|Titanum Electron Gun is key to space simulator. Engineer, James Stephens, checks new Caltech gadget.|
I am in my forties now and I still don’t know what I want to do. I bought into in the whole do-what-you-love thing but it has never really gotten me anywhere that would look like success to most of the people walking around on this rock. I am happiest making things with my hands (the engineer homunculus in me throwing its weight around) but what things I get a kick out of making is always changing. So how does one get the $$ out of that? I’ve never really found the way to make my talents into cash. I suppose I should have gone to art school but I just didn’t want to jump the hoops. I suppose I should have followed the engineer path, but it seems to me that engineers don’t have the fun they did in the age before CAD/CAM and all the computer screens. Sitting in front of a glowing screen all day makes me cranky. It just doesn’t hold up to the tales of early rocket engineers tinkering with hydrazine and living on the edge.
|This beats the heck out of an exploding rocket, no?|
|Galileo's broken umbrella|
Dad worked on lots and lots of projects in his time at JPL, but he was slowly moved out of the nuts and bolts stuff. Eventually he was part of the Technology Affiliates program. It was intended to take new technology and inventions produced by NASA folks and make them available to private companies in need of innovation. Dad criticized the Technology Affiliates program for trying to find a problem for a given solution when he should have been finding solutions for problems. In his own time dad had a little business doing just that. He called himself the technology pimp, hooking up hard-up companies with willing, able, and well-endowed engineers, chemists, and biologists. I think dad had more satisfaction in his pimping work outside of JPL where he could fit solutions and people to a particular problem rather than doing it all backwards at JPL.
I need to dig in the dad box and find the documents so I can get the details right but I think there is evidence that he wasn’t totally happy with his position at JPL in the later part of his career. I think he really liked being the technopimp but the Technology Affiliates program didn’t bear much of fruit. There are a few letters regarding dad being turned down for a promotion/raise in the last few years of his time at JPL. Maybe he was just trying to get a higher salary locked in for a better pension, but I wonder if he was just burned out by the bureaucracy and silliness. I wish I had had the mind to ask. There are lots of things I never thought to ask… like, “How in heaven’s name did you know what you wanted to do?!” Was it all just a ruse? Maybe he was just faking the whole time and he never was that confident of where he was going.
|not the right shade of grey|