Dr Jan Pajak: autographical summary - short version
(bilingual: in English For English version click on this flag and Polish Dla polskiej wersji kliknij na ta flage)
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17 August 2005

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#1. The course of my life:

       I was born in 1946 in a miniature village, which for the longest period of time was called Wszewilki (this particular village frequently changed name). My home village is located in the South-West corner of Poland (close to former East Germany and Chechoslovakia). My father was a technician with "golden hands" skills - means he repaired everything that was broken in tens of miles around our house, starting from watches and clocks, through bicycles and motor vehicles, and finishing on huge industrial gas engines that propelled water pumps in a local waterworks plant (he actually was employed by the town council of Milicz to operate and maintain this waterworks plant). Now I wonder how he could put up with me, as whatever he repaired one evening, I was dismantling the next day when he was at work, to see how it operates, and - of course, not always I managed to put it back so that it worked again. (Especially difficult to put back into a working order turned out to be small watches. So after I experienced several times how my father reacts to the view of a dismantled watch which he repaired just a night before, I started to curb my curiosity about finding out what makes these watches click.) My mother was a housewife - a humble mathematical genius. She was able to count in memory almost as fast as present computers do. Her counting skills always kept shocking shop assistants, providing a lot of fun for me and my sister, who used to accompany mother in shopping expeditions. My education followed a typical pattern for communistic Poland. Firstly (in 1953) I started a primary school in the nearby township Milicz (then having around 20 000 inhabitants). I completed this primary education in 1960. Then I attended a high school (1960 to 1964), which was the Gymnasium of General Education in Milicz. I matriculated in 1964. The Certificate of Matriculation entitled me to undertake the University Studies. I choose to study at the Technical University of Wroclaw, in Poland, which then was one of the most renown universities in Poland. (On the basis of my knowledge of other universities, I personally believe that at that time it was the best university in Poland, and also one of the best in the world.) There was around 12 candidates per one sit at that university, so me passing the entrance exams was a huge accomplishment. I studied there from 1964 to 1970. After the graduation from this university, in 1970 I was employed by the same university, initially as a junior lecturer, then as a lecturer, then as a senior lecturer, and finally in 1974 as a Polish equivalent to a Reader from English style Universities. Then a tornado of political changes swept Poland. I become a member of Solidarity, and when Solidarity went down, I went down with it. A "witch hunting" had started, and my life was in danger. At some stage I was even chased by Police and almost shot. With the assistance of my good friends, I managed to leave Poland and emigrate to New Zealand - before the regime managed to catch me and send to Siberia. I landed in New Zealand in 1982. My first job was at the Canterbury University in Christchurch. Then I worked at the Southland Polytechnic in Invercargill. Then at the Otago University in Dunedin. Just when the first signs of the economic depression hit New Zealand, in 1990 I lost the job at Otago. For the next two years I was unemployed. Finally, in 1992 I decided to leave New Zealand and go overseas in search of bread. I signed contracts for university professorships initially in the Eastern Mediterranean University located in the city of Famagusta from Northern Cyprus, then in the University Malaya located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and then in the University of Malaysia Sarawak located in the city of Kuchning from the tropical Island of Borneo. After the "Asian Crisis" crippled Malaysia, I managed to secure a job in New Zealand starting from 1999. Unfortunately it was for a price. Farming oriented New Zealand does not need people with my area of technical expertise, thus it gave me a big favour by providing me with any job at all. I landed on a lowest academic position that was available in a tiny Aoraki Politechnice from Timaru. However, at the end of 2000 I was made redundant even from this lowest position. The reason for this redundancy, which was communicated to me, was a rapid and unexpected drop in student numbers. As from 12 February 2001 I started my tutoring in the Wellington Institute of Technology located in the Petone suburb of the capitol of New Zealand (i.e. Wellington), also on the lowest position of an "academic staff member" that was available at this institution. I worked in Wellington until 22 July 2005 - when I was made redundant with the explanation that student numbers of this institute also rapidly dropped down. In fact, this drop in student numbers was so significant that I could notice it even with a naked eye - since the beginning of 2005 classrooms of the Wellington Institute of Technology were almost empty. After that loss of job, I never managed to find another job in New Zealand. It also turned out that laws in New Zealand are so designed, that people in my situation are NOT eligible for unemployment benefits.

