| Age 44
I was born and raised near Pittsburgh PA. My parents are divorced. My mother lives in the house that I grew up in, while my father lives in Ohio. I have two siblings, a brother and a sister who still live in the area. Both are married and have families.
While I was growing up my interests ran the gamut: sports, biking, hiking, fishing and building models. I also had an interest in model rocketry, radio-controlled boats and planes, and balsawood airplanes.
I began playing Dungeons and Dragons in 1977 after a good friend introduced me to the game.
I attended college at Penn State University from August 1979 to May 1983. I started at the Beaver county branch campus. After two years at branch campus I finished my B.S. degree in chemical engineering at the main campus in State College. I met my wife, Roxianne Stotler, at school in the winter of 1981. She was acquaintance of some guys I met while selling T-shirts for the Monty Python society. These guys were avid gamers and soon introduced me to the games RuneQuest and Call of Cthuhlu. Aside from gaming we consumed copious quantities of beer, usually Prior Double Dark, an excellent domestic dark beer made by Schmidt's brewing.
I Graduated from college in 1983 with BS in chemical engineering. Two weeks after graduation I married Roxianne in her hometown of Central City PA. It is a small mining town of a few thousand people located near Shanksville PA.
Roxianne and I moved to Newark Delaware (near Wilmington) in June 1983 so I could begin work at Hercules incorporated. We rented a nice apartment (with fireplace) in a development adjacent to I-95. While we were in Delaware we bought our first home computer, a Commodore 64. Initially, all we had was the computer and a 9” B&W television set as a monitor. It was several days before we bought the disk drive for the computer. While in Delaware we went to the beach, visited a friend in Baltimore and hung out at the pool in the apartment complex. We couldn’t afford to do much else at the time because we were both strapped for cash because of school loans, wedding expenses and vehicle repairs. I spent quite a bit of time with the Commodore 64 learning to do Commodore BASIC programming. My first program was a character generator for Dungeons and Dragons. Roxianne spent some time substitute teaching at a private school.
My work at Hercules involved R&D on plastics processing. I was involved in materials used for food packaging and high strength fibers. I did some of the early R&D work on Spectra fibers that are used for bulletproof vests and fishing line. In 1984 Hercules merged its plastics business with MonteEdision in Italy and formed a new joint venture called Himont.
In December 1984 I took a job with Borg-Warner Chemicals in Parkersburg West Virginia. The job paid considerably more than the one at Hercules/Himont. My responsibilities included the development and testing of new ABS plastics for automotive applications like dashboards, interior trim, and bumpers.
Roxianne and I moved into a Duplex apartment in Parkersburg. It was a quiet residential neighborhood with a park nearby. We lived there until 1987 when we bought our first house. We lived out in the country on 2 acres of land that bordered the little Kanawha river.
Roxianne and I made many friends in Parkersburg and we would spend our weekends and evening hanging out with them. There were many parties, BBQ’s, and weekend road trips into the wilds of West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. We did whitewater-rafting trips on the New and Gauley rivers in WV as well as caving expeditions into the 60-mile labyrinth of Organ Cave near Lewisburg WV. On several occasions we traveled to Athens Ohio to hit the bars and nightspots near Ohio University. We went to a number of different rock concerts in Charleston WV, Columbus OH, and Pittsburgh PA. We also did some camping trips all over the state.
Times were good until Borg-Warner was sold to General Electric. Then things came apart quickly. Several friends were let go during the first of many GE purges. Others left the company voluntarily to take jobs elsewhere. Some of our left for GE Plastics headquarters in Pittsfield Massachusetts or GE Silicones in Waterford New York.
The work environment in Parkersburg changed as General Electric dismantled all the Sales, Marketing, Headquarters, and R&D functions that were duplicates of their own in Pittsfield. Late in 1988 I was offered a position in Pittsfield Mass as an applications development engineer for automotive plastics.
I took the job in 1989 and spent several months flying between Parkersburg, Pittsfield, and Detroit to take care of my job responsibilities. One of the first job tasks I had was moving the automotive applications labs for Parkersburg to Pittsfield. While this was going on, Roxianne and I looked for a new house near Pittsfield while we attempted to sell our house in Parkersburg.
The whole process proved to be quite an ordeal as we could not sell our house in Parkersburg, and we could not find a house in our price range in Pittsfield. Eventually, we ended up selling our house to GE at a loss and buying a house in East Greenbush New York, which is an eastern suburb of Albany. The house was nice enough, although I had a one hour commute to and from work each day.
Roxianne and I settled into our new home and began the task of rebuilding our lives. Fortunately, we had some old friends in the area. They were friends from Parkersburg who had relocated to Albany to work for GE at the Silicones plant in Waterford and the plastics plant in Selkirk. There were also some friends from Parkersburg who were now working at GE Plastics headquarters in Pittsfield.
Life moved on as we acclimated to our new surroundings. I made many new friends in Pittsfield. Roxianne and I explored Albany and the surrounding area and made many interesting discoveries. We especially liked the town of Troy, New York, which is home to Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). It had many bars and clubs to cater to the college crowd. We would often go to these clubs to dance into the late hours of the night.
