Letter to Patrick

Here’s another letter to Patrick I found in the backup (Planck) of a backup (Fourier) of a backup (GWG6) folder, originally a XyWrite file dated 20 February 1988. It includes a challenge to help me find a job in Spain, and to develop an app to transmit music between computers via phone connections. (Of course, we didn’t call them apps back then.)

Dear Patrick,

I guess that enough time has passed that I’d better send you a few words. Besides, the opportunity has presented itself since I’ve got three computers going at once: my old home computer is sending information to my work computer while I write this on my new home computer. If I’m not careful this could really get out of hand! Anyway, since I’m busy uploading files, I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you what’s been happening recently in my life.

First though, I’d better mention that Little Grandmother is in poor health; I received a letter from her at Christmas saying that she has to wear a heart monitor. She says that she’s been “dangerously ill” and says that it is “a sad time of life.” Her letter was a melancholy one; she says that she hasn’t heard from you in ages, that Jack doesn’t “bother” with her any more, and that Louise wouldn’t help at all if she didn’t have to. God, it must be lonely getting old.

So how do I transition to happier things? How’s this. . . . THIS IS A FORCED TRANSITION TO HAPPIER THINGS.

Of course I’ve been pretty busy with work and other activities, but that’s always the case. I went home for Christmas; Mary went along with me. She had never been to the islands before, so we played tourist a lot. We also had a very nice time visiting with my folks. Curiously, we broke up after we returned to the mainland, so I’m a “single” man again. She wanted to get more involved, while I preferred things less serious, so we were at odds. It being a long distance relationship didn’t help either, but it would have been spooky had she moved down here; the implications would have made me quite uncomfortable. Anyway, we’re still communicating a bit, which is good.

About three weeks ago some friends and I went up to Mammoth Mountain in northeastern California for a three day ski trip. Everyone there complimented my rapid learning of the sport. My first day there I took an all-day ski class. There were only two of us the class, which was really fortunate for me; it was like a semi-private lesson. The instructor ran us all over the mountain, including a lot of places I never would have gone voluntarily. It turns out she knew my skiing level better than I, and I was able to ski down safely from everywhere. Of course, I tumbled a few times, but as one person pointed out, if you don’t fall, you’re not challenging yourself. The instructor thought that I had really good balance; it probably comes from all those years of motorcycling. Even my friends were saying that it took them three or four years to go down the hills I was skiing down on the second day. Needless to say I received a lot of ego boosting during the trip.

More about California: my doorway and I are getting to be great friends. We had another minor earthquake the other morning. Fortunately I was just getting up to wash the car when it hit, so scrambling was not quite as hectic. My roommate and her boyfriend pounded on my door as they dashed down the stairs, but my doorway and I were already getting reacquainted. Gee, I’m surrounded by wires right now, with wires running between the two computers, my television, a cassette player, the modem, and the low voltage power supply. If we have another earthquake I’ll be trapped. Well, not actually, I still have a clear path to the doorway. . . .

I recently drove out to Phoenix. My friend Sandie just had a baby. Her husband left her, while her mother-in-law is trying to evict her from their trailer now that David has moved out. (The trailer was purchased for the two of them, but now that he has skipped town his mother wants the thing back.) Anyway, Sandie needs a little help, so I talked to a bunch of friends and managed to get a bunch of leftover baby clothes, toys, and implements of necessity. I arranged by phone for her to get a crib, a car seat, and a walker from some friends in Phoenix. Some people out here gave me more clothes, a playpen, a high chair, another walker, an electric swing, and a bunch of toys. The Phoenix trip was to deliver these goodies. It took some very careful packing to get everything loaded into my little car [Karmann Ghia] but I was successful and had an otherwise uneventful trip.

I was unable to see a lot of the people that I usually visit, but it was nice to visit with those that I did see, and Sandie’s baby seems okay. I’m not a connoisseur of babies, but as far as I can tell Joshua was all right; his head wasn’t misshapen or anything. People kept trying to get me to hold him, but I don’t know anything about holding babies, and would feel decidedly uncomfortable, so I graciously declined.

I’ve installed several new instruments in the dash of my Karmann Ghia. They are made by VDO, the company that builds all of Volkswagen’s other guages, and they look like they’re original equipment. I am really proud of the installation; I put in a lot of effort to make the installation look professional. In fact, in some ways the job is better than professional because I used better wiring practices than most mechanics would use (a left-over from my days as a technician). I still have a few odds and ends to address, but then the car will appear to be in mint condition. (Oh, yes, I also had some dents repaired and the car repainted. The repainting would not have been necessary except that a Phoenix friend bashed in one fender last summer.) Anyway, I’ve been getting lots of compliments these days on the fine automobile I’m driving; I’m sure glad that I have a covered garage to store it in at night. The car belonged to my folks before me, so they also like to hear that it’s being maintained.

So what is happening in Spain? With you and yours? With Gretchen? She delights in sending cryptic post cards that say nothing, but of course we delight in receiving them. And the music? Is it going well?

I’m getting more involved in teaching at Rockwell. The Artificial Intelligence (Expert Systems) class is going really well; the students seem to be happy with the job I’m doing. In addition, on Monday I start teaching a lunch~time class at work. The class is a computer class (Beginning DOS) and runs for a month. I like the teaching that I’ve done so far; if this DOS class goes as well as I hope, I may consider getting into teaching more seriously.

Which leads nicely to the real thrust of this letter. . . . As I recall, I’ve mentioned that Spain has too little technology for me. Well, I am toying (only in the far, far back of my mind, mind you) with the idea of perhaps rectifying that in some small degree. The aerospace industry here is getting soft, even though my own job appears secure for the time being. And of course, I really like my job these days; I’m doing real engineering work in addition to the teaching stuff. However, there may come a day. . . .

Should that day arrive, I thought I might like to try my hand as a computer teacher or consultant, possibly in Spain. Though my Spanish is limited at the moment, I’m certain that I could get up to speed in fairly short order. More importantly, I think that I could do a good job of imparting technical knowledge to others; I already know that it is quite satisfying. So, what is involved in considering that sort of venture? Are there schools out there now? Do they need teachers? Are there many computers out there? What types? What is involved in setting up business there? How likely would it be that I could establish some sort of foothold there? I don’t want to risk everything on a flight of fancy, but on the other hand, I am willing to accept some challenges. Anyway, you’ve heard my thoughts on all this.

This also leads back to something we discussed a while ago, namely the transmittal of sheet music. As I mentioned before, it would be a fairly straightforward process in the current scheme of things, and we could enhance the transmittal process in several ways using computers to enhance the images. I have some definite ideas on the subject, but we don’t need to discuss them now; besides, I don’t know if you’re still interested.

Well, it’s getting late now, and hopefully the uploading will be done (and successful) real soon. Anyway, I’ll close this letter with the hope that you can get back to me on some of the ideas we’ve been discussing.

I also trust that you’ll give my regards to Stephanie, Gretchen, and all the others whom I remember so fondly. You guys take care of yourselves!