#2. Lecturing in many corners of the world:

       In Poland there is a saying "I wish you live in interesting times". (It supposed to originate from Chinese, but I spend a lot of time amongst Chinese and none of them ever heard of it.) It is a polite form of telling someone off. So instead of swearing at this someone, or asking someone to go to hell, Poles may politely wish this person to live in interesting times. Well, my life turned out to be just such. I live in "interesting times", and also I have an "interesting life". Although I never asked for it, the fate gave me this rare opportunity to live, earn my bread, and do my research amongst many interesting people and in many interesting countries that are located in various distant areas of the world. Also my life was full of adventures, constant changes and events, etc. And so, for a period of time of not less than one year, I lived, carried out my research, and lectured in Poland, New Zealand, Northern Cyprus, Mainland Malaysia, Malaysian Borneo, and again in New Zealand (after my return to New Zealand in 1999, philosophically and economically it turned out to be a different country than the one that I left in 1992 in my search for bread). I was also a visiting scientist or lecturer in Eastern Germany (for 2 months), Bulgaria (for 1 month), and in Chechoslovakia (for 2 weeks). Of course, one needs to remember that earning for living in any country provides much different experience than just visiting this country as a tourist.
* * *
       This interesting life and lecturing experience is complemented by an interesting work in industry. For many years I was a scientific adviser in a largest computer producing factory of Poland, named MERA-ELWRO (this is where my programming expertise comes from). Actually, when I used to work in the Mera-Elwro, it was the largest computer producing factory in the Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, later this factory was liquidated - so I am unable to provide a link to its web page. The only thing that remained until today, is a miniature service workshop which carries a slightly similar name (of the Elwro-System), but which does NOT represent computing traditions of the Mera-Elwro factory. Then I was a scientific consultant in a huge bus and truck producing factory, also located in Poland and named POLMO-JELCZ. It employed the work force then numbering to 12 000 people. Actually, looking now back, most of my life I spend on shifting and changing (not because of my will, though). There is a saying "variety is a spice of life". But how much spice one can take.
Notice that you can see the enlargement of each photograph from this web site, simply by clicking on this photograph. Most of the Internet browsers that you may use, including the popular "Internet Explorer", allow also to download each illustration to your own computer, and then look at it, reduce or enlarge the size of it, or print it, with your own graphical software.

Dr Jan Pajak - passport photo taken on 19 July 2004
Fig. #2a (Z1 in [1/5]): Here is my photo (i.e. the photo of Dr J. Pająk). I took it for my passport on 19 July 2004. It reflects quite well how currently I look like.

Dr Jan Pajak in KLCC from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, December 2002
Fig. #2b (J2 in [10]): Myself (Dr Jan Pajak) in the "Sky Bridge" at 42nd floor of KLCC. Photographed on 30 December 2002. The name KLCC is assigned to two skyscrapers constructed as "twin towers" in the centre of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They are the only "twin towers" in the world still left standing, which belong to the exclusive club of highest buildings in the world. The "sky bridge" links both these towers at slightly less than half of their heights. The positioning of this sky bridge which links both towers, is visible on the following photograph of the entire KLCC.
Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Fig. #2c (C3 in [10]): Here is the appearance of these famous KLCC. By the way, KLCC is one of technical wonders of the present world. Therefore, if you already are in Kuala Lumpur, or somewhere near to it, I would strongly recommend to visit it and to see it with your own eyes.

