A mid-week tease for my upcoming column on modern word processing, the US Coast Guard, and the suicide of a shipmate — how they influenced my direction. Please check back next week for the completed column. In the meantime, here is an excerpt:
A Twist Of Fate
I was deckhand on the Coast guard Cutter Acushnet in the mid-1980’s. I didn’t want to be a deckhand. I applied to be the Yeoman Striker in the ships’ administrative office; an apprentice Yeoman. To my surprise, and to the shame of the Coast Guard, my request to strike for Yeoman was actually approved. I would then work my days, not on deck chipping paint under the hot Caribbean sun, but in the ship’s air conditioned office under the tutelage of the Yeoman First Class.
My administrative abilities would be cultivated and I would become a pusher of papers, an organizer, and a correspondent. This was in the early days of personal computing, pre-Microsoft. The Convergent Technologies C3 word processor and data storage unit was the technology which the Coast Guard implemented system-wide.
The C3 had a13” monitor with a green LED display, and inside the CPU was a slick combination of voodoo, witchcraft and a floppy disk-drive that enabled the manipulation of words. I was able to cut, paste, and re-form my paragraphs as well as my thoughts, in ways which I could never do on a legal pad or with a typewriter – it was like magic at my fingertips.
Petty Officer Jim Linder was and Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class on the Acushnet. He was from El Paso, Texas and of Native American ancestry. Jim was diminutive, quiet during working hours, and generous to a fault. I have no memory of ever speaking with, or even seeing Jim when he was not smiling – not one.
Please check back next week for the completed column. Oh, and there is this from Rusted Root. Enjoy…