In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.

-- Andy Warhol

Gold rule

2006 was a great year. My life seemed as perfect as it could get. I lived in a small cottage behind a mansion in San Mateo, CA. Coming home through the gates each evening was like entering my own private botanical garden.

My career was at its height. Years earlier I had been Executive Director of an organization whose web site (which I wrote) was recognized as one of Ten Web Sites To Change the World (that's our page featured by BBC, and, yes, we changed the world!).

In 2003 the FTC invited me to Washington to speak on a topic of email security so arcane it would make computer science professors cry tears of boredom. My moment "on the record" appears from pages 247-273 of the transcript.

Only the next day did I learn that my 15 minutes of fame had occurred. I spoke on the first day of a three-day conference, and on the following day, a friend asked if I knew I had been on C-SPAN the previous evening. I replied that I had not, that I was aware the FTC was taping the proceedings, but that I was not aware C-SPAN had any interest at all.

So it had happened. My 15 minutes of fame came and went, and in the best way possible: I wasn't even aware of it at the time. My fame was not connected with a fiery explosion or a hail of bullets, a lurid sex scandal, or being called a pinhead by a screaming Bill O'Reilly. I was famous on C-SPAN2 around 3am on May 1, 2003.

By 2006, my experience and training culminated in what I thought was the coolest job in the world: I was the Knowledge Engineer at a Silicon Valley start-up. I loved what I was doing, and my bosses loved me. I was given promotions, raises, and stock options. I was respected by my peers throughout the profession.

Best of all, I was in love with the man of my dreams, and he loved me, too! We had been seeing each other for four years. We were cooperatively working on getting a PhD in public health for him, and a BS in computer science for me.

2007 was the year everything changed. The Wheel of Fortune takes you up and it takes you down. I had been on this ride before as a paralegal in New York City. Another turn on the Wheel of Fortune came on my journey through academia. My next downward spin on the Wheel of Fortune was about to begin.

Gold rule


Gold rule

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Last revised: Apr. 23, 2014.

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