I was born to Patricia Ann and Charles Russell Crawford in Spokane, Washington in 1964. Because my father, a Lieutenant in the United States Navy, was way out in the Philippine Jungle undergoing survival training in preparation for the soon-to-come Vietnam War, the telegram with news of my birth took two weeks to reach him. Mike Crawford garling liquid Nitrogen Kids Don't Try This at Home: Mike Crawford Gargling Liquid Nitrogen Photo by Murray Sims Not long ago I pointed out to my mother that, given my father was so far away, they must have agreed what my name would be had the doctor who delivered me shouted "It's a Girl!" Indeed they did, my mother informed me: Cathy Ann. The very earliest conscious memory of my entire life is from the age of two, when my family lived in Chula Vista, California, near San Diego. I have but two brief flashes of that memory, like still photographs. My very first memory is that my mother unexpectedly picked me up from my day care center. The second memory of my entire life is of my mother, my sister Bonnie Jean and I standing among a huge crowd of people. A live band played "Anchors Aweigh". In front of me was a huge grey ship. All along the port rail of that ship were hundreds of men, all of them wearing white dress uniforms. Mi Nombre Miguelito Miguel Davido Crawfordo. EspaÃ±ol Mexicano, EspaÃ±ol Castellano: "MEE-gÉ™-LEET-oh". Por Favor? EspaÃ±ol Americano Centrale? EspaÃ±ol Americano del Sur? "mÉ™-LEET-oh". "G" Silencio! Ð¯ name is ÐœÑ–ÑˆÐ°. Ð¯ ÐºÐ°Ð·Ð°Ñ…! My name is Mike. I am a Cossack! Literally: "I Kazhakh!", or "I Kazakhstani!". "Articles" - in English, "a", "an", "the" are not used in any of the Slavic languages, and therefore make no sense whatsoever not just to Russians, but neither to Ukrainians, Byelorussians and the like. It's not hard for those who speak Russian to learn English, but it's incredibly difficult for them to learn how and when to use English articles: "Pardon, friend. Can you tell me where I can find an ATM machine? I need to get some cash." "Go to station!" The central train station, on the harbour in Vancouver, British Columbia. "You speak Russian? I speak Russian." "Yes, sort of. Ukrainian. But Soviet schools, they not teach Ukrainian, they teach Russian." "Cultural Imperialism" you see. It was quite common during the Colonial Era, and throughout history whenever an invading army has occupied a foreign land, to force their language upon their subjugated people, in hopes of destroying their culture and so forcing loyalty upon their people. "I'm not actually very good at Russian. Do you know anyone who could tutor me?" Yuri was a recent immigrant, but at one time, the whole Pacific Northwest Coast, from Alaska all the way down to Sebastopol California, was a colony of the Russian Empire. Almost forgotten to history, is that the United States purchased it from Russia. The Tsar needed the cash, you see, and it was very, very difficult and expensive at the time to keep their American Colony supplied from their Siberian port of Vladivostok. "YOU SPEAK RUSSIAN TO ME EVERY DAY!" While I am a born and raised American citizen, I have at times been an immigrant in foreign lands. I lived and worked for a number of years in the Canadian provinces of Newfoundland - not "NOOFundlund", that's racist, and offensive to Newfies! But "New Found Land", that is, the "New Land We Found", when a giant Imperial British Warship turned up to claim "Vinland" for the King. GET THIS: "My name is King Arthur. I seek The Grail!" "No thanks! I already gots one!" ("I told him I already gots one!") My favorite lines from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I am dead certain that that entire scene was a spoof of Britain's attempt to claim Newfoundland, only to find that the entire island had been settled by Portuguese fisherman for decades. The largest, and best port is not St. John's on the far east end - and so closest to Britain - but Port aux Basques on the South-West corner. It's just that St. John's was Britain's first colony, as back in the day, everyone was shooting at everything in hopes of carving a chunk of the New World out for their people. St. John's harbour is quite small, with an exceedingly narrow mouth, steep and tall hills on both sides of the harbour entrance, and so is easily defenseable. Port aux Basques is not defensible in any way, not sheltered well at all either. To this very day - and, with some justification - the Portuguese regard not just Newfoundland, but the entire ocean surrounding it, as their rightful possession. That had the eventual result that, while it is commonly said that at one time, the Grand Banks had so many cod that one could walk on the surface of the ocean, by standing on the backs of the swarms of giant fish, not the Newfoundlanders, the Nova Scotians nor the Quebecois but the Portuguese totally decimated the cod stocks. Fearing the permanent extinction of North Atlantic Cod, the Canadian Federal Government banned all fishing of cod for many years, throwing vast numbers of people out of work. It was hoped to retrain them all for other trades, by opening publicly-financed "colleges" all over Newfoundland, but the government failed to actually find some way for those who graduated with trade school certificates, to actually find work in their new professions. The cod stocks eventually - just barely - recovered, so it is now legal to take them, but only in very limited quantities, and