Thanks for your help.
new free 7-week CS101 starts next week. It teaches python.
I not only learned a lot about Shurikens, like yourself. But I am reassured to know there are other curious people like myself who know want to and know how to "learn stuff and figure things out" . If Everyone Had To Pass A Particular 101 Course, It Should Be About..how to learn stuff and figure out things you want to know.
But what is life really all about anyway? Am I more of a success because I have a faithful wife and healthy children or is it something else?
Those are big questions...
The Harvard Grant study has tried to address those issues. Here is a recent article about the study (also from the Atlantic):
What Makes Us Happy? - The Atlantic (June 2009)
I had a path similar to the one you described - gifted high school, Ivy League college, burnout. Though instead of "civil service" I have ended up in a dilbert corporate cubicle job to pay the mortgage.
I hope this boy doesn't get Lost in the Meritocracy like I did.
Lost in the Meritocracy: The Undereducation of an Overachiever by Walter Kirn
I don't measure a man's success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.
General George S. Patton