Friday, August 21, 2009

Data (and self) Preservation!

February, 15, 1983 Tuesday 41 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today I did not see Randy. I had a lot of homework. I can't write long today. Lara and I are drifting far apart. My teachers don't know I'm moving yet. Actually, I just looked on my calendar and I'm moving in 41 days so I'll change it now because it says 45 days. I know I'm doing the right thing by moving. Well, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer"

*************

February 16, 1983 40 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today I studied for two tests, Greeks and Romans and life science I. I am moving in 40 days, yaaaa. My room is 9 feet by 18 feet. Long and skinny. Mom, Jeff and Joel are very happy I'm moving up there and are excited about fixing up my room which is a basement. But I will have carpet and everything. Well, bye Ophelia. Your happy friend, Jennifer."

Jennifer's new room was actually part of the garage. Jeff and her mom remodeled one garage bay into a bedroom with a door that opened to the basement of the condominium. Jennifer remembers feeling stress that she would be living in the basement/garage but just knowing she would have carpet reassured her that all would be quite civilized. (hey, it was better than an igloo!)

February 17, 1983 Thursday 39 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today in P.E. we took a running test, 3 laps. I came in first place. On the Greeks and Romans test I missed one and on life science I test I am pretty sure I got an A because I knew all the answers easily. Mom called today. Every time I talk to her I wish I could go to Alaska now. I am so excited. Here we eat fast food all the time. But in Alaska we can cook every day. Well I gotta go, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

You heard it hear folks--a twelve year old girl who rejects her unsupervised, money-flowing, fast-food eating, sunny-California lifestyle to live in a basement in Alaska where home-cooked meals will be the norm! I've always heard that kids, no matter how much they might resist it, need structure, stability, sleep and healthy meals. It's interesting that Jennifer knew this too!

I love the line, "We can cook every day." By this Jennifer meant that her mom could cook every day!

February 18, 1983 Friday 38 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today was boring. I watched TV, cleaned out my drawers. I have no homework. I took Muffin on a walk. Tonight I'm spending the night at Lara's. My lesson is tomorrow at eleven. Well, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

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February 19, 1983 Saturday 37 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today my lesson went perfectly. I loved it. Today we decided to go camping at Pinnacles National Park. The rest of the day was boring. Well I gotta go so bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennfier."


Pinnacles National Park, Paicines, California

During a seven day span in 1908, President Teddy Roosevelt set aside Pinnacles, Muir Woods and the Grand Canyon as National Monuments. What a lasting contribution to America! Pinnacles National Park is about 88 miles from Foster City (141 kilometers).

February 20, 1983 Sunday 36 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"We decided to take Muffin camping with us. Cocoa threw up. When we got there we went hiking in some caves. Muffin is having a good time. Right now we just finished a dinner of beef jerky, cheese, bread, apple bakes and ice tea. We don't have a tent, just sleeping bags. Well I gotta go, bye Ophelia. Your friend out in the boonies, Jennifer."

"Cocoa threw up"--what a random comment. Were they going to take the cat but chose the dog because the cat threw up--or did the cat throwing up have anything to do with the trip? Jennifer's cat, Cocoa, was a nervous cat. She may have been stressed to see the family packing up the car and the dog (or she just had a hairball!) Anyway, the cat did not go camping.

No tent! Jennifer's dad camped like a bachelor. He felt like camping so he grabbed sleeping bags, the kids, some beef jerky, threw in the dog and off they went. February is the height of the rainy season in California but a tent would have required planning ahead. Jennifer's dad was more of a backpacker anyway.

Jennifer has always loved camping without a tent. Isn't the whole point of it to sleep outdoors! There is nothing like falling asleep under the stars as the campfire burns low.


Daniel at a typical family campsite!


February 21, 1983 Monday 34 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"It took two hours to get home then we went to dad's work and played with the computers. Well I have to go it's late so bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

Jennifer's dad was a computer programmer. He was a contractor and worked for IBM, Visa, Bank of America and Pacific Bell to name a few. He also made the rounds in Silicon Valley working from company to company. He knew at least 50 computer languages including Ramis, Rex, Focus, Nomad, PL1 and Cobalt. He has since learned Java and C++. He used these languages to create computer applications and to convert applications for large companies.

These computer applications would come back to haunt the world in the year 2000 when the brainiacs realized that 00 meant 1900 not 2000. Jen's dad and all his programmer friends who still knew some of the older languages like Cobalt found themselves suddenly invaluable and back to work. They raced to fix the problem before all ATM's stopped working and the jail cells unlocked themselves and Armageddon began on earth. Jen's dad was a Cobalt Superhero for about a year. And then the whole disaster did not come to pass and he was out of work...

Apparently, he is not the only computer programmer who can be accused of not planning ahead!

Jennifer and Daniel loved to visit their dad's work. At IBM, he took his kids to see the mainframes. At the time, they took up huge rooms at IBM and data was stored on magnetic tapes.
Jennifer remembers IBM's Mainframe room looking similar to these pictures!


So much money and resources are put into data storage and preservation and tracking. Humans who live in small villages only need their hands to count and they rely on everyone's memories for data storage and recall. Life has become so complicated! I have lost enough cameras and photos to know that the best way to preserve your memories is to live fully in the moment when life is happening to you. I don't believe that even death will take the memories of our souls, but all else is gauranteed to return to ashes (including your loved ones bodies). Take photos and videos but don't rely on them.


February 22, 1983 Tuesday 33 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today I didn't go to school. I feel like my life is over here, I can't wait to get to Alaska. I can't write long today. I am so bored. I can't wait until the show next weekend. I will ride David. I am sharing him with Kacy though. Well, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

Bored again....Jennifer is detaching like mad so that she can bear to leave at all.

What are your self-preservation tactics?

1 comment:

  1. My dad was a bioligist and a Wilderness Survival Teacher. We always built shelters if we didn't have a tent! Or we'd fish and set traps for food and gather wild edible plants. I always felt safe camping with dad around.
    Those computers are pretty awesome. I remember that when I was five years old my mom went back to school to get her masters degree. She took me with her to live in the dorms and her 16 year sister watched me. (She only had a summer to finish) I got to go into the COMPUTER room with huge mainframes and see the punch cards that they ran the programs on. I remember the man saying that if you didn't number your punch cards and they spilled your program was toast. He gave me a card. It had rectangle punch holes in it. I thought it was so COOL!!!

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