#3. Repetitive raises and falls:

       If anyone would ever be excused for having a fatalistic outlook at life, probably I would be the one. My entire life is arranged into continuous cycles of raises and falls. Whatever area of my life would be considered, it always follows the same pattern, namely firstly I gradually build up some accomplishments in that area, then some strange disaster comes and ruins everything, so that I need to start everything from the very beginning, and so-on. It actually does look like invisible "evil creatures" follow me throughout the entire life, and make sure that everything I build laboriously soon crushes down again. The outcome is that I never owned a house, that most of time my entire possessions needed to fit into a single suitcase, that after emigrating from Poland an average span of my employment in the same place is below 3 years, and that never I know what is going to happen tomorrow. In order to provide an example of mechanism of these continuous raises and falls, let us look at my employment history, which (like everything else in my life) also follows it. Firstly I had a satisfying job of a groundbreaking scientist at the Technical University of Wroclaw, Poland. I quickly raised through the ranks, starting from a junior lecturer, and within 4 years reaching the position of a Polish equivalent to a Reader (i.e. the highest position that a non-party member could then occupy in communistic Poland). Then, when times started to slowly change, and a possibility of further academic promotion started to open for me, I was forced to run from Poland, as my life was in a danger. In New Zealand I started from the very beginning. Initially I was a Post-Doctorate Fellow at the University of Canterbury, then a Senior Tutor at Southland Polytechnic, then a Senior Lecturer at the University of Otago. But when this opened my chances for getting even a higher position in New Zealand, I lost my job and become unemployed. So I went overseas and got three subsequent contracts of Associate Professor. But when in 1998 I applied for the position of a Full Professor, and was just about to get one, again the so-called "Asian Crisis" stroke, and chances for further employment in the country that actually wanted someone with my area of academic and research expertise immediately diminished. So I returned to New Zealand and started from the lowest academic position that existed in New Zealand at that time.
       In this way, in the professional area I already completed three separate climbing on the academic ladder, and three subsequent falls. Of course, I am not made of iron, so each fall feels quite badly. In my first climbing, I raised slightly above a half way on this ladder, before the crushing of original version of "Solidarity" in Poland brought me back to the initial level. The second raise was to around a quarter of the ladder, before I landed as an unemployed in New Zealand. The third climbing of this academic ladder brought me almost to the very top, but the third fall down that followed it was to the present lowest position of my entire life. So now I am standing again at the ground level of this academic ladder, looking upwards in horror, and philosophically deliberating what I should do next. Should I re-evaluate my life goals and philosophy, forget the struggle, and peacefully await retirement on the lowest academic position. Or should I heal wounds of previous falls, replenish my energy, and after starting to climb again, risk falling down for the fourth time in my life. What would you do in my position?
       Fortunately, there is a bright side to all these continuous raises and falls. This is that my life experience is continually raising. (Mind you, my father used to say, that "we learn all the life through, and we still die dammed".) And this raise of experience does not seem to be subjected to falls, like the material sides of life do. Thus, if I am to leave any imprint behind, most probably it will be the imprint which stems from my extraordinary course of life that I experienced.

#4. Repetitive losses of everything that I previously owned and accomplished:

       Each subsequent fall-down had also this consequence, that I was loosing then practically everything that I previously owned and accomplished. Apart from the knowledge and experience, practically almost NOTHING else I could take with me from my previous life. For example, when in 1990 I lost my job in New Zealand, while the economic depression and rapid changes in the group morality of the country disallowed me to find a new work in there for as long as two next years - and even deprived me the right for an unemployment benefit, for my next wandering throughout the world "in search of bread" I left New Zealand with all my possessions limited to one suitcase only - means I left exactly the same empty-handed as I left previously Poland (i.e. after the fall-down of "Solidarity" near the end of 1981). With equal almost empty-hands I also left Malaysia in 1998 - after it was hit by the famous "Asian Crisis" (which was claimed in there to be supposedly induced by the greed and immorality of a single Western financier). Thus, I perfectly-well understand and share the pain and disappointment of all these other people, who for some reasons (e.g. because of earthquakes, cataclysms, fires, revolutions, wars, greed and immorality of other people, etc.) also loose almost everything that they owned before. I should add here, that in relatively young age I lost both my parents as well. Thus equally familiar for me is the pain and grieving which one feels after a loss of most loved ones. So I really can identify with everyone who lost someone very close. Both above kinds of personal losses and tragedies, i.e. my repetitive losses of almost everything that I owned, as well as losses of my parents, opened for me the philosophical understanding of situations when we loose in lives everything that is important to us. This is why currently I do NOT look at losses exclusively from the prospective of a pain and personal tragedy, abut I also see in these a motive force which releases our hidden potentials (one amongst which numerous potentials is realised to us by the English proverb "what does not kill you, will make you stronger").

