About John Nolley II
Meet John, one half (we'll not deign to speculate on the "worse" or "better" designation) of the couple that is John and Beth.
A Brief History of My Life
My mom shirked her duty to society, I'm afraid to say. Yes, on that election-day Tuesday of May 6th, 1975, she was under the knife instead of at the polls. I guess I can't blame her; all that anesthesia probably would have put her in the same mindset that elected Jimmy Carter a year later, and, after all, she was busy delivering me.
The same hospital bore my father years before (my mom being born in a house in the same coal camp Jerry West was), and I even had the same nurse he did. Heck, I even got Dad's name--in itself a rather fortuitous set of circumstances, as only days before had Jay Rockefeller pissed my old man off enough they discarded "Jay" in favor of "John," and my parents after all could have chosen Marion George, my grandfather's somewhat girlish cognomen and a tip-of-the-hat to ancestor Francis Marion.
None of this, of course, do I myself remember. Perhaps it's for the best I don't recall the nurse slapping my wrinkly bottom and the next few months of endless formula and dirty diapers; nursery was as surely bliss as a dog's life, but not something I'd care to relive. Yet the heyday of my youth lay just around the corner.
Growing up in semi-rural Appalachia opened countless doors I never could have found in a big city like Beckley or Charleston (much less a metropolis--read: hellhole--like New York or Chicago). My grandfather took me on hikes every day in a backpack like some papoose, in sun or rain or sleet or snow like some dedicated postman, and I don't think he ever dropped me on my head. My grandfather introduced me to the woods around my home, a place that would become my constant friend and companion as I grew up. I always had an active imagination, and the forest provided a perfect outlet; games from War (girls vs. boys, of course) with hand-made booby-traps to Spaceship to the ubiquitous House (what, the girls are on our side?!) and Cops 'n Robbers all went hand-in-hand against a lush green backdrop.
Where my parents' salaries in the school system split amongst three children didn't always get me the big shiny toy fire truck from GC Murphy's, my aunt Marian observed I was just as happy creating my own with cardboard boxes, markers, tape, and a knife. A spot of inquisitiveness lent me even more fun as I took apart everything from radios to mixers to washers and dryers--which, until I wired my aunt's sewing machine pedal to her lights as a crude dimmer switch, gave my parents the worst fits. Yet that bit of Thomas Edison-ism piqued their interest having in an engineer as a son (or perhaps the condo at the shore such salaries command).
I taught myself just about everything back then. My third-grade reading certificate said, "John has read MANY books," where most students could claim less books than they had teeth. Not that I didn't have good teachers--I was just a step ahead of them. By high school I knew four computer languages and enough science and math that I never took a single bit of homework actually home.
When I came to Virginia Tech in 1993, I was a National Merit Scholar and the valedictorian of my high school class. I was sure I wanted to be an engineer--maybe even TWO engineers, as I enrolled in both the Material Science and the Computer Engineering programs. Since I had AP credit for most of the freshman courseload, I signed up for mainly sophomore classes, including one that had caught my eye in the timetable: English 2044, or Intro to Science Fiction and Fantasy. Later, I had the splendid fortune to be in Nikki Giovanni's Intro to Creative Writing course, and as I picked up another English class here, a couple of credits there, I decided to pick up a minor. By that time I had also realized what my Microbiology professor Bob Benoit would tell me five years later: engineers (and hence their professors) have NO communication skills--and thus had switched my major to Computer Science.
After a while longer I realized just how close to a degree in English I was, and in December of 1998 I got my first degree from Tech, a B. A. in English. Ironically, my Computer Science degree would be another nine months in coming as I carefully dodged a couple of professors and courses that will remain nameless.
I spent over a decade of my life in Blacksburg before moving off to the city at last; the old job had gotten dreary, and the lure of a $30,000 raise was too much to resist... so now I live in Vienna, VA, saving money for a home rather than the apartment living I'd thought I'd never return to. Living in the city has been an interesting change and experience to be sure, and I find it tough to imagine living in the boonies again.
My continued academic interests may be on hold in a formal sense, but remain broad and varied, with the credit toward a degree in Biology and thoughts of an M.D. someday, perhaps; I have also have studied Materials Science and Computer Engineering, and I'm interested in further education in Statistics, Psychology, Japanese, Chemistry, and the Culinary Arts (yes, that's cooking!) I want to finish a Master's in something (I already have a good bit of one in English) and add at least one "Doctor" after my name as well. If only I had a patron to sponsor my academic endeavors...
I speak basic Japanese (to the point that I can order in restaurants and understand a lot of anime) and a smattering of French from high school, neither to the level I'd like--I'm completely in favor of American children being taught second and third languages from kindergarten onward. Languages are easy when started early enough in life!
Recently, I have taken up birding and bird photography, and have had photos published and take contest prizes.