Schools I’ve Attended – Work Schools

My Life
Those Places Thursday
By Don Taylor

In my final article about schools I’ve attended, I decided to write about work-based schools and training I’ve had. Over the years I’ve had dozens and dozens of classes that lasted a day or two that I’m not mentioning here. Rather, these are the classes and training that I’ve had that changed my life.

TRW – Docuteller Cash Machines

A woman at a Docuteller 300 – Photo courtesy Wells Fargo Archives

After I got out of the service, I went back to Minnesota. There I began looking for a job. My best friend, Doug, worked for TRW, Customer Service Division. He worked servicing those new, cutting-edge technology, of cash machines.  He suggested I apply there and sure enough, I got the job. This was the third time Doug and I worked for the same place. (Holiday gas station and Marty’s Grill, both in Crystal were the first two.) Anyway, TRW sent me to school in Dallas, Texas, for a month of training to work on Docutel cash machines – the Docuteller 300. It was a good school, besides learning how to do the mechanical repairs they taught us some of the basics in programming in machine language. On occasion, we would install a part, like a solenoid, and need to exercise it to assure it was working correctly. We’d program the solenoid to activate for a time, then release and remain released for a time then repeat. Simple things, but it taught me more about programming and understanding the differences between machine language, assembly, and higher level languages. The automated teller machines communicated to a central office using a modem, so the training also included synchronous and asynchronous communications.

The machines required the user to make deposits using an envelope and withdraws were in $25 and $50 packets that were put into a small drawer in the front of the machine. The drawer would open up for the customer to take the money or a receipt that said why the money wasn’t disbursed. I recall one customer who wasn’t happy and decided to get back at the bank. The person “tickled the machine” that is to say they put their bank card into the machine and then held the card so it wouldn’t go into the machine to be read. The ATM printed a receipt that indicated the card couldn’t be read, put the receipt into the drawer, then opened the drawer. The person took his receipt then filled the drawer with feces giving subsequent customers a surprise when they used the machine.

I also learned about (bank) teller terminals and terminal processors, which used 8” floppy diskettes. I worked for TRW for about nine months and then was laid off.

Defense Logistics Agency – Defense Contract Management Command (DCMC)

I went to work for DCMC at the Twin Cities Arsenal (TCA) inspecting bomblets. Mostly, I inspected the solder work to assure work to weapons specifications standards. I went to training for a week or so to learn soldering standards. After the TCA, I worked at the Honeywell plant on Stinson Blvd in Minneapolis. While there I learned NASA soldering requirements and inspected the work for various gyroscopes and accelerometers used in aircraft and missiles. I even inspected the hand controllers for the Space Shuttle.

Naval Plant Representative Office, Fridley (NavPRO)

I started working for NavPRO in the Quality Engineering Department and made a major career shift from Quality to Computers (See: Schools I’ve Attended – Metropolitan State University) While with the NavPro I attended training many times, including training about cc:Mail. cc:Mail was a product by Lotus, who was a big name in spreadsheet software back in the day. That training served me well when I transferred to the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA).

Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA)

I continued working with computers with DCMA. I became one of the eMail specialists for the Command. Later, I went to Microsoft Exchange classes to learn Microsoft Exchange (the back end) and Outlook (the user interface). Eventually, I transferred from Minnesota to Los Angeles and became “Mr. E-Mail” for the Western District. Of course, DCMC being a government organization there were many short training experiences, particularly in leadership and personnel management. With DCMA training I developed a style of leadership. I also believe I developed a quotation I used the rest of my working life, “You lead people and manage things; when you manage people, you treat them like things.”

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

After 9/11, I transferred to the FBI. While with them, I took classes in project management, tested, and became a certified “Project Management Profession (PMP)” through the Project Management Institute. Eventually, my project management skills allowed me to became the lead for a large test group (NCIC, IAFIS, NICS) at the Bureau.

