San Antonio, Texas:
I pulled off the major task of being born. This was a very exciting time in my life, but I can't remember it!?!?

Cheyenne, Wyoming:
All I remember here is my sister being born and me cracking my head open more than once. It is a miracle I wasn't confiscated by the state to be "taken care of better".

Okinawa, USA:
(then Okinawa, Japan)
The biggest thing I remember was the FIRST Russian Mig-25 defection ended up at Kadena AFB (where I lived). Even as a little kid I could tell something major, exciting and "good" had happened. From our house I could see way down on the runway where the plane sat for what seemed like months (this was in kid years, it was probably a week).

The other major mark left in my memory was the constant and major protests of the local farmers. They were demanding that the US return Okinawa to Japan. They would always be protesting. Periodically they pushed down the fence and marched onto the base, to the runway...then sit...for hours...in 100% humidity and 100 degree heat...until the US medical crews would start hauling them all off as fast as possible because they were all passing out on the blacktop at the same time. Again, I would watch this from my backyard which had a great view down on the runway.

Eventually, the US handed Okinawa back to Japan, which was crazy as well. As a kid I didn't understand what a government was...I just knew "'We' decide to give Okinawa back to Japan"...it seems reasonable to me as an 8 year old kid, after all, EVERYONE on Okinawa spoke Japanese?!?! So, over night, ALL of Okinawa's street signs were moved to the other side of the road, and everyone drove on the left side of the road and not on the right...in their left hand drive cars...except the military base where I lived! Yes, you would drive around all day on the left side of the road off-base, then switch sides as you drove into the base and drive on the right side of the street. It was that way for a year until we left.

Riverside, California:
Yes, 9 months...probably the worst thing that could happen to a 10 year old kid. I hated it. We moved there, they closed the Air Force Base, the house my folks had "bought" was now worth 1/2 of what they had taken a loan out on and we had to move the Nebraska. Yes, this is the 9 months that turn my blissful childhood into the nightmare that happens when your parents are suddenly $50k in the hole (in 1980 dollars)...they took it out on each other and then the kids. It sucked.

Omaha, Nebraska:
Bliss returns. I have no idea how my folks got on top of the money situation...or if they did. But they did stop freaking out on each other and therefore my life could go back to mundane simple kid stuff. We lived in the TLQ (temporary living quarters) for a year where I want to a special temporary student part of the school. This was the best possible learning situation for me...no damn co-students slowing me down, no micro managing teachers...just me and a load of books that had tests at the end. They told me I had to read and pass the tests for 3 or 4 of these books every quarter...1 math, 1 reading, 1 social studies...some list like that. Unlike "school" these books were interesting as hell. I was a reading, test taking freak. I was clearing out a book and test every day or two. By the end of the year I was nearly 2 years ahead of myself. After it was obvious the wait for our base house was not so temporary, we moved to a rented trailer home in a trailer park. It was great being a kid and moving into this part of town. I was young enough that I didn't know that there were "classes" of people, I just made friends and got to know the other families, slowly realizing that not all people have mom's and dad's that worked 100% of the time, and therefore really didn't have any money to buy stuff. To me it wasn't "wrong" and "bad", they just lived differently. We really didn't have much either, but we did buy new clothes once a year...and we always had food. I realized these things weren't guaranteed...someone had to go get them. After another year, we got base housing and were back to living as what I now know is middle class.

Osan, Korea:
This was a rough time in my life...as it is for most people going through Jr. High School. To start things off on the wrong foot, I was part of the first 200 families to be allowed to live at Osan Air Base. That had 100's of lame repercussions. It meant that our houses were all brand new, cement, and nothing worked 100% of the time. I know that doesn't sound that bad; new house, but it was. A new GIANT cement building (much like "the projects") takes years to dry, so you live an a place that smells really strong and nearly burns your eyes all the time. Also, if humans aren't living there right away, the building gets taken over by rats or roaches. Our first house was so infected with roaches, we were able to move out to a non-roach house...unfortunately it was full of rats. How rats and roaches make a living in a CEMENT house, I have no idea, but somehow they were living large. Other things didn't work right either, like our new water system, that they forgot to power on the filtering....then realized that it was directly down stream from where the city dumps all its raw sewage. It only took 3 months of EVERYONE on base being sick all the time for them to figure it out. You could smell our water, but no one wanted to test it?!?!

So, home life was less than optimal...and so was the rest of my life. If you got sick and went to the doctor, you were no doubt treated by a doctor who wasn't able to bring his family over, so he resented you. If you came at the wrong time of day, you were in line behind 100 GI's and Prostitutes getting shots for VD day. The military is smart that way, if you give free VD shots to non-military people with VD off base, you can save yourself giving 200 GI's VD shots later. Anyway, all the 18 year old GI's don't like sitting around in a waiting room with a 14 year old and his mom so they frowned my way a lot.

