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Personal History : 1986, part one

Posted in Blog, and Personal History

  • Ronald Reagan is still president
  • Chernobyl explodes
  • Challenger explodes
  • Arcades are on the decline
  • Mtv is on the decline
  • Everything in my life has gone to hell
  • And I’m 17

It’s 1986. My grandmother passed away last year and left her house in Golden to my dad and my aunt. My dad bought out my aunt’s half of the house and as of September of last year we now live in Golden on East street, which means I was attending Golden High School for the 11th grade.

Yeah, ‘was’ – I’ll get to that in a sec.

Golden H.S. was a run-down, confusing, campus-like collection of buildings that were built like in the 1920’s or something – which is pure culture shock when you come from the ultra-modern 7-year-old Skyline H.S. in Longmont. It also has probably five times the student population…

The icing on the cake was moving after my 11th grade year had started at Skyline.

From my 11th grade yearbook at Skyline – I’m the first photo in the lower left square

So being as I didn’t get moved out of Skyline and registered at GHS until September, I didn’t get to choose my classes and was just dropped into what had room. So, I was in all the really stupid electives no one else wanted to take – and it sucked.

Winter also arrived shortly after I did… So, I got to walk through the cold between buildings to get to classrooms that were cold to deal with teachers and students that were cold…

I hated it there.

I wasn’t really happy with being uprooted and moving away from everything and everyone I know in Longmont either. I had a few really good friends that I had to up and dump just because dad got a deal on a bigger house… Fortunately, my credits didn’t get messed up when I changed schools.

Small miracles.

After we moved, I got an Atari 800XL as something of a concession prize from my parents, which I updated with two Happy-mod 1050 disk-drives and an XM301 300 baud modem. Being as I didn’t know anyone anymore, I spent most of my time at home connected to the Colorado School of Mines terminal system (a local call) where I could get access to other online resources via CSNET without incurring the long-distance charges that pissed off my parents.

While the situation truly sucked, life wasn’t all bad, I guess… I got my driver’s license back in October, and my parents split the cost of a car with me. Now, it’s not much of a car; a 1969 Toyota Corona that cost all of like $300 – but it’s mine.

I honestly think the reason they went in on the car with me is they were tired of driving me across town to school – and winter was coming. But, whatever – I’m enjoying the freedom. It also let me land another job, such as it is. I’ve been bussing tables at “King’s Table” on west Colfax, but it’s tough to pause my programming projects to go bus tables for a few hours and I’m not sure how long I’ll stick with it.

At least the restaurant is right on Colfax (11101 West Colfax Ave), so weekend cruising is convenient. 🙂

Golden High School did have one thing about it that I liked; they had an Advanced Placement Computer Science class that was held at the county’s mainframe center… After I aced the placement test, I got to ride a bus over there every morning to work on professional grade hardware.

It also got me a login for the terminal system they were using for the data entry portion of the class, which I quickly discovered had levels of access…

To make a long story short, this was my fist legit “hack” of a computer system. I gave myself supervisor privileges on the school’s S/36 by way of finding an overflow in the classroom application’s user menus that caused the session to drop to an unprotected command line…

This led to my getting a talking to from a system administrator… But it was more of a head-pat because he was impressed that I had basically figured out the S/36 on the fly with no manual or instruction. And this ended with me getting to spend time on the actual mainframe instead of doing data entry – as long as I promised to lay off the hacking.

I did a lot of tape loading, but I also got to write and run some of my own code on the IBM 3081 that lived in a pressurized air-locked elevated floor cleanroom. It was basically about as high-tech as it got, and I got to work there.

Back in the real world my disillusionment with Golden H.S. was complete and I spent most of this year hanging out in the library at school working on my own research projects and skipping all of the electives I’d been forced to take.

Yeah, I know it was dumb. But by skipping some really bad electives I probably advanced my knowledge of computer systems and programming by two years.

I was in the library where the media students were working when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up on January 26th. We were watching it on one of the TVs… It was pretty shocking after it had become so commonplace. We kinda forgot how dangerous space travel is…

Anyway, I eventually got caught and expelled for non-attendance in May of 86.

Two weeks later, May 21st, 1986, I’d taken and passed my GED…

And I’m happy to not have to go back to Golden H.S. ever again…

Right now, I’m thinking about enlisting because the Navy has some pretty high-tech stuff and the recruiter says they will cover the cost of a 4-year degree – and they don’t care if I have a GED; if I can pass the entry exam at a school, I can get a degree.

Music-wise New Wave is starting to show its mainstream influence; everything is designed and marketed for maximum money potential versus simply being good music. Still, I’m really liking tunes such as Arcadia’s “Election Day”, Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings”, Pet Shop Boys “West End Girls”, and Mike + The Mechanics “Silent Running”.

My favorite movie of the year has to be “Transformers: The Movie”, the animations were good, the story was pretty good, and the soundtrack was amazing.