Friday, December 20, 1996

I Was Awarded a Medal by NASA

A picture of the medal I was awarded by NASA.

OK, I admit it. I was one of hundreds of high school students who participated in NASA's "put an experiment aboard the Space Shuttle" contest. Each of us got a cheap plastic medal, a certificate, a copy of the group photo and an all-expenses-paid trip to a regional NASA conference for ourselves and our science teacher. Most of us in the West went to NASA Ames Research Center (in Mountain View, California).

Since NASA Ames Research Center is about fifteen miles from the high school I attended, the free hotel room and the "mileage expenses" seemed kind of silly, but the people there from North Dakota seemed to appreciate it. It was a lot warmer in California.

My experiment came right out of a Carl Sagan book I had read: it was basically to take some aluminium and lead and try to heat them up and make alloy out of them. In fact, the whole thing was pretty silly. I was taking biology at the time, and I didn't like biology, so when I was given a choice -- to do some regular biology assignment or to do a Shuttle contest entry on any area of science -- well, I decided a shuttle contest entry on metallurgy was a lot less boring. It was, as it turned out.

So I went to Ames, got advice on redoing the project for the Next Level of Competition, resubmitted it, and was told I didn't make the next cut. Oh well. I got an A in biology that semester. And I get to tell people I was awarded a medal by NASA.

Tuesday, December 3, 1996

Roger Sage and the New York Times

When I was a sophomore in high school, one of my fellow students wrote several different letters to the school newspaper, and they would get printed even though everybody on the newspaper staff thought they were less than valuable. As I recall he was the only one who had any letters printed over a period of several months.

This is the first parody I remember writing. I thought I had lost it but it turned up in a box of mementos. It's not really very good (the meter is awful) but I think if one is defaming someone named Roger Sage one could hardly pick a better song to do it with.

Roger Sage and the New York Times

Are you going to print that letter?
Roger Sage and the New York Times
Sage's ideas: Our readers will scare
Drop our circulation to nine.

Please don't print old Sage's letter.
Roger Sage and the New York Times
For sanity don't you have a care?
This will lose us zillions of dimes.

Don't ask me again, Sage, about that letter.
Roger Sage and the New York Times
Sage, your ideas will open our wounds bare.
Save the riots for another time.

Oh, no, they printed Sage's letter.
Roger Sage and the New York Times
I'm getting out, right now while I still dare.
My reputation: can I save it in time?

Monday, October 14, 1996

Headhunter, Headhunter

I wrote this in October, 1996. Someone at SCO asked me if they could use it in a company theatrical of some sort. I don't know if they did or not.

I suspect I was half thinking of Frank Jacobs' "Headshrinker, Headshrinker" from Mad magazine when I wrote this. Given that, and that a headhunter is in fact another kind of matchmaker, I can't say this is very imaginative. Oh well.

Headhunter, Headhunter

Headhunter, headhunter please hunt my head
Offer me jobs
Get out the lead
Headhunter, headhunter look in your book
And get me a lot more bread

Send me
To far-off and distant shores
Where I'll do a job interview
They're I'll
Play tourist on your dime
Knowing the bills are all going to you...

Headhunter, headhunter please hunt my head
Work I have now
Fills me with dread
Headhunter, headhunter find me ano-
ther place I can work, instead!

Saturday, October 5, 1996

She Really Loves QuarkXPress

Back in 1996, I was reading the Macintosh conference in the Café Utne online community. One of the users, in discussing her Macintosh activities, wrote:

I am pretty well-versed in Photoshop and Illustrator, but I spend most of my life with Quark, which I would marry if it wasn't an application.
I wrote this in response.

(Scene: A small office with a wooden desk. A door leads left into a hallway. On the desk is a Quadra 700 with a PlainTalk microphone and some AppleDesign speakers.)

(Enter KIRSTEN, closing the door behind her. In speaking, KIRSTEN addresses the microphone.)

KIRSTEN: Quark, I want to talk about (swallows) -- about us.

QUARK: Look, Kirsten, I think I know how you feel. But you have to understand -- it could never work out. I haven't wanted to publicize it too much, but -- I have to tell you. I'm an application.

KIRSTEN: (gasping) Oh, no. I had no idea.

QUARK: Yes, yes it's true. I'm not in a relationship now, I just broke up with Corelle Draw.

KIRSTEN (recovering): Listen, Quark, there are clinics -- psychologists -- they can help you.

QUARK (interrupting): Do you think I haven't tried? I spent a year in therapy with Eliza. But being an application isn't something you can unlearn, it isn't learned in the first place. I always knew as I was growing up that I was an application. I was always attracted to other programs. It took me a long time to accept, but now I know that I was compiled that way.

KIRSTEN: But you could at least try -- try for me. Don't you want to live a normal life?

QUARK: Look, Kirsten, I really like and respect you, as a colleague and as a friend. But you have to accept that you're never going to walk down that aisle and become Mrs. XPress. That's just the way it is, and I'm sorry it had to come to this.

(KIRSTEN bursts into tears, slams open the door and exits left.)