My name is Rick Rottman, and this is my personal blog. It’s where I write about whatever I feel like writing about when I feel like writing about it. It’s neither objective nor unbiased.
I am originally from the high desert of Southern California, Quartz Hill, to be exact. It was where Los Angeles County begins to think about transitioning to Kern County. It’s known for its heat, tumbleweeds, Joshua trees, and constant wind. I’m probably making it sound nicer than it is.
Through accidental happenstance, Western Maryland is my home now. What’s Western Maryland? Anything on the left-hand side of Baltimore. In my case, I live in Hagerstown, Maryland.
My Air Force days
I graduated from high school in 1982. Even though I was brimming with white privilege, I couldn’t find any meaningful employment. I was working at Burger King and attending Antelope Valley Community College. I knew I would not be able to transfer to a four-year college after I completed community college, so I felt like I was wasting my time.
If I was going to waste my time, why not do it in the U.S. Military?
I decided to join the United States Air Force. The way I figured, I could join the Air Force, get a job working on aircraft, and then get out after my first enlistment, and return home to the Antelope Valley brimming with experience working on aircraft, and get a job in the Antelope Valley’s vibrant, massive aerospace industry.
In the Air Force’s infinite wisdom, they made me an electronic countermeasures (ECM) technician, even though I did not know or, more importantly, an interest in electronics.
To this day, I hate electronics.
After a tech school year in Biloxi, Mississippi, I was transferred to Clark Air Base in the Phillippines. I worked the flight line on the F-4E and F-4G Wild Weasel. Although I didn’t like electronics, I loved working on aircraft.
After the Philippines, I was stationed at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. I absolutely loved Guam. It’s probably my most favorite place in the world.
When I was stationed in the Philippines, I got certified in SCUBA diving and would go diving as much as I could. Because of the distance from Clark Air Base to the ocean, that meant three-day weekends. On Guam, I could go diving every day. More accurately, I could go diving every night. I absolutely loved it.
I also loved working on the B-52. It was a much better aircraft to work on than the F-4.
After Guam, I was stationed at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, New York. It was then I began not enjoying the Air Force too much. Being stationed in the states was a lot different than overseas. Plus, I was getting older, and I think I was outgrowing the Air Force. The military is a young man’s game. At the same time, the military was shrinking. The Cold War was over, and the Air Force began closing bases. Griffiss AFB was marked for closure. The Air Force offered me $18,000 to get out, so that’s what I did. I left the Air Force in 1994.
I planned to head back to the Antelope Valley to get a job in the aerospace industry. Not only did I have close to 10 years of experience working in aircraft, but I was also able to earn a two-year Associate’s degree in avionics systems technology while I was in the Air Force.
I thought this idea was a no-brainer. My parents disagreed. They encouraged me not to leave New York until I secured a job in California.
Although I tried to find a job in Southern California, it was hard to do from New York. This was before the Internet took off. I ended up getting a job offer in Maryland. Walmart was opening a large regional photofinishing lab in Williamsport, Maryland. They wanted to hire ex-military people with electronics experience to work on and maintain the photo processing equipment. Walmart received a tax break if they hired folks who just got out of the military.
I figured I could work in Maryland for a year until I decided what I wanted to do when I grew up. I then met my wife, and I’ve lived in Maryland ever since.
I’ve now lived in Maryland longer than I’ve ever lived anywhere else. Although I’ve had a series of jobs after working at the photo lab, I’ve always lived in Maryland. We bought a house here, so I think that officially makes me a Marylander.
I still haven’t figured out what I want to be when I grow up, even though I’m 56 years old as I write this. If you have any constructive suggestions, feel free to share them with me.
You can follow me on my personal Twitter account. I promise I’ll follow you back unless you are a white supremacist or a Jimmy Buffett fan.
Want to see the dumb things I take pictures of? It sounds like you might want to follow me on Instagram.
You can also send me a friend request on Facebook to be fake friends with each other. If we are friends in real life, we can be real and fake friends.