Saturday, November 04, 2006

Blast From the Past

Blast From the PastThis was my Halloween costume this year. (I suppose I should mention that this is the first time I've ever dressed for Halloween in my entire adult life.) When people asked what I was, I told them "A blast from the past." Try to avoid looking at my face. I am so not photogenic. If there was a contest for world's least photogenic person and I didn't win, I'd say the voting was rigged.

It's hard to tell from the picture, but that's a slide rule in my pocket, and the shoes are authentic Kalso Earth shoes. I wish I'd had one of those Peace symbol necklaces, but that didn't occur to me until it was too late to do anything about it. And a couple of people pointed out that the glasses were wrong, and yes, I knew that, and I would have liked to have big glasses with plastic rims, but, you know, I need these glasses so I can, like, see.

I have something sad to tell you about this "costume," and also something happy: The sad thing is that I am old enough to have worn this outfit when it was in style. The happy news is that I did not. It seems that even before I knew Judi, I had a modicum of good taste. And I have something else to tell you: Polyester is miserably hot. It looks lightweight, but really it's like wearing saran wrap, except it's a little stiffer and you can't see through it.

My "costume" was well received at work. Although when Angie, the young lady of perhaps twenty-two who sits at the station behind mine in our four-person cube, came in, she said, "What's that in your pocket? No, wait! I know! Let me think.... It's a slide rule! I've heard about them. I've never seen one before, but I've heard of them."

I was tempted to take out my slide rule and give her a rap on the head, for disrepecting her elders and making them feel old. I used a slide rule when I was in college. It was right on the cusp of the transition from slide rules to handheld calculators, and a few of the more affluent students owned calculators, but most of us still used slide rules. The university even had a policy forbidding professors from requiring a greater degree of precision in test answers than could be provided by a slide rule.

Later, another young lady -- this one a Production Manager -- who had also never seen a slide rule asked me to show her how to use it. I tried to teach her to do multiplication, but she spent about ten seconds at it and then gave up, saying "It's too hard! I'll just use a calculator." Youngsters. They have no intellectual stamina. :)

The two questions I heard most often were, "Did you get that out of the back of your closet?" Answer: No. See above. And, "Where did you buy that?" Answer: On eBay, of course. Where else would you find a polyester leisure suit? In the right size, no less. I got the slide rule and the Kalso shoes from the same place. When I was in high school, by the way, there was one teacher who wore Kalso shoes, and we thought he was the coolest.

One last story to tell: The day after Halloween, Wednesday, I had to teach a class to some assembly operators. So I went out to the factory floor the day before, Halloween day, in my "costume" of course, to make sure all the operators had and knew their network login ids and passwords, and that all the passwords worked. I always do this before I teach this class. Well, on Wednesday morning I taught the class, and when I was done one of the students said, "You're a really good teacher!"

"Thank you," I said.

"Yeah," she went on, "when you came out to the line yesterday and we saw that slide rule in your pocket, we all though you'd be so dull you'd put us to sleep."

Thanks, lady.


Very nice costume. Dr. Science once claimed that after the impending global collapse those who still know how to use slide rules will rule, so to speak.

I am very impressed that you still remember how to use one; I can't remember how to retrieve my voicemail messages from one day to the next.
Most excellent. I am typically the most unphotogenic one around, usually my eyes are closed (or half-closed) and well, I manage to look either drunk, drugged, or deranged. ;)
=Dr. Science once claimed that after the impending global collapse those who still know how to use slide rules will rule=

Know how to use a slide rule... and have one. That's probably the biggest stumbling block.
That costume is really a thing of beauty. Well done!
wow! i'm speechless.

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