I got in touch with a colleague from my days at Bowling Green State University. That was in the 1980s and my life had changed substantially since those days. While I have many professional biographies (such as this one from 2016), none of them covered the more personal aspects of my life. So here’s a brief biography for anyone who is interested in more than just where I worked.

I don’t want to bore you with a lot of details, so I’ll try to be brief. It’s still way too long.

I was born in Baltimore in 1956. Most of my immediate family is gone. My father died in 1996, my mother in 2001. My sister died in 2005 and my oldest brother died in 2015. I still have one brother alive (Bernie) and a niece (Joyce), but lots of in-laws (more about that later). Bernie is currently working at the Space Telescope Science Institute at Johns Hopkins and in my infrequent trips back to Baltimore, I always asking him about the latest trends in computing in the Astronomical community.

Even though my close family has grown smaller, I still have several surviving aunts and uncles (they are all in the 80s) and more cousins than you can shake a stick at. There’s a Simon family picnic every summer and I’ve tried to get to it when I can. Our family has a strong German heritage and the highlight of every picnic is the singing of “Schnitzelbank”.

I attended Saint Matthew’s, a Catholic grade school, and Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, a public high school. I was interested in chess and in what passed for computers in the 1970s. I also competed in “It’s Academic” a quiz show team competition among the local high schools. I was also vice-president of my senior class. I also volunteered most Saturday mornings at a recycling center run by the Parkville Jaycees. I served as a page for the Maryland House of Representatives for a couple of weeks and saw an actual filibuster one night, which was simultaneously the most fascinating and the most boring thing I had ever seen.

I loved mathematics and decided in high school to become an actuary, because that was the only career I knew about that paid you for your mathematical skills. I wrote to several Universities that had programs in Actuarial Science and got a very nice personalized letter from Bob Hogg, the chair of the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science at the University of Iowa. So at the age of 18 and having never traveled west of the Appalachian mountains, I set off for Iowa City. I loved the place so much that I stayed for a Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degree, though I did switch from Actuarial Science to Applied Statistics.

In college, I continued my love of chess and participated in many chess tournaments in the area. My highest rating was 1802, but I was really closer to a 1400 level player. I also played card games obsessively: hearts at first and then bridge. I dated a piano major and learned how to play the piano (poorly). I also learned the recorder and played in an informal recorder group that played mostly Renaissance tunes. I also joined the Folk Dance club and learned a wide range of mostly eastern European dances. Like piano, I was never very good a folk dancing, but it was still a lot of fun.

I also learned how to ride a bike in college and loved taking long trips through the country roads surrounding Iowa City. My other big time sink in college was Dungeons and Dragons.

I’m a quiet person and did not have a very large circle of friends in college, but I did develop a close bond with the Mooses (Carla, Julie, Phil, and Sheila). Don’t ask why we were called the Mooses. I also developed a good friendship with a fellow PhD student, Harald. We shared the same office for all the time I was at Iowa and were in almost all of the same classes.

In graduate school, I met Deanna Wild, a fellow Statistics student, and we hit it off right away. We would pass notes back and forth during our Regression Analysis and Design of Experiments classes.