Information Innovators, Inc. & Gray Lion Consulting

After my retirement from federal service, I went to work for Information Innovators, Inc. (aka “Triple-I) for a short time. Then, I created my own company, Gray Lion Consulting, with a contract to provide project management services to Information Innovators. Maintaining my PMP required regular “professional development” classes. To enrich my knowledge about IT Security, I went to a week-long “boot camp” and studied some more to test and become a “Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). Being both a PMP and a CISSP allowed me to manage a Network Operations and Security Center (NOSC) until my second retirement.

Don Taylor Genealogy

After my second retirement, I got very involved in Genealogy. I attend genealogical conferences regularly and plan for at least one hour of genealogical training every week, usually through a webinar or other online event. Throughout my life, I’ve learned the power of education and the importance of being a specialist in something.

Schools I’ve Attended – Metropolitan State University

St. Paul, Minnesota – 1984-1986

My Life
Those Places Thursday
By Don Taylor

Working full time to support a family necessitated my finding a college that supported working adults. Metropolitan State University (Metro State) did that and more. Besides offering courses in the evenings and Saturdays, it allowed students to design their degree plan. I had the desire to become an attorney. As such, I thought I should follow a pre-law type of curriculum, so I designed a degree plan heavy in political science, speaking, and writing.

Particularly Interesting Classes

Chaminade University in Hawaii had proven to be a fantastic place to take Marine Biology and Oceanography. I needed another science course for my degree plan so took meteorology at Metro State. Few places have more diverse weather than Minnesota, so it was great learning about the weather there. Another enjoyable class was “Acting for Non-actors.” I learned how hard it is for me to memorize lines, but I had lots of energy.

Sometimes there is a class that will completely change your life and that class was “Non-fiction Writing.” I’ll never forget that class nor its instructor, Dana Noonan.

The premise of the class was simple enough; students needed to write several magazine quality articles during the class. The difficulty with that was that Ms. Noonan required her students to write then rewrite, and rewrite again, and again until the quality was magazine quality. My papers came back with red “Awk” (awkward) and circles of problems, which require a rewrite.  It was a grueling task in the days of typewriters and I couldn’t keep up with the work. It was one of the most challenging classes I ever had. To keep up with the rewrites, I purchased my first computer, a Commodore 64, word processing software and a printer. With it, instead of retyping the entire article and introducing new typos, I was able just to update the work I did previously and resubmit my significantly improved article. The computer revolutionized my work processes.  I found I could use it to do a host of things. Soon, I upgraded to an IBM computer before long and used the computer for everything I could.

Commodore 64 – Photo by the NerdPatrol via Flickr. (CC 2.0)

When my work office decided to purchase personal computers for office automation, I became a computer “helper.” At that time, I worked as a Quality Assurance Engineering Technician. My job required reviewing change requests then approving or disproving those waivers and deviations as appropriate for the Navy at the Navy Plant Representative Office (NAVPRO) in Fridley, MN. In the back room, we had a Wang 2200 minicomputer. In my work, I needed a program which would track those changes. The existing staff didn’t have time to program the computer for me, so I asked for access to the computer to develop a program that would track those changes.  Because I was already a computer helper person, they gave me the appropriate access. I developed a simple program that worked for me. Then was asked by some other folks if I could put something together for them, which I did. My programs, although simple, always worked. I also took a couple of computer science classes at Metro State to help me understand more about computers. A few months later I was asked if I would be interested in moving over to the Computer Team full time. Being a “can do” kind of person, I said, “Same pay? Sure, why not.” I was happy to work wherever they could use me the best.

I never returned to Quality Assurance, but rather continued as a Computer Specialist then on to Information Technology Specialist.

I received my bachelor’s degree from Metropolitan State University in December 1986. My personally designed degree was in “Governmental Policy and Decision-Making Processes” as a subset of Political Science.

I doubt I ever would have made the shift from Quality Assurance to Computer Support and Information Technology if it weren’t for Metropolitan State University, “Non-fiction Writing,” Dana Noonan, and that first computer I owned, a Commodore 64.