#5. Multicultural experience:

       During my interesting professional career I had opportunities to work in many different counties, which represent entirely different cultures. This allowed me to accumulate real multicultural experience. The significant proportion of this experience was accomplished in Asian countries and in Asian cultures. My academic experience includes the employment at Universities (or at Tertiary Educational Institutions) of Poland (for 12 years), New Zealand (for 15 years), Turkish Cyprus (for 1 year), Malaysia (for 3 years), and Malaysian Borneo (for 2 years). During this professional globetrotting I always tried to take part in all multicultural celebrations, especially in colourful Malaysia. In the result, I managed to accumulate a significant body of observations regarding customs and culture of different nations, their philosophies and attitudes, principles of conduct, sensitive areas, behaviours, believes, religions, superstitions, customs, etc. I also collected proverbs, myths, superstitions, and folklore customs of various nations. In fact the second book which together with my brother we recently published in Poland in two languages under the title "Przyslowia Wschodu oraz z innych stron swiata - Proverbs of the Orient and from other corners of the world", Poznan (Address of the publisher: "Wydawnictwo Poznanskie", Ul. Fredry 8, 61-701 Poznan, Poland), 2003, ISBN 83-7177-273-4, 551 pages, pb, contains a collection of around 2700 proverbs presented in two languages - namely in English and Polish. These proverbs I managed to accumulate during the last 12 years of my professional engagement in various countries. A significant number of them originates from Asian cultures, including Japan, Korea, China, Malaysia, Dayaks of Borneo, and several others.

Czeslaw Pajak and Jan Pajak: Proverbs of the Orient and from other corners of the world
Fig. #5 (1 in [9]): Here is how looks the cover page of the book by Czeslaw Pajak and Jan Pajak: "Proverbs of the Orient and from other corners of the world". Together with my brother we published this book in Poland in 2003. It contains around 2700 proverbs. Each proverb is presented in two language versions, namely Polish and English.

#6. Professorships in two disciplines:

       Probably there is no many scientists, who managed to accumulate as huge amount of professional experience as myself. To give an example, I managed to advance academically to the professorial level in two totally different disciplines, namely to the level of Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering and to the level of a Full Professor in Computer Sciences (specialised in Software Engineering). Also my doctorate (I am a doctor in technical sciences - DrTSc) was completed simultaneously in these two disciplines. If I list all subjects that I ever lectured, probably these would suffice for a small polytechnic.

#7. Honours, degrees and titles:

