During the summer of 1984, I varied my routine by working for the National Park Service in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. when my stint was finished, I moved to Seattle, where I planned on studying aviation.
I had already earned my private license in Bellingham, Washington, and I thought I would round out my work in Alaska by qualifying as a bush pilot.
The high point of that experience was a cross-country solo flight from Seattle to San Diego, then to Tucson, Arizona and back to Seattle. I had several close calls, beginning with getting stuck in thick fog in Portland, Oregon. Confused and a little scared, I finally pulled back on the steering wheel and began climbing. Fortunately, there was nothing more than low level fog. Once above it, I easily followed the snow-capped Cascades south into California.
I had more adventures with mountains and desert windstorms in southern California and Arizona. On the way home, I flew out over the sea to avoid a vast forest fire burning in California. But I had a strong tail wind and got home amazingly fast.
I was becoming more confused about my career goals. In the meantime, aviation was simply expensive and
time-consuming to pursue simply to pad my resumé. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to spend more time around airplanes, anyway; too loud — and dangerous.
But it wasn’t just flying that was bothering me. I wasn’t completely satisfied with my career in wildlife biology. I had been through the Navy and college, and I still didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with myself. more than anything, I knew I wanted to be self-employed. So I began writing.
About the same time I began volunteering at the Woodland Park Zoological Park, hoping to eventually get a job there. I didn’t think zoo keeping could be nearly as exciting or satisfying as wildlife biology, but both have pros and cons.
Working in a zoo allows close contact with animals one might never even glimpse in the wild. I also liked the idea of meeting and working with other people who shared my passion for animals. Finally, zoo keeping offered more stability than wildlife biology.
I was awarded a scholarship to the famous “Jersey Zoo” (on the island of Jersey, in the English Channel) founded by the late British naturalist and author Gerald Durrell. Since zoo keepers traditionally had no college or experience as wildlife biologists, I thought I could easily get a position at the Woodland Park zoo.
But I was wrong. The Woodland Park Zoo is the San Diegon Zoo’s polar opposite. The latter has mediocre animal enclosures but boasts dynamic education and research programs. In contrast, the Woodland Park Zoo is one of the finest zoological parks in the world, on the outside. But it was really quite stale behind the scenes. And that was before it was privatized.
The Education Wilderness
My money didn’t last long. One of my housemates, who was also an unemployed college grad (and a Navy buddy), got a job as a substitute with the Seattle School District. He talked me into doing the same.
I was amazed to discover how much I enjoyed working with children. At the same time, many teachers complemented me for my natural rapport with children and for my teaching abilities. More and more teachers began to request my services.
I wasn’t certain if I wanted to make education my career, but it was certainly a wonderful part-time job. I had evenings, weekends and frequent school holidays to work on my projects and was even able to continue working in Alaska during summers.
But there was a dark side. At the time, I was politically naive. It would take me more than a decade to learn that Seattle is a frighteningly corrupt city, and its school district is one of its dirtiest secrets.
The Seattle Mafia
After ten years of abuse, I finally decided to figure out what made the Seattle School District so dysfunctional and mean-spirited. Slowly, the pieces began coming together, as I learned more about local, state and national government, the media and other institutions that were being taken over by corporations. I learned that Bill Gates’ philanthropy is really just advertising and public relations under a different name. In fact, Seattle was going downhill under Bill Gates’ largesse.
I also learned a lot about psychology, as I tried to figure out how teachers and parents could be so clueless.
Eventually, I ran for public office — six times. By my third bid for office, George W. Bush was President, and it was clear that the entire nation was gripped by the corporate corruption that had ensnared Seattle since at least the 1960s.
I was particularly struck by the Republicans’ war against public education and science and their general disdain for intelligence and free speech. Then I came to understand that the Democrats who control King County (Seattle) are just as corrupt.
Though I got layed off along with many other teachers in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I remain a teacher at heart. Through my websites, I try to teach people the independent thinking skills so many U.S. citizens lack.
People sometimes ask me what Geobopological means. When I attended college in Bellingham, I had a friend who played bass in a wonderful jazz band called the Geobopological Survey Team. When I began searching for a business name to represent my publishing and inventing endeavors, it didn’t take me long to settle on Geobopological, which sounds both scientific and whimsical. I didn’t think the band members would object, as the band no longer exists.
I launched my first website, www.geobop.com, about 1994. It remained in a somewhat experimental state for several years, as it included material that’s now scattered across many websites, ranging from GeoZoo to some of the most provocative adult political sites on the Internet. It was especially difficult learning how to write about politics.
One of my first publishing projects was a self-published book based on the funny things tourists say in America’s national parks and monuments. For the front cover, I created a cartoon character similar to the Forest Service’s Smokey Bear but not so uptight (and more appreciative of forest fires, which are a part of Nature). GeoBear, as I dubbed him, also has a streak of West Dakota in him.
It wasn’t long before I began to politicize GeoBear. I depicted him lighting the darkness with a torch, symbolizing the power of truth and knowledge — and, of course, resembling the Statue of Liberty. As a champion of education, GeoBear says, “Only YOU Prevent Education!” a challenge to the apathetic teachers and parents who have sold so many children out.
I even self-published a second book — Teacher With an Attitude. A tell-all book about the Seattle School District, it was a total flop, partly because no one in Seattle cares. At the same time, my websites fell apart. I simply had too many websites to develop and was overwhelmed learning programing and web design. I also had to deal with hackers, a roller coaster economy (e.g. the bursting of the dot.com bubble) and politics. one webhost even dumped one of my websites, falsely claiming it violated the patriot act!
I reached the lowest point of my life even before I got laid off at the end of the 2001-2002 school year. I was down but not out.