A Photo Album with Words...
... a look back...
In the beginning:
I was born in Iowa and we moved to Ohio when I was in elementary school. Shortly thereafter we moved to a new house which my parents helped build, and I went to North Elementary school. Occasionally I got into what the big people thought was trouble and as a result got paddled numerous times by principal Joachim. He was wasting his time. He certainly annoyed me, but he didn't change me.
I built model airplanes, shot my bow and arrow at way too many things, shredded some snakes with my bb gun, and became interested in electronics. Never was well enough coordinated to throw a baseball accurately, but I did hit my neighbor in the head with a rock once. Gees, I never expected anything I threw to actually hit something. Ooops, sorry.
There was a ham radio operator a few doors away, Art Marthens I think was his name. He accidentally got me interested in electronics and I thank him for his reluctant support and inadvertent guidance. My start in electronics was the result of his ham radio transmitter obliterating my favorite Saturday morning TV show... Sky King. What a twist of fate. When all the wavy lines and the strange voice wiped out Sky King and his niece Penny, my life took off on a new course. I was hooked on electronics.
Even as a youngster, I remember thinking that the commonplace images of a big, bearded God in a heaven far away were much too small of a vision. I never could think of God that way. To me, the best reminders that I ever saw of the wonder and glory of God were in the late afternoon as the sun shone through the rain clouds and cast myriad rays of glistening, gleaming, purifying, illuminating light earthward... ohhhh, what a heavenly image, that's the nearness, the beneficent radiance, the immanence, of a Mysterious Presence more meaningful to me.
Junior High School was interesting. There were some really great teachers like Jesse West, Coach Weaver and Mr. Utz.
Once I was passing notes to a girl in study hall and a rather abusive teacher intercepted one of the notes. He took me out into the hallway and started hitting me in the face, then he started hitting my head against the brick wall. With no severe damage to the wall fortunately. If he did that kind of crap today it would make front page news as child abuse, but back then it was just a rotten person hitting a kid who couldn't do a thing about it.
It was in 7th grade homeroom that I met Sharon Shifley. We went for bike rides to the reservoir and through the cemetery. She tried to teach me how to dance. I was too timid to try to kiss her, and I was always embarrassed by the Peter Pan bra box that she carried her records in. Her mom wasn't too fond of the idea of boys calling on the telephone, so I would have to disguise my voice as a girl when I called on the phone so her mom would let me talk to her.
At some point, my legs decided to grow... a lot. I was just much too tall for my age. I had to carry my birth certificate to get into the movie theater for the right price. Too tall and uncoordinated for most anything.
Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Explorers:
Some great memories in scouts. I wish more kids today were involved in scouting. My mom tried to be a scout leader for a while… but she wasn't well suited for the antics of a hoard of young anarchists. Simple things turned out to be so difficult. I remember when we had a little craft project down in the basement of our house. Everybody was cutting stuff out of magazines so that we could glue them all on a piece of posterboard and make some godawful collage… but the whole project came to a screeching halt when one of the scouts ate all of the library paste. Vitamin deficiency I suppose.
Boy Scout summer camp was great fun. Archery and playing in the canoes were my favorite activities. It seemed that there was always someone cleaning out the nasty sludge pit behind the dining hall as penance for a misdeed. The late night hours often involved someone pouring warm water on some unfortunate sleeping camper's hand, who then awoke to find that more warm water promptly had appeared in their blankets. Very funny trick as long as you're not the victim.
One evening we killed some chickens for dinner. I found that if you pulled on the tendons of a chopped off chicken leg, you could make the chicken-toes curl up and grab things. Neat. I grabbed dirt and rocks and leaves with the chopped-off chicken foot and then chased some kids around with the mad demon chicken foot… but this fine sport all came to an abrupt end when I tried to chase Jim Geiger. He just hauled off and kicked me in the shins with his big black engineer boots. I still have the lump on my shinbone. Really.
One of my favorite characters, and the only scout leader that I actually remember was Sid Emmons. One of those wonderfully giving, sharing, kind people that you so rarely encounter. Sid is a ham radio operator, K8ZES. I can still remember him calling on his radio to see who else was playing with their radios. CQ, CQ, this is Kay Eight Zed Eeee Essss.
