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My religious autobiography (Part One of Four)

Discussion in 'Journals' started by BruceDLimber, May 22, 2013.

  1. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Well-Known Member

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    May 22, 2013

    Hi, there!

    (I'm posting this at Luna's request as she asked me for some more details about myself. The rest of you are free to skip all this or wade through it, as you prefer!)

    This is going to be a fairly extensive multi-part message in which I attempt to catch you up on what all’s been happening with me, both in respect to religion and a bunch of other things, over the past 40 years. (I hope you don’t find it too boring!)

    Before I start, the technicalities:

    I have two email addresses:

    · home: [email protected]
    · work: [email protected]

    The work address is actually better because it’s hooked up all day every workday, whereas I may go a while before I check my home email.

    *edit*

    So please don’t be a stranger!

    OK. I’ll begin pretty much at the beginning.

    1968 was, of course, the height of the Viet Nam era. My draft board was threatening to draft me, and I wound up enlisting in the Air Force to avoid the draft (my father had always said, “Why walk when you can fly?”—not that my vision was good enough that I was going to be flying much, though I did get a private pilot’s license and fly a lot in my spare time back then).

    Now, this was back before the lottery system was instituted, so I was totally at the whim of my local draft board. They didn&#8217;t like me because I&#8217;d applied for conscientious-objector status as a noncombatant. (My best friend, BTW, got full conscientious-objector status for alternative <hospital> service, but stayed in university so long he was never drafted, anyway.) They rejected my application; I appealed, and they rejected me again. By that time I was in the Air Force, and the AF had me start the process all over again. (I&#8217;d initially been assigned to be a security policeman guarding nukes at Minot, ND, but since they couldn&#8217;t use me in that job while my CO application was pending, they gave me a temporary job driving a school bus.)

    (Minot, ND, at 30,000, is the third largest city in North Dakota. Minot AFB, at 17,000, is the fifth largest city! That shows you how sparse things are up there: basically, nothing but grain elevators and missile silos! Anyway, with all those dependants on the base and the severe winters there, all winter they run school buses for the kids attending the three schools on the base.)

    And just as spring was approaching, I got called in to Personnel, where I was told my application was approved! (I was also told I was extremely lucky because the approval rate of CO applications is only 3%.)

    Now, legally and technically, the only non-combatant jobs in the military are chaplain and medic. (Anybody else can be ordered to pick up a gun at any time, even&#8212;say&#8212;a cook.) The ordinary procedure would have been to place me in the medics, but there&#8217;s a special rule that says I can work in any job not involving weapons provided I approve. For whatever reason, they asked me if I&#8217;d mind working in Base Administration. It made no difference to me, so I said &#8220;OK.&#8221; They would up placing me in the Publishing Division, where I was the Base Forms Designer (designing and publishing forms to be filled in for whatever); later I was also the Base Publications Editor. (Coincidentally, these jobs fit me like the proverbial glove because I&#8217;d been Assistant Editor of the school paper in High School <my best friend, Rick Morrison, BTW, was Editor-in-chief>. And the working conditions couldn&#8217;t have been better: I shared the office with a WAF who was the Base Publications Librarian, and our supervisor was a civilian in another building half a mile away! <We never had a romantic relationship with each other, but it was nice nonetheless.>)

    And time passed.
    [continues]
     
    #1 BruceDLimber, May 22, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: May 22, 2013
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  2. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Well-Known Member

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    [continued]
    A year or two later, a shipment came down for me to Korea. Now, 702 is the job code for administration generally, and 702A is the code for publishing. This shipment was for a 702A, but they hadn’t yet added the letter to my job description, so I was technically ineligible. They therefore red-lined my shipment and grabbed the next guy in line—he worked in the Publications Warehouse—, and shipped him off instead!

    Now, as it happens, he and this WAF in my office were in the midst of an ongoing romantic relationship, and he was extremely mad at the world for breaking them up! Therefore, as his last official act before being moved to Korea, he ordered ten million IBM cards of a type not used at Minot.

    Six months later, he’s long gone, and this boxcar comes in! So they grabbed everybody in Base Admin and had us go down there and unload the boxcar. (By Murphy’s Law, the Publications Warehouse was in the basement of the building, and the elevator was broken; so they put a bunch of these roller-skate conveyors on the steps and had us roll all the boxes down.)

    THEN they picked up the invoices and started checking the stuff in, and discovered they had these ten million wrong IBM cards!

    Now, the ordinary procedure is to notify higher headquarters and ship the stuff back. But there was a big annual inspection coming up in two days, and they knew if they got caught with all this incorrect stuff, they’d get written up big time and look very bad! So they borrowed a 2 ½-ton truck from the base motor pool, had us lug all the cases back UP the stairs, put them on the truck, drive out to the base dump, and bury them!

    (By Murphy’s Law yet again, later on I was studying computer science in Florida, and we had a constant shortage of IBM cards. Oh, to have had a couple cases of those cards! Sigh.)

