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Writing My Way Into A Job: Part I

Unsuccessful 1973 Washington Post Essay Spring 1973

Essay Question on Washington Post Internship Application

I was born 21 years ago in Portland, Oregon, and lived most of my life in one house, near the house my father lived in as a child. A top student in grade school, I was third in my class at Benson, the city-wide technical high school. I wrote several columns for the Benson paper about the Benson radio station, where I served as Chief of Staff. Broadcasting was more interesting to me at that point in time.

Refusing an admission offer from Cal Tech, I came to MIT in the fall of 1970 because it offered a wider variety of courses, especially in the humanities. My two freshman-year extra-curricular activities were a weekly campus newspaper and the MIT radio station. That took up too much time; after four years in radio during high school, I decided to devote all of my efforts to newspaper work at college.

ERGO, one of two weeklies on campus, was not much of a paper, so I moved to the older, established, twice-weekly newspaper, The Tech. It has become, in the years since, a consuming passion, and was at least partially responsible for breaking up my engagement with an MIT Co-ed who noted that more time was devoted to the paper than to her.

Exposure to the paper, and to Edwin Diamond, diverted me from becoming an electrical engineer by the end of the 72/73 school year. At that time, I decided to major in management, because it is the most flexible of MIT majors, in terms of degree requirements. Thus, I could continue to sample MIT's scientific and technical courses, learn about journalism and get a degree, all at the same time.

"Why go to MIT if you want to be a journalist?" The answer is simple: journalists have to know something. It is not enough just to know how to write. At MIT, the general requirements include physics, calculus, and chemistry, and even management majors have to take a respectable amount of science. Although science writing is not my first interest, science and technology are omnipresent in modern life. Some knowledge of them is important, no matter what field you report in.

In addition to the relevant jobs listed on this application, I have done research for articles that appeared in The Columbia Journalism Review, New York Magazine and The Readers' Digest. I am the Boston Globe stringer for MIT, and have written for Technology Review, the MIT alumni magazine, and NWJ, a Portland, Oregon journalism review.

My family, glossed over earlier, consisted of a father (milkman) and mother (high school teacher) married for 22 years and a younger brother (machinist), who provided me with a stable childhood atmosphere.

My hobbies are reading science fiction, playwriting, tennis and squash.

Someone Else’s Poetry Intersects Mine

 Tamara Levitt, the voice of my Daily Calm meditation app, quoted a poem last week by Ariana Reines:

 “Come to me whole, with your flaws, your scars, and everything you consider imperfect.
Then let me show you what I see.
I see galaxies in your eyes
and fire in your hair.
I see journeys in your palms,
an adventure waiting in your smile.
I see what you cannot.
You are absolutely, maddeningly, irrevocably perfect.” 

I had only previously known the last line, which I quoted in one of my songs.  Perfect? No. Maybe. Read the Lyrics.

Right Column Redux: Panning the Mac

The column to the right on this blog contains permanent content, most of which has appeared at one time or another in the main body. I’ve decided to include a reminder of said content each week.

Yes, I am the Paul Schindler who predicted, in 1985, when the Macintosh was a year old, that it wouldn't be a success in business. I stand by that opinion. You can see Paul Schindler Pans Mac .

Bucket of Humor

New Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe: A Clean Desk? What Does It Mean?

For some reason, the Internet produced a lot more humor back in 1999. Here’s a Bucket O’ Humor from that year.

When you're having a really bad day and it seems like people are just trying to make your day worse, remember: It takes 42 muscles to frown, but only 4 to extend your finger and flip them off.

Parody of “Wear Sunscreen”

Free Advice: Think First

I’ll offer you some free advice from my own life.

I am a work in progress, as we all are. A recent incident reminded me of how far I have to go. My wife had placed some newspaper clippings in a bag so she could take them to our daughter. I was cleaning up, saw the clippings, and assumed they were trash (yes, it is true: when you assume, you make an ass of you and me).

That night, she asked where the clippings were. I said I had thrown them out. She was irritated, and I responded defensively, automatically and mindlessly: “How was I supposed to know?”

I had already taken the recycling out, and told her I despaired of finding the clips. Then, because she seemed so disappointed, I went out and shuffled through a week’s recycling and found them.

The moral of the story is simple. Think before you speak. There was no need for me to be defensive. A more enlightened, mindful response, towards which I am trying to grow, would have been, “I didn’t realize those clippings were important to you. Let me see if I can find them.”

If you can respond that way the next time a similar situation arises in your life, my hat is off to you.

How wide a spousal pool?

On a BBC quiz show, I heard that the median distance between spousal birthplaces rose sharply after the invention of the bicycle. I had previously heard the same was true of the automobile in the U.S. But my best Internet search efforts yielded no proof.

The most scientific study I could find was of spousal birth distance in the Netherlands. “The increase in the distance between the birthplaces of brides and grooms in nineteenth century Holland increased significantly at a rate of approximately 300 meters per decade, from about 4 kilometers in 1829 to 7 kilometers in 1922. Thus over time brides and grooms came more often from different municipalities, and the distance between the municipalities increased.”

I would think the Internet would increase the acceptable physical distances in the dating pool, but research indicates that proximity is a major factor in online dating sites. I know my daughter only met her spouse when he widened his area of interest.

Of course Internet Dating is about the person’s current location. And yet, while I couldn’t find the answer to my actual question, I did discover that the typical adult lives only 18 miles from his or her mother (true of both my daughters, but not true of my wife and I when our parents were alive).