One of my fondest memories of Sid was his car. I think it was a Nash of some sort… either a rambler or a metropolitan... something like that. His amazing trick in that silly little car was to shift it without using the clutch. Just a little lift on the throttle and pop it into gear. No grinding, no lurching, just a smooth beautiful shift without the annoyance of the clutch. Cool. I was impressed. Still am.
Why oh why would I remember these ridiculous things? I need those brain cells for more urgent purposes… like remembering what I was supposed to buy at the grocery store.
High School was a much greater adventure. Mostly I lived in my basement electronics laboratory, only coming out to go to school, attempt to play football and demonstrate my utter lack of physical skills in track.
I played trombone in the band. Sort of. Mostly I just goofed off. Poor old Marvin Fogt. I think we nearly drove him insane. Maybe it was entirely my fault. Clearly that dear man had his mind already made up about how the music was supposed to sound … but unfortunately not all of the band shared any such expectations. Oh my… how many batons did that poor man shatter on his music stand? I believe that I sometimes saw tears running down his cheeks because he couldn't get us to actually play the music the way he wanted to hear it. I loved music, but I never liked the stuff that he wanted us to play. If only we could have been playing Dixieland jazz... that was all I was interested in.
Moulton DeWalt. Probably the only teacher that I ever really respected. Some sort of English Composition class. Tough, a bit gruff in class, but really a big heart. He broke me of my gum chewing habit... he told me that I looked, and sounded, like a cow chewing too large a cud... yuk, quite an image.... but interestingly that message, coming from him, cured me of the gum-chewing habit. I was amazed to discover that such a strict teacher was also a "human". And a very nice one. I still remember seeing him driving his magnificent old Stanley Steamer through Hiese Park. Quite a sight. Down memory lane… I remember sitting in his classroom and hearing the announcement on the PA system that President Kennedy had just been shot.
Sometimes, when the wind is still and the planets are just lined up some certain way, I can still hear the voice of Charlotte Rogers in Spanish class: "Ricardo... silencio. Ricardo… sientese. Ricardo… oigame". I think that those are the only words of Spanish that I still remember.... "Richard, shut up", "sit down" and "listen to me!"
Did you ever go back and look at your old high school yearbook? It might be a shock. What a bunch of silly people I found in mine... Ah gees… could we have really looked like that?? Why didn't somebody tell us??? Ahhh how times and styles change.
I graduated from Galion High School in '64.
Ohio State University:
Once in a while I still dream that I have forgotten to go class all quarter and that I have no idea whatsoever where to go for the final exam. I don't know what building, I don't know what room… I don't even know what the teacher looks like… and I have no idea what the test will be about, yet I'm running around in an excited rush to get there. I always wake up in a panic.
Life is full of mysteries… How could everything they served in the OSU cafeteria be called salisbury steak? There were some very strange meals that they fed us.. and they were all called salisbury steak. Perhaps some sort of secret codeword for a spam byproduct?
Gees, we had a lot of water fights in Halloran and Houck House. Pennies jammed in door frames to keep people stuck in their rooms. My first year I took Botany, along with a couple of my roommates. We had to grow bean plants and keep careful records of how much they grew. My roommate and I started peeing daily on Sam's bean plant and it never did grow quite right. I guess that was a different experiment than the professor had in mind, but very interesting nonetheless.
In the dorm, we learned that playing a tape recording of money dropping into a pay-phone would fool the pay-phone into thinking that it was getting money. That was very handy. I'll never forget good old Doc Pritchard and the odd "turkish blend" cigarettes that he rolled. Strange aroma. We were clueless as to what he was really smoking.
I built an AM radio transmitter, strung a long wire antenna from my dorm window to a tree, and broadcast music and "news"... the news being the most ridiculous stories that I could find in the tacky tabloids. But somebody reported my illegal radio station to the FCC and put an end to that foolishness.
