I went to LOTS of schools. Through high school, it was all in the Birmingham school system in Birmingham, Michigan. Then Eastern Michigan University and Michigan State University. After moving to California, I received no more degrees, but went to a bunch of classes until I decided enough was enough. These are photos of my many schools and thoughts on each.

The Schools of Shin

Harlan Elementary, Birmingham, Michigan. I actually went to nursery school and then kindergarten before this, but have few memories of either. Harlan is where I started on the road to scholarship. The school was new when I started there in 1957. I got all "A"s there in first grade, a feat I would not replicate until my senior year as an undergraduate at Eastern Michigan. I got my first D when I got bogged down on a fourth grade science project and never turned anything in. Tragically the world did NOT end as a result, and it was all downhill from there.

But it wasn't all bad. I was pretty popular and, relatively speaking, good at sports. As I got to about age ten or so, I was able to walk to school. It was perhaps a little over a mile and a half or so, good fun when weather was good. I did so with my neighbor across the street, Chris Marker.

I remember that the boys would bring baseball gloves for recess softball games as soon as the snow melted in the spring. Fall too, until football took over.


I visited in the summer of 2019 and the back "playground" of the property was pretty much as I remembered it. The scruffy softball field, the area where swings and a "Jungle Jim" still stand. I still remember Mr. Stricker having us cut out the Sun and then nine planets from construction paper. The Sun was just a few inches across, and Mercury just a tiny dot. We looked in amazement as Stricker had one student hold the Sun in one corner of the playground and then positioned the other planets diagonally across it, Pluto needing to double back!  Great demo.

Alas, youth is wasted on the young. I just read Michelle Obama's autobiography. Let's just say that she used these years far better than I did.

Derby Jr. High School. Ironically, it was a very short walk from my old house at 983 Wimbleton, from which my family moved before I started first grade. It's now Derby Middle School, covering grades 6, 7 and 8, whereas in my day, it covered grades 7, 8 and 9.

This shot is of the phys. ed. part of the school, with its distinctive arch. At Derby, my academic woes continued, and my social transition was difficult. A couple of months into 9th grade it was mentioned that 9th grade, despite being in the junior high school building, was actually our freshman year of high school and our grades would be included in our college applications. Damn.

I suppose it wasn't all bad, but I just can't seem to remember the good parts.

Seaholm High School. It was Birmingham High when my brother went there, but when a second high school was built, the old school became named after a former school board president. His nephew, Terry Seaholm, loved to wear the school shirt bearing his last name. 

Seaholm was a huge place with over 2,000 students. I wound up in the bottom quartile of my class and didn't enjoy the overall experience much more than Derby.

The one saving grace here was that some time in my senior year I decided that things had to change. It was too late to salvage my academics (I found myself applying to colleges with a 2.14 GPA) but my outlook began to improve.

This is the Ypsilanti Water Tower, just off the campus of Eastern Michigan University. Amazing, simply amazing. People driving to the school see this first, a proud symbol of higher learning. Phallic symbol, that is. But it was at Eastern Michigan that I learned a couple of obscure techniques that improved my grades considerably. Doing homework and studying. Why didn't they tell me about this in high school? I was an undergrad here from September 1969 through December, 1974

When I first arrived I planned on staying two years, then transferring to Michigan State, but things were going so well at EMU that I stayed, graduating with a BS in psychology and 3.6 GPA. I went on to Bowling Green State University, starting in a PhD program before realizing that a life of academic research really wasn't for me. That lasted all of two months. The job market being utterly awful, I went back to the only thing I knew, going to college, taking business classes at my beloved EMU from January through August of 1975.

The job market didn't improve and the civil service job for which I was being considered didn't pan out, so I went to plan B, more school. As I'd planned to when I started at EMU, I finally set up my academic shop at Michigan State, but pursued an MBA which I received in December of 1978. Between 3 straight terms at EMU and 5 straight at MSU, that was two solid years of college.

It was really too much, but I wanted to be done and to start a career. I did manage to enjoy much of my stay there and met some great people, some of whom are friends to this day.

The photo is of Eppley Hall, the main business school building in which I took most of my classes.

When I bought the house I still own, a big selling point was that it was close (about two miles) to the UC Berkeley, where I anticipated taking several classes. I did, but at their extension in San Francisco. The classes I took were for the most part computer classes, taken so I could transition out of HR and into business computer systems.

I did pretty well and enjoyed the technical stuff, converting business problems into computer problems. COBOL was supposedly on the way out, but I took the two-course sequence and learned a ton about programming logic in general. I wound up never using that particular language. Too bad. As Y2K approached, COBOL programmers were pulling in $200 an hour.

This pic is of today's main building, far more upscale (and closer to where I worked!) than the building most of my classes were in; that building is apparently not used by UCB anymore.

Once I decided I really wanted to move into computers for a living, I started in the Business Information Computer Systems (BICS) program at San Francisco State. This pic is an aerial view of SFSU. I started on a master's degree, taking a leave of absence from PG&E to do it.

For the most part I liked the classes, but hit my Waterloo in an assembly language class. I simply didn't do as well as I felt I should, and I had another class at the same time the guy running the class had a special seminar to help students like me. One good thing came out of the class - it inspired a song I wrote, recorded, and eventually had played on the Dr. Demento Show, "My Brain Is Too Small."


But more and more I felt like I was trying to go back to something that wasn't there any more. I felt out of sync with college life. I saw my life savings dwindle and PG&E was pressuring me to return. They offered me a job that I took and from which I eventually retired. I simply deserted my classes. So much for education.