Crowdsource My Life II: This Time It’s Personal

Ok….Tomorrow we’re having an “idea party” for me to see what I can do to raise more revenue/ find more work/ do more crazy stuff.

Amba suggested I write up stuff about my life/skills/interests and here it is!


What I do/know

Many years of writing in C,  also C++
Fortran, Pascal are among my languages
Nearly all this programming is “process control” programming;  controlling sensors in Auto emissions test equipment, steel mills, water treatment plants

I also have done a lot of “simulations” programming where you simulate a process like an assembly line or a queue like  a hospital with a very specific language
I have taught many other professionals in this language, both formally and informally.  I have also given many simulation presentations to groups.
I have also written technical materials for the ACT.
Obviously, I’m pretty Internet aware, and was in a startup for an internet bookstore.
I’ve taught adults in many programs, and progamming languages, both formally and informally!

I do have academic interests,  so let’s deal with those first.
Many of my interests center around History, specifically Roman History, Military History, and 20th century History.  I have done a lot of reading in those areas, and have some experience doing academic research in libraries.
I also have a large Philosophy/Literary interest ( one of my two college majors being Philosophy) with a pretty strong specialized knowledge of Nietzsche.

Pop Culture stuff.
Strong Movie History knowledge.  (Specialty in Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, Kubrick)
Very strong Baseball knowledge; I’ve done quite a bit of work for Project Retrosheet, an attempt to get every play by play of every major league game.
Quite a bit of pop music knowledge (Specialty in The Beatles)
I have large music, comic book, and movie collections.   I even have a collection of art created for me from comics artists around a theme…. Comic Book characters attacking computers!
I have a game collection of over 300 games…and have designed a card game.  I was a playtester for a game that sold thousands of copies.

Now, I may have missed a thing or two…those of you who know me….goading/prompting is accepted.  We stress the positive here, but not the dour; the more ‘out of the box’, the more intriguing…..the better!   As we have said…I’m the guinea pig, and how well I do will connect with we do this for others.



Filed under EOW Lifestyle, Job Hunting, Ron

35 responses to “Crowdsource My Life II: This Time It’s Personal

  1. amba12

    Since I am participating big-time in this, it may have to be postponed till next week because I do not have home Internet access at the moment. Stay tuned. If so, give it some thought and jot down your thoughts so they don’t get away.

    The question is: how many ideas can we come up with for turning the above list of skills and interests into income producing services. No censorship, with one exception to be noted in a moment. Crazy ideas are absolutely to be included, for two reasons: a) they can often be modified into brilliantly sane ideas, b) letting them flow uncorks the practical ones bottled up behind them.

    The one exception is: if you believe this kind of thing can never work, keep it to yourself. Play along “as if,” just for fun, if you like. It’s much easier to have good ideas for someone else than for yourself — nothing to lose. We’ve all got plenty of negativity, we’re just putting duct tape on its mouth for the occasion.

    If this turns out to be fun, we can take it wider. It’s all an experiment in what happens after the end of work.

  2. amba12

    I’ve already got an idea: could you make a book or a series of greeting cards out of that art, on the “I hate my computer” theme? Think how cathartic it would be! Or do they all show pictures of obsolete computers? How many are there? How would you share proceeds with the artists?

  3. Since the computer technical stuff is so beyond me, I could only see your fabulous Homour! Kindly consider creating a Computer Themed Cartoon with a few crazy Charachters that is so wildly popular that it brances out into T-Shirts, mugs, etc. If the thought of a mini story line cartoon using the traditional 5-7(?) Boxes doesn’t work then a one Box cartoon should be easier.

    Be sure to connect with your favorite Cartoon Creator to find out how it’s done. Or just read about how the Creator of Snoopy did it.

    Hey, you’re a Comic Book Guy …. you already know all about all of that!

    And of course you could easily create the cartoon on a Computer?!?

    • kngfish

      That’s a neat idea Jane! But I think, even on a computer….one should have some ability to draw! But I, as they say, can’t draw a conclusion……

  4. amba12

    The more I think about it that more I think you have a treasure trove in that collection that you could monetize as a grubstake, just for starters. How to do that? First of all, there are some items you could just outright sell if you could find out who wants them. You said you know someone in that world, can you contact him?
    I recognize that you’re not an artist yourself, but those images of cartoon characters destroying computers (I’ve seen them) are priceless, would make a marvelous blank-card (and maybe poster and mug) set with the theme, “I hate my computer!” Has anyone ever dealt with that industry? You’d have to track down the creators and share the proceeds with them, but it could still be worth it. When an artist gives you an image, it belongs to you, but the intellectual property rights still belong to them. Who can we ask about this? — Hey, do you know Despair, Inc.? They might be interested in producing this series.

