About Me — Jack Herlocker
Husband & retiree. Former software developer, technical writer, & IT geek. Occasionally do weird & goofy things.
I grew up in an upper-middle-class slash upper-class northern suburb of Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s. I was odd as a kid. However, I was with the same group of kids from kindergarten through eighth grade, so I avoided the mess that middle school can be for many odd kids. I wasn’t weird, I was just Jack, as far as my elementary school classmates were concerned. Then high school came along, and a huge school full of strangers, and suddenly I was weird, and wrong, in so many of my choices and the way I talked about things and the way I dressed and almost anything that didn’t deal with academics. I was happy to move on from high school with only “some” emotional scarring.
I graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1980. From there I attended Navy Nuclear Power School, then served in engineering on a nuclear submarine out of Groton, CT, before being medically discharged from subs following incidents as a result of injuries¹ in a civilian plane crash. I got to stay in the Navy by demonstrating some skills with computers, specifically “microcomputers” (as PCs were known then), which were still new and strange.
As an IT guy I served in Arlington, VA and Seoul, South Korea; I was an instructor at Officer Candidate School and the Training Department resource (finance) officer in Newport, RI. Along the way I married a nice fellow lieutenant. In 1990 I got passed over for promotion, was released from service, and went to live with my wife in California. We got divorced shortly thereafter,² however I found a job in Silicon Valley with an R&D group (Electric Power Research Institute); alas, I found I hated California and within a couple years moved to Pennsylvania³ for a job with Sprint. After another two years I left Sprint before local layoffs hit to work as a tech writer/programmer for a local company that did technical contracting projects. That job lasted a good four years before the company got bought out, so I worked as an IT manager for an international company (Voith), where I met Deb, my current (and final!) wife of 21 years and counting. After almost a decade my job was eliminated in a reorganization, but I was lucky (at the advanced age of 51!) to find work at a small insurance company as a programmer/database administrator/tech support person; even better, it was near to where Deb had switched (Millersville University, Office of the President), so we got to commute into work again. That was good for eleven years before I retired in December 2019 — just in time for the pandemic! Deb retired the month after. I’d love to say it was great planning, but nope, just great luck.
I first became aware of Medium back in 2015 when I found it was a place that let anyone (more or less) post things. My first posting: September 2015, with recycled stuff from my rebuilt genealogical website. I had previously made a faint attempt at a blog; nobody read it, except family, but even then only when I sent them a link. I was moving the genealogical data to a new website, but I didn’t want to lose the blog posts (all three!), so hey, Medium, what the heck, y’know? I occasionally posted new stuff, but not with any particular attempt at a pattern.
And then I started actually reading stuff on Medium. It made me realize that there was interesting material, from interesting people. So… not just a place to dump junk?
I started leaving responses to posts. Just quick comments, at first. But then I started getting emotionally involved with the stories people posted and the unfiltered way they came across, and I started putting some of my emotions into the responses. There was a liberating feeling about it.
Conversations with My Wife
In December 2015, Deb and I had a conversation after a news snippet that came on the radio. I captured that conversation in text and posted it on Medium. The conversational format has evolved over the years (hint for those who want to create a series: come up with a format BEFORE you start posting [you’d think a tech writer would know this!]) and other people have similar things, but it’s still my main shtick because my wonderful wife keeps giving me material. People say they enjoy reading these because it makes them laugh, but I don’t really see the conversations as “humor”; it’s just life, is all, and sometimes life is funny.
Conversations with My Wife (collection)
The collected conversations with my wife, in case you liked some and want to read more.
I Like Being Married (January 2016)
For a time I was in a hard patch, when Mom (Deb’s mom) was dying from cancer at home, and Deb was living there to take care of her. I was spending a lot of time on Medium, reading and responding and posting. I started posting more things from my heart.
And the oddest thing happened. People noticed. I got asked if I wanted to have my article published in a Medium publication. (A… what? Um, sure, whatever.) I got interesting feedback. People could relate. Or wish they would also find that One Person (I was 41 when I met Deb, with a divorce and a failed relationship in between — hang in there!).
And other stuff
On the fiction side, I wrote a set of stories mostly set in a suburban high school north of Chicago in the late 1970s. Not at all biographical.⁴
Nerd Romance — The Collection
So you can start at the beginning, go to the end, and stop. Eventually.
I finished the stories in March 2020. Except for another one I thought of. Okay, then another one. Basically a total of twenty-eight so far, as of the end of April 2021. No promises one way or the other on more.
I occasionally indulge in poetry, science fiction, and observations on things I’ve learned over the years. My collection, in no particular order:
I am on the tech team and webmaster at our church — I’m an agnostic, but (1) Deb isn’t, and (b) the church does good work in the community; plus it’s United Church of Christ, who is fairly laid back in their orthodoxy. I occasionally do odd tech stuff for friends.
Deb and I planned to go traveling in retirement (a big reason for retiring sooner, the other one being my failing brain that was making it hard to be a good programmer) but obviously that has gotten postponed. Our big 20th Anniversary Alaska Trip in May 2020 now looks to be our big 22nd Anniversary Trip in May 2022. Fingers crossed!
Otherwise, I like being Deb’s husband. She’s awesome.
¹Broken ribs, broken nose, broken wrist, broken foot. Oh, and a traumatic brain injury that the Navy thought was okay but wasn’t, actually, so much. Yup, I’m brain damaged. 😁 I managed to compensate for quite a few years, but lately it’s been getting harder to function consistently. More on that here:
²As I like to tell people, we were too much alike: I was in the Navy, Linda was in the Navy; I’m a nerd, she’s a nerd; I like sleeping with women, she likes sleeping with women… sometimes a good marriage just needs some differences, y’know? 😁 We’re still on good terms; Deb & I were invited to her wedding last year and got to meet her wife, who’s adorable.
³I picked the Pennsylvania job because (when starting from California) it’s on the way to New England, which is where I wanted to end up in civilian life when I took the Navy assignment to Rhode Island. Except my buddy Linda proposed to me while I was stopped off to see her on my way from Korea, so I ended up as a civilian in California instead. Strictly speaking, I could still end up in New England, but I’ve lived in south central Pennsylvania for almost thirty years now — longer than I’ve lived in any one area in my life — so the odds are pretty good that yes, I’m sticking with the Keystone State. Plus Deb likes it here.
⁴Small bits here and there. More how I would have liked high school to go, actually.