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Recalling my past (#1093)

Topics/tags: Autobiographical, disjointed, sketchy

Today, during late-spring-cleaning, an friend from graduate school found something I’d given him in the late 1980’s and sent me a picture. That picture led me to reflect a bit on who I was and who I am. Don’t worry; my reflections aren’t all that deep, and they certainly won’t be painful. The deep, tortuous baring of my soul will have to wait until a day when my muse feels differently.

People who know me today know that I am inclined to puns and other bad jokes. Or dad jokes. Whatever you call them. Those things that I think are funny but seem to be alone in that assessment. Sometimes it’s that my jokes are too obscure, such as when I bring up Ray and Dave when I suggest we need to get the kinks out of something, or when I ask whether Ollie North will be the guest caller for the Contra Dance club. Sometimes they are just trite, such as when I move my gaze toward the ceiling when someone asks me What’s Up? [1]. I’ve been that way for as long as I can recall [2].

Since college [3], I’ve worked with computers in one way or another. At UofC [4], I worked at the central users’ site, or Usite [5]. Working for computing services in those days meant that I got access to extra resources and cool things like laser printers and extra computing funds.

I also like to play and experiment. While that brings me joy, it’s also helped advance me professionally. I played with HyperCard; I got a job doing HyperCard programming. I played with Adobe products, I got a job teaching folks how to use PageMaker. I played with LaTeX, I got an assistant sysadmin job. Of course, there’s some evidence that if I had played less, I would have finished graduate school much earlier [6].

Whoops! I just got caught in the endnotes. But I’m back.

Where is all of this leading? To the photograph I received. Here it is.

A business card. At
the top left corner is a drawing of curly hair and glasses.  At the top
right it says 'Samuel A. Rebelsky, newline, Generally Nice Guy, newline,
Crazed Computer Consultant'.  Below the drawing is an address of little import.  And below that is a saying: 'Nonsequiturs anonymous: we may not make sense, but we sure to like pizza.'

What’s going on here? Presumably, I had gotten access to some business card stock and decided to make myself a business card. I’m not sure where the Generally Nice Guy and Crazed Computer Consultant came from, but I’m pretty sure that they were ways I wanted to describe myself. That statement at the bottom? It seems that I was in one of my funny moods. I can’t recall whether there was more to Nonsequiturs Anonymous than this business card. It seems like something that could have been a one-off or a running joke.

Then there’s the computer sketch. I’d completely forgotten about that. About a decade ago, I started adding a doodle after my name when I signed informal things. A few years ago, when I was teaching Processing, I wrote a Processing program to draw that same doodle. I had intended to make an animated GIF [9] but never got around to it. But I branded myself with the final drawing.

A computer-generated sketch of someone with glasses, curly hair, and a curly beard.

I gained eyes! [10] And a beard! [11] And a smile! [12]

What can I conclude from all of this? Um … I’m forgetful. I forgot that the business card had more than the Nonsequiturs Anonymous. I only remembered that I’d made a business card in the first place because the same friend reminded me of the saying a year or two ago. I certainly forgot that I had a logo on the business card. My understanding of English grammar needed some improvement. I’m pretty sure that I should have capitalized the sentence that followed the colon. And it should be Nonsequiturs Anonymous. I’m still a generally nice guy. I’m still crazed, but I don’t do much consulting on computers. I haven’t made my own business cards in a while [14], but I do make my own letterhead.

Perhaps I’ve also learned that my subconscious regularly tries to remind me that I’m sketchy.

And, just in case I forget: You can’t take three from two—two is less than three—so you look at the four in the tens place. Now that’s really four tens, so you make it three tens, change the ten to ten ones, regroup, add the two to the ten then you take away three that’s nine. Damn. How does one punctuate that?

Or, as I learned from my seventh-grade math teacher: No soap, radio.

Postscript: Email address? I had an email address. But why would one include an email address on a business card?

Postscript: It’s taken me about thirty years, but I’ve now learned that there’s a space in nonsequitur. No, it doesn’t come between the cue and the you. But I don’t care. I spell things some things as I wish. And I like tuna fish [16].

Postscript: This musing, like most, shows why I will never be a professional writer. And, if you didn’t already have sympathy for my family, I’m sure you gained some [17].

[1] When I’m on campus, the most common answer is Ceiling tile.

[2] I’m getting old. I can barely recall yesterday.

[3] The College, as I think of it.

[4] No, Chris, I’m not calling it UChicago.

[5] Amazingly, I did my best to invite the Lucite joke.

[6] Sorry, Micki [7].

[7] Has anyone kept track of how many times I’ve written Sorry, Micki in my musings? It happens way too often. What was it that my father said, or that my mother said that my father said?

The things that most annoy us about someone we love are often the inextricably tied to the things we love most about them.

Did he really say that? Would he have used the word inextricably?
That seems more like a mom word or maybe a Bones word [8]. I have no idea. s I said, I’m getting old and he died more than forty years ago. Mom died about a decade ago. Bleh. In any case, I remember her telling me that, and so I’m sticking with it.

Whoops! Didn’t I say that this wouldn’t be morose or something like that? Too bad, so sad. The saying is still useful.

[8] Bones was one of Dad’s best friends and was in advertising. I recall that he ended up writing a recommendation letter to help dad get his last job, and it was filled with the kinds of words that only someone in advertising would use. Ah! I found it.

His probity and rectitude are beyond question.

Yeah, that’s a nice compliment.

[9] I pronounce it phig.

[10] I had eyes. So perhaps I should say My sketch gained eyes.

[11] I did not have a beard. I do now, although some would suggest that the growth of hair on my face does not deserve that denomination.

[12] Crooked though it is.

[14] Given that the atrocity we call a business card at Grinnell, perhaps I should [15].

[15] I shouldn’t complain; it’s gotten better.

[16] You might be able to tune a cornetto, but you can’t tuna fish.

[17] Sorry, Micki.

Version 1.0 of 2020-07-02.