(IAAC) Self Introductions (was Re: Greetings)

Wow, THANKS to Eric, Steve, and Jeff for sharing their personal stories
with the group! This seems like a great way for folks to "break the ice":
there are over 160 subscribers to netastrocatalog (and the digest) now, and
I know we only hear from 5 or 6 regularly... If anyone else listening would
like to share the story of how THEY got interested in astronomy (whether it
happened 50 years ago or last week!), PLEASE write in and tell us about it.
OK, since I perked up on this, I guess I'm supposed to tell my story now...
I grew up in ruralish South Florida: not Miami, South Florida! :) My
interest in astronomy began with science fiction and the Golden Books Guide
to Astronomy when I was 10, then progressed to a 50mm Tasco refractor and a
book on observing the Messier list at 11, and finally to regular observing
at 12. I hooked up with one of the most experienced amateur meteor
observers in the world (Norman W McLeod III) via the Southern Cross
Astronomical Society, and so became involved in amateur science.
I used a 6" f/4 steel-tube GEM reflector for several years in the
Everglades and (most breathtakingly!) the Florida Keys: in fact some of my
fondest adolescent memories are of observing to the deep Southern ocean
horizon in a night-time sea breeze, from the foot of the old Bahia Honda
Bridge. This was in the years just before growth in Marathon and Big Pine
Keys would flood the surrounding area (including the current WSP site,
sadly) in light pollution.
Leaving for college in 1983, I had to sell my 6" and 8" scopes: I was also
ashamed to own an old AstroScan, an ill-advised gift (so I thought!) from
my mother. I left it in the attic at home. I took some courses in astronomy
and physics at MIT, but my "overly formal thinking" (one physicist's words)
left me with a distaste for physics, and a passion for theoretical math and
computers. So my astronomical dreams - both amateur and professional -
Then, on August 25, 1992, Hurrican Andrew took my old home in Princeton,
FL. Miraculously, the AstroScan survived, and so I was forced to store it
in my apartment in Massachusetts! I suddenly remembered where the
constellations lay, and began using the scope again in earnest in time for
Comet Hyakutake. Now I observe regularly (in spite of *maddening* New
England weather!) with an 8"  f/10 SCT, a 20" f/5 dob, a 5" f/5 refractor
(all bought very used!), and - yes - with that wonderful old AstroScan...
Though I flirt - mainly at Mars oppositions - with planetary observing, I'm
a more dedicated (and so much frustrated) deep-sky and naked-eye meteor
observer. And I use the 20" to hunt supernovae, and am slowly becoming more
serious about variable star observing again...
OK, now it's someone else's turn! Clear skies,