(That is officially the longest blog title I’ve ever written.)
Sunday was my Dad’s birthday. I sometimes joke that his punishment for dying too soon is that I will now spend the rest of my life posting embarrassing photos of him on the internet.
Although – in my defense – this is no glamour shot of me either.
I stumbled upon a bunch of letters from Dad this weekend and sometimes I forget how funny his letters were. I mean – I remember him making me laugh – but the details as to how have faded a bit. I read these letters and his humor just came rushing back to me, and seeing it in written form really showed maybe where I get some of my writing style from. He writes a lot like I do, but with less mention of boob sweat.
This is a transcript of one of my favorite letters (October 1993 – I had been away at college for just a couple of months) along with my commentary (in italics), but with personal information of family members removed. Especially the part where Dad talked about how I was his favorite child. I didn’t think my brother should see that.
It is Sunday afternoon & I am at work. I should be working on my digital signal processing lab but I’ve decided to write you instead. (Dad was working on his Masters and taking very difficult engineering classes. We often commiserated on the difficulty of our classes, even though his were actually hard and I was just being lazy.) I have no class Monday night and my lab is due the following Monday. At first I thought it was going to be easy. The more I do of it the harder it looks. (I took a Cell Biology class that worked the same way.) I have to design a low pass filter mathematically and then translate it to assembly language understood by a integrated circuit. (SERIOUSLY? WTF does that even mean?) If that wasn’t bad enough, I have to scale it. My filter calls for numbers like:
1.23456 x 1023
but the biggest number the integrated circuit can take is 4096. I need to read some more before I understand how to do it. (HA! A MATH JOKE. I mean, do you realize how much bigger 1.23456 x 1023 is than 4096? TONS bigger! I love that I inherited my appreciation for math humor from him.)
By the way, how do you like that number? I am using my new wordperfect for Windows at work. It is a bitch to understand but it does some neat things. My last two weeks at work have been spent playing with it. It is a shared networked with 1.2 gigabytes of memory. That enough to store 600 million pages of writing. I have been seeing how much more than my share I can fill up. (I like to think he wrote at least 400 million pages of math jokes during his tenure at that job.)
I have changed my style at work. I haven’t wore a tie since summer. I don’t intend to for long. (I totally forgot Dad used to wear a tie at work! I wonder if he ever sported the Bud Light shirt a the hospital)
I am also at work this afternoon because it is freezing in our house. C is with Mom so I have the heat turned down. I will go home in a little while to begin warming it up. (Y’all. Dad was a FREAK about not wasting power/heat. We had one tiny baseboard heater in one room of the house that he only turned on if we were home and in that room. It basically put out enough warmth so that you didn’t get frostbite. AND THAT’S ALL. I do not tolerate anyone whining about a cold house because YOU JUST DON’T KNOW.)
I talked to A’s Mom the other day and gave her hell for setting precedence and buying A a car. (That’s right, children of American. I didn’t have my own car until I was a sophomore in college.) I haven’t heard from any more of your friends or their families. C doesn’t talk nearly as much as you used to. (Me? A Talker? WHAT WAS HE IMPLYING?) He is spending a lot of time studying this year…and his grades show it. (Is he calling me fat?)
We still go to Central to run and roller blade a couple of times each week. (I never got to see Dad roller blade, I don’t think. I forgot he did until I read this letter. I have a hysterical mental image of it though, I doubt real life would have been as funny.) Last Thursday an army helicopter overheated and sat down in the parking lot. (We chased down a hot air balloon once, struggling to land in a shopping center. We talked to them for a bit and they took us up for awhile. Dad must have had a magnetism for airborne people.) We talked with the army guys for about half and hour. They buzzed our heads as they were taking off. I think they may be just been playing instead of having engine trouble.
Time to get back to filters. Write or call when you can.
P.S. Sometimes these printouts come out 3 floors away. I’ll have to be careful what I write about until we understand this network more. Love,Dad. (Now I wish he HAD talked more about boob sweat.)