A Little About Me...
I was born in Fort Bragg, CA in 1964, in what was the hospital at the time but is now the Grey Whale Inn! My father worked for the state Division of Highways (later CalTrans), and we lived in several different locations in Northern California over the years: Fort Bragg, Gibson (in the Sacramento River canyon north of Redding), and Susanville.
I graduated from Lassen High School in Susanville in 1982, and attended Lassen Community College for two years. I moved on to the University of California at Davis, graduating in 1987 with a B.S. in Mathematics. I intended to become a high school math teacher, but a year of student teaching showed that I couldn't control a classroom of high school students. I then fell back on the computer courses I had taken for breadth at Davis and became a computer programmer in Santa Clara, CA. Later, I moved on to another company in Ukiah, where I still live today.
In 2000, I began dating and eventually married a lady I had known (or thought I had known) since I was a student at UC Davis. That turned out to be a mistake of massive proportions, and we divorced in 2003. There's no real prospect of my status as a single changing any time in the foreseeable future— in the line of work that I do, and the activities I pursue, I simply don't meet single women my own age. It took me 36 years before I found my first girlfriend — at that rate, I should find my second around the time I'm eligible for Social Security!
(And, maybe not even then — eHarmony says that I'm "unmatchable." )-:
At the beginning of 2004, I left the computer store where I had been
employed for over ten years, following its sale to new ownership. I am
now doing computer service work independently — see this
page for details.
I've now lost both of my parents. My mother passed away in August of 2003 at the age of 84, after suffering a stroke in 2000 and being largely confined to a wheelchair after that. My father passed away suddenly in October of 2008, at the age of 85. Additionally, my older brother passed away from thymus cancer in April of 2009, and my estranged (by her choice) older sister passed away in December of 2012, so I really have no immediate family left. I do have an aunt, uncle, and numerous cousins around the Ukiah area, though, and an aunt and cousin in Southern California.
What Does The "O" Stand For?
photo of my mother's (far right) family at Thanksgiving in 1994. Uncle
Lawrence and Uncle Orrin are in the foreground, seated. Back row is
uncle Ernie Harpe, aunt Marguerite (Harpe) Hetzel, aunt Eleanor Harpe
(Ernie's wife), aunt Sarah (Harpe) Howell ("Auntie Lynn"), and my
mother, Clara (Harpe) Johnstone.
Orrin. I was named after two of my uncles, Lawrence Harpe (my mother's older brother) and Orrin Howell (her older sister's husband). Both were in the Army Air Forces in World War II -- Uncle Lawrence was a glider pilot, and Uncle Orrin was ground crew in New Guinea. (And both wore their hair in similar crew cuts, which inspired me to do the same from 6th grade until college.)
Both of them have passed away as well.
I've been an avid reader practically since I learned to read. My parents read to me constantly when I was very young, and got me started reading early because it would keep me quiet in the car! Books never had to come out of my allowance — they were always happy to pay for them. I've amassed quite a library of my own, in addition to those books that my parents always had. I read a lot of science fiction and history, and I also like Napoleonic-era naval fiction such as Forester's Hornblower series and Alexander Kent's Richard Bolitho series.
I've also been involved in leathercraft for a long time, although I don't have much time to engage in it any more. My fifth/sixth grade teacher at Canyon School got the whole class started, and I've always enjoyed it — although my carving skill leaves a lot to be desired!
I'm interested in many computer-related subjects. I worked as a programmer in the Bay Area immediately after graduating from college, and for ten years I was a computer technician at Computer Scene here in Ukiah before striking out on my own. Computers give me the opportunity to use my background in mathematics -- to some extent, anyway!
Since 1978, I have been involved in square dancing. My parents originally convinced me to try it because it was something that all three of us could do together as a family, and I've been dancing ever since. It is a wonderful, inexpensive activity that builds many lifetime friendships -- as a group, you won't find a friendlier bunch of folks than square dancers. I started with the Center Wheelers in Susanville, danced with the Cal Aggie Square Dancers at UC Davis, moved on to the Sunnyvale Single Squares when I lived in San Jose, and finally with the Ukiah Promenaders when I moved here.
You'll notice that most of the pages on this web site are related to square dancing, in one way or another!
In 1993, I decided to try square dance calling. The Promenaders' caller wanted to quit, and our club's round dance cuer's husband kept saying, "You ought to learn to call!" Finally, I decided to, and started taking lessons from Steve Minkin in Healdsburg. A little later, Bob Bunch started offering a formal class, and I attended that as well. When I finished Bob's class in April of 1994, the Ukiah Promenaders asked me to become their club caller. And I've been calling ever since -- for the Promenaders, then for the Konocti Kickers in Clearlake Oaks and the Redwood Coasters in Fort Bragg as well. I'm currently still calling for the Promenaders, plus the Frontier Twirlers in Willits and the Singles & Pairs in Santa Rosa. I called for the Humboldt Hoedowners in Eureka for several years, until they folded in 2011. I've also taught square dance classes for the Sebastopol Saucy Squares and for the Sonoma County Cooperative. I've been voted to the Northern California Square Dancers' Association's Top Ten / Dancers' Choice list several times (most recently in 2014, the last year that the vote was held), and have now been calling for over twenty years.
I also cue round dances, to a small extent. Round dancing has long gone hand-in-hand with square dancing, and can be thought of as pre-choreographed ballroom dancing. Each piece of music has a specific dance choreographed to it, which is (usually) done only to that music. In years past, the dancers had to memorize each dance. Today, however, round dancers have a cuer who (similarly to a square dance caller) gives the next movement in the dance over the microphone just before the dancer is supposed to perform it. When our cuer, Phyllis Croisant, became ill, I learned to cue so that the Ukiah Promenaders would still have round dancing. When the Konocti Kickers' cuer, Ted Sierakowski, passed away, I began cueing there as well. I mainly cue Phase II rounds (fairly easy ones, the level prevalent at square dances), with just a few Phase III selections as well.