only for personal consumption by one's own family. Throughout the entire Cod Ban, the Portuguese continued to take vast quantities of cod, just barely outside the Canadian 200-mile limit, within which, while not Canadian territory, is agreed by international treaty, is under the enforceable law of Canadian fishing regulations. From time to time a Portuguese vessel was caught within the 200-mile limit. No doubt the Canadian Coast Guard would have liked nothing more than to blast a hole below the waterline, thereby sending them all to Hang With Elvis, but really, the Canadians really are as polite as they are reputed to be, and so the Coast Guard would escort the Portuguese vessel all the way back to Portugal, then file a criminal complaint with the Portuguese fishing authorities, which complaints were never investigated. But I Digress: Elementary Particle Physics 1993-1994 Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics, Santa Cruz, California Bachelor of Arts, Physics 1993, Undergraduate Dissertation written at the University of California Santa Cruz Astronomy and Physics California Institute of Technology, Ricketts House Ex 1986, Pasadena Calculus and Computer (Software) Architecture University of California Davis Summer Session 1981 English Composition and Computer Programming Solano Community College 1980-81 Fairfield, California Armijo High School Class of 1982, Fairfield, California Publications Products Resume Only many years later did I ever figure out that one of those Men in White was my father, and that my mother, sister and I were only able to celebrate their joyous return from the sea that morning, rather than mourn their eternal rest at the bottom of the South China Sea, because my father's quick thinking as well as his diligent studies during his Electrical Engineering degree at the University of Idaho in Moscow enabled him to operate a device known as an Analog Computer to accurately solve the System of Partial Differential Equations required to calculate the trajectory needed by a Talos or Terrier Antiaircraft Missile to completely destroy a Supersonic Soviet MIG Fighter Plane, thereby slaying its patriotic and incredibly brave North Vietnamese pilot, before that pilot was close enough to the USS Providence for his plane's Anti-Ship missile to be within range. My father was requred to obtain a Top Secret Security Clearance before he could could commence studies at the White Sands Missile School because those two missiles had the ability to take out a supersonic jet flying wildly evasive action, at a distance of twenty miles, while controlled by vacuum tube avionics from the 1950s. Only once during my father's entire life did he ever admit to his service in Vietnam being anything but a happy tropical vacation. Despite knowing full well that my father had been a Missile Fire Control Officer during the War, I never even suspected that Dad had ever so much as touched a gun until he came home from Concord Naval Weapons Station when I was nine years old to proudly announce that he had just shot the head off a wooden match at fifty feet with a pistol. My father told me one day that a Talos Missile set the American Taxpayer back a million dollars. "Surely that can't be a good use of the Navy's money?" I asked, flummoxed that we would spend so much on something just to have it explode. "Actually it is," Dad cheerfully explained. "The planes that the Talos shoots down cost sixty million." One day there in Concord, Dad brought home a piece of solid rocket fuel from a Terrior Missile about the size of his thumb. It looked just like automobile tire rubber, because that was just what it was made out of. After warning us kids to stand well away, Dad placed the rocket fuel in the middle of our concrete patio, stepped well back himself, leaned carefully forward and with his outstretched arm, flicked his cigarrette lighter then jumped back. That automobile tire burned just like the head of a match! "Nitroglycerin," he said. Why am I Saying All This Quite commonly my colleagues in the Software Industry assert - falsely - that it is simply not possible to write bug-free software. That so much of our software is profoundly shot through with crashes, end-user data loss, poor usability and security exploits is the result of what I myself regard as my colleagues suffering what the Medieval Catholic Theologians termed The Deadly Sin of Sloth. Had everything of any real importance about how to write, test and debug completely flawless computer software, as well as how to design and build completely flawless electronic circuitry not been largely worked out well beore my father joined the United States Navy in 1957, the entire Planet of the Earth would have been a smoking, radioactive and completely sterile wasteland decades ago. I myself have little trouble writing bug-free software. It's not that code reliability is difficult, but that one must learn how it's done, then apply the required techniques diligently and consistently. If you'd like to learn how you too can deliver far better products for your customers, I invite you to ask me how, and I'll be happy to explain. If we're close by, perhaps we can meet for a coffee or a beer. eMail me at email@example.com Ever Faithful, Michael David Crawford, Senior Software Engineer Solving the Software Problem While every diety has the Insight to fortell the Future, even G-d Almighty Himself possesseth not the Power to undo the Past.