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. I admit to having to look up the word in the dictionary 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 ; e.g. (½).
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 the Japs
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.
Do you think my woes are over, that I've no further gripe?
Well, now in recognition of my industry and ardor
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 18, 2019 (original 4/4/2011)