  5. amba12

    They might even know how to handle the intellectual-property angle.

  6. kngfish

    I did speak with my artist connection about this….and it’s fraught with a number of problems related to the reproduction rights…not to mention how hard these would be to acquire.

  7. amba12

    Let me just point out that you’re defeating yourself before you start . . . regard those as challenges, rather than reasons why it’s impossible. It’s NOT impossible. Can I ask Despair, Inc. about it (describing the images but not showing them to them–yet)?

  8. karen

    I’d buy cards from you. Actually, i buy cards for the sake of it, since my good intentions never seem to get around to actually sending the dang things. I gave my Dad a father’s day card that i’d forgotten to give to him the yr before– my bad.

    I coined an idea the other night. When asked why i didn’t Facebook, i said i hated the gossip- the backstabbing aspect. The sneaking around feel of it all(what i imagine- since i don’t have a Facebook). My Bro-in-law said two-faced and i said– yeah– it should be called Two-Facebook. You could logo it 2Face- and then something like :0))0:

    Time to party, yet?

  9. kngfish

    hmmm….maybe High Tech Tarot Cards….. EOW Tarot Cards…. “‘The KngFish’ means you will rise with a Major Corporate Job…inverted, it means you run a bowling alley….but are happier there!”

  10. Hey Kngfish, Have you ever seen those cute little videos that people create somehow using proprogrammed Cartoon Charachters and computer’sh voices? I could inquire about it for you from someone who’s done one. Perhaps your funny, funny, funny one would end up going Viral and creating LOT”S of interest in you. In the GMA interview you caould tell about all of your other talents. Get Noticed!

    And yes amba12 is right. Tell us what you like about our Idea and then go ahead as ask us “What do I do about the problem of ……” We can then throw more (and increasingly more creative) ideas your way!

  11. GN

    I’m thinking a small cartoon strip of your own with computer language speaking bubbles …. aimed at hi-tech mags and expanded into posters for the corporate techies ….. also greeting cards for techies (in computer language with english, etc tranlations in lighter text …. hmmm, this could work

  12. kngfish

    hmmm….I’ve never made/sold a product before! I may help with that one…

  13. kngfish

    Yow! “need” help! Typo-fish….

  14. wj

    Trying here to combine the obvious skills listed, so please bear with me.

    You’ve got a background in process control and simulations, and an interest in history. So let’s think about what processes currently look like they could stand improvement. The obvious one: politics and policy.

    Say you start with simulating the interaction of the politics of getting elected/re-elected with the politics/process of getting legislation passed once in office. Lots of 20th century historical examples to test the model with, once you get to that point. Especially since you can look at the Congress, all the state governments, and even local governments. (And if the model is robust, it should be able to handle governments outside the US as well. Even more test cases.) Should be able to show what constraints are on getting legislation passed. (Or repealed!)

    Hmmm, probably have to include influences of lobbyists, donors, etc. But that should be doable — at least as a first approximation. And nobody ever said we should be constrained by picking stuff that was easy. 😉

    So, get a model that works on historical examples, and then use it to predict what legislation will and will not get passed. And how close (i.e. changable) the vote to pass it is likely to be. This is where the real stress testing arises.

    Once the model is up and working, the markets for it are obviously legion:
    – any political party, not to mention any candidate
    – any of the politically-inclined think tanks
    – any pressure group/lobby
    – the State Department, CIA, and other government agencies which would like to influence policies elsewhere
    – Ditto the corresponding ministries of other governments

    The biggest market constraint: you might get classified as so critical to national security that it restricts your abiulity to export. (Which won’t do much good, once a working example is known to exist. But it wouldn’t be the first time that the government has taken futile gestures.)

    P.S. I suspect my background, which includes some work in mathematical Anthropology, is showing. Just in case anyone is curious where ideas come from.

    • kngfish

      wj, this is good stuff… It’s really more about game design than simulations per se…. but there could be good work with simulation of a lot of lower-level state and city data….people always underestimate the virtues of simulation.

