I am not my favorite subject, but because so many people inquire as to my "credentials," it might be a good idea to save time by including this information here. I was born in 1952 in San Diego, California. My interest in archaeology was first piqued when a grade-school teacher read to my class several chapters from the book Lost Trails, Lost Cities, Colonel P.H. Fawcett's account of his expeditions (1906 to 1913) into the Amazon basin in search of an ancient lost city. The story contains all the elements a boy needs for an exciting read: high adventure, exotic locations, and abounding danger at every turn as Fawcett journeys deeper into the unknown. I was to check out the book many times until at length it disappeared from the library shelves. I had always been a fervid reader and my passion for the printed word and for writing grew as the years passed. That's Fawcett to the right, and he's remained something of a hero to me, although I now realize he was no archaeologist in the formal sense. (I was able to find a used copy of Fawcett's book, but it is again in print under the title Exploration Fawcett.)
I earned a degree in psychology, and after a number of years working various jobs, I settled on a career with the U.S. government in a pedestrian position unrelated to my degree or to my avocation. My interest in archaeology, however, never waned, and my main preoccupation settled on ancient Greece. One year while visiting Greece, I took an Aegean cruise that included a stop at Port Said, and from there a bus ride to Giza. The pyramids had always intrigued me, and I reasoned that it would be folly to be so near and not visit them. I was never really too keen on ancient Egypt. The art was annoyingly Procrustean, with no regard for imagination or elegance; Egyptian religion was a senseless jumble of contradictory theology; and I had little respect for a people who would toil so laboriously, wasting vital resources, to build such architectural bombast as the pyramids. Our tour group glimpsed the pyramids in a rush through the plateau, and we breezed through the Egyptian Museum barely looking beyond the treasures of Tutankhamun's tomb. All the while we were assailed by aggressive locals selling cheap, ugly souvenirs. But there was something impressive about the antiquities in the museum, and the sight of the pyramids imparted an awe that was quite unexpected.
After my trip to Egypt, I began reading up on the subject, and as I read more and more, I felt my attitude turning around. I found that the more I learned, the more I wanted to return to Egypt. I realized how woefully uninformed I had been when I visited the first time. On my second trip, I saw much more of the country and my appreciation grew until I had to admit I was hooked. Ancient Egypt has been my passion ever since, and I will never tire of visiting the sites there or reading books on the subject. (That's me to the left in September 2002.)
I am, in short, an autodidact with no formal training in Egyptology. I belong to several organizations, but I shan't engage in the pretense of listing them here. I have always been something of a skeptic, and I do enjoy research, so when I began to read strange and unlikely theories about ancient Egypt, I felt compelled to check the primary sources for myself. Most of the theories faded in the light of truth. When I first logged onto the Internet in 1994, I found it to be a cornucopia of information. But as the number of web sites multiplied with the popularity of computers, the plurality of Internet service providers, and the capacity for just about anyone to author a web page, misinformation threatened to prevail. Catchpenny Mysteries is a modest attempt at balance, and it is my hope that the information presented will help answer some of the more questionable theories that seem to run so rampant. Truth is every bit as fascinating as fiction, and history needn't be falsely embellished to make it interesting.
I currently live in Los Angeles, California, and I look forward to retirement at which point I plan to return to college for an education that better suits my pastime.