ALBANY, Ga. -- He's pursued Halley's Comet through the deserts of Peru. He holds an electrical engineering degree from Penn State University, is an artist who works in copper wire, a sharpener, an inventor and a federally licensed gun manufacturer.
His van has a radiation warning sticker on the back door, right above a bumper sticker that reads, "Ask me about U-235!" which is the fissile material in the first atomic bombs.
Bill Slugg, 58, is different, and he likes it that way.
Asked to describe himself, Slug replies, "I'm a putterer."
A former Level II process engineer at Procter & Gamble for 23 years, Slugg left the company in 1998 to pursue other endeavors. He's been the owner/operator of FSS (Fred's Sharpening Service) on Ledo Road for the past nine years.
But if not for P&G, Slugg doesn't know what would have happened to him -- and getting on at the plant took some work in the first place.
"I was not a very good student because I didn't apply myself until my junior year (at Penn State)," Slugg said. "I had a 2.07 GPA until I joined a work/study group and managed to bring it up to 2.77 at graduation.
"I graduated 63rd in a class of 68. Not great, I know, but when you consider more than 450 were in that class when we started, it makes things a little better."
Slugg knew that, because of his lackluster academics, getting a job at the P&G plant in Mehoopany, Pa., would be difficult at best.
"I knew I was going to have trouble interviewing because of my grades," Slugg recalled, "so I made a chart to take into the interview with me. The chart graphed my grades through school, and it showed a gradual decline followed by a sharp uptick at the end.
"When I was called back and offered the job, the guy told me I had the worst grades of any of the 100 people he had interviewed, but my chart showed I had the ability to recognize and correct a problem quickly."
Slugg's shop on Ledo Road is filled with sharpening machines, lathes, his copper art and varying degrees of somewhat hazardous material (for which Slugg says he holds proper licensure).
"I spend a huge amount of time just puttering around the shop," Slugg said. "I also spend a lot of time maintaining, repairing and modifying the sharpening equipment because sharpening pays the bills around here. It allows me to do my other stuff."
Much of his "other stuff" centers around weaving baskets and boxes out of copper wire.
"I love copper's color; it is soft and malleable. Copper and gold share those metallurgical properties," Slugg said. "I am hoping that my copper work will help finance my next big project."
Slugg's next idea is to make diamonds out of methane gas.
"The process is called chemical vapor disposition," Slugg said.
CVD is a chemical process used to produce high-purity, high-performance solid materials. In Slugg's case, diamonds.
"The diamond industry is afraid of this process," Slugg said. "We can
currently make diamonds using carbon compressed under high pressure, but they cannot match the purity of a CVD process, which will produce a flawless diamond."
In the meantime, Slugg will continue to putter around his shop and enjoy life.
"The best thing about what I am doing now is having the freedom to do what I want to do when I want to do it," he said. "It's very nice."