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Steve Hansen: Bright people march to the beat of their own drum

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Posted: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 12:00 am

Bright people can have very interesting and unique lives. Take my nephew Jeff, for example.

Back in high school, he was an excellent student. My nephew was also a high scorer on the Scholastic Aptitude Test. These two hard-earned achievements meant that just about any college in the country was within his reach.

Although he was accepted at the United States Air Force Academy, Jeff chose the University of California, Los Angeles.

“I didn’t think I’d fit into the regiment of the military,” he told me.

After graduation and a brief career in finance, Jeff discovered that the life of a boring three-piece-suit banker was not for him. He returned to UCLA for a master’s degree and ended up making friends with some in the Hollywood crowd.

Soon thereafter, he landed a VIP job for a well-known media production company. But even in Tinsel Town, Jeff was still a different breed of cat. If one observed the reserved section of the parking lot — among the Bentleys, Porsches and Ferraris — there rested my nephew’s old, dented Ford pickup truck.

Of course, the other executives were not happy about this image. Even the movie gods seemed to frown upon his choice of vehicles. Once, during a violent windstorm, a tree blew over and damaged only one vehicle — and yes, you can guess which one it was.

Eventually, Jeff gave in to peer pressure and purchased a used Porsche 911.

But being his own man, he rarely drives it to work. Instead, my nephew bicycles several miles from his ocean-front home through heavy traffic. He’s an example of a healthy and environmentally conscience individual. Meat is absent from the executive’s diet.

But as with many of us, Jeff can be a paradox of values. While obviously health-conscience, he is also a risk-taker — not only by bicycling through L.A. traffic, but by jumping out of airplanes, which seems to be his passion. The 36-year-old media mogul just reported that he had made his 500th parachute jump within the last few weeks.

His latest adventure in this area is called “wing suiting.” Using a “flying squirrel suit,” Jeff glides through the air with a special jumpsuit that resembles (as you might imagine) a flying squirrel. The outfit expands surface area to the body and adds a measurable increase in lift.

A wing suit descent ends with a parachute opening. It can also be used to embark from a high cliff. However, my thrill-seeking nephew will only use his from an airplane flown by a qualified pilot who is familiar with the sport.

As far as Jeff’s personal life is concerned, he has a steady girlfriend (sorry, eligible ladies). His mother thinks this damsel is a gift from heaven, as she seems to be the ideal partner in every way. But at this time, my nephew has no plans for marriage.

“We don’t do that in our generation,” he says.

So, in a nutshell, that’s the story of my interesting and always adventuresome nephew. As with many very intelligent people, they often have a variety of talents in which they perform well. But too often, they march to their own drummer and do not mesh with the average person who plays by the normally acceptable rules of socialization.

That, in itself, is not a bad thing. It’s just the price they pay for being among the exceptional.

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.

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