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Thread: Life-Changing Experiences

  1. #1
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    Life-Changing Experiences

    What's changed your life? Something trivial, something non-trivial, something stupid?

    In early February 2000, PBS aired a NOVA episode called "Secrets of Lost Empires: Medieval Siege." It had a couple of teams competing to build, well, you guessed it: a trebuchet.
    I didn't see it. But some of my coworkers did, and talked about it at lunchtime. I did already know what a trebuchet was; even had a link to a site on my work computer. But I hadn't paid much attention.
    A day or three later, my union went out on the largest white-collar strike in US history. We had a couple of years earlier purchased our property near Port Townsend as a vacation home. So we packed up the kitties and came over here for the duration. Once a week, I'd return across the water to collect the mail, put out the trash, and walk the picket line two or three times.
    On this side, I organized the workshop, the garage, the office, and the shed. And got bored. (I apparently had a lower threshold of boredom then.) So I decided to build a trebuchet. Our internet access was nearly non-existent. As in long-distance dial-up. I couldn't really look for plans so I just improvised. Entirely from scrap.
    A piece of 2x6 that had probably had a vise on it at one time. Some bits of 1x2 left over from the installation of a screen door. A bit of longer 1x2 that I decided could be an arm. Assorted bits of metal for a fixed weight.
    I had no idea how to make a proper sling so I attached a bit of string to a foam practice golf ball. I also had no idea how to make a trigger, but I had a finger. I held down the arm with my finger, released it, and threw the little ball about 20 feet.

    Hooked for life.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  2. #2
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    I have had several life changing experiences. The first was having eye surgery to get rid of my Coke-bottle glasses. Getting diagnosed with Asperger's, for the first time I knew why I am the way I am. Getting therapy and meds for that and other psychiatric and neurological conditions, completely changed my personality and world view. Getting diabetes. Having my first seizure.

    Of course, all of life is changing, a long slow process that never completes as long as you draw breath.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  3. #3
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    Several. After my junior year of high school in 1978, I reported to USAF basic training, embarking on a 20-plus-year career. I became a father a few months later. Pulled a one-year tour in South Korea two years after that. My son was born a few years later. Divorce #1 came a few after that and I remarried after a few more. Eventually, I retired from the service and moved to Alaska whereupon divorce #2 happened. Marriage 3.0 was implemented almost 16 years ago , followed by the purchase of our house in Peters Creek. Since then itís been more life building than life changing.
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    I guess I should mention that I reluctantly agreed to go on a blind date in 1978!
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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    Two come to mind.

    I have always loved chemistry and had planned a career as a chemist. Then I started taking Spanish in junior high. I did not enjoy it. At a career fair I learned that a prerequisite for a degree in chemistry was two years of a foreign language. Oh, but look, engineers don't have that requirement. And you can be a chemical engineer. Close enough. (Never regretted the switch.)

    Some years later I was casually dating a girl who worked at a dinner theater. She asked if I'd help paint the cast room one afternoon. (Trying to impress) I agreed. One of her girl friends had also volunteered. That friend and I have been married for 46 years. I still remember how she looked the first time I saw her.
    Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by ignorance or stupidity.
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    All I will say is that I am the poster child for the Black Swan Effect.
    Do good work. óVirgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    All I will say is that I am the poster child for the Black Swan Effect.
    I had to look that up to see what it was. It is not a phrase I have heard used in Australia and especially not in Western Australia - we would have to call it the White Swan Effect!

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    Three years ago this month, Irene was in the NICU. Her being born changed our lives, of course, but so did that week.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

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    The commissioning of the Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower. No, I never set foot on the Eisenhower and didn't want too. Nearing the end of my naval nuclear power training in 1976, our class learned that many of us would be assigned to the Eisenhower, which was nearing completion and was staffing up its engineering department. The 70's were bad times for personnel on US Navy aircraft carriers and I wanted no part of it. The deal with nuclear power school was that the top finishers would get their choice of assignments - the needs of the navy taken into account, of course. So I finished first in my class and chose a ballistic missile submarine based out of Guam/Pearl Harbor. Being a submariner changed my life in ways I could not then have imagined and I owe it to the Eisenhower.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    Three years ago this month, Irene was in the NICU. Her being born changed our lives, of course, but so did that week.
    Wow, I didn't know or didn't remember that!
    I've never seen a small child fly up and down stairs the way she did at our house.

