Sometimes great misfortune provides a path to a better life

Recently I got in a brief email discussion with a new online acquaintance. She is a space enthusiast like I am, and she was saying she had a small young son that was very bright and interested in space, and might well be the one that enables humanity to make major expansion into space resources and colonization.

I replied that the little boy reminds me of myself. I was a knowledge-sponge up through High School. I had little interest in the grades I got, was no motivator; though I got high grades; my interest was in the knowledge itself, something I craved, the adventures that the knowledge implied. Four majors - math, science, English and social studies - and I read on average a book a day in addition to my studies, though much of that extra reading was sci fi, as well as science and philosophy. I went into college thinking that I would learn the foundations of all knowledge - and that was possible in 1954 - starting with a physics degree as it seemed the foundation for chemistry as was foundation for biology as was for sociology and so on. And I was going to work my way through college, in the co-op program with White Sands Missile Range, where I finally got to work with rocketry, getting closer to my dream of space travel.

But I got more interested in the radio telemetry signal aspect of the rocketry under test, which was sent back via radio by the rockets for analysis, during their brief but spectacular lifetimes; and that eventually led to my career in electronics.

Anyway the point here is despite my great promise and focus on space technology from an early age, it all came to a screeching halt in my Freshman year of college. I had no support system, and having Aspergers it is hard to survive alone; and my girlfriend - who I assumed was to be my lifetime mate and companion - had totally dumped me when I went to college too. I also unknowingly had wheat gluten sensitivity, and sometimes living on white bread alone; the damage to the small intestine walls and resulting openings in it, through which contents of the intestines got into my bloodstream, no doubt including common bacteria and parasites, which soon brought me down to a low life level, unable to even remember what I had just read, and full of despair. A wonder that I made it through alive.

And severe tinnitus made it hard to hear what the professors were saying in class, and made it very hard to concentrate on doing homework. It took me about four more years to decide the endless 24/7 loud tinnitus screeching clamor noise that no one else could hear, was not going to drive me insane.

Eventually I became a "college dropout" and led to a long career merely as an electronics engineering technician (although for a few years I did the work of a design/development electronics engineer in the field of computer disk drives, working for Shugart Corp, a Xerox subsidiary.) Not all was lost, however; as that line of work taught me about the raw material of the stuff of technology; not merely book theory but also how to make it work with my own hands and analysis and sometimes technological creativity. I gained a strong sense of what could be made to work; and what best way to make it work. Everything I did, quickly gave me feedback as to its effectiveness in the very real world. And that was great training about the nature of reality for one who started off in life learning about reality almost entirely from book learning.

And that has stood me in good stead with my space transportation and utilization concepts, that I later created as a hobby, finally fulfilling my dreams of space technology advancement activity; my keenly hewn sense of best technological approaches that would be able to do the physical job effectively.

And, the memories of my decades of hands-on detailed engineering tech work provided the fill-in details in my recent years, when I translated my technological concepts into high tech science fiction adventure novels, such as "Building Up" and "It's Down to Earth."

I continued on with my advise to my new email friend: "So I would suggest that you strive to provide multiple kinds of safety nets for your gifted young son on the road to space. And believe that every fall, on his rising again, will make him a little stronger in the real world.

And, the Ivory Tower is not necessarily the best place for getting in the real action."

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