In 1982, as a junior in high school, I took a class in computer programming. The choice to take this class was not a deliberate one. I did not register for classes at the end of my sophomore year thinking: “Hmmm, I’d love to take a computer programming class”. In the last weeks of my summer vacation, I got a phone call from my school stating that one of the classes I had picked was no longer available. The teacher recommended the computer programming class as a replacement. Incidentally, she was also the computer programming teacher. I reluctantly took her recommendation and registered for the class.
I was less than enthusiastic about this class. Choosing this class forced me to embrace an element I loathed — Math. It was bad enough I had to get my head around things like finding the value of x. Now I had to learn new ways of counting. This wonderful teacher taught us to count in base 2, base 8, and base 16 (and told me that up to this point I had been using base 10). This meant that 8 +8 = 16, 8 + 8 = 10, 10 + 10 = 20, and 1000 + 1000 = 10000 were all correct and the same equation. It was just the first day of class and my head was already spinning.
I wondered how this class was possibly going to benefit me at the end of the school year. I had no use of a computer in 1982. My telephone had a cord and I left it at home (like every other normal human being). People sent mail using pen, paper, an envelope, and a postage stamp. Then again, in 1982, the following was also true: a mouse required a cat (or an exterminator), a keyboard could be heard prominently during a Rush concert, a hard drive occurred only in baseball, and a flash drive would get you arrested by a state trooper.
The teacher then gave us a prediction that made me think she had lost her marbles. She told us that computers would be everywhere in our adult years. She further asserted that computers and other electronic devices would do everything from common household tasks to communicating with people around the world. I quickly dismissed her prediction as false prophecy. I figured this would only happen in a world where Commander James Bond would be having lunch with Captain James Kirk. There was no way a box would run my life. I began to wonder what other ridiculous predictions the teacher would make: the Soviet Union will break up (RIGHT!!!), kids will adore a purple dinosaur (and ignore Captain Kangaroo?), and Ron Howard will win an Academy Award (you mean Ritchie Cunningham…Opie Taylor….now THAT’S just crazy talk).
In the more than 25 years that have passed since my teacher’s predictions, many things have happened. The Soviet Union fell in 1991. Little kids DID become obsessed with a purple dinosaur (completely unaware of Captain Kangaroo). Ron Howard has won two Academy Awards (as of this writing). Alas, I must concede, that some of her other predictions came to pass. My life is centered on my wife and four kids. My life also orbits around a portable media player, a (state trooper safe) flash drive, and a laptop computer. The portable media player holds up to 30 gigabytes of data (which translates into thousands of audio tracks). The flash drive holds up to 16 gigabytes of data (allowing me to store files and carry them in my pocket). The laptop computer holds of to 180 gigabytes of data and has 2 gigabytes of memory. The data is stored on a hard drive and a floppy disk is only useful as a coaster for my drink because a drive for such media is all but obsolete.
The other area where the teacher’s predictions came true is on the job front. At the present time, I make my bread and butter as a software quality tester. Actually, I work as a software tester to afford my whole grain bread and cover it with a non trans-fat spread that would only taste like butter if the coffee I am drinking burns off some nerve endings in my tongue. It’s not a bad career for someone whose teacher reluctantly (and barely) gave me a passing grade.
In conclusion, I’d like to offer Ms. Mona Meddin, my computer programming teacher, my abject apologies for my apathy and my appreciation for the passing grade. Without you, this blog would not be possible. My family thanks you (as well as the people who sold me my laptop computer, my USB flash drive, and my portable media player).
I’d like to take a moment and thank everyone who has read my blog, left a comment, and asked me to continue writing more entries for BDGJM. Furthermore, I’d like to (once again) thank Kevin Cummings for his encouragement and support this week. Kevin runs the “Short Cummings Audio” podcast and I am a huge fan. It is an incredible honor to me that he takes the time to let me benefit from his wisdom and experience. Kevin’s podcast can be found at http://www.shortcummingsaudio.com/
I’d also like to thank a friend I have known for 30 years: Janet Beach. Janet has read (and proofread) a lot of things I have written even before I ever thought of starting BDGJM. This post is partly a result of Janet encouraging me to re-work an incomplete essay I had abandoned. Thank you, Janet Holly.
Lastly, I want to thank my wife, Renee, and our four kids: Tom, Shayna, Brianna, and Caleb. The joy you give me daily inspires me to no end.