Don's Life List

Ron wrote a list of his life's accomplishments about 2001, and after seeing his, it inspired me to create my own. I update it about every year, or after some significant milestone. Maybe people will have a chance to read it at my funeral, to show how full and fortunate my life has been.

Updated March 2019

The things I've done over the years helped to keep me busy, for learning, and simply for fun.

I married a beautiful, intelligent, challenging woman, and celebrated over 39 years of happy marriage.

I've attended or participated in baptisms, confirmations, graduations, ordinations, weddings, and funerals.

I have listened to President Kennedy give a speech, Jean-Pierre Rampal play the flute, Carl Sagan give a lecture, and Red Skelton tell jokes. I’ve worked with a space shuttle astronaut.

I’ve gambled in Las Vegas and seen some of their musical shows.

I listened to all six Brandenburg Concertos in one concert, and all of the Four Seasons in another. I’ve hired a chamber music quartet to celebrate my 50th birthday.

I’ve tried to get on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and "Jeopardy" (twice).

I've hiked up Pikes Peak, crawled into the depths of the Great Pyramid, hiked down the Grand Canyon, walked under the Thames River, entered the catacombs of Paris and Rome, hiked down the cliff trail to Black‘s Beach, up the path to the Acropolis, strolled atop the ancient city walls of Jerusalem, walked down the path of St. Francis in Assisi, and stood at the site where an asteroid landed that killed all the dinosaurs. 

I’ve been up the Eiffel Tower, St. Mark’s Tower, the Sears Tower, the Space Needle, the Empire State Building, the cathedral of Cologne, and the 6th floor school book depository in Dallas.  I’ve climbed up the Stephansdom tower in Vienna, the Statue of Liberty, and the Harbor Bridge in Sydney. I walked around Devil’s Tower and toured eight caves. I’ve seen glaciers approaching a bay in Alaska.

I've collected mineral specimens from rock shops and mineral dealers around the world.

I’ve marveled at 13th century stained glass windows, and listened to concerts in gothic cathedrals. I’ve witnessed ceremonies at ancient Shinto shrines in Tokyo. I've sat in a balcony in Vienna and listened to the Vienna Philharmonic. I've listened to Mozart being played while eating dinner in a restaurant over 1200 years old.  I’ve been to performances in the Sydney Opera House.  I attended Paul McCartney’s concert in a baseball stadium and Carole King’s concert in Central Park.  I’ve listened to Big Tex at the Texas State Fair.  I’ve attended concerts by Elton John and Arlo Guthrie.

I've snorkeled in Hawaii, snowshoed in the Rockies, and bartered in Africa. I’ve been trapped in thunderstorms above timberline and in Illinois farms. I’ve walked from my home to the Pacific Ocean, and back.

I’ve walked along the crowded Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem and sat alone at the Bethlehem manger. I’ve boated across the Sea of Galilee, touched the waters of the Jordan River, and floated in the Dead Sea. I’ve prayed at the Wailing Wall and in the Garden of Gethsemane. I’ve prayed at the same German churches used by my ancestors. I've been on two church councils and was a charter member of a new congregation.

I’ve seen Galileo’s finger, Newton’s telescope, Fraunhofer’s prisms, Volta's battery, Herschel's mirrors, Huygens’s lens, and the first laser. I've seen relics of the true cross and the early saints.

I’ve toured the homes of Copernicus, Galileo, and Johannes Kepler, and gone inside Tycho Brahe’s observatory.

I’ve visited 45 of the 50 states and five of the seven continents. I’ve driven a car in six countries.

I’ve owned a station wagon and several hatchbacks and sedans. One was designed in Japan, one in Germany. The car I was driving once was totaled when hit by another car.

I've learned to communicate in German, Italian, and Polish, and write computer programs in three languages. I’ve learned algebra, trigonometry, calculus, and geometry.

I’ve never missed an appointment, a train, or a plane.

I’ve received twenty-two patents and discovered a new principle in optical testing. I’ve written a hundred papers and proposals, and been published in scientific journals and popular magazines. I’ve given lectures across the US and Europe.

I started a business that sold home-manufactured items around the world and was featured in advertisements and catalogs.

I’ve attended lectures by seven Nobel Prize winners.

I've seen the Hope Diamond, the Wright Brother's airplane, rocks from the Moon, giant pandas, the Sistine Chapel, and the Mona Lisa. I’ve touched the monoliths at Stonehenge, walked up the Roman Colosseum, and visited the remnants of the Berlin Wall. I’ve walked around the ruins of Pompeii and stood on the Prime Meridian. I walked on Mt. Fuji. I’ve stood in the shadow of the Parthenon, and walked where St. Paul preached in Ephesus. I've visited the homes of Beethoven and Mozart. I've visited the graves of Napoleon in Paris, Galileo in Florence, Chopin in Warsaw, St. Francis in Assisi, and Brahe in Prague. I've toured the inside of Alcatraz and the Alamo.

