About Dave Skolnick
I am terminally handy, an inveterate reader, a bit of a homebody, snow ski
sporadically, scuba dive, and sail. I love to dance. Tools are fun for me,
although I am not much of a gadget person (you figure out the difference
- I know it when I see it). Growing things bring me great joy. Somehow I
manage to be relaxed and intense at the same time, unless I am being relaxed
and intense in series. In truth I am quite serious about my work and the
quality of my contribution. After 8 years in private industry and 10 years
in government service, I left a federal agency to return to private industry
and am still making some adjustments. Most of my adjusting seems to require
extra time in the office. The payoff in industry is much more clear and
personal than in public service.
By the way, terminally handy doesn't mean I kill myself trying to fix things.
It is a term assigned to me describing my willingness to tackle any maintenance
or repair task and almost always come out on top (eventually). I like fixing
things, and like the sense of accomplishment when something works. I do end
up spread a little thin, and my self-imposed "honey-do" list can get
quite long. Besides doing things myself gives me the opportunity to
buy or rent really neat tools. You should see me on a backhoe! Not everything
gets done quickly, of course ...
I am an affectionate person currently recovering
from a serious cuddling deficit. I enjoy curling up on the couch in
front of the TV and the fireplace (not in the summer). I like walking
through the woods in my neighborhood, the National Arboretum, or the hills of
West Virginia while the rhododendrun are in bloom. Be warned: I have been known
to charge off the trail to get a better look at a wildflower in bloom.
Graduate school used to take up a lot of my time outside of work; I finished a
Masters of Project Management in June 1998, and an MBA in April 1999. After a
break of fourteen years, school has now become something of a habit.
I am contemplating an MSEE, PhD, or DSc next, at a slower pace than the last
two degrees (just three years). Four classes a year ought to be plenty. What's
the hurry? UVa has expressed interest in me joining them for a program in
engineering management in the School for Engineering and Applied Science, with
some crossover to the Darden School of Business. I'm still thinking about it.
I will never run out of things to do. Aside from project management and
gardening, there is:
- Country Music probably my most venal sin is a strong tendency to
sing in the car. Too bad I can't carry a tune in a bucket.
- Dancing love to dance. Mostly country dancing including
two-step, swing (both kinds), and line dances. Why don't I go more often?
I also like ballroom dancing, and have been known to hit the occasional
rock club even though it feels like hopping up and down in one place since
disco died a well-deserved death.
- Reading anything with words in a row. Desperation in hotel rooms
away from home has even driven me to phone books. There is a lot of stuff
in the front of a phone book. Norwegian phone books are hard to read
if you don't speak Norwegian. Science fiction, fantasy/adventure,
mystery/detective, gardening (surprise), business and management,
non-fiction espionage, sometimes a classic on top of more magazines than
I can count.
- Sailing started in college racing dinghies and then bigger
boats. Later I found out you can charter a boat just for fun and didn't
have to do all the work of racing. I don't have any particular interest
in owning a boat, chartering is cheaper, easier, and more flexible. I
still race sometimes when a friend needs crew. Favorite places are the
British Virgin Islands and Maui. I'd like to sail the French Mediterranean
- Diving also started in college looking for a boat engine we
dropped. Started again in 1994 and have been tacking dives onto business
trips since. I've been to Oahu and Maui, West Palm Beach, and the BVI. The
BVI trip was a combined sailing/diving holiday in 1996. After Christmas
1997 and over New Years I spent ten days in Belize on the Aggressor III.
Pictures will show up here eventually, but I can't say I am sold on the
live-aboard approach to diving.
- Skiing started in college when family friends taught me to ski
(their cute daughter contributed to my motivation). Skiing has been a
sporadic interest ever since. I went once or twice a year until 1989, and
a couple of times since 1993. Fun but not something I am passionate enough
about to do a lot. East Coast skiing isn't that great, and I'd rather save
longer holidays for sailing, diving, gardening, ...
- Computers another tough one to guess, right? I started with
Computers for Kids in Arlington County Public Schools the summer after
fourth grade and never got far away. XBasic, Fortran, Cobol, PL/I, 8088
Assembly, VAX Macro, C, and C++ on HP/OS, DOS, VMS, Windows, and several
flavors of Unix. I really like the rush that carries you through the night.
After a long dry period, I now have the chance to actually do some
learn Perl and Java. Excel macros for budget execution tracking just are
not the same.
- House projects started with my first place after college. A
simple paint job turned into a major rehabilitation for my condo,
including new trim, a boxed window, tile in the kitchen and bath, closet
doors, and (eventually) paint. I like doing things myself and enjoy the
sense of accomplishment from finishing something. My biggest project was
converting from heat pump to gas heat in my current home. After that I
think I can tackle about anything, especially if I can justify renting
or buying neat tools. In the plan: a conservatory window in a blank
bedroom wall (maybe September), new gas cook-top (weekend project)
and counters, a cupola and weather vane for the garage roof, and a sun
room (can you win the lottery without actually buying a ticket?). I do
most of the regular maintenance on my car and truck too.
- Investments might be self-protection as opposed to an interest.
By the time I retire (which runs late in my family ... genetic tendency?)
Social Security may not be very secure. I had best look out for myself. I
am pleased to have my debt limited to a (pretty attractive) mortgage. My
base interest is in index funds now, but starting to learn about selecting
individual equities for long-term appreciation and have made some initial
investments. We'll see.
- Introspection is a side-effect of a divorce support group and
work-sponsored management training with the Center for Creative Leadership.
Fundamentally it means paying attention to what you do and why
when interacting with others. My attention span on this is rather short,
but I am a more effective manager and nicer person to be around as a result
of improved understanding of myself.