Tuesday, October 19, 2010


The earliest thing I can remember about my father is riding on his shoulders.  At 6'2", it was like soaring above everyone else.  I remember riding up there, and learning to be careful to hold on across his forehead so that I didn't mess up his glasses.  When I joined a Cub Scout pack, my dad was there with me for the whole thing.  I don't think he was officially one of the leaders, but instead of dropping me off and picking me up, I remember him coming to every meeting.
My dad was a bunch of different people - an avid outdoorsman who once traveled to Mexico City alone, unable to speak Spanish, to try to climb up Popocatepetl, but also a workaholic who often had 'one more thing' to complete before coming home.  A person who would wake up in the wee dark hours to be on time for a hiking trip, but unable to give a good estimate about when he was coming home.
I don't remember my dad ever pushing me to do team sports - there was one summer when I was on a softball team, which I don't remember being any good at, and my dad seemed ok with that.  What I do remember is that we got Pong very early on.  We had a small black and white t.v. that we had it hooked up to, no more than 10 inches on the diagonal, and I remember we played that awhile.  We had the original Atari, and my dad would buy the cartridges, in spite of the $30 price - in 1980 dollars.  We amassed quite a collection of those cartridges over the years, including the ultimate in shovel-ware, E.T. the game.
When we began to get too old for the Atari, my dad got us involved with the Commodore line of computers, the Vic-20 and the Commodore 64.  I got a subscription to 'Byte' magazine and would spend hours entering in the machine language programs to play the games.  Meanwhile I boggled as my oldest sister was actually coming up with her own games, and actually getting them to work.
I once got in trouble in a middle school class because I had programmed a graphic program that would draw nested boxes on the screen, and mentioned to my dad that I wanted to make it look like you were traveling through a tunnel.  My dad suggested that I loop a second time, drawing the boxes in black, b/c that would make the white boxes disappear, as if you were coming back out.  When I showed the teacher the result, I was asked if I had my dad's help, which I (thinking that he had suggested it) admitted to.  My teacher accused me of cheating, and my dad pointed out that he hadn't helped me out, in the sense of what the teacher had meant.  I'm not sure if dad ever told the teacher.

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