Thomas has been "doing this stuff" (computers/technology) for well over two decades. "Helen Joseph,"
he recalls, "a visionary math teacher at Sinaloa Jr. High, managed to get a teletype for her math class,
and started to teach programming as well as math. I remember we used to connect to the Lawrence Hall of
Science TSO in Berkeley using an acoustic coupler
When not recalling events from the Triassic and Jurassic Periods, Thomas makes his living developing cutting-edge software at a Bay Area software company. When asked whether, after two decades, he still enjoyed his work, he reported "I wouldn't be doing it otherwise. I've spoken to people who think work is work, and they just do it to get a paycheck. I can't live like that. If it's not worth doing well, it's not worth doing.
"It's like sculpting. Sure, it's very much a science, but there's an aesthetic, too, of developing elaborate, elegant structures in virtual space. For me, it's as much a spatial, right-brained thing as an analytical, left-brain thing."
When not at work, Thomas likes to get some distance from technology by being outdoors. Hiking, mountain-biking, just about anything away from the whir of electronics. A creative spirit at heart, he also enjoys writing, photography, and numerous other constructive pursuits ... including a tireless quest to learn new things. Most recently, he started teaching himself Mandarin Chinese, "because it's a fascinating language, very different from what we use in the West. Isn't it wild to think that, with these two languages, (English and Chinese) you can communicate with almost 80% of the world's population?"
That fascination recently put him in China, during the height of the SARS epidemic no less. The goal: to see the Yangtze River and the Three Gorges prior to their flooding in the summer of 2003. When asked about the risk of SARS, he replied: "I admit, there were concerns. I got grief from friends and relatives before and during the trip. But do the math: the risks were miniscule. For some things, you have to think outside the box... A once in a life-time journey, and because everybody else fled, I had the country to myself!"
Himself, and 1.3 billion Chinese.
* a very old, very slow modem -- go rent Wargames, (Matthew Broderick, 1983) to see a specimen.