    I've lately been thinking a lot about 20 years ago, when I was on strike; and 10 years ago, when my wife went to Tacoma to help look after my dying mother and wound up in the ICU on life support herself. The morning after the crisis, when it was still touch and go, I had to go talk to my Mom's doctor and agree to discontinue treatment. Not a day I'll ever forget.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Wow, I didn't know or didn't remember that!
    I've never seen a small child fly up and down stairs the way she did at our house.
    Oh, yeah, what I tell people is that, if you didn't know, you wouldn't know. She suffered almost no long-term effects--her ear problems are probably related to her NICU stay, given how common they are in NICU children, but they're minor enough so that I don't even remember when her next appointment with the ear doctor is supposed to be--but it was still a scary week. She stopped breathing about two hours before we were supposed to check out, and she had to be rushed up to Tacoma--possibly the same hospital complex?--in a heavy snowfall. The ambulance driver was very reassuring; he's from Alaska, and there was a button on the dashboard of the ambulance that made chains pop out. She was safer than we were. She spent that week getting stabilized, and they never did find out what had caused it. She had a 24-hour EEG that found nothing, and she was extubated pretty much as soon as that was over. She was breathing fine on her own again, and as soon as she was stabilized and self-regulating her body temperature, she was sent home. And three years later, she's an adorable, curious little bundle of energy.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

  12. #12
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    Life-changing events often happen and we don't know it until much later. Others may be happening as we speak; my wife is probably having one right now.

    In August she ruptured her Achilles tendon and had surgery on August 28. No weight bearing for four weeks, support boot for two months, then physical therapy. The problem is that the wound wouldn't heal and continued to produce a very small amount of fluid, but constantly. Went for another touch-up surgery in November (skin-level only) and back in the boot. This month the doctor ordered an MRI and spotted some fluid buildup on the repaired tendon. He also ordered another culture (others had been negative) but this time it came back *positive. So she just had a third surgery yesterday. The wound is open (and packed) because the particular bacteria is anaerobic. We're hoping for wound closure in about 10 days and then back to physically therapy once the sutures are out. And hoping we don't need a wound vacuum.

    And no idea when she may be back to something resembling normal.

    *Finegoldia magna

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    I had mentioned Non-Trivially that I had a recent LCE. I was in a car riding on the highway with my family, basically all the most important people in my life, and towing a large camper, when the weather decided to flip the camper over. We were all completely unharmed, despite everything around us being badly damaged.

    The more I think about the circumstances, the more I realize how many things had to go exactly right for everyone to come out of that without a scratch. A Perfect Anti-Storm.

    I'm still processing all the emotional repercussions of this event. But I can say that it was certainly a Life Changing Experience and one I won't quickly forget.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  14. #14
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    I suppose the event for me was a school project. I was on the path to read physics. There was a parents’ day coming up and we were instructed to build something to show. I had a clockwork gramophone and read somewhere about Lissajou figures, so I rigged that to reciprocate a table on wheels plus an orthogonal pendulum with pen. From that day I knew I had to make things and switched to engineering.

    I was nearly derailed at university. Engineering was 100% men at that time. I passed up wine tasting society for car rally club. Too late i visited wine tasting and discovered it was run by beautiful Spanish women reading Spanish, which seemed to require one essay about Don Quixote in third year, so they had oodles of time. By that time I was a graduate engineer.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    My life has changed several times. After graduating from college, when I got married, and the last time was at the beginning of this year, when I started programming and received my first money for it. I plan to further develop as a programmer in order to be able to earn more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by geonuc View Post
    The 70's were bad times for personnel on US Navy aircraft carriers and I wanted no part of it... I finished first in my class and chose a ballistic missile submarine
    Why was a submarine better than an aircraft carrier?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
    Why was a submarine better than an aircraft carrier?
    Ah, i wish Big Don was still posting here. I expect he had direct experience with life-changing events on carriers in that era.

  18. #18
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    In 1978, a co-worker decided I needed a social life and set me up on a blind date with his wife's childhood friend. Still together.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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    I was tricked into going to medical school by a careers adviser (who was also the deputy head teacher) at my secondary school. And I met my wife at medical school.
    Were it not for careers advice that focused primarly on winning prestige for the secondary school, my life would have been very different.

