I learned most of my physics reading astronomy books when I was thirteen.
My father seemed to think that I might need something a bit more formal if I wanted to pursue a career, so I went to McGill and earned a document which says Bachelor of Science. I love talking physics, whether people want to listen or not, and so with another document which says Diploma in Education, I found a job which gave me regular access to a captive classroom audience.
A Master’s degree came next, something I pursued with the intent of wearing a more ostentatious gown at graduation time each June.
After many years in the field I’ve learned that telling people you are a physics teacher is a great way of either starting or stopping a conversation.
I have had the good fortune to teach at some marvelous institutions, including Lower Canada College and, most recently, John Abbott College. In 2014 I received La Mention d’honneur de l’Association québécoise de pédagogie collégiale.
My sport growing up was football. I was recruited to play for the McGill Redmen by legendary coach Charlie Baillie, and I was proud to wear the red for five years. I was a defensive back and a linebacker. I might have continued on to the professional ranks were it not for three deficiencies: speed, size, and talent.
OTHER SPORTS AND ACTIVITIES
I boxed for a couple of years at the now defunct Olympic Boxing Club on Montreal’s Parc Avenue. (A boxing aficionado would recognize the names Donato Paduano, Vittorio Salvatore, Arturo Gatti, and the five Hilton brothers, all of whom were products of the OBC. I’ve never seen my name listed alongside any of them.) I rowed for a year with McGill’s varsity team while doing my graduate work. And I dabbled in track & field at a very modest level; I won a hammer-throwing competition in which I was the sole participant.
I like to pretend I’m still an athlete. Skiing is a passion; I have completed the 160 km Canadian Ski Marathon and I regularly compete in the Gatineau Ski Loppet and the Viking Ski Loppet. I’ve run the Montreal Marathon twice and survived thirteen triathlons.
I mentioned astronomy earlier; I’ve enjoyed this as both a hobby and a scientific discipline since before I was a teenager. The ever-increasing degree of light pollution is a source of constant frustration, and if you will permit me an editorial comment, I think it’s a crime that for the majority of humans the Milky Way is an exotic feature only seen on television commercials.
Oh, I also play a flute. Coincidentally, whenever I practice my wife finds work she has to do in the basement.
The same year I started teaching I returned to the Redmen as a part-time coach, and I worked with amazing athletes and dedicated coaches at McGill for twenty-eight more seasons. I was a recipient of Football Canada’s Gino Fracas Award as the Canadian volunteer assistant coach of the year. I think they gave it to me out of sympathy for having endured Head Coach Charlie Baillie’s cigar smoke so long.
Fiction writing is something I have done all of my life. Writing, however, is not the same as having one’s work published, which requires its own skill set and time commitment. With this in mind I recently stepped away from my teaching career so that I could endeavour to get my stories onto people’s bookshelves.
Cromby’s Axiom is the first novel of mine to be published, but I also have in my files three rather ambitious book manuscripts totaling over half a million words. I’ve also written about twenty short stories*.
So keep your eyes peeled.
* Twenty-three Yards, a story relating the final seven seconds in the football career of an offensive lineman, has recently been published in Blank Spaces.