Continuing the Growing up Geek Meme

I’ve been tagged by Brad Wilson to tell a bit about my geek childhood. Like most of you, I certainly had one 🙂

My earliest geek memories starts with watching Star Trek back in about 1972. It was Return of the Archons – the one where the zombies in robes wander around talking about “Being of the Body”. I remember being totally and completely fascinated by it, and being hooked on science fiction from that point on. That led me to finding the Heinlein juveniles, like Space Cadet, The Rolling Stones, Double Star, Citizen of the Galaxy and so on. I can honestly say that Heinlein’s attitudes about politics, religion, and life, as well as Spock’s general logical demeanor, were a huge influence on me back when I was somewhere near 10 or a bit younger.

A few years later, I learned about amateur radio somehow. I think it was a year or two before we moved from Des Moines, IA to St. Louis, MO. I remember buying The Amateur Radio Handbook, a highly technical book that was years too old for me — I must have been about 8 at the time. I wanted to get my ham license right then, immediately, so I started studying. Of course, electronic theory was a big part of the test, so I had to learn about stuff like Ohm’s Law. The only problem was that it kind of required algebra, and at 9, I hadn’t really learned that yet. So my 4th grade teachers, Mrs. Clark and Ms. Dean, sent me to the 5th grade teacher for algebra tutoring. I did finally get my license a couple of years later, after moving to St. Louis. A couple helpful hams in town taught me the last few bits I needed, including letting me practice Morse Code, and I passed my General test when I was 10 or 11. I was now WD0FDG 🙂 Over the next couple of years, I studied for the highest class license, the Amateur Extra, taking the test a couple of times, only to fail. On my last attempt, I missed the last two questions on the exam, pushing me over the limit by 1. Had I passed, I would have been one of the 10 youngest Extra class licensees in the country at that point 🙁

After that, I spent a lot of my time reading Heinlein’s more mature novels, talking on my radio, playing with electronics, playing violin, and other exciting activities for an early-teen boy.

I eventually did find sports and girls a few years later, but some things never change… I haven’t been on the radio on years, but I know I’ll get back to it some day. I did pick up amateur astronomy a few years ago, a similarly geeky habit, still read Heinlein religiously, if you’ll excuse the expression, and still watch Star Trek in all its forms. And now there is this computer thing that seems to eat up so much of my time 🙂

Well, that is the geek story of me. Hmmm, I guess I should tag a couple of other folks now… How about Cory Foy, Ade Miller, and Michael Feathers

(I’ll update this post with a picture of me as a kid once I get home!)

— bab