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Sink or Swim

Reflections in the Sun

An Autobiography in Verse by Jesse Yoder

This page contains a short summary of my life.  It started out as an autobiography in verse.  However, after I finished writing it, I realized that it would mostly make sense only to me. This is because the allusions in the rhyming verse would be undecipherable by anyone who wasn't familiar with my life.

So I decided to write annotations that explain the meaning of the rhyming verse. The rhyming verse appears in the left column, and the annotation appears to the right.

I wrote this partly because I find that writing about my life is a very integrating experience.  Somehow it takes all those isolated experiences and weaves them into a meaningful pattern.

My life has been a series of incredible experiences.  I count among my blessings that I have learned to know well a very diverse and amazing range of people. Whether it is from the world of politics, business, or academia, I have come to know and love a large number of very accomplished and hard-working people. I feel that many of these people love me back, and I count my self to be very fortunate to be so honored.

Many people may know me only from my articles or studies, or simply from having a business relationship. What I am trying to convey in this brief autobiography is that there is a person with feelings behind the mask.  I have also tried to be as honest as possible, even though things are hard to admit. All in all, I have had a wonderful life so far, and I have even greater things to look forward to.

Like to run Pre-school days
Lots of fun Playing with my cousin
Move away Move to Virginia at the age of five
No more play
Start first grade
Feelings fade
In a shell I go into a shell for all of grade school and high school. I can't be myself and feel like I'm putting on an act.
But I won't tell
Math is fun I loved math and science
Got it done
High school cheers I star in the high school senior play, playing Father Gilbreth in Cheaper by the Dozen.  I decide I want to have lots of children.
Plus some fears
Make a move Moved with my parents to Washington, DC, then to Maryland.
In a groove
Worked for Gene Worked for McCarthy for President - 1968
Nice and clean Office manager, national headquarters
Research king I get a patronage job running elevators in the US Senate.
Senate wing Also worked on Sen. McCarthy's staff as research assistant
Go to school Start at the U of MD.  I decide to major either in history or drama.
Feeling cool
I took my first philosophy course from Peter Goldstone. I immediately fall in love with philosophy.
Love a girl I meet my college girlfriend Desiree. She is an anthropology major who has a pet monkey. We have many wonderful experiences together.
What a whirl This was great while it lasted, which was throughout college.
I become the star undergraduate philosophy student. I take graduate seminars while an undergraduate.
Learn a lot I attend the Univ. of Maryland for 4 1/2 years and take 67 hours out of 120 of philosophy courses. 
Smoke some pot
I apply to ten graduate schools, and get into eight.  I am rejected by Harvard, but accepted by Rockefeller University.  I am one of two philosophy students accepted at Rockefeller, along with Jonathan Lear.
Piece of the rock I am admitted to Rockefeller University PhD program with a full fellowship
That's a lock I figure my career is set
Study mind Studied philosophy of mind with Donald Davidson and Saul Kripke.  Attended courses at Princeton. Had weekly tutorials where I read papers I wrote that week. 
Drink some wine Went to Uncle Tai's for dinner after speakers.
I study Descartes with Harry Frankfurt. I have a major disagreement with him over the solution to the problem of circularity in Descartes. I ask to borrow his French books on Descartes. I find that the pages are uncut, meaning they were never read.
I study political philosophy with Joel Feinberg, and we discuss his book Social Philosophy.
I attend Saul Kripke's lectures on Naming and Necessity at Princeton University.  Kripke is a very eccentric person, but I hit it off with him. He paces the halls at night for hours at a time. He does not have a PhD but went directly from college into teaching and research. He is a mathematical genius who made major discoveries at the age of sixteen.
I am in charge of bringing speakers into the department for a year. I meet dozens of famous names in philosophy, including Gilbert Harman, Tom Nagel, Joseph Raz, Hilary Putnam, etc. There is a group of people we refer to as the "hanger's on" who are always hanging around Rockefeller University to try to be a part of this group. The most unbearable of these was David Rosenthal.
