May 14, 2001
This will be a sporadic column.
In this, the first edition, I'll explain a little
more about myself
than the biography on the About the people
and products page and
give some notion of the background for this site.
One of the most vivid memories of my childhood was standing on the
ramparts of Fort Ticonderoga
looking up Lake Champlain when I was five years old, a scene which
was repeated almost 40 years later on honeymoon. It is quite
possible my life-long interest in history stems from that summer
My family moved around Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania and there
weren't many historic sites we missed on weekend excursions and
family vacations. My
boy scout troop had a camp site not far from Fort
Necessity. We lived for a while only a couple of miles from
the Daniel Boone Homestead,
and junior high school trips went to Hopewell
Furnace and Gettysburg. In high school, I became a docent
and tour guide at Old
Economy near Pittsburgh. When the time came for college, I loved
much I interviewed at William and Mary. In the end, I attended school
in Lancaster, PA, the heart of the Amish tourist area, and in Minneapolis,
MN, not far from Fort Snelling.
Various coursework, internships with government agencies (working
on a historic zoning ordinance, developing an inventory of an 18th
century store for a reconstruction project) and volunteer work (several
local historical societies and museums) fed these interests.
In the end, the federal government hired me and I learned real estate, finance,
regulatory law and investigative practices and techniques.
In September, 1999, the day after my 20th anniversary with the federal
government, I quit to enter an e-commerce certificate program at the Loyola
University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. Over the next
9 months I learned as much as I could and rediscovered some old skills and
interests, as well as learning how web sites are supposed to work
and developing interests and working knowledge in new areas such as web site usability
and various systems analysis techniques.
At the end of May, 2000, I finished the program and considered the
future. My goal has never been to become the next Jeff Bezos or
Bill Gates, and with a working wife and small child at home, I wanted nothing
to do with a 24/7, travel-5-days-a-week corporate or dot com position.
With a supportive wife, the summer was spent working part time in
an academic library near my daughter's day care and redecorating
our living quarters while casting about for a way to make a living
combining my various skills, talents, and interests.
Much of the search involved extended web surfing to see what worked
and didn't, during the time when the boom was rapidly being replaced
by the bust.
In the end, the idea of a series of limited-scope sites which allow
visitors to zoom in on the kind of places that interest them, get
detailed information about them, and then learn what is
near those places seemed feasible. I've been calling them reverse portals.
Instead of trying to tell everything about City X or state Y, Step
Into History will allow an easy search for living history museums,
and then tell the visitor what is near them and how to learn
more about them.
Let me know if it
works for you.