Raymond Lee Swartz
Flyboy, Physicist, Tree...
an Unauthorized Biography
Reprinted from V4N1, July 1990
Raymond Lee Swartz was born the son of a poor black sharecropper, on the outskirts of Vatican City. Well, that may not be entirely true. I first met the Radinator during the 1984 school year. We both were taking first year German and third term Physics at Michigan Technological University. The suave and debonare Ray that we know today wore a lot of courdoroy back then. His favorite color was rust. Ray was rather quiet and reserved and liked to talk about his "hacker" friends.
That fall, Ray was a junior and took Dr. Bob's Theoretical Mechanics class with a bunch of other misbegotten physics weenies. We hated the continual drugery of the class and so I inducted them all into PPSA, little did they know that this simple task would change their entire lives. During the next year we learned more about this Swartz-child. In 1985 Ray moved into the Polkinghorne Palace. That year we learned a great deal more about this curious character, we learned that he liked to wear a fuzzy green robe around the house, this trait earned him the name Tree, for when he wore his green robe and rust colored corduroy he looked quite similar to a sequoia.
Ray had a similar relation with birds as a sequoia, he didn't like them pecking too early in the morning. When he would wake up to a woodpecker a-pecking, he would flay open his bedroom window, hang out in full natural wooded splendor and wack his pecker hole with his leather belt. Needless to say it would scare away the bird, but it probably scared the hell out of our 80 year old neighbors too!
Ray also didn't drink when I first met him. That changed. A couple of years ago, Ray came to visit me at Michigan State and won several Long Island Iced Tea contetests with Raman. Ray didn't like to be pointed at. He only know one dance move, up and down. He idolized Olivia Newton-John, disco queen. He graduated in 1986 and enrolled in graduate studies at the University of Illinois. Ray now likes to fly gliders, he trys to ski, he doesn't wear much corduroy anymore... and he has a girlfriend.
Official Biography 9/6/95
Ray was born in Michigan near Detroit (where the weak are killed and eaten) and somehow survived through school without ever gazing upon a yak. High school was followed by a break of two years during which he considered his several offers for college (actually, we have it on good authority that he just never got around to applying), whereupon he decided to attend Michigan Tech. Growing bored after his first term, he decided to overload on classes and became a regular in the scheduling office trying to explain to the people there how he could take three classes for the same time slot and pass them all. After he received his grades the first year, they stopped asking and gave him any classes he asked for.
Ray joined PPSA in spring of 1984 after gettng to know several of the other physics students in his classes - and attending the "Mandeville Retirement Party" after finals were over. While the wandering celebrants never did find Professor Mandeville, Ray found several people who had seen his behavior while imbibing, and under threat of blackmail he kept in contact with them.
Going on to grad school at The University of Illinois, Ray learned to fly and spent many weekends at the airport. In the meantime, he got his Ph.D. in physics by spending more years than he cares to remember at Fermilab. While Illinois is not heaven, it was flat, which helped when Ray was landing the aircraft he flew. He has landed more than once in a cornfield - and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Now starting a new job with the Image Analysis and Systems group at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, Ray is getting used to the area and the culture, since he has never had the opportunity to "do lunch" before. He is feverently resisting the urge to get a cell-phone, and thinks the desire is linked to a local virus carried by rodent droppings, and transmitted by lawyers. He has just rented an apartment, and in a few months will be joined by his fiancee (The Blond) and a cat *cringe*. Also, he has never been caller number nine, and has thus never won many valuable prizes.