After 40 years as a computer programmer and game developer—and the passing of his wife of 47 years—Rick has retired and is now living in Ye Olde Folks Home, where he still tinkers with tech and likes to write these amusing and/or thoughtful tales about his storied life.

An Embarrassing Moment
In Memoriam: Betty Edwards-Vessel
A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing
Who Would Jesus Stab?
The Eggshell Incident
First Chapel Service at Ye Olde Folks Home
A Yearly Ritual at Menards
“Mr. Loftus, the Town Hero”
The FCAL Project
Pepe Le Pew Finds New Lodgings
In Memoriam: Dale Lear
Bingo Bedlam at Ye Olde Folks Home
There’s a Shortage of Perfect Movies…
One Day at the DMV
A Visitor from Microsoft
“He Who Should Not Be Named”
Downton… Abbey?
This Home is a Liver-Free Zone
My 9/11 Rememberances
My Yearly Pumpkin Spice Rant
Done In By Baker’s Square
My Eulogy for Alice
“Dear Rikki…”
A Clean, Well-lighted Place for Books
Memories of my First Computer
A Little Excitement at the Staff Meeting
The Tale of Mrs. Butler
Sun, Sand, and a Margarita
“Thou Shalt Not Steal”
Troubleshooting at Ye Olde Folks Home
Stories of my Mother
I’ve Heard Angels Sing
Elevator Mishap at the Eye Clinic
One Day at Fair, Isaac
Saturday Morning Cartoons
A Sprig of Parsley
Fun With Recruitment Ads
Leave Her to Heaven
“Squirrel!”
Bring me Dave Bringle!
Beware! The Oldsters Are Coming!
Life Among the Progressives
A Family Ritual While Watching Masterpiece
The Unforgettable General Oppy
“Don’t Even THINK About Parking Here”
A Dubious Plan Gone Awry
The Singing Christmas Tree!
One Day in the Hospital Lab
The Legend of the Broken Timer
Nelson’s Fruit Stand
This One Time in Glee Club…
Star Trek References for the Win
Family Psalm, Stuck in Lodi
Vacation in Branson
Clyde and Ruth Revisited
COVID Policies During my Wife’s Fatal Illness
I Guess I’m the Shadow IT Department Now
The Tale of Clyde and Ruth
My Garden of Gethsemane Story
We Might Get a Virus!

One Day at Fair, Isaac

A closeup of the original Fair, Isaac logo at our old headquarters in San Rafael, CA in the ’80s

Over my many years working with computers I’ve collected myriad amusing anecdotes, most of which involve some incredible stupidity or other, but one makes my heart burst with pride.

My first job out of college was working for Fair, Isaac and Company, which produced custom computer systems for large financial firms.

The “Fair” in the name referred to Bill Fair, who was our much beloved CEO. He, along with Earl Isaac, the titular “Isaac,” were quite the characters.

Bill Fair was a CEO of the “benevolent despot” variety. His word was law, and he did not suffer fools gladly, but he was also a kindly man as long as you stayed on his good side.

He had a nervous habit of tugging at his shirt collar, Rodney Dangerfield style. I remember when a new employee dropped by his office to helpfully point that out and offer to teach him some stress relief techniques.

Bill instead decided to relieve his stress a bit more immediately by firing him on the spot.

Earl Isaac was the extremely bright man who showed up as your project was 90% complete to innocently ask why you were not doing it this way; what he suggested was invariably much better than your efforts and you usually found yourself muttering under your breath as you reworked your project at that point.

One day a couple of our analysts were reviewing all the particulars of a system we were building with a team of representatives from one of our customers, only to be interrupted by the following unusual question: “This all sounds very good, but just between us men, how can we keep Jews out of the system?”

The two analysts politely excused themselves to relay this remarkable query to Bill Fair, who asked his assistant to fetch this firm’s contract.

Without delay, he marched to the meeting room where he tore up the contract in their faces and told them, “We are not doing business with you. Get off my property.”

Needless to say, this made us love him all the more. Bill and Earl are no longer with us, alas, but I am proud to recount this testimony to his character, and proud to have my 13 years at Fair, Isaac on my resume.