Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The sky is not falling but the world is changing.

Post Military Years

Excuse me while I pull up my soap box a little closer to the microphone, take a sip of water, get my mind in gear and let the words roll off my tongue. Now, I am not one of those conspiracy theory nuts, but some things get me to wonder what has had a hand in it to make it this way.

When I finished my days in the Air Force of these here United States of America, I left with a plan, a plan that was so tight there was no room to wiggle. I came home, chilled a few days and listened to my family bitching because I was still unemployed and finally hit the pavement. I think even my car knew where we were headed to. When I arrived at my future place of employment, I looked in the mirror, checked myself out and took the most important steps in my life. Once in the building the Personnel Director, as he was known at the time, handed me an application, offered me a pencil but I took my pen out of my jacket pocket, sat down and did my thing. I filled out every question completely. Something I had learned in the service: Leave no stone unturned. That's what gave me my Top Secret clearance so fast. When I was all done, I walked to the receptionist and handed her my paperwork. She instructed me to take a seat until the Director looked over my application and called me into his office. Nothing different between civilian life and the military: Hurry up and wait. After sitting there for some time and growing older, the Director came out, sat down on the sofa next to me and had one question."Son", he said, " it says here in Question One that you are not a US Citizen?" "Yes Sir", was my reply. He looked at me and said: "I'm sorry but I cannot hire you. We work mainly for the Department of Defense and are only allowed to hire citizens." I looked at him dumbfounded, pulled myself together and spoke. " Sir, I don't mean to blow my own whistle, but I probably know your equipment better than anyone in here. I have worked and used all of your systems. I have send your company numerous technical changes to your equipment that was then incorporated into the system, and you can't hire me?' He shook his head, thanked me for coming, stood up and walked back to his office. Well my plan was shattered, maybe I should have had a back-up plan. If this happens, walk away go to the Russian Embassy and offer your services to them. They don't care what citizenship you have, only the information.

But I am a Patriot, I love my adopted country no matter what happens and I will find another street paved with gold that has my name on it. And so I went to the unemployment office. In those days they actually had a veteran working there that would help people like me. The old chap convinced a former grunt to give me a job in his company and so my janitorial career started with Fabri-Tek, Inc. They manufactured  memory that went into computers that took up a whole room. That, however did not concern me. I was in charge of emptying the trash, sweep the floors and mop when necessary. Oh, and don't forget to make sure those sanitary napkin holders in the Ladies Toilet are full. Unbeknown  to the company I did empty the trash cans, but I did not put the trash into the dumpster. Well, not the same day. During my breaks (remember in the 60's the laws said that you had to have a 10 minute break twice a day, plus lunch) I would take the papers, read them and sort them by importance. See, I was going to Fabri-Tek College on a scholarship from Fabri-Tek. Now you're asking yourself: "Why". Well, you never know when somebody leaves and they need someone else to step into his slot. Problem was the company was so good, no-one wanted to leave. So I had to create a hardship for someone and I soon found my candidate. In retrospect I must say this, I was always taught to give the company their money's worth of work. Our Quality Control Manager was not of the same opinion. Because of his lack of enthusiasm, shipment went out late, which cost the company precious dollars. I made it my mission to cause this individual to quit and me take his spot. Took me six months.

I had arrived where I wanted to be. Work is work, the product was new to me. I had worked with electron or vacuum tubes, some transistors, diodes, resistors and capacitors. Plus of course transformers in various sizes depending on the equipment you worked on. Now I no longer worked with many of these components other than in the testers used to evaluate our product in a pass or fail scenario. Fabri-Tek manufactured ferrite memory cores. What drove the electronics industry was speed. In the Air Force we know that a delay of seconds making an enemy on radar could cost us our life. When I was the janitor, Fabri-Tek produced the A6080 core. This stood for a core that took on a size of .00060 inches and had a speed supposedly of 80 nano seconds. In actuality it was much slower. We employed mechanical presses bought as scrap from Bayer Aspirin Company to press the ferrite powder into donut shaped cores. It was the job of my department to sample test the finished product and if passed our standards the cores would be on their way to Hong Cong, a British Colony at that time. Here they were strung with 4 wires in a plane 64 rows by 64 columns. This required 4096 cores. Hence it became known as a 4K memory plane.

Are you bored yet reading all this jargon? Well, I was. So I created myself a new job. Product Development. I took a small corner in my Quality Control shop and became R&D.

Tomorrow I will continue the purpose of this lecture as it pertains to not only myself but also to each of you every day in your life.

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