Additional Personal Description

One way to get an idea of who I am is to look at me; another is to see who I love. For a (rather large, slow-loading) picture of me in my mid-30s, with my father (who died December 23, 2001)go to A Happy Picture and then hit your BACK button to return.

For a picture of me on my truck by Washington-area photographer Mark Laster, try On-call.

Getting back to word pictures, some would characterize me with labels that differ from "humanist," "libertarian," and so forth. For instance, some more-isolationist libertarians would say I'm a "left-liberal," rather than a libertarian.
Noticing some unconventionality, some folks who never have known one would dismiss me as a hippie or bohemian. Nonetheless, despite 30-odd years of motorcycling on sometime-funky bikes, no one who knows me in the least would mistake me for a menacing tough.
Some would insist that I'm an atheist rather than agnostic, because despite having religious friends and beloved family, I'm personally somewhat anti-religious--part of my distrust of righteousness and authoritarianism -- and because my position is, "Not only don't I have a valid basis to answer such questions, the experience you describe as having convinced you would not satisfy my standards of proof." Others, hard-line atheists, insist that I'm an atheist because they deny the validity of agnosticism. Their problem. To confuse matters further, I joined a secular Jewish congregation last year, to satisfy my sweetheart's craving for community.
My playfulness causes some to see me as flip. On the other hand, as we sat down to dinner with another couple in March 2008, the evening before my colleague was to address the Consumer Product Safety Commission, his wife reminded us not to spend the evening talking shop. I work hard at respecting the contexts of my interactions. This means that I try not to be overly heavy in light contexts nor to seem dismissive of others' earnestness. Hurting people with humor is never my intent.
Some, seeing my intellectual interests, would call me an egghead. Some who are uncomfortable with attempts at logical rigor would call me a legalist, and some who are a bit inflexible might call me wishy-washy. (Admittedly, I can be slow to come to a decision.) Seeing my idealism, some characterize me as impractical; perhaps so, but what's practical depends on the goals that inspire you. I'm comfortable with who I am, at least to the extent that I don't mind hearing honest, well-meant criticism--or moderate ribbing. And I'm grateful that I am able to surround myself with others who pretty largely accept me. And I mean that in the twenty-first century sense of enjoying connections around the world.

Another way to know me is by what I enjoy. I take pleasure in learning and teaching, in exercising various physical and mental competencies, in public and personal service, in humor, and in listening to and making music, as well as various sensual modalities. Contrariwise, I am very uncomfortable with arbitrariness, narrow-mindedness, malice, and indifference to others' feelings. I hate to feel helpless in the face of pain, or to see myself as unreliable.


One way to know people is by their affiliations and activities; another, for literate folks, is by what they read. For fun, I read (mostly re-read -- I don't keep up, not really being a fan of any current genre) a fair amount of science fiction and fantasy, with a current favorite being Terry Pratchett. My tastes change; some time back, I decided to get rid of most of my Piers Anthony as too juvenile. Old standbys include Neville Shute, O. Henry, humor and cartoons. I subscribed to The New Yorker strictly for the cartoons, and only gradually began reading the artices and stories. Now Bertrand Russell and G.B. Shaw, I reread relatively infrequently, because there's so much to them. To stay abreast of current events, until it folded I subscribed to World Press Review (very solid information), and occasionally skim the Washington City Paper. Before it was bought by Warner Brothers, I used to keep up with Mad magazine. I lost my taste for it. I read Mensa Bulletin (the odd interesting bit), Electrical Contractor (solid -- and I'm a columnist), Quality Digest (partly over my head, but meaty), IAEI News (solid, and I occasionally contribute a feature), Electrical Construction and Maintenance, Contractors' Code Newsletter, The Code Authority (sparse, somewhat parochial UL information but worth reading), American Psychologist (solid, rather dense), and Monitor on Psychology(solid, lighter), and association newsletters including Interloc and SIGnet,plus a few other periodicals. I skim through several promotional sheets.


D.C. Science Writers' Association

American Psychological Association

Mensa (coordinator, transnational electrical SIG)

International Association of Electrical Inspectors (local Secretary-Treasurer and Eastern U.S. Bylaws Chair) IAEI

Folklore Society of Greater Washington

Washington Area Secular Humanists

Beth Chai

Their First Mistake (a dormant tent of Sons of the Desert, the society of Laurel & Hardy fans)

Early Education and Work History

I was brought up an Orthodox Jew, and most of my childhood schooling took place in yeshivot, Hebrew schools. Besides a decent secular education, I gained some knowledge of Hebrew and Aramaic, and an intensive grounding in religious law and thinking, including sources in the Old Testament and commentaries.

Thinking out my beliefs, I put the religion away in my first year of college. Subsequently , I gradually lost much of my Hebrew, Aramaic, etc. While I had some understanding of those two languages from early years, and had studied some French, in college I did not pursue any language study -- though as a middle-aged adult, I have a great interest in English, and a secondary interest in other languages, especially insofar as they have words cognate to English ones. (After college, I studied enough Spanish to gain rudimentary use, because my neighbors in New York were Hispanic.)

When I was an undergraduate, an alternative way to fulfill the language requirement was to study computer science. I learned to operate and even program keypunches and program mainframes in BMD, FORTRAN, COMPASS, using both batch and interactive programming. That is long behind me. I studied Industrial Engineering for three years, and then graduated in psychology. Over one summer I worked for the Army Engineers, reviewing survey reports; over another I worked as a safety and health compliance officer for OSHA.

Starting in college with encounter groups and continuing ever since, I have been interested in humanistic psychology and somatotherapies. I have been trained in and worked at many bodywork modalities, including massage (both as a practitioner and as a teacher) and structural integration.

I can't determine which is cause and which effect, but my attitude towards all my enterprises relates to humanistic psychology. Whatever my work, I try to invest it with passion. I want to feel as though I am accomplishing something worthwhile, forwarding my personal goals while benefitting others. I want my work to be, speaking metaphorically, lovemaking rather than prostitution.

In graduate school, which followed completion of part of an electrical apprenticeship, I benefitted from course work in statistics, the analysis and design of experiments, science writing, teaching, and the development of instructional materials, including programmed and computer-aided instruction. I have taught in many arenas, before and since; but I do a much better job thanks to the formal training and the teaching assistantship I enjoyed at Lehigh University.

After graduate school, I worked briefly as a counselor, and then took up my recent and current careers. During this period from graduate school on, I worked off and on as an electrician's helper and, eventually, journeyman, without the benefit of further formal instruction. As a master electrician, of course, I studied and still study furiously, both by myself (aided by various printed materials) and by attending continuing education activities.

Over the years, I have enjoyed the love of quite a few fine women, and have not ceased to love any of them. I have been in a monogamous relationship for well over a decade with Mary Jo Hlavaty. At the beginning of 2005 we turned the commitment into marriage.

Go to the top of the additional personal description