In my first two years I lived in Halloran House dormitory on North Campus. At the end of one quarter, as we were packing to go home, I discovered a cherry pie which I had hidden so well that even I couldn't find it. It was many, many weeks old and had a bit of a blue-green fuzz growing on it. I playfully threw a little piece at my roommate Larry Reid. Being no wimp, he threw it back and the next thing we knew it was a full fledged cherry pie fight. Globs of cherries dripping from the ceiling. Pie on the windows. Pie on the chairs and desks. Pie on the floor. But not to worry, the maids would clean it up…. so we left for Christmas vacation.
Wrong. When we got back to campus a couple of weeks later, there was a note from the college Dean taped to our door. Ooooo he was cranky. The maids refused to even go into the room and we had to get clean up all of the pie remains. Dried cherry pie is very tough stuff. If you ever run out of epoxy, you might try some cherry pie. Let it dry for about two weeks.
In '67 Sharon Shifley and I were married. She worked at Industrial Nucleonics while I finished school. As soon as I got my EE degree at Ohio State in '69, we headed for the promised land of California.
We moved to San Diego and I worked for a variety of aerospace companies until the Viet Nam war was over. I really didn't want to go shoot people in the war, so I got a military deferment while working for the defense contractors that made war toys.
San Diego was fun. A bit big, but still a very enjoyable place. From the laid back (stoned) attitudes of Ocean Beach to the homeless and drunk on the downtown city streets to the desert-like heat and dryness of El Cajon to the wonderfully twisty mountain roads around Julian, the San Diego area was wonderful to explore. What a magnificent zoo. And Sea World. Mission Bay. La Jolla Cove. We watched on TV as the first moonwalk happened… one small step….
During the 9 years that we lived in San Diego, I worked for several different companies: General Dynamics, Control Data, The Merdan Group, Continental Controls. I was able to work on many different types of electronic and software projects: electronic countermeasures, sonar, secure airborne communications, jet engine control systems, test equipment and probably a bunch more stuff that I can't remember anymore.
Being a naïve kid from a small town, the big city brought a lot of new experiences. One of which was that silly ganja. My initial introduction to pot was at one of the companies where I worked. Someone brought in a pan of delicious brownies. In the office next to mine was an older character named Warren who was a bit of a stickler for details. It turned out that he also had quite a love of chocolate… and he ate about half of the pan of brownies by himself….with never any suspicion that they were magical brownies. Warren's attention to detail was somewhat reduced that afternoon. He never did finish a sentence without forgetting what he wanted to talk about. It was very, very funny.
Gimme my soap box: All this governmental propaganda about pot being so destructive is simply small-minded bureaucratic dogma… it is not the existence of drugs which causes problems, it is the abuse of substances which causes problems. Almost anything can be abused, overused and eventually overwhelming to some people. Therefore, it is abuse, not use, which we must focus on. Prohibition simply does not work. Ok, I'll get off the soapbox now. Sorry. I couldn't help myself.
In the mid 70's I built an SCCA B Sedan racecar, a Shelby GT-350 serial number SFM6S2310. I bought it in Los Angeles from a stockbroker named Gail Carver in May 1970. It was great fun. I put in a Boss 302 engine, oil cooler, stiffer springs, panhard rod, Koni shocks, Scheel seats, roll bar and lots of other neat stuff but ended up only taking it to slaloms and solo events. I sold it the day before Christmas in 1977. That was a strange deal. A nice little fellow named Joaquin deGuzman showed up at my door with a bag full of cash. I had advertised the car in Autoweek and he saw the ad. He had just come from near Los Angeles all the way to San Diego on the bus with a paper bag filled with cash. On the bus! With a bag full of cash! Gees, what a place to be with a paper bag full of cash. Something around $5000. So I took the cash, and he drove off in the car. Gees, I wish I had kept that car, it would be worth ten or twenty times that amount today. Oh well.
As I mentioned earlier, I was married. We had a nice home, lots of stuff, and what seemed like a good life, but I was too foolish to understand what was really important to her, so Sharon became involved with a co-worker, and we were divorced in '77.
Leaving behind a life style that had gone awry, or at least had produced some unexpected results, I moved to Colorado in '78 and lived in a house trailer about 20 miles from Aspen, out in an old potato field. Very pretty area. Beauty-full actually. I just spent time playing guitar, hiking and generally goofing off. My only job that year was as a clinical hypnotist in Aspen… mostly doing metaphysical stuff like past life regressions… a trade that I had learned from Dick Sutphen during the previous year.