One or our favorite bars/restaurants was a place called Holmes and Watson. It had great atmosphere ala Sherlock Holmes, outdoor dining in their courtyard, good pub food, and an extensive beer menu with over 100 brands. Best of all, they served Prior Double Dark beer (one of our college favorites) on tap. If you are ever in Troy, New York you can find Holmes and Watson on 450 Broadway.
We also enjoyed camping when we lived in Albany. There are many nice campgrounds in Vermont and upstate New York that feature beautiful scenery and pristine lakes. We especially liked the Vermont campgrounds around Lake Champlain.
In 1991 Roxianne and I took our first proper vacation in ten years. We traveled overseas to the United Kingdom for a two-week whirlwind tour of England, Scotland, and Wales. During our visit we managed to visit 15 castles and tour a good portion of all three countries. We stayed mostly in bed and breakfast hotels.
I worked at GE Plastics – Pittsfield until May of 1992 when I took a job with my current employer, Vascor, which is located in Pittsburgh. There were a number of factors that caused me to leave GE. During the three years that I was in Pittsfield there were endless personnel and departmental cuts as Jack Welch and his cronies endeavored to push up GE’s stock price. While this may have been great for the select few stockholders it made for a very unsatisfactory working environment. Employee morale was rock bottom, job security was non-existent, and department budgets were reduced to subsistence levels. Management was mortgaging the future of the company for short-term stock-market gains. Those of us that survived “down-sizing” began leaving the company on our own terms instead of theirs.
Roxianne and I were keen to move back to western Pennsylvania where we could be closer to family. We were expecting our first child, Douglas, in November, and we wanted him to grow up near family. Every week my mom sent me the employment ads from the Pittsburgh Sunday papers. Eventually, I found the ad for the job at Vascor and things moved pretty quickly from there.
We moved back to Pittsburgh and stayed with my mom during the summer of 1992, while we attempted to sell our house in Albany. Unfortunately, we had no success because the largest employer in the area, Sterling Drug, had shuttered its facility and let 600 people go. Ultimately, we ended up renting our house to our accountant for a year before he bought it from us.
In the interim, Roxianne and I rented a house in Ross Township, a northern suburb of Pittsburgh. Our son Douglas was born in November around Thanksgiving.
It was great to be back in Pittsburgh, and we quickly began to look up old friends and renew acquaintances. In December of 1992 I began playing Dungeons and Dragons with some old friends from my high school days. Shortly afterwards, Roxianne began gaming with us and we have been playing D&D or other games every Thursday night since then. For us it is as much a social outing as it is gaming. Our regular gaming group consists of some friends from high school as well as siblings of people that I had gamed with years before.
Shortly after we moved back to Pittsburgh, Roxianne and I took and interest in fresh-water fishing. I had always enjoyed fishing when I was younger, so we fished many of the same waters from my youth. About a year later I bought a 14-foot aluminum fishing boat that we take out on the water as often as possible. Our favorite place to fish is the Beaver River from the dam in New Brighton to the confluence with the Ohio River.
Roxianne and I also pursued our interest in camping. We went camping with one of my childhood friends, and his wife. One of the places we went was Pymatuning State Park in northwestern Pennsylvania. My childhood friend, Bill, and I had camped there many times with his parents when we were kids.
When Douglas was about 2 and a half years old we took the first of what was to be many vacations during the next five years. We went to Orlando Florida to visit Disney World and Cape Canaveral. In subsequent years we vacationed in Arizona, northern Ontario, London, Scotland, Paris, and San Diego. I think Roxianne and I were compensating for the many years when we never took vacations.
Undoubtedly my favorite vacation destination is northern Ontario. Every summer, since 1995 we have taken a week-long fishing/camping vacation at Tom Rae Lodge on Lake Nipissing (4 hours north of Toronto.) We rent a cabin along the lake and spend the week enjoying the fishing and scenery. On most trips we take along my niece and nephew. For us, the trip to Canada has become a family tradition that we treasure.
In the spring of 2002 we bought a house in Allison Park, Pennsylvania. It is a nice place that has a deck, sunroom and swimming pool. More importantly, the house is located in a neighborhood that has lots of kids that are the same age as Douglas.
In September of 2003 there was a substantial layoff at Vascor because of cash flow problems. Approximately 50% of the staff was let go on September 15th, and it was an extremely difficult time for all of us. During the next year and a half the remaining staff were either let go or resigned to pursue other career opportunites. I was one of the few who stayed on in hopes that the company would rebound. Unfortunately, things didn't improve, and I was forced to leave because we were no longer receiving regular paychecks.
My good friend, Chris Capone, put me in contact with some of his co-workers at Medrad, the world leader in injectors for angiography, CT scans and MRI scans. They were looking for an engineer with a background in materials and medical product development. Fortunately, I was a good fit for their needs, and they offered me a contract position working in the New Product Development group for CT injectors. After 5 months at Medrad, a full-time position opened up that was a perfect fit for me. On August 15th of 2005 I became an employee of Medrad working in their CT group. Needless to say, I was both happy and relieved to get my career back on track, especially with an industry leading company in the health-care field.