user since
Sat Jan 20 2001 at 03:44:17 (16.7 years ago )
last seen
Wed May 12 2004 at 03:43:20 (13.4 years ago )
number of write-ups
15 - View altair's writeups (feed)
level / experience
0 (Initiate) / 180
mission drive within everything
Curiousity, at the moment
Mars, geology, planetary science, teaching
North Hollywood High School
'Twas brillig and the slithy toves...
most recent writeup
Early Entrance Program at CSULA
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Personal History:

I grew up in Palmdale, CA, a community growing too fast in the midst of the Mojave desert, without an adequate local water source. My parents are aeronautical engineers, both of whom work for NASA at Edwards Air Force Base, where the Space Shuttle used to land. It was a happy if eccentric youth, living out on a dirt road with no television in the house (plenty of computers at hand, though). I credit my parents with most of my learning, as it certainly wasn't gotten at school.

School eventually came, and an excellent kindergarten teacher recognized that I was light years beyond my classmates, so I ended up skipping first grade. No objections on my part, since most of my friends were two or three years older. Still didn't learn a lot at school, but ended up skipping fourth grade as well, while my mother took my math education in hand during fifth. School wasn't the nightmare that many bright kids find it, as my mother managed to get me into the best teachers' classrooms, and I was pretty radically accelerated. Still boring, though.

Junior high was a step down, as the classes became less personal and it was no longer possible for Mom to hand-pick each teacher. In seventh grade, I took Algebra 2 and Biology at the local junior college. The Early Entrance Program reached out and saved me from terminal boredom and probable teenage apathy, admitting me to CSULA at the age of 11.

As any college student will attest, college is a lot more fun than grade school, and I had a lot of fun. Spent five years at CSULA, took a wide variety of classes, and I ended up as a geology major, with a minor in mathematics. At the time, I was particularly enthusiastic about research, and entered geology largely because of some wonderful geology faculty and small class sizes. It provided a nice opportunity for some undergraduate research, at an institution mostly oriented toward teaching.

Graduating at 16, I went to Caltech and worked with Dr. Kirschvink, a wonderful and eccentric guy there. We did research on Martian meteorites, which I eventually supplemented with some research on isotopic fractionation with Dr. Eiler. Caltech was wonderful and the research was fascinating, but the practical aspects of a research career turned me off to the long-term prospects there. I became increasingly disillusioned, flaked increasingly, and eventually decided to leave. Could have stuck it out for the Ph.D, but a doctorate in geology at Caltech takes an average of 6.5 years, a prospect which didn't appeal for a degree I'd never use. I learned an incredible amount of science at Caltech, though.

Searching for an alternative career path, I debated between programming/engineering or teaching, and eventually decided on the latter. My technical background would make it pretty easy to pick up a programming job on the quick if I change my mind, and teaching appeals to my humanitarian instincts. Besides which, I like people.

So, in my madness, I've been teaching math and science at North Hollywood High School for about five months. Parts of the job have been very inspiring and parts particularly disillusioning, but at the moment, I think I'll stick with it. Just a few weeks ago, I acquired an AP Physics class and an honors math class, a nice change of pace from the remedial kids I'd had before. As things are... I think I'll stick with it.

And that's more than you ever wanted to know about me, I'm certain. If you're crazy enough to have read this far. Now... go read my nodes!

Below is my space for harmlessly testing HTML games before I node them:

(Trying to make a proper alpha) Words: α Symbol: α HTML: a