Sunday, July 05, 2009

Wonker Reveals Secret Identity

It's Independence Day weekend. What better time for Wonker to reveal at last his secret identity? In reality, I am and have been the freelance/contract writer/journalist known, to Washingtonians at least, as T L Ponick--Terry to my friends.

When Luther and I started this blog, we both felt it critically important to keep our names secret--not out of cowardice but out of common sense. In my case, until recently, I'd been working as a government contractor. Simple discretion dictated that I not inadvertently cause harm to my Federal customers. Luther was (and is) similarly constrained but for completely different reasons.

Since I'm no longer contracting to the Feds, however, there's no longer a reason to keep my own identity secret--which is great, since the blogosphere these days seems to trust real names more than pen names.

My background? Although I have a Ph.D. in American Lit, I opted out of a professorial career years ago and navigated into the private sector rather than risk a decade in the wilderness as a gypsy scholar in search of virtually nonexistent tenure track positions. (A scandal that persists to this day for thousands of young scholars.)

That fateful choice proved interesting indeed--and increasingly lucrative--leading me to multiple career tracks. These included stints as an insurance agent, a stockbroker, a technical writer (hardware and software); and, in a late-inning surprise, two separate gigs as a contractor, writing and editing science policy documentation for a White House sub-agency under two administrations. So when I write about this kind of stuff, I actually do know what I'm talking about.

But wait, there's more. As a sideline, I used to review community theater for smaller newspapers which actually led to a better part-time job at the Washington Times, America's Newspaper for those on the right-side of the aisle. After the departure of their music critic for the San Francisco Chronicle in 1994, I auditioned for his slot, and actually got the job, sort of. In what's now the wave of the future for an increasing number of newspapers, the paper picked me up part-time, not as a staffer.

I'm still there today, writing primarily on classical music in the DC Metro area with occasional pieces on jazz, popular culture, politics and music, and theater when the theater critic is out of town. Recently, the recession has caused some shrinkage in my coverage and column inches of course--just like every other newspaper--almost all of which, I suspect, will wind up exclusively on the Web in the fairly near future.

By now, I've penned literally thousands of words for the Times. If you're curious or don't believe me, just Google the name I gave you above and you'll find plenty of my stuff still linked online.

As for my dayjob luck? That ran out last summer as the economy tanked. But I've been able to re-deploy my investing acumen to keep things together while I look for something else. Or maybe I'll just go into semi-retirement. I've occasionally chronicled my personal economic fun here in this blog, just so you know that your own situation is not hopeless--just as long as the socialists who currently control the government don't screw things up worse than they already have. A big "if," eh?

Anyhow, Happy Independence Day! I'm sure enjoying mine. But on Monday, back to the battlements!

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