June 1944 QST
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
QST, published December 1915 - present. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
I learned something from this poem... or maybe I re-learned one
of the many things taught to me that have been forgotten - the definition of a vinculum. Well, actually,
I had to look it up after seeing it. How about you? Do you know what a vinculum is?
A vinculum is a horizontal line placed over a number or numbers to indicating repeating groups (7/11=0.63), or for negation in Boolean equations (d=a-b+c),
and it is also the dividing line between the numerator and the denominator ().
by Simpson Sasserath, USNR
'WHEN I was in boot training I met a specialist C.
Who whispered that Pre-Radio was just the
thing for me.
I listened to that sexless wave, that smooth GI Iago.
I took a test, I took a train
- and now I'm in Chicago
With a pencil in my pocket, a slide-rule in my hand,
And notebook full
of formulas I do not understand.
Oh, for the life of a qunnerl Oh, for· the life of a cook!
They do their jobs, those lucky
gobs, and never open: a book!
It's algebra each morning and it's algebra each noon,
And homework every night until my head's
a big balloon.
While always in my shaky hands I hold my little slipstick
The way an aging chorus
girl would clutch her rouge and lipstick.
With fractions, roots and decimals I'm trained to fight
And I wrestle with equations from reveille till taps.
Oh, for the life of a striker, who sails o'er the bounding sea-
Not giving a damn about any
exam, his mind is clear and free.
A man named Ohm once wrote a law to solve for any circuit.
They know it's true; I know it's true
- and still they make me work it.
They give me wiring diagrams that cross in all directions,
And then I go into the lab and make the right connections.
Resistor board . . . resistor board .
. . give me your answer true.
Oh milliamp, you little vamp, my future rests with you.
Oh, to be a lieutenant - I'd settle for Junior Grade-
His only care to comb his hair and
polish up his braid.
George Washington received applause crossing
And Hannibal, who crossed the Alps, gave Ancient
Rome a scare.
J. Caesar crossed the Rubicon to make Pompey
a bum -
But all I get is zero when I cross the Vinculum.
Those poundings in my temples do not come from
colds or sinus;
They're memories of powers of ten I didn't change
Oh, to be a Coast Guard - or else a gallant Marine -
Who need not pain to make his brain into
an adding machine.
May Heaven please forgive me, that I've hurled such dirty names
At Volta and at Ampere and at
Mrs. Watts' boy James.
I've passed my comprehensives and my sleeve has one more stripe.
think my woes are over, that I've no further gripe?
Well, now in recognition of my industry and
They're sending me to Primary - and that is even harder!
Oh, for the life of WAC or SPAR! Oh, for the life of a WAVE!
They wear white roses; they
powder their noses, and never study or shave.
Posted April 4, 2011