Who's Turfdigger?

Short story: My name is Phil Ruokis and I'm 55 at the moment (unless I've forgotten to update my age again) - I've been happily married since 1991 and I call Cambridge, Massachusetts home these days. You're reading this because you decided to check out the "About" page on the photoblog where I post pictures I've snapped during the few idle moments when I'm not doing a zillion other things.

Longer story: My late father came to the US from Lithuania in 1949 - this accounts for my uncommon surname - it's Lithuanian. Not Greek. Not Lebanese. Apart from my immediate family, my only other relatives in the States are in the Chicago area and southern Oregon - they happen to spell the name Ruikis, which just adds to the spelling festivities and foibles. To simplify things, I always use "Adams" when ordering takeout.

I'm a classically trained pianist / organist - I spent four years at The Boston Conservatory and they decided it would be OK for me to have a degree in Composition - they gave me my sheepskin in 1990. I finally finished paying for it in 2002. After teaching piano for 12 years or so (9 full-time), I decided it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a gig with benefits and a retirement plan (and a regular, predictable paycheck), so I up and went to work for Berklee College of Music doing computer training and support. Among the hats I've worn over the years:

Church Organist / Music Director - I started when I was about 15 and finally burned out when I turned 30. It was a helluva ride, that's for sure.
Tanglewood - The folks at Boston University run a thing called the Tanglewood Institute. They figured it was a grand idea to let me spend 8 weeks there in the summer of 1986 learning how to be a composer. Mere words cannot describe this experience.
Warehouse Grunt - I worked for a summer in a shoe warehouse, third shift 10:30 PM to 7 AM - you get some strange looks when you're buying beer after work...at 7:30 in the morning, but hey, it's all relative.
Print Publishing - Another summer was spent shooting plates and stripping rubylith for an outfit that prints wedding invitations. I got to be around BIG cameras and I almost accepted a night manager gig there instead of finishing my music degree; then I came to my senses and returned to school in the fall.
Precision Machine Shop - This was a Siddhartha journey of sorts; quite a departure for a musician depending on fully functioning fingers to choose a job involving milling machines, lathes and bandsaws. I gained immense respect for factory workers everywhere during this summer gig. Only thing that kept me coming back was the lunchtime chess matches with my supervisor, a former master-rated competitive player.

I've also worked my share of retail and food service jobs which I do not miss one whit.