Don't you wish your bike was this cool?

This was me, about 25 years ago. I was eight years old in the Christmas of 1974. It was a heady time of great accomplishment in the history of our country. One day, people will look back at 1974 and say...and say...umm....

Well, at least it was the year I got my new bicycle.

It was also the year my father turned 34. I remember doing the math back then (I was a smart kid at eight) and I figured that when I turned 34, it would be the magical year 2000. "Wow, that was a long time off" I thought to myself. Now all I can think about is the fact I remember my father being as old as I am now. Given the fact that today I have a hard time finding matching socks, I continue to be amazed by my father's ability to deal with me back then when he was 34.

My dad is ("was' if you read this after the Fall of '99) a professor at Eastern Illinois University. Eastern is located in Charleston, Illinois, which isn't famous for much other than being flat and the site of one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. It's also the site of the world's largest statute of Abraham Lincoln, which has been stuck by lightening so many times that his hand has sort of melted into a fist

So what's it like to grow up in a small midwestern town in the 70's and 80's? Well, like many of you, my youth was a time of bad hair. Below are a couple of class photos from my youth.

So I had hockey hair and braces. A bowl haircut. The little dutchboy. You know what?

So did everybody else--yourself included.

Don't believe me? Look at my high school reunion page. While everyone is bigger now, they once looked like me, well, sort of...

I don't have any pictures of me from college that I know about. After college at the University of Illinois, I decided to head to Washington and try my hands at politics. You'll see a picture over there of Congresswoman Patricia Saiki. This is actually a famous picture for me, as it is one of about six photographs that were taken between age 18 and age 25. I was 23 in this picture, and really, really skinny. That didn't last long.

Washington is a great place to live, especially if you are in the political world. You get to see a lot of cool things, like the Presidential Inagural (I've seen two thus far) and you get to do a lot of cool things.

Travel for the U.S. Congress can take you all around the world. Down below you see me in front of a B-52 back in the days of Strategic Air Command. Living in Washington during the Cold War was pretty strange, especially when a Soviet leader would show up and the town would get all tense. Down on the right you'll see a picture of me overlooking Death Valley, more or less. Death Valley is pretty huge. They shot some cowboy show down below where I was standing, but if wasn't the Lone Ranger, I probably never saw it.

One of the most interesting trips I took while working in Washington was to Africa. You'll see me down there crouching down in front of about a zillion lizards that were sunning themselves on the side of a small market in Kaduna, Nigeria.

I was sent to Africa with several other Congressional aides in the final days of the Babingida regime in Nigeria. A transitional government was to take office the next day, with a civilian ruler taking command and there were some who thought a coup would take place to keep the military in power. It did, although about six months after this photo was taken.

It's actually pretty easy to become an international observer to elections, coups, etc. You just have to be a little crazy...

Evenutally age started to take hold and I found myself needing glasses. I really don't like glasses, but some people say it makes me look smarter.

Since I was looking smarter, I thought maybe it was time to head to law school and try my hand at something new. I left Washington and headed back to the midwest to study law.

Law School is law school, as I've said on other pages. But Notre Dame has football, which is a great distraction from the life of a law student. In this picture, you see tall Pete on the left, now in the Navy JAG. Todd, next to him, is a business attorney in Detroit. Tony is an international attorny in Kansas and all over the world. Whatley (we never called him Mike) works down south, yet another attorney. That's me, the only non-lawyer in the bunch, wearing what was know as the "Leyden Uniform" during law school. It was easier to buy five pairs of everything you see there and wear it every day, rather than deal with thinking about clothes every morning. Next to me is my law school roommate Chris, who now works in the Patent and Trademark Office here in Washington.

I finished law school and headed back to DC. The idea of working in a law firm just saddened me. I went into interviews in firms and they looked at my resume, my book, and then me and just sort of laughed. "Why in the hell do you want to come here?" they would ask. "You've done more interesting stuff in your life than I've ever done here in this firm. We have senior partners who would kill to have done the things you've done. There is no way we could keep you interested, working as an 'associate' in our firm (i.e. slave)." At first I was bummed, but as I've learned from my colleagues who are stuck in the big firms, it's not that great of a job.

Nevertheless, I had to work. These things called law school loans were hanging over my head, and I really needed some new Nintendo games. I ended up returning to Capitol Hill and worked for the House Commerce Committee and an investigator.

This brings me to an interesting point. A lot of you can read these pages and say "we know everything about you. Aren't you concerned with privacy?" Well, so what. I know, or can know, a whole lot about you too. Using purely open source materials while working as investigator, I was able to uncover stuff about individuals that they probably didn't think anyone knew (or cared to know) about them. I even had a pretty good file accumulated about some of my superiors that I threw together prior to my interviews. It's absolutely amazing what can be discovered about people using the net, and, well, "other sources" if you really want to look. It's far better to spend time working to keep that which is really important private, rather than whine about that which is already out there. "What's the point in defusing a bomb after it's gone off?"

As you can probably tell by the photo of me in a black leather jacket in an office where everyone wore preppy suits and ties, I eventually left the Committee to pursue something far more exciting and rewarding. I've started my own business, and it will either succeed beyond my wildest dreams, or fail miserably. If it doesn't work out, I'll just find another boring job doing the "white boy in a suit" thing like so many others. I can be a drone. I can conform. I can live my life, just happy to get my little fair share. I can be like everyone else...

Yeah right,