I was born on Thursday, June 2nd, 1960 at 11:19 a.m. at Michael
Reese Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. I don't remember too much
about the first few years, but I have it on good authority that I
lived in Chicago with my parents, Ray and Amy, until about age
two, when we moved to Skokie, Illinois.
I graduated from Cleveland Elementary School (K-6) in 1972,
Oakview Junior High School (7th-8th) in 1974, and Niles East High
School in 1978. All of these schools were in Skokie. Cleveland
school was demolished around 1990. Niles East closed in 1980,
then in the late '80s was demolished and rebuilt as Oakton
Community College. Oakview is still standing and operational,
although it's now called Oliver McCracken Middle School.
I did quite well through high school, both academically and in
extracurricular activities. I began playing the saxophone in the
fourth grade and quickly rose above the other kids in terms of
musical skill. My musical career reached its peak in 1978 when I
was selected to play in the Illinois High School All-State Jazz
Ensemble. I played second alto sax (one of the few times in my
life that I wasn't first chair). The kid who won the lead alto
spot really was better than me, but it was an honor anyway. What
a great band!
After graduating from high school 34th in a class of about 700, I
was intent on being a professional musician. I majored in the
saxophone at Northern Illinois University at Dekalb starting in
the fall of 1978. (What a ridiculous degree!) I lasted almost a
semester before I lost motivation and dropped out. I half-
heartedly continued to pursue a musical career for another few
months, but finally realized that it wasn't for me, and I quit.
Following a life-long dream of becoming a pilot (and with no idea
what else to do), I enrolled in Embry-Riddle Aeronautical
University at Prescott, Arizona in the fall of 1979. I spent the
next four years there, and graduated (Magna cum Laude) on April
23, 1983 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical
Science. In addition to the degree, I also earned my Private
Pilot certificate with single- and multi-engine ratings.
After graduating from college, I entered the United States Air
Force. It was quite an honor to be selected at that time. Of more
than 3,000 applicants, I was one of only about 70 who was chosen
for pilot training.
If all had gone as planned, I would have spent three months in
Officer Training School (OTS) in San Antonio, received my
commission as a second lieutenant, and then moved on into flight
training. I almost certainly would have flown in the Gulf War.
As it turned out, I was diagnosed with an eye deficiency and
discharged after about one month. I never even got close to an
airplane. So much for the V.A. benefits, although they did let me
keep the socks.
After my brief but illustrious military career, I bummed around
for a few months and then wound up getting a temporary job
through a friend's mother. Little did I know that this job would
guide the direction of my life for many years to come.
It was January 3, 1984 when I stared as a temp at the National
Resident Matching Program (NRMP) in Evanston, Illinois. My new
boss had a sixth-sense about people and seemed to know what they
were suited for. Although I had no experience other than a one-
semester BASIC programming course in college, she immediately put
me in charge of the company's computers (which weren't much at
the time--just a couple of Apple IIs).
The NRMP was supposed to a temporary job. I intended to continue
pursing my aviation career and obtained my instrument rating
later in 1984. I planned on proceeding to my Commercial Pilot
certificate and seeking a flying job, but I got sidetracked by
work and life, and wound up dropping flying completely. It would
be 13 years before I would be at the controls of an airplane
To be continued...
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