Wednesday, October 28, 2015


I had never been to New Orleans, so a few months after I got out of the Army I decided to go there. I planned to visit a friend, Emma, who lived in Slidell, and see New Orleans at the same time.

One afternoon while waiting for Emma to get off work, I was relaxing on a bench in the main plaza of the French Quarter. A young boy came up to me and said, "Do you have any spare change, mister?" I just brushed him off.

There was an old homeless man sitting on the next bench who overheard this exchange. He said, "Come here, kid." He reached into the pocket of his ragged brown pants and gave the boy a couple of quarters.

I've never felt so small.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Drop Test

When I worked for Cisco, the prototypes for all new network switch designs had to go through Mechanical Design Verification Testing (MDVT). One part of this test required the switches to be dropped from various angles and from heights up to 1 meter. The switches had to continue passing traffic for the duration of the test.

I took four Catalyst 2900 prototypes to a small independent testing lab that had contracted with Cisco to do drop testing. I explained the setup to the woman in charge of the testing. I showed her how to connect each switch to a laptop, start and stop the test, and verify that the results had been recorded.

As I was about to leave, I turned to her and said in a very serious almost conspiratorial tone, "Remember these are prototypes so whatever you do, don't drop them."

She looked startled and said, "But that's what we do here!"

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Catholic Landscaping

There used to be a Nob Hill market in Sunnyvale where the Sprouts market is now. My wife, Lan, and I used to go there at least once a week for the exceptional produce.

The trip to the market took us past a Catholic church on Old San Francisco Road. One morning we were going past the church when Lan said, "Dave, look at the small evergreen trees in front of that church. Someone has trimmed them so the top of each one looks just like the head of a dick!"

This was enormously amusing to us. We came up with new jokes almost every time we passed that church for the next few months.

"We better slow down, we're going past the Church of Saint Richard, the Dick".

"Let's have a moment of silence as we pass the Church of the Divine Dildos".

Lan had a friend who was in her early 60's, had never been married, and was a dedicated Catholic. She wasn't that religious, she just liked being a member of the Catholic club and enthusiastically embraced every ritual.

One afternoon she stopped by our house to visit. She and Lan decided to go to the Nob Hill Market after Lan described how much she liked the produce there. As they were passing the Catholic church, her friend crossed herself and said, "Look at the lovely trees in front of that Catholic church."

Lan started laughing so hard she had to pull over and stop the car. When she regained her composure, she explained why she was laughing so hard.

Her friend's face turn as red as a Cardinal's clown hat.

Church Analysis

Our daughter, Nhan, and her son, Steven, moved into our house after her divorce. It was a lot of fun having Steven in the house and we spent a lot of time together.

When he was about 6, his father came by one Sunday morning to take him to church. We take a very dim view of church, but finally made a deal. He could take Steven to church this once, but if he didn't like it, he would never have to go again.

When Steven came back, I asked him what he thought about church. He said, "It was pretty boring, Dave. It was just stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down, and then we had to pay."

It was the last time he ever went to church.