       A typical course of the university studies that I followed, took 6 years for my specialisation. After these studies were completed, I received two university degrees, namely a Master of Engineering and an Engineer (ME, Eng.).
* * *
       In the final years of my studies I was granted a "Scientific Scholarship" which my university reserved for the most outstanding students. This scholarship included a clause, that after finishing my studies the university was also reserving the right to employ me as a scientist and a lecturer. Thus immediately after finishing my studies I started to advance my doctorate. I completed it within 4 years, and defended it on 6 June 1974. The doctorate gave me the earned degree of a Doctor of Technical Sciences (DrTSc). For next four months after the defence of my doctorate, I was the youngest doctor at my university. Of course, after a doctorate I continued my research and lecturing. At that time students union from my university used to grant the title "the lecturer of the year" to a best lecturer chosen by students. I received this title in two subsequent years shortly before my emigration from Poland.
* * *
       Apart from the earned doctorate (DrTSc), I have also several other honours, titles, and degrees, which is nice to be able to include into the resume. One of them is the outcome of my (compulsory in former Poland) military service. I initially started to serve in sappers, assigned to the Polish equivalent of a "reserve army" or a "territorial army" (i.e. this is like a "part-time army" where soldiers work and live normally, but from time to time they are being called to service for periods ranging from two days up to two months). The major duty of sappers is to build bridges, roads, and airfields, to lie minefields and to dismantle them, to blast everything that obstructs the path, to dispose old bombs and mines, and many more. If an army is attacking, sappers actually go in front of it, to make a path for the military hardware. (Thus usually they are fired at by both fighting sides.) Sappers are these soldiers about whom a popular saying states that they supposed to "make only one mistake in the entire their life". (This is because a significant part of their duties involves bomb disposal, while almost no-one survives a mistake with a bomb.) So various sarcastic soldiers keep adding a phrase to this popular saying on sappers, that this only mistake in their life depends on them becoming sappers. It was in Polish sappers where I learned the true mining of the proverb "when a work is worth being done, it is worth being done well". This is because at that time Polish sappers still had a long-standing tradition, that if a given unit of soldiers built a bridge, then all soldiers went under this bridge when the first tank rolled through it. (I wonder whether this tradition still survived until the present times of democracy and freedom of speaking out.) I believe that the unforgettable feelings experienced when a tank rolls through the bridge which one just finished building, which was not tested yet, and under which one is just standing together with all other soldiers, would turn extremely beneficial for all those young people, who cannot induce any motivations within themselves.
       At a later stage of my service in the Polish reserve army, my high technical skills were appreciated, and I was shifted from sappers to the "engineers of weaponry", means to this engineering service, which acts as large-scale gunsmiths, being busy with repairing and maintain weapon and hardware used by other soldiers (like tanks, guns, cannons, means of transport, etc.). During this compulsory military service in the Polish army, I was promoted to an officer, and at the time of emigrating from Poland I was already a sub-lieutenant.
* * *
       Outside of Poland I have also earned various honours through studies, research, and professional advancement. Two most important out of these were, when in my professional career I accomplished the level of Associate Professor in two different disciplines. So my honours also include titles of a former Associate Professor in Engineering and a former (full) Professor in Computer Sciences.
       These my former professorships disclose an interesting similarity in all cultures of the world, hidden behind the apparent differences in addressing each other. For example, in the New Zealand culture, people emphasize friendship and appreciation of someone by learning and remembering the first name of this person. Therefore, for example most of my students in New Zealand addressed me with the Polish pronunciation "Yan" of my first name, what actually contains an emotional message "we would like to let you know that we appreciate you enough to put an effort in learning and remembering the Polish pronunciation of your name, and in calling you correctly with your name". In turn in the Polish culture, people manifest their appreciation of someone by finding out what was the highest title that this person accomplished in his/her life, and then addressing this person with this earned title. Therefore, all my Polish acquaintances address me "Professor" or "Sir Professor" (i.e. "Panie Profesorze" in Polish), what emotionally reads "we appreciate you enough to put an effort in finding out that the highest title which you earned in your life was that of a University Professor, and we recognize this your title by addressing you with it". Thus, in spite that ways of addressing someone in these two cultures are different, the emotional message which is coded into this addressing is always the same. And if one analyses ways of addressing in other cultures of the world, actually all of them seem to repeat the same emotional message.

#8. Personal life:

Motto: "If we negate the existence of superior God's goals, then how to justify the need for a titled prince to wed a commoner, while a commoner to marry a titled princess?"