 

Halloween 2018

Caith “My Halloween Kitty”

Halloween or Samhain is said to be the day where the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. As such, it is an important time to remember those who have passed. Although I try to remember all my ancestors who have passed, this Samhain I want to remember three people who were not ancestors but had a profound effect on my life. Their passing touched me deeply.

First, is my first close friend to die. Steve Plowman was a close friend while I lived in North Minneapolis. He lived about a block away – down the hill to the corner then left a half a block to his house on 24th that adjoined the alleyway between Aldrich and Bryant avenues. On Tuesday, November 24th, 1964, Steve and a mutual friend, Gary Dorf, were crossing Lyndale Avenue in North Minneapolis while a bus was stopped. Gary stopped walking while in front of the bus,  but Steve ran out trying to beat a car that was coming. Steve was hit by the car and died before getting to the hospital. He was the first close friend I had to die, and one of only a few I’ve known that have died due to a car accident. Steve was only 15 when he died. To this day, I am ultra-careful when walking past a bus into traffic and cringe when I see someone step past a bus without using super-great caution.

Sadly, I was in Minnesota a few weeks ago and at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery, where Steve is buried, and didn’t realize he was there. So, visiting his grave will be on my list of things to do during my next visit to Minnesota.

Marker – Alvina B Kirks – photo by Don Taylor

Next, is my best friend’s mother, Alvina Kirks. She was a really nice woman. Hers was the first, and only, funeral where I was a pallbearer. It was difficult for me to say anything that would help my friend or the rest of his family. I recall making a conscious decision to do my absolute best to fulfill the honor my friend and his father bestowed upon me asking that I be a pallbearer, at only 16-years of age. Alvina was only 47 when she passed. From her, I learned that even when cancer is taking your life, you can be strong and dignified during the process. She was. I was able to visit her burial site at Fort Snelling National Cemetery when I was last in Minnesota. She is buried next to her husband, Charles N. Kirks.

Gravesite: Mary E. (Raidt) Taylor – Photo by Don Taylor

Finally, is my first wife, Mary. She was an exceptionally good woman and mother to my first child. She was very tolerant and in so many ways amazing. I was married to her for over ten years and don’t rue a day of it. We were so young when we were married and tried very hard to make it work. But the separations of Navy life took their toll on our relationship. She passed away last spring (June). I was able to visit where her cremains are buried at Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Minneapolis. I was saddened that there wasn’t a stone monument there. Cemetery records indicated where she was buried. She is resting with her grandparents, John & Marie (Hawley) Langford. Although she doesn’t have a stone marker at the cemetery, I did create a virtual monument for her on Find-a-Grave. May her life in heaven be more joyous than she ever imagined.

Schools I’ve Attended – Anoka-Ramsey Community College

1981-1982

My Life
Those Places Thursday

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.

I applied to and was accepted at Anoka-Ramsey Community College (ARCC). ARCC was close to home, only 3 miles away so it was easy to work days, come home and eat, then go off to school for evening classes and the occasional Saturday class. I also received a nice stipend from the government based upon my ½ time class load. All my classwork with Chapman College and Chaminade College transferred, so I was nearly a year ahead of the game.

I was able to take some fun classes at Anoka-Ramsey.  I needed another science course for my degree requirements and was able to take Meteorology at Anoka-Ramsey.  What could be better than taking Marine Biology and Oceanography in Hawaii, and Meteorology in Minnesota? It was cool. Freshman English Comp was a drain on my time and resources, but I got through it. I understand it was much more personalized at a Community College than it might be at many larger universities, something I am grateful for or I may never have gotten through.

