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small white square Looking around for a slide rule page to reference last entry I came across a statement about how they'd been replaced by pocket calculators in the early 1970s. Let me set that record straight, as I was there. In the Fall of 1972 I matriculated at the university, in the College of Engineering. All were required to have and be able to use a slide rule - I'd been interested in their operation since at least the sixth grade, when I checked out a how-to book from the library. We'd had instruction during twelfth grade Physics the year before (the teacher had this enormous prop for a visual aid, over four feet long, which hung from the top of the blackboard) and for my birthday I received a Pickett instrument from my engineer Dad. It's made of non-ferrous metal (aluminum or some alloy) and painted yellow, unlike the light-weight white plastic slipsticks most of my peers had. (Dad's was made of wood, however.) My Pickett has a leather case with a belt loop - to complete the maximum-nerd ensemble, it would be dangling and bobbing at one's side like an officer's ceremonial dagger. The next year, 1973, Hewlett-Packard's first hand-held calculators appeared. Very expensive, with their wonderful red LED displays, their Star Trek-ish tapered console styling, and the absurd "reverse-Polish" usage (one didn't enter "1 + 2 =", but rather "+ 1 = 2" or some such - I never had one, so I might not have this quite right). By 1974 they were becoming common, but were banned from formal use, like in tests, for Class reasons: since they were so expensive, it was assumed (and rightfully so) that only the children of the rich would have them, with their huge advantage over the slipstick's precision and speed. Spring semester of 1975 was my last for a while - I got two F's and was too distracted by the real world to continue attendance, so I dropped out. This was temporary, however - after travel and independent living, I took a couple summer-school classes in 1977, then some more in the Spring semester of 1978, and finally returned full time in the Fall of that year, graduating the next Spring. Nobody had slide rules when I returned, the price had fallen so that all could afford a pocket calculator, and during my absence the new technology had usurped the old completely. (My first calculator was a Sharp, but since then I've been a Casio man.)

small green square Long phone talk with L last night. (Is a short one possible?) As always we both felt better afterwards. I spoke of my possible plan to stay on in Europe when I fly there this Fall, stretching my time abroad from weeks to months. (Perhaps even to continue traveling east, to accomplish the Big One - the Ground Orbit.) This would mean quitting my job, however... something my Dad would find inexplicable, so there'd be extended painful phone & email exchanges involving decision justification. Being the middle child, and hence desperate for approval, I feel somewhat helpless - but perhaps I can break free and truly be me!

"A tornado in the windmills of my mind - hang on, Toto, hang on!"
 - Mork
The possibility of Y2K & EuroDollar disruptions are a clear sign to me that this could be the last chance for easy European travel for a while, perhaps forever, and I should grasp the reigns of destiny and go for it. Giving notice to the sanguine father-figure of a boss I have now will be tough, though - almost treacherous. But like a friendly co-worker observed, after I'd made my first Californian transfer request: "You had to do something." This may be another of those times. Talking with B the other night, I tried to articulate just how fed up and full of it I am. Over twenty years of this computer stuff, and my memory still insists on retaining useless data about all the projects I've worked on - it really gets in the way sometimes. Here's my career summary in acronyms, with certain key letters translated to preserve my anonymity:
  1. ERVX 2
  2. GRVX 6.5
  3. DWP 0.5
  4. FBAX 4
  5. DXXDX 2.4
  6. XVADX 0.2
  7. VDAVD 1.5
  8. GDDX 1.5
  9. DDXD 0.2
  10. DVAX 1.2
The numbers are the years of my life spent on each. But as L points out, quitting this cushy low-stress high-pay job could be folly. On the other hand, G points out that this cozy situation could be a liability, that I'm "too comfortable", which is preventing my moving onward to greater things. In two months I must decide.

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small cyan square Today's song is naturally by Brian Eno:

We are the Eight Oh One
We are the central shaft...
That is, if you're an American: otherwise the corresponding date would be January 8th.

LED - Light Emitting Diode
Y2K - Year Two Kilo
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