Members of the Society, President Conn, colleagues, friends, and particularly students, the Ward Medal recipient, from Clarke Read onward, traditionally recounts how their career was shaped. A decade ago, in a crumbling Kona hotel, the ASP's own tattooed lady, Janine Caira, opened her Ward Medal address with: “To all future Ward Medalists, many of whom I trust are sitting in the audience out there today, I say: savor the moment! You have no idea how much easier it is to be sitting out there where you are than standing up here where I am” (Caira 1998). I certainly didn't imagine that Janine was delivering her advice to me and it is presumptuous to imagine my story is a template for shaping a career. As the title of my talk indicates, it was an accident.

I spent my childhood in loving comfort. My younger...

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