Every other month, Staff Notes Monthly spotlights a stochastically chosen staff member. This month we profile Jim Pasquotto, an administrative assistant and desktop PC administrator in MMM.
What he does at work:
Since April 1997, Jim has provided general administrative support to MMM's Cloud Systems Group. More recently, he's also become a graphics-software and PC resource for the MMM director's office and the division in general. When a minor adjustment turns into a big hassle, Jim often saves the day. "It can take a lot of time to tweak the graphics that come out of IDL [Interactive Data Language] or NCAR Graphics. They want a label or an attribute changed, and sometimes it's easier to edit those in Illustrator or Photoshop." Jim converts hand-drawn figures that were created in the years B.C. (before computers) by tracing over them in Illustrator. He also sets up and maintains databases and Web sites. "I consider myself a software 'superuser.' I just have this knack for picking up skills in whatever software package I get into."
Why having two jobs in one isn't stressful:
He's had it worse. After getting his master's in clinical psychology in 1986 at the University of Illinois at Chicago (IU), Jim carried four part-time jobs: he taught evening classes in psychology at Roosevelt University, conducted psychological testing of developmentally disabled children and their families, served as an assistant editor at the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, and worked as a secretary at the Institute for Developmental Disabilities (IDD) at IU. "It was stressful, and I found myself taking work home with me. I finally realized I enjoyed working with machines more than people."
In a sort of prequel to his NCAR life, Jim segued into systems administration during his nine years at IDD. "I slowly quit my other jobs and concentrated on working at the institute. There was nobody to take care of the PCs, so I got into that. Then I started maintaining large databases for behavioral scientists and running statistical analyses on the data. This led to my getting more interested in software and computers."
Jim believes his administrative duties help make him a better systems person: "Otherwise I wouldn't know what the scientists need. It keeps me on an even keel--it helps me in looking for stuff that scientists can really use." Plus, it keeps his job interesting and helps Jim hone his software skills: "I just love it when a scientist comes to me and asks if I can help come up with something I haven't done before--for example, a PowerPoint slide presentation with sound and movies, or a three-by-four-foot poster in Illustrator."
The epiphany that brought Jim to Boulder:
"I was walking down the street one day. It was winter, and it was dirty. In Chicago the snow's white for half a day, gray for about a day, and then it's black. I'm walking down the street and I suddenly thought, 'You know, I could live in Boulder and have a crummy job. At least I'd have the mountains to look at, and the snow would be cleaner.' He'd already been visiting Boulder each October for eight years, enjoying our gorgeous autumns, so "I knew what it was like here." Within two years of that walk in the dirty snow, Jim had moved to Boulder; six months later, he was at MMM. He adds that his current job's the best he's had.
Putting things together:
Jim was born in Japan, the son of a Japanese mother and an Italian-American father. "I love taking things from different cultures and putting them together." His family moved to California when Jim was 13. Seven years later, he headed for Chicago, where he remained until moving to Boulder late in 1997.
A man with good taste:
When he's not at the desktop, he's at the countertop. "My friends think I'm a good cook." Some have suggested he go professional, but "then I wouldn't enjoy it." His favorite dish, inspired by Julia Child's version, is cassoulet. "There's all these different meats, duck or goose fat, browned bones, beans, and onions. It takes a long time to cook, but it's a wonderful dish." Although he enjoys much about life in Boulder, including camping, "I miss all the restaurants and ethnic groceries in Chicago. Food, to me, is culture."
Jim's plans for 1/1/00:
He'll be visiting his parents, who now live in the Seattle area. "We'll ring in the millennium together." The chances of any Y2K bugs, at least in the household-appliance realm, are comfortably low. "They have no desire to have a computer. They don't even have an answering machine or a CD player. My dad still uses a typewriter, and my mom uses a pen and paper to write."
Edited by Bob Henson,
Prepared for the Web by Jacque Marshall