I was born in Little Rock, Arkansas as the first of three brothers. Except for me, my parents and brothers all remain in central Arkansas. I moved to extreme northern Iowa in August, 2009 to learn wind turbine technology, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Iowa Lakes Community College in May, 2011. The administration, instructors and staff at Iowa Lakes Community College were, and continue to be outstanding. I've made many new acquaintances and friends who've outlasted all those classes! I was on the Dean's List throughout my student experience and received three scholarships. I have several international students as friends, and after my first year living alone in a nice old house near downtown Estherville, I had a roommate for over a year from Thailand. Ironically, he graduated in 2012 and joined the same company, moving back as my roommate in June, in Guymon. We worked on separate teams, yet performed the same general work. A classmate of his who is a mutual friend became my roommate during Spring, 2013 then moved on. 2014 brought me a third roommate, a fellow graduate from Iowa Lakes working in construction of GE Turbines. Even though I'm no longer in the Wind Industry, I keep up with trends and people as I can. There's still much to be done in this field, I trained and worked in it, so I may as well spend time watching what happens.
Before I was a student, I had many years of both radio and television broadcasting under my belt. My background was that of an On-Air host and later in TV audio, then as Master Control where I did very well. Not all my past employers worked out for me. A few did, but their pay was too low to make it worthwhile. A few were just too much trouble that it was a blessing to have been fired. Of course I'm not giving you any names as HR representatives who scan here would exclude me from future consideration - besides, I have proudly "failed forward" from one previous employer and had successfully continued my career elsewhere in the same market in a similar role before settling on this career change. Failing forward basically means to ignore or no longer dwell on your failure, other than realizing the mistakes you made, not allowing them to anger you, and simply be aware not to repeat them again with your new job as applicable. Broadcasting has an inside political structure, so not everyone is a good fit for the existing team anyhow. Also, it's such a waste of time to reflect what you can't go back in time and change, other than learning what you can from the experience. I made some great decisions during that trying time. I may tell you more about them in the future if these developments continue to blossom.
My hobbies are numerous. I was small and weak as a young person and never really cared about sports, except track. Although I was a prime candidate to become a computer geek, I didn't really "click" there in 1979 when the TRS80 made its central Arkansas debut, yet I was among the first there who gave it a try. I sensed computers would be HUGE in my future, so I learned typing in business class while attending Mills High - that coming in very handy later. Because I enjoyed analog electronics and radio in particular, I became a licensed ham (KA5FJZ) in June of that year. I was recognized during my junior year at Mills in Little Rock as being the first licensed student ham operator while attending. My history teacher, Johnny Farmer (K5TGY) was among the original teachers at Mills.
Strangely enough, the rodeo bug bit me on September 11, 1981 (during my senior year) but I didn't act on it until early November, 1985 when I got aboard my first bareback bronc after having asked numerous questions at some rodeos I went to. As a kid, I never really cared about western things, but I somehow knew my life would eventually change this direction. I knew I wanted to try this event badly enough that I had already bought the equipment. I'd learn what pain and hospitals were about, and the aggravation of dealing with less-than-patient doctor's office assistants. After numerous bumps, bruises, and a few broken bones later (maybe 75-80 head of stock), I finally hung up the spurs in '98, getting nowhere in saddle bronc. This doesn't mean I won't deal with a challenging horse though as I still enjoy horseback riding immensely! There are limitations each of us have to learn over the years. Fortunately, through all this, I can still safely climb wind turbines. My shoulders sometimes ache from the repeated motions of the cranking open of parts aisles during my role as Parts Clerk, and I wasn't alone with that complaint. There are some cowboys whom I competed decades ago that couldn't climb or perform the turbine work I did recently if they wanted to choose the occupation. I truly feel for these contestants as there are not many who would take the chances a cowboy does. Not many do well in this challenging sport, but few give the degree of independence these rough stock competitors enjoy. These experiences were priceless and they grew me up. I began to stand up to others who had bullied me and I began to no longer think on the staunchly liberal, passive, and generally laissez-faire basis I used to. Because I suffered a severe arm injury that ended my bareback bronc career in April, 1994 - I finally dived into my first personal computer to give my fingers and lower arm the needed exercise to work and heal. Where I lived in Russellville, AR, the internet dialups came to town the next year. My computer skills eventually lead to the luck of the draw in winning a scholarship on my 35th birthday. That moved me from Fort Smith back to Little Rock, back to my family, and back to the classroom. I graduated with two industry certifications in 1999 and 2001 respectively, but was too late to be employed in high-tech because the internet tech bubble popped! I stayed in broadcasting, switching to Clear Channel's TV division in late 2001 after spending the summer working throughout the FM dial as a traffic reporter. By far, that earned me the most fame of my broadcast career, far more than KSSN or "The Duck" gave me. To this day, I still build, maintain and repair my own computers and sometimes a computer belonging to someone else. Too bad there wasn't enough business to make a living, but I had a few residential and business clients in both the River Valley region and central Arkansas. Since I mentioned "ham" or amateur radio earlier, this hobby I enjoy today under callsign NN5NN has led to numerous acquaintances and friendships I'd never had gotten otherwise. It helped me attain the office of president of the statewide non-profit Arkansas Repeater Council in 2002. This doesn't mean I'm perfect by any means. I've had my issues with two different clubs over entirely different circumstances and decades ago I got into a rather nasty exchange on 40 meters using morse code in the General CW portion no less! I use the hobby far, far less nowdays and cite so much cell phone usage with the internet as the culprits. Having the skills of this type of hobby are nonetheless powerful in case of a real emergency when the cell systems go out. I plan on donating my repeater system in Stone County during 2014 as I do not intend on residing again in Arkansas.
