The Ruminator is David B. Thompson, Christian, husband (now widower), father, grandfather, engineer, musician, photographer, programmer, motorcyclist, wannabe web-designer, and total geek. If you want to see his curriculum vita, then it is on his professional website as his resume. Go ahead and read it — be bored. His professional life is reported in his resume. He lives and works in Carson City, Nevada. However, his work seems to come from where ever, with projects in Texas, Nevada, California, and nationally.
He has an B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in civil engineering from what was the University of Missouri — Rolla (and is now Missouri University of Science and Technology1), where he specialized in hydraulics and hydrology. He worked in private industry, federal government, in academia (at Texas Tech University) — teaching in the civil engineering department, and now has returned to private practice.
David began working with computers in 1978 when he was introduced to the WATFIV interpreter. He wrote FORTRAN programs to solve various engineering problems and continued writing FORTRAN until he taught himself Pascal (actually, Turbo Pascal) in 1984, when he bought his first IBM PC clone. That first personal computer was a Columbia PC (now long gone) based on an Intel 8088 CPU with a (then) fast (5MHz) 8087 FPU. Turbo Pascal was followed by the C programming language and 8088 assembler to accomplish certain tasks.
In 1990, he discovered LaTeX, a user-friendly macro-set written by Leslie Lamport based on the TeX typesetting language developed by Don Knuth. Donald Knuth is one of David’s heroes. After learning the capabilities of this system, he abandoned Microsoft Word and uses LaTeX exclusively for preparing technical documents. He still uses Microsoft Word when a client requires documents in that format. But, he does this with substantial disdain.
In 1994 he discovered linux and the *nix world. He abandoned Microsoft Windows for all possible tasks. When he learned that the solid teTeX system was included with most linux distro’s, he continued to write all of his text with LaTeX. He learned he could administer linux systems and became familiar with the RedHat distribution, after trying several other distro’s.
In 1995 he discovered the World Wide Web (oftentimes referred to as the World Wide Wait for good reasons). He established his first web pages sometime shortly after that (both the date and original pages are lost), when he brought Shelob (used to be http://shelob.ce.ttu.edu, but no longer) into existence and on-line with the Apache server. Since that time, he has had a continual web presence.
Early in 2001 he discovered weblogs, first reading Molly’s Book of Days, a site that chronicled the life and times of a young woman (Book of Days is also long gone). He was inspired to start his own weblog and Random Ruminations was born. Random Ruminations has existed since shortly after the infamous 9/11.
David was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2002 after dealing with it his entire adult life. He experienced a significant remission in June 2005 when a nexus of events occurred. There was a moment of epiphany and the broken parts began to merge into the whole that is to be David. Without doubt, more hard times will come and there will be challenges, but life changed substantially on that June afternoon.
Sometimes David is technologically-challenged. Long after Apple”s new operating system, OS X, was released, he became aware (although it was widely publicized) that OS X is unix-based. He knew Apple produced quality hardware. Their machines demand a premium price as a result. He bought a PowerBook G4 in December 2003 and explored the Macintosh operating system. After a couple of months of experience, he switched, permanently, and purchased a desktop PowerMac in September 2004. After three years of service, he retired the PowerBook G4 and purchased a MacBook Pro. He is impressed with the quality of the machines and the software available for them. They offer strong advantages for researchers because of the underlying Unix operating system and the amount of open-source software available.
During 2004 and 2005, David experimented with the Tablet PC environment. Unfortunately, it’s only available with Windows. The utility of the Tablet PC environment lies in the divorce of the the computer from the keyboard. Writing is a more natural interface than the keyboard. Writing is also acceptable in more venues. However, David terminated the experiment when maintaining multiple computers became burdensome. Although his interest in tablet-computers remains strong, the implementation has not quite reached the point where he will abandon his Macs for a tablet.
In 2007, David decided to leave academia and return to private practice. He left Texas Tech and moved to a small general civil engineering firm in western Nevada where he worked as a hydrologist and engineer.
In 2011, David’s wife was diagnosed with a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After fighting that disease nearly two years, she died in January 2013. She left a huge hole in David’s life and the lives of many others. She will be forever missed.
Also in 2011, the pitbull-mix Ki came into the Thompson household. She was a lovable beast, although there were issues to be dealt with. Rescue dogs sometimes come with behavior problems. However, with the help of a trainer, most of them were worked through and Ki became a wonderful companion. She watched over Wife during her treatment and then watched over David until she died in 2020. That was a hard goodbye, too.
Two years later, in 2015, David’s engagement with his employer ended. Although it wasn’t a particularly good ending, it was good that it was over. There were many reasons for that engagement to end and let it be sufficient to say that it was time. The house was sold (he never really liked the place anyway) and his durable goods placed into storage. He spent the next year-and-change wandering the country, visiting loved ones, and experiencing a sense of freedom and adventure. There were many photographs made, much writing in journals, and much time spent outdoors.
In late March and early April of 2016, David and several professional friends were invited to spend a few days in Bolivia to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Universidad Católica Boliviana. David presented talks in Santa Cruz and in Tarija. He spent time with students and professionals who work on water-related projects in Bolivia. It was the trip of a lifetime.
Near the end of 2016, it was once again time to be settled for a bit. David rented a duplex in Carson City and the durable goods were retrieved from storage. He continues to live there and work in the west and other places.
In early 2019, David sat the examinations for an Amateur Radio license and earned his Extra Class license. Later that year, Ki took sick and then died in March 2020. Bereft of his beloved companion, who saw Wife through her struggle, David adopted another pitbull-mix, Serendipity — who is called Sera and affectionately known as The Girl (just as Ki had the same term of endearment). She is his nearly-constant companion and they do almost everything together, especially enjoying portable radio operations.
In 2023, David picked up his cameras again. Work keeps him so busy that he needs some things in his life to feed his soul. Carrying a camera, unlike setting up a portable station, is something to do while walking The Girl or traveling. It requires little time to observe a subject, pause, make a few captures, and move on. Photography also has the benefit of moving attention outside to the world around. This is also a good thing.
Where the path of life leads next is not clear. But, the truth is there is only here and only now. So, what is to be will be revealed when the time is right.
1I think this was a horrible name change, because the acronym is now MUST, which sounds to me like a horny elephant. Just sayin’…
Last updated: 03 December 2023