I've watched a session of Congress during the Watergate hearings.

I graduated at the top of my physics class in college. I received a doctorate from one of the top universities in the world in a subject that most people can’t stand. I’ve been challenged by a peer group of senior physicists- and won.

I've judged state and local science fairs. I’ve won science fairs, spelling bees, photography contests, Bingo games, and door prizes.

I’ve owned a fixer-upper home and designed my dream house. I've survived two wildfires that burned thousands of nearby homes.

I've seen the moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, meteor showers, and comets. I’ve seen a comet hit another planet, and took its picture. I’ve marveled at the spectacle of a total eclipse of the sun. I’ve seen a comet in broad daylight and watched Venus transit the sun, both with my naked eye.

I've worked with high voltages, been in the underground tunnels in the Nevada nuclear test site, and worked with HF, CO2, Nd:YAG, diode, HeNe, Argon, Krypton, N2, dye, and HeCd lasers.

I've read Tolkein’s, Adam’s, and Asimov’s trilogies, Shakespeare's plays, and the Bible (twice).

I've ridden on monorails, worked in a M1 Abrahms tank, rode a toboggan, enjoyed cruise ships, floated in a Venetian gondola, flown in a corporate jet, canoed in Indiana, and rode the subways in Tokyo, London, Paris, Berlin, Athens, Vienna, Sydney, and Rome. I’ve experienced weightlessness for 180 seconds on a Zero-G jet.

I've researched the legacy of Nikola Tesla, the solid-state character of exotic metals, and laser properties of different gases. I’ve designed telescopes for NASA and the Border Patrol, optics for the Dept. of Energy, lasers for the Army, and mirrors for the Air Force. I’ve assembled fiber optics components to sub-micron accuracy. I’ve designed telescopes that can see stars in the daytime and measured the vertical deflection of gravity to one part in a million.

I've watched live TV coverage of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, JFK's burial, Nixon's resignation, Apollo 8 astronauts read from Genesis as they circled the moon, the Berlin Wall being torn down, and a police chase a Ford Bronco.

I've operated tire-recapping machines, lathes, oscilloscopes, microscopes, and telescopes. I've owned or used a circular saw, a hacksaw, a hand saw, a jig saw, a scroll saw, a tile saw, a coping saw, a table saw, a band saw, a, radial arm saw, a wire saw, and a cutoff saw. I've owned or used a hand drill, a drill press, a lathe, a router, a Dremel tool, a milling machine, a hand auger, and a brace-and-bit.

I’ve seen the Cubs play baseball in Chicago, the Dodgers in Los Angeles, the Padres in San Diego, the Rockies in Denver, and the Broncos play the Chargers in San Diego.

I’ve attended Independence Day celebrations in Maryland, Illinois, Colorado, and California. I’ve celebrated Oktoberfest in Munich and Greek Independence in Athens.

I've replaced brakes, alternators, spark plugs, and starters. I’ve used a coat hanger to hold up a muffler that fell off on a country road and another to open a locked door.

I’ve baby-sat kids who now have their own kids. I’ve kept in touch with friends I’ve known since my first year of college, and still remember grade school friends. I’ve organized a reunion for my 8th grade classmates - 38 years after seeing most of them.

I've played tag, football, basketball, tennis, Ping-Pong, softball, volleyball, badminton, Frisbee, horseshoes, racquetball, handball, bowling, golf, gymnastics, and wrestled. I've gone cross-country skiing, hiking, body surfing, roller-skating, ice skating, canoeing, horseback riding, and snorkeling. All that and never a broken bone or a required a stitch.

I’ve had an appendectomy, a root canal, and a herniated disk. I finally see the need to wear bifocal glasses. I've had one lens replaced and one retina repaired. I’ve had one knee replaced.

I can do-si-do, allemande left, and promenade.

I've eaten escargot and drank champagne in France, eaten waffles and chocolate in Belgium, had a Heineken in Amsterdam, drunk ale and ate fish and chips in England, eaten enchiladas in Mexico, drunk red wine with pasta in Italy, drunk beer with sausages and apple strudel in Germany, eaten pork in Poland, had Ouzo and ate lamb in Greece, and broiled fish at the Sea of Galilee. I’ve eaten beef in Chicago, seafood in Maryland, and barbeque in Texas. I’ve eaten at McDonalds in seventeen countries.

I measured star deflections during a solar eclipse in 2017, repeating the difficult 1919 experiment that made Einstein famous.  I did it with better precision than any optical telescope has ever achieved.

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