    So time passed yet again, and another shipment came down for me, this time to Viet Nam.

    (You may recall my saying that legally, the only noncombatant jobs are chaplain and medic.) But I was working in a technically combatant position—forms designer!—, and as such because I had noncombatant status, I had the right to refuse the shipment! (Talk about being in the one percent of one percent group: such a thing is completely impossible for the average person.) So the only way they could have sent me to Viet Nam would have been to retrain me as a medic, and they weren’t about to spend the money to do that. So (if you’ll pardon the bad pun) I ducked that bullet, too!

    And time—well, you know.

    In March of ’72, I had six months left of my hitch and was just barely beginning to look at college catalogs and such for when I was out (I was also planning a BIG vacation that summer). One day, I was ordered to report for an appointment. I had no idea what it was, and simply walked in.

    There was this sergeant sitting at a desk (I was a sergeant, too, by then, BTW); he gave me a big smile and said, “So, have you decided to reenlist yet?”

    I said, “What are you talking about? I’m ineligible!”

    He said, “What do you mean?”

    Me: “I have conscientious-objector status.”

    He said, “Wait right here,” and went and pulled my file. Sure enough, in it was a letter from the Secretary of the Air Force saying “Bruce Limber is awarded conscientious-objector status as a noncombatant and will be treated as such for the duration of his service.”

    So he pulled a telegram out of his drawer, read it over, looked up, and said, “We’re discharging you immediately!”

    It turns out somebody had figured out it was cheaper to pay a one-striper to do my job than to pay me, a three-striper, to do it. So I was to begin out-processing and be discharged in one week.

    So I did a lot fast!
    [continues]
     
  3. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Well-Known Member

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    [continued]
    Now, ordinarily first-termers aren’t allowed to take terminal leave (i.e., just before discharge). But because this was their mistake (I should have been gone already), they had to let me take leave then (I had 70 days saved up for my intended big vacation that summer). I took a week of it, and this gave me just time to buy a car (my first), drive around North Dakota breaking it in, say good-bye to friends there, and pack. (The rest of the leave I sold back, which gave me a nice nest egg for school.)

    I'd been checking around for a non-liberal-arts university teaching computer science. I found none in the Northeast but did discover Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, FL (which started out as an engineering school for folks working at Cape Kennedy). So I applied there and was accepted.

    I spent 3 ½ years of a four-year Air Force hitch, ALL of it (after basic training) in Minot, ND!

    And what did I get in return? Three things:
    • They taught me to type (not worth all those years, IMHO).
    • I got VA benefits for school.
    • And while I was in ND, I discovered the Baha’i Faith, investigated it, and became a Baha’i. I’ve been one ever since. (If you’d like to know more about it, please let me know, and I’ll be most happy to tell you!)

    While I was driving back to PA, I stopped in Wilmette, IL for my first visit to the Baha’i temple for North America there (there’s one per continent). Purely by coincidence, the Panama temple was just about to be dedicated, so I arranged to park my car there for a week, flew to Panama, and attended the dedication. On return, I drove home, and three weeks later drove to Melbourne, Florida.

    Having survived the bout with the Air Force (four winters in Minot, ND, that being how time is measured there), I attended to Florida Institute of Technology as a computer-science major and graduated there in December, ’75. While there, I spent a lot of time working as a lab tech in the computer science lab.

    In January, ’76, I’d been interviewing around the northeastern states looking for a job, and when Friday came, since I couldn’t interview on the weekend I headed up to Ottawa to visit Rick.

    As it turned out, Rick was just planning a computer project for microeconomic modeling (he works for Health & Welfare Canada in their Policy Research & Long-range Planning section). Since he’s not actually a programmer (his PhD’s in economics), I started helping out and making suggestions, and he and Canada eventually offered me the opportunity to program the whole thing!

    Since Sue Barr, Rick’s wife, was still in Pittsburgh finishing her PhD, I moved in with Rick for the duration, and eventually finished the project in late 1976. (This also included time for two nice vacations, one to drive back to ND to visit friends there, and one down the Blue Ridge Parkway to Florida <family & more friends>.)

    By the time I finished in Ottawa, I’d interviewed for and gotten a job in DC and so headed there in December, ’76. I’ve been in the DC area ever since.

    The DC Baha’is held a party in February, 1977, that included a square dance. Nahid Vahidi, a graduate student from Iran, was one of the dancers; she needed a partner, and I got drafted. (Before that, I hadn’t really known her—just “Hi; how are you?” and on to the next person. So now I knew her.)

    She called me a while later and said, “I want to buy a car. What should I get?”

    I told her, “Get a Volkswagen,” so she bought a Pinto, and it’s been like that ever since!

    She called me again the following week and said, “I’m buying a car. Would you please help me pick it up and show me how to drive it?”