I want to own and ride horses regularly again. Since graduation, I had lost close to 25 pounds (under two stone or over 10 kilos) weight and strive to lose enough weight and participate in Civil War reenactments as I have in the past. Because I want to care for my own horses, this means I will need a workaround if my work requires frequent travel, yet when I ride, it's one of the best grouping of exercises that anyone can receive. As you can see, there's a LOT to consider, but if I should land an administrative post, become an engineer or instructor involving the wind industry or find something else I enjoy, I know I will achieve my dreams.
I continue seeking out the right woman for me, and I'll remain patient. In my past, I was extremely careful not to derail my plans with unplanned preg... you know! Many swear that "life doesn't wait", but I answer "So what? If it's meant to be, it will!" I remain very strong-willed on that point to where it aggravates some people very dear to me, yet I see the hidden jealousy and agenda a few strongly harbor! I am a straight, never married and eligible bachelor with a specific set of "must haves" I'm after in a woman. Not many, but there are a few I won't compromise on, and there will be much we have to discuss together. To potential matchmakers trying to hook me up; Please don't ask for these specifics unless I already know you. Rest assured I won't use eHarmony as the good Doctor who runs it simply doesn't "get it!"
Many outside the college have asked "Why wind turbines, Mark? Ain't you a bit old for this?" and I quickly reply "No!" because I learned and worked safely in the industry. Even if I don't continue as a full-time turbine tech, there is much that can be done by older workers, especially those with no serious vice issues, drinking and drugs in particular. If you climb, seriously consider staying away from smoking and refrain from heavy turbine work if cardiac problems have plagued you. It is strenuous to make a climb if you aren't in shape, so regular exercise is recommended for prospective students as all students in the Iowa Lakes Community College program are expected to climb. I have climbed taller broadcast towers in the past because I had considered that career back in the 90's, so the fear of height isn't much a factor to me except what I didn't understand when I had started my wind career. Workers in wind will often work in confined spaces in the nacelle or hub areas so claustrophobic people need not apply, unless you seek to overcome such fears. Fortunately, safety is strongly emphasized throughout the wind energy industry (Hint! Do NOT forget this if you are to be interviewed for any turbine tech position. Safety is SO, SO, SO IMPORTANT!) Even what a student learns through this program, they will be retrained either during an internship or after gaining regular employment. There are many turbine manufacturers, so a technician should be prepared to learn all the time if they work for different companies. Some work on specific types such as General Electric (their 1.5Mw turbines are ubiquitous throughout North America) but the Chinese are giving significant competition.
Some have asked if I have any future plans for another broadcasting gig. I seriously doubt it for many reasons, but I may give a stab at an internet streaming operation in the future where a broadcast license or usage of gigantic amounts of electricity aren't required. I will do a cross-media outreach and attempt to negotiate if I go through with this later. Of course, I don't want to say too much right now as any implementation remains several years, maybe a decade away! There is a strong possibility I may never pursue broadcasting again. For now, its a very, very lean industry - thanks to consolidation and the '08 financial crisis. At least until 2015, with exception of political races, I expect trying times for most broadcasters to continue. I keep in touch with a few who I've known for years.
Also, a few have asked how is the best way to stay in touch with me? Some of you already know this. For those with nothing more than a business card, my email address of cxdomains ~at~ YAH00 ~dot~ C0M will work for a while, although it's a decent spam magnet. The primary one I have used on my student card (if you have it) is now checked daily as well. Twitter is wonderful! Follow me through @windmechanic and if you happen to be in wind energy and regularly tweeting, please let me know so I may put your username in my "goodgreen" list of over 400 entities in wind, solar, geothermal, including some of wind's watchdogs and critics! I do NOT plan on using either Facebook or MySpace on a personal and individual basis. I do not want them! Any invitations for either of these portals will be respectfully declined.
Some have asked why I refuse them. Recently, a new law was passed that allows third-party companies to peruse through social websites for the purpose of datamining tweets. For those who are young - I sincerely pray you're exercising care of your online identity, particularly on Facebook. What you post now can certainly come back to haunt you later! HR reps are increasingly making judgement calls on postings, especially controversial opinions. A recent survey I can't cite did give me some incredible numbers: 19% of your social online content can be considered a positive rendering of your personality, while 35% can render it in a negative light - in other words, you'd be subject to greater scrutiny on controversial subjects.
What's my opinion on social portals? I will be the first to state emphatically that not all these judgement calls are plausible, prudent or even practicable in regard to application within the wind industry, and there can be instances of impersonation which should be investigated or inquired before a judgement is made. Strictly an example: If I ranted negatively in regard to racial, religious, or even sexual orientation matters publicly, then it would be clearly understood such postings are grounds for exclusion, since companies are sensitive to diversity in today's workplace and are obliged to follow legalities regarding protected status in the United States. Such a thing likely will never be tweeted by me because of the wonderful friends I have from different corners of the globe, each with their talents to lend to this expanding wind industry. If I give an obvious truth about an agency or other entity who wronged me, as long as I give the truth, it should never be held against me, even in one's prudent or conservative judgement.
To conclude; although the Big Bankers have royally screwed this country with a Mount Everest of garbage OTC derivatives (some being inherited, many with flimsy backing at best!), SIV's, etc. with the politicians in their back pockets, there's still opportunity for those who will seek it. It's a great time to be alive with better times after the really nasty economic crash yet to come, y'all!
Mark James Mullins
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