They say fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly, but what they don?t tell you is that thermodynamicists gotta travel. In fact, travel is so fundamental to the life of the engineer or scientist, that most of them no more realize that simple fact, than fish realize what water is. One who did was the greatest Thermodynamicist of all, Ludwig Boltzman. As so often happens, seeing a greater perspective led him to write - in his case the essay "Travels of a Thermodynamicist in California" but also to his profound depression, which he successfully, and appropriately, resolved by hanging himself from a hotel room chandelier. I thank the dearth of chandeliers in today?s La Quinta and Econolodge hotels for my having thus far escaped emulating even that element of Boltzman?s greatness, and thus providing the time for writing this book. Such is the importance of travel ? I owe my life to budget hotels.
How did I decide to compete swimming breastroke, pick up the Cello, pursue long distance solo cycling and do a PhD in Thermodynamics? The common denominator is the search for a pursuit so archaic, so unappealing to the opposite sex (or even my own), so widely ignored, that even I, with minimal effort, could, if not dominate, at least get to the first wrung on a competitive sports, music or career ladder. That strategy propelled me to the #1 (and not coincidentally the only) position worldwide in authoring books on microspacecraft.
A quick scan of Amazon or your local bookstore tells you why I will never write a book on starting a company, or pioneering a new field in Engineering. The shelves are full of well written books I couldn?t hope to outshine. But a book on the experiences and the lessons learned from a career of mostly pointless business, recreational and competitive travel ? there?s a niche even Rick Fleeter can own for a long time. And, dear potential reader, therein might lie a similar opportunity for you ? to be unique in having actually purchased and read that book. For $59, can you bypass the opportunity to be the first on your block, and maybe on the planet? I hope not.