    Grant Hutchison

  20. #20
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    Disasters, wars, relationships, opportunities; thinking about it, my life changing events happened before I was born, that is to my parents and grandparents. Without going back further they had world wars, new technologies, international travel, so many potential branches of destiny. Not so long earlier there were long periods of staying put, living in the same house for generations, doing the same jobs. My earlier posted experience was more like the first time I made a choice that changed my life, free from the necessities of war.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    I've had life-changing "non-experiences" where I missed opportunities that would have affected my path in life.

    First, I was a pack-a-day smoker in college, and wound up getting pneumonia from it that put me on my back for a month. By the time I was well enough to return to school I'd lost my scholarship and had to drop out; never was able to afford a return.

    A few years later I also tried to join the Navy, and was unable to get in. So, things that would have affected the rest of my life, and neither one panned out.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    I was tricked into going to medical school by a careers adviser (who was also the deputy head teacher) at my secondary school. And I met my wife at medical school.
    Were it not for careers advice that focused primarly on winning prestige for the secondary school, my life would have been very different.

    Grant Hutchison
    My careers master first pressed me to do physics (I nearly did) then advised avoiding ship design, I wonder why. I admit at University I was overly interested in getting a girlfriend . If I had gone wine tasting in first term, I might now be a wine grower in Spain! As it happened , after leaving, my university admitted the first woman engineer, And I married her.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Life-Changing Experiences

    In my sophomore year in college I went to the Air Force recruiting office with a friend who rather desperately needed money since he was flunking out of school and his parents had basically disowned him. We both took the entrance tests and did the follow up interviews. He enlisted but I decided to maintain my university path, although I was tempted to sign up. His worst fears were realized when the Air Force assigned him as a clerk typist in Omaha, Nebraska, since he lacked other skills. He was from Clearwater, Florida. Ever been in Omaha in January? Yeah.

    He eventually wrangled some kind of deferment and managed to eke out a living. He now lives in Arizona.

    Obviously that was life-changing as a "path not taken" and I often wonder how things had gone if I had enlisted. Unlike my friend I suspect I would have continued my studies and eventually earn an undergraduate degree, which was possible while serving.
    Last edited by schlaugh; 2021-Jun-10 at 08:30 PM.

  24. #24
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    The GI Bill certainly changed a lot of lives, and the course of the US over time. After WWII a large proportion of the population who could never have afforded college, got degrees and jobs way above what they would have otherwise. Adding that many skilled workers, middle class taxpayers, and educated minds to the country affected nearly everything.

    At home, the fact that WWII women proved they could do skilled "male" labor also had a big economic and social influence, but the result was temporarily stifled by the cultural reactions of the 1950s.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    I aspired to go into aerospace or aeronautical engineering. My folks had left the state and I was looking to out of state tuition. So I visited the campus like most of the rest of the seniors who desired a college education. I was in the engineering building and bumped into the dean of Petroleum and chemical engineering. He invited me back to his office and we chatted about the next step and I told him I liked the school but wasn't going to attend as the out of state prevented that. He said "Is that all that's bothering you?" After one phone call I had a scholarship that made up the difference if I majored in Petroleum Engineering. I just changed schools thinking I would be able to wrangle a jump to space or nautical. After a year, the dean got me a summer job working in the oilfield. During that summer I fell in love with the business and never looked back to changing majors.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    I guess I should mention that I reluctantly agreed to go on a blind date in 1978!
    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    In 1978, a co-worker decided I needed a social life and set me up on a blind date with his wife's childhood friend. Still together.
    Trivial things that bug me: I'd totally forgotten starting this thread!
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Trivial things that bug me: I'd totally forgotten starting this thread!
    That’s OK, so had I.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Trivial things that bug me: I'd totally forgotten starting this thread!
    Yeeeeeaaaah.

    I was going to post the two LCEs that popped into my mind after reading your previous post, then saw this one and checked.

    Yup, #5.

    Great minds forget alike.
    Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by ignorance or stupidity.
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    You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They donít alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views.
    Doctor Who

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Trivial things that bug me: I'd totally forgotten starting this thread!
    The mind is a terrible thing to waste/lose.

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    And a waist is a terrible thing to mind. I was up a couple pounds this morning.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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