I become friends with Alan Berger. Unfortunately, Alan does not like Jonathan Lear, who was also admitted the year I was. I like Jonathan very much, but find it difficult to be friends with both simultaneously. Alan and I have a great time making fun of Donald Davidson and mostly imitating other people. Alan went on to teach at Brandeis University. His specialty was logic.
I take set theory from Leslie Tharp. Les is a very nice and cheerful person who commutes several hours from upstate New York. He has a very large family. Sadly, he takes his own life in 1978. I also have some contact with Hao Wang and Tony Martin, who were two of the most famous logicians at the time.
I study philosophy of mind with Donald Davidson and Saul Kripke. I plan a these committee with at least those two people. I plan to write about the mind-body problem.
I have a defining experience in which all my ideas seem to come together in some kind of synthesis. I furiously write down ideas, even though I don't fully comprehend what I am writing at the time. This experience lasts for two hours. When It is over, I feel that I have created a new philosophical system.
Solve a riddle I do not yet have a solution to the mind-body problem. However, I believe that I have solved the continuum hypothesis and discovered the meaning of life, which is self-expression. (Self-expression is the meaning of life.). I discover a method of drawing distinctions that resolves some of the traditional philosophical dichotomies.
Play the fiddle
Hit the wall I am ecstatic. I present my ideas to my professors at Rockefeller. They don't buy that I have created a new philosophical system, and decide that I need to take a break from graduate school. I take a leave of absence from the university.
Take a fall I return home to Maryland, my life in pieces. I am forced to do manual labor for my father in order to survive.
Later I use the ideas developed at Rockefeller to later create a new philosophical system I call viewpoint pluralism.  I would spend the rest of my life trying to understand and articulate the ideas I arrived at while at Rockefeller University.
In June 1976, I apply for readmission to Rockefeller. My petition is denied. I find that the department is being dismantled, and everyone is leaving. However, my friend Jonathan Lear is allowed to complete his PhD. 
Catch a break I transfer to the U. of Michigan for one semester, beginning in September 1976. I have a full teaching assistantship. I like this very much, but get caught up in the 1976 presidential election. This proves to be a very unwise decision, as I missed some crucial classes. I lose my financial aid and my position at U. of Michigan.
Near a lake
Hit the wall I return home to Maryland. I am forced once again to regroup. I work for Maryland Action doing fundraising for lower utility rates. I attend the Computer Learning Center for six months where I learn computer programming.
Take a fall
Go to mass I  transfer to the Univ. of Mass. in September 1978.
Have to pass I figure I have to make it this time. I do not have financial aid the first semester, but get it after one semester. 
I rent a room in  Springfield, Mass., where I am mugged.
Do or die My stay there is full of controversy. I have a major disagreement with Fred Feldman over the interpretation of Descartes' problem of circularity. Fred and I don't hit it off at all, although he is still fairly nice to me.  Also, I don't really feel that this school or the faculty compares at all the the previous schools I attended (Rockefeller and Michigan), and perhaps this attitude shows. But I stick with it and complete my PhD course work in two years.
Truth or lie I have a disagreement with a professor I am assisting over some comments I wrote about existentialism on a student paper.
In 1980 I move to Boston to work as a technical writer for Commercial Union Insurance Cos. My life begins to improve substantially.
I meet Feroline and we live together for six years. She remains a good friend today.
I write my dissertation in three years while working fulltime. It's on the mind-body problem.
Win the war I get my PhD in 1984.
Start to soar
I start Idea Network in 1986. I want to wear jeans to work.
Teaching school I start teaching philosophy at U. of Lowell in 1986
Feeling cool
I start Idea Network in 1986.
Writing books I spend 3 1/2 years working for Siemens writing manuals.
Stealing looks Here I mainly refer to my female students
I party with my friends Steve and Barbara at my house in Reading, Massachusetts.
Belinda works for me for a year, writing newsletters, in 1990 and 1991.
I fall in love with Bobbie (a girl), who just wants to be "friends".
Birds and bees I meet my ex-wife Vicki through an ad in the Boston Phoenix
Pretty please
You're a tease She likes to play games, which is sort of OK
Go to bed No mystery here
Date and wed We marry in October 1992
Lots of bliss We are very happy for several years. See Vicki.
Loving this
We move to PA to be closer to Find/SVP (1994)
