Mighty Mona, I Thank You

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).

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

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.

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15 thoughts on “Mighty Mona, I Thank You

  1. I will start this comment with one thought I had while reading this; one that will not make you feel old: I remember Captain Kangaroo! Unfortunately for you, my next thought will make you feel old. This story took place before I was born. But that’s what little sisters are for, right? :-)Another great blog! I, too, owe my current profession to the suggestion of a high school teacher.

  2. Thank you, Megan. You are a great little sister. BTW, the guys at work and I were hoping to perhaps be blessed again with a dash of nutmeg. 😀

  3. Well this week’s entry is going to be Creamed Salmon on Toast (look for it tomorrow!) and next week is going to be Greek-inspired twice baked potatoes with capers and feta, and then after that I have a papercrafting entry I want to post, and one for Jim’s 1000 bug cake. So it may be a while before I get to make something that is able to be delivered. But I won’t forget about you guys!

  4. What a great piece and reminder of my own youth. I graduated in 1982 and thought I was going to be a Computer Science major. Then I failed Calculus…twice.I’ve never lost my Computer Geek tendencies, though. My father claims that the only tech support he needs is my phone number. (Presumably because I speak ‘geek’ and can call all of the other tech support numbers of his behalf.)This piece makes me curious about your recollections about the Golden Age of arcade gaming. Personally, I have fond memories of the vector-graphic versions of Star Wars and Star Trek and I dropped an endless stream of quarters into a cocktail table version of Bosconian.

  5. I may have to bang around some thoughts on the arcade issue. Why I do not have a controlling interest with some of those game vendors is beyond me. I also played alot of Bosconian (“Battle Stations”), alot of Tempest (SuperZapper Recharged), and alot of Frenzy (the sequel to Berzerk). Thanks for the idea and your kind words.

  6. BTW, Kevin, I have the same tech support issues with my Dad. I sometimes have to tell him that some things cannot be done a certain way. He usually interprets that as me not understanding his request. I have heard him many times utter the phrase: “OK, stop for a minute and listen to what I am trying to tell you”. I’d be interessted in your perspective on this. Geeks are often like the doctor that shows up at a party and random strangers want to discuss thier gastric issues.

  7. I conquer!!! Another GREAT blog!!! Ms. Mona Meddin would be proud of this, I believe. You are an interesting writer, being that your writings are truth, with a kick of humor and at the same time, quite educational. It is RE-freshing to read your blogs, Shane. Really!!

  8. Shane I finally find time to comment on your blog, which I quite enjoy! Great posts!Thanks for reading my blog and I’ll keep checking back to yours as often as possible. Great writing my friend! Cheers!David CrawfordThe Occasional Humouristwww.occasionalhumourist.blogspot.com

  9. Funny how life turns out. You should send this link directly to Mona. You should write one about Jenkins or Mrs Shea or better yet how awful it was to be my little brother. That is the one everyone needs to read.

  10. I cannot confirm or deny who sent this comment. I CAN however say that the only sibling I had who knew the three people referred to in the comment was my sister. I am sure she can, at some point, serve as some inspiration for a future blog post. After all, she is an inspirational human being. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.

  11. I realize that many of the people who enjoy BDGJM are Facebook friends. However, the comments, messages, and e-mails I got for this blog post have made me very happy to have this blog. Thank you all who left your kind words via any of these aforementioned avenues (some of which included alumni from Windsor Forest High School). I even got a message from Mighty Mona herself. Thank you all.Shane

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