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.

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
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!

Memories of my First Computer

My first computer-related job was as an administrator for the computer at the math department of the local community college.

I say “the” computer because it was the only one… a huge collection of metal cabinets, tape drives, blinking lights, knobs, and switches. I kept the beast running and helped students with their programming assignments.

I got the job due to the influence of two technically-minded but eccentric friends, who put me in touch with my boss, the head of the math department.

When I started, the computer was dying around three times a day, until I started idly rummaging around in file cabinets and found a collection of documents from the manufacturer outlining various patches to the operating system to make it more reliable.

Nobody had the slightest clue how you did that, so I taught myself, and in the process figured out a few patches of my own. After about a month I had it running nonstop for weeks at a time.

My boss took me aside and confessed that he actually had a low opinion of my off-beat friends, and wondered if I was “like them,” but had decided to give me a chance. I had apparently exceeded his expectations, since he then apologized for misjudging me.

It was probably one of the happiest periods of my life, mesmerized and absorbed as I was in mastering this new technology.

My boss turned out to be the greatest guy, and I quite admired him. We had only one minor dustup when I foolishly programmed the login message on the system to exhort students to vote a certain way in an upcoming election.

He patiently explained to me why that wasn’t a good idea. I agreed, and immediately changed the message back.

I had to quit when I went away to college, but I came back occasionally and did freelance work for my boss while I was in town.

Just before I left I asked my boss if I could take the source listings to the operating system with me, and he promised to ask the powers that be if that was okay.

A week later he walked into the room where I was making notes from those very same listings and told me solemnly, “I have absolutely no idea where those listings are. I guess I must have misplaced them somehow.”

“Got it,” I said, and packed them away to take home.

I must have thrown out those listings at some point over the years. I still have one of the keys that turned the computer on, as a souvenir, however.

I’ve always wished I could have that computer at home to play with, but it’d cost a fortune to buy, a fortune to run, and a fortune to repair my house after the weight of it collapsed my flooring.

But now I have a simulation of it, complete with accurately blinking lights on a panel with switches, running on a little $45 Raspberry Pi. Just for fun I’m re-learning assembler programming on it again.

I find I’m a bit rusty after 45 years, but I’m having fun.