I start teaching at Lafayette College (1994)
Hit the wall Idea Network founders on a worldwide valves study. I can't deal with Lynn Christie, who I feel is on a power trip (1995). I write Andy Garvin, president of FIND, and ask to be transferred to work for David Weiss, but he ignores my requests. Lynn is being very strict about deadlines, but the worldwide valves market is too complex and large to deal with in an overview form. Eventually, FIND stops paying me for the study. I have no other source of income.
Take a fall Vicki leaves me and goes back to Boston.
I lose my job at Lafayette College and move back to Boston. (1996)
I move to Waltham and rent a room.
I start working at ARC (1996). Here I learn a whole new way of doing studies, and meet a lot of people who do this fulltime. This is a very good experience for me.
I move to Waltham. Vicki moves back in. This lasts for about eight months.
Vicki moves out.
Hit the wall I like ARC and make one good friend (DC). But I want to write longer studies and only want to write about flow. I want to start a field device subscription service, but that's not in the cards at ARC. Also, I get tired of using so much recycled text. I split with Andy, and decide to go off on my own. (1998)
Take a fall.
Find a friend My ex-girlfriend Feroline
Start to mend
I decide to start again on my own, writing only about flow. I start Flow Research in November 1998. Soon after, I link up with Ducker Research and obtain a partnership agreement after six months of discussion.
Try again
Count to ten
Catch a wave Flow Research
Spend and save
Jeans at work I am very excited to be able to wear jeans to work again - which is why I started my own business in the first place
What a perk
Riding high I feel very good about my new venture, but it is fraught with difficulties. As before, I have no capital and have to make it on my own.
Do or die
I move to Beverly, Massachusetts, and start hanging out with my friends Martha and Joe.
Write a line My first study, on temperature, is moderately successful
Feeling fine
I receive a letter from ARC threatening to sue me if I write about flow. So I write about infrared thermometers. This study is a bust. It's a good study, but someone else covers this market, and Ducker fails to do any promotion for it.
Take a trip I take a 12-day trip around the country to visit suppliers and ask them what they want me to do (2000). Bill Graber of Rosemount says he would like a study of all flow technologies, so he can compare their growth rates. He also wants a user survey to go with it.
Now I'm hip I visit Honeywell, CEESI, Southwest Research, Micro Motion, Dieterich Standard, and Raytek. Everybody likes the idea of the cross-technology flow study.
Ducker Research buys into the flow study. They agree to do the user survey.
I start to write a worldwide flow study. I think of it as an update to my 1994 Find/SVP study, which also was a flow study.
Since 1994, I have written worldwide ultrasonic, vortex, and pressure studies. So the amount of data gathered quickly becomes too large for one a single study. So I decide to split it into one on the newer types of meters, and one on the older-style meters.  I decide to call the first group the "new-technology" meters and the second group the "traditional-technology" meters. I figured they wouldn't like the term "old-technology meter" (December 2000)
Nice and tight
Get it right By March 2001, I realize that I had far too much data for even a single new-technology study. So I decide to split the study into six individual studies. Unfortunately, my deadlines don't change. This is where I put in 80 hours a week for six months to finish all this work.  It ends up being 3220 pages.
Fly a kite I am very happy when this work is done, but don't have time to celebrate. Our last study comes out on September 11, 2001
Sing a song I have a research analyst, Mike Kirsch, who has his own band. He writes a song about me called King of Flow. We put it up on our website.
Swing along
Drum or gong Mike Kirsch continues to work for me while running his own band.
Short or long
Lose a wife My divorce come through after several years of unnecessary delay by lawyers.
Get a life I feel a new freedom
Swerve the wall I figure out what I did wrong before and how to avoid hitting the wall
Avoid the fall
Find the switch I become an integrated person
Strike it rich This is in my future
Play the game
Keep the name Flow Research
Think a lot
Connect a dot
Point of view Viewpoint pluralism
That's my cue
Have a clue
Brighter hue
Seeking shades I want to write a book explaining my idea that experience has many more shades than our language recognizes.
Making trades
Finding time
Drinking lime A hoped for future vacation
Feeling great
Seldom late
Find a wife Still working on this one
What a life
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