      • wj

        Game. Simulation. The only real difference is whether reality is a critical part of the program. It it’s full of unreality (e.g. magic works), it’s a game. If it has to produce real-world results, it’s a simulation. Which, I suppose, means that the number of those with the skills to produce something is larger than I had been assuming.

        But then, someone has to get “first mover” advantage. Why not you?

  15. amba12

    I’m curious whether anyone has any ideas about the applicability of your computer programming skills . . . whether those programs are still in use much, and if so, for what.

    • kngfish

      I wonder that a lot as there must be plenty of “legacy” systems out there…. They must need patching from time to time….

      • wj

        Especially as the folks who wrote most of them originally are not only gone to different jobs, but in many cases just retired from the workforce. I suspect that a lot of us, especially from the mainframe IT world, are looking at lots of consulting opportunities a few more years down the road.

        Of course, they’ll try outsourcing it first. But the only way one becomes excperienced is by spending years doing stuff. And, however smart and well educated they may be, the programmers in India just haven’t had time to gain that experience yet.

  16. amba12

    WJ, that is a mind-bogglingly awesome idea. Ron, would your simulation experience be transferable to that kind of historic and political material?

    In engineering, the “legacy systems” idea is also a very good one. How would you find out where those systems are, that fewer and fewer working people anymore know how to run?

    • wj

      There are no doubt numerous ways to find opportunities. But LinkedIn ( shows an increasing stream of jobs posted which want “legacy” skills. Anybody in IT (or, apparently, a lot of other professional fields) really ought to think about getting signed up. If nothing else, old colleagues who remember your skills and value them may then be able to find you.

    • kngfish

      yes, of course….it’s more a matter of design than anything…and I have a lot of experience there.

  17. amba12

    I just got hailed by someone who prefers not to participate directly but who knows a lot about existing C++ opportunities. Apparently, there IS still a lot of need for that out there. I may know more tonight, but definitely tomorrow.

  18. wj

    Ron, you do realize that you are now obligated to report back (say in 3-6 months) on how well this experiment has worked for you.

    Obviously if you take on one of the major project approachs suggested, 6 months would only see you well into the planning phase. But a status of some kind is now an obligation looming above you like a thunderhead. 😉

    • kngfish

      wj, I think we’re still in the beginnings of this experiment….we still need to get this seen by more people, just due to crazy waza factor! I kinda want more of Barbara Sher’s folks to chime in…as they do not know me, unlike our usual crew of kool folks we have here at EOW! (This means you!) We need 100’s of comments!

      But, of course, I’ll report! That’s kind of the point of me being the guinea pig; you know who the pioneers are right? The ones with the arrows in their backs!

  19. wj

    Hundreds of different commenters would be nice, of course. But like any groundbreaking experiment, sometimes you are stuck with a very small sample. If the concept proves out (not necessarily a smashing success; just a glimmer of one), the next time around you can maybe get a bigger sample. It’s tedious as all get out. But progress is like that sometimes.

    (Obviously you and I should have been nominated to design the universe. There are so many things we could find to improve upon.)

    • kngfish

      No, there were some things we should have done a bit differently with this one…

      I have no designs on redesigning this or other universes! No such thought was in my head about this at all.

  20. amba12

    The party is the fun part. Then you have to get to work on some of the ideas, even if you haven’t gotten as many as you might have liked. Turning possibility into actuality is the turning point that makes some stomachs turn. There are some concrete steps in front of you to take now that could substantially, as opposed to hypothetically, change your life.

    Of course, Barbara Sher’s notion is that “isolation is the dream killer.” She has people from the idea party agree stay on each other’s case — “did you do this yet? did you do that yet?” She called that “success teams” back when I met her, a group of people insisting that each other take the small concrete steps to pursue their goals, like that cartoon that’s been circulating on Facebook of every writer needing nothing more than a gun to their head. She says, “I want a boss who will make me do what I want to do.”

    I’ve written to you off list about some of the things you can get started doing. I’m not a whole “success team” all by myself but I do promise to kick your butt.

    • wj

      Do you suppose you could post the list? Or at least part of it?

      As you say, it can help to have people holding you to your tasks. Call it the AA or the WeightWatchers phenomena — people do things, even when their own motivation flags, because they don’t want to disappoint those who know them — and who they know will let them hear about it if they flag.

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