September 03, 2012

History of Doc : Part 3

     The second Oregon life was delayed by 6 months of mornings in Morgantown.  (Joni reference - great song) The second day there, i opened my third floor patio window and found a couple of hundred hot air balloons floating by.  I set up a laboratory on WVU campus, visited some college buddies and learned east coast poor - as only West Virginia can teach.  Mountaintop mining for coal was a lifestyle, not an issue.
     When i arrived in Roseburg, the rent on a house was $275 - a third the cost of Boston.  I took a lab tech job at way less than i could have got for the freedom of being where i wanted to be.  I was doing water research for a third tier NASA tech support company and i was promised a move to normal PhD salary when i scored my first patent.  Two years later, I had a process for immobilizing enzymes on solid supports that activated the enzymes and increased the turnover rate by a factor of 400 x - plus had longevity.  The company did not include me on the patent and my boss, who had the project for years and failed to deliver, got my bonus, then rode me even harder.  I quit working, but held the position.  Was laid off two years later, then had my chain yanked for another year.
     In the mean time - i picked up part-time work at night teaching introductory chemistry to nursing students at the local community college.  Went from knowing less than 20 people after 2 years, to knowing 30 new people every 3 months.  My personal social network developed from 1993 onward - the people that i lost touch with will be found soon enough.  I taught for 11 years and have many personal friends that were students in my classes.
     I also was asked if i was interested in security.  When i pursued the idea, it launched me into a Primerica (now Citibank) insurance license and a security dealer membership in the NASD.  I sold three life insurance policies in two years - one to my father in law, who promptly died less than a year later.  Sometimes i think that was the only reason i went there - but now i know the context was highly important in my life.
     By 1995, i had found a job as a laboratory supervisor for a nickle mine and smelter.  I liked the lab, but knew not how to manage the people - 13 of us working 24/7 in a 300 person operation.  I was responsible for all the assays - ore and final metal product.  I had to fire one gal for faking her assay results - she ran the tests fine, but was too embarrassed to ask for help with the math and just made the numbers up.  We ran 150 duplicate assays to find the problem, which cost the company lots of bucks.  I also had to deal with a friend's suicide, when he found his wife in bed with a different guy.  People can be real shits. (me included, sorry).
     I got involved with the Perot party politics as a hobby when i was working for NASA.  When Ross Perot lost in 1992 - the party was established on the ballot, but had no membership.  I called it opportunity and started playing internal politics - developing the bylaws for the American Party.  I was the Treasurer, Bill Bonneville was secretary and Micki Summerhays was our fearless leader.  Weekend were spent in smoke filled backrooms in a restaurant near Corvallis.  In 1996, I was a national delegate to the Reform Party Convention, where Ross Perot brought in Pat Buchanan to stop Dick Lamm.  The American Party got strongarmed back into the fold and the dirty politics showed up two years later when Jack Gargan was elected and then removed in a three month test of people power in politics.  I was the Oregon State Treasurer for the Reform Party through 2002, dealing with the Secretary of State and Campaign Finance laws.  When i left - i swore off all politics beyond the local level.
    In 1998 - the giant sucking sound that Ross predicted came true and NAFTA/GATT passed.  The nickle mine closed within the week and i became a reasonably high paid consultant who could stay at home and homeschool my youngest son - a 4 year old at the time. (He turned 18 last month).  Life was what they called the American dream - of course it did not hold true.

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