“Striving to be the best dad…”

“My first kid is on the way… August 15th. That motivates me every day to go out and work and get money so I can get my own apartment. I’m a little nervous. I come from a big family, so I already know how to take care of kids. So in some ways it’s gonna be easy for me, but at the same time hard. My dad wasn’t always there for me. He was kind of a crappy dad. So my goal is to be 100% better than that. I want to be there for my kid all the time no matter what. I want him to have everything he could possibly need. I’m striving to be the best dad there is. I hope he don’t… I hope he’s not like all these other kids getting into trouble. I’m gonna to try my best to keep him out of that. I’m going to try to get out of Troy. I already know I don’t want him growing up here. I’ve been here all my life, so I know how it is. And I don’t want my kid in this. I’m 19, so it’s definitely forcing me to grow up faster.”

60 Years Famous

“I was born and raised in Troy. Worked construction for a while, doing fire protection and sprinklers. But I’ve been retired for 15 years now. Now I’ve got a small farm that I keep pretty busy with, garden and chickens and such. I’ve been coming to Famous Lunch for 60 years. Their hot dogs are delicious. My father used to bring me here when I was young. Now I come by once in awhile when I don’t feel like cooking. Same place. It hasn’t changed a bit. Of all the things changing in the world, this place hasn’t changed a bit.”

“Victories from here on out…”

“I struggled silently for a while—hid it really, really well. But I’m not ashamed to talk about my story honestly and openly now. If I could help even just one person out of addiction… that would be a victory for me. I went through a halfway house. I just finished inpatient treatment for addiction, and now I’m going through outpatient. It’s really hard, and I’ve lost a lot; but I’m slowly getting it back. I have to take everything one second at a time now. There are a lot of temptations, a lot of people that I know around here who could pull me back into it all. But if I keep myself focused and working toward the goal I’ve had for the last six months… I just don’t want to lose all of that.

My daughter just turned six. I don’t know if I could have gone through all of that if it weren’t for her. She’s definitely my motivation through all of this. Every time I see her, she puts a smile on my face. I think about how she’s watching everything I do. My dad was an alcoholic, so I saw it firsthand. And I don’t want her to have to go through the same stuff I went through. Not saying my dad was a bad person or that anyone with an addiction is. It’s just… she watches me. She does a lot of the things I do. She expects nothing, but she remembers everything. So to give her the curse of addiction… I just can’t let that happen.

It’s a journey. It’s worth it. I’m looking forward to all the victories from here on out.”

Love Yourself

“I’ve lived in Troy since I was born. I used to work at Flomatic Valves. I made underground water valves, making valves for pipes inside the house. I made the molds, then they’d pour hot metal into them to make the valves. We’d grind them, make them look new, and send them to the people next door who would rethread them. I did that for 8 years. That was the 70’s. I wasn’t really making that much money — $2.50 an hour or something like that. I’d work 8 hours straight and then went home to nothing. I did enjoy that job, but they closed up a while back. There are some other valve places around, but it’s all so different now than what we used to do.

I don’t do that much anymore. I don’t mow the grass or anything. I just take it easy. I take care of myself now. I just love myself, that’s all. I think God wants men to love themselves and protect themselves. If all men relaxed and loved themselves the way it’s supposed to be, the world would be a lot more safe. There wouldn’t be no problems with people getting hurt, kids getting hurt. You could teach the kids to love themselves and grow up to be adults who love themselves, even with dresses on.”

Trust the equations…

“I was the head of the math department at RPI. And that was really… you know, there were ups and downs, but when I tell people what I am, what I do, what I did, it’s that. And I still do the math, I just don’t get paid for it. *laughs* I’m passionate about math. My field was applied math, so I got to work with mechanical engineers, biologists, and other fields. I was always asking ‘what can I do with math that adds to this field?’ Every time I was successful at that, it was incredibly gratifying.

My desire to learn started back in kindergarten — I was annoyed that they wouldn’t teach me to read in kindergarten. I said, ‘you’re going to teach me to read,’ and they did! *laughs* It’s just who I was. I didn’t think about wanting to push the envelope or anything. I was at school, and I just wanted to learn. My propensity for math came in middle school. Small town, small class. I got a math book and sat in the corner reading it. While everyone else was doing 9th grade math, I was doing 11th grade math. While they were doing 12th grade math, I was doing calculus and other advanced maths. Then I came to RPI which at the time was very friendly to people like me, people who were good, but not great. I got to do a lot of things with people: some were just fellow students, some were professors that recognized I was looking for things to do. 

After a few years of being on the faculty, I started working with a nuclear engineer. He and I looked at the big problems of the day, problems that people were interested in. I could do the equations, but he was my connection to reality. We looked at the stuff that needed to be done, and we did it. We changed the way of thinking from doing experiments and making graphs out of those experiments, to putting information into the computer to calculate the physics of what’s going on in order to understand what was happening. I always said trust the equations. If you’ve got the right equation, they’re going to do what’s right. It was revolutionary at the time.”

“I’d just rather be out there working.”

“I’m a landscaper. That’s what I do. Been doing it 20 years, at least. I love being outside, working with my hands. Gotta be on top of everything. When I was younger, I used to do a lot of cooking and cleaning, but I started doing landscaping and now I’m doing well with it and staying busy. I’ve thought about getting a desk job before, but I think I’d get bored after a while. I do want financial stability, but it’s not even about the money. I’d just rather be out there working.”

Ultimate Frisbee

“When the weather’s nice, I play ultimate frisbee. That’s the reason I do a lot of working out, trying to stay in shape, and all that jazz. It’s a big passion of mine, and it’s a lot of fun. I picked it up at a summer camp when I was 12, but it’s one of those things that has always stuck with me and has become a pretty large part of my life. I’m a senior in mechanical engineering, so I’ll probably be going into industry. I’m actually looking into working at a company that helps make prosthetic limbs and organs. They’ve been playing with making heart valves from pig’s hearts because they’re very similar. I’m pretty passionate about sports therapy and physical therapy, probably because of ultimate frisbee. I always say ultimate frisbee players are just people who weren’t good enough to play regular sports. We’re all nerdy engineers.”

“We did what we had to do…”

“I served in the Marine Corps for nine and a half years—worked on airplanes for Desert Storm and Desert Shield. We did what we had to do. I just don’t like to talk about it.”

Game Design

“Every day I wake up, I’m very happy to study about and design games. My major is game design. Of course, I like very much to play games too. I don’t exactly have a favorite game, because I have to play them all! But I hope to create a sandbox game. There’s a lot of freedom in a game like that. It’s like a new world for players. I’m into the art: designing the worlds, the world backgrounds, the characters. I’m from China; but I’m studying abroad, and I’m very excited to be studying at this school. Our department directors always send us emails about game development in Troy. Because I’m just a freshman, I have not so much experience… so, I have to wait. But I think it’s all very exciting!”

Mushroom Person

“I’m a mushroom person. I grow mushrooms, both for work and for a hobby. At home, I grow them to eat and to satisfy my curiosity. At work, I’m a research scientist. We’re using mushrooms to research new materials and develop new technologies that no one else has yet. I love it. There’s always a challenge. My family is from Europe, and people there love mushrooms. There is a lot of culture around mushrooms. People get crazy with them.”