nathan lyle

About Me

The quick dirt: single 47 year old male, ¾ Norwegian, bald and bearded with a fairly developed dad bod. Two divorces, each it's own long story, with three kids from the first (two boys and a girl) and one son from the second. I grew up in Ishpeming (Michigan) having moved there when I was two years old, spending most of the first two and half decades of my life within Ishpeming, Negaunee, and Marquette... while not a Yooper by birth, definitely one by indoctrination. I've got an older brother and a younger sister, and I try to talk to my mom every week.

I didn't drink until I was 22 (then made up for lost time), I didn't take tylenol or aspirin until about that age as well (I'd read a story as a kid about the bad guys using drugs to keep the hero restrained), and I have always loved Star Trek, because it's obviously better than Star Wars.

I used to have hair that went way down past my shoulders, and went from that to a bald head on a whim. My favorite place in the world to be is along the shore of Lake Superior. My favorite color is green. I'll never decide on my favorite kind of music. (Though the 80's will always hold a special place in my heart.)

My Home Town

Where we grow up is very formative to who we become. When I was a kid, Ishpeming was one of the safer places you could be — very little crime. This was before meth grew it's unfortunate roots into the area. (As a lower income region, it has not weathered some of the economic issues of the last couple of decades very well.) There were woods within walking distance, and several lakes to fish and collect critters from. I was definitely a fairly free-range kid.

You could see my house from here, if not for the trees.

The biggest danger were probably the fenced off areas left over from early mining (typically referred to generically as "the cave-in grounds"). Given how many times I hopped a fence to explore those kids of places, I find it amazing now that more of us kids didn't go missing during those years.

There wasn't much of a night life to the place, with the exception of dive bars. Like many towns in mining country, it had grown from basically bars and churches and a few housing developments... but we had a couple of fast food restaurants, along with the typical small town diners, our own movie theater, lots of small shops, more than one option for grocery shopping.

I mostly remember the proximity to the outdoors as the best thing about it. Lots of trails to explore and wooded hills to climb.

I went to Birchview Elementary, C.L. Phelps middle school, and then Ishpeming high school. My first job was at the local Burger King, and then the Little Ceasers. Deer Lake, Teal Lake, and Baby Lake (and the woods around them) were pretty much my back yard. Along with the Al Quaal park.

Education

When I was a kid they didn't have very individualized systems in place, all students were pushed through the same system. I got bored in class very early on and ended up checking out of the whole process. I graduated from high school in 1991 with a 1.4 GPA.

I ended up going to Northern Michigan University a year after graduating, though was only able to get in because I'd wanted to major in music education and the teachers from my high school they reached out to said I spent all my time writing music. I ended up changing my major, a few times, and spent 10 years getting my bachelors. That included two times dropping out and one time failing out. But I'm stubborn, and I kept finding ways to go back. I eventually got a BS in Network Computing, with a pretty low overall college GPA, which ended up being pretty worthless for me in any kind of career way... but I'm still happier to have finished what I started than had I not.

In recent years I've toyed with the idea of getting a second BS in Physics (possibly go farther) and even took classes for a few years, a class or two at a time (in order to be able to pay for it as I went.) After taking four classes at the University of Toledo, I manted to maintain a 4.0 GPA which does make me feel a little better about my earlier academic years. It's nice to have proof I actually CAN do well in class. I haven't made up my mind yet whether I will continue - the older I get, the more pragmatic I've gotten about some things. For the moment, I'm focussed financially on other things.

I like to learn though - and am always reading and listening to podcasts, and love conversations about topics that expand my understanding of things.

Interests

My main interest or hobby has always been creating things. Which things, specifically, have shifted over the years, but I love to see a finished product of my efforts. Very often it's been music, or written words (poetry or stories, etc.) Starting in my fourties, photography became a big passion of mine. I've also developed a much stronger green thumb than I used to have in my earlier years... I've always had a few house plants, but for some reason I've taken more to it lately. I've even expanded my growing efforts to the outdoors, with some landscaping and gardening. Turns out you can be creative with plants.

I've loved science fiction and have been reading it as long as I can remember. I used to "borrow" my dad's books and monthly copies of Analog (a collection of short stories). I also enjoy reading science related non-fiction, though for relaxing, nothing beats a classic space opera. Star Trek is a huge part of my development history... the original series episodes were a daily thing for me as a kid, when they were in syndication.

Beliefs & Politics

It's fair to call me an atheist — I used to be a fundamentalist Christian in my early twenties (I was raised in a Lutheran church but got more serious about it as I finished high school) but I ended up with questions that couldn't be answered and found my way back out of it by my late twenties.

Rocking the Gear Grinder Jam

During my religious days, I fronted a Christian rock band called Reality Shock. I also tended to send a lot of letters to the editor of the local paper. I had a pretty well known reputation for the religious thing at the time, for better or worse.

I don't believe we live beyond our death. I believe our purpose is what we make of it and that the most moral good comes from making the universe a better place for those around us. Increasing happiness and decreasing suffering. I believe too many people focus on some eternal reward instead of making the most of the time we have here.

Politically I'm kind of Libertarian, though I dont' fit fully within that label. I'm somewhat conservative on financial issues and pretty liberal on social issues. The older style liberalism would be a good label, had things not shifted so much in the last couple of decades. But I have an independent streak that runs through me - I believe we are responsible for our own path and success in life and am not very trusting of a centralized organized government that supposedly takes care of us.

One of my biggest concerns has become identity politics. It feels to me like things have gotten worse since I was a kid. Where once we were finally getting past a lot of the racist history of our country, it seems like people are focusing more and more on arbitrary differences like skin color. It feels like hate is growing and becoming more of a part of our day to day interaction with each other. I think the Internet has been largely responsible for this, as it works as an amplification tool for those who know how to leverage it for control over others. My experience on Twitter has been that most of the strongly vocal advocates for social justice are the ones who express the strongest hatred of a group of people. There have been many times someone took one look at my profile picture and thought they knew me, feeling just fine about calling me all kinds of vile names as a result. I've become fairly sure that I won't live to see the day where we treat each other as individuals, making judgments based on individual behavior instead of arbitrary surface details. In any case, I do my best to be what I wish we were, knowing I can only control my choices and not those of others.

What Matters Most

One big change in my life has been what I feel is important. When I was younger, I never understood how important other people were to my own identity and happiness. I've always been pretty independent. I come from a very stoic Norwegian background where closeness wasn't broadcast. In later years, I've worked to move past all that and to connect with others. My kids are the most important people to me. I can never be around them enough and they are constantly on my mind. While I was never able to build a close relationship with my dad, since he lost a fight with cancer a while back, I've been happy to have been able to do so with my mom. In my twenties, it wasn't unusual for me to go a year without speaking with my parents, but now I call her at least a few times a month. I live in the same town as my youngest son, and I get back up the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where my older kids are, as often as possible.

I don't have a lot of friends, though I know a lot of people. I often wish I'd spent more time socializing in my younger years instead of playing the lone wolf. Having moved from the area I grew up in and where I know a lot of people, and working from home, I've found that social media has been a lifeline. One of my standing goals is to go out and meet new people, but it's nice to have the fallback of connecting with folks remotely.