The "44" in my title is the year of my birth. I was conceived on or very near my older brother's first birthday in 1943. I'm a cradle Catholic and proud of it, and got my grade school education and high school education before Vatican II even began. I entered the University of Minnesota school of engineering in 1962, but second calculus and thermodynamics got the better of me; so I switched to liberal arts college and took a degree in 1970. Four years later I went to work for the Minnesota Highway Department -- go figure.
I'm very blessed to have had a very well-rounded education, most of which has stuck. This -- and my age -- give me the privilege of having an opinion about just about everything I know something about. I add here that in high school, the university, and on the job, I learned two principles I like very much: "Label your opinions as such" and "Don't make a statement you can't back up."
Final thought for now: in my late teens and early twenties, I doubted that the faith I learned as a child could answer the complexities of adult life. But I remembered Christ's words "Be thou hot or cold," and my mom's command (when I stood with the door hanging open) "For heaven's sake come in or go out, don't just stand there!" So in the spring of 1967 I walked up to the rectory of the parish where I grew up, had a long talk with the assistant pastor Fr. Bill Ward (God rest his soul!), said my confession, and stayed. And that was that. I have to credit here C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton for showing me that what I was taught as a child can be believed by an adult, and that the Catholic faith is far richer and more complex than I would have thought when I was twelve -- or sixteen -- or forty -- or sixty-five!