Monday, November 15, 2010

X'32', X'45', what’s a few years among friends?

Last Friday, Mrs. RWP and I were invited to lunch at Greenwood’s, a great restaurant located in an old house in Roswell, next door to a restaurant/bar/live music venue called The Swallow in the Hollow, which is just down the street from a city hall that makes the town look as though it could be the capital of a small country. I’m not kidding. Out in front of Greenwood’s, along the street, were multitudinous strawberry pots filled with blossoming flowers and odoriferous garlic plants (next one to use the words multitudinous and odoriferous in the same blogpost wins a years supply of tompoezen or Jaffa cake, take your pick). In the entrance courtyard I spotted a bust of Elvis. A small lizard ran up a brick wall, pausing halfway. We are a strange bunch in Georgia, but it simply can’t be helped. I blame it on the fact that the Yankees won The War.

An old friend and former manager, Jim R., was in town on his yearly trip back east from his retirement home along the Pacific Ocean in northern California. Another old friend and former manager, Linda S., had gathered a small group together for a small celebration.

It turned out great. Tim R. was there, who was 24 when he came to our group and is now 48, and Larry A. and his wife Diane, along with Mrs. RWP and me. A few years back, Larry was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis but appears to be doing well. Another friend, Pat T., wasn’t able to attend because of a long-scheduled dental appointment that simply couldn’t be put off.

Mrs. RWP and I both had shrimp and grits, a dish that makes people in other parts of the world and even other parts of our own country go “Eeeewwwww!” but is really quite tasty. Then we shared a huge slice of coconut cream pie. Don’t make a face at the combination; some of the others at the table had catfish and blackeyed-peas and blackberry pie.

I told you we were a strange bunch.

We reminisced about old times and old friends for nearly three hours at our table in the back room. We laughed and laughed. In the end, Jim R. paid for the whole shebang even though we all protested, and he said we must get together again next year.

About this post’s title, when I turned 50 I was presented at the office with a cake that was decorated to look like an open grave in a cemetery. The epitaph on the headstone said R.I.P., X'32' (50 in decimal is 32 in hexadecimal, a base-16 numbering system that computer professionals understand; 16 times 3 equals 48, plus 2 more make 50. Get it?). Now I am X'45' (I bet you can figure it out for yourself). In case you were wondering, the hexadecimal digits are
0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E, and F.

I joined that group of what is now called IT professionals in 1980, three weeks before I turned 39 (X'27'). Some had been together in Western Electric Company (WECo for short) since the mid-sixties, and most of the group stayed intact through thick and thin, expansions and contractions, divestitures (thank you, AT&T), spinoffs (thank you, Lucent Technologies), and outsourcings (thank you, IBM Global Services) until retirement caught up with us all.

I repeat, what’s a few years among friends?

Unforgettable, that’s what.


  1. In this season of thanksgiving, I have yet another reason to be thankful: I didn't have to earn my living using base 16. I am still traumatised by my experiences in trying (failing) to help my son with his 5th grade math, the year the School Board in its infinite wisdom required the teaching of base 5 or base 8 or some such. I have tried to block it from my memory. My daddy would have loved it, but I did not inherit his "math gene."

    Your meal sounds just fine to me; no 'eeeuwws' here. It's great that you and your IT friends have stayed in touch and still enjoy each other's company.

    I'm off to work on a post containing both multitudinous and odoriferous; I would enjoy a supply of tompoezen.

  2. Sounds like you had a lovely time and a very enjoyable lunch. In the picture, how come the guy on the right stole a cushion from Greenwoods'? Though he's your odoriferous friend, morally you must report him.

  3. Pat, base 16 is not all that difficult once you get the hang of it. Since X'10' is 16 in decimal, X'100' is 256 in decimal, and working backward from there, X'FF' is 255, and so forth. You would love octal and binary as well.

    YP, the guy on the right did NOT, repeat NOT, steal a cushion from Greenwood's. He is the one with ankylosing spondylitis, and brought along his own cushion to make sitting through a long lunch a little more comfortable. Not odoriferous either, he is one of my multitudinous friends.