John Stimson's Colossal Waste of Time

New: my online photo album (Yeah, like two years ago this was new)


In May of 1994, I escaped from Harvey Mudd College with a piece of paper stating that I can work physics homework problems pretty well. This is apparently a pretty useful skill, since it got me a research assistantship at Cornell University in Dr. Noel MacDonald's MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS) group. In May of 1997, I passed my oral exam and became a Master of Homework Problems in Science.

My subsequent research involved design and testing of electromechanical bandpass filters using coupled micromechanical resonators, and exploration of nonlinear and chaotic phenomena in relation to MEMS.

I have also served as one of the MacDonald group's computer gurus (with 20+ group members and 8+ different operating systems, multiple gurus are needed). I helped set up the Linux server which handles file service and printing for the group's Windows and MacOS boxes, and have fielded numerous questions on using Windows and UNIX.

In June of 1999, I started work as a member of the Electron Beam Technology Group at National Semiconductor in Santa Clara, CA. My group was responsible for the support and development of electron beam probing capabilities at NSC. The group was ultimately absorbed into the corporate failure & competitive analysis group and I helped with evaluation, installation, and training for new analytical equipment. That ended in March 2009 with a massive workforce reduction (25% of employees worldwide), with my official termination date less that three weeks short of 10 years.

I moved to Azusa with Ellen, who is now my wife, and at the time of this revision of the web page, I am the at-home dad taking care of my daughter. It may be a while until this web page gets updated again.


I love a large variety of music, especially progressive rock (AKA art rock) and jazz. Back in my college days, I had a small group of friends who had similar tastes, and we hung out together in Armageddon Suite.

Back when I lived with a guitar wizard, I was trying to learn to play, but I had a pretty miserable guitar, which despite what some people may say, does diminish the enjoyment of the experience, even (or especially?) if you are a terrible player. More recently, I started playing trumpet again, with the Cupertino Symphonic Band, and currently with the Pomona College Band. My interest in music reproduction is such that I spent much of my free time in the Summer of 1994 researching loudspeaker design, then designing and building a set of speakers for my stereo. I have also designed and built a couple of preamplifiers for my guitars: one built into the body, and one external.

I also enjoy a large number of athletic/outdoor activities, including: racquetball, sailing, windsurfing, waterskiing, kayaking, unicycling, biking, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, frisbee (ultimate or otherwise), and climbing (artificial structures only, so far). I used to play four-square, which can be pretty vicious when you get college students playing it, but I doubt I could round up enough people to play now that I don't live in a dorm.

Recently (okay, over 10 years ago, which qualifies as "recently" on this dusty old homepage) I got hooked on autocrossing. It's like downhill slalom skiing, but with cars. And I thought downhill skiing was an expensive sport!


You might have gathered by now that I enjoy tinkering with all things technological. That, according to most definitions, makes me a nerd. You may also be wondering whether having read this far into my homepage is a sign that you may also be a nerd. You can find out by taking this test which was developed at Harvey Mudd College.

It's a well known fact that nerds (at least the ones who are still in school) have no life. However, some of them like to quantify exactly how much of a life they don't have using a life roster, a system which I believe originated at Berkeley. Others just like to display to others exactly what sort of nerd they are, using one of the many versions of the Geek Code.

Many nerds have read Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter (I am one of them), and think recursion is a pretty nifty idea. I've developed an online demonstration which was developed in conjunction with Cliff McCarthy's Webcrawler Trap (no longer active).

Of course, I read science fiction, when I can find some that doesn't appear to be complete drivel on first inspection (this can be difficult, as a direct consequence of Sturgeon's Law: 90% of everything is crap).

Finally, for those persistent enough to have made it this far, I have an archive of egghead humor from Usenet and other sources.

Political commentary

People really ought to think more about the long term consequences of political actions, rather than just looking at it as a sports competition where they want their team to win.

Technological commentary

The budget computer I bought in 1999 ran more than 10 times as fast as the high-end system I bought in 1994. Of course, Windows had bloated to compensate. And neither of those computers is still with me in 2011.

If you're looking for other interesting things on the Web, you're welcome to peruse my pile of moldy old bookmarks from graduate school (some of them might even lead to a live web page), but I have a much better suggestion:

Turn off the computer. Go outside. See the sun.

John Stimson / Art Rock Cafe, New Armageddon /