Courtesy of the Wayback Machine, at http://web.archive.org/web/20010719173326/http://www2.dynamite.com.au/aebrain/alan.htm
Birthplace and All That
To quote Hoffnung, "I was born, through no fault of my own, at a very early age.". Or in my case, in 1958 in Earley, a small suburb of Reading, Berkshire, England. Or at least it was a suburb. Now its been swallowed up in Reading proper. Last time I was there (1986), the fields I used to watch the Foxhunters go through are now a high-density housing development ("Lower Earley", and you can't get much lower, I'm telling you...), and the stream I used to fish in is a concrete storm water drain.. Sic Transit Gloria Mundi, and the song "Tar and Cement" comes to mind.
When I was 10 and at boarding school (a place called Bigshotte, which appears to have vanished with the snows of yesteryear), I got an unscheduled visit from my parents. Who informed me that in 2 weeks time we were emigrating to Australia. You can take the boy out of England, but you can't take England out of the boy, and it wasn't until 1988 that I finally decided to take out Australian Citizenship. I still retain dual nationality, though the England I came from no longer exists, but has been transformed into a diverse multi-ethnic European state. Overall, a great improvement, but not a place I can identify with very much.
Good Things, Bad Things
After attending Sydney Grammar School for 6 years, I entered Sydney University in 1976. My father was unemployed, my mother hospitalised. Not a good time. Things picked up, but then I had a number of life-threatening medical problems. Picked up a little brain damage from Encephalo-Meningitis (yes, I know, it shows...). Spent half my lectures zonked out from Painkillers. Operations etc. Nuff Said. For much of the time, I resided in International House (and this is a link well worth following up, the whole concept is a great idea).
Then I met Carmel for the second time, in 1980. Love at first sight. (The first time was when I was at Sydney Grammar, which is next to the Australian Museum. The one girl that I ever noticed as a schoolboy was a schoolgirl who I saw exactly once in the geological section. We both only realised we'd met there only a few years ago, as she remembered someone who looked exactly like me at the same time and place.)
Anyway, within 2 months of first meeting, we were engaged. Hey, she had her own copy of Panzerblitz! And a Model Railway! I figure I've blown about 10,000 years of Good Karma by meeting her, but it's been worth it and more.
A bit about my Brilliant Career*
* Career - To go downhill fast, without control
I graduated from Sydney University in 1981, with a BSc in Computer Science and Pure Mathematics. Since then, I've been CompSci-ing in various industries and businesses, but for the most part, doing what is euphemistically known as "defence work.". Some of the software I wrote early in my professional life performed according to specification in the Gulf War, on HMAS Brisbane.
I can remember joking that it would work with any Air Defence Doctrine, except possibly Saudi Arabia's, but what were the odds of that happening?
I've worked on software for a number of vessels in various Allied Navies. From analysis work on the 76mm gun system on the German Navy's new F-124, being Chief Designer for an Artificial Intelligence based Anti-Missile system for the Turkish Navy, to programming and design work on "very expensive machines that go PING" for submarines of the Israeli Defence Force, Hellenic Navy, Armada de Chile, Royal Swedish Navy, Italian Navy, and various others.
I've spent a ridiculous amount of my life peering into PPIs and Waterfall, DEMON and FRAZ displays, but also sunned myself on the Fantail of a Destroyer in the middle of the Pacific, relaxed watching a magnificent sunset in the Gulf of Thailand, and shared my personal space with half a tonne of high explosive sleeping on top of a Mk 48 Mod 3 torpedo.
In the course of my work, I've personally chiselled a hole through the Berlin Wall, inhaled Pad Thai (Thai Noodles) on the banks of the Chao Praya river in Bangkok, domiciled on the fabulously expensive Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich, gotten nervous when the Air Raid sirens wailed in Seoul, Korea, and consumed with gusto Alaskan King Crab in Akron, Ohio.
It's been fun so far. (note from 2013: Now, talk about tempting Fate....this is what I wrote at the end.) Can't wait to see what happens next.
Last updated 09 February 1999
What happened next of course is described at http://aebrain.blogspot.com.au/2006/05/annus-mirabilis.html ....