to instill in others the belief that it IS possible to build error-free large software systems by building systems from successively smaller error-free subsystems and components. I also believe that the simplest solution to any problem is usually the best solution. In fact, I am a big proponent of the principle known as Occam's Razor.
Some of the people that I work with think that I am grumpy. Others know that I am just intolerant of those that accept mediocrity or error in their work.
I'm a very tricky cat!
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