       There is one more honour which I received in my life, and which I am especially fond of. This is my wife. Her father used to be one of these aristocrats from Orient, who lost his fortune, but kept the title. So my wife inherited the title of "Sheikh" from him, but no Sheikh's fortune to go with it. (Thanks God, otherwise I would never be allowed to meet her - as princesses with real fortunes do not walk along the same routes of "infantrymen", as me. Not mentioning, that then she would probably be a spoiled rich brat, impossible to live with a "mere mortal" - such as myself.) Women blessed by God with the born title of Sheikh - such as the title of my wife, are a huge rarity in the world's scale. Probably all "female Sheikhs" from the entire world one could count on fingers of one hand. For sure there is much less of them in the entire world, then just in Europe is e.g. Queens. There is even less of them than a single Western-European country which still maintains a Monarchy has born princesses. But if one amongst oriental women is blessed with this extraordinary title, then she is truly an exceptional person. For example, the entire world probably is hugely impressed with the wise moves of the female Sheikh named Sheikh Hasina, after she took the office of the Bangladesh Head of State. In present difficult times our marriage is highly symbolic. After all, it is a living proof for the already forgotten fact that culture of the Orient may coexist with culture of the Europe in an atmosphere of mutual love, respect, and peace, and also that each of these two momentous cultures may enrich the life of this other one. In times of my youth old people used to tell about ancient Polish belief in the so-called "golden horn". (The existence of this old Polish belief was immortalised, amongst others, in the Polish literary jewel entitled "Wesele" - i.e. "Wedding", by Stanisław Wyspiański.) According to it, every person once in the lifetime receives from God that "golden horn" filled with various blessings and goodness. But for every person God "disguises" this "golden horn" under something different, so that the majority of people do NOT recognise it and throw it away after receiving it. Thus, the key for accomplishing a happy and fulfilled life is to be able to recognise when and under what form God gives to us that "golden horn", and to accept it with gratefulness. I managed to recognise my "golden horn" - which turned out to be my wife. Thus, the honour which I am the most fond of, is to be a husband of a beautiful woman which not only inherited a title of Sheikh, but also has the class and nobility of a true princess. The most funny (and also highly romantic) was the situation, that about the fact of my wife belonging to an oriental aristocracy I learned only on the day of our wedding - when the marriage officer had difficulties with fitting her official name and titles into the form of marriage certificate. Previously I knew her only as especially nice woman of a bubbly personality, with whom time always passes highly interesting, only that who has this very complicated name which for practical reasons needs to be shortened maximally. In turn, that my wife really has in genes the class and nobility of an oriental princess I realised only after several years of our marriage. Most clearly God used her example to illustrate for me that behind an old Polish proverb "this come to him like a grain to a blind chicken" (in the original Polish language "trafiło mu się jak ślepej kurze ziarnko"), actually hides the mechanism of intelligent acting, purpose, and superior justice, and also to prove me that rewards for leading a moral life do NOT need to have material nature and still can be highly appreciated. Now I frequently ponder how a husband of a titled female Sheikh should be called. Is he a Sheikher, a Sheikhness, or just simply a Shaker? Or perhaps even something else? After all, if I am a husband of a princess from, let say, England, most probably people would address me slightly differently than just "hey you Pajak"!

Dr Jan Pająk with his wife (i.e. the bearer of the title Sheikh) in Rome, 1995
Fig. #8 (J1 in [10]): "The support for an unconventional man is an extraordinary woman." Me (Dr Eng. Jan Pajak) in Rome with my female Sheikh. (Click on this photo if you wish to enlarge it.)
       The source of immense comfort is for me the knowledge, that God so appreciates my efforts and devotion to searches for truth, that for the life-companion He gave me a true "Pearl of Orient" which is the real princess not only from birth and from inherited title, but also she has the class of a noble oriental princess coded into her permanently, i.e. in her genes, character, behaviour, culture, habits, nature, taste, etc.
My contact addresses are provided at the end of page pajak_jan_uk.htm with the full version of this autobiography.
Date of starting this page: 25 May 2004.
My situation reflected by the content of this web page prevails almost unchanged since 2005,
although the wording of this web page was cosmetically augmented in March 2011.
(Check from addresses in menu more recent versions of this web page!)