The day started early too. There was no school at Osan, so we had to ride the bus an hour to Seoul...to the Army post. It is a bit like prison life, Air Force brats look a lot like fresh meat to the weathered Army brats...so everyone took a swing at us. At the time is sucked really bad, but when I moved to Oklahoma, it was very helpful. People in Korea didn't talk about fighting, the fought straight out. You can't afford to not get the first punch in, so you don't talk about it, you do it.

Korea itself was very interesting. This country (to me) is the West coast of the USA, of Asia. Although, like Japan, they don't like to admit they are really from China (a million billion years ago), they are from the toughest stock in China. Koreans are from the northern Mongol area's...the cowboys, you know the famous Chinese from this area, Ghengis Khan and has grandson Khubla Khan. The genes are the "nothing but brass tacks" genes. Couple that with China, then Japan ravaging the country during occupations and wars, and you have some tough, resilient people. People that are, well, very much like the wild west of the USA; Self starting, "pull yourself up by the bootstraps because no one else will", "I am going to get somewhere in my life" type people.

I bought an Atari 800 with 48k of RAM and BASIC for $800. It took me nearly a year to sacking groceries at the commissary for tips...but it was worth it.

Del City, Oklahoma:
People in Oklahoma (in 9th grade) like to talk about fighting all the time. They take football and marching band way too seriously and think the local laws are for the other people, not good people like "me".

Anyway, the constant posturing to fight the tallest guy in the grade (that's me) caused me to yawn more than anything. I could see it in their eyes, they were afraid to fight, and therefore, thankfully, I just had to simply say stuff like "Sorry I upset you by walking near you." and that was as good as winning the fight for the other guy.

Most of my time was spent on "important" stuff, like hacking away on my atari 800...getting bored with BASIC and finding that I could do just about anything I wanted in 6502 assembler. THAT was cool. I had to take my computer apart and put a switch on the internal speaker so my mom wouldn't hear me pounding away on the keyboard...that damn Atari 800 clicked the speaker every time you pressed a key. This was the golden age of BBS's for me. I was a 300 baud modem'ing freak. Those were the days.

I successfully convinced my dad he need the Brother typewriter...which I could then hook up to my computer as a printer. He had just finished his PhD and was rewarding himself with a really nice typewriter...one with carbon lift-off correction. Features that would save him tons of time. He just didn't get that with my computer, you could save your document on cassette tape and simply edit it anytime you wanted and print it over and over again. After he bought the daisy wheel typewriter, it only took one high school paper of me using Atari-Writer for him to "get it" in a huge way. Not re-typing a whole dissertation because of an added paragraph in the beginning was pure magic to him.

Fussa, Japan:
A great period in my life. Japan has great public transportation, so I traveled 1/2 the country on 100 yen...I didn't exactly leave many of the train stations, but I got to see a lot of Japan (from a train platform). There are 2 types of people in the military: The folks who white-knuckle not "being in the ConUS" and never leave the base when overseas and the people who are sick of the base and travel as far from it as they can. I was of camp #2, every military base is nearly exactly the same...why hang out there? I rode trains to places I have no idea where or what they are...I just know the Kanji for the place! The single travel tip I have, don't go to Hajioji...they still remember the war, and many folks don't like white people...I know, I was spit on more than once. Other than that, I loved it.

Flagstaff, Arizona:
I went to NAU and studied Computer Science. This was an amazing place to get fresh air...well a little fresh air; it is at 7,000 feet. Either way, it was a great place to be at this time of my life.

Placerville, California:
I lived with my grandparents as they built their house. This could not have been a better situation. I did construction stuff during the day, and waterskied in the afternoon and evening. I worked "pushing" muscles during the day hanging drywall, shingling roofs and moving dirt all day when it was 100 degree's and worked "pulling" muscles all afternoon and evening skiing...and drink 10 gallons of water every 24 hours. This is what I am going to do when I don't have to work anymore. After the house was built, I flipped burgers and went to some tiny Community Collage during the day, knew everyone in town and waterskied all afternoon and evening. Did I mention I like to waterski?

Seattle, Washington:
Let me see. This chapter is still being written. The short version:
Lived with mom and dad, worked at Boeing, got an apartment...
Worked at a internet startup (before they were sexy and money rained from the sky) named SPRY, went to Raves and went to "The OffRamp" when a bunch lousy, obnoxious, crappy, redneck punk bands like Nirvana used to play there with 20 people in the audience...
Compuserve bought SPRY and squandered it as they squandered themselves...then worked at Saltmine when dot com was cool, took up snowboarding and nearly killed myself about 10 times; Falling while boarding is different than falling while waterskiing...
Left Saltmine as the big dogs got their teeth into it and started working for Aventail. Met my wife, had a kid, bought a house out in the 'burbs' and got married. (I never seem to do anything in the "right" order.)
I greatly enjoy my life now. I lot more "in balance" than it has ever been. I am working to keep it that way long term.

...to be continued...