Apple II – Photo by Rama & Musée Bolo [CeCILL or CC BY-SA 2.0 fr ], via Wikimedia Commons

Computers were relatively new in 1981-2; I had a Psychology professor that utilized the new technology to its greatest.  He gave his students all the questions and all the answers for his mid-term and the final. When we took the actual tests, the questions were a subset of what he gave us and the answers were jumbled up. The professor thought Psych 101 was all about learning and knowing the terms and his method helped assure that students knew them. It seemed strange at the time but makes a lot of sense now.

I wasn’t involved in any sports or extra-curricular activities at ARCC; I was too busy working and providing for my wife and my step-daughter. I was also involved with my community and a commissioner on the city’s Economic Development Commission. I had aspirations to run for City Council and took three courses in real estate at ARCC so I’d know more about the processes of Zoning, Planning, and Real Estate transactions.

Anoka-Ramsey Community College - 2017 Aspen Prize Top 10 Finalist
2017 Aspen Prize Top 10 Finalist

Since I attended, Anoka Ramsey has added another campus in Cambridge, Minnesota. It is a well-known and well-respected community college in the area. It was a top 10 finalist for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s preeminent recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges.

I went Anoka-Ramsey (half-time) for nearly two years and received an Associate of Arts from them in December 1982.

World Beard Day

World Beard Day Logo1 September 2018
by Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Today, in recognition of World Beard Day, I’m recognizing some of my ancestral beards. I’ve had a beard most of my life. I didn’t have a beard for the first few years in the Navy, but while Admiral Zumwalt was the Chief of Naval Operations and beards were allowed, I too had one. I grew a full beard again after I got out of the service.  I shaved it off for a short time while I ran for City Council in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, but promptly grew it back after I failed to win. My wife has never seen me without a beard except in photos and we’ve been together since 1991. She says shaving it off would be grounds for separation.

My Maternal Side – Mannin & Parsons

Photo of Enoch Mannin
Enoch Mannin

My 3rd great-grandfather, Enoch Mannin had the most amazing chin-curtains ever. I find chin-curtains to be beards without the benefit of not shaving. Chin-curtains require daily shaving of the face. Mustache area, cheeks, and chin are all shaved daily. Only the area under the jawline is left to grow. I find shaving under the jawline and shaving the neck to be the easiest part of shaving, so leaving that natural and shaving the more difficult areas seems odd to me.

Image of Chester Parsons
Chester Parsons

My 4th great-grandfather, Chester Parsons also had interesting chin-curtains as well. In The History of Washtenaw County, Michigan, Page 437, a drawing of Chester Parsons shows his chin-curtains were gray in the center under his chin and dark on the sides.

 

My Paternal Side –

Samuel Vaden Scott
Samuel Vaden Scott

Although he was clearly a working man, my 2nd great-grandfather, Samuel Vaden Scott, had a nice, well-groomed beard (at least when the photo was taken).

 

 

 

Photo of William Hunter Scott
William Hunter Scott

His father, my 3rd great-grandfather, William Hunter Scott had a full beard. The photo I have of him shows a beard much like mine was several years ago – white on the sides with salt & pepper on the chin and mustache. He had an interesting face.

Others

Photo of Henry Conn
Henry Conn

Although not related directly to me Henry Conn, Sr., the 3rd great-grandfather of my nephews Mike & Luke, had wild hair, a full beard, and a twisted bar mustache. He was an Oregon pioneer.

———-

Some years ago, I worked for a military organization as a civilian. Some of the leadership there were active duty officers. When one of the majors came on board and was introduced to the employees. When he was introduced to me the first words he had for me weren’t, “Hello, nice to meet you” or anything similar. Rather his first words were, “When are you going to get a shave and a haircut?” A couple weeks later, I was in the cafeteria with a couple other bearded employees. I saw that Major A. was coming over to our table. Upon his arrival, I segued the conversation to beards. I asked the table if they knew how shaving became popular in Western Culture. When no one knew the answer, I said it came from “the Greeks, some of whom wanted to keep their boyish appearance for their men lovers.” Major A. never again suggested I shave.

Today, on World Beard Day, I remember all my ancestors who had beards.