22 September 2005


For the young out there, I will begin by pointing out there was a time before most people had computers. Even the calculator in your backpack or desk drawer is a fairly recent novelty. Before those innovations became possible, engineers and other mathematical types used slide rules.

At dinner, my father mentioned that he was thinking about getting another cell phone, so he and my mom would each have one.

"Would you really carry one?" I asked. He never carries the one they have: along with water bottles, it's something he usually expects mom to stuff in her purse.

"Sure, I could get one of those cases and wear it on my belt," he replied.

"No," mom and I groaned in unison.

"Why not? It'd be like when I wore my sliderule."

"What did you do, stick it through your belt loops?" Sliderules are about a foot long, so I was having trouble picturing it.

"No, it had a case." He went on to explain that the case had a loop so you could hang it from your belt. "When I was in grad school, all the engineering students wore them."

"What a bunch of dorks."

"They thought it was cool because it was like wearing a gun holster," mom added.

"Oh yeah," Dad concurred. "When the professor was working a problem at the board and needed a calculation done, we'd see who could draw the fastest and get the answer."

"That's the dorkiest thing I've ever heard."


  1. Oh my god.

    Your dad is a NERD.

    Like, the NERDIEST.

    I like him. :-)

  2. That's my dad all over as well. I still have his monstrously complicated engineer's slide rule, with matching leather case (complete with belt loop). :-P

  3. AJ- so true and I wouldn't want it any other way. I think it's hilarious there are depths to his nerdiness I've yet to discover.

    BW- monstrously complicated? that's only 'cuz you're young. ;]

  4. Ha ha - it's also really cute!

    I can just see them. Dorky kids (okay: young men) with bad hair, corduroy (cool) and the beloved holster... checking out each others slide rules...

    (I thought it was ruleRs - but then, you know *me*...)

  5. Your dad may be a nerd, but even without a slide rule I'm having trouble coming over as something other than a fossil when I tell my kids there was no video when I was a kid. And we didn't have a colour television. And only one channel..

  6. Rarity- you've got the image perfect. (I've seen it listed other places as slide ruler, but my dictionary just says slide rule.)

    Scholiast- I feel for you. I started with only 3 channels (it was a great day when I discovered a 4th by mistake) and no remote. Our 1st VCR only had buttons for 12 or so stations which you had to program by turning dials, just like tuning a radio (an old radio ;)

  7. That is ADORABLE. I love your dad, he has been inducted into the Nerd Hall of Fame in my heart.

  8. "Nerd Hall of Fame"- I like that, and he absolutely deserves it! :]