In '79 I moved to the Boulder area and worked for a couple of medical equipment manufacturers. Neomed made electrosurgical equipment (sometimes called electrocautery) that uses RF to cut tissue. Then I worked for Staodyn making electrical nerve stimulators. That was great because the products really helped people. I started as an engineer, developed some great products and progressed to Director of Engineering. But after 5 years there, I was ready for some new challenges.
At Christmas time 1979, a guy came knocking on the door trying to raise money for some flying missionaries. Flying. Hey that sounds like fun. So I gave him some money for giving me the idea, and headed out to the Boulder airport to take flying lessons. I learned to fly in a Grumman Cheetah. Neat airplane. Sort of a sports car feel to it.... a sports car with wings. After I got my private pilot certificate, I got started flying aerobatics and in 1981 I bought a Belanca Super Decathlon. That was fun. Expensive, but great fun. I got pretty good at aerobatics, and even competed in a couple of aerobatic contests.
I worked as a consultant for a while. Made an ultrasonic bone growth stimulator for a medical products company in Denver. Interesting concept. It seems that almost whatever you can do to get the attention of the deep tissues will cause the healing process to be activated. Sometimes bones forget to grow back together, or nerves get inflamed and the application of ultrasound, magnetic fields or small electrical currents seems to get the attention of the tissues and allow them to get back to their natural healing mode. Nobody seems to understand how or why it works so well, but it definitely does. The resulting bone healing and pain relief are inexplicable, but very real.
Made a wireless caster/camber measurement device for a company that supplies alignment systems to Detroit car companies. Made a few other electronic gadgets which never really were very interesting to me. Ho hum. On to other adventures.
Between '85 and '88 I worked for a company called RELA which did contract product development. People with basic product ideas, no technical know-how, and a small pile of money came in and asked us to turn their ideas into a product for them. That was fun. Lots of interesting products. I worked on the analog signal processing for a heart pacemaker, developed an exercise machine, created an ultra high accuracy analog to digital converter for a geophysical data logger, did some control electronics for a welding robot, made an ultrasonic distance measurement system with a resolution of about 0.001"... and some other interesting stuff.
After that, I worked for a company called BI that built RF leg bracelets for house arrest. Since it costs so much to keep people in jail, the idea is to make them be in jail at home and use a little radio transmitter strapped to their leg as the security guard to make sure they are staying at home. But, I left there and started a company called Uptown Automation with a friend in late 1988... he did the software, I did the electronic design and mechanical design. We worked very well together. Very synergistic. Gees, starting your own company can certainly be a lot of work! A lot of 100+ hour weeks for the first few years.
A lot of work, but a lot of fun too. It was quite an adventure being an employer, and discovering how different the view can be for the employee as compared to the employer. It was sometimes very funny. As an employee, it was always very easy for me to point at "them", the employers, as being the root of all the problems... but as the employer, things looked a whole lot different. Nonetheless, there was time to go on some great vacations, time to learn to scuba dive, and go on about a hundred dives in the Caribbean.
Our moving fader automation systems were used in music recording studios, film re-recording, video post production and live theater around the world... Paris, London, New York, Nashville, LA. During that era our moving fader automation systems were used to mix a lot of hit records, numerous Broadway plays, and were also used in mixing all of the movies which came out of Warner Hollywood Studios. Our systems were available for retrofit into existing audio consoles and were also available in new consoles from many major console manufacturers including Sony, Raindirk, API, DDA, LaFont, Neotek and others.
We really enjoyed the company for about 9 years, and that is the longest that either of us had ever worked at any company... so it was time for a change. On January 23, 1997 my business partner and I sold our company to another audio products manufacturer, Audio Toys Inc of Columbia, Maryland. They bought all of our audio products, our inventory and our company name. They moved everything back to Maryland as quickly as they could get it packed up and stuffed into a moving van.
What a ridiculous process it was, selling a company. Teams of lawyers on both sides, gobbling up money at an incredible rate, and doing nothing more than what a handshake and an honest man's agreement should have accomplished for free. But that's all over now. And I'm off in another direction in life, following my heart, and always looking forward to a bit of warm weather somewhere.