    I thought “how to drive it?” and asked her, “Do you have a driver’s license?” She said, “Yes, a DC license.” I thought some more and said, “Does the car have an automatic transmission?” She said “No.”

    So I thought, “Aha! She doesn’t know how to shift gears!”
    [continues]
     
  4. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Well-Known Member

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    [continued]
    I figured, &#8220;Where&#8217;s the easiest place to drive if you don&#8217;t know how to shift?&#8221; So I had her get behind the wheel and drive one block onto I-495, the Capital Beltway.

    She&#8217;s driving along at 20 or 25 mph, and I keep saying, &#8220;You have to go faster! There&#8217;s a minimum speed here.&#8221;

    We eventually stopped for lunch, and it was over lunch that she explained to me that although she had a valid DC license, she had never been behind the wheel of a car IN HER LIFE!

    It turns out that she&#8217;d been Head Nurse back in Iran, and one of her patients was the wife of the head of the entire Motor Vehicle Administration. When she was better and getting discharged, her husband asked Nahid what he could do to thank her. She simply said &#8220;Get me a driver&#8217;s license&#8221; and thought nothing more about it. (It's fairly hard for women to get licenses there.)

    A day or two later, a policeman showed up at the hospital asking for Nahid. (All her friends were asking her, &#8220;What did you do wrong??!&#8221;; she said she had no idea.) It turned out he was there to issue her a license, which he did.

    On the strength of that license, when she was coming to the United States, she was issued an international license. On the strength of it, DC issued her a license.

    So the following weekend I took her over to Shenandoah National Park and had her drive the Skyline Drive for practice.

    We kept dating and married in April, 1978.

    We had our son, Jerry, in 1984.

    Since 1991 I&#8217;ve worked for the federal government. As it happens, I&#8217;m with your friends (the IRS), but don&#8217;t worry: I just play with computers; I&#8217;m not in Taxpayer Service.

    Believe it or not, it&#8217;s a wonderful place to work! And the neatest thing is my work schedule: I work what&#8217;s called a &#8220;4/10&#8221; schedule&#8212;four ten-hour days; and my day off alternates between Friday and Monday so that every other weekend is a four-day weekend! And this before I use any leave time (of which I get five weeks every year, and carry the max amount over every year so that every year I get another 208 hours of use-or-lose vacation!). Life is good.

    I've now been a Baha'i for over 41 years, and have lived and been active in several different Baha'i communities. Its most central teachings are what we call the "Three Onenesses":

    - the Oneness of God (Who is known by many different names in the various languages and cultures,

    - the oneness of humanity (who are all brothers and sisters), and

    - the oneness of religions (all the great religions being successive stages in a single ever-evolving faith, the Faith of God).

    For anyone intereted, I'll be most happy to tell you more about it!

    I&#8217;ve always loved music and singing! Indeed, all three years of high school I took history courses in the summer so I could have band AND chorus AND a study hall during the year.

    I&#8217;ve currently been a member of three choirs for the Baha&#8217;i Faith, all of which have done international touring. Voices of Baha, the Baha&#8217;i Gospel Chorale, and the Metropolitan Washington Baha&#8217; Chorale. Before this, I&#8217;d been to only two countries; now, after nine or ten international tours, the number is 23 or 24! I LOVE the singing (and indeed, got to sing with the Voices in Carnegie Hall a few years ago), and sing with them every chance I get!

    And until a few years back when its director retired, the IRS had a choir, too, and we had a lot of fun singing tax songs!

    I often say I work 47 weeks a year and sing five, and my goal is to work five and sing 47!

    Nahid and I are still together (lo these 35 years) and doing fine!

    Jerry now lives in Northern Virginia, where he's a management consultant (and is also very computer-literate).

    Nahid&#8217;s recently retired (she&#8217;s a cardiac nurse and university ICU nursing instructor by profession); she&#8217;s been buying several properties as investments, and I&#8217;m still working so I can pay the one remaining mortgage (but hope to retire some time soon, too).

    And that pretty well brings things up to the present.

    I hope I haven't bored you too terribly.

    Many regards, and do keep in touch!

    Bruce
     
    #4 BruceDLimber, May 22, 2013
    Last edited: May 22, 2013
  5. Pastek

    Pastek Sunni muslim

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    You don't explain why you became a Bahai
     
  6. dust1n

    dust1n Zindīq

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    Wow, that was interesting and full of stuff I never would have guessed! I hope to perhaps work for the IRS one day, since I'm going into the accounting and all. Maybe even work in financial crime one day.

    Thanks for sharing! Once I started reading I couldn't stop!
     
  7. Willamena

    Willamena Just me
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    Interesting story, Bruce, but you should probably leave your address and phone number off of a public Internet webpage. :)
     
  8. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    Advocate of letting go of theism. Buddhist with an emphasis on personal understanding.
    Thread moved to General Discussions -> Journals
     
  9. SageTree

    SageTree Spiritual Friend
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    subscribed.

    Thanks B-man!
     
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