I worked at Bell Labs one summer when I was a student. When I returned home, the first thing my mother said to me was, “The phone is broken — please fix the phone.” At first I thought she was joking. But no, from her perspective, finally my MIT education would pay off.
If it had been an old-fashioned dial phone, I could have fixed it just by opening it up and having a look inside — no education necessary, just a few tools and a reasonable amount of sense. I was always good at figuring things out. Unfortunately, telephones had just become disposable and unfixable by mere mortal means. And my summer at Bell Labs had been full of local area networks and fiber optics, nothing about digital telephone schematics or planned obsolescence. But at that moment, my ability to fix the phone would have done a lot for my mother’s confidence in the value of my education.
If there’s one thing I did learn at MIT, it’s when to do something myself — like systematically working through my son’s eczema until I knew how to clear it completely because no one else could do it for me — and when to get help from someone else with superior skills — like putting up and revising my web site.
When I was a student, the Internet was the Arpanet, and Ms. Pacman the state of the art in computer games. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m never going to have time or energy to be a great web designer — or even a passably adequate one. Fortunately, one of the great things about being an engineer is that one always seems to have friends who can figure out how to do just about anything. A friend, Larry, put up the web site for me, and I have botched revising it ever since. My rudimentary web skills have little to do with the deep understanding I have developed of eczema and asthma, and the novel theories of allergy I hope to publish in a more scientific forum. Unfortunately, my inability to develop those web skills has hampered demonstrating and sharing that knowledge with everyone else.
I hope this blog will allow me to keep everyone just a little more up to date. Or at least provide better insight into the information, to dispel the most frequent myths and mistakes, and help as many people as possible get a benefit. But like the web site, this blog will probably remain a pretty bare-bones effort from a design standpoint. Vox has made the design process about as simple as can be — so it only took me three months to make my first post, rather than the year it took me to put up the web site. Just please remember, my web design skills have little to do with the wealth of eczema wisdom I have garnered in the esteemed school of hard knocks. (My mom would tell you the same.)