I'm a retired Systems Engineer. I originally qualified as a Chemist but was always more interested in the physical side of the subject (I never got on with Organic Chemistry as I found it far too dependent on knowing facts). After my university grants ran out I had to find myself a "proper job" and moved into Clinical Chemistry, working in a small research institute attached to a large teaching hospital in Birmingham, UK. There I was part inventor of a novel optical system which became the heart of a revolutionary new analyser for the clinical laboratory.
After 8 years I decided clinical chemistry was not for me and joined a big company, based in Miami, Florida, which was developing a commercial version of the analyzer. The original idea was that I would develop chemistries but somehow that never happened and I spent my time devising algorithms and driving a part of the software effort and generally liasing between the engineers and the chemists. I had a great time commuting back and forth between the UK and Miami. It couldn't last!
After 15 years with that company, during which time they had withdrawn from the chemistry business and I had moved into full-time software writing and customer support, they declared me redundant at the ripe old age of 55. For two years I tried to work for myself, but I was a rotten boss and eventually moved out to Rochester, New York, to work full time on an exciting new analyser project. Mostly I was part of the team testing the software, concentrating on the more technical testing, leaving the more mundane (to me) testing of the GUI etc to others who were much better at it than I would ever have been.
When that project came to an end, the team broke up and most of the contractors were "let go" (as the Americans so euphemistically put it) but they kept me on, which was really a very satisfying outcome for me. However, later the company had to down-size again and although they wanted me to stay, I decided it was time to move on.
I moved to California where I joined a Microbiology company. This was a big, big mistake, but it was there that I was introduced to Delphi now my preferred programming language. However after little over a year, they decided to "let me go" , and I moved south to San Diego to work for a more exciting new-technology company (DNA and all that stuff), and I stayed there until my visa ran out. I returned to the UK and earned some pin money for a year or so doing some more work for the company in Rochester remotely, before finally retiring in 2003.
I've been fascinated by Astronomy (particularly the Solar System) ever since I was a small boy and I was given my first telescope, an antique brass 3.5-inch refractor, when I was 18. You can see a picture of this telescope at the top of this page. I used this to look at the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn and I took pictures of the Sun from my bedroom window by putting a mirror under the eyepiece and projecting an image onto the ceiling and laying a camera on its back and photographing the ceiling. I still have a few of these pictures.
Shortly before my return from six years in the USA, I bought a Meade ETX125, the sort of telescope I had always wanted. This is a great little telescope with a really wobbly mount. Later I had the chance to purchase a 10-inch LX200 second-hand at a good price. I also have a 270 mm SLR lens piggybacked on my EXT125, which I use for pictures of the Moon and the Sun.
My hobby has progressed and I have built an observatory, added several cameras and a small refractor. For all this stuff see my Equipment pages.