A Brief History ofAaron D. Gifford
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A Bit of Background About Aaron
In the beginning, there was darkness. And then there was Unix. No, not the beginning of the world, but the beginning of time as measured by computers running Unix. And shortly thereafter, there was Aaron. (For the non-geeks among you, this is a joke.)
I was born of goodly parents, Darwin and Lolene, in the southwestern corner of Utah, their firstborn. They raised me with great love and caring, so I consider myself extremely blessed to have the parents I do. Not only are they excellent examples to me, but they are my friends as well. I wish everyone else had such blessings.
I am the oldest of seven children including two younger brothers, and four younger sisters.
[Editor's note: The next few paragraphs were written in the late 1990s. A few things have happened since then. We still love my youngest sister the same, but she isn't a little girl anymore.]
My youngest brother, Kendall, just left to serve an LDS mission to the New York New York City North Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was good to see him at the Salt Lake City airport dressed in his suit and tie, wearing his missionary name tag saying "Elder Kendall Gifford" with his missionary companion, Elder Chang from Iowa. He wasn't as sentimental as some of the other missionaries departing that morning -- he seemed almost anxious to board the plane and fly to New York City to serve full-time for two whole years away from home.
My youngest sister, Julianne, who is 18 years younger than I am (a child of my parents' old age, or so I tease them *impish grin*). She is the funnest thing since kite flying, ice cream cone eating, and reading a good novel. All of us older siblings enjoy spoiling her rotten, and it couldn't happen to a nicer person. She is fun to be with, and fun to talk to. Our whole family is blessed because she was willing to come be the youngest kid in the family.
As you can tell, my family is extrememly important to me. My parents and brothers and sisters are among my best friends.
My interest in things computational (computers) began in 6th or 7th grade. I recall one summer learning BASIC programming on a TRS-80 model III, then playing around with Applesoft BASIC on some Apple II computers at Hurricane Middle School. By the time I reached High School, I was hooked, reading all the computer books I could get my hands on. My paper route helped be earh enough money to buy a Commodore 64, a subscription to Compute! magazine, and more books. Using my Commodore 64 and the Apple IIe computers at Hurricane High School, I played around programming BASIC and 6502 machine language and assembly language.
I recall a visit with a family in Las Vegas who owned both a new Macintosh computer and an IBM PC back in 1984 or 1985. I was hooked by the Mac's GUI (Graphical User Interface) instantly and wanted to learn more. Unfortunately, I had no access to such amazing technology for several years yet to come.
My memory is a bit fuzzy about learning Pascal in high school. I think it was a class taught by Mr. Esplin on Apple IIe and even some new Apple II GS computers that borrowed some of the Macintosh GUI technology and layered it over the old popular Apple II technology.
After high school, I worked for a little over a year doing manual labor at a local table linen manufacturing plant. There I would unroll huge rolls of fabric on a long table until I had 150 to 250 layers of fabric stacked several inches thick. Then I would use a round-bladed saw with a special blade to slice the stacks of fabric into table-cloth-sized rectangles. That was my whole job. Quite mindless. I had to push an apparatus upon which the roll of fabric was mounted back and forth along this table, watching the fabric carefully for defects and removing sections of fabric if there was a problem, then cutting the cloth and delivering stacks of newly-cut rectangles to the sewers who then stiched the cut edges. Ug, I hated it. I don't mind that other folks sometimes enjoy such work, but I learned then and there that mindless repeatitive labor was not for me. I would turn off my brain and listen to taped music or the radio on my walkman for 8 hours a day, then go home worn out. It sapped my energy and will such that I wanted to do little more than crash at home until the vicsious cycle was repeated.
Don't think that that means I am anti-manual-labor. It is absolutely necessary, and now that my life includes mostly labor in front of a computer screen, I think that I need to do more manual labor. I need a variety, and I think most people do. A combination of manual labor which can be very relaxing and a time to ponder and think while working, and creative and mentally challenging endeavors is what I crave.
At 19 years of age, I was blessed with the marvelous opportunity to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was called by Church President Ezra Taft Benson to the Michigan Detroit Mission. My entire family journeyed the nearly 300 miles north to Provo, Utah to see me enter the Missionary Training Center on July 7th, 1989. For about three short weeks, I attended classes and trained and learned what my duties would be as a minister for Jesus Christ, sharing the message of His gospel in Michigan. It was intense, and it was very moving. There is a strong peaceful and enlightening spirit there, even the Spirit of God or the Holy Ghost.
The subsequent two years serving in the Michigan Detroit Mission were wonderful for me. Before my mission, I did not do well at regularly studying the scriptures, the Bible and the Book of Mormon, but that changed. The regular study, the whole lifestyle centered around sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ was and remains in my heart deeply gratifying. I met wonderful people there, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members of other faiths, agnostics, and a few athiests. I grew to appreciate each person's own beliefs and respect them as I shared my own beliefs and my own knowledge and testimony that Jesus Christ was and is the Son of God, and that he was slain for our sins, and that he did indeed rise from the dead and lives today.
I did not serve in Detroit city limits, except for a few days doing "trade-offs" with other missionaries within the city. The various areas in which I served were scattered all around the Detroit periphery. They including Lincoln Park and Allen Park, Ypsilanti, Plymouth, Royal Oak and Oak Park, Madison Heights, Pontiac, and Saline near Ann Arbor.