After selling the company, 1997 was certainly one of the most unusual years of my life. I bought my Spec Racer Ford racecar and began to pursue dreams and adventures that I never had time to pursue while I was working. My 1997 adventures page is sort of a diary of that year.
I re-opened my research and development company called Shelquist Engineering to work on electronic and software projects that interested me, and the sports car racing continued to be great fun. My 1998 adventures page is a diary of my 1998 wanderings.
The entire year of 1999 went way too fast. I grew weary of the silly racecar breaking down and/or getting wrecked, so I sold it. I started flying again and became involved in the Dances of Universal Peace. I have a web page about the Dances of Universal Peace ... and a web page about my 1999 adventures.
Through 1999 I worked on electronic design and product development, with my primary customer being Victor Lang, and his robotics company called Symborg. In December 1999, Vic went in to the hospital for some minor knee surgery, but he got an infection which developed blood clots, and the clots broke loose and killed him. That was when I began pondering what else I wanted to do with my life. It became quite clear to me that I needed to enjoy more of life than just creating electronic contraptions.
Then, another blow to my electronics career was when most of the interest in my company's remote control servo systems was coming from companies in the USA and Israel making surveillance drones... which I chose not to participate in. I felt that the use of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) was likely to become a great threat to the freedom and security of us all. At that point, I began to lose interest in electronics, closed my company in 2000, and now have a much greater interest in simply enjoying the wonder and mystery of Life.
Whoa... we're heading into 2021 already, and I'm still "following my bliss", as Joseph Campbell would say. At this point in life, I've largely lost interest in electronic/software design. In the past, ever since I was about 12 years old, electronics was the greatest frontier for the fruition of my creative impulse, but now the electronic stuff is no longer my greatest joy. My focus for the last few years has just been living a simple life, in awe and wonder at the magnificence of Life, welcoming the beauty... and every year just keeps getting better.
On the Inside:
During all these years, I've always had a strong inner sense of some sort of Divine Presence in my life. As a child I studied religion but rejected membership in my family's Protestant church because its views and practices seemed to me, as a teenager, to be too narrow, too dogmatic, and not in harmony with the guidance of my own heart.
Now, I'm a life-long student of those great ones who guide us toward a better understanding of who we are and what our life-purpose truly is. I've spent over 30 years studying comparative religion, and delved into everything from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism to the Rosicrucians and Self Realization Fellowship. Each of those spiritual paths seemed to me to be much the same, yet they each seemed to be a covering over something greater, a veil which kept me from seeing That which was behind them all.
Then one day a dear friend gave me a book of Rumi poetry, and something wonderful happened. It was like this:
The minute I heard my first love story
Ahhh! A revelation. As the mystic saint Rabia said:
How long will you keep pounding on
an open door
O, friend! Nobody veils you, but yourself.
Eventually, in the late 1990's I was introduced to the books of Inayat Khan, and felt so at home in his words and teachings that I've created the wahiduddin.net web site to offer those same thoughts and teachings to a world-wide audience.
Oh I have so much to be thankful for! Sure, I've done a lot of foolish things and made a lot of unfortunate decisions, but taking every step forward with gratefulness and loving-kindness seems to be working a lot better than excessive fretting about things that I can't change.
Before you ask God for what
Call it "religion", call it "understanding", call it "awakening", call it whatever you will, life is much different now, with love, harmony and beauty abounding, and for all of this I am thankful!
Vacations and a few Favorite Places:
I've been very fortunate to have the time and opportunity to be able to explore the wonders of scuba diving, sports car racing, aerobatic flying and a lot of vacations. I enjoy hiking and exploring in the great southwest... mostly Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. I seldom go skiing here in Colorado, I went skiing more when I lived in California. I really like warm places the best.
Canyon in Utah is amazing.
Kauai is wonderful.
Sedona Arizona is beautiful, but quite overcrowded in town.
The mountains of the West are so varied.
Canyonlands, Utah, where the dry desert air has preserved
ruins at Tulum, Mexico.
little kids get scared away so easily...
Over and out.
Last updated: 28-Dec-2020