Conceived in Germany, 1965; born in Oklahoma, 1966. Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis soon after birth.

[school picture circa 1972]

Military brat for the first six years. Moved to Stewart, a town in southern NY, around 1970. Spent two years in the Little Britain elementary school, followed by a move to Goshen, NY around '73. Loved Star Wars & Lego. Spent mall time at the toystore and video game arcade. Watched too many sitcom reruns in the afternoon, along with WABC's 4:30 Movie, while eating large amounts of dry cereal and reading. Personal computers were introduced into the school system in 7th grade, and I took to them like a duck to water.

Standard high school experiences for a math/science/SF nerd, though mercifully free from harassment. Was on the Goshen High math team for two years; went to the state meet in '83 & '84. MAA award in '84. Played some board & role-playing games such as AD&D in high school. Spent a fair amount of time discussing math & physics with Bob K. Read a lot of Scientific American & Physics Today. Checked Misner, Thorne, & Wheeler's Gravitation out of the high school library. (Why they had a copy is a good question.) Ordered technical papers & books on interlibrary loan. Read a lot of science fiction. Divided time at the mall between the bookstores, the record shop, and the video arcade. Listened to my older brother's New Wave records.

Raised Roman Catholic, but it didn't take.

Hospitalized for CF exacerbation in 1984, just prior to attending university.

First political memory: writing in "Art Buchwald" on the 1st grade mock ballot. I'm pretty sure I didn't know who he was. First real political memory: Nixon's resignation. For some reason, I remember the phrase "Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist" better than the rest of the Watergate scandal.


Moved to Albany, NY to attend the State University of NY at Albany (which later became the University at Albany). Lived on campus as an undergraduate. Met a lot of people, hung around with the computer dweeb crowd. Studied math & computer science, though not very hard. Was an unexceptional student for the most part. Projected a lot of films for the campus cinema. Flew some kites.

Was eating in a dorm cafeteria when someone said the space shuttle Challenger had exploded.

Hospitalized between junior and senior years for CF exacerbation, 1987. Later interned at the CF Foundation.

Graduated in 1990 with a B.S. in mathematics, minors in computer science & music. Spent a little time in CS grad school, but dropped out and worked temp jobs. Began letting my hair & beard grow. Started coming out, met a nice guy, spent some sweet time with him. Became a clerk for the NY state government bureaucracy, then switched departments to a much better tech job. Lived in a house with friends for a few years, then got an apartment with a friend in a cut-up Victorian.

Priscilla introduced me to Jeff's calzones. Until I left Albany, I ate a lot of them, along with his great pizza.

Answered a personal ad and struck up a friendship with an interesting guy in Tennessee. Love blossomed, and I moved down there in mid-1994.


Spent a year and a half outside Woodbury in a ridgetop cabin with no running water, wood heat, electricity from a generator, and a wonderful man. We had good times and bad, and I spent the last few months living in nearby Murfreesboro. Was unemployed for a long time, then got a job that soon imploded. A job offer came from Oregon, and I accepted it. Left behind my car.

Created a Web site, 1995.


[self-portrait, 2003-04-01]

Moved to Oregon's Willamette valley at the end of 1995. Found a studio apartment which I'm still in as of this writing. Programmed for a software company for a few years, exercised my stock options, and cashed out before the crash. (It wasn't a fortune.) Traveled a few times, mostly to San Francisco. Picked up a proofreading contract and did that for a year. Went back to occasional work for the software company as a contract technical writer.

Hospitalized twice more for lung exacerbation (2000 & 2002), once for an intestinal adhesion (1999), and once for a severe cold (2003). Took notes on effective drugs (Demerol, Lorazepam).

Wrote many more Web pages. Discovered wikis in 2002.

Realized that each time I went back to work I ended up in the hospital from exhaustion, so I applied for and went on disability in 2003. Began sitting in on courses at the local university in the same year.

Minutes of Fame

  1. Allegedly a footnote in a medical article on the transmission of Burkholderia cepacia, early 1990s. At the time my case provided the clearest example of casual transmission of B. cepacia between people with CF.

  2. Picture on front page of Albany NY Times-Union, dressed as Father Time for 1993 First Night parade.

  3. Cover of Bros 'zine, circa 1994.

  4. Inadvertently became a Calvin Klein model, 2001. (Pic published in the second issue of Maxim Fashion.)

  5. Quote and photograph used in a widely distributed AP article on CD rot, 2004; one-sentence quote in an NPR Morning Edition story about same; photo of my hand holding a damaged CD in Rolling Stone #952/953 (p. 18).

A different and more obscure biography is also available.

Last updated 28 July